I can still remember the dark feeling. It was a little over a year ago. I was curled up on the floor in my bathroom crying. Not just any crying. Really ugly crying. Loud crying. Eyes-puffing-out-for-days crying. I had cried many times before, but this time was different. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t breathe. My breaths were loud, short gasps of air. I started to hyperventilate which made me panic and cry more. I didn’t know what was going on. I was scared.
That was the first time I had ever experienced a panic attack, and it was not the last.
I had just started my first year of teaching at an alternative high school, meaning the kids who have too much going on in their lives to be successful in a comprehensive high school. This was also a rough part of town where scary things happen. So I was dealing with the trauma of the students. Some were kind even through their difficulties. Others were mean and disrespectful because they had never been nurtured before. I had recently moved away from my family, friends, and home of 24 years so my husband could go to school. I was also teaching a different subject than what I had prepared for in college because curriculum differs between states. On top of that, I didn’t get a lot of support from my admin. It was mostly harsh critique.
I’m sure there are many people who could go through this and handle it successfully. For me though, it pushed me over the edge. I dreaded waking up each morning. I was terrified to go to work each day because I didn’t know what I would have to face. Everyday I went and had to pretend that everything was fine. I had to be strong for my kids because they were dealing with so much trauma.
The experience I shared of me crying, became a weekly, if not daily, occurrence. I was so blessed that my husband patiently helped me through each day, reminding me how to breath when I literally couldn’t.
I remember feeling like I wanted to get away from ME. I didn’t like anything about me. I didn’t want to be in my life. It sounds completely irrational now, but at the time it was real.
I tried doing things I used to enjoy, but nothing was working. I didn’t enjoy them anymore because I didn’t enjoy me.
My husband started sending me funny or inspirational memes everyday (he was so clever and patient with me). A few months into this, I started saying to myself, “One day you’ll look back and say, ‘Wow I did that.'” I searched everywhere to find a meme of this so I could save it as a background on my phone but with no success. In March of last year, I came across the Rhonna Designs app where I could design my own quote. It was perfect! I started making a quote everyday and it was so uplifting! Soon, I wanted to start doing more that I couldn’t do on the app. I wanted to learn how to be a designer (something I had no experience in).
I asked my brother who is a professional designer how to learn specifically typography so I could make more uplifting quotes. He told me 3 things that changed my life. 1- Create something everyday, no matter whether it’s good or not, just create. 2- Learn calligraphy. 3- Look up Jessica Hische.
So I did just that and I fell in love with modern calligraphy and hand lettering. I could feel my pains healing with every insightful word I lettered. It was a therapy for me. I know my healing also came from my Savior, Jesus Christ. I could letter His promises to me and somehow they became more meaningful as I made them beautiful on paper.
My earliest calligraphy practice.
As I started this new journey of lettering, I was becoming a better me. I started to love myself again. I started to enjoy my life again.
Not only was lettering itself a therapy, I gained so many #calligrafriends in the Lettering Community that supported me and encouraged me and continue to do so today.
If you’re still reading, thank you! I appreciate your support! Because of how lettering has changed my life, I want to share that with others. I want to share that with YOU. Anyone can learn how to letter. Even if you don’t think you have good handwriting or artistic skills. Neither did I. I simply wanted to be happy again, and that is what it did for me. It can do that for you too.
I will be releasing practice sheets at the end of this week to help you get started or continue with brush lettering. To celebrate, I will be posting a tutorial everyday this week with tips and tricks. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: You can now find my practice sheets here. 🙂