Asking for help...and all the messy feelings that ensue

Asking for help...and all the messy feelings that ensue
Photo by Ivan Bandura / Unsplash

Hello, it’s been awhile!

The last time I sent out a newsletter was back in March, almost five months ago.

I’m here now with (1) an update, (2) a request for help, (3) and some reflections on the cringey spiky vulnerable feelings that arose for me today at the idea of asking for help.

(Btw—before I go on—for those of you who reached out to me via email and IG in the past several months, thank you so much for your sharing your thoughts and kind words, and I’m sorry that I haven’t responded yet. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I have read them and I appreciate them. Thank you!)

An Update

Since pausing all offerings for Shadow Femme back in the spring, I’ve left myself open to considering all types of possibilities for the future of my public spiritual practice. I’ve wondered if I should shutter Shadow Femme and walk away from this line of work completely, whether I should burn it all down and start again (sounds pretty aggressive when I type it out like that, but as a Scorpio, I’ve begrudgingly accepted that death/rebirth cycles are the only constant in life lol), or whether I’m simply not meant to be a reader/practitioner who provides these services for money—and that I should instead just use these modalities for myself, and perhaps close friends.

I have been mostly living in survival mode, struggling to pay my bills, cobbling together part-time jobs and underpaid gig work, living in a less-than-ideal housing situation, and feeling drained and cynical most of the time. It’s been hard for me to see a way out of this, and my current situation has reinforced the thoughts I’ve been having that tell me I shouldn’t be a professional reader/healer/medium. How could I be, when I feel exhausted and blocked and deeply unsure of myself and basically the opposite of wise and magical and capable of holding space for people? Occupied 24/7 with worries around basic needs. Living without any private or quiet space in which to hold appointments or even feel my own feelings.

Over these past several months, though, I’ve been participating in Kaitlyn Graña’s (Mother of Mystics) Tarot Lab Level 2, which I was able to enroll in because of a scholarship (thank you Kaitlyn for your generosity). TLL2 is meant to support those who want to become professional tarot readers and spiritual practitioners. So many of my classmates glow with the kind of enthusiasm that I felt three years ago as I first started Shadow Femme, and I sometimes feel a distance between us—I feel sad and separate, somehow alone in my cynicism and exhaustion and my “failed” attempts at building a public practice.

But going through this course has helped me continue to reflect on my relationship with tarot and other modalities as well as my relationship with client work, even as the hugely cynical and depressed part of me has just been telling myself to give it all up and quit. The reading exchanges that we’ve done throughout the course have reminded me that I *do* truly enjoy reading for other people; it’s just hard to envision a future in which I can do so consistently, and for money.

After months of gradual reflection (actually—it was not nearly as smooth as that sounds—more like waves of despair, apathy, bitterness, and extremely low self-esteem, punctuated by hopefulness and periods of dissociation and escapism), I’ve finally turned a corner in the last few days. Something seemed to click into place for me after one of Kaitlyn’s classes, and for the first time in a long time I started to feel a curiosity and an excitement about reengaging with Shadow Femme. I started to finally feel like, hey…maybe I *can* do this. And more importantly: I *want* to do this. I thought to myself: Maybe I could actually construct a public practice that works for me. One that doesn’t burn me out. One that actually takes into account my neurodivergence and introversion and inconsistent energy. For the first time in a long time, I felt drawn to brainstorm possibilities for the future.

(Not coincidentally, Venus has been retrograding through my 10th house and it crossed my Midheaven just as I felt this pull to return to Shadow Femme and begin to revive it.)

More to come in the next few weeks and months—I will keep you posted as I climb out of my hermit cave again and begin to develop these ideas :)

A Request for Help

One reason why I paused my public offerings in the spring was because I felt like the pressure to make money from my spiritual practice was crushing my love for it.

I hadn’t planned on launching my practice without a day job to fall back on; I got laid off in 2020 due to the pandemic, and I started Shadow Femme while I was on unemployment, thinking that by the time my unemployment payments ended I would be able to sustain myself through my work as a practitioner.

That did not pan out, and over the past couple years I found that treating Shadow Femme as something that should be—but was failing to be—my main source of income felt like a huge burden, something that put immense pressure / guilt / shame on my work, when actually what it needed in order to grow and thrive was freedom, gentleness, openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be wrong and make mistakes.

In March of this year, I decided to remove any pressure to make money through my work by shutting it all down.

I am now feeling called to return to this work again, but the thing is, I still want to remove any pressure for it to sustain me financially. I definitely do not want to try to rely on it as my main source of income. I have learned the hard way that that type of energy breeds bitterness / resentment / panic in me, none of which are conducive to the kind of work I want to do and the way I want to live my life!

Over the past few years (and for most of my life) I have tried many, many different ways of making money. So far, I haven’t been able to sustain any of them, whether because of toxic work environments, or because of my struggles and challenges as a person with a neurodivergent brain.

I have been searching and searching for a more sustainable path forward. Some sort of job that would allow me to earn a decent living, without burning me out to the point I want to quit.

Several weeks ago, my guides began whispering an idea in my ear. They suggested that I return to something that I had thought of awhile ago, which had not worked out at the time, but which was now ready to be revisited.

The thought was this: What if I became a freelance designer? I already have experience working as a web developer as well as designing websites using no-code and low-code website builders, and I am already interested in design, art, and branding. This is the kind of work that I would enjoy and be good at, and it would allow me to express my creative side, but it wouldn’t feel so delicate and precious that I would be uncomfortable monetizing it. In fact, it would feel freeing to offer work that was both structured and creative, and that would still allow me to set my own schedule. If this could sustain me financially, then it would also enable me to continue my work with Shadow Femme, without saddling Shadow Femme with the kind of stress and pressure that I’ve previously felt.

I began researching courses on graphic design and web design. And I landed on three of them that looked absolutely perfect. The only thing was—I didn’t have the money to pay for them.

One morning as I was waking up, my guides whispered in my ear again. They suggested: Why don’t you find a benefactor? Someone willing to pay for these courses? And in exchange, you could promise them the design assets that you create throughout the courses—a full brand identity, a custom website, custom artwork, and so on.

I eventually listened to them. And in order to show off my existing web design skills, I actually put this proposal in the form of a website.

I finished it last week, but I barely shared it with anyone. I felt weird, cringey, vulnerable, and needy at the thought of asking for something so big and complicated. I thought about sharing it with you, via this newsletter, but I felt scared.

A Trip to the Obsidian Cave

Today, in the shower, all those feelings around asking for help bubbled up inside me. A big, big fear reared its head: I’m afraid of people thinking I’m MESSY.

That I have no sense of direction. No follow-through. That I’m chaotic and hard to understand. That I go full force in one direction and then give up and change my mind the next day and go full force in another direction. How could people possibly trust me? I have these urges to do things and from the outside they must seem so RANDOM. Like, what? Design? I thought you were the person who was doing Shadow Femme! And then you shut it down? But maybe you’re not shutting it down? Which one is it?!

Alllll the feelings and shame spilled out of me into ugly silent shower sobbing and deep down underneath there arose a thought: I’M AFRAID THAT WHEN I CRY OUT, NO ONE WILL LISTEN.

I saw an image in my mind's eye and I knew: The seed of that thought was first planted when I was very, very young, when some very dark things happened to me as a baby and no one came to my aid.

Later, once I got out of the shower, I used my black obsidian to explore this thought further.

I saw that layers and layers had piled on top of this original thought as I experienced more and more formative times in which I cried out for help and seemingly no one listened.

During my journey with the obsidian, I encountered a shadow part of mine. She was in the ocean, and—this is something that actually happened to me as a child—she was stranded far out from shore, pushed further and further into the ocean, unable to swim back to safety as the waves got bigger and bigger and the undertow became stronger and stronger. She was calling out for help but no one was coming to rescue her. I formed a magic bridge out of sand that grew to meet her and I ran across it and pulled her out of the water. We hugged and we sat together. We looked out at the expanse of the ocean, which actually looked beautiful and peaceful from this perspective. We saw that things were less scary, that someone had indeed listened and had come to help her, and that we were both going to be okay.

I felt this new feeling, let it permeate my body.

A few hours later, I finally felt ready to sit down and start writing this email.

I will probably look back on this tomorrow and cringe at how long and messy(!) and vulnerable this whole thing is, but I know it’s worth putting it out into the world.

Even with all the messy hard feelings, I want to ask for your help.

If you are looking for a new website + branding for your personal projects or your business, I am offering my skills! In exchange for paying for my design courses this fall, I will provide you with a custom Squarespace website, a full brand identity system, and custom artwork/graphics for your site and your socials. The cost of the classes is less than $5000, which I believe is a reasonable trade for the above offerings 🔥 Besides, rather than receiving the work of someone who has no idea what they’re doing, you’d actually be receiving deliverables from someone who has professional experience as a web developer, in addition to prior self-taught experience with design, branding, and Squarespace.

You can read all about the details via the website I created here:

And, if you happen to know of anyone who may be interested in this exchange, or if you have access to a platform or community where you’d be willing to help get the word out, I welcome you to share the link with them! ( 😊

Thank you so much, and I hope you’re doing well. Wishing you an introspective Venus and (upcoming) Mercury retrograde season. Be kind to yourself, and I’ll do my best to do the same :)

All the best,