because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

2017: Professional Goals In Review

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Confession

I’ve never been a particularly “goal oriented” person.

Don’t get me wrong. I get shit done.

But it’s not always intentional.

It’s always been more like: I want this and I go after it.

(I usually get it, too.)

This last year, I decided to be more intentional about everything.

Partially born out of a need to track my progress after an iatrogenic brain injury, I’ve found that writing things down has helped me to realize that I accomplished a lot of personal and professional goals this year.

I set quite a few goals for myself this year, and I’m pleased to see that I’ve met every single one.

2017 Goals In Review

Make 200 sales. In 2017, I sold more than 400 pieces of art to 207 individual people, including over 50 original paintings.

Grow my social media engagement. I’ve increased my presence on Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Facebook is still my preferred site. I started the year with just under 300 followers on my RASJACOBSON ORIGINALS FACEBOOK PAGE, and I’ve grown to 690 followers as of today. More important than the numbers, my followers are quite interactive: helping me create titles for new artwork, giving me opinions, and helping to gauge general interest of particular products. I started producing short videos and have taken a liking to painting LIVE thanks to everyone’s kind comments and sense of humor about my lack of professionalism when things don’t go as planned.

Develop a website with a user-friendly interface. Did it and it changed everything. Sales increased 200%. People really want to see and buy in the fewest number of clicks possible.

Have a curated gallery show. In September, I showed at Whitman Works Company. It was well attended, and I felt validated. Owner, Derek Darling, went the extra mile to help me realize my vision for the opening.

Participate in First Fridays at The Hungerford Building. I was in attendance for 11 out of 12 of them, when I couldn’t be there one of the women with whom I share space handled my sales. The Collective in Studio 254 is comprised of eight deliciously collaborative women, and I feel lucky to know each of them.

Get featured in traditional media. I made it into CITY NEWS in print and online, right before my gallery opening. I’d still like to be interviewed for Rochester Women Magazine and I’m hoping that one day artist Cordell Cordaro will notice me and feature me in his beautiful magazine ARTHOUSE PRESS, available now in Barnes & Noble stores all over the country.

Post one blog a month. Phew. (((wipes brow))) I did it, but it wasn’t easy. Not all my posts were art related, but that’s not all I’m about. I mean, I live in this frickin’ crazy-ass world so how can I not comment on what’s going on right now. Oy.

Use my art to raise attention to the dangers of benzodiazepines. The side effects associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal are horrifying and hard to articulate. At 52 months off, I’m grateful to have improved. I don’t know what the mechanism is with these drugs, but when a person takes Valium or Klonopin or Ativan or Xanax, that person behaves much as a functional alcoholic would. Initially, you’re productive enough so no one says much. But after a while, the drugs stop working, and then you have a secondary problem on top of whatever reason you started the drugs in the first place. And that is everything that is wrong with the world today.

(I could go on and on about this. And I will. In 2018. )

Outside of my artwork, I’ve continued teaching memoir classes at Writers & Books; organized & hosted several public readings ~ there’s one tonight at Writers & Books at 7pm-9pm; and I’ve continued to help people edit and publish their own stories and prepare them for publication.

I joined a gym. What? I eat eat right. I work out.

What I Didn’t Do

I said I wanted to find a boyfriend  join a networking group. I did. I attended two meetings. And then I fell off the wagon. That being said, I connected with so many local artists in real life and folks online, too. So technically, I was networking…just in a different way. This is one of the things I plan to be more diligent about in 2018. I’ve even rescheduled my art classes so that I can attend Marketing Mondays.

Thank you all from sticking with me as I figure out my new normal.

For celebrating my successes and helping me remember everything is happening the way it’s supposed to happen. Slowly, organically.

That I don’t have to know everything right now.

That the sky isn’t falling.

That I’m going to be better than okay.

What’s ONE thing you accomplished in 2017?

Want to see my work, click HERE

ME TOO: WE MUST CONTINUE TO TELL OUR STORIES

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Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Louie C.K., Matt Lauer, Donald Trump. . .

We, women, have been too quiet for too long, laughing when we should have been shouting. We dismissed inappropriate behavior and in doing so, we inadvertently allowed it. Now we see how important it is to confront bad behavior.

And the only way to make change is to speak up.

I’ve done it before, and I’m doing it again now.

Because it’s important.

In 1985, a man I cared about forced me to have sex.

It was not consensual.

“He wouldn’t stop when I asked him to stop,” I told my friends.

But no one knew what to say.

My own mother told me I’d “asked” for it.

Here’s what I needed to hear: That is terrible! It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. He was only thinking of himself. You’re not alone. You’re going to be okay. What do you need? How can I help you?

The entire trajectory of my life was altered by that single event.

I wish I could say that that night was the only incidence in which I was encouraged to dismiss inappropriate behavior of the men around me.

But it was not.

We live in a culture that has allowed men to behave badly.

We have tolerated discrimination, assault, rape.

We are seeing it now, how our silence has protected our perpetrators.

Being “nice” has not served us well.

Yesterday, a friend suggested I create a piece of art that says “ME TOO” on it. Inspired, I shared the idea with another friend and together we collaborated to create this image.

Because we’re all in this together.

There’s one helluva planetary correction happening, people.

Change is coming.

Keep sharing your stories.

People are finally listening.

If you’d like to pre-order a 12×18 print for $10 + S&H, leave a comment or message me at rasjacobson.ny@gmail.com. 

If you relate to this post, please type ME TOO in the comments.

Never Too Late To Make a Wish Come True

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A few weeks ago, I traveled to New York City and had the opportunity to catch up with an old college friend. We lose touch with each other from time to time, but she always makes it easy to reconnect. So I’m sitting in this little cafe sipping artisanal hot chocolate, when JD shows up carrying this bundle.

“Sorry I’m late,” she says setting the bundle on the chair. “You been here long?”

I reassure her that she’s not late. She isn’t looking at me. She’s unwrapping and unzipping. And she’s kind of doing this sing-songy thing that I’ve never heard her do before, but y’know, we haven’t seen each other in a while, so what do I know. But then the bundle turns out to have arms and legs and a precious face. And I learn that my friend has adopted this baby. At fifty years old, my friend is finally a mother.

JD lets me hold her daughter.

Y’all, it’s been forever since I’ve held a baby.

And she smells sooooo good.

And she falls asleep in my arms.

When my friend goes to the bathroom, I take several million photos of her daughter and I just know that eventually I will paint something to honor this amazing thing that my friend has done.

Inspired by the visit with my friend and her new daughter, I’ve been working on something since Thanksgiving and this morning I woke up early to finish it. and I wanted to share it with you. The writing in the background is an excerpt of a poem that I wrote while JD and I were students together in college. I think it was written in response to something I’d read by Lucille Clifton or bell hooks or some other feminist poet. It reads:

dandelions

stand proud & tall

cover the lawn

when they come

stand tall.

dandelions be proud flowers

stubborn too

dandelions

always grow back.

Some See Wish is a 24×36″ multimedia piece featuring acrylic paint, oil pastels, colored pencils, vintage papers, antique stamps, and a few strategically placed gemstones. If you’re interested in this piece andwould like to see it in greater detail (or if you’d like to see any of my work), you can find me on my website at RASJACOBSON  or shoot me a message. (Prints are just $10 + S&H.)

It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.

In 10 words or less, tell me what baby-step you’ve taken to keep moving in the direction of your dreams?

***Help me to continue my work as an independent artist by sharing this post!***

 

Coming Clean About My Age

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My birthday is coming up, y’all.

Yup, this summer girl was born in November.

You know what that means.

Yes, my parents got busy around Valentine’s Day.

But it also means this year I turn 55.

Whaaat?

Well, kind of.

Lucille Ball once said:

“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.”

How much do I Love Lucy?

Here’s the 411.

When I first started teaching, I was just a few years older than some of my 12th grade students!

When I introduced myself, I made a point of tacking on a few extra years.

I said I was 25.

(Seven extra years seemed like the right amount of padding.)

When I moved to New Orleans, I maintained this tradition. I felt I needed the cushion, so parents would nod and smile instead of raise disapproving eyebrows. Also, so my students would believe I was seasoned and complete my assignments without giving me grief.

I never lied to my employers. The Headmaster and English Department Chair at Metairie Park Country day School knew precisely how green old I was when I was hired.

This year, I realized I’ve been in my 40’s for nearly twenty years.

And that made me remember my grandmother who told people she was 29.

For decades.

After she stopped wearing wigs and wore her thinning hair in loose ponytails wrapped in twine, she was 29. After her eyes dulled and her skin wrinkled, she was 29. After her toenails yellowed and her remaining teeth fell out of her mouth, she was 29.

It was ridiculous.

No-one bought it. It was silly and a little pitiful.

I vowed to go the other way.

So I padded.

This year, I could tell people that I’m 55.

Because if you tack on five extra years…well, I look pretty good for 55, right?

And yet.

I feel I’ve kind of caught up with myself.

These days, I am grateful for this body that continues to get me where it needs to go – even if I sometimes have headaches and get dizzy and fall down. I am grateful for my eyes, which still appreciate all the beauty around me – even if the view is a little blurry. I’ll never have pretty model’s hands, but I have four fingers that help me to tap out what I want to say. Fingers that help me punch buttons on the phone to speak to old friends and new. Fingers that are attached to hands that reach out to offer assistance, to squeeze shoulders. Hands that are attached to arms which can swallow people up in hugs. And even if my vocal cords are toasted, I realized I have these things called ears that work really well, too.

So the jig is up.

Lucy, we’re back to living honestly.

Tomorrow, I’ll be 50 years old.

Right where I’m supposed to be.

A daughter.

A sister.

A mother.

A friend.

An artist, writer & teacher.

A contestant on Survivor.

Just kidding about Survivor.

But a girl can hold onto her dreams, right?

Have you ever lied about your age? How are you doing with this growing older thing? 

RASJACOBSON $20 ART GIVEAWAY 2017

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I’m celebrating the one year anniversary of my website! Seems like a good time for a giveaway!

To receive $20 in credit towards any inventory currently in my shop ~ and, believe me, I’m stocked for the holidays, just follow these simple instructions:

To enter:

1) LIKE RASJACOBSON ORIGINALS on Facebook or FOLLOW me on Instagram at @rasjacobson
2) On either/both pages, LIKE this photo
3) TAG 2 friends

Giveaway ends November 25, 2017 at 11:59PM PST. Winner will be announced by November 26th on IG, Facebook and on this blog. Winner will be chosen at random. Fake or giveaway accounts will not be considered. Giveaway open to residents of the continental US & Canada only.

This giveaway is not sponsored, administered, endorsed or associated with Facebook or Instagram. By entering you confirm that you are 18+ years old, releasing Facebook and Instagram of any and all responsibility & agree to Facebook and Instagram’s terms of use. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary.

 Have fun!
Every time you share my post, you help me spread my reach! I’m so grateful to all of you!

Raising Awareness About The Dangers of Benzodiazepines

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I’ve been consulting with people in benzodiazepine withdrawal for nearly a year now. It’s something I do quietly, privately. Right now, I have four or five people who call me regularly for emotional support. Each of them shares a similar story.

They were going through a difficult time in their lives – usually involving profound loss or grief – when they started to experience somatic symptoms. Rather than being sent to therapy to discuss their life experiences, these individuals were sent down the psychiatry route.

After a short meeting with a psychiatrist, their behavior was determined to be pathological or disordered, and they were told to take was medication which would help alleviate their symptoms.

In each case, they were prescribed benzodiazepines which, they were assured, would work for them like magic. And for a time, they did. However, just like any drug, these drugs lose their efficacy and individuals find themselves needing to take more to achieve the same results. Some people become tolerant more quickly than others, for whom reaching tolerance may take years.

It doesn’t matter.

The end result is the same.

Once you hit tolerance, you’re in trouble because you can’t stay on the drug, but you cannot get off without scads of horrifying side effects.

Today, I received this message via email (shared with permission):

I had a severe seizure in the late afternoon yesterday. My eyes spasmed and blinked uncontrollably. My mouth twisted and stuck in a contorted position. As my jaw moved with violent force from left to right, my bottom lip moved up and down up and down. I felt dizzy and sick. My eyebrows went up and down, my neck convulsed, along with my lips. My teeth chattered nonstop. I feel violated by my own brain and body.

This has been going on since for over a year!

I am hopeless and in despair.

My primary doctor has destroyed my life and murdered me.

I am suicidal & asked for a closed casket.

I don’t think I will make it. The stress is slowly killing me.

I don’t know what to do.

If you are having an adverse reaction to a drug that can’t be stopped, how do you get off of it? How?

This woman is a warrior.

Her brain is zapping her; her body is betraying her. She cannot walk or talk or watch television or listen to music. She cannot enjoy a casual lunch with a girlfriend or go to the beach. She’s homebound and isolated, having to endure thousands of horrifying symptoms.

The fact that people are continuing to suffer is unacceptable.

Pharmaceutical companies have known about the dangers of benzodiazepines since the 1970s and ill-informed physicians continue to prescribe benzodiazepines longterm without understanding their efficacy, and patients continue to be harmed.

Up until now, I’ve used my art work and my blog as vehicles to bring attention to this travesty.

Moving forward, I’m offering education and individual case consulting for medical personnel.

I’d like to visit medical schools and speak to future doctors about my experience and the experience of so many people who have been harmed by psychiatrists who have mistakenly deemed certain drugs as “safe” and “tried and true.”

For more information on how I can help you better help you, your loved ones, or your patients, please contact me HERE.

Show Your Teacher Appreciation

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Teachers LURVE this one!

I loved teaching at Metairie Park Country Day School.

Especially in November.

By November, my students had finished reading the first novel of the year. They’d written their first five-paragraph essays and finished their first creative projects, (which were always amazing). By then, they had a pretty good understanding of my expectations, and I knew enough about their individual personalities to feel a wonderful kind of connectedness in the classroom.

CONFESSION: The other reason I loved November in New Orleans is a little more selfish.

Starting around Thanksgiving, MPCDS parents and students started leaving gifts for me on my desk.

Pies and brownies, cookies and baked hams. Gifts cards. Once, I even received a handmade sweater!

These shows of appreciation really mattered to me, especially since my salary was a little light on the green back in the day.

My fave gifts were always the ones that paired a little yummy somethin’ along with somethin’ that came from the heart.

When I became a parent myself, I remembered the generosity of my students and their parents. And while I was committed to giving my son’s teachers great gifts, I often found myself scrambling to get something at the last minute… and not loving the gifts that I gave.

Teachers LURVE this one, too!

Sound familiar?

I have the perfect solution.

The teacher gift bundle.

Let me hook you up with SEVEN of my most popular 6×6 reproductions… paired with fabulous high quality chocolates, all carefully packaged. (I’ll even include handwritten notes, if you tell me what you’d like me to write!)

And did I mention FREE SHIPPING?

All for $120.

Click here to place your order and take the stress out of holiday gift giving for the teachers in your life.

Order by November 30, 2016 to receive this offer.

You’ll be glad you did.

 

XORASJ

Obviously, my 6×6 wall art can be given to anyone, not just teachers. They also make great gifts for mothers, sisters, wives & daughters! Collect them all!

Permission to Feel Sadness Leads to Joy

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Last night, I shared with a new friend how someone hurt my heart this weekend.

I explained how I’d been dancing on the beach, basking in the sunrise, grateful for the opportunity to plant my feet firmly in the sand and be so close to the ocean. “I selected the spot carefully,” I said. “Off to the left of the only sunbather on the beach.”

I told him how I’d popped in my headphones, so I could tune out the world and tune into my body.

Fifty months ago, in the throes of acute benzodiazepine withdrawal, my body was in continuous pain. Unable to walk or talk, or take care of any of my most basic needs, I was confined indoors (mostly) for over a year.

I never thought I’d heal.

So there I am, quietly expressing gratitude to the Universe when this woman ~ this stranger ~ tells me to move myself down the beach. She tells me I’m distracting her.

“Your ass is in my face,” she says.

Obviously, she didn’t know about what I’d been through ~ but it felt terrible to be shamed for feeling being myself, for expressing my joy.

“Aw babe,” my friend said. “Don’t cry. All that’s over now.”

The rabbis teach that to truly know another person, we must not know only their pleasures and their successes but also the sorrows they bear.

Burying my face in my friend’s shoulder, he stroked my back. “If you need to cry, it’s okay,” he said. “Cry long and hard.”

The moment he gave me permission to share my sadness, my burden was cut in half, and I didn’t feel like crying any more.

I don’t know if he realizes the gift he gave me, but I do know these tiny interactions are what life is all about.

And I believe it is our charge to remember to do that for someone else every day.

Be on the lookout for someone to help today.

Who/what helps you feel better when you’re feeling low? 

RACHEL: The Story Behind My Latest Painting

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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 come up to me and called me Rachel. It happens nearly every day. (Actually, people come up to me constantly and asked me if they know me from somewhere. It happens all the time. People who hang out with me get used to it.)

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 causes others to listen and she gets what she wants.

Plus she’s sexy as hell.

What do you see that I’m missing?

 

Just Keep Dancing: Musings From a Misunderstood Girl

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Dancing is when you tear your heart out and rise out of your body to hang suspended between the worlds. ~ Rumi

JUST DANCE is a 16×20 original multimedia piece featuring acrylic paint, vintage papers and stamps, oil pastels, colored pencils and itty-bitty gemstones (on the bodice of her dress). Interested in purchasing this piece? Leave a comment or message me on my CONTACT page.

People who know me well know I dance wherever I go. Because I’m always shaking and shimmying, people think I’m showing off. I’ve been accused of wanting attention.

The truth is I can’t hold still.

Dancing is my oldest coping mechanism. Before there was art or writing, there was dance.

These days, I dance at the gym. All the time.

I can’t help it. Whether I’m in the dance studio, the weight room, or the treadmill, I simply have to move.

Dancing is who I am.

(I may have forgotten about my body for a while, but I’m back in it now. Full force.)

Yesterday, I was talking to a trainer at the gym who told me I exude “amazing positive energy.” He said I appear confident and happy and like I have it all together. Even on Facebook, he said.

“If that’s true,” I said, “how come no one talks to me? Or asks me out?”

“You’re intimidating,” he said.

It’s a terrible irony. Stunning really.

To fill myself up, I dance…but because I feel comfortable in my body, I end up isolated because people see me as unapproachable. Intimidating.

It’s a weird kind of “splitting.” The world does not see me as I truly am. They don’t see me as insecure, or wounded. The world doesn’t see how I’ve been hurt. It’s invisible. It’s always been like this, and I think it’s why I often feel so misunderstood.

As a kid, many of my teachers had low expectations for me. My intellect was neither valued nor appreciated. But I‘m not stupid. I’m smart and ambitious. I have aspirations, and I continue to move in the direction of my dreams.

Learning about the way I am perceived helps me realize I have to work hard to be seen and heard. I suppose this means I’ll spend the rest of my life swirling in circles, squawking out my desires & scribbling out my words in hopes of being better understood.

Where have you been misunderstood?