Each of us, whatever our tools for dealing with decision making processes, at times needs a second opinion. Even those like myself, who read and counsel for others. It is very hard to see the broad scope of ones own life while attempting to live it. As a result, I have at times and for various reasons called 900 lines for advice.

I chose the lines that I called for various reasons - often on the basis of how they advertised themselves, both in print and on TV. I looked for integrity and how they dealt with callers, and the scope of their services. Several times I have hung up almost immediately - and in the situations that I will describe, you should also.

In one instance, the reader insisted on having me give him my last name. I told him that he did not need that to do a reading. He then insisted that it would affect his "clairvoyantnessness" - and that is NOT a typo! Another time a reader started to talk about my children - apparently I have three of them that I am not aware of! Another time the reader came on, greeted me with "hello" in a very raspy voice, started puffing on a cigarette and "fanning" the cards into the receiver (I assume that I was supposed to believe that she was shuffling).

And then there were the ones that were really very good: the lady who had me take deep, cleansing breaths with her, the reader that I woke up (she thought she had signed off !) who gave me a wonderful reading anyway, readers who showed caring, warmth and compassion. What I am saying here is - if you connect, let the reading continue, if you don't connect, hang up the phone.

I always had my questions written out before hand, to make best use of my time. I made notes as the readers were reading and asked questions as they came up. The best readers will ask a minimum of questions, and keep the reading to the questions that you are asking, or to where those questions lead.

I usually called when things in my life were urgent, and I was very upset. And 90% of the time, I got the help that I needed. And my questions were the norm - finances, career and romance. Taking time to chose the line that I was calling and setting my questions down beforehand made a world of difference to my experience as a caller - and can to you too.

Expect to receive literature if you give out your last name and address. Feel free to join the clubs if you call often - the discounts and other perks are genuine. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by a reader, or give out information that you do not feel comfortable giving out. This is your call, your money, your experience. Empower it for you.

(Bonnie Cehovet is a reader for PlanetStarz and Legacy (a Washington-only network). Visit her webpage, The Crystal Gate.)