Know thyself. Or get a psychic.

Hercules and I recently visited Janet, the Psychic. The Psychic Gallery has bright red carpets, a strange mix of leather couches and plastic lawn chairs, and the fee is $35 to get your palm read. She also offers tarot card readings and full on what-is-your-future readings sans the crystal ball. The entire atmosphere screams rip-off, and it is located a short block from the State Capitol. Only in Madison.

No matter. It was just the entertainment Hercules and I were looking for on a rainy afternoon.

I didn’t want my palm read, but humored Hercules inside. After Janet the Psychic finished a surprisingly accurate reading of Hercules, and told us, in detail, about the zit beneath her eyebrow, Hercules decided that I should get my palm read too. “I’ll pay for it,” he insisted.

I shrugged my shoulders and was about to outstretch my palm when Janet the Psychic proclaimed she wouldn’t read my palm that day. I should come back a different day, she said, and not with Hercules. Yeah. Okay. That’s not shady at all.

We changed the subject, and then just as Hercules and I were about to leave, Janet the Psychic insisted, “But I do want to tell you something before you go. Free of charge. Not with him in the room, though.” Hercules left obediently, and Janet spoke.

And I don’t know if it was what she said, or how she said it, or the sudden coldness in the room that gave me goosebumps, but I felt the devil himself had just ripped my heart out of my chest.

How could this woman who had known me less than twenty minutes hit on the exact thing that I tried to ignore daily with the right friends and the right clothes and the right job?

I didn’t say anything back to her, nodding only slightly. She continued on, speaking of things that I knew, but never discussed. And how I needed to change all of it. Quickly.

I suppose she could have said those things to anyone and it would have been true, but would it have been the same gut-wrenching experience for others?

Because the thing about fear, and that’s really all she was talking about, is that it takes on a life of its own and you call it bad, because that’s what it is, but you make it good and that eats up your heart. I’ll tell you. It takes big monstrous bites of your heart and chews it like the trucker chews on the grizzle in his sausage-bacon-egg biscuit.

And Janet the Psychic saw through that. In twenty minutes. And perhaps just as quickly, I forgot about what she said, refusing to speak of it to Hercules, or anyone else. Life went on. Because I’m too busy and too proud to live in fear. So I thought.

Then this Sunday afternoon, my sister who is visiting from England, and I were walking down State Street. We are completely different; she is curvaceous where I am not, and bohemian where I am refined. We walked with the sun beating the sweat onto our arms, and in other spots that women shouldn’t sweat in, and my sister exclaimed:

“Oh, tarot card readings! Let’s do that,” pointing at a sign describing another psychic on State Street. Another one. Because one psychic isn’t enough in Madison.

And wouldn’t you know. The second psychic said the exact same thing as the first. Like, do they all talk to each other or something? Right.

So I paid a little more attention this time. Because I don’t believe in psychics, but I get it when life is slapping you in the face. A wall in front of the yellow brick road only appears because you’re ready to find a way through. Which is kind of exciting. To overcome challenges, that is. Like when my mother taught me how to balance the checkbook when I was young, and how it still gives me great pleasure to figure out where the last .03 comes from to reconcile the two sides. So, I’m announcing that I get it. Life can get off my back. And I’m a huge dork. I know.

See, leaders aren’t leaders because they show no emotion and are stoic and sly. It’s because they overcome their challenges, and inspire others to do the same. You have to know yourself, what your issues are, and work to make yourself and the world a better place.

That’s the journey, and it’s quite beautiful when you think about it. When you think about how great you are to have overcome what you have, to have accomplished what you have, to be so uniquely and utterly you. To be able to thrive off of challenge. Challenges are, in fact, opportunities, and the road is ripe with them. A fact that makes me quite happy, and should make you quite happy as well.

Crystal ball, bro.