A story of loss turned into a passion to breathe life into people's lives

She ordered a hot chamomile tea, I asked for a chai with almond milk. She had a beautiful smile, the kind of smile that is generous and warm, and behind her kind eyes there was a story that was anxiously waiting to unfold. 

“I’m wearing my favorite shirt today,” she grinned, her teeth showing ear to ear, as she pointed to the letters on her t-shirt. “Gardening is one of my favorite things to do.”

Jusika Martinez, the creative featured on today’s blog post is a fierce and resilient woman, besides being wildly artistic and imaginative. 

But there’s so much more to the story. Jusika struggled with PTSD and panic disorders. After a near-death experience shortly after giving birth to her third child, Jusika was left so vulnerable that she required the help of a therapist to get back on her feet. 

“I’m sorry if that was too much,” she said.  “I often get told that my story is too much for people to handle, but this is who I am.”

Personally, every time I hear someone share their struggle with mental illness, I feel relieved. Not that I wished everyone struggled with mental disorders, but their vulnerable disclosure makes me think immediately “thank you, I’m glad I’m not the only one.” When people share some of their most intimate experiences with me, the conversation turns to a completely different level. It’s almost as if they were letting me take a peek into their souls and the immense well of resilience that they've built after experiencing so much pain. 

Jusika turns to her creative activities to find solace and to share her gifts with the world. She is an accomplished graphic designer, a talented writer, a gardener, a wife and a mother of three energetic little girls. I asked her some questions about her artistic and personal journey, and where she turns to for inspiration, and at the end you’ll find some very soulful advice. Read on, or find more of her creative work and stories on https://jusikamartinezcreative.com/

How did you get started in your creative venture? What inspired you?

It all started when I was 7 and my father gave me a laptop that his company was going to throw away. I started to then learn through paint and Corel. I tinkered with it on and off to make money through the summer. For me, the design was something I could always fall back on, but not something I ever wanted to do all the time. Even after having multiple jobs in design it didn’t shift for me until I went through my first ectopic pregnancy loss. You’re probably thinking that’s weird, and to be honest, it is. But I went through a dark season of grief where I would search the internet for hours looking for those who could relate such a deep loss and when I would get tired of reading typically in the middle of the nights while we were stationed in Italy I would open up Photoshop and Illustrator and design. As I navigated additional losses I started asking people if I could design stuff for them or giving away logo packages for those hosting drawings online. It wasn’t until 2011 after those deep seasons of loss and motherhood did I start charging, and even then I would get comments that my pricing should be more. What keeps me inspired in design today are two things: 1) My passion for using my gifting for helping others start or continue their spiritual walk  and 2) My passion to help others breathe life into their dreams or something they’ve been praying over for years. There is something that inside me that thinks “man, I am lucky that I get to do this and that I am invited into doing this.”


What experiences have shaped you to be on the life and career path you're on?

Experiences, hum. I could chalk this up to a lot of things but I often think that if that first loss did not happen I would not be in this deep or have this much passion for what I do.

What advice would you give to other creative women?

Do.The.Dang.Thing. – What I mean by that is if you dream it and it keeps coming up explore it. Even if it sounds crazy and wild and like no one will get it I say do it. It might fail and that is okay because it’s not about that. It’s about doing what is laid on your heart, it’s how you stay true to yourself and to the work that you do. I would also say that there might be MANY that do what you do, but only you can produce the things that you do. We each have our own flair/touch/sassy to add and no one can replicate what you specifically can do, so do.the.dang.thing.

What advice would you give to anyone struggling?

A part of my journey is my own mental health journey with PTSD and a Panic Disorder. There is a deep sense within me that believes what we do and who we are go hand in hand. So if you’re struggling personally I say get help, like seek out a therapist. For me, I prefer one that’s not exactly like my personality because how else am I going to grow without learning from someone who’s a little bit different than me. If they're struggling creatively, I say give it a rest and when you’re ready, start back and zero. There’s nothing wrong with the reset button and if you’re in fear of losing all that you built by resetting then I say you gotta do it to just work through that fear alone. We all can easily get caught up in the likes, the insta-famous things of our lives, and I think sometimes walking away from just those things is where we find our next great idea or work through some of the most pivotal moments in our lives. If you can’t tell, I believe strongly in constant growth and I feel sometimes when we are struggling creatively or personally with our creative work it’s because we’re forcing something that maybe it’s the right fit for us. And same with personally if we’re struggling personally I believe there’s a part of us where it doesn’t work because something within our brain has been changed chemically and sometimes it’s because we’re using an old method or wearing that saggy old sweater from 1990 that doesn’t fit us right anymore so we gotta rip it off and start anew or find new methods that help deal with the change and not just ignore it. Do the work while ripping it off and take those things and recreate new, personally and creatively.

Meeting and photographing Jusika was truly an honor. The beauty of her honesty, the rawness of her experience and the hope in her words made me admire her and all the mothers out there who get labeled and judged for processing their painful emotions by sharing their stories. Let’s create a safe space for women to heal by sharing their stories and inspiring others to do the same.