Rebekahis creating Art that Feeds Hearts & Stories that Feed Artists
Select a membership level
-Early access to my work
-Artsy Reflections audiobook
Here are the deets:
-You will get early access to Art Ink podcast episodes (usually 2 days earlier!) and any other new work I have to share with the world. You'll see it first!
-You'll get a digital download of my Artsy Reflections audiobook (only available on Patreon!) which is a compilation of my 1st photo & 100 words blog posts with added retrospective commentary.
Laugh your ass off with my blooper reel bonus for getting silly with me!
You'll get a digital download of a never before heard blooper reel of my silliest mishaps behind the mic.
You'll also get:
-Early access to my work
-Artsy Reflections audiobook
(Not available yet, but COMING SOON!)
It's still in the making right now, but if you sign up to be one of my Word Adventurers you'll soon have access to my Storytelling Impact Pack, which will include story templates, prompts, and writing tips.
You'll get access to all the perks above including:
-Early access to my work
-Artsy Reflections audiobook
-My blooper reel
Storytelling is My Superpower(last updated September 2019)
I beat myself up so much over the past two years. I shit you not, I attempted to rewrite this page not once, but at least three times. And after hours of unfiltered word vomit, I still could not figure out wtf I was trying to say to you. I would reread whatever story I’d written and say, “why would anyone ever want to support me after they found out that!?!” (Ok, I know that got your attention. And in the interest of transparency I will share one of the very vulnerable stories I scrapped… way down below… but hear me out first before you get the gritty details of my flawed human existence.)
I would see how far I’ve come from what I originally set out to do (in case you’re new here, that was to help shelter animals with pro (and pro bono) photography) and reprimand myself. “Why are you such a flake?” “Why can’t you pick a project and work on it forever the way everyone else does?” “All of your Patrons are going to roll their eyes at you when you change things… again.”
Except… deep down I knew that wasn’t true.
And I have you to thank for that. Because of you, that small flame of confidence never totally burnt out. You, my Patrons, have believed in me all along. You’ve been helping me follow my heart since 2014, and since then your contributions have supported the following public and personal things:
- volunteer photography services for various animal shelters and rescues throughout the Hudson Valley
- producing over 40 episodes of My Rescue Rocks, a podcast that ran from 2014-2016
- several fundraisers that supported my peeps at HeARTs Speak
- my transition to veganism and more compassionate living
- creating many of the rewards here including my Artsy Reflections audiobook, outtakes reel, and countless images that are now available for limitless use for less than pennies a piece in my patron-only library
- the education I got while creating my first few fiction audiobooks which led to…
- a voiceover career that’s given me extra time to pursue other heartfelt passions like:
- joining the ranks of Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s humane educators
- launching Art Ink in 2019, the podcast that connects artists to art lovers with story
Thank you for making these things possible!!! I’m looking forward to creating more things to share with you in the future.
Over the years my heart has grown and it’s led me in exciting new directions. In the time you’ve supported me I’ve shifted from an animal loving, blogging photographer to a podcasting animal activist, and now I feel my labels shifting again. I’ve moved on from making lots of money working at jobs that go against my values to making just barely enough working a fun job. And guess what? I’m richer than ever… in happiness.
Just the impact of having less stress in my life knowing that my day to day work is more in line with my heart, has made it possible to find more time to passionately create things that matter to me.
I’m not going to lie… between a rough year of constant “failure” in the “real world” and my fear of what others would think of me… I’ve been paralyzed creatively.
Most of that paralysis was over how to consolidate my gifts into one, neat little forever package, mostly for the benefit of others to better understand me, but that’s just not the way I’m wired. Nope.
The funny thing about making a list of all of these seemingly unrelated accomplishments, is that you can start to see how they all connect to one another. What do photography, writing, podcasting, and audiobook narration all have in common? They are each a medium in which to tell stories. Storytelling is my superpower.
I can’t promise that the projects I’m working on today will continue on inevitably, but at this point I’m pretty sure my passion to share stories isn’t going anywhere. And I can promise you that I’ll always follow my ever-expanding heart.
What does that promise mean? Lemme break it down for you:
- I promise that whatever I’m working on it will help more than hurt (people, animals, our Earth).
- I promise to be real with you. My new policy is to overshare rather than undershare.
- I promise that I’ll only put out work that I’m passionate about, which also means that I will no longer let fear of flakery stop me from exploring a new way to infuse the world with love.
There are so many ways we can share and express love… why limit ourselves to just one?
If there’s one thing I’ve discovered on this journey, it’s that the more you love the world, the more it loves you back.
I appreciate whatever love you can give.
What Are You Supporting When You Support Me?
Stories are the main way we connect to not just other human beings, but also to the causes that mean the most to us.
With my storytelling I can help to change the world for animals. With my teaching here I can help to empower other artists and creatives to create the change they wish to see in the world. With Art Ink I am building a platform that can hold these stories and spread them far and wide.
And... sometimes my storytelling is just for fun. It's taken me 30+ years, but I finally see the value in art for art's sake. Because when I'm happily creating, that sends a positive vibe out into the world. It's as simple and striking as a smile from a stranger.
What I’m Working on Now(last updated October 2019)
- Producing Art Ink – Connecting Artists to Art Lovers One Story at a Time (1-2 new podcast episodes per month)
- Marketing plan for Art Ink to make the most impact on artists and art lovers worldwide
- Adding more art to the Patron-Only Art Library every month
- Audiobooks (to pay the bills... but also to give you extra perks!)
- Creating a list of bonus content that teaches artists to write stories that connect people to their work
The Vulnerable Story I Promised You...
“I got the job.” I said, but I couldn’t look at him. It was the only way to hold back tears. I wandered around the house while giving Nick details, keeping my eyes occupied with anything but his.
“They’re going to start me off at $17 per hour.” A 66% pay cut .
I organized something on the kitchen table. I walked into the bathroom. “At least I’ll still be taking photos.” Yeah, I’ll be trading a studio full of professional equipment for cheap, amateur lights in a postage stamp of a studio, photographing products that go against all of my values.
I smeared moisturizer on my lips, capped the stick, returned it to the medicine cabinet, and moved into the bedroom, “I start next week.”
He followed me. He sat on the bed as I started peeling off my interview costume: khaki capris I’ll never wear again, fancy flats I’d borrowed from a friend, and a shirt that, gratefully, I’d be able to dress down with jeans.
I got into yoga pants and my favorite dog print t-shirt. I threw my fake getup into the hamper. With nothing else to do, I finally turned to face Nick… whose expression showed more sadness for me than happiness for us.
That’s when I lost it.
The tears started falling, flowing, and flushing my face.
It wasn’t just that I was demoting myself as photographer so that I could cling to the title, or that I was giving up my entire summer and fall to work 7 days per week, or even that I was doing it all for a house I didn’t really want to buy. All of those things sucked ass, but the worst part was that I was giving up my dreams AND my values all at once.
The year leading up to that horribly memorable day, was one of the best I’d ever had. I had just finally managed to create a life to work ratio I was happy with. I worked 2 days per week shooting products, and although the work was meaningless and boring, I loved my coworkers, I listened to audiobooks and podcasts all day long, and the pay covered all of my expenses. I’d planned to build my art business with the remaining 5 days.
“How was your weekend?” one of the photo dudes would inevitably ask me on Monday.
For the first few weeks after I’d cut back my hours, my response would be a snarky, “What do you mean? This is my weekend!”
Since I had no urgent need to make extra money with my art, though, I found myself exploring other things. The plan was always to work for myself, but aside from redesigning my website and taking a super expensive online marketing course, I hadn’t taken any action that resulted in a single sale. Instead, I found myself volunteering for my favorite animal advocacy group, HeARTs Speak, and transitioning from my podcasting hobby into narrating audiobooks.
It was two months into my newfound freedom when I got the first unexpected email.
I was in Florida in December, working one of HeARTs Speak’s Perfect Exposure Project photography workshops. After a day at the animal shelter teaching volunteers and employees how to increase adoptions with better photos and more positive marketing, we decided to visit the beach.
Thoughts of the few audiobook auditions I’d submitted before the trip were the furthest things from my mind. I had prepared myself for rejection, so much so that I’d told myself I would audition for at least 100 books before I gave up.
I only brought my phone onto the beach so that I could take a few photos for Instagram to warm up my chilly New Yorker friends back home. I was shoving socks into sneakers and standing in cool, pale sand when the notification went off. An email from ACX: an author was thrilled with my audition and wanted me to narrate her entire 3-book series.
It was one of the most surreally euphoric moments I’ve ever experienced. I have the selfie on the beach I took just moments later to prove it. I’ve never seen myself shine with such pure joy before or since.
In the first 4 auditions I’d sent out, 3 authors were interested in working with me! Before I could blink I had offers totaling 6 books. With a 5-day weekend I thought I had all the time in the world, so I gave it out freely.
Little did I know that the company I worked for would not be renewing my contract. By the time I knew my 8-year relationship with my first big-girl career would be ending, it was too late to build my art business. If I couldn’t do it in nearly a year, how would I do it in a month? Especially when I still had audiobook commitments to fulfill with a fraction of the time to create them in.
Anger and sorrow are euphemisms for the pain I felt surrounding the inevitable loss of my job, my identity, and my failure to use the time I’d had to create a self-sufficient income.
On top of all the internal battles I was fighting, there were also external complications splattering me from the rapidly spinning, shit-covered fan that was my life. Nick and I were in the middle of buying our first house together when we found out that months earlier his ex wife had stopped paying the mortgage on the house they’d had together, and had only gotten in touch after she’d already initiated the short sale paperwork, for which she needed Nick’s signature to continue ruining his excellent credit. We found out soon afterwards that Nick wouldn’t be allowed to apply for a mortgage for several years. I’d have to get approved on my own.
It wasn’t like we could just wait to buy another house, either. Our landlords were selling the house we were living in, and it had taken us nearly a year to find an affordable place that would allow a Pit Bull, much less the additional two cats, and bird in our zoo of a family. If we weren’t buying a house we had to find an animal-loving landlord that wasn’t tainted by dog breed stereotypes.
I felt trapped from all angles. I needed a job immediately. I’d lost confidence in my art. And suddenly I had zero time to manage my pre-existing commitments, much less create new ones.
It was 2:30 am when I came across the job listing for a photographer and eBay manager for a consignment shop in a ritzy town nearby. I didn’t totally understand what a consignment shop was at the time, but I knew I was overqualified for the job, so I faked my way through a caring cover letter.
Within 12 hours I got a call about scheduling an interview. A few hours earlier I had also discovered that my boss had squeezed another 3-month contract out of the corporate suits, but that was all I’d get.
That was the only good luck I’d experience for several months. Despite the impending doom of my transition from a 2-day work week to a 7-day work week, I knew I needed both incomes to look good on paper.
Did I mention that we also had to buy two cars during this time? I promise this is the peak of the shit pile the universe monkeys dumped on me… just hold your nose for one more minute. The Nissan Rogue we shared needed a third transmission and was behaving dangerously toward the end of our 50-mile commute; left hand turns became a game of Russian Rougette with oncoming traffic due to an infuriatingly frequent loss of power. We decided we wouldn’t be giving Nissan any more money, and once I got laid off we’d have separate commutes.
Nick got a used Honda, and since my new job was closer I drove the deathtrap, who’s murderous tendencies really only acted up on hot days after 40 or so miles of running.
On my first day I felt like I was driving to my own funeral. With the AC broken it was sweltering even at 9am, and dark, ominous clouds and sporadic rain foreshadowed doom. It was like sprinkling Miracle-Gro on top of my negativity. The weather was dreary every. single. time. I drove there for the first week or so.
It had to be a sign right? Should I turn around and go home? Those questions ran on repeat daily.
My aluminum free, cruelty free, vegan deodorant was no match for the 20 minutes of sweat that saturated me in my stagnant, greenhouse of a car as I waited for my coworker to arrive. I was early. She was late. Not for the first time since I’d gotten the job, and thoroughly informed myself on the products I’d be selling, I wondered how I could let myself become such a fucking hypocrite.
I could see the headline someone would inevitably post to social media once I was ousted: Animal Activist Who Lectures Us on Veganism by Night Sells High End Animal Carcasses by Day.
Every time I got a whiff of myself it was a reminder of how there was no justification strong enough to cover up the rotting stink of my dying soul.
I went silent on social media. I couldn’t share who I was because it felt like a lie.
I had been on a lifelong search to find a job I could love, and after 16 years of trudging through jobs that balanced between logic and passion, I was farther away from that goal than I had ever been.
I was suddenly immersed in a world of materialistic female drama that was in stark contrast to the laid back, mostly male, environment I’d come from. Within the first hour, the gossip ring around the jewelry counter informed me that the girl who’d trained me (let’s call her Candy) broke the computer on her last day. When the boss discovered what it’d cost to fix, she’d cancelled Candy’s goodbye dinner in a fit of fury.
Candy left the building, but had forgotten the cranberry juice she’d left in the kitchroom (kitchen/bathroom combo – yummy right?). There she caught two of her coworkers putting on makeup, getting ready to go out without her, and pre-gaming with drinks made with Candy’s cranberry.
Was this a high-end retail store or was I on the set of the latest reality show?
As an anxiety ridden, people-pleasing empath, it was impossible not to be affected by the bipolar emotions swirling around the shop. It also didn’t help being the third-party girl in the back room away from the rest of the staff and customers. Unsolicited venting sessions were a regular occurrence.
My days were a soggy, sad blur.
I was waking up at 5 am so I could get an hour of recording in before work. As the days got shorter, I grew more depressed. The one thing both studios had in common was the necessary darkness, but when you’re working 7 days per week, isolation from natural light is a dangerous additive to an already unhealthy recipe.
Since the items I listed on eBay were used, I was responsible for showing any damage in my photos. One day while shooting a Fendi bag, I noticed that the furry sides of the purse were balding, revealing patchy, mummified calfskin beneath the zebra-printed fur.
After I handled that bag, my hands smelled like a day-old road kill carcass baked in the August sun. The smell of death will forever remind me of that tacky, overpriced murder vessel.
Once September came around the traffic sometimes doubled my commute. Any free time I had was spent deciphering bank and lawyer documents, gathering paperwork, and generally proving my worth as an honest human being.
Once the mortgage finally got approved and my last contracted days lapsed at my old job, all quite literally just in time, I finally had some space to breathe and think. I had my weekends back. If I went from 5 days off to 2, I would have been bitter, but going from 0 to 2 was a glorious gift.
But the job still went against all of my values, and though I was learning to deal with the drama, I was also reliving it every night as I vented my frustrations… poor Nick, poor, sweet Nick.
I searched job listings every morning. I wasn’t being picky, either. I considered working the night shift loading boxes into delivery trucks… I could lift 50 lbs, and maybe I could even listen to podcasts. Many places were looking for truck drivers, so I looked into getting my CDL… I can barely parallel park a sedan, but it can’t be that hard right?
I read reviews on all the money-making apps. The 20-year old SUV we bought and fixed with the little money that was left over after the closing costs of the house, would not be good enough for Uber standards… but what about those food delivery services?
When I finally found my next job, though, it wasn’t through an ad online. The circumstances that led to finding it were so strangely meant to be that I couldn’t see past the magical coincidences to the underlying intuition that should have turned me away. (But that’s another story for another day.)
Long story short, it paid less money, and the commute was longer than at the dead animal boutique… but quite frankly, at that point, I would have done practically anything to get out of working at that murder mystery theater. Is this alligator or crocodile? Is this a real dead animal or a fake one? I put my notice in the very next day.
It was shortly after those 6 months of feeling like the worst case of a sellout, once I thought I was back on track to living a life more in line with my heart, that I attempted to write this. I was too afraid you wouldn’t forgive me, too afraid of revealing my hypocrisy… but now… with over a year of retrospect and more awareness of my heart, I can recognize that we live in a fear-driven culture that prioritizes logic over love. My cultural programming might be an excuse I’m making… but I can’t change what’s already happened. I can only forgive myself, love myself for being the best I can be, and move on with the intention to be better tomorrow.
Heart over mind is a new mantra for me. I’m not saying I’ve learned to perfectly implement that into my life… but it’s not a bad goal to have.