To do the work you love, you’ve got to unlock a few doors. UNLOCKED Stories are honest conversations with people who chose a path and made it happen.
As you might know if you follow my blog closely, I’m a total astrology geek and I’m fascinated by mystical arts, spirituality, intuition, and divination systems of all kinds. For me, divination is a fun hobby; something I like to study in my spare time. But for Theresa Reed? Divination isn’t just a hobby—it’s her full-time career!
Theresa is a professional Tarot card reader and she’s been a “self-employed mystic” for 25 years and counting. It’s an unconventional career choice, to say the least, but despite many challenges along the way, she has made it work!
If you love Tarot—or even if you’ve never picked up a Tarot deck in your life—I know you’re going to be inspired by Theresa’s story and her stance on life, business, and how to deal with negativity from people who just don’t “get” you. Her advice? Ignore anyone “who tries to poop on your glitter.” Ha! Read on for more hysterical (and wise) insights from this Tarot queen…
What do you do?
[Theresa]: I am a professional Tarot card reader.
I picked up my first Tarot deck when I was a teenager and I fell in love with Tarot pretty much instantly.
I practiced on myself (and my sister) for many years, and eventually I started doing readings for customers at the bar where I worked.
At a certain point—after I had gotten, oh, probably 500 readings under my belt—I realized, “I’m pretty damn good at this.” I decided to “go pro” and start charging money for my readings, and… that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 25 years!
In addition to doing Tarot readings for my clients, I also write a Tarot blog, I teach a little yoga on the side, I co-host a podcast, and I work as a business mentor for peeps who run spiritual / metaphysical businesses.
I’m also the author of The Tarot Coloring Book which will be released by Sounds True in November 2016. (I’m still getting used to adding “author” to my bio!)
What were you doing before you became a full-time Tarot reader?
[Theresa]: I had a variety of jobs. Mostly office and waitress stuff. My last job was bartending.
Funny story: after I decided to pursue Tarot as my full-time career, my last boss (at the bar) mocked me and told people I’d never be successful. He totally trash-talked me behind my back and claimed I would be “crawling back” to the bar begging for my old job back in no time.
Well, shortly thereafter, his dumb-ass bar went out of my business. Meanwhile, 25 years later, I’m still going strong. HA!
What is your favorite part about your work?
[Theresa]: Tarot is a really amazing tool for understanding what’s happening in your life, and why, and what you can do to change your situation if you don’t like how things are going!
After a good Tarot reading, my client usually feels like, “OK, I get it, I know what I need to do to create a better future for myself,” and I love seeing people walk away from a reading feeling clear and empowered.
There’s a misconception that Tarot is all “predicting the future,” but it’s really not, because the future is always changing based on the choices you make today. Tarot is really more about becoming conscious—conscious of your choices, conscious of other people’s motivations, conscious of what may be lying ahead, and how to best work with the energy around you.
I’ve had times in my life that were very hard but Tarot has always been my ally. It has helped me to navigate tough times, make wiser decisions, and create a life I really love. My biggest joy is helping others do the same.
It all boils down to one theme: I like to help people.
What is your least favorite part about your work?
[Theresa]: My least favorite part is when people don’t respect my boundaries. That can show up so many ways in my line of work!
From the no-shows (my biggest pet peeve) to the people who think I need to drop everything right this minute to serve them, to the freebie-seekers who expect something for nothing… all of that B.S. has been the hardest to deal with.
I am very firm these days. If you mess with me or disrespect me? I won’t be working with you again. Ever. The stronger I get with my boundaries, the more I tend to attract the awesome clients, and not the flakey or rude ones.
How do you begin your day?
[Theresa]: I begin by brushing my teeth and making my bed. Lame, but true! I like a clean mouth and a made bed.
Then I check my email. I know, I know… all the productivity “experts” say that you shouldn’t dive into emails first thing in the morning! But I always like to check in and make sure my clients are taken care of. Since people purchase Tarot readings through my website, pretty much every morning, I’ve got a couple of notifcations letting me know about new bookings that have come in over the past 12 – 24 hours. I need to stay on top of those to make sure nobody is left hanging. That’s very important to me.
Once I’ve done a quick check in, I post my “Card for the Day” on my various social media channels. Then it’s time to feed some unruly cats and get something to eat. Somewhere in there, I do some yoga and meditation.
Then once all that is squared away, I start doing Tarot readings! On any given workday, I might do 8-20 of readings for clients—a combination of email readings, phone readings, and (very occasionally) in-person readings for local clients that I’ve known for a long time. (I never invite strangers into my private studio space—been there, been burned by that! Only peeps I know I can trust.)
When you’re having a difficult or stressful day, how do you get through it?
[Theresa]: Breath work helps a lot. Taking the time to “breathe through it” and be present makes any difficult situation better.
I also am fortunate that I have the most amazing husband and children—they are always there for me when I’m not at my best.
And when all else fails: a glass of wine solves all.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
[Theresa]: I’ve received a lot of criticism and flack over the years regarding my choice of profession. Let’s face it: “Tarot” is a “non-traditional” line of work! Just doing this type of work puts you in the line of fire.
I’ve gotten hate mail from people who feel skeptical, offended, or insulted by my work (people who feel that Tarot is “against their beliefs”) and I’ve had countless people tell me that reading Tarot is “not a real job.”
When I first started doing this work—and even today, occasionally—I had to deal with a whole lot of shaming and negativity from people I didn’t even know, as well as people I really loved. For example, my parents were so embarrassed by my career that they would lie when people asked them what I did for a living. Think about how that feels for a minute. Getting that sort of hostility and shame thrown your way just for doing something that you feel called to do—it’s outrageous. It’s not surprising to me that many Tarot readers (and other mystical service providers,like astrologers and psychics) just give up, or feel like they have to “hide” to avoid scorn.
I never understand people who want to make someone feel bad. My mission in life is to make people feel good—so that type of energy has always been hard for my sensitive self to comprehend.
When you get hate mail, criticism, and negativity from people who don’t understand your career, what do you do? How do you get through that?
[Theresa]: By focusing on the lovers, not the haters. I get far more love than I do negativity.
I make it a point to surround myself at all times with people who support me—my family, my friends, my fellow Tarot lovers and other peers in the spiritual world, Having a positive tribe around me helps to drown out the ignorance and the mean-spirited stuff.
I recommend staying focused on love and the people who “get you” rather than giving any mind to anyone who tries to make you feel inferior. Unfriend people, if you need to, or remove certain relationships from you life. Fire anyone who tries to poop on your glitter.
Do you ever fantasize about having a totally different career? What would you do in your fantasy-world?
[Theresa]: Oh my goodness—my fantasy career when I was a teenager was to be a make up artist! I loved playing with make up (still do) and had a plan to go to beauty school so that I could move to New York and hang out with musicians. I never went to beauty school but I’ve always hung out with musicians and artists—and I did live in New York for a spell.
Now, at this stage in my life, my fantasy career would be to be an emcee for a male strip club just like Jada Pinkett Smith’s character, Rome, in Magic Mike XXL. Seriously—hanging out with a bunch of screaming women, wearing a sassy fedora and ogling Channing Tatum in a g-string? My idea of the best job EVER.
Who are your personal heroes and role models?
[Theresa]: I have SO many! My husband for one. He’s the most honest person on the planet and has taught me more about being “real” and honest than any person I ever met. That level of integrity is something I aspire to.
I admire people who have had to work very hard to achieve success. People like Jay-Z or Oprah Winfrey. I love people who are unconventional like Andy Warhol. I dig feisty women such as Patti Smith, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Emma Goldman. I admire politicians who care about people like Bernie Sanders. And I love, love, love seeing young people who are putting themselves out there in a big way like Lena Dunham. So yeah…way too many heroes and role models to count. I could go on and on and on… but my cat is walking across my desk and demanding that I swaddle him with attention right now so I’d better get on that. (In cat-world, cats are the only heroes worth paying attention to. Haha!)
You’ve got a thriving career as a Tarot reader, great clients, and lots of neat side-projects. What’s next for you?
[Theresa]: My next “big thing” is my book, The Tarot Coloring Book.
Stepping into the role of published author has been an interesting journey. My book comes out in November—it’s being released by a major publisher—and this book has the potential to take my work in amazing new directions, and to put Tarot into the hands of thousands of people who might otherwise be intimidated by it.
I’m excited about the book release, but also a bit anxious. I know that there’s going to be a lot more attention coming towards me (more than I’m used to, anyway) and possibly media interviews and exposure and just, you know, a lot of new customers engaging with (and potentially criticizing / scrunitizing) my work. It’s a vulnerable feeling!
But the book is already finished, so all I can do at this point is relax, trust that I’ve done my best, and trust that people will love the book as much as I do. Or not, I guess! Haha! But stressing about it won’t really help me. That, I know for shizzle.
I also know that the type of anxiety I’m feeling is not uncommon. Whenever you’re about to take a big leap forward into the unknown—with a new job, a new project, more exposure, or whatever—it often triggers feelings of anxiety because you’re leveling up yo’ game!
We all get scared, sometimes, when we’re standing at the edge of our comfort zone. Through working with Tarot, though, I’ve learned that there’s always a way to take a challenging situation and emerge victorious. You’re never just passively at the mercy of “the universe” or your own emotions. There’s always a way to take charge and steer your life in the direction you want it to go!
Last but not least: what’s your biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to do amazing work in the world, stay motivated, and unlock major doors?
[Theresa]: My biggest piece of advice is: trust your gut, always. You have all the wise guidance you need right there within yourself. Learn to listen to that little voice for it is often right.
I do want to add one more thing: never let your failures—or other people—define you. This is your life, baby. You have a chance, every day, every moment, to get it right. No matter how big you screw up, you CAN start fresh right now.
Your future is in your hands—so be intentional and live it well.
Three questions to think about, write about—or talk about with a friend.
1. Theresa discovered Tarot at a young age, fell in love with it, and practiced for many years before she decided to “go pro.”
Do you have a “hobby” or “secret obsession” that maybe, just maybe, you could turn into a full-time career? Or a side-business that you do part-time?
2. Lots of people are confused about what Tarot is, or think it’s evil, or think that Tarot readers are scam artists. Theresa has had to deal with a lot of criticism and misunderstanding over the years.
Have you ever been criticized because of your career choices (like: your parents didn’t approve of your major in college, or your spouse thinks your job isn’t a “real” job)? How did that feel—and what, if anything, did you do to shake off the negativity and stay confident?
3. Theresa says that the worst part of her work is dealing with the (occasional) client who doesn’t respect her time, who flakes out, or tries to haggle and get freebie work for no pay. Setting clear business boundaries and policies helps Theresa to avoid these types of annoying situations.
What is your least favorite part about your job or career right now? What’s one proactive thing you could do to resolve this issue and/or prevent it from happening again in the future?
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See you next time for another inspiring conversation!