So. Man, has it been a weird couple of months. I've been teaching classes and running the web site at JessicaSprague.com for more than 6 years now, pretty much going nonstop. I adore what I do. I love Photoshop, not because of the program itself, but because of its creative possibilities. I love getting emails or forum posts when someone "gets it" and their life is changed a little bit. I love taking photos and saving and recording the stories of my life. Love it all.
This year, though, things have started to get weird health-wise. In the spring I started developing pain in my hands and feet, a rash across my face, exhaustion, and other weird symptoms. I went to the doctor, then another doctor, tests and more tests, and through the summer things got worse. I found that despite my love for what I do, my passion wasn't able to mask the fact that I was just not able to keep up.
The beginning of September I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus. It's a chronic autoimmune disease for which there is no cure, but which can be managed with meds and good self-care. In some ways knowing is a bit of a relief. In other ways, well, it is damned depressing. Some days are better than other days. Some days it just hurts.
I've known for awhile that my frantic pace was unworkable. Unbalanced. But despite knowing, I did the utterly human thing and kept doing it. Hoping somehow things would just change, and fix themselves.
And they won't.
So it is up to me. And that is really, really scary. Leaping off a cliff into the unknown is always scary. If I am not this, what will I be? If I don't do that, what will I do?
This leap, dear friend, has already happened. It was more of a kind of half-leap coupled with a muddled sort of shove off the cliff. And now I am making decisions in free-fall.
Here is what I've come to at this point:
Has my relationship to the site itself changed? No. This part I'm able to decide right away. JessicaSprague.com isn't going anywhere. But offering 9 or 10 new classes a year? That is what has to change.
Typically I offer a class as an instructor-led format first, meaning that the content launches based on a schedule, and there are typically daily emails going out, as well as an active forum and a gallery for posting projects. The pace - for me - is pretty relentless during these classes, and it pretty much forces every other activity to the sidelines for the duration. This is a sacrifice I've been willing to make because I love teaching classes. I've developed some kick-but classes this year, this way.
They are mentally grueling and require huge amounts of dedicated, day-in and day-out time in a way that I just can't do right now. So for now, I am taking a break from teaching instructor-led classes. I don't know how long that break will be.
There are lots of things I want to do that based on the pace, I haven't been able to focus on. Self-paced classes. More blogging. More tutorials. More templates and more development on the site itself. I'm developing an app (shhh! More on this later! :D).
I'm not going anywhere - just pulling off to the side of the road and getting out the map. Figuring out the direction to go, and rethinking.
And so here I am. Totally freaked out. But it is what it is, and onward we roll.