Raise Up Extraordinary Women: Nissa Jackman

Nissa Jackman

For the month of December, I’ll be shining light each day on some extraordinary women I know. They represent various fields and backgrounds, and I admire each for their passion and strength. These are bold, beautiful, brave women — artists, businesswomen, union organizers, nurses, writers, teachers, movie makers, designers, reporters, and all-around badasses.

Nissa Jackman is an Art Therapist, artist, traveler, writer, and a darn good cook. Born and raised in San Diego, CA (except for a few years during her early childhood living in Naperville, Ill) and living briefly in Fredericksburg, VA, then Bath, England, and then spending nearly half of her life in the SF Bay Area, Nissa now lives in Denver, CO with her fur baby, Hank the dog, where she has a private practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Board Certified Art Therapist. Nissa wrote a memoir, Stage Five, telling the story of what it is like to be a caregiver to her boyfriend after he was diagnosed with advanced oral cancer. Nissa likes to walk her dog, go on hikes, cook ugly but delicious food, and create art for her own pleasure and self-care.

Nissa’s memoir “Stage Five”

1. What did you want to be “when you grew up?” When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian, then a zoologist, then an artist, then an actress, then a psychologist (didn’t know what that was though), then a writer. When I got older I wanted to be an art restorer, or a curator at a museum, or someone who restores historic buildings, or an interior designer. I actually did the interior designer thing for a while but it wasn’t a good fit for me, I didn’t feel fulfilled doing it. Being a therapist wasn’t really on my radar for the longest time. When I was young, I thought you had to have a perfect, easy life with no problems and have no issues to be a therapist. My life was never perfect nor easy, so how could I possibly be qualified to be a therapist?

2. What makes you the most proud of yourself? I usually don’t feel proud of the big things in life. Usually, I feel really proud of myself when I bake a decent batch of muffins or something like that. I guess following through with my career goals after getting my master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy and Art Therapy is something to be proud of. I could have just let it go after what I had been through in my life and I don’t think anyone would have thought less of me for doing so. I had to do a lot of soul searching and work on myself before I could even consider returning to this career path. I’m glad that I did, though. I am now in private practice and sometimes pick up a few shifts at an adult inpatient facility, working with people to support them through some of the toughest times in their lives.

Nissa’s dog, Hank

3. What darkness have you overcome? How did you find strength? I have overcome so much loss. When I was 19 years old, my mother died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism. When I was 34, I lost the love of my life to cancer. Not long after Ryan’s death, I became estranged from my father which has put a strain on my relationships with my step-siblings and their families. How I continue to find strength, because grief and loss are ongoing processes, is through allowing myself to feel the full range of feelings I am experiencing moment to moment. I can process them through my art, through my thoughts, through giving love and affection to my dog, but I give myself the freedom to experience them and acknowledge them fully. I’m allowed to feel sad or angry at the pain and the injustice of it all and I’m allowed to feel wistful about what I have lost. The feelings are fleeting and being able to experience them helps me to accept the reality of my circumstances.

4. Where will we find you on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.? That depends on if I am working or if I have the day off. If I’m working, I am meeting with clients and writing copious amounts of paperwork by then. If I’m off that day, I am drinking coffee and eating breakfast while watching The Great British Banking Show with my dog Hank curled up by my side.

5. What makes you smile the most? My dog, Hank, for sure. He is my nearly constant companion. He goes to the office with me and my clients love him. He is a neighborhood favorite and makes friends wherever he goes. He keeps me grounded and makes me laugh.

Bonus: What advice would you give your younger self? Don’t worry so much about making plans. Life is going to happen whether you have a plan or not.

Today’s #OneGoodThing is sharing this extraordinary woman, Nissa Jackman, with all of you! We are stronger together, so let’s shine a light on our extraordinary sisters! If you’d like to participate or nominate a woman to participate, please send me a note or leave a comment! What was your #OneGoodThing today? Please share in the comments! Kindness is Everything.

Day 354 of 365. And Day 1,450 in a row (here’s the first 366, & the following 365, & the third year of 365 good things)!

1 year ago today: Holiday pampering treat

2 years ago today: Perfect pin for Mama

3 years ago today: Sharing the love

8 years ago today: It’s mmmmm…Monday “Elegant Salmon Mignons” and We’re Back!

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