because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

2017: Professional Goals In Review

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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

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.



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!

Professional GROWTH: a wee story & art

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I’m feeling better each day, y’all. I’m volunteering weekly at a local elementary school, I’m working a part-time job;  I’m exercising and reconnecting with friends and family members, and I’m feeling confident as a mom again.

And, of course, I’ve been painting.

With my creative process ever evolving, well… I’ve had to learn more about how to run the business end of things more effectively. I figured out how to create invoices and take payment PayPal.

And then I realized I have issues.

Not long ago, an enthusiastic buyer sent me dozens of messages via Facebook, email and text message. I thought we’d finalized things so I got to work; apparently – she sent me a Tweet requesting that I revise a few things. Needless to say, I never saw it, so I didn’t make the piece the client wanted. After this snafu, I realized that corresponding on so many platforms didn’t do me any favors. Now, I only communicate via email, and I make sure to confirm orders with people before I start any work.

GROW is a 4×4 canvas featuring acrylic paint, texturizing medium & buttons. Just $20. Interested? Type SOLD in the comments or email me at
GROW is a 4×4 canvas featuring acrylic paint, texturizing medium & buttons. Just $20. Interested? Type SOLD in the comments or email me at

Another one of my issues involves asking for money.

I feel uncomfortable every single time I ask for payment.

Every. Single. Time.

Until recently, most of my orders came from people with whom I’m friends with on Facebook. It felt weird to ask friends for money. I thought people were just being nice by buying my little canvases. I felt unworthy of being paid for something that I was dabbling in as a hobby. And then I opened my Etsy shop and the orders started flooding in. That’s when a friend told me she was concerned I was undervaluing my work.

“Just because you make small paintings doesn’t mean they’re worth small dollars.”

I squirmed around with that for a while.

Me? Charge more? What if no one wants my paintings anymore? That will be so embarrassing. And how do I change prices. And won’t people be mad if they’ve already bought a 4×4 canvas and now I’m asking more?

I have a tendency to be a people pleaser, which is to say that historically, I’d go to great lengths to make else comfortable, to my own detriment.

I’m done with that.

So here’s the deal: effective immediately, I take cash or payment via PayPal. (No more personal checks.) I won’t start work on anyone’s canvas until I’ve received payment. If payment is not received within 48 hours of placing your order, that order will be canceled. Starting in the new year, 4×4 canvases are $25, plus shipping and handling (if applicable). Oh, and I’m not delivering canvases anymore. Folks have to pick them up or I’ll pop them in the mail (for an extra $5.95).

These are my policies. (There are a few others, but you get the idea.) As my friend reminded me, policies establish boundaries for acceptable behavior and guidelines for best practices in certain situations. They offer clear communication to buyers as to what they can expect from me, the seller, and also how I expect them to act.

Still, I can’t help feeling like my policies sound rigid and kinda bitchy.

Professional growth for me is learning that it’s okay to create boundaries, to say yes or no to something and then stick with that decision. It’s believing my work has value, that I’m good at what I do, and that I have a right to request payment.

To that end, the 4×4 canvas above – GROW – is yours for $20. Because it’s still 2014. Interested? Write SOLD in the comments or email me at

Do my policies sound reasonable? And what are doing to promote your personal or professional growth?

tweet me @rasjacobson

6 Lessons From A Lemonade Stand: A Guest Post by Diana Sabloff

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This piece is special because it is written by my cousin, Diana Sabloff. If you ask me, nothing screams summer like an end-of-the-driveway lemonade stand. In fact, we have an unspoken rule in our family that we must never drive past a homemade lemonade stand that is 100% maintained by kids. If parents are there, we can ease on down the road, but if I see kids out there in the world, with banners and pitchers, wearing grins on their faces and hearts on their sleeves… well, if you ask me, it’s positively un-American to zoom by. Even if the lemonade is crappy, the idea is awesome: gotta love those little entrepreneurs.

And Diana’s hot day at the garage sale/lemonade stand gleaned many lessons. Thanks, Diana, for being a great guest blogger!

• • •

Lessons From a Lemonade Stand

I was selfish. I wanted my garage back. Or at least a path through it. It had been packed from the cement floor to the ceiling rafters with boxes-o-stuff for a long time, but when I couldn’t get to the tools and my kids couldn’t get to their toy box, I knew the time had come.

Moving the boxes from out of the garage and onto the driveway was like transferring Mount Everest one pebble at a time.

By 8 am, I was filthy and sweaty.

Like really sweaty.

And hot.

And not just a little hot.

We live in the northeast, so I had worried about rain. It had never occurred to me that the day of our yard sale would turn out to be a triple-digit record breaker. Truly, it was a most awful trifecta: hazy, hot and humid.

My stepson suggested the kids set up a lemonade stand, and we all thought that was a brilliant idea.

• Lemonade mixed? Check.
• Plastic cups? Check.
• Sign made? Check.
• Table set up? Check.

image from Yellow Sky Photography from

And then the people started coming.

Who knew our collective junk was treasure in disguise?

And then, right as I was trying to sell a green leathery-vinyl recliner, my 6-year old daughter came marching up the driveway.

I quit! she yelled.

I smiled at the potential buyer who was ready to shell out $5 bucks for the recliner and asked my daughter what was wrong. She said that her father and brother weren’t being fair; they wanted to raise the price of the lemonade from 25-cents to 50-cents, and she didn’t want to.

I quickly sealed the deal for the chair and, feeling pretty proud of myself, I figured I could negotiate a truce between the munchkins.

I went down to talk to Boy Munchkin, who informed me that 25-cents was too cheap and he could make twice as much money selling it for 50-cents. (When did he become Alex P Keaton?). My husband had agreed and already put up the new sign. My daughter insisted that was too much, and held up the bag of money they had already made.

I suddenly felt very inadequate with my $5 sale.

I said 25-cents seemed fair. My daughter beamed while my son spun on his heel and said he was quitting.

Realizing a truce was futile, I went in the house, got a second pitcher of lemonade, a second poster board, and a second table.

I announced that the partnership was being dissolved, and they each were responsible for selling their own lemonade, and the profits up until that point would be split 50-50, unless someone walked away, in which case the person who kept working would keep all the money.

Lesson #1: Go into business with family members at your own risk.

Boy Munchkin displayed remarkable business sense for an 8-year old: “What price is she selling at?”

Girl Munchkin was pleased with the new arrangement. She put on her biggest smile and shouted: “GETCHER LEMONADE HERE: 25-CENTS!”

Boy Munchkin shouted, “That’s not fair! No one will buy from me if they can get it from her for 25-cents!”

He stormed off after I helpfully tried to explain the workings of a free market.

Lesson #2: Be aware of your price point — and your competitor’s.

The woman who bought the chair offered to buy a cup of lemonade from Munchkinette – for 50-cents. How nice, I thought. Because the lemonade pitcher was heavy, I helped my daughter to pour.

“Mom!” my daughter shrieked, “That’s too much! Stop! You should only fill it half-way!”

Baffled, I asked, “Why should the cup only be filled half-way? Especially when this nice lady is hot and paying double for your lemonade?”

Munchkinette replied, “Because half is all she needs!”

The nice lady gave me the “Oh-I’m-really-sorry-and-I–really-need-to-leave” look. She drank her ½ cup and threw her empty into the garbage can. Munchkinette looked up at me defiantly and said, “See, I told you. Half is all they need.”

Lesson #3: Find your differentiation strategy, and make it work.

As high noon approached, deals were being made in every corner of our yard. The kids went inside for a break, leaving their older brother and his girlfriend in charge of the lemonade stands.

During this time, not one glass of lemonade was sold.

Not. One. Drop.

Lesson #4: Be careful whom you trust to run your business so they don’t run it into the ground.

After lunch, Munchkin decided to employ a new tactic for selling lemonade. He offered delivery for an extra 50-cents. His older brother asked for a cup to be delivered to the front lawn. After 10 minutes, the lemonade never arrived, so my older son bought from Munchkinette.

Lesson #5: Check your distribution channel to make sure deliveries come on time. Or else you’ll lose business to your competitors.

Undeterred, Munchkin modified his tactics and employed his older brother to deliver the lemonade to shoppers up and down the driveway and to the front lawn. This lasted under 10 minutes, as my stepson got a bite on some of his items and that were for sale and disappeared. Munchkin pulled a Trump and fired his brother for failure to perform the requisite duties as an employee.

Lesson #6: It’s hard to find good help.

At 4 pm, we packed it in. Leftover items were bagged and ready for donation.

We tallied the profits and admired the beautiful, empty space in the garage!

Amazingly, the kids’ lemonade stand netted $40, one quarter at a time!

Munchkinette looked over at her brother who was still upset about forfeiting all the partnership proceeds when he had stopped working earlier in the day and immediately decided to give him all their partnership money, saying she just wanted to keep what she made on her own.

Munchkin hugged his sister, and they both walked away — together, happily — with about $20 in coins.


What’s the best item you ever found (or unloaded) at a garage sale? What have you learned from garage sales? And what are your policies about lemonade stands?

So About That Sign

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Wegmans Food Markets
Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday at 7 am, I posted a blog about a sign in my local grocery store that has been driving me bonkers for years.

By late morning, I received an email from a representative from Consumer Affairs.

While the rest of us were chattering about the sign and its grammar, one of my loyal readers — a former Wegmans’ employee — made a call, and the sign was promptly removed.

Last night at 8:25 pm, another loyal reader sent me this picture — along with an apology about the quality. She explained she was operating in stealth mode. 😀

The new & improved sign!

I felt I had to let everyone know the happy ending to this very big news story.

Mary Joan from Consumer Affairs wrote:

Bob Farr was more than happy to take down that offensive sign. And I have to tell you that reading your blog . . .  and the subsequent comments from your readers was quite enjoyable.  You made my morning!

Further proof that Wegmans positively rocks: Here is a company that received a little constructive criticism, and instead of getting defensive (typical) or just brushing it off and ignoring it (also typical), they got proactive, making this English teacher, blogger, and loyal customer soooooo happy.

So the new sign is up.

All grammatical errors have been corrected.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything in the world could be fixed so quickly?

I’m feeling empowered. Positively zippy.

So what should I take on today? I’m taking ideas.

Wegmans' Grammar

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English: A Wegman's store in Manalapan, NJ.
English: A Wegman’s store in Manalapan, NJ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is almost nothing wrong with Wegmans. It is the world’s best store. Indeed, people visit from across the globe to see how things are set up. They bring cameras and snap pictures of our amazing store, which is set up to look and feel like an outdoor market in Paris.

In the produce section, the fruit is heaped in baskets and barrels. There is usually someone cooking and serving something simple yet delicious — like sautéed shiitake mushrooms with shallots and basting oil — (and all the ingredients just happen to be right there for you to pick up for dinner that night). The marketing people are amazingly brilliant.

Wegmans also has a deli, a bakery, a fish shop, a meat market, a cheese department, a tea bar, a coffee bar, a place to buy sushi or salad or pizza or subs, and they have this one entrée and two sides deal for $6 that cannot be beat. There is a pharmacy and a café. They have an organic food section, a kosher food section, a lactose-free section. They cater. The store sparkles. The public bathrooms at Wegmans showcase nicer tiles than some private homes I’ve visited. The soap dispenser is always full. They have towels and air dryers.

If you buy a jar of tuna and get home and see it is dented, they will take it back. If you buy a pound of meat and think it smells a little bit funny, they will take it back. If your kid is hungry, you can let him nibble an apple or a cookie, and no one hassles you. Alec Baldwin’s mother loves Wegmans so much, he did some schtick about it on Letterman, and he landed himself a few pre-holiday commercials discussing Wegmans’ awesomeness. Frankly, Baldwin’s commercials are awful, but anyone who has ever been in a Wegmans understands; there really is nothing like it.

That said, the following sign has been tacked up in my local Wegmans for years! I don’t think anyone notices it except me, but it drives me bonkers. Given their attention to detail, I can’t believe the sign has lasted this long. I figured, surely, someone would notice it. After all, it’s right next to the water fountain.

For those of you who appreciate spelling and grammar, as well as the art of letter writing, see how many errors you find.

What has become of me?

And should I say something to Bob?