So. I started thinking about remaking my web site in oh, 2012. Maybe 2011. Right about the time things had really started going crazy with classes and traveling and trying to maintain some semblance of work/life balance, and the one thing that wasn't changing - that I realized I couldn't get to change was the backend structure to Jessicasprague.com. We'd built it on Joomla, which in itself isn't a bad content management system. The benefit is that it has lots of plugins and is very customizable. And our downfall was that it has lots of plugins and is very customizable - because those customizations locked us in to an old version of Joomla that couldn't grow or change as we needed it to.
Between 2012 and the beginning of 2013, Jared and I decided that we were running out of options as far as how we upgrade all the interrelated pieces of JessicaSprague.com (the forums, the gallery, the class content, the shop, the backend structure) without everything tumbling down like a house of cards. We hired two separate developers, who then disappeared on us. I felt trapped. And I must say that being trapped is a feeling that is extraordinarily unpleasant for me. Paralyzing. Visceral.
The one thing I'd been trying to avoid was shutting the site down completely to remake it. What will happen if I do? I'll lose all this time and work and everyone will disappear. All the fear. All the uncertainty. Feeling trapped without any good options.
In the spring of 2013, I started to get sick. Exhausted. Sad. In pain. Several months and doctors and tests later, and a diagnosis of lupus left me stunned and honestly without options for the site, because I had to focus on myself.
I do think, though, that this was a huge blessing in disguise. That trapped feeling? Well, I must say that it goes away when you're tossed off a cliff. Trapped no longer! And fear and uncertainty are still there, but mostly it's about:
- Where will I land?
- What will I do now?
- If I am not this, then what am I?
- If I don't have this, what do I have at all?
Fast-forward through 2014. I know I did. Sold a cabin. Sold a house. Bought another house. Moved. And still those questions remained.
In some ways it was nice not HAVING to be teaching a class all the time. But I missed it - Missed it like a limb. Mostly I missed the sense of purpose, the feeling that I was helping improve lives. Missed geeking out every day. Missed connecting with women all over the world, and sharing lives and stories and joy and tears and life and all. After all, many of my best friends live thousands of miles away, and I've only met them a few times in real life. But I wanted to come back on terms I could really accept. Terms I could choose and control. No more self-sacrifice.
In December (so about 6 months ago), by total chance, I found Fedora, the company I'm working with now, who hosts online schools. Hosts! Online schools! I had learned the price of owning my own server and being responsible for its care and upgrade and maintenance. Had I ever. (See above, chapters 2011 through 2013). So when I began to take a tour of Fedora, and saw all the things I'd gain, how easy it was to create courses, with no backend building or maintenance - that I could get back to doing what I love, I admit that I sat and cried. Now, that's no surprise, right? I cry kind of a lot. But I cried with a heart full of gratitude and hope, and in February began to plan JessicaSprague.com 2.0.
...A lot of work...
So, my friend. Why the backstory? First of all, I want to make sure I write it down so I don't forget what a complete and utter miracle it is that I find myself where I am right now. That I owe my Heavenly Father ten lifetimes of thanks for listening to my prayers and seeing my tears and loving me enough to let me fall completely apart. And then loving me enough to show me the way we could put me back together. It is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.
Secondly, I have a feeling that you might have faced some fear and uncertainty and thrown-off-of-cliff feelings at some point, and maybe something I have to say here might help. You are always you, regardless of what title or label you give. You are your thoughts and ideas and the goodness you put into the world. You are infinitely precious and valuable, and unique in all the universe. You were created with a purpose (whether you see it now or not), and your only job is to keep on. Your only job is to keep on. Tend your garden. Watch your flock. Stand your post. Keep the faith.
Thirdly, I want to - I guess - officially announce that I'm back. I feel SO GOOD right now. So much less pain. So much less sadness. So much hope. So how's that for an announcement? We're live! Come visit JessicaSprague.com 2.0. I'll meet you there.