Bite off more than you can chew.

A stack of journals of various colors, sizes, and shapes, that the author completed in 2020.
A stack of journals of various colors, sizes, and shapes, that the author completed in 2020.
Photo courtesy of the author.

I’ve just set up my BuJo for February and written down my to-do list for the day. It’s a snow day for Smalls, but not for me. But, we get big, glorious piles of snow so rarely in my corner of South Jersey I’m not missing my chance to get out there and have fun! Screw the deadlines and the to-do list — life is not just a thing that happens around work. You’ve got to look out for those opportunities to live it and snowstorms are one of them.

This is the opposite approach I’d have taken a couple…

Image by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

Dear Mr. Bezos,

This afternoon I received the 2020 Amazon Holiday Wish Book. I noticed it was addressed to “Current Resident,” which I don’t feel accurately reflects the close and personal relationship I’ve developed with your company this year. I’m sure this was just an oversight. Would you kindly speak to someone in your office to correct this issue?

Upon further inspection, I noticed some of the item descriptions were inaccurate or incomplete. But my mother always taught me to sandwich criticism between compliments, kind of like sneaking liverwurst inside a brioche bun.

So, let me first applaud the name…

Digital collage by author, source images: photo by kelvin balingit on Unsplash and Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

For the seventh time in three weeks, I attempt to get comfortable on a cold plastic chair, waiting. “No matter what happens, I’m ok.” I repeat to myself. “I’ll handle the news, whatever it is, with calm, grace, and acceptance. I can’t control what happened, I can’t control the future, but I can be ok right now.”

I hold onto the compliment I’d been given the day before — I have a beautiful pulmonary vein. A vein that usually hides from the ultrasound’s feathery probing but in my case proudly shows herself. “See how well I carry oxygenated blood to…

Mixed media, 6" x 6" art journal spread, courtesy of the author.

Be open. Be nimble. Be mindful.


In the beginning of all this, ideas spilled onto the pages of my art journals and helped me make sense of the smaller space my life suddenly occupied. Like Joan Didion, I didn’t know what I was thinking until I painted it. I filled one art journal and started two new ones. I’d convinced myself that this break in routine would be brief, so I needed to capitalize on my “free” time by making as much art as possible.

As it turns out, this has not been a brief break in routine and…

When you’re done reading this, you will too.

Image by cromaconceptovisual via pixabay

On August 26, 2020, my family went to Ocean City for a long-overdue beach day. We arrived around three in the afternoon, an odd time to show up, but there had been some fussiness in the morning so we’d gotten a late start. On the way into town we were stopped at a light behind a minivan bearing stickers for some not-so-local sports teams. “Ramsey,” my husband said. “Isn’t that all the way up there?”

“Yep, that’s way the hell up there.”

Our son floated on a boogieboard, far away from my…

Jennifer Russell

Mixed media/collage artist who writes about creativity and whatever else is top of mind here and at

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