Friday, February 11, 2011


It's that time again! Time to crack open the Golden Book of Spreads (somehow, I don't think Little Brown Books thought of this one) and grab another oldie-but-goodie.

Actually, I was inspired to pull out my Burnout Spread because of something my coworker asked me at my Clark Kent job. "Mel," she said, exasperated that I was giving her a hard time about smoking again, "what do you do when you're stressed?"

Meaning: What do you do to take a break/get away/clear your head and regroup from work?

I'm somewhat of a shit, so I just blinked uncomprehendingly at her and said, "I don't understand the question."

Of course, she knew I was joking (a little), but at the Clark Kent job, I am also known as The Machine. No lie, people actually call me that. 1) Because for some unknown reason I am actually quite good (and efficient) at my job and 2) Because I just keep going. And going. And going.

I've been at Clark Kent job 3 years now, and so have most of my coworkers, so people have come to know me well enough now to know that The Machine personality extends to areas beyond the office. I check my e-mail on my breaks, every break, to make sure I haven't received correspondence regarding any one of my books (editing and PR related), or about the Center, or about the Creative Writing class I'm teaching. When I leave the office, I go home and do work in any of these areas, sometimes well past midnight (to get to Clark Kent job, I must be up and moving at 5:30 AM). I'm always "on." I am always multi-tasking. I am always coming up with solutions for the Center when I am at the office, mentally penning answers to interview questions about Psychic Tarot while I am eating, running new book plots through my head while I am driving to test their novel-worthiness, half-listening to my favorite TV show while I am researching for the Capstone books, & thinking of team-building exercises for my Clark Kent job while I'm penning my next Way-Ward blog.

I don't understand the meaning of "can't." I am well versed in "don't want to" and "have no interest," but if I want to do something, I don't care how full my plate is. I heap more on. (Case in point, Slimgenics. 92 lbs off and counting!) It's in my blood. I come from people who believe in love, faith, charity, creativity, honesty, and work. There is always room for improvement - especially self-improvement.

As a result of my funky wiring, about once or twice a year (and once, quite spectacularly, for a few months), I burn out. If seen from afar, I swear it must look like a meteor falling to Earth. One, great big brilliant flash, and then absolute ennui. I end up just as dull and useless as the pock-marked pebble that hits the dirt.

I have a Divine Committee that tries to knock me over the head every time I'm approaching burnout. Kali is especially vocal. And once, just once upon a time, the universe decided I needed to be drawn a picture:

Yes, ladies and gentleman, that screenshot of Windows Media Player looks exactly like the Burnout Spread I'd laid not 3 weeks earlier at Nance's house.

How does one lay the Burnout Spread? Simple. Choose a card that signifies you (consciously or unconsciously, I always choose unconsciously by heat or cold - but fielder's choice). (I also call this the Falling Star Spread, because the first time it came to me, I drew the Star. Reversed.)

On the upper righthand corner (and I do mean on top of) of the Significator, lay a card for one area/activity/problem/situation of your life that is drawing a lot of your energy. On top of that card, staggered much like one of the pink lines in the picture above, lay another aspect of that one issue. Then another. Then another. As many as needed until you feel there are enough cards to thoroughly explore that one issue. You may pause at this point to delve into that issue, or -

Move onto another area/activity/problem/situation of your life that is sapping your energy, focus, and attention. Lay a series as you did for the first issue starting in the lower righthand corner of the Significator. Draw cards until you feel there are enough cards to illustrate the complexity of that situation. Delve into the information that has been revealed, or -

Think of another area/activity/problem/situation (I had 4 the first time I laid this spread. You may have more, or fewer, but do try to cover the major areas of energy drain in your life. Family. Work. A special project. An illness. Whatever it is that you are putting most of your energy into).

Whether you want to pause at each bolt of burnout flame the moment after you lay it, or wait to have a full overview of where all your energy is going, do remember to thoroughly explore every ray you have laid. If you do not immediately see opportunities for change, or better energy management, ask yourself these questions:

Is this something I need to give energy to at this time? Do I have to give it as much energy as I am in order for it to work, or can I cut back? Is this issue finished, and do I need to let go?

Does this situation need more energy than what I've been giving it? More of my attention? If so, what other area of my life can I cut back on to give this situation the energy it needs?

Does putting my energy behind this change the situation? Am I pushing against a brick wall, or can I actually effect change here? (Hint: My grandfather, God rest his soul, always said, "People don't change, they just become more who they are." I take this to mean that throwing energy at changing anyone but yourself is a terrible waste. You can help. You can advise. But you are not meant to walk the path for them.)

Does this activity serve my life? Does it feed my energy, my journey?

Ultimately, if you find yourself laying the Burnout Spread, you already know you need to cut back somewhere or you're going to go out in flames. Take a real, honest, good look at what you've laid out before you and try to see where healthier choices can be made. Let yourself stew on it for a few days. See if you can get any ideas to surface, no matter how radical or impossible they seem. Envision what a healthier you, with a healthier life looks like and try to think of what would need to change for you to get from Point A to Point B.

You may just surprise yourself with your own ingenuity.

And, for my sake, take a bubble bath, read a book, light a candle, and take care of yourselves.

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