This is What 'Self-Care' Really Means
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I was given this article recently, and here at the beginning of the year I think it's perfect. We tend to think of the consumer version of self-care: some kind of indulgence outside our normal routine. But maybe self-care is pushing through the hard stuff that you know will make life better in the end. 

Here's the full text of the article, written by Brianna West, Nov 2017

Self-care is often a very un-beautiful thing. 
It is making a spreadsheet of your debt, and enforcing a morning routine, and cooking yourself healthy meals, and no longer just running away from your problems and calling the distraction a solution. 
It is often doing the ugliest thing you have to do, like sweat through another workout, or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore, or get a second job so you can have a savings account, or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take mandated breaks from living in order to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for a day. 
A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care shouldn’t be something we resort to because we are absolutely so exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure. 
True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake. It is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do. It often means looking at your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is choosing not to satiate your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living in a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t. 
It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unhurried. Real. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening. 
If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot to do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.
It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor or procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself - and maybe you’ll find that taking care lovingly will attend to a lot of the problems you were trying to fix in the first place. 
It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others, or allowing non-decision to make your decisions for you. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people. 
It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be - however honest or ugly or painful the self-care has to be to keep you in the right direction. Salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life, not to escape from it. 

Happy New Year, my dear! I am excited to roll on in to 2018 with you!

Doing Something: Crisis Hotline Wallet Cards

I've blogged a few times about depression: here, here, and here, and talked in person MANY times about the reality of the struggle with mental illness, but this idea came to me in the middle of the night and I want to share it. 

Last night I ran across a post by a girl who had hidden a card with the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline under some papers on her family's fridge. So she'd have it and they wouldn't know. Now that right there kind of eats me up. But first, what WE can do. You and me. 

I really loved the idea that BEFORE the crisis, we could provide ourselves and our friends and loved ones with a resource, a reminder of exactly what they can do. Kind of like a fire escape plan at your home. When you smell smoke and see flames, it's not the time for planning. When you feel the overwhelming pain and can't think of anything to stop it, it's the time to just get out the card and call. 

Hotline Wallet Cards

I made 3 versions of this card, and I hope you'll pick one and print it out for yourself or someone who matters a whole lot to you. All you need to do is right-click on the image and save it to your computer. Then print it out.

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Card 1: General Hotline Info

This card is for those of us who struggle with mental illness to carry with us. The day might come, the crisis might come, that it feels like there's no way out. Here is proof that there is.

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Card 2: My Hotline

I made this card in reference to a post I made just a few days ago, when I said I texted my bestie, knowing she gets it. She doesn't suffer from a specific mental illness, but she is very well acquainted with grief, and I know she'll be there, always. If you have someone like that - your Person, print out this card and write their name and number on it, so you carry that with you. There may come a day when the only thread you have left of the fabric of your old world is this card in your wallet. May this be that thread. Make that call.

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Card 3: Promise Card: I Will Be Your Hotline

This one is really special. We all know someone who struggles. This is proof you can give them, that no matter what time or place or circumstance they need you, that you will be there. If you are willing to make that pledge for someone who is really important to you, write your info down and give it to them. Look them in the eye and make them put it in their wallet. That promise is binding, and it is real. Your person will feel it. 

One of the devil's lies to people struggling with suicidal thoughts is that things would be better off - that YOU their loved one would be better off if they weren't there. Depression is not a rational thing but a terrible, ice-breathing, infinitely heavy, lying bastard who obliterates all sense and reason, even in a matter of seconds. Even if you find it impossible to understand how anyone could think that their sudden disappearance from your life could possibly HELP you, trust me, in the terrible darkness, this monstrous lie becomes a reverberating echo in their head. 

When you write this down, you have to understand how HARD it is to be someone who falters and fails, how hard it is to admit that there's no getting up unless someone reaches down for you, and I also hope you understand that if you ever get the opportunity to make good on this promise, you will have changed your person's life forever. There's a special place in heaven for the person who strengthens the feeble knees and lifts up the hands that hang down. 

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Please, PLEASE share these, ok? We CAN help save a life. 

Picking My Outrage Battle: Depression & Suicide
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I stepped away (okay, clicked away) from working on my latest class and spotted a news story from over the weekend. Apparently a "YouTube Star" - Logan Paul who makes a ton of money touring the world, setting up stunts, one-upping himself with the cray-zay, and basically "OMG!" reacting! to! stuff! with his face! in front of a camera! in a! crazy! hat! and posting it for millions to see, visited the "Suicide Forest" Aokigahara near Mt. Fuji in Japan, - which is known for being a place where many Japanese people go to end their lives, and actually found the body of someone who had very recently died from suicide

Granted, his lil' circus posse did call the authorities. But then rather than turning off the camera or leaving the immediate area out of respect for the deceased and their devastated family (who might not have even KNOWN yet), they zoomed in close. And just blurred out the person's face. And then talked about how CRAZY it was in the Whole! History! of Crazyness! That Nobody! Could! Top! This! talked about how crazy it was and his hands and how recently this happend, whatnot, and then proceeded on to a parking lot and drank sake, and asked your kids and mine (his regular audience) to subscribe to his channel.  

Thankfully the vid was taken down, and I didn't see it. Good thing, because instead of suffocating outrage I probably would be in my car on my way to kick someone's ass. But I have read several second-by-second descriptions of it, and it sickens me. It sickens me that the one and only serious statement he made was something like, "dude, mental illness isn't a joke." But then proceeded to make a joke out of it, by zooming up close to the tragic and preventable death of someone who was a person with a family and a future and people who loved them whether they could see that or not, and made fun.

ZOOMED IN CLOSE. AND MADE FUN.

I know there's a lot to get worked up over as the year 2017 moves off (tyvm) and a brand new bright shiny year with lots of hope and possibility and sparkles rolls in (ah just in time), with politics and the economy and the NFL and puppies and the housing market and suffering and starvation and war and injustice all over the world. If I got worked up over everything I probably SHOULD, I would not be able to get out of bed. So we have to pick our outrage battles. 

Joking about suicide or making light of depression is one of my outrage battles. I know too many people, love too many people whose lives have been destroyed by mental illness, by uncontrolled depression, by suicide, for me to EVER think that this would be okay. 

Depression is a lifelong struggle for many people. It's an invisible killer, and comes with a truly staggering level of pain that's impossible to describe, but must be built over, moved around, carried on with day by day, hour by hour. It's a monster that always lurks. 

I've talked before about how things for me are up and down, and that sometimes down comes without any warning at all. When it comes to depression, I am firmly on the side of "keeping it real", and so REAL is what you are going to get. 

Truth: I was feeling off-ish all morning on Sunday (Dec 31), and by the time we got to church, I asked everyone to go inside and I'd be in there in a minute. And then I just sat in the car and fell apart. Everything crashed at once and I just couldn't breathe, couldn't stop crying. Couldn't stop feeling desolate and desperate and filled with pain. Here is the text I sent to my bestie, as tears were running down my face:

12:23 p.m Sunday

I am sitting in the car outside my church building, and I need to write to someone. I choose you because you get it. The air is getting cold around me, but I can't bring myself to get out and go inside and smile. At a time and place in life and circumstance that I should be happy and peaceful I can see the gap with my reality most clearly, and maybe that is why  it hurts more. I feel sad, so sad and desperate, with a hollow longing for SOMETHING, for a nap, or for rest, or an OK you can put down your burden for a bit. I'm tired, mama. So tired.

I then did what I know I HAD to do: go somewhere safe and sleep. I texted my people who were already inside, and the people who were planning on me being at church (all of whom know about the struggle and have given me extra-generous compassion), and went home. Cried. Slept. Felt better.

So that was me 3 days ago. Right back there again. Not to the darkest of the dark places, but enough that I was debilitated by it for a whole day and night. You probably know I've been on meds and in therapy for 14 years, and on and off for years before that. Nobody should be fooled by now into thinking that it's something that a) will ever be completely under control, or b) will ever just go away. And yet, that misunderstanding keeps coming up. 

For me, I've definitely lost any shred of concern I ever had that someone would judge me or think less of me, or that I'd be disadvantaged because of my mental illness, but I'm lucky. I have a whole bunch of people in my life who, even if they can't fully understand, can at least give me compassion. Can give me their generosity while I sometimes stumble and sometimes simply can't. Just can't.

I'm lucky because I don't work for a boss who might use that information - even if it's illegal to do so - to my disadvantage. I don't belong to a family who sees depression and medication as a weakness, or parents who think mental illness is just a phase, or would be embarrassed if anyone found out their kid goes to therapy, or that it will go away if only I just ... (ate better, read scriptures, prayed, etc)... 

I know so many people aren't as lucky as me. Who feel like they can't be honest. Who can't find some way to find solace or safety or hope. It hurts as badly for them as for me, but they can't say, or won't, and so they just suffer on. It's excruciating. All-consuming. And I'm offended by ANYONE who makes light of or jokes about that kind of pain. It is no less appalling than dumping someone out of a wheelchair they need, or grabbing someone's crutches and throwing them in the street and then saying they're "raising awareness." Wheelchairs are real, y'all. And crutches.

So, when someone, whose life is full of hope and promise even though they can't see it right now, who might have benefited from meds and therapy or a hospital stay, or even just a friend to stick by them, finds themselves in the woods (literally or figuratively), and sees no other way out of the pain, and takes their own life my heart is broken, because I get it. Oh I get it. It kicks in this visceral mama-bear instinct in me that screams to PROTECT those who can't protect themselves. To FIGHT for the people who are already knocked down. To RECOGNIZE the pain someone else is in and do my best to shield them from extra hurt until they can get themselves looked after. Because I've been the one knocked down. I've been the one who needs protecting. And so for me, there is not enough outrage in the world. 

Final word: The world is full of awesome, generous, compassionate, good people. It also has a lot of A-holes. So I suppose if the appalling behavior of some high-profile A-holes can help keep a discussion going that improves the care and discussion and attitude toward depression and suicide, it'll be ok. It certainly has me raising MY voice again.

Important:

If this is YOU and you read this, call the hotline 1800-273-TALK and talk, just talk - there will ALWAYS be a kind supporter on the other end, someone rooting for you. Text the crisis text line. Gather your circle around you. Get somewhere safe and text someone. Go to the ER (for real, you can, just go). You will be ok. I promise you won't regret staying alive.

Much love, 

JS 

 

WATCH: 5 Secrets to Attract Your Dream Clients

Join me, as I share my 5 Simple Secrets to Attract Your Dream Clients. Last week, I had the pleasure to host a LIVE webinar for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and those thinking of opening a business in 2018. I recently re-tapped it, so it can be shared with all of you.

 

Together, let's make 2018 YOUR year!

I'm offering a brand new online course designed to help you design and build your authentic brand - The Brand of YOU. If you are a DIY, roll-up-your-sleeves business owner, or are dreaming about becoming one, then this course is for you! Together, we'll create all your brand assets - everything from your color scheme to your logo and business cards - all designed and built by YOU. Awesome! Head over to learn more and register for The Brand of You course.

Build the Brand of YOU

Don't forget to mark your calendars for Wednesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. EST!

How to Attract Dream Clients: FREE Webinar on Wednesday, December 13

I can't wait to kick off 2018! For the past ten years, I have been working with and teaching creatives just like you, and I'm ready to take things in a new direction. Actually, I'm ready to help YOU take things in a new direction. Starting this coming January, I will be helping creative entrepreneurs start and grow their own businesses. Consider this your invitation from destiny to grow the business of your dreams. And it looks like destiny now invites you to webinars, too! Look at that!

Free LIVE Webinar: Attract Dream Clients

During a one-hour free webinar, I'll share my 5 Simple Secrets to Attract Your Dream Clients, and I'd love for you to join me, Wednesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. EST. Space for the webinar is limited, so register now!  Registration is simple and FREE, and even if you can't make the live session, you can sign up and I'll send you a link to watch the recording.

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Let's make 2018 YOUR year!

I'm offering a brand new online course designed to help you design and build your authentic brand - The Brand of YOU. If you are a DIY, roll-up-your-sleeves business owner, or are dreaming about becoming one, then this course is for you! Together, we'll create all your brand assets - everything from your color scheme to your logo and business cards - all designed and built by YOU. Awesome! Head over to learn more and register for The Brand of You course.

Don't forget to mark your calendars for Wednesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. EST!

Building The Brand of You | JessicaSprague.com

I've been creating online classes in Photoshop for 10 years. Even saying that (or typing it, I guess) astonishes me. TEN YEARS. And for 2018, I've decided to do something new. 

Rather than making courses only for Photoshop hobbyists, I have decided to teach a course specifically geared toward creative small business owners. 

It's called The Brand of You, and if you are starting or growing a small business in 2018, I'd like to invite you to register! 

2018 Is YOUR YEAR!

2018 Is YOUR YEAR!

The course is 10 AWESOME weeks long, and includes instruction in both brand AND image development, so you get all the cool idea-generation, as well as detailed, step-by-step Photoshop tools to DIY your brand and step out into 2018 in gorgeous style. I am SO excited about this new venture. And I'm SO excited to help creative women succeed! Join me, won't you? In Brand of You.

R.I.P. Malcolm Young: AC/DC

I still have a few blog posts I need to catch up on from people who've died in the past year or so that left an impression on me. But I had to get this one quick while I have a few minutes. 

So first off, R.I.P. Malcolm Young.

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And secondly, it isn't so much the death of Malcolm Young that I'm thinking about today - although the news of his passing is what prompted this riff - I didn't even know his name as such. But boy, did I know AC/DC. And just like with the deaths of every celebrity - what they remind us of most is ourselves. And what they remind me most of is Idaho, circa 1990, and a nowhere place, but where I had discovered that BIG music could drive the heart and soul.

Gene Simmons' tongue. Also Gene Simmons.

Gene Simmons' tongue. Also Gene Simmons.

I grew up until age 12 in Orem Utah, and first learned about popular music from Madonna and Cyndi, from Peter Gabriel, Billy Joel, as well as a few of the 80s hits that I'd hear the older neighbor kids play. I remember my parents refusing to let my older brother wear a KISS t-shirt, and frankly was totally on board with that because those huge silver boots and that inhuman tongue were the stuff of my 10-year-old nightmares.

By the time I moved from Utah, I'd had early glimpses of that stadium-sized rock-n-roll from Europe and The Final Countdown.

Late 80s

In 1987, I moved to a part of the country that really was - the country. And I must say that there was no music scene in Sugar City, Idaho (population 1200) in 1987. My mom loved Elvis and my dad loved - nothing. He was just not a musical guy in any way - except that he hated Elvis. So it was only when he was gone that my mom would spin up her Elvis records and dance in the living room and get all glassy-eyed about how handsome and amazing he was. I liked the songs well enough, but it was clearly about more than just the tunes for her. He was the King, she'd tell me with a shrug. The King of rock-n-roll, the first and last. In that way, looking back, it kind of made me miss being a part of the Elvis generation. There was no king of rock-n-roll in the 80s, although others might dispute me?

But in other ways, not having known Elvis' music directly (I was less than 1 when he died), I was cut loose from the idea that there needed to be a King of Rock-n-Roll at all. And I started to learn that this music I was drawn to was more of an anti-kingdom than anything else.

I'm grateful that my older brother (who I've hero-worshipped all my life) avoided country and new wave and pop, began to really get into hard rock.

See, in the late 80s in Idaho one either listened to the radio (country or pop from 2 years ago), or went FAR out of their way to listen to something else. Like, driving to Idaho Falls (somewhere?) or ordering from those clubs where you got 15 free cassettes for joining up. I actually have no idea where he got that earliest music. 

I do clearly remember walking in to the room he shared with my little brother in my grandma's house, and standing there in open-mouthed shock while he played Big Balls and  thrashed on his air guitar, jumping on the bed, roaring in his not-yet-changing 14-year-olds voice:

"But we've got the biggest balls of them all!" 

My grandma would flip out if she could see him (we were house-sitting, so of course she couldn't). But it was the idea. The idea of it. That very first inkling of the power that comes by giving the middle finger to the older generation.

And just like that, I was a fan. A kind of shocked fan - I mean, who sings right out loud about having the ... biggest balls .. of them all? But damn, I loved my brother, and watching this boy just simply unleash when he listened to this music was like, coming awake. 

In the next couple of years my friends and I would become acquainted with "You Shook Me All Night Long" - nobody ever accused AC/DC of being subtle - but boy could you headbang. Close your eyes and feel the thunder. Thrash your hair up and down. Shout like you'd shred your vocal chords - cause that was how Angus sounded. Plus it was unabashedly about sex, and hey, we were 15. Saving ourselves for marriage and all that. But we could headbang.

And in case you want to headbang wherever you are right now, I've gone ahead and saved you the Google search (promise me you'll stand up, though - nobody can listen to this song sitting down. If there's a mosh pit nearby, go join that):

Early 90s

As we got older I kept living through my brother's musical tastes, which didn't change much: Poison, Skid Row, Metallica. Def Leppard. Guns-n-Roses, some singles by other bands. And Warrant. Ah, Warrant.

Those choruses were just so darned singable. But then again - nothing AC/DC or the other great bands of the era made were meant to be just sung. That's why they were so powerful: you had to live them, body and soul. Participate in that wall of guitar and drum and feel the power of that gorgeous raggedy semi-falsetto shredding across Angus' vocal chords like a freight train. Not so much from the heart as from the dirt on the soles of his shoes.  

Thunderstruck

It was another, later AC/DC song, that came out when I was a sophomore in high school, that of all the other rock anthems defines that little part of me that nobody, nobody will ever own - maybe I don't even fully own it. Certainly I can't explain the chill I get when I hear that gorgeous opening guitar riff and the double-drumbeat "Thun-Der!" and the sung-chainsaw rhythm that overlays it. And then he roars out that opening line:

"I was caught..." 

And there I am, escaped. Not a body anymore, but a part of this giant gritty wall of sound, abandoned to the intricacy of the guitar and the "na-na-NA, na-na-NA, nah" and it's impossible NOT to move. If there were ever a song made for some major air guitar and some moshing, this is it. I'm this badass moshing with the boys, jumping against each other in sweaty, primal rhythm. Somewhere further down that road lays The Lord of the Flies and human sacrifice, I know it. But right then, it's just this side of mayhem and it's the most exhilarating thing in the world. 

I'll just save you another Google search, here's the official video for Thunderstruck

 

And even what - 25+ years later, there's nobody to explain it to - and I really, really like explaining things. Certainly nobody at church (I actually wouldn't be surprised if there were a couple other fans in my congregation, but I WOULD be surprised if they were women) And not my kids - who at 12 and 13 look at me rocking to songs like Thunderstruck like I looked at my mom rocking out to Jailhouse Rock. And not even Jared, who calls this whole genre "butt-rock" with the snobbiness born of his undying attachment to Pink Floyd. 

I'm sure my brother Mike has no idea that playing shock jock that day in my grandma's house would lead somehow in the future to me posting YouTubes about this band he introduced me to. He will probably laugh when I send him this, and especially the the hero-worship. I think my memory of AC/DC is partly tied up with him, and with the whole middle-finger salute to authority, and just the raw fierceness of letting your whole self go to a song for awhile. But just because I can't explain it in ways or to people who really GET it, doesn't make it less important for me to get this down. This little facet of my growing-up self, and the soundtrack that made up a part of it.

Off to go headbang.  R.I.P. Malcolm.

-JS

 

Jessica SpragueComment
Photoshop Friday: Create a Photo Collage

Happy Friday, and welcome to another episode of Photoshop Friday! Join me today for free, as we learn how to create our own unique photo collages. You can then use your photo on a layout, a card, a piece of home decor, or you can simply frame and display your photo.

Here is a look at my layout and a sneak peak of the template that you will be working with today.

Enrollment is now closed.

Enrollment is now closed.

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