Kids are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As far back as I can remember my answer to that question was, “An artist and a teacher. At the same time.” Around the seventh grade, I decided that, more specifically, I wanted to be a graphic designer, but I also loved to write, and by high school I had it all figured out. I would be both a graphic designer and a writer—I would work for a media company, designing album covers and movie posters and penning marketing pitches—and then I’d retire as an art historian and instructor. I planned out my lifelong career goals, packing my college resume with art show awards and academic accolades, and I was set to win a scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). All I had to do was get through graduation and I'd be home free.
Life—as it's either notoriously or gloriously known to do—took the reins. Decisions were made for me, so I had to make adjustments. I didn’t go to SCAD. I couldn’t… but you can read about that in my duology The Scars We Choose. I ended up going to Gordon College (now Gordon State University) in the tiny town of Barnesville, Georgia for two years before transferring to the Atlanta College of Art. That was fine. I had to take a small detour, and said detour ended up being pretty special, too, because only a few days after moving to Barnesville, I met my future husband. Fast forward a couple of exciting and memorable years, and I finished my Associate of Arts degree and was accepted to the Atlanta College of Art. I was back on my trajectory.
Enter Life with its reins again. Only this time, I was completely thrown off course. Mostly by my own doing—my own insecurities and fears. Seven years, three attempts at finishing school, two babies, one move from Atlanta back to my hometown, and several food services gigs later and I'd all but given up on a bachelor’s degree and becoming that artist and writer I was always meant to be.
At one of my darkest moments, I was bartending at the local Olive Garden. While I met a few outrageously cool people during my time there, inside I felt lost. I felt like there was so much more I was supposed to be doing with my life—with my artistic talent, with my writing. I remember slow nights when the bar was dead, and between running food to the tables I would jot down book ideas on beverage napkins or draft character profiles on the backs of order pads. Don’t get me wrong: bartending is a terrific profession, and I was superb at it, what with being a beverage artist and serving as the proverbial cocktail counselor. Those were right in my wheelhouse! I just couldn’t shake this voice that always seemed to be hovering over my shoulder and whispering, You are off-center. You are meant to do something else. As the years crept along, I felt myself fading from who I wanted to be. The voice grew louder. I needed redirection.
I love to walk. Specifically, walks in the park. And so, as per usual, one morning I went for a walk at my favorite park. It was a Friday and I had to work that night. While I was walking, I thought about where I wanted to be in my life versus where I was, and I prayed for direction. I asked for help figuring out where in the world I was going and how in the world I might arrive at some sense of purpose. I needed help calculating how to introduce school back into my already wobbly work-life balance: toddler to toddler, paycheck to paycheck. I felt like I owed it to myself to reignite all that ambition I once had—I just didn't have that fire anymore. Not a match in sight.
Depending on what you believe, God or the Universe or Lady Luck or fate took the reins.
While on my walk, I saw a small passenger bus parked down by the lake. A dozen or so senior citizens were strolling about, their grip secure on their walkers, arms looped with their caregivers, feeding ducks and looking out at the water. On the side of the bus, there was a company logo—green, the color of luck—that read Heritage Hills Alzheimer's Special Care Center.
Heritage Hills! I thought. That was the place where my grandmother had taken my grandfather for adult daycare when they both needed a change of scenery. I nearly cried at the sight, stopping to catch my breath. In case you didn't know, you can't power walk and cry, or you might choke and die. At the time, my grandfather had only been gone three short months. He'd lived with Alzheimer's disease for over sixteen years. The experience had been a roller coaster. Having lived next door to my grandparents during the most trying years of his disease, I saw firsthand the impact of Alzheimer’s on the individual and their family.
The next night was a Saturday. One of the busiest days of the week in the service world, if not the busiest. I handed a couple their credit card receipt and a pen, and then turned to make a drink for another customer. When I returned for my signed copy of the receipt, my pen was gone, and a different pen was left behind. Hunter green with the squishy grip-thing at the bottom. Admiring the fact that the pen was nicer than the one I'd provided the couple, I turned it between my fingers. There was a gold logo. Heritage Hills Alzheimer's Special Care.
How stinkin’ cool.
What a coincidence! I thought. A Heritage Hills pen! Of course, I kept it. I’m a pen hoarder!
After my walk the very next day, I stopped by the gas station where they had a blue newspaper box on their front sidewalk. This particular box held the weekly Career Builder, a newspaper version of LinkedIn and Indeed before there were such. I snagged a copy, went home, laid out the paper, and started circling job options. I was getting out of bartending if it killed me. I had to do something else. Halfway down the left side of the page, my eye tripped on a logo. Yep. You already know which logo: Heritage Hills Alzheimer's Special Care Center. And they were seeking an Activities Director.
All of the activities my grandfather and I enjoyed raced through my mind: Scrabble and shelling on Mexico Beach and walks through the cemetery and rides through town and down Memory Lane.
I couldn’t get to my computer fast enough.
That was Sunday. Before the sun set, I’d updated my resume and laid out the most professional outfit I could curate. I would go to the assisted living building the next morning as soon as their office opened. I would fill out an application and submit my resume in person. And I did. On Monday morning, I received a clipboard and sat down in the front lobby to complete the application. While writing, movement in my peripheral caught my attention. A man walked behind the receptionist a couple of times, looking at me and smiling, before leaning down and whispering something into her ear. After handing over the clipboard and thanking the lady, I was nervous when she got up from her chair and asked me if I had time to stay.
“I do,” I said.
“Great,” she smiled while leading me back to another room. “Randy wants to speak with you. He’s our Executive Director.”
“Tell me,” Randy asked, pointing to my grandfather’s name on my cover letter. I had highlighted my years of experience being one of his caregivers. “How did you know Mr. Sellers?”
“He was my grandfather,” I explained the relation.
“And his son, Keith?” He flipped the page and pointed to my uncle’s name whom I’d listed as a reference.
I explained that connection as well.
Randy went on to ask about my other uncles, aunt, and my mother. “Do you know my family?” I asked.
He smiled. “Not only do I know your family, but your uncle Keith is my tax accountant, and your grandfather was my parents’ accountant,” he said. “When I was a little boy, your uncles and I played together while Mr. Sellers did my parents’ taxes.”
I walked out of Heritage Hills that day with the job as Activities Director. I started a couple of weeks later, April 5, 2005.
While I worked at the assisted living, I was promoted within the company twice, developing activities programs for people living with dementia and training for their caregivers, both family and professional. I was recruited to work as a Regional Director of Programs and Services with the Alzheimer’s Association, and I even went back to school. Because my path had changed, I changed my concentration of study from graphic design to psychology. In 2010, I finished my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and two years later I earned my Master of Science in Psychology. The next year, my lifelong dream of becoming a designer and writer merged with my new career path. We moved to Florida where I became an Instructional Designer for BayCare Health System in Clearwater. Not only did I have the pleasure of developing training content for caregivers spanning all of healthcare, but I got to write, design, and be creative every single day. Just as important, I developed relationships with a group of women whom I affectionately refer to as my soul sisters. They are my people and moving to Florida led me to find them along my way.
Just what, exactly, happened with the series of Heritage Hills logo occurrences? Was the change of direction merely a coincidence or was it serendipity? Was it manifestation? Did I attract the Activities Director position? Whatever it was, I’m convinced that what I experienced was a stroke of fortune.
Those four consecutive days so many years ago plucked me from being off-center and redirected me into a direction I could have never imagined or predicted. This journey has been more rewarding than anything I could have built by my own efforts alone. Today, I have the degrees, I have all those years’ experience in training design and delivery, and I’ve written and published multiple novels. I design every single day, at my Muggle job as well as creatively on the side, and I coach others around writing, publishing, brand design, and marketing. Because of redirection—and a nice little nudge along the wheel of fortune—I’m living my dream. I’m an artist and a teacher... and a writer! At the same time.
What is the meaning of the Wheel of Fortune card?
At its best, the Wheel of Fortune card means Lady Luck is on your side. The planets are aligned, and your name is written in the stars! The Sphinx and Anubis have guided you to a place of contentment, achievement, and success. You are entirely supported in all four directions, with all four elements. However, all those things inform big changes about to happen. You are gaining momentum, and like my own story, the Universe is helping to direct you, moving you along a path that leads to favor. A turn of events is about to happen, and change is imminent.
Wheel of Fortune: A Deep Dive
Wheel of Fortune is a metaphor for life. There are so many aspects of our unique experience on this planet that are mysterious and inconsistent. If you’ve pulled this card in a position to represent you, the writer, it could mean that what you’re preparing for pales in comparison with what is in store. You are manifesting results and momentum greater and faster than you ever imagined. The wheel has taken a swift spin in the right direction for your writing. Keep the pace. Maintain your grasp on the axis so that you can remain steady and poised for whatever direction the wheel turns.
Numerologically, the Wheel of Fortune card is directly connected to The Magician (1 + 0 = 1), which you will recall makes the statement “As above, so below.” Similarly, the Wheel of Fortune reminds us that what goes up must come down. This statement applies especially if you’re riding that wheel on the outside, grasping its edges and not securing your grip on the axis. On the other hand, once secure, the center of the wheel reveals a crossroads: you have a choice in the direction you’ll take your writing. Which way will you go?
Wheel of Fortune Reversed: the Shadow
At its lull, this card reminds us that change is uneasy, and we might feel unsteady with how to navigate the varying directions our wheel is spinning. We might feel like a newborn deer attempting to stand, or like Ariel when she first got her human legs. What rises fast falls fast. Feast or famine. Ebb and flow. Ups and downs. Change is one of the only consistencies in life. When this card lands topsy-turvy on your desktop, you might feel stuck in a rut, or like you’ve hit a speed bump or pothole in the road. Luck may be running out, or this reversed position could mean not to test one’s luck.
Notable Symbols for Wheel of Fortune
Spirit / Fire
Ten signifies finality and/or a return to center.
The winged creatures—the Lion, the Ox, the Man, and the Eagle—in each of the card’s corners represent the four elements: fire, earth, air, and water. They also represent the Four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In astrology, these creatures represent Leo, Taurus, Aquarius, and Scorpio.
Sphinx—sun and life and the soul
Anubis—helplessness and death and the afterlife
Wheel of Fortune, Characterized
Rather than representing a person or character, the Wheel of Fortune denotes events, occurrences, and situations. However, if your character embodies attributes of this card, they can certainly be unsteady and unreliable. On the other hand, the character might be serendipitous and spontaneous.
Who can the figure in the card be?
The Wheel of Fortune is a lottery win, an inheritance, a new career, a change in direction.
Next on the blog, the spotlight shines on indie author Zom Lee! Don't miss this interview.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself. And that's a good thing!
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.