“There are several cards in the deck that vibrate with different meanings, the Mother card is one such card. Your own intuition, or other cards in the spread, will guide you to the most appropriate meaning for this card.
It’s time for you to become your own loving parent. Are you taking care of yourself? Love and compassion are qualities that need to be brought front and center. Be kind and nurturing to not only yourself, but to those around you, and to Mother Earth.”
“You have all the tools necessary to accomplish anything you set out to do. Courage, self-discipline, love, and wisdom all lie within you. Learn to access them, and use them in a positive manner. When you permit your Higher Power, Source, or the Universe, to work with you, anything is possible.”
Erin G. Burrell (EGB): I want to share the delightful chat I had with my new friend, and the narrator of my book, Petrea Burchard (PB). We took turns interviewing each other. It was interesting to learn more about Petrea, and the audiobook profession. I hope you feel the same.
EGB: How did you get into narrating audiobooks?
PB: I’ve been an actor all my life, and I’ve worked in voiceover for many years. I had looked into audiobooks years ago, but at the time I was focused on writing a novel and didn’t pursue narration. A couple of years ago, when a major voiceover client decided to “try a different sound,” (a male!) I wasn’t sure what to do next. A good friend who is also in voiceover said, “You should be narrating audiobooks!” and my brain lit up. So I started to study the craft.
EGB: What qualities do you look for in a book to narrate?
PB: I look for good writing that I can relate to. I’m a writer, too, and good writing really speaks to me. As an actor I’ve learned to relate to different people and characters, so the range can be broad. But there are some things that don’t fit my voice, or my style. I wish I could do everything, but I can’t. I love fiction, memoir, history, biography…basically anything that’s well written. It’s no secret that good writing is easy to speak. That’s why actors like performing Shakespeare.
EGB: What preparations do you do, prior to recording any chapter of a book?
PB: I read the whole book before I start recording anything. I might have questions about pronunciation, concepts, etc. If I’m in contact with the author, I can ask them. I also have the internet, the phone, the library. I want to know what I’m talking about before I start talking. I’ve come across interesting historical or geographical references, and I like to read up on those. It helps me to have an image of what I’m talking about.
I also prepare physically. Sitting in a small booth for hours is challenging, believe it or not. So I stay in shape, drink lots of water, watch what I eat, and do vocal exercises daily.
EGB: Your acting background enhances your narrations. What was your favorite acting experience and why?
PB: Oh boy. I’ve had some wonderful ones. My favorite has to be the British/American Drama Academy (BADA) summer program at Oxford. I had a whole month to immerse myself in the study of voice, movement, Shakespeare, and even Samuel Beckett, in the beautiful setting of Oxford and the surrounding countryside. We had wonderful teachers from the Royal Shakespeare Company. I fell in love with England and I always want to go back. It was bliss.
EGB: What made you decide to narrate That’s Why You’re Here?
PB: Your experience and the way you wrote about it spoke to me. Your background and mine are not the same, but it’s as though they criss-cross, and I understood your experiences because of experiences I’ve had. It’s like when you meet a client in the book and discover the connection you have with them. That’s why I’m here!
PB: In “That’s Why You’re Here,” you tell the story of how you got started reading the Tarot. How did you get started writing about it?
EGB: While I was reliving the wonderful experiences I’d had at the Healing Arts Festival, it came to me how frequently I’d been asked, “How did you get involved with the Tarot?” It also came to me how often my clients told me they’d enjoyed and benefited from my personal stories. That was a surprise. Not long after, a voice “dropped in” and said, “Start writing your stories.” I ignored this voice for a time because I wasn’t a writer and thought it was a crazy notion, but the voice persisted. I finally honored that message and began to write . . . nothing was ever the same after that.
PB: Do you read the Tarot for yourself? Is it a regular practice?
EGB: Each morning, I pull cards for myself and I’ve been doing it for years now. I like to see what my day may hold and what I need to focus on. In doing this, I also stay connected to the cards, the meanings, and their images. Working with the cards each day is soothing and grounding to me.
PB: I’d like to know about readings and fairs. It seems like it could be either exhausting or energizing. What is it like to read the Tarot for strangers all day?
EGB: It’s exciting and exhilarating. I’m energized throughout the day and tired when the day is over. I was beyond wiped-out after my first festival, but my energy level has improved since then. I, too, have to stay hydrated since I’m using my voice all day. We have that in common.
As far as reading strangers, we may start out that way, but by the end of the reading there is a closeness, especially if tears were shared. Tarot readings can be very intimate. I’m convinced that there is a divine purpose behind each person who chooses to get a reading from me. We were meant to spend time together. At most fairs and festivals, I am one of seventeen readers, so there is quite a selection. I have been told many times a person was “drawn to me.” I love that. One woman told me that coming into my booth felt good, like she was coming home. That touched me.
PB: What was the most exciting reading you ever did? Has there ever been one that was uncomfortable, or scary?
EGB: My most exciting reading is in my book. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet, but I will say it involved a necklace and doing psychometry, the holding of an object.
I’m happy to say I’ve never had a scary reading, but I will confess that a few readings were uncomfortable at the start. (I’ve included an example of an uncomfortable read in my memoir.) The two I’m thinking of happened with men who said they wanted a reading, but their body language told a different story. They were shut down in the beginning, but ended up in a better place by the close of the reading. It’s gratifying when that happens.
PB: Do you plan to write more books? What’s in the works?
EGB: I continue to write and post pieces to my website. I write about topics that inspire me, and I’ve even done a couple stories about my favorite TV show/book, “Outlander.” I am currently trying my hand at fiction, which is a challenge. I wish words came easy like reading the Tarot. I love to write, and I enjoy the community of writers I’m involved with. You never know, there could be another book in my future.
I was gut-punched; the air hissed out of my lungs like a pierced balloon. I stared at Dr. Gray. She obviously grabbed the wrong chart.
“My cat? You’re talking about Pebbles . . . right?”
Dr. Gray nodded. “I’m sorry I have to deliver this news. There is a treatment plan we can put in place to make her comfortable the rest of her days.”
I went numb. The rest of her days? She looks fine.
“How long?” I choked. “How long do you think she has?”
The doctor stroked Pebbles’s head. “Depending on how she responds to the medication, two months to a year.”
My eyes blurred with tears. The thought of my cat not being a part of my everyday life was too much to take in.
We had gotten Pebbles shortly after my husband died. My daughter and I had visited several shelters, and ended up at an animal rescue along the Sacramento River. A woman had turned her home into a haven for cats. Yes, a legit cat-house. Construction was ongoing, as the owner added room after room, large closets really, giving Mrs. Winchester a run for her money.
We searched through all of the enclosures, and it came down to two kittens: a black one and a white one. We played with both and debated. Then, the white kitten, with light-brown markings on her face, tried to crawl up my daughter’s bare leg, as if to say, “Take me home!” And that’s what we did.
During our first night together, Pebbles clawed her way up my bedspread, attacking it like it was Mount Everest. Once she reached the peak, she claimed what had been my husband’s side of the bed. It was reassuring for my hand to find a warm body near me, even one so tiny and furry. The hairy cotton ball soon became not only a family member, but a steady comfort.
As an indoor cat, Pebbles followed us everywhere. Her little paws worked hard to keep up with our longer strides, but traversing the house caused her to drop from exhaustion and fall asleep.
After short naps, she continued exploring her new digs and found a few secret hiding places. In the early days, I’d be in a panic trying to find her, fearful she had escaped somehow. Once I’d discovered her favorite resting places were inside cupboards and in the backs of closet shelves, finding her became a treasure hunt.
Our kitten soon grew to adulthood, with her own distinct personality. Always a clean-freak, Pebbles elevated grooming to another level, especially after a meal. The ritual commenced with an upward lift of a paw that was met and moistened by a rough pink tongue. The paw then moved gently across her mouth, several times, removing unseen morsels. The act was repeated with the other paw, as if it were a starched white napkin and she’d just dined with the Queen.
For the past thirteen years, Pebbles has given me great joy and companionship. How can I possibly say good-bye?
I know how to do grief, Lord knows I’ve had my share, but I have never done “end of life” with a family pet. What makes it all the harder, is that Pebbles is the only member who practices unconditional love. And what she has given me, I cherish.
My job now is to make her happy and comfortable. I do not want her to suffer. I’ve decided to spoil her by doing the things she delights in most. At the top of her list is having her front feet massaged. I take a paw between my thumb and fingers, and rub and apply gentle pressure that extends and contracts her nails. All the while, Pebbles sits in my lap, eyes half closed, wearing a dreamy faraway look.
I don’t know how many days we have left, but when you know they are numbered, each one becomes more precious.
I’m not the only person who talks to their pet, so it should come as no surprise that Pebbles and I have had several tearful exchanges––she, the master of stoicism. With much cajoling on my part, she has agreed to let me know when the good of her days no longer outweighs the bad.
Pebbles is under treatment, and each morning she suffers through my fumbling attempts to medicate her. (Getting a pill down an animal’s throat is no fun for either party.)
My wish is that we will continue being silly and enjoying each other’s company. In the evenings, as Pebbles hunkers down on my chest to sleep, we are heart to heart. Her purr is a vibrating song that echos through my body, connecting us . . . making me pray for a long goodbye.
When I was young, I looked forward to February with anticipation and joy; it was the month of Valentines and love. During art class in elementary school we wrapped red construction paper around shoe boxes, and cut slits into the lids. We glued hearts made of pink paper and white lace around the sides and top of the box. Crayons and glitter were used to write the traditional messages of “Be Mine” and “Valentine.”
During our Valentines party, students raced around the room stuffing store-bought or handmade cards into the tops of our artsy containers. (I secretly hoped for a special Valentine from the boy I liked.) Cupcakes, candied hearts, and punch were served, and the sugar high lasted for weeks.
The 22nd of February marked the day of my birth, and produced another celebration. Sleepovers, being Queen for a day in the castle at William Land Park, and a bowling party were some of my most memorable birthdays. The memory of those childhood parties fills me with delight.
But the fond memories of February were ultimately overshadowed by the deaths of my husband and brother-in-law. It became a month to endure, like running a gauntlet and dodging the blows. I prayed I’d make it out the other side.
With time, and much internal work, I no longer dread February. I will never forget those I’ve lost, and I honor them by living life to the fullest. I’m glad to report that February is once again a month of love.
Recently I received one of those “out of the blue” emails, the kind that boggles the mind. Nothing the email contained would have been conceivable just two short years ago. The content might not seem like a big deal to some people, but to me it was huge, and confirmed the path I’ve been on the last several years.
I’m tickled to announce, I’ve been invited to Face In A Book, a wonderful bookstore in El Dorado Hills, for an evening of “Romance and Tarot Readings.” Two romance authors, Elizabeth Ferry-Perata and Catherine McGreevy, will be sharing their novels. I will have my memoir, That’s Why You’re Here, and will provide Tarot card readings. If there are enough people in attendance, we will each read a snippet from our books. It should be a fun and entertaining evening, and I’m ecstatic! If you’re available, please stop by on February 8, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.; I’d love to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones.
“Tis the season,” as they say, and it gets earlier each year. The endless bombardment of advertisements show perfect Hallmark families who urge us to buy items we can’t live without. The loud family I came from is never depicted in commercials, and it makes me love my people all the more.
As I’ve grown older, the holidays have taken on a different note. I don’t hear the jingle of sleigh-bells I played with when young. I now hear the somber sound of a church bell, muffled by fog. A wistful cry only my ears perceive.
Thanksgiving and Christmas have become times for reflection. My mind is occupied with memories of loved ones who won’t be here to sit around a candle-lit dinner table, engaged in passionate arguments of no consequence. Husband, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends long gone, all dwell on the other side of the veil. I miss them.
Like leaves gently carried on an autumn breeze, my few remaining family members lie scattered across the country, engrossed in their busy lives.
Yesterday, in a small attempt to get into the holiday spirit, I made myself a Peppermint Mocha. When I wrapped my cold hands around the mug to soak up the warmth, I tumbled back to a time when I was ten years old. I braced a rickety wooden ladder that my dad stood upon. The zippers of our winter jackets kissed our chins. I felt so grown up, and the excitement that radiated through my body made it hard to stand still. I was Dad’s assistant as he strung Christmas lights along the eaves. We began our task in daylight, but darkness and fog crept in like wolves to investigate our efforts.
The cold stiffened my fingers, making the flashlight difficult to hold. A stream of mist escaped my mouth with every breath. Dad encouraged me to go inside to get warm, but I refused. Mother came out during our labors and surprised me with a hot chocolate. I held the cup with both hands, and placed my frozen nose over the sweet smelling steam, trying to absorb the heat. In that moment, an endearing memory solidified into crystalline form. A precious gift delivered.
I smiled up at my dad and raised my cup. He grinned in return. Once the last light was secured, he cautiously made his way down the ladder. “Do you want to see our handiwork?”
“Yes!” I shouted.
He plugged the electrical cord into the socket, and the red, blue, and yellow bulbs blinked to life. I was enchanted. Our house was properly decked to greet Santa.
During this time of year, I remind myself of the treasured gifts I still possess, and remember that loved ones are near. They remain lovingly wrapped within the walls of my heart, no matter where they rest.
While shopping the dairy aisle at my local grocery store, I ran into a woman I used to work with. I hadn’t seen her in over five years. We hugged and got caught-up on what we’d been doing since the last time we’d been together. Then my former coworker surprised me by saying, “I see from Facebook that you are now a fortune teller.”
I couldn’t believe this was still happening in 2018. “No,” I said. “I’m not a fortune teller. I give readings to people using Tarot cards, and I absolutely love it.”
In my new found passion, I’ve discovered that people tend to book readings when they are at a crossroads in their life, or they want clarity around a given situation, or they are simply curious about what cards they’ll draw. I still find readings fascinating, and love to meet new people. I’m always honored to be part of the journey of those who seek me out.
I can’t see the future. If I could, I’m sure my own life would look quite different.
Tarot cards can be used to show probabilities regarding the future, but nothing is cast in concrete since humans can exercise free will. The cards reflect a possible future based upon the individual’s energy at the time of the reading. If a reading was not favorable, subsequent changes to the person’s energy can affect future decisions that result in course corrections. The direction taken is not predetermined—it is up to the person getting the reading.
Rather than focusing on the future, my Higher Power uses me in a different manor. My role is to assist people in their current life situations, in the here-and-now. Information drops-in, or I’m compelled to talk about something that ends up being important to the sitter. They leave with an awareness regarding their circumstance that they did not have before, and are able to think more creatively about their issue. They tend to come up with solutions they hadn’t previously considered.
(You can enter for a chance to win a free Tarot reading by subscribing to my email list. Drawings are held monthly.)
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I’ve heard that saying my entire life. This dog is barking and letting you know, I’ve learned a new trick, and no . . . it’s not rolling over. My latest romp is doing something that my own family and millions of others are doing already. I got on Instagram. (I’m not ashamed to say I had help, thank you Erica.)
Instagram proved similar to learning the Tarot, in that I had no idea what to expect and couldn’t conceive the surprises ahead.
I know some of you may be thinking, “No big deal, I’ve had an account for years,” and good for you. You are so far ahead of my learning curve. The thought of social media/technology sends shivers down my back.
I grew up in a time when telephones were attached to walls and you used them for only one thing—to talk. You were living “high on the hog” if your parents’ phone had a cord that stretched long enough for you to escape into another room. Away from the prying ears of a multi-generational family that as soon as you hung up, would shine a light in your eyes and interrogate you for hours. Unfortunately, our phone had a three foot cord.
So I’ve been playing around with my new Instagram account. One of the first things I learned to do was “follow” my favorite actor and series, Sam Heughan of Outlander. I have already died and gone to heaven, several times over. It does a heart good, and affects other places as well, to see Sam’s sweet face at the start of every morning. I discovered I am not alone in my Sam worship. Sam Heughan has over one million followers.
Something unexpected and amazing happened after I started posting pictures to Instagram, I received “likes” from people I did not know, and some started “following” me. One person was a female author from the Czech Republic, one was a young father from Indonesia, one was an entrepreneur/public speaker from Singapore, and yet another was a fellow book lover from London, England. For years, I have heard about our “global community,” but it wasn’t real for me until I saw these people and experienced it first hand.
Our loves and interests connect us. I’m now linked to people in other countries that I did not know existed one month ago. I’m glad this old dog is still willing to learn. My new trick is pure magic. With a touch of a finger, I’m joined to kindred spirits across the globe, and it happens by means of the phone nestled in my hand. The cord is infinite.
People often tell me they are afraid to receive a tarot reading . . . and then they get one anyway. Some say their religion prevents them from having a reading; others say tarot readings are the work of the devil. Yet when I’m giving a reading, I feel galaxies away from anything sinister or evil. I learned the tarot to be of service to others, not to do the work of the devil.
From the beginning, my intent has been to come from a place of light and love, and to be a conduit for healing messages. While giving a reading, the sensations that course through me are positive, and it seems that Source/Higher Power/God (whatever term you’re comfortable with) orchestrated how the person found me. Usually, it’s made clear why the two of us were brought together. The tarot has blessed me with many experiences that have touched my heart, and its power for good continues to amaze me.
My hope is that one day tarot readings are a normal part of our daily life. I hope that someday when I tell people what I do, they won’t recoil, like it’s catching. I’d like to see readings be just another tool that offers assistance to those seeking clarity and help.
Tarot readings are conversations. It’s my belief that a person’s energy/soul will select cards it wishes to discuss. Tarot cards can provide an alternate way to frame a certain situation that is happening in the sitter’s life. An individual can take what information they like from a reading and leave the rest—nothing discussed is written in stone.
I recommend people new to tarot get a reading just for fun. As I’ve written in my book, That’s Why You’re Here, I do readings for a lot of “virgins,” people who have never had a reading before; like the eighty year old woman I read in Reno years ago. We had a good laugh about it being her “first time” at eighty! I love it when I can help someone step out of their comfort zone and explore something new and different. When I step out of my own comfort zone, I’m like a wire sizzling with electricity; I’m totally alive. After all, isn’t that why we’re here, to experience what life has to offer?
I recently published my book That’s Why You’re Here and I have been doubly blessed. It was reviewed in the Mountain Democrat by Wendy Schultz. The colorful cover of my book even made the front page of the newspaper! Also, my books are on the shelf at Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills, CA.
I’m inviting everyone to come to Face in a Book to support local authors on September 19, 2018 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. I’ll will be there and I plan to bring my tarot deck so that customers can pull one card for fun. Of course I’ll have my books and would be happy to sign copies for those interested. It should be an enjoyable evening.