October: Domestic Violence Awareness and a Presidential Collapse

We’re getting political, and raw, for an unusually personal post. I debated on where and how best to share this, and decided that Moonphase was born from the ashes of my demise and escape from domestic violence. Please read to hear my voice and thoughts on what I see in our nation right now.

I refuse to be silent one minute more. Image: Pexels

For some time I had intended to write an essay about all the ways our current administration reminded me of my years of living with a narcissistic abuser. I planned the essay, and even wrote a monstrous draft that was an unruly 3,000 words and fell short of capturing what I wanted to relate to my fellow Americans.

Then October came upon us, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; and then came the presidential collapse—if we could call it that—when Donald Trump and First Lady Melania both tested positive for COVID-19 and the events that followed stirred a nation that was already over-stirred and weary from a strange and surreal trip that began in 2016.

In 2016, I was still with my ex-husband. I had been worn down by two difficult pregnancies, separation and isolation from my family and then, finally, even his family. I was without a car, without financial means, forbidden to work and told often how I was: fat, ugly, dumb, incapable, unlovable, and lucky that he loved me anyway. I was a bumbly bag of bones barely fit to be a mother and destined to be his—grab them by the pussy? He loved Trump and all he said. Trump was, after all, exactly the way the world should be for Alphas like my ex (as he described it).

Trump’s abusive, offensive, degrading spew reinforced and amplified the abuses I heard every day. Once he was elected, I watched the nation turn into an abused spouse: when lie after lie could be unraveled with a simple fact-check, the nation would sit with tight lips with blatant gaslighting subduing us all. See, it isn’t that you truly believe you’re wrong; you know, beyond a doubt with provable points that you are definitely right in whatever the matter is. But your abuser will say there were misunderstandings, you’re the one not thinking clearly, check your dumb head before you say something else stupid…

 

Does it sound familiar?

 

We have been gaslit into a pandemic that couldn’t be controlled because we were worn down, nationally, by leadership that made thinking with any clarified autonomy impossible. In the course of my short marriage and the relatively short while of a bumpy relationship prior to our marriage, I faced a tailspin from a poor single mom in her twenties struggling as an adjunct professor, to being a mother of three living estranged from everyone without access to a car and being denied a bathroom to the point I was forced to soil myself in front of my children.

My ex-husband had “quirks,” a self-declared diagnosis of OCD that I at first happily helped him through by following certain rules and protocols. But my kindness and compassion were my own downfall, as eventually this turned into a control tactic in which I must re-fold and re-do the laundry as punishment should a single piece of clean fabric touch the floor or brush against my chest. Or I must wash and re-wash my hands, and toss entire stocks of food or meals that were “contaminated” by something most people would not even consider.

I was subject to cavity checks to satisfy his OCD compulsions. On multiple occasions I was stripped naked to be showered and “decontaminated” if I were to leave the house the “wrong way.” I watched my dignity stripped entirely, and I saw my sense of self morph into something unrecognizable. There were more things, I could not begin to even tell you—and these things have no real bearing here. Just to point out that, when you are abused, eventually you lose sense of right and wrong and moral to a point it is mere survival and you’ll endure things that, perhaps, four years ago you would have never, ever tolerated in your wildest dreams.

When I escaped, I worried for him. I worried he would not be able to fill out all these forms, and worried if he would he understand the police forms and things I was filling out. It was insane. I was worried for my abuser. You can love someone who has hurt you. You can feel indebted to someone who has hurt you. You can feel scared and ashamed for not worrying about your abuser.

And that right there is what called me to write this today, as the President recovers from COVID-19 and baffles us all with disregard for hygiene and quarantine to limit his spread of the virus that is killing Americans in droves. Because—you can be abused and beaten down and mangled beyond recognition and still have that unbreakable spirit that calls you to kindness and compassion. You can still worry and care for a President that has done so many things that are wrong and inexcusable—and certainly, we can have mixed feelings about his health and recovery and the way he is carrying on at the expense of others’ health amid a pandemic.

It is okay to have a melting pot of emotions during a presidency like this. But if you think the president is for you at the end of the day, I’d point out many abused spouses have said the exact same thing after their abuser has done unspeakable things and ended with, “You’re a despicable human being. No one else could ever love you, but you’re lucky I still do.”

I realize this will not change hearts or waiver opinions. But I lost my voice for too many years to sit tight lipped while another narcissistic abuser uses his power to belittle and hurt others. I have thought, for four years, that this nation is at the hands of an abuser and our collective Stockholm syndrome is going to anesthetize us into a complacent hum of subservience. I believe it has, but I hope that as the hum gives way to discord, that we might find the strength to feel the ground beneath us and walk right out the door into a brave new world with better, kinder, more human leadership.

Hey Solopreneurs! Are you ready to rise up?

When this morning hit, I really thought I was going to slay the day. By 9.30, I was my third diaper change, so hey–no one could say I wasn’t being productive! But I was so ready for naptime, so I could get to the keyboard and tell you all about this latest thing Moonphase Creative is offering.

Custom Package with Special Pricing for Black Owned/Female Owned Small-Business Owners

I’m offering customized writing/service packages and special pricing for black-owned and/or female owned small-business owners and solopreneurs. See, when I left my ex-husband three years ago, I was knee-deep in oppression and struggling to make my way. In a world where childcare is the cost of a mortgage and employers are more concerned about their bottomline than employee health, getting to a point of freelance freedom was absolutely crucial to the survival of me and my three girls.

So with all this political uprising and an uncomfortable zoom-in on the unjust ways of our world, I’m here to be part of the solution and extend help however I can. If you happen to be a solopreneur and happen to be black and/or female, please contact me. First consultation is always free, but I want to talk to you about how you CAN become a successful small business owner. I want to help you find a path that works for you. As a copywriter/editor and illustrator with some knowledge of content creation and strategy, I’m confident we can figure out the blueprints of a career that can grow.

LGBTQ+ Crowd Welcome, Too

Not to be exclusive, and definitely welcoming all rainbow fam–I want to welcome the LGBTQ+ crowd into this offer, too. See, when you’re struggling on the peripheral of society, you can get so caught up in daily survival, trying to make it through the trauma and societal norm navigating just to avoid panic attacks–strategizing your business can seem like an afterthought.

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Moonphase Creative is focusing on the LGBTQ Community to help LGBTQ solopreneurs slay the day. Image found at Pexels

I’m here to connect and use my skills as a solopreneur in the freelance world to help you develop your ideas, define your path, and execute a plan. Our first consultation is always free, and I know a lot can be accomplished in that initial meeting. If you’re ready for more, we have plans and packaging that can be engineered to fit your budget because right now, I’m giving back to the world that has so graciously given to me.

 

Others Lifted Me Up… Now it is MY Turn

When I left my situation a little over three years ago, I was emotionally battered, physically exhausted, and mentally stretched thin. Traditional employment quickly showed itself to be an impossibility for many reasons. I was a single mom of three, and all three were already needing tons of therapy due to the trauma we were all escaping and navigating.

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This was me holding my beautiful girls after a fruitless shift in retail. Shortly after leaving my abusive marriage, I worked for not a lot of money and it mostly complicated my situation, rather than adding value. Enter: Freelance Freedom.

Beyond that, there was a police investigation and lawyer-stuff happening on the daily… I was in no shape to be dropping my kids off at daycare and going off to work in retail or wherever else. Jumping back into teaching after a five year absence while my ex-husband degraded me and convinced me I wasn’t able or worthy wasn’t going to be so easy, either.

But I could write and I could draw/design. I held an MFA in Writing; I had studied art and animation. I had a few skills, and I knew I could sail my own ship. This was how it all began, and I registered Moonphase Creative as a writing and illustration sole proprietorship, and did my best to jump in and build my empire.

It Takes Time… but you CAN

Building your freelance career takes time, but you can definitely do it. I want to avoid telling you it’s easy and you’ll have a great income in six-months, because that wasn’t my personal experience and I’m all about transparency. I was lucky to meet a few great mentors and learn a few hard lessons right at the starting line, and this definitely helped me shape my path and achieve eventual success.

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Let’s figure out where you are and where you’re going–and if Moonphase Creative can help. Image: Andrea Piacquadio

Every day is a learning experience, and some days will be more productive, more successful than others. Due diligence will reveal results, though, and I want to help others work on the plan to get you where you want to be.

Let’s Find Your Niche

Let’s talk about your goals and interest and find your niche if you’re still wandering in search of it. And let’s see how you can start building your plan. Please contact me to get chatting, and I’m so excited to talk about what we can do for you. Or keep an eye on our website to see new posts rolling out about being a small business in the land of niches.

I’m a writer and illustrator and I’ve often said the beauty of my job is that I’m not limited to any single subject or sector. But if I’m honest, I love working with fitness peeps: exercise, bodybuilding, nutrition, and more. I also love working with woman-owned businesses that somehow relate to the service industry, motherhood, or female-centric products and services. I felt weird saying that for a while, but it’s true. And I also love working with creative out-of-the-box niches that have a place and a purpose but are sometimes hard to nail down. One of my very favorite projects to have helped launched into the world? This Sex Positive Education website.

If this sounds like we would be a good fit, let’s get together and talk about what your options might be. I can hand you some resources and ideas, and we can have a coffee chat by Zoom or by phone to go over the details of what you’re doing, where you’re headed, and how Moonphase Creative can help.

A Thoughtful Response to Schessa Garbutt’s “Black Lives Matter is Not a Design Challenge”

 

The article shared on Medium’s Design Toast at the beginning of June made a lot of great points about virtue signaling and how garnering likes for social justice sketches is a less than okay way to respond to the Black Lives Movement. To be honest, I was sitting in my cozy seat of white privilege doing exactly nothing because I felt it was my place to do nothing when I got a message from my friend that catapulted me into action. I agreed with all the points of Garbutt’s article, and I still do agree with the points—but I wanted to respond in case the article might shut-down some actually on-point actions and responses to BLM for fear of being the wrong kind of help.

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I was sitting cozy in my white privilege until a friend reached out. Image: Adobe Stock

 

The message I received was a tearful, exhausted confessional of emotions and maybe a decade or more worth of her personal and silent struggle to pretend it’s all okay and race issues in America aren’t all that bad. She and her family have been living the struggle on the daily, but her public persona would never let you in on that fact.

“I’ve been up all night. I fear for the lives of my kids—my husband could have lost his last night.”

You see, her (black) husband had been peacefully protesting the day before, and before he could come home, Columbus, OH police kettled the protesters for six hours before letting people leave. People tried to get in their cars and leave, but police were forcibly removing them from vehicles and “beating their faces off,” my friend related to me.

It was at this point I decided I couldn’t sit by and say this isn’t my fight because I’m white and I don’t belong. Being intentional about purchasing take-out from black-owned local restaurants suddenly seemed like a paltry contribution. Reaching out to say, “you okay?” to my black friends seemed hardly enough. And now, I had a friend reaching out to me in fear saying very blatantly, we need your help.

We need your voices right now because when black people speak up here, it doesn’t mean as much. We need white voices to help lift up the black voices.”

So, if you are white/privileged/otherwise leading a comfortably entitled existence but wanting to contribute in some way for the right reasons, let’s have a look at some ways to do this productively–and some of these do completely echo Garbutt’s suggestions. Her words are what I, as a white writer/illustrator/communicator, need to be listening to first before responding. If you haven’t read her article, please do click on this link.

 

  1. Defer to the black community about what is needed.
  2. If you are a white person, be cognizant of the racism embedded in your community. Talk about it. Educate your community. Be an ambassador.
  3. Be really aware of what your goals and intentions are with your work.
  4. Find ways to give back to the black community through your work.
  5. Feature black-owned businesses, connect and collaborate with black creatives, and find ways to utilize the works and voices of the black community.

 

 

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Image from Adobe Stock

 

After this article was published over at Medium, I heard a few creatives discussing it in various forums. I digested the message and double-checked my actions, and truly felt my work was coming from the right place—but I decided to keep evaluating and adjusting the way I approached things.

 

But then I got an email from a local designer friend whom I know is genuinely, deeply committed to the causes of social justice and change. She had been working on some truly beautiful works for our print efforts, but she said, “well, as per this article, maybe I shouldn’t even put these out there.”

 

I responded, “no I think you should keep doing the work—let’s just be mindful how and when and where we put stuff out there.”

Because, you see, this friend has experience with oppression and missed opportunities, judgment, and assumptions because of being differently abled. She is deaf and has experienced audism (which I did not know about and she educated me to understand this term used to describe a negative, ableist attitude toward deafness and the deaf community). She has also dealt with sexism and religious oppression, and she has developed her worldview through her unique experience.

Her experience aligns her empathy with Black Lives Matter in a way I can’t even fully fathom. Just as, in other ways, my own experience aligns me empathetically with the cause in ways others may not realize and I don’t feel the need to explain or justify, because right now my story doesn’t matter: but the ways it has prepared me can at least be useful to Black Lives Matter.

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I did my own design work with all the right intentions, but the names overwhelmed. It seemed trite and ridiculous to even attempt. Besides, the issue goes so much deeper than police fatalities and systemic racism. Image is mine.

We all probably have a story or an experience that in some way helps us empathetically align to the cause. To say we have no point of reference is to minimize the collective human experience and how we are all uniquely equipped to be first responders to the Black Lives Matter issue. Whatever your positional point of reference may be, I think the important point of consideration remains: consider your white fragility, your place of privilege, and what you truly have to offer the world on behalf of Black Lives everywhere.

I decided to double-check my intentions, re-examine my privilege, and make sure my actions are going to help further the cause rather than pollute the social media sludge scroll. I encourage others to do the same, and if someone asks, “are we being white saviors?” or “is this really going to help?” I think that measuring your output against this list is a worthwhile litmus test.

If you have engaged with black thought, read about current events, white privilege, virtue signaling, divisive thinking, and you have done the internal work to check yourself—by all means, continue on with your crusade. Be mindful and definitely defer to number five on Garbutt’s list of how to direct your energy for the greater good and cause of Black Lives Matter.

 

“If you must make art, here’s a challenge: figure out how it can benefit the movement without benefitting you.” Schessa Garbutt, from “Black Lives Matter is not a Design Challenge”

 

I truly believe art is often the most powerful and effective tool for change. Writing and art can educate and empower in both an immediate and lasting way. Art persists when protests end in violence. Writing remains when the words of angry rioters are lost into the elbows of their oppressors. Powerful writing can lift up a cause and become a voice for the oppressed, and powerful art can spread a message that transcends language and meets us on another level where our emotional conscience fights to raise our awareness to another level.

So while I ask that everyone check their intentions and do the necessary navel-gazing work in the shower where it belongs, I also encourage everyone to do their part—even if that means it falls on the creative spectrum and you are not yourself a person of color.

 

Not everyone is able to protest.

Not everyone is able to donate.

Not everyone is able to write.

Not everyone is able to draw/paint/sculpt/sketch.

 

For the Cause

Take up the cause however you can while carefully listening to the black community, deferring to the voice of the unheard in order to amplify the cause rather than to virtue signal.

If you are unsure where you fall in this category, you’re probably at least asking the right questions to keep self-aware. Keep going. But remain open to criticism and questions. Be ready to have that hard look in the mirror and carefully reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and if it’s going to make a difference.