The theme of this post is to never give up on your dreams, no matter the opposition or lack of faith.
As an artist my entire life (since the age of 2 when my “Potato People” graced my parents’ dining room wall never to be painted over until they sold the house 35 years later), I have always been plagued with doubt. I look at what I create & wonder to myself, “does it look right? Would anyone but my parents & I ever like it?” I wanted to be a professional artist, but had no formal training. The only teacher to ever encourage me was my high school Freshman year Art teacher, Mrs. Yanta. She told me I had “real talent” & that I should work to develop it. She was the only one who taught me that Art is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Mrs. Yanta told me I had a “good eye” and “a bright imagination” & to never allow anyone to tell me different. But I did.
My parents loved my artwork because I was their only child. They thought everything I did was brilliant, naturally, but they both told me there’s no money in Art unless you die first. Go to college & study something PRACTICAL.
So what did I do? I worked hard & was accepted by my first choice, Northwestern University where I studied … what?
Did I go Pre-Law? Pre-Med? History, perhaps (which is my second love)? No! I chose Archaeology. Yes! Talk about being PRACTICAL! And we all know how filthy rich archaeologists become, do we not? In reality, unless you become a high-paid professor there’s NO money in it.
My parents were besides themselves, but allowed me my course of study & my father took an extra job while my mother went back to work after being retired to raise me for 18 years so that I did not have to get a job while in college, though I did hold a rather demanding work/study job I was fortunate enough to get in the university’s only archaeology lab. Meanwhile, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was released & my mother began to fret – a LOT thinking I’d be hanging for dear life to my whip under a moving truck or outrunning boulders inside of booby-trapped tombs. Just in case you’re wondering, archeaology is boring. REALLY boring.
I remained in college for 12 years obtaining my Doctorate in 1995 from the University of Texas at Austin where I also met my husband. During all that time, with the exception of two art courses I took under Professor William Stipe at Northwestern University, I had turned my back on Art. My studies took up all my time so I no longer had free time to create anything, nor was I motivated due to the demands of academia. Professor Stipe had told me the same thing Mrs. Yanta had ~ I had a good eye and a great imagination, and that practice makes not perfect, but much improved. He told me to stick with Art. I realize now with 20/20 hindsight I should have listened to him, but at the time I was too concerned with being somewhat practical & studying Archaeology.
I am happy to report that nothing ever came of my degree. I do use what I learned in my current work because spirituality always interested me so I studied the spirituality and religions of ancient civilizations, mainly the Maya, but also the Egyptian, Sumerian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, West African, and Native American. I never could get a job in my chosen field. Nothing ever worked out. I was never so much as called for a SINGLE interview. I gave up, got lost one day in Corpus Christi, Texas after we had just moved there from Austin & ended up in a new age shop as the manager was screaming at the owner & quitting on the spot. This left the owner in tears and me holding the bag as I attempted to comfort a woman who was a complete stranger to me.
I was hired on the spot & worked there for 2 years, after which I branched out and began
running my own tiny business out of my home. That was in 1997. 1998 saw the birth of http://magickal-musings.com where I have been in business ever since doing what I know I was meant to do.
1997 was a pivotal year for me. I became a Reiki master-teacher, in a vision I was chosen by the goddess Isis to be a priestess of Hers, in March of that year I rediscovered Art & happily returned to my first love, & in December conceived my daughter, but didn’t know the sneaky rascal was in there until the following March, so you can well imagine our shock & amazement! Ariel was born in September, 1998. I was selling prints and greeting cards based on my art at that time. I still have the first dollar I ever made from my art. I keep it on my personal altar.
Fast forward to 2009 when I discovered a blog by Andy Boroveshengra through which he taught others about how to read Lenormand cards. Recognizing the cards my aunt had read since she had been a child & taught by my grandmother, I obtained a deck and began learning the system. During 2011 I began my Lenormand collection that grew by leaps and bounds as more & more artists were self-publishing decks.
One day in early September of 2012 I was doodling and am image of a key with the head of an ankh just seemed to appear on my paper. I thought, “hmm. Cool image. I think I’ll do something with it.” I redrew it on nice card stock and proceeded to add color. A few days later I saw in my mind’s eye an image of the Egyptian god Thoth standing with a large full moon behind him. I thought to myself, “hmm. Cool image. I think I’ll draw that.” And so I did. A few days after that I had a vision of another image that consisted of a close up of a clover plant with an obviously Egyptian background behind it. That’s when it hit me. An Egyptian-style Lenormand was being given to me.
Once I realized I was channeling the images I opened myself up and the rest of the deck presented itself to me. Every image is channeled with the sole exception of The Child card. That should have been a child in the courtyard of the Temple of Isis at Philae, to match the Pharaoh and Priestess cards. Unfortunately, all the children I drew ended up looking like the possessed murderous doll “Chucky” from those horror movies, but my daughter suggested I research ancient Egyptian toys and draw those, which is what I ended up doing for The Child card. My mother, who had died in 2008, on her deathbed had a vision in which she saw me surrounded by brightly colored images all with an Egyptian theme. I now know what she saw was The Egyptian Lenormand.
I dedicated The Egyptian Lenormand to my mother’s memory and completed it on time for Valentine’s Day, 2013, which would have been my mother’s birthday. Originally, my intention was to create the deck only for myself and use a card printing company to print perhaps ten copies for my own use, but once I began to show the images to my friends it seemed that nearly everyone wanted a copy and were willing to pay for it. That is the reason I decided to self-publish a run of 100 copies. Meanwhile, I submitted a deck proposal to Schiffer Books who took only two weeks to inform me they had accepted my deck for publication. They published the mass market Schiffer edition in March, 2015.
As I worked well into the night creating The Egyptian Lenormand my husband would ask me, “what sort of money do you think you’ll make from this?” A former banker, for him it all revolved around money. I would tell him I wasn’t expecting to make anything. All I wanted to do was to create a deck that I would enjoy using. Once my friends became interested in it my husband became excited thinking I had a potential bestseller on my hands, but I had to inform him, “no dear, there is no money in deck creating.” Despite knowing that, he knew how much I loved Art and how I had turned my back on it to pursue my academic studies. He did not actually encourage me, but every night that I didn’t have dinner made or even had any idea of what we’d eat because I was “in the zone” working on another card image, he would just say, “Okay, take-out it is!” without a word of complaint. Somehow the laundry got done, dishes were washed, and we never starved because my husband and daughter took up the slack as I became completely immersed in my creation.
I have made very little money off my deck (so little that I can actually laugh about it) & my husband has been out of work since October, but I have never felt richer in my life. My Art is now front and center in my life’s pursuits, just as it was always meant to be. I self-published The Turtle Lenormand in late 2014 and am currently working on completing a book for Schiffer and several other deck projects are in the works. I also focus on creating Soul Portraits, Manifestation Mandalas, and my newest service, Spirit Guide Portraits, the former two of which are available for order via my website.
It never occurred to me that The Egyptian Lenormand may be considered worthy enough to win any awards. It was rewarding enough to me personally to have had Schiffer Books consider my work worthy enough for publication. From my point of view I had already won.
I am very pleased that after getting side-tracked for 12 years I am now an award-winning artist and author. The Egyptian Lenormand has been awarded the following honors:
- American Tarot Association & Tarot Reflections Lenormand Deck of the Year
- International Tarot Foundation Carta Award for Lenormand Deck of the Year
- International Tarot Foundation Carta Award for Best First-Work by an Illustrator
I humbly express my gratitude to the readers of Tarot Reflections and the voting committee of the Carta Awards. I am honored to have been considered, especially among such prestigious company. This year’s nominees are all truly outstanding and they are colleagues whom I respect and admire.
Today’s post comes about due to a memory that is forever etched in my mind. It is 1977 and I am 14 years old hunched over my desk in Mrs. Yanta’s art class struggling with an assignment on two-point perspective. As I’m sitting there literally sweating over the assignment Mrs. Yanta is making the rounds looking over every student’s shoulder. She walks up to me, looks down at what I’m attempting to draw, and asks, “Oh? Is that a settlement on Tatooine? Are you drawing the farm of Luke’s uncle Owen?”
That was EXACTLY what I was attempting to draw, but to my hyper self-critical eye it looked nothing like it. When I told her, “yes” she smiled broadly and said, “keep up the good work,” then she walked off still smiling to herself as though she knew a secret, but wasn’t about to share it with anyone else because it was too precious. Mrs. Yanta would often look at me with that look on her face throughout the remainder of my freshman year. Until today I thought she merely counted me among her favorite students and nothing more.
She was the first to truly encourage me with Art and I googled her today in an attempt to track her down. I wasn’t having any luck so I thought I had her first name incorrect. I have kept my old high school yearbooks so I dug out my Freshman yearbook and glanced through the blank pages in the back where students and teachers had signed.
I smiled as I read the cute messages and remembered faces. I then found where Mrs. Yanta had signed. She had written:
“To one of my favorite art students. It was so nice to see you improve all year! Best of luck in school & beyond. M. Yanta. P. S. There’ll never be a 4th period like that again – whew!”
Many of my art classmates were very disruptive and poor Mrs. Yanta had to deal with a lot of mischief and even some fights. I’ll never forget the fight I had in that class. I was seated at a table next to this girl who kept glancing over at my watercolor painting. I was nearly finished while she had really been struggling with hers. Suddenly she dumped her entire water can onto my painting. That completely ruined my work. I jumped up and without a second thought I punched her in the chest, then we were on the floor rolling around! Mrs. Yanta broke us up and sent that girl to the principal’s office as I sat and cried over my ruined painting. I have a phobia about watercolors to this day!
Mrs. Yanta’s signature wasn’t too clear so I looked up her teacher photo using the index. I never did look inside the yearbook for any teacher signatures because they had all signed the blank sheets in the back of the book, including Mrs. Yanta, but she has signed a SECOND time under her picture. I never saw this message until today. What I read caused me to cry for a good 30 minutes. Mrs. Yanta wrote,
“You’ve got a great career ahead of you in Art. Best of luck always, Mimi Yanta.”
I remember Mrs. Yanta’s little secret smile every time she looked my way. I would smile back and was glad my Art teacher liked me so much because she was my favorite teacher that year. I think of her often since returning to my first love. Now that I’ve read her second hidden message to me I know what her smile was about.
Mrs. Yanta saw in me someone with potential and she did all she could to encourage me. I now find myself wondering how different my life would have been had I seen her second message to me when I was 14 years old and had taken it to heart, but then I most likely would never have met my husband or give birth to our daughter.
I read Mrs. Yanta’s words 38 years later and realize how her wish basically became a prophecy, but one of which I was completely unaware until just this morning. I cried over this picture for nearly 30 minutes when I found it. Looking at it now as I type this blog post I am crying again.
It’s funny how I now am what I was meant to be and that life has come full circle for me, isn’t it? If you have a dream and people tell you that you’ll never make any money at it or you will never amount to anything ~ if it’s your DREAM and it is dear to YOUR heart, I encourage you. Do not give up. Pursue your dreams. You may never win awards for your work, but you will be HAPPY and that is what really matters.
Wishing you all many blessings,
Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.