At the end of each year, I like to take a step back and check-in with myself.
I look at the intentions I set for the previous year and see how I did.
2018 Goals in Review
• Participate in an art festival: Always the over-achiever, I participated in 10 shows in 2018, and as a result of these shows, I sold over 600 pieces of art – with the final sale on Christmas Day!
• Create an email list. I kept better records this year of all the people who made purchases in 2018, and I sent out three customized newsletters where I was able to give prior customers first dibs on original work that I’d made. I was also able to let people know where my upcoming shows would be. In 2019, I plan to offer folks on my mailing list special discounts and occasional extras which you’ll only find via my email.
• Grow my social media engagement. In 2018, I stopped worrying about Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook is my preferred site, where 890 people currently follow my RASJACOBSON ART page. I’ve got another 700 or so over on Instagram, and my blog has about 4,000 followers.
Thank goodness my followers are super 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.
• Get featured in traditional media. Being featured on the cover of Rochester Magazine far exceeded my wildest expectations. I have to thank Derek Darling at Whitman Works Gallery. If I hadn’t had that art opening there in 2017, I might never have had that opportunity open up for me. I plan to scan the content of the article and upload it to my blog in 2019. I was also interviewed on WAYO and the interview can be found HERE.
• Post one blog a month.I did it, but it wasn’t easy.
• Raise attention to the dangers of benzodiazepines. The side effects associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal are horrifying and hard to articulate. The damage these drugs cause is devastating and there are planetary repercussions for inflicting this kind of harm. These days, I’m fortunate to be able to help to raise awareness about the dangers of benzos and to offer counseling to those who have been injured. In 2018, I spoke with over 100 benzo warriors on 3 different continents.
At shows, I display information about what exactly happened to me, and I always meet someone who wants to know more and wants to share stories. I treasure interactions with other survivors, and I’m reminded of how important it is to continue to be a voice for people who – through no fault of their own – are still struggling with chemical dependency.
I made a donation to World Benzodiazepine Awareness Coalition, which was matched by the folks at Paypal.
• Teach writing classes. I currently teach Intro & Advanced Memoir classes from out of my home – & I have several private clients with whom I work independently to help birth their books. I’m honored to have these incredible women share their stories with me.
• Buy a house. I did it. I moved in! I’ve never lived in a house all by myself before, and it has been an adjustment. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find good people to help me, but I’ve now got a lawn guy and a plow guy and a handyman.
Intentions for 2019
In 2018, my word of the year was CREATE.
All I wanted to do was make and paint and sell and promote.
This year, I’ve got a bunch of goals – and they aren’t all art related.
• Complete draft of my memoir. It’s time.
• Take an online art class.I’ve already started, and I’m stoked because my friend & fellow artist, Nora Tay Gelb, and I are doing the course together! If all goes well, we’ll be painting together for 51 more weeks this year!
• Kitchen renovation. I’m feeling compelled to transform my house into a HOME. Hopefully, a redesign will make the space more functional and inviting.
• Create a painting for over the fireplace. There’s a huge space. It’s blank. ‘Nuf said.
• Paint LIVE once a month. I’m not on any particular schedule with it, but that’s the way I roll. I wish I could commit to every other Friday night or something, but my creative muse doesn’t work that way. I do plan to run a few interactive auctions where people can bid on artwork, and the highest bidder will win. Simple as that!
• Plan a warm weather vacation with other singles. This one TERRIFIES me. I don’t like to travel alone. I just really don’t like it. But if I want to get out of Rochester during the cold weather, I’m going to have to do it because nearly everyone travels with their families and I don’t really know any singles who have the desire/resources to travel soooooo…I’m going to have to research this. If anyone has any experience with this kind of thing, please let me know.
• Secure new gallery space. I left The Hungerford back in May, and now I’d really like to have some small amount of real estate where I can sell my work and be social. I’m not focusing on this one until after the kitchen is done.
• Make an effort to date/meet new people. This is really hard for me because I’m a homebody by nature. I don’t like going out late or meeting at bars or clubs, but I’m willing to say YES in 2019 to events, invitations and networking opportunities.
• Plan for a show for December 2019.
• Get a kitten. It’s time to open up my heart to someone else.
In this part of the United States – January usually means down jackets, snow pants & polar fleece. Normally, I’m batting the flakes out of my eyelashes & scraping the ice from my windshield . By now, I should have built a snow fort or two, gone skiing or sledding or sipped hot chocolate by a fire.
But this year, while the earth is firm under my feet, I can still see the grass.
We are at a threshold, neither in nor out.
So on this winter morning, as I slid out the door wearing short sleeves — a blue t-shirt against the white sky – biting through soft summer flesh seemed…wrong.
Delicious but wrong.
In subtraction, they would call it the remainder.
I’m tired of these remnants, the what’s left sticky residue of summer on my fingers.
Let it be winter or let it be summer, but enough of this in-between.
Can you tell I’m feeling grumpy and frustrated? How am I ever supposed to move to a warmer climate when the mere thought of moving to a different state all by myself brings on a full blown panic attack?
I’d been fine, deadheading marigold blossoms, brown and crinkly at the buds.
For the first time in years, the sunflowers had come up, bobbling precariously on their thin green stems, ready to topple, as they always do. I’d been remiss about fall cleanup, so I stood out there in my winter boots, clipping and cutting, pruning and bagging.
And then, from the boggy-browns of late-winter garden, a turtle emerged, pulling himself through the grass.
Plugging along doggedly, he stopped to rest now and again and to crane his neck up and down.
I thought at first he was one of those snappers, the kind that can take your finger off if you get too close, so I kept my distance, wondering if he’d walked the whole five-miles from the lake, or if he’d caught a ride part-way. Either way, I knew he didn’t belong here, in the middle of my garden.
It caught me by surprise, the wishing.
Because he used to take care of this type of thing: shit on the lawn, birds the cat dragged in, half-squished spiders.
But I am alone now, so I scooped a rusted shovel under the turtle and saw the flabby edge of its shell, how it folded around the turtle like a shroud.
I thought about what I wished someone – anyone – would have done for me when I found myself sick and alone and crouching in the shadows.
I pulled off my gardening gloves and reached out, barehanded.
I petted his neck and sat with him for a long, long time.
And somehow that ocean between us became a lake and then a pond until it was nothing but a tiny droplet in my little plastic watering can.
I’m giving away a FREE 12″ print – and you don’t have to be present to win!
How Do I Enter?
There are TWO ways!
LIKE my RASJACOBSON ART page on Facebook and/or FOLLOW me on INSTAGRAM. POST a photo of something you’ve purchased from me to your social media page with the words: “I got this from RASJACOBSON ART (or @rasjacobson). Be sure to tag me!
PURCHASE something from via my WEBSITE between 12/2 and midnight on 12/22 and you’ll be automatically entered to win.
(Each post is an additional chance to win! Enter as often as you’d like. I’ll keep track of everything. One winner will be selected at random, and that person’s name will be announced on December 25th ~ on my blog, on FB & on IG! You can’t win if you don’t play!) ❄️☃️
Last year at this time, I was nervously preparing to show my artwork at my very first art festival.
The event was to take place in The South Wedge, a funky/artsy neighborhood here in Rochester, New York.
I had no idea what my booth would look like or how my display was going to work.
I had no idea what I was doing.
Fast forward twelve months.
Today, I’m calmly preparing for the same show in the South Wedge this Saturday.
So it’s a mile marker, an anniversary of sorts, and – as such – it’s an opportunity to reflect.
When I started painting in 2014, the paintings were for myself.
When I was sick and mostly homebound, it NEVER occurred to me that the affirmations I used to get through benzodiazepine withdrawal would one day become a business, a way for me to connect with and help people who are going through their own invisible struggles.
Now that I have a little space from all of that, I see I was experiencing what Carl Jung refers to as the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ – a period of spiritual desolation suffered during which time all sense of consolation is removed.
It has taken me over five years to get to where I am now.
Those of you who’ve been with me for a long time can probably see the changes better than even I can. I never knew I possessed the kind of strength necessary to get thru the kinds of crises I faced, and I can honestly say I am a stronger, a more empathetic person on the other side of this mess.
I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who has believed in me, supported me personally, financially, intellectually, and spiritually.
I want you know that in a real way, YOU helped save my life. When you bought my work, or shared it, you showed me you believed in me. You saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.
To me, this is nothing short of a miracle.
And now it’s the holiday season.
The Season of Miracles.
Everyone is rushing around, furiously shopping for gifts to show their friends and family members how much they are loved.
And that’s awesome because presents are fun and fabulous and obviously I’m selling my work, which is weird and wonderful and I love everything about the festivity of the season.
It’s important to remember it’s not about the stuff.
The greatest gift you can ever give to someone is your time & attention.
Check in with the people around you. Really check in.
Not via text message, but with a phone call. A meal. A walk.
Sit down with your most cherished people and tell them you love them, you need them, and you support them.
Many of us feel we have to hide the fragile parts of ourselves, the places where we are insecure.
Get curious about what people are really feeling, what they’re really going thru but not sharing.
And we’re not doing enough of it these days.
Just because someone looks at you and says ‘I’m fine,’ it doesn’t mean they’re fine.
For the last 18 months, I’ve been trying to buy a house. I know what I want, and I know where I want to live. I’m comfortable doing a little bit of cosmetic work, but I’m not willing to take on an enormous project. I just can’t. I know what I can and cannot afford.
Meanwhile, the housing market in my area is positively crazy these days, and houses are flying off the market at top prices because there is so little inventory. . . which is extracrazy because some of these houses are actually in disrepair.
There’s a lot of pressure to act fast and it’s tempting, sometimes, to just launch and buy something that doesn’t feel quite right.
It is in those disappointing moments that I try very hard to remember NOT to settle.
(No, I don’t want to pay over asking price for a house in a crappy area that needs a new kitchen, new bathrooms, new flooring, new mechanicals, a new roof, and a new septic system because the backyard smells like poop and when you open the windows the scent comes wafting in ~ thank you very much.)
I’m fortunate to have a lovely apartment in which to live and work.
I choose to believe the right house – one that has been loved and maintained – is just around the corner, and that it is coming.
Often, I have to remind myself to be patient and let things happen the way they are supposed to happen. Because sometimes…
YOU HAVE TO WADE THRU A LOT OF MUD TO FIND THE TRUFFLES.
And everyone knows that truffles are rare culinary gems worth waiting for.
WAIT FOR THE TRUFFLES would be a meaningful present for someone who has been trudging through the gunk, patiently waiting for good things to happen. If you’d like to see other more detailed images of this piece, message me or leave a comment, and I’ll track you down.
(SIDEBAR NOTE: I’ve had to learn this lesson in relationships, too. As much as I’d like to have a partner, I don’t need to take on any major fixer-uppers in that department either. One of my friends uses the term “slugs with furniture” to describe unenlightened men who populate this planet ~ and if you are observant, you’ll notice a tiny, blue guy sliming his way across the bottom of this canvas. He’s a lot cuter than the real life version, trust me!)
Here is a video of this piece as I built it.
What are you having to be patient and wait for these days?
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.
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.
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.
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!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week, you probably know that I made the cover of Rochester Magazine. The article was beautifully reported by journalist Sandra Parker and photographed/videoed by Jamie Germano.
In case you’ve missed it, you can read the story & watch the video HERE.
Also this Friday, I will be participating in Art for Action – a building wide initiative at The Hungerford Building, where individual studios are supporting different non-for-profit organizations.
On May 4th, 100% of my proceeds will go to WILLOW, a local agency that supports survivors of domestic abuse.🌸 (Not long ago, I found myself in need of their services, and I’m so very glad they were there.) Please bring your sample-sized toiletries & monetary donations to Studio 254 to The Hungerford between 5-9pm.
I’m also offering limited edition #METOO posters for a $5 donation, with all proceeds to go to WILLOW.
Y’all . . .I made the cover of Rochester Magazine this month.
I. Cannot. Even!
When I was initially approached to be the focus of an article, I was thrilled because – if nothing else – I try to use my art to reach people who have been damaged by benzodiazepines. I want them to understand that it does get easier; it just takes a very long time. If I’m remembered for nothing else, I hope it is in the area of advocacy for reform when it comes to psychotropic drugs.
But you know what else I want to be remembered for?
Being a super model at the age of FIFTY?!
Thanks to photographer, Jamie Germano, for a great photoshoot… and for airbrushing away all my wrinkles; to Sandra Parker for writing the copy; and to Mark Liu for having faith in my story. Copies are available at Wegmans and Barnes & Nobel starting today!
PS: I hope you will check out my story and share your reaction with me here and/or on Facebook.
Thank you all sooooo very much for continuing to support me on this crazy, magical journey that is my life.
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