One August

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Click HERE to see more work by Poly Cinco via behance.com
Click HERE to see more work by Poly Cinco via behance.com

One August, a man I loved tried to kill me.

Only he didn’t kill me.

Earlier that day, we had gone kite-flying.

I stood quietly by his side watching the blue of the kite blend with the blue of the sky, watching him control the kite, make it do what he wanted it to do.

Later that night, he took my body and showed me that his was stronger.

That he was in control.

His leg weighed tons, and I couldn’t wiggle out from underneath him. At first, I thought he was just fooling around but he wasn’t laughing and he didn’t get off of me even when I told him I couldn’t breathe.

Afterwards, he took my head and tried to make me believe that he wasn’t a monster.

But he was.

Even though he sent me long, love letters filled with apologies.

Even though he put a heart-shaped rock on the windshield of my car.

Even though he tried to make me remember sweet, summer peaches.

I could only picture them bruised and split down the middle.

I remembered how he pushed me under water and tried to drown me.

How it almost worked.

Except it didn’t.

Every August, for over twenty years, I find myself remembering this man.

And, strangely, I feel an odd sense of gratitude.

Because that night, in a stranger’s room, in a borrowed bed, I learned that I could be broken.

But I also learned that I could put myself back together again.

And somehow, it’s August again and I find myself in a park wrestling with a kite.

It is windier than usual and tough to fit the cross spars in their slots because the kite fights me impatiently.

I think it knows what I have planned.

Finally, I stand up. The tails snap, wanting.

I run backwards, feeling the pull.

I run, turning my back to the wind.

With the front of the kite facing me, I release it into a gust and pay out line and pull back to increase the lift.

In thirty seconds the kite is far out over the lake, pulling hard.

I run around the muddy field, making the kite dip and soar, dive and swirl.

From the ground, I control that rainbow diamond in the sky –  make it answer my commands.

I remember how he hated things that refused to be controlled and so it is with great swelling pleasure that I release a new kite each year.

I like to imagine him chasing after the dropped driftwood reel, his hands outstretched, the Screaming Eagle kite a quarter of a mile up, blazing.

Blazing.

Like me.

NOTE: This piece originally appeared on Deb Bryan’s blog. I needed to call this one home.

Rivki’s Old Fashioned Letter

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Y’all, I’ve forwarded another stunning letter to my son in summer camp in the Write My Kid an Old-Fashioned Letter” Contest!

This one comes from Rivki Silver of Life in the Married Lane.

Rivki blogs about being a mother, a wife, a woman, a musician, a friend, a writer. An observant Jew, Rivki combines the big stuff (religion, ethics, personal development) and the little stuff (laundry, dishes, meal planning). Because that’s the challenge, right? Making meaning amidst the mundanity.

In addition to being a wife and mother, Rivki is also a musician. She plays the piano and the clarinet — maybe other instruments, too.

I’m telling you, that Rivki is so clever!

She integrated her love for music into her letter.

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One side of her letter features the Yiddish folk song “Tumbalaika”; the other side, her handwritten letter to my boychik! Here’s an excerpt:

The song I included here is one of my favorite Yiddish songs. The gist of it is that there’s a boy who asks a girl a number of riddles:

  1. What can grow without rain?
  2. What can burn & never end?
  3. What can yearn, cry without tears?

The girl responds:

“Silly boy! Why do you have to ask?”

  1. A stone can grow without rain
  2. Love can burn and never end
  3. A heart can yearn, cry without tears.

Now I don’t know about the whole “growing stone” thing. If you have insight into that, I’d welcome your input. Also, I don’t know why the girl was so sassy in her response; they seem like reasonable riddles to me. My suspicion is that the girl has a crush on the boy & that’s why she was being a little rude. I don’t know if you’ve discovered that yet. Girls don’t always make the most sense (even to ourselves, sometimes) buit we’re great anyways! Keeps life interesting, right?

In her letter, Rivki not only teaches my son about the balalaika (a traditional Russian instrument with 13 strings), she also gives him some cool lyrics to think about and she aplies them to his life as a teenager!

And just when you think it can’t get any better, it does. Rivki included artwork from her children! Oh yes, this letter is a treat for anyone who loves the arts! Check out piece #1.

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I call this “Ladybug, Stars, Scribble Scrabble People”

Somehow Rivki remembered Tech will be celebrating his birthday in August, while he is away at camp, and she got her little guy to make my son a birthday card in advance! Look how hard her little guy worked to make all those 14’s! That’s a labor of love.

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I call this one “Fantastic 14 & Falling Bananas.”

So you’re probably thinking, that has to be everything, right?

But it’s not.

Rivki included another letter.

This one was written to me.

I won’t share her words here, but I will say that I pressed the pretty lavender card against my cheek before I ever read it. And I sighed aloud — several times — alone, to myself, in the room as I read her words, and I promise I felt a bit of Rivki’s spirit being transmitted right through the ink.

Because that’s the way it’s been.

Reading everyone’s handwritten words has been a profoundly personal experience for me. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this eventually.

For now, I’ll just express my gratitude to Rivki by adding these few sentences. If you’re trying to get organized, trying to figure out what to feed your children, if you’re a lover of music, or if if you’ve someone interested in reading one woman’s views about Orthodox Judaism, consider subscribing to Rivki’s blog. Her posts are so beautifully crafted.

Just like her letter to my son.

• • •

To see other posts in this series read letters from:

BrickHouseChick

Stuart Sheldon

Misty’s Law’s

tweet me @rasjacobson

When Writers Meltdown

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Not too long ago, I lost it.

I mean, I totally lost it.

Clay Morgan of Educlaytion posted a piece “3 Keys to Managing Your Life,” in which he wrote about how he works to achieve balance between his professional aspirations, his need for family time and sanity time, and how he squeezes works writing into his days.

And I felt my lip start to tremble because I had really been struggling with my juggling act. Balls and plates had been falling for days.

Clay instructed:

Get with someone who will both push and understand you, a big-hearted person with a pom-pom in one hand and metal ruler in the other.

I read his words and I went a little bit whacky-jacks. Because, sometimes, I don’t feel very supported. Sometimes, I feel like I am lost in The Sahara, caught in a sandstorm without a guide, alone with this writing thing. Here I am, working on a blog (alone) and a manuscript (alone) and a query letter (alone).

And I thought: Who do I have? Who’s my support person?

I posted a full blown vent, a rant – really – that ended with me wondering if I should just put down my pen and stop writing.

I said I felt like I was wandering around in the desert and that I was floundering.

Lord, I wrote, a little sign would be nice.

I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic.

In grad school, I did a little stint as a back-up singer and — later — as a dancer on a hydraulic lift. In college, I was in some obscure shows. In high school, I had speaking roles in Mame and Hello Dolly! In middle school, I had a bit part in Cheaper By the Dozen. One August, at summer camp, I landed the lead role as Peter Pan after I sang “Happy Birthday To You” to the Drama Director. Another summer, I sang a bunch of cabaret songs including “I’ve got Steam Heat.” I was in plenty of plays in middle and high school. If you you want to go back to elementary school, I was Flower #6, Bird #3, and eventually I worked my way up to Glinda from The Wizard of Oz.

Why am I giving you my acting resume?

I don’t know?

Where was I going?

Oh yes, to Best Buy.

The day I posted that horrible post, I needed to find a new camera because Monkey was taking my old almost totally non-functional one to summer camp. Buying a little camera should have been a job done in under 30 minutes. And it should be noted, the people at Best Buy tried to help me decide between the Canon and the Nikon; I just kept crying.

It was one helluva performance.

Except it wasn’t a performance.

It. Was. Ridiculous.

Later that same day, Leanne Shirtliffe a.k.a Ironic Mom alerted me that my comment had brought a lot of support at Clay’s place. So I went back to peek. And then I really started weeping.

Because I had asked for a sign, and all day I had been receiving cosmic signs.

I just didn’t know.

One sign from the universe came in from Kelly K at Dances With Chaos when she showed up with a post at Red Dress Society about that terrible inner voice that tells you that you are not good enough to be a writer. And I started wondering, “Did she just whip that off for me?”

And Carl D’Agostino just so happened to call me that night. And Leanne emailed and offered to Skype. And Chase McFadden emailed. And Eric Rumsey from I Swear We’re Not Crazy sent me one of those little invisible awards where he said, “Without Renée, I wouldn’t be blogging.” And TamaraOutLoud said something similar. And a new friend, Clay Watkins, from Making The Days Count told me he was inspired by a few of my posts to write two of his own: this and this. And then I saw Kathy English had run a post on Mom Crusades inspired by something I had written, and I figured, well, sheesh, if this many people are digging my stuff, I have to be doing something right. Right? And then Jeff Goins showed up with a manifesto which offered me some major piece of mind.

That day could best be summed up in a scene from “A Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Only I was playing Sissy Spacek playing Loretta Lynn in the scene when Loretta is on tour, running around everywhere, trying to be everything to everyone. And there is a part where Ms. Loretta Lynn kind of looks blankly out at the lights and calls for her husband: “Doo…” she says, “Doo… Things is happenin’ way too fast…” and then she collapses right there on the stage in her fancy blue dress.

That’s how I felt that day.

Only I looked out and I didn’t see any Doo. (Okay, I know that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.)

I read Clay’s blog and realized I have been so focused on writing writing writing that I have lost my balance. I have been on red-alert, code-red, mayday-mayday, “we’re-going-down-with-the ship” mode. Which is not like me. I’m the cheerleader. I’m the happy one. I’m the shimmy and shine girl.

Except on that day.

That day I was an old piece of crap computer that had gone into severe meltdown mode.

And I really appreciated everyone’s kind words because they did help me to feel less alone.

I had asked for a sign, and my Blogosphere Inner Sanctum delivered. I was blessed to have:

8 cyber-friends on one blog offering support

4 different cyber-friends contacted me via email

1 phone call from Florida

1 phone call from Calgary

3 private messages on Facebook

A heckuva lot of tweets

And I would be remiss if I did not mention:

1 best friend in real life reminding me to breathe

1 Monkey who made me a homemade ICEE and let me use the rest of the blue-raspberry syrup, which everyone knows is the best flavor

1 Hubby who brought home an extra large pizza for dinner that night.

That day I learned there is a voice that a lot of us writers have that sometimes is still and sometimes cannot seem to be silenced. It’s a critical voice that whispers in our ears. It’s the voice of judgment and self-doubt. It’s the voice that makes us consider giving up.

But we won’t.

We can’t.

Writing is the closest thing I come to having an addiction.

I can’t not do it. And, as Monkey pointed out, “Even if you stopped blogging or stopped working on your book, you’d still keep scribbling in journals, so why not just keep the blog since you have met so many nice friends there?” (Monkey was careful to emphasize “friends” with air quotes.)

Since that day, I’ve had time to reboot myself. Resurrect myself.

Let me introduce you to the new and slightly improved rasjacobson 2.0.

I now come with state-of-the art anti-virus software that can better detect struggling-juggling and critical inner voices.

So the next time that voice starts tapping at my noggin, I will try to smoke it out. I know now how well-supported I am. Kelly K. was kind enough to let me borrow her duct tape so I can hog-tie The Terrible Voice and bury its dark, invisible carcass once and for all.

That’s one murder I wouldn’t fret about.

And I guess if a person is going to meltdown — at least — summer is the right time.

What do you do when you feel yourself melting down?

Coming Out of Another Closet: My Life as a Psychic Medium

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I’ve always seen and heard things that other people didn’t. Early on, I could feel other people’s energy and emotions and see people with superimposed color trails ― white, blue, red, orange ― around them. Often, I heard people’s thoughts as clearly as if they’d said them out loud, which, in many cases, I believed they had. As a child, hearing people “say” things and then being told they had not said them was extremely confusing, and I was often accused of making up stories or telling fibs.

To be honest, it was scary to experience reality in a profoundly different way than everyone around me, and over time, I learned to be quiet about my visual and auditory “hallucinations” due to the negative feedback I received.

On August 14, 1999, during the traumatic delivery of my son, I had a near-death experience (NDE). I remember feeling myself levitate from the table. Hovering above my body, I looked down at myself — and the entire room — from about eight feet above. I remember seeing the top of the surgeon’s flowered paper bonnet, and peering down into one of those pink, plastic hospital-order basins. That’s a lot of blood, I thought to myself. I wonder whose blood that is. I also remember feeling like I was being pulled away from the scene below, almost as if I was on some kind of a conveyor belt. I didn’t experience a white light or the feeling of overwhelming love and connection the way many people do. Instead, I felt something malevolent tugging at me. It was scary, and I didn’t like it.

This is a visual representation of what it looked like when I woke up.

The next thing I knew, I was back inside my body, lying on my back in a room lit only by a dull blue light.

“Am I dead?” I said aloud, to no one in particular.

A nurse reassured me I was not dead at all, and then she left me, ostensibly to locate my husband who was somewhere in the hospital.

Lying in my hospital bed, I found I could hear and connect with the consciousness of others whose physical bodies had died in that space. I felt these agitated spirits swirling around me. Many were angry about being trapped in that room, and they shouted at me to listen to them.

From that moment on, the voices followed me everywhere. It was hard to focus on nursing my newborn son with angry spirits shouting at me. And it was scary not to have anyone to talk to about what I was experiencing. The only way I could deal with the voices was to ignore them, and that is what I did.

Or what I tried to do, anyway.

I stopped talking about what I was hearing, and I tried to exist on one level of consciousness, the way everyone around me expected me to exist.

That’s when the insomnia started.

It was awful.

At night, I’d get out of bed and press my ear against the brick chimney in the bedroom I shared with my husband. “Do you hear that?” I’d ask him night after night. “Do you hear people talking?” But Mark never heard anything and, after a while, he got upset with me for waking him up so frequently.

The rest is a story that many of you have heard.

Busy with a newborn all day and tormented by voices all night, I wound up in a psychiatrist’s office, where I was poly-drugged, first with SSRIs – Celexa, Zoloft, Prozac; then with the anticonvulsant, Lamictal. Eventually, I was given Klonopin, a powerful anti-seizure medication. After seven years of dutifully listening to “experts” and taking the medication exactly as prescribed, I learned Klonopin is not supposed to be taken long-term, that it has many dangerous side effects, and I slowly weaned off of it with the assistance of a specialist. Unfortunately, this wean was a disaster. I endured an horrifying iatrogenic injury which left me disabled and debilitated for many years.

While healing from that trauma, my world blew open again. The voices returned, and this time I could see things, too. 

It’s taken me a long time to figure out what brought me to meds in the first place & I’m finally crystal clear on it.

Today, I own all of it.

I’m an artist and a writer and a teacher and a mother.

I’ve survived rape and withdrawal.

And yes, I’m a psychic medium.

Instead of being afraid of the visions and the voices, I now embrace them. Being a medium is like being a translator, decoding a universal emotional language into English ― and at times, hearing words and phrases, feeling impressions of things or watching little movie clips. It is a receiving of information rather than a retrieving of it.

Working with the amazing Chuck Dilberto

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to work with a modern-day healer who did a SIX-HOUR cleaning with me, during which time he sealed up a portal through which malevolent energy was being transmitted. He confirmed that I am plugged into something powerful. (Not that I needed his validation.)

Working with CD was transformative. All my broken soul-pieces have been integrated. I no longer hear angry voices. I’m alert & aware & whole & so very grateful.

Three months short of five years, I am here.

I am healed.

And I have a new understanding about myself and the world.

Western culture teaches us to seek medical help when we are sick, to visit the dentist to get our teeth un-mucked, and we think nothing of hiring specialists to assist us with personal hygiene, legal, financial and medical matters. We hire handymen to help us with things that break in our homes, landscapers to weed our gardens and plumbers to unclog our drains.

And yet, somehow we remain resistant to the idea that things can get clogged up in our heads, too. Old emotional pain can build up in just the same way that a drain can become clogged. We aren’t always great about working these things through on our own – and, in fact, sometimes we need professional help. For some people, talk therapy is enough. For others of us, with more complex trauma, we need to call in the big guns.

And guess what? There are talented practitioners who know how to unclog gunked up emotional pipes, too.

Clearing my emotional mess has allowed me to see my psychic abilities as a blessing rather than a curse. Doing this work requires a willingness to deconstruct one’s life & figure out where you got off your path. It is possible to put yourself back together, but only YOU can do it. As painful as it may be, looking at your life is an opportunity to rebuild.

If you’re interested in learning more about my experience and/or would like to meet with this amazing healer, feel free to contact me and I’ll put you in touch.

Do you believe there there’s another dimension beyond the one we see with our eyes? Or is this waaaay too woo-woo for you? Leave a comment!

I’m Going to Be on SURVIVOR!

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Sorry, I didn’t mean to trick you.

But I am going to be on SURVIVOR.

Eventually.

You know, probably.

Because I tried out to be a contestant on SURVIVOR.

Again.

This time auditions were held just 20 minutes away, right outside of Rochester, New York.

{So, of course, I’m thinking this is mine. Because, seriously, why would CBS come to Rochester to hold a casting call if they weren’t there to get me, right?}

I assume there would be thousands of people camped out, waiting for registration, which was scheduled to begin at 11 AM.

In anticipation of looooong lines, I get up early, eat a healthy breakfast, gather up a the necessary provisions – snacks and water — fill up my gas tank, and make the easy drive to Victor. I assume parking will be difficult, so I wear my sneakers. I’m prepared to go the distance.

You can imagine my surprise when I see the short line of people ahead of me.

Like ridiculously short.

The line at 9:30 AM. Super short.

Pulling into the lot, I learn I’ve arrived early enough to be able to park in the lot adjacent to the filming location. When they count us out, I’m #67, one of my favorite numbers.

{You know, ‘cuz I was born in 1967. Confirmation that the Universe is working for me.}

I go to the back of the line where I meet a couple that had driven in from Little Falls, New York (about four hours away), a pharmacy technician named Mindy, a prison guard named CJ , a flaky millennial who has never seen a single a episode of the show before, and some dude who has tried out about 17 times.

“When I have to go to the bathroom, will you guys save my place?” the bearded millennial asks.

We quickly form an alliance and agree to help each other out.

There isn’t much to tell.

The lines get longer.

By noon, there are probably a thousand people waiting to audition. Maybe more.

I wait 2 and ½ hours before being moved into a garage, where I wait some more. There is a nice breeze and a cardboard cutout of Jeff Probst.

Eventually, I make it inside where I hand in my release waiver, stating I allow CBS to use my likeness on social media – or for whatever purpose they like. I provide my phone number and email address.

After that, we go back outside to another area of the garage and, after another wait, we walk back inside. Some of us stand; some of us sit in blue office chairs.

This is the first moment where I start to think about what I will say. I know I have just ONE minute to make my pitch. There is no panel. Just me and a twenty-something wearing trendy thick black glasses.

This is a summary of what I believe I said. Obviously, I was nowhere near this clear or succinct. I did my best to stand in front of the camera and smile and laugh and act natural.

In August of 1999, I saw a trailer for a new show called SURVIVOR, and I was immediately interested: a show like that was right up my alley – physical competition paired with emotional challenges and a social game? Sign me up.

Then I looked down at my ankles, which were super puffy because I was super pregnant (due to deliver any day), and I realized that I wouldn’t be able to participate for a long time. I promised myself that if the show was still on the air when my kid graduated from high school, I was going to try out again.

So here we are, nearly 18 years later. I’ve never missed an episode and I’m making good on my promise. A lot has happened in my life over the last 4 years. I’ve bounced back after a brain injury, which occurred after I was incorrectly weaned off a prescription medication. There’s more to tell, of course – and you’ll have to call me back to Los Angeles if you want to learn more. Suffice it to say I’m funny, flirty, and fit. As a former teacher, I’m a good communicator, which wins me points with adults and makes me relate easily to a younger generation. As far as I’m concerned, you guys came to Rochester to get me. Here I am, pick me.

Trendy black glasses holds up his hand, indicating I have 5 seconds left.

And I break out into a little dance.

{Cuz, you know, I do that.}

Before I leave, an older gentleman tells me that I’ll only receive a phone call if the producers are interested in bringing me out to Los Angeles.

{So you know, any day.}

What did you do yesterday? Or… what show would you like to be on if you didn’t have real life responsibilities?

XOXO

 

Press Release For My Art Show on 9/16/2017

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Here is the official press release which I’m sending out to anyone and everyone here in Rochester. If anyone has contacts at the New York Times, the LA Times, or the Chicago Tribune, I sure would like to get some national exposure. This is not about selling paintings. It’s about raising awareness about the dangers of psychiatric drugs. So many people are suffering in silence right this very moment, their voices unheard. I’m grateful to be able to use my art as a vehicle to share my story, which is the story for so many of us.

• • •

Reproductions of this piece are available as wall art, on magnets & coasters, as well as porcelain trivet tiles.

ARTIST TO DISPLAY WORKS IN “THE STATE OF UNDRESS” PROJECT AT WHITMAN WORKS COMPANY OPENING SEPTEMBER 16, 2017

Renée Schuls-Jacobson’s Art Represents her Healing Journey

Toward Mental Wellness & the Struggle of Others With Invisible Challenges

 August 1, 2017 – Rochester, NY – Whitman Works Company in Penfield, New York is pleased to present “THE STATE OF UNDRESS PROJECT: THE HEALING OF RASJACOBSON”. The exhibit’s opening will take place September 16th with a reception from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at 1826 Penfield Road, Penfield, NY. This exhibit represents Renée Schuls-Jacobson’s on-going healing journey after becoming disabled as a result of improper treatment and withdrawal from a powerful anti-anxiety medication.

During her illness, Jacobson realized there was a profound disconnection between how she looked and how she felt. While speaking with others who were willing to admit that they, too, were struggling to overcome invisible obstacles of their own, she became interested in the tension between outward appearance and internal reality, creating impressionistic portraits based on the stories people shared.

As a result, Jacobson’s art reflects this duality, and her colorful crowd of characters is enigmatic. Despite her use of a cheerful color palette, her subjects often appear deep in thought, even a little sad.

Jacobson hopes her artwork (and the accompanying non-fiction narratives) will allow people to speak more freely about their own insecurities and invisible disabilities which are, to some degree, present in all of us. She also seeks to educate the public about the dangers associated with psychotropic drugs, like the one she was prescribed.

The artist will be in residence for the opening of the exhibit on September 16, 2017 from 6 PM to 9 PM. The show will continue in the Whitman Works Company Gallery through October 7th. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM – 6 PM. For additional information please visit the gallery shop in person at the address above or online at www.whitmanworks.com.

 

 

It’s Been a Long Time: Am I Still a Writer?

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TENTATIVELY TECHNICOLOR is a 18×24 inch multimedia piece featuring acrylic paint & colored pencils. The original is SOLD, but reproductions are available as wall art, trivets, coasters, pendants & magnets. Click on the photo & be magically transported to my shop.

It’s been a long time since anyone has wanted to interview me about my writing.

Or maybe they wanted to, but up until recently, I wouldn’t have been able to oblige. As many of you know, I suffer from PAWS – post acute withdrawal syndrome – as a result of improperly weaning off Klonopin, a powerful, physician-prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Initially, my brain was so damaged that I couldn’t walk or talk. Worst of all, I couldn’t read and I couldn’t write. At 44 months off, I’m doing nearly everything I did prior to the injury. It’s just…harder.

And today, I found out that the interview I did  with author AJ Alexander went live.

I met AJ during August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman BlogFest (#BOAW2017), and we liked each other’s writing style. Also, we kinda thought we may have dated the same weird-psychopath for a minute there. We didn’t. (((wipes brow)))

I’m truly humbled to be recognized for my writing.

It’s been a long time since I’ve identified as a “writer” – but I must confess, I’m back to it again.

If you’d like to read the interview about my new creative process, click HERE.

Do me a favor.

Leave a comment.

I’m on a diet, and instead of chocolate, I’ll devour your words.

Also, check out Aurora’s blog.

And follow her on Twitter @AuroraJean_A.

tweet us @rasjacobson & @aurorajean_a

Manifesting a New Home

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My childhood bedroom. For real. This is it.

Growing up, I lived in a bedroom my mother said she decorated ‘especially for me’.

The truth is that she decorated it for herself, but I didn’t know that at the time.

All I knew was that she loved the way the red furniture looked atop the plush, lime-green wall-to-wall carpet. She loved the way the floral bedspread matched the curtains, which matched the desk chair cushion, which matched the teddy bear that had been crafted out of the same material.

Unfortunately, it was a room that did not suit me.

At all.

While my friends had posters of rock stars tacked to their walls, or pictures of famous super-models or bulletin boards with pushpins, or shelves with trophies and ribbons, I had pink and green floral wallpaper that my mother selected for me before I was even born. For me, home was more like being in a hotel room: a place that you stayed temporarily.

“This house belongs to me and your mother,” my father explained. “One day you’ll have your own house which you can decorate however you’d like; until then, you go by your mother’s and my rules. And that means no holes in the walls.”

I remember complaining about these rules… and then being grounded for complaining.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I now realize I was being taught to submit, to ignore my needs to take care of the needs of others. My father always told me to listen to the little voice in my head, but the voice in my head contradicted the voice he heard. The voice I heard told me to challenge, to speak, to do things that other people told me were scary. The voice I heard told me to create, to organize, to decorate, to beautify in my way.

When my (now ex) husband and I separated in 2015, I wound up in an apartment. It’s not a bad place. I have plenty of square footage in which to roam about, a storage area in the basement, a garage in which to park my car at night. There are two elevators, one of which is often not working. The long hallways are painted in drab neutrals and feature crystal light fixtures and plenty of enormous mirrors. The carpets are worn. Fresh cut flowers sit in a decorative vase in the lobby. Various doormen help folks with their comings and goings.

But living here has not been good for me.

And I finally realized why.

For the last 24 months, I’ve been experiencing that same stifled feeling I used to feel when I lived at home with my parents as a teenager.

I can’t decorate the way I’d like to.

Can’t entertain the way I’d like to.

Can’t listen to my music at the decibel I’d like to.

(also, my neighbors know waaaaay too much about my comings and my goings)

For me, a home is not just four walls, a floor and a ceiling.

My home is an extension of my creative self.

It never occurred to me I would feel this way when I signed the lease two years ago.

While moving in, I watched the movers as they attempted to cram my beautiful leather couch through the door.

“Lady,” one guy said, wiping his brow. “This thing ain’t gonna fit.”

A few days later, I purchased an unattractive sofa and chair combo from the “scratch and dent” side of a local furniture store.

(because, you know, I wasn’t going to have it forever)

I made a lot of decisions that way.

Since then, I’ve acquired many temporary items.

Broken things.

Things that I wouldn’t want to bring into a real home.

Today I realized that the reason I’ve been doing this is because I haven’t been able to visualize myself staying in Rochester long-term.

When my son heads off to college in August, I have the opportunity to relocate and start over.

Or I can stay where I am and continue to build on what I’ve created for myself over the last 2 years.

Maybe I can find something like this, huh?

I don’t know where I want to do this starting over – but I can see it, this home.

It’s bright, a single-story home with lots of natural sunlight. It’s clean and new and open. There are 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms. Wood floors. A space I can use as an art studio with white walls and shelving and easy access to a working sink. I can see the patio in the backyard, my little patch of grass.

I get panicky when I think about starting over all by myself somewhere far away from where I have spent the last 20 years of my life.

But I also know that wherever I go, I always meet new people – some of whom who become dear friends to me.

So I’m putting my desire out into the Universe.

Help me.

Show me where you want me to go.

Bring the right people to guide me.

Help me to trust myself and others.

And let me live long enough to know what it feels like to be at home again.

Ever moved somewhere alone? How was that for you? What’s the worst thing about moving alone? What was the best thing?

tweet me @rasjacobson

**NOTE: I’d like to thank my parents for taking & sending this photograph to me, knowing full-well that I was writing about my childhood bedroom. They are beyond generous and mostly understand that I have this strange need to write about it all.

Call Me RACHEL: #BOAW2018

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Last night, I started painting too late.

I was tired.

I tried to rest, but I saw her.

Fully formed.

So I had to get up and, at least, start her.

And then I couldn’t stop.

RACHEL is an 16×20 original featuring acrylic paint, vintage papers, oil pastels, colored pencils and one tiny gemstone right alongside her nose. Signed and ready to hang. Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing this or any of my work.

This is RACHEL.

My entire life, strangers have called me Rachel. It happens nearly every day.

For the purposes of brevity, let’s just say I understand Rachel. I understand what motivates her, what she needs, her insecurities and shortcomings. Rachel is kind of my alter ego, I guess. When I’m happy, you’ll know it. When I’m mad, you’ll know about that, too.

Consider the Biblical Rachel. To an outside observer, Rachel appeared to have everything in life—physical beauty, all the material things she needed, and the devotion of a loving husband. But Rachel wanted more. She had to have everything she wanted or life was not worth living. She was envious, selfish, peevish, fretful, discontented, and demanding.

I’ll own that I’m not the easiest person to be with in relationship.

I’m not a conventional girl.

I will not demur.

Like Rachel in the Torah, I have my own needs, aspirations and dreams. And while I’m happy to support the man in my life emotionally, I expect the same kind of affirmation, support and validation. I require a lot of affection.

I like how my RACHEL appears rather mermaid-ish, too. That wasn’t intentional, but it comes through loud and clear. It’s a dream of mine to eventually live closer to the ocean, and I crave the sun and the sea.

Truth be told, I often feel like a fish out of water and relate to these mythological creatures who choose to give up their lives in one place to follow the love to another place. Mermaids are known for their passionate singing and are forever blamed for luring men to the shallows, causing sailors to wreck their ships. But why should a woman be blamed for expressing herself? Why don’t folks think less of the men for losing focus and becoming distracted?

My entire life I’ve challenged social norms. People tell me I think too much. For what? A girl? Who would ever say that to a man? I’ve been told to be quiet and just be a go-along girl.

Never again.

My RACHEL is subversive.

She gets people to listen to her and she gets what she wants.

Plus she’s sexy as hell.

What name do people call you?

This post is part of The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VII! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page (link this to http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-vii/) on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 9th.

The Hairiest Snizz

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Click on photo to see more of my work.

NOTE: This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 11th.

In 4th grade, I liked a boy named Johnny. I brought him fresh tangerines and chased him around the playground at recess. One night, I penned him a handwritten note asking if we could maybe go roller-skating together sometime.

The next morning I stuck the note in his cubby right before we stood to recite The Pledge of Allegiance. That afternoon, Johnny stood among the other boys in our grade and motioned for me to come over. My heart thumping in my chest, I trotted to his side.

At one point, he crouched down to retie the laces on his sneakers, and I was surprised when he touched my ankle. Standing up, he inched closer to me. I was certain he was going to kiss me right then and there, in front of everyone.

It was going to be awesome.

“You’re hairy,“ Johnny announced. “I don’t like hairy girls.”

When I got home from school that afternoon, I found my father’s razor and used it to shave my legs.

And my arms.

And my armpits.

I didn’t even have peach fuzz under my arms, you know, because I was nine years old.

Still, I shaved there all the same.

Just in case.

The threat of spending my life alone and unloved sounded worse than a death sentence.

• • •

Years later, someone I loved told me that he wanted a woman who didn’t burp, fart, sweat or have any hair on her body, except on her head. I laughed and told him that wasn’t a woman; that was a doll.

When he expressed a preference for women who were “smooth down there,” I decided it was time for laser hair removal.

I remember the technician’s rose-colored safety goggles, her gloved hand squeezing my inner thigh.

“I hope you’re not doing this for a man,” she said to my crotch.

At the time, I believed I was doing it for myself.

But it was a lie.

• • •

A few years ago, my friend Eric invited a few people to his parents’ cottage to celebrate his birthday. It was warm, and everyone was lounging around in some state of undress. At some point, Eric’s girlfriend – let’s call her Jenn — announced she was going in the water and stepped out of her long skirt.

Jenn had a lot going on down there.

Dark hair came out of both sides of her bikini bottom.

I’d never seen that much hair on a woman, especially coming from parts I’d been taught were private.

“Gross,” my husband hissed in my ear. “That’s just gross.”

• • •

After my divorce, I took a lover. I was terrified the first time we were intimate. I kept waiting for him to criticize something about my physical appearance. But he didn’t. He made happy sounds when we kissed. He twirled my curls around his fingers, bit my thighs, and told me my body was beautiful.

At first, I didn’t believe him.

But, over time, I realized he was telling the truth, and I wept for all my years of not-knowing.

• • •

As a young girl growing up during the 1970s and 80s, I watched enough episodes of Charlie’s Angels to know that Jill, Kelly and Kate had pretty faces and slim figures. When they wore their tiny bathing suits, they did not have any superfluous body hair.

As a result, I’ve spent a large portion of my life tweezing and plucking and waxing and sugaring, believing that female body hair is unsightly and disgusting.

I see now how all of us, men and women alike, are impacted by this culture’s unrealistic portrayal of women. Women are not hairless; neither are we all long and lean.

I‘ve done many things to attract a lover.

I’ve primped and preened. I’ve told jokes and laughed at their bad ones. I’ve pretended to be interested when, in reality, I was bored. I’ve put myself on a diet, done things that I didn’t really want to do.

When you strip away all the layers, the truth is that I’ve been worrying about everyone else’s opinion of me since I was in elementary school.

• • •

Sometimes, I wish I had a chance to go back to my 4th grade self, to that day Johnny teased me in front of the boys. Instead of internalizing his criticism, I imagine myself moving closer to him, rubbing one of my hairy legs against his.

I would laugh at him and tell him that his ideas about shaving are ludicrous, remind him that human beings are mammals and that mammals have hair on their bodies.

That the messages in the movies, and TV, from friends and family and strangers, are nonsense.

That I don’t exist for his fulfillment.

I would wish him well, hope one day he might meet a woman who loves herself so much that his opinion about body hair might change, that in her arms he might have the chance to know a boundless and intoxicating love.

Afterwards, I would make my way home.

There, in the privacy of my own bedroom, I’d inspect my arms and my legs and deicide I’m good enough ‘as is’.

Instead of seeing myself as defective, I’d be resilient enough to know that one person’s opinion didn’t have to become my truth.

And instead of running for a razor, I’d walk into the kitchen and eat one of the many tangerines I’d been wasting on boys like Johnny.

What do you think about superfluous hair? Gross? Sexy? No big whoop? Feel free to share your funny stories here. I won’t tell anyone. Probably.

tweet me @rasjacobson