because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

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!

Becoming Real

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BECOMING REAL is a 16×20 multimedia painting featuring acrylic paint, vintage papers, oil pastels & colored pencils. Reproductions are available by request.

Four years ago, after weaning off a powerful anti-anxiety medication, I had a seizure in my kitchen.

Lying on my back, I stared up at the ceiling, baffled by what was happening to me.

For months, I suffered hundreds of physical and emotional symptoms that kept me locked in a state of constant terror.

No one knew how to help me.

In February of 2014, I flew out to Arizona, to The Meadows of Wickenburg, a rehabilitation facility where I watched shattered people heal…while I remained terribly ill.

No matter what I did, my brain remained scrambled.

I had absolutely no evidence that I’d ever heal.

While in rehab, I spent a lot of time in the art room. I painted a tree and a house and a bird. A boy told me my picture was pretty, so I gave it to him.

Back in Rochester, I kept painting: hearts & animals, monsters & sad-faced girls.

My paintings got bigger and bigger. I created The State of Undress Project and connected with dozens of people, exchanging life stories and forging friendships.

Three years have passed, and I just had my very first art opening. People I’d previously only “known” online showed up and introduce themselves in person. A childhood friend I hadn’t seen in over 30 years drove over an hour to be there. My parents were there, old friends and new, and I felt loved and supported by everyone who was in attendance.

Sitting here this morning, I received payment for a commissioned painting I have not yet painted. People are buying my work. They tell me they like my goofy videos. I have travel plans to look forward to. Work plans. Artist friends who generously answer my newbie questions. Patrons who are actively collecting my paintings, if you can believe it. And yesterday, a new artist friend asked me for advice.

Recently, after completing a whimsical painting of a funny looking critter, my cousin commented that he reminded her of The Velveteen Rabbit, a book I’d many years before. Upon revisiting it, I see what she means. The book offers many lovely themes, but the one that had the most resonance for me is its reminder that It’s Important to be Real.

(Rabbit doesn’t need the garden rabbits to tell him he’s Real, and he doesn’t need the Boy to keep loving him in order to stay that way. Once he recognizes his own Realness, the Rabbit has the confidence to be his own person.)

It sounds like it’s easy, this ‘being real’ business.

But it isn’t.

And I see it now, how I’d fallen off my path.

How I’d stopped creating, stopped loving, stopped trusting the voices that guide me.

How I was surviving but not thriving.

How I was spending my days living the way others wanted me to live.

A way that wasn’t my way.

At all.

How I’d stopped being real.

The Velveteen Rabbit also reminded me to remember the people who have helped me.

(Even after he’s Real and living with the garden rabbits, the Rabbit still comes back to visit the Boy whose love gave him life. He could have easily forgotten the Boy, living in Rabbit-land, but he doesn’t. The Velveteen Rabbit teaches us to never forget the people who made us who we are, even when we’re living in two different worlds.

So I’m thanking all of you: my parents, my family, my friends ~ new and old ~ my patrons, my followers… (Even those of you who have hurt me ~ and you know who you are ~ you taught me something. I may be a slow learner, but I’ve definitely learned from you. Better late than never, eh?

It’s time to stop focusing on the past.

Why? Because it’s happening.

I’m becoming real: a full-time creative who gets to express herself in color and words.

It’s a dream come true.

Tweet me at @rasjacobson and follow me on Facebook at rasjacobson originals.

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.

 

 

I KNOW WHY CRAZY PEOPLE HOWL AT THE MOON: MY BENZO STORY AT PATREON

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This photo was taken on July 30, 2013.

I was in Florida with my (then) husband.

We were out to dinner with his cousin when the world tipped sideways.

This is not an exaggeration.

The world suddenly shifted, and it would not be right again for 36 months….

• • •

So many people have been reaching out to me, asking for help. They want to know what my life was like before benzos, how much I was taking, for how long, how I weaned, how fast, what my withdrawal was like, how long the symptoms lasted, and what my life is like now.

I can only speak to so many people a day, and it’s never enough.

And that is why I decided do something completely different.

I’m sharing the full story of my battle with benzodiazepines at Patreon.

And you get to read the story as I’m writing it.

It’s taken me nearly 4 years to kick benzos’ ass!

You will too!

• • •

If you’d like to read more, contribute to MY PATREON PAGE at https://www.patreon.com/rasjacobson. For $1 per month, you can read all about my story. I will post relevant art, writing & videos at least 4 times a month.

Please help me share my story!

XOXO

3 Things the Universe Wants Me to Do

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I’m wicked competitive.

No matter what I do, I want to be the best at it.

I don’t mean the best that I can be.

I mean the best as compared to all the people.

As a gymnast, I was taught it was necessary and possible to be as close to perfect as possible.

As a teacher, I strove to create perfect lessons.

As a wife, I tried to make a perfect home, tidy and warm and well decorated.

I aimed for perfection as a mother, too.

(Sorry TechSupport.)

I’m not saying this perfection thing is a good thing.

I’m just saying, I tend to go for blood be outcome-oriented.

My son works differently.

(You guys remember TechSupport, right?)

He’s process-oriented.

When he was younger, we had plenty of conversations where I’d ask him about how he felt about his performance in some athletic endeavor or something.

“I learned a lot,” he’d say and shrug, as if to add, No big deal, mom.

Anyway, because I’m feeling pretty dang good, energetic and cognitively clear, and because I’m coming back to life and feel invested in living again, I’m aware that one of my less pleasant character traits has reared its ugly head.

fullsizerender-2Yup, my competitive nature flared today.

I found myself thinking that I need to be better.

That I need to take more art classes and sell more products, get my work into more boutiques, be bigger-er and more famous-er, that I need to be the best artist in the whole world.

But how does a person “win” at art?

It’s ridiculous.

When I paint or draw or create something, I’m 100% in the moment – much the way I am when I look at a field of sunflowers, enjoy a coconut ice cream cone, take a dip in the ocean, or feel a lover’s mouth against my own.

Embarrassed by my own thinking, I decided to meditate on it and, after a while, I realized that I’ve been holding onto a misperception.

I was taught to believe that one’s work is only as valuable as the money one receives for doing that work.

I think a lot of us grew up with that ethos.

It’s an old belief.

And old beliefs die hard.

These days, I operate under a completely different set of beliefs.

  1. The Universe has a plan for me.
  2. The Universe wants me to do what I love.
  3. When I do what I love, the money follows.
  4. The Universe can change its plans for you at any time.

Apparently, the Universe wants me to do 3 things: paint, write, and help people who are coming off psychiatric medications.

(they need to know the body really does know how to heal.)

So that’s what I’m doing.

It’s enough.

Tonight I’m shrugging my shoulders and laughing.

And realizing I need to dial back my intensity a bit.

It’s all coming together.

I don’t have to have it all figured out today.

(thank goodness, because i soooo don’t.)

I know the Universe has big plans for us all in the new year.

Can’t wait for 2017 to begin.

What ONE thing do you believe the Universe wants you to accomplish in 2017?

Soul Soothings & a #Giveaway

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Something that you may not know about me is that I don’t metabolize heavy metals properly. This summer, I had my levels checked, and I am off the charts for mercury and lead. As a result, my doctor recommended that I avoid all fish and shellfish, and she suggested that I replace my store-bought creams and lotions with organic counterparts.

I know that deoderant has all kinds of not-so-hot ingredients in it, specifically aluminum and parabens and propelyne glycol and lots of other worrisome stuff. Anyhoo, a friend of mine told me I could get an organic deoderant in a cute, little boutique in Manlius, New York, so the other day, I happened to bop in — where the store owner, Kathy Ozzard Chism, treated me to a delicious cup of tea and whole lot of interesting conversation.

Somehow, I ended up telling her that I am an artist, and suddenly, we were discussing retail opportunities. Y’all, I ended up leaving about 80% of my inventory in her store. So, yes, Syracuse friends, you heard it here. You can get my coasters and greeting cards at Soul Soothings located at 131 West Seneca Street, Suite 1 in the Village of Manlius.

It’s hard for me to believe how much my life has changed over the last 3.5 years. Being in benzodiazepine withdrawal for as long as I was, has been a life changer…and yet I seem to be coming out of.

While I’m no longer teaching English, I’m grateful to be able to teach art classes and create art these days.

Seeing as I’m feeling so much more hopeful about the future, I’d like to offer something. First, if you place an order of $50 or more before tonight at midnight, I’m offering free shipping & handling to anywhere within the continental United States, a $10 value.

And…

I haven’t done a giveaway in a long time, but I’d like to do one now.

ivy-beats-the-blues
IVY BEATS THE BLUES (c) 2016

If you’d like to receive a FREE 11×17 print of the painting above, leave me a comment about an invisible obstacle that you’ve have to deal with during your time on this planet. Tweet this post, and you’ll receive an extra chance of winning. I’ll announce the winner on January 1, 2017.

tweet me at @rasjacobson

 

A New Bikini & Art #Giveaway

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Back in July, I decided I needed a new bikini, so I went to Target.

While in the changing area, I met a woman who was also trying on bathing suits. We discussed how short the swimsuit season is here in Upstate, New York and commiserated over our perceived physical imperfections. You know, all the things that make women feel uncomfortable about wearing bikinis.

Somehow, we got to talking about what we each did for a living.

“I’m not just a professional bikini model,” I joked. “I’m also a teacher. And an artist.”

“I’m a graphic designer,” she said. “And my husband is a web designer.”

Standing in next to nothing, Katie Hunt and I exchanged phone numbers, and a friendship was forged.

For the next three months, I worked with Katie and her husband David of Bleu Bird Studio, here in Rochester, New York. We had many conversations about my artistic vision. We discussed what the pages would look like, and how each page would function. As you can imagine, I was terrified that all my blog content would be lost, but Dave was confident that there wouldn’t be any issues, and — of course — he was completely right. Everything exported to the new site seamlessly.

Dave spent over 30 hours working on my site, and Katie helped me to retool my new logo – which is simple, yet stylized. The two offer free technical support for the first year that my website is up and running, and Dave seems to enjoy reporting on my analytics.

I encourage anyone who has been considering creating a website to contact the folks at Bleu Bird.

Meanwhile, if you would like to check out my website and offer any kind of feedback, I would be grateful. I really want the online shopping experience to be an easy one for buyers. What do you like about my website? What do you not like? Any comments of suggestions?

I don’t have much to offer, but I’d like to offer something. First, if you place an order of $50 or more before December 10th, I’m offering free shipping & handling to anywhere within the continental United States, a $10 value.

And…

I haven’t done a giveaway in a long time, but I’d like to do one now.

ivy-beats-the-blues
IZZY BEATS THE BLUES (c) 2016

If you’d like to receive a FREE 11×17 print of the painting above, leave me a comment about an invisible obstacle that you’ve have to deal with during your time on this planet. Tweet this post and receive an extra chance of winning. I’ll announce the winner on January 1, 2017.

tweet me at @rasjacobson

My Video for #WorldBenzoDay

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Today is World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day.

This is my contribution.

Note: I should have probably taken a moment to think about dressing up, or putting on makeup, or doing something with my hair.

But you know what? This is 100% authentically me, speaking honestly about a topic I know way too much about.

I respond to all comments left here on my blog. Please feel free to leave one.

NOTE: It is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume he/she knows how to do it well even if he/she claims to have experience. Doctors are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. It’s important to educate yourself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care. 

tweet me @rasjacobson

 

 

What it Means to Survive

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The last time I tried out for Survivor was in 2013.

I was healthy.

Or at least, I thought I was.

(I had no idea that taking .5 mg of Klonopin at bedtime as prescribed was destroying my brain and my central nervous system.)

After 33 months of healing, I’m feeling well enough to be a contestant on Survivor.

Again.

I have no idea how I’d do.

I like to think I’m strong, but last week I got a bunch of splinters in my fingers and I complained for days.

I can handle extreme heat, but relentless rain? Not so much.

I get along with nearly everyone, and I find people endlessly fascinating.

But living with strangers? For over a month? In less than 4-star accommodations?

That could be rough.

This weekend, I enlisted a friend to help me make a video.

And yesterday, I submitted my video to Jeff Probst.

So, three years later, I’m crossing my fingers.

Again.

Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

If you are moved to tweet this post to @SurvivorCasting & @JeffProbst, I’d be grateful.

tweet me @rasjacobson

Oy Vey! The Matzah Balls!

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Looks good, right?
Looks good, right?

A few years ago, I did a crap load of cooking. I was preparing for Passover, so I was doing what Jewish mothers do — cooking up a storm. I was Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray and Betty-freaking-Crocker — except the Jewish version.

So picture frizzier hair and a bigger nose.

That year, I made 3 times as many matzah balls as I usually would, to make sure that my family would have enough to eat for the entire week. It took hours, but no big whoop, right? These are the things we do for love.

After the brisket went in and the noodle kugel was finished, I realized I didn’t have enough room in my freezer. So, I asked my kind neighbor if I could use a little space in the freezer that she keeps in her garage. She said of course.

Passover comes and so do all the guests. I’m serving the soup, and I’m like where are all my matzah balls? I look in the freezer, in the refrigerator, in the garage. It’s cold enough. I’m thinking, maybe I stashed them in the trunk of my car. Sometimes I stick things there. I look everywhere. I only have 18 matzah balls. The thing is this: that year? We have 24 people at the house. Picturing, standing in the kitchen, confused and cutting matzah balls in half.

I believe it is written in the Torah.

Thou shalt not run out of matzah balls.

But I did.

I apologized to our guests.

Time went by.

Spring came and went.

Months after the holiday ended, I was sitting on my driveway in the sun when my neighbor asked if I would like to have my matzah balls.

“Because isn’t Passover coming up?” she asked.

You guys, I didn’t even remember giving them to her.

Suddenly I was like: Should I be worried? Should I call the doctor? Do I need to check about early dementia? Seriously, how did those balls get over there? Did they roll across the street on their own?

I followed my friend into her warm garage. She opened her freezer and next to the ICEEs, there was my long-lost Tupperware container filled with frozen balls. All 9 bazillion of them.

I obsessed about forgetting those matzah balls.

And then I got sick. For 15 months, I couldn’t cook or clean or even leave my house.

I couldn’t even think about making matzah balls.

It’s been a few years since I hosted a Passover meal.

At 32 months off Klonopin, I’m doing really well. I’m grateful to be alive, grateful to feel Spring in the air, hopeful that one day I will feel even better. I know all of this is part of G-d’s plan.

And this year, I plan to enjoy someone else’s balls.

#IYKWIM.

tweet me @rasjacobson