Artist • Author • Activist • Advocate

Many of you know that I started teaching online art classes via ZOOM during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

My GROUP CLASSES meet Wednesday nights (via ZOOM) and run for a full month between 7-8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.

During any month-long set of classes, we focus on trusting our intuition, trying new techniques and — most importantly — gathering together with like-minded people online for relaxation and play. Some of the things we might paint include characters, critters, squiggles, abstracts, florals, high inaccurate figures and wonky portraits.

While I like to encourage people to experiment with watercolor, acrylic and multimedia, all you *really* need to participate is an open mind — and a few basic supplies.

People frequently ask me about which supplies I like, so I’ve finally compiled a list of some of my faves.


If you’d like to join my Wednesday night ZOOM class, click HERE. Classes run September – May.

Sign up for September classes before August 15, 2021 and use the code RASJ10 to receive 10% off your first month of classes! Refer a friend and receive a free gift!

DISCLOSURE: I am part of the Amazon Affiliates Program, and I receive a few cents from every purchase made thru one of my links. I am grateful to you for clicking thru and helping me in this way!

Looking to do something artsy this summer from the comfort of your own home?

Look no further!

You’re invited to join me at JOYfilled Arts & Crafts Virtual Summer Camp to run July 22-24, 2021.

This event will feature at least THIRTY unique workshops taught by TWENTY different artists.

Participants will sign up to attend several LIVE classes and, at the completion of the event, you will have video access to ALL THIRTY workshops! There’ll be virtual Happy Hours, a virtual Campfire & much, much more.

I’ll be teaching two classes — WHIMSICAL MULTIMEDIA GIRLIES & FUNKY FLORALS and a fun little FREE mini-class, too.

Some of the other classes being offered include: Dream Big with Mandalas, Drawing Out & Quieting Your Inner Critic, Masks We Wear, Collage and Painting with Deli Paper, Intuitive Basket Weaving, Artist Trading Cards, Tutti Fruity Paint Over Collage, Blending with Acrylics, Intuitive Painting, Vision Board Workshop, Sculpting with Wool, Painting with Wool, Beginning Watercolors, Intro to Acrylics, Tooling and Dyeing a Leather Card Wallet, and Chakras 101 Workshop – with more being added. With so much variety, you are sure to find something that peaks your interest. 

Please click HERE for more info & to sign up.

(When you sign up thru either of the above links, I receive credit for inviting you!)

  • All You Need is a Phone, Tablet, or Laptop
  • Learn and Create From Home!
  • Extended Access All Class Recordings
  • Supply lists provided for each class

Hope to see many of you there!


I recently had the opportunity to share my story on Positive Blatherings, a vodcast hosted by Scott W. Fitzgerald.

I’d never met Scott before this interview, and he literally knew NOTHING at all about my story.

This conversation was an incredibly positive experience for me, and while I know many of you have seen it, I thought I would share it on my blog, in an effort to continue to spread the word about the dangers of longterm benzodiazepine use, even if you are only taking it exactly as prescribed, which is what I did.

The interview is also available as a podcast here, if you prefer.

I am so fortunate & grateful to have been interviewed by, my friend, the multi-talented Ya’cub Shabazz of Sankofa Studios for giving me an opportunity to share my story on his inspirational podcast.

I hope you will learn a bit more about my experience during benzodiazepine withdrawal as well as my artistic process — and then click over to check out Ya’cub’s website, his podcast series, & his educational series.

Before I write another word, I want to say thank you.

I could not have made it thru this year without the support from my family, friends, and devoted clients. Without festivals in 2020, it was especially challenging to do business. Nearly all of my sales were to repeat customers — and that truly means the world to me. Thank you for thinking of me this year, for thinking of small businesses, for shopping local. I am truly grateful to each & every one of you. I am wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas & a Happy Healthy New Year.

• • •


This past year has been very difficult for everyone. Personally, I’ve felt off-center for most of 2020. Ideologically, I’ve vacillated between thinking humans need to fight this pandemic with everything we’ve got and believing that the planet is sick and tired of us and doing its best to purge itself of us. (I still lean toward the latter.) As a person who was profoundly injured by a pharmaceutical product that was (up until recently) generally considered “safe,” I am ambivalent about this vaccine that has been developed in WarpSpeed. I’ve watched our government unravel under a deeply flawed leader, and I have ached with the realization that 50% of our country embraces his racist vitriol. I’ve leaned into terribly uncomfortable situations and tried to hold oppositional worldviews in the same headspace.

Sometimes I’ve done this well; other times, I’ve failed miserably.


Big plans.

At the end of 2019, I was feeling confident & optimistic & planned to acquire new gallery space, participate in more festivals/shows, to network with more people professionally and socially, maybe even allow myself to date again.


Unfortunately, the pandemic did not allow me to achieve many of the goals that I set for myself at the end of December last year.

However, I pivoted quickly & created new intellectual & professional challenges for myself.


Like everyone else, I took my life online.


I bought a monthly membership to ZOOM. Being able to continue with the women in my Intro Memoir Writing & my Advanced Memoir Writing Classes provided me with some sense of normalcy. Tuesdays & Thursdays became anchor days, and I looked forward to checking in with everyone, hearing about how everyone was handling the big (and not always pleasant) changes in their lives.


After two failed attempts, I created a functional overhead camera setup and I started teaching art classes online, too.

When I ran out of acrylic paint in early April, I started playing with watercolors, showing up every day for nearly three months to paint LIVE on Facebook. As it turned out, a bunch of people joined me to paint in real time every day — and LOTS of people tuned into to watch at their leisure because they found watching me paint relaxing and entertaining. I ran monthly contests, sending free prints to people who created art that moved me the most.

I rounded out 2020 teaching two individual art classes each day & offering group classes once a month. I learned how to create successful Facebook Events, and I plan to do more of this in 2021.

This year, in addition to selling my work via my website, I started selling my work LIVE via Facebook and ZOOM. Much gratitude there to my friend Tricia Campbell for helping me to facilitate a successful holiday season. I was surprised by how much actually sold, especially before Black Friday. I will definitely do more of this in 2021, for Valentine’s Day…and I have a super cool, very fun idea percolating! More on that in 2021.


Once I figured out that things were going to be okay for me financially, I worked on creating some kind of social life for myself.

In April 2020, when we were all locked down, I set up a Facebook Group for people from my high school. We had several meetings where a bunch of us checked in & caught up. My friend Kim Colby Luber and I co-hosted an interactive game for members of my high school graduating class of 1985 to play together; we played a few other games, and then a few other members from the class took over, which I appreciated. The group is still there, and I know that if necessary, it wouldn’t take much to resurrect activity there.

I feebly attended a few online exercise groups and checked in with a local divorce group via ZOOM even less frequently. After spending five hours a day teaching online, it didn’t feel great to sit in front of a screen for very long, but I did my best.


I ate well.

I slept well.

And I scheduled that stupid knee surgery that I’d been postponing. At six weeks out, I’m walking two miles a day before it starts to ache a bit. Hopefully, it’ll be even better in another two months.


In the ideal world, I process challenging things by sitting close to someone, talking things out face-to-face, and hugging it out. COVID has forced me to manage my own sadness.

I learned how to do this during benzo withdrawal and my subsequent divorce, so it SUCKED to have to move into what feels like solitary confinement yet again. I’d only just acquired a few people to whom I can turn when I am struggling. Suddenly, COVID made it so those people would no longer let me in.

I am eternally grateful to my father and a few close friends in different time zones who allowed me to call or text them whenever I needed to do so.


I’d hoped to play my drums more.

It didn’t happen.

I hoped to complete my memoir in 2020.

It didn’t happen.

I just didn’t have the mental energy to work on something so emotional with everything being so dang emotional all day long.

Also, I spent too much of 2020 hoping that a certain person would come around and care about me the way I cared for him. After chasing him for way too long, I’ve finally realized he’s not my person. When someone cares about you and your feelings, they want to see you. They want to talk to you. They don’t ghost you; they don’t make you a last priority. This has been a painful realization – and I’ve learned that sometimes people’s actions do not always align with their words, and I need to pay attention both. (You’d think I’d know this by now, but I seem to be in the “slow class” when it comes to healthy relationships.) At least I see this clearly now, and I will exercise more caution before allowing myself to get attached to the wrong person in the future.


Each year, I like to reflect on different areas of my life. Most of these things are subjective, but I also like to look at the numbers, too. After all, numbers don’t lie. Blue reflects numbers that were up from last year; Red represents numbers that were down from last year.

8,667 – combined followers on all social media outlets

1,587 – people on my mailing list

384 – unique pieces of artwork sold this year

160 – unique client sales

30 –people I spoke with who are healing from an iatrogenic brain injury

90 – individual art classes taught

100 – number of ornaments sold

19 – Best selling print image DON’T LOOK BACK, FLOWER FACE

2 – number of shows/festivals in which I participated*

(PS: I didn’t really participate, but my work was represented. Much gratitude to Stephanie Rober Sheedy for bringing my work to Naples, New York; to Lauren Hirsch for showing my work during her holiday pop-up shows at Lauren Hirsch Custom Framing & Original Art in Naples, New York; and to Erika Sorbello for carrying my work at her amazing Gallery Salon in Rochester, New York.

1 – speaking engagement via ZOOM

0 – number of first dates I went on


I’m not sure.

But that’ll be the topic of my first post in 2020.

I definitely need to do some hard thinking on how I want my life to look and feel moving forward. Changes definitely need to be made, so the questions are:

  1. What kinds of things can I change realistically, given that COVID restrictions will continue for some time and the future is uncertain?
  2. Also, how can I continue to thrive personally & professionally in this extremely challenging climate & culture.

I am curious to know how y’all are doing. What has worked for you this year? What has gone to shit? Please share your thoughts here or on Facebook or via DM. It helps me to read your words, and — if you post publicly — chances, are your words will help someone else, too.


PS: Artwork in this post is still available. Please inquire if you are interested in purchasing.

If you purchased something from me in 2020, you’ve been automatically entered to win a surprise art-filled package chock-full of good stuff.

I thought it would be hilariously fun to award a second surprise art-filled package to the very last person to place an order via my website during 2020 — which is to say at or before 11:59:59 PM EST on December 31, 2020.

If you haven’t yet made a purchase this year or you’d like an additional entry to win, do either or both of these things to enter:

POST a pic of your fave RASJ piece on social media page & TAG me.

TAG two friends in the comment section of THIS POST!

For TEN extra entries, attend my last FINAL ZOOM tonight at 7pm EST!


Meeting ID: 810 6805 4785

Passcode: 809157

*Giveaway closes at midnight EST on December 31, 2020. Winners will be announced on January 1, 2021. Open to United States residents only. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administrated by or associated with Facebook or Instagram. It’s just me, wanting to start 2021 off in a positive way!

NOTE: It’s been a good, long while since I’ve felt a poem screeching to be born. This one wanted out.

Photo credit to my friend Bobbi Wilkins in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

• • •

I’ve been nursing

a dead thing, holding

it against my breast, begging

it to eat something, take

something if not milk, maybe

the cake I just baked

or some bread

or soup.


I’ve been soaking in a brine

with a dead thing, such unliving

is contagious and

it has left me pickling

in my own juices.


The dead cannot fix things

or change, and corpses are always unaware

of their stuckedness. This one liked to preserve things

especially the narrative about his innocence,

how someone else had killed him

many years ago.


But maybe she was over it,

done sleeping in a bed with a

dead thing, opting

instead, out of the solution —

sour smile behind glass

lye in the water

and on his tongue —

before she soaked up too much salt.


Dear All, I hope you will mark your calendars and consider shopping small this year. 

Join Me…

Tuesday, November 24 at 7pm EST


Meeting ID: 830 0878 6022

Passcode: 601936

Saturday, December 5 at 9:30pm EST


Meeting ID: 822 8835 8208

Passcode: 764507

Wednesday, December 9 at 7-9pm


Meeting ID: 810 6805 4785

Passcode: 809157

Hope to see you online!

Thank you in advance for your support!

This year, it’s all online!

Original Art • Prints • Masonite Tiles • Magnets • Ornaments

 Please join me . . .

Tuesday, 11/17 at 7-9PM EST



Hope to see you online!

Thank you in advance for your support!


I first met Mary in Nursery School.

We were outside, standing at wooden easels that were taller than we were.

“Your tree is really good,” I said, pointing at her paper. She’d managed to draw a maple with yellow leaves that actually looked like leaves. There was even a squirrel inside a knotty bough.

Mary came over to consider my canvas. “Your tree doesn’t look real,” she said, “but I like it anyway.”

A lifelong friendship was forged.

Over the years, we performed in school plays together, stayed after school for roller-skating parties, attended carnivals and festivals and fairs. We loved singing in music class with Mr. Metz, and we were in the same reading group all the way through fifth grade. In middle school, we served numerous detentions together and rode the same late bus home; and while our closest friendship circles did not always overlap, we always remained devoted to each other.

Fun fact: Mary was my first kiss.

(And no it wasn’t like that.)

We were practicing for a boy we liked, so we helped each other ‘prepare,’ each of us offering extensive feedback on the other person’s technique.

We trusted each other and were honest with each other about everything.

Mary and I remained in touch long after we graduated from high school. We celebrated the births of each of our children, and when Facebook came around, she and I were among the first to sign on. We loved sharing stories and, later, photographs.

We went through difficult times together. Her divorce. Then mine. Loss. Injuries. Illnesses. We loved each other through it all and remained loyal to each other.

When Mary told me she was moving to North Carolina, I was devastated. Knowing she was just seventy miles down the Thruway was of of great comfort to me and, during her last few years in Syracuse, whenever I was visiting for an extended period of time, we would meet up, even briefly, for coffee and connection.

We would reminisce about the ’70s and ’80s, about how, whenever I stayed overnight at her house, we stayed up late, pressing our noses against the glass of her bedroom window, which overlooked the giant screen at the DeWitt Drive-In.

We had no business watching those movies, but we did. And we made up entire conversations about what we imagined the characters were saying.

To this day, I can’t watch Jaws without hearing Mary’s take on the voice of the shark.

“I’m biting off your leg!” she’d announce. “Chomp chomp chomp!”

Then we’d scream and remind each other that the severed limb drifting to the bottom of the ocean was just a special effect.

“It isn’t real,” she’d say. “It’s not real.”

Today, though, the scary thing is real.

And I hate it.

I don’t have any wise words.

I could rant about how COVID-19 isn’t a hoax.

That it took my friend, the sweetest, most loving and good person I have ever known.

In each of her roles — as wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, grandma — Mary was extraordinary. She was straight and she was gay and then she was straight again. She was an artist and a teacher and a friend and a Christian. She was the most inclusive, least judgmental person I have ever known.

Her love was big, and it knew no sexes or shades. She wasn’t about this side or that side.

Mary lived passionately and with great integrity every single day — which isn’t easy in a world where people judge you for being even the tiniest bit weird.

When she and Jerry were cleaning out their house before their move to North Carolina, Mary came to see me at my parents’ house. We laughed about how we used to dress up in matching white nightgowns and sing into our hairbrushes.

“I’m giving you all this crap,” she said, depositing four enormous bags of supplies into the trunk of my car.

“What am I supposed to do with all of this?” I asked her as I sifted through bags of ribbons and buttons and tissue paper.

“I don’t know,” she laughed. “But I know you’ll make something beautiful out of it.”

I’ll try, Mare. I’ll try.

But, honestly, I feel like someone just told me they have discontinued phthalo blue — and you know a painting isn’t worth a damn thing without a little phthalo in it.


PS: The sky is purple and orange for you tonight.

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