Everyone’s a Critic, eh?

I can’t stop thinking about it…

The other day, some of our kids and grandkids came for a visit. Among them was our youngest grandchild, the cause of my curiosity.

Next month, she will be just 2½. She’s quite a character. She tries to be fiercely independent and walks with great confidence. Resolute in her opinions, last year she was going through that typical toddler stage at which she replied to every and any request with a determined “No!!!” When our son/her dad tried to urge her to say yes, she looked at him squarely in the eye, and insisted, “NO ‘yes’ daddy!”

She loves to draw, colour, and paint…

Zoey at art

She loves to draw,  colour and paint

So, back to what happened the other day…

While everyone was interacting, I was busy laying out the food I’d prepared earlier in the day for a buffet. I noticed this little girl walk into the space between our dining room table and kitchen island, stop in her tracks, and stare at the painting resting on an easel in the corner of the dining room.

Candles with Flowers

“Still Life with Flowers” Mixed media by Nellie Jacobs

Fascinated to see such a young child study the painting so carefully, I stopped what I was doing  to watch her. Just as I began wondering what thoughts were going through her head she turned to me, and declared,

“I don’t like it.”

I almost fell over.

“What?” I asked, not sure I heard her words correctly. “What did you say?”

“I don’t like it,” she repeated.

Now I was really fascinated, so I asked her, “Why don’t you like it?”

Her answer, “Because.”

No explanation. So, now, like a fool, I began pleading my case to this two year old. I told her I was the one who painted it and that I’d also painted the artwork behind her.

Flowers on Windowsill

“Vases with Flowers” Mixed media by Nellie Jacobs

She turned to look, and immediately turned back to the first one. I mumbled on, pointing out again that I was the painter, that the subject was only flowers – and ended with the grand, “Who asked your opinion anyhow?”

I’d argued in vain. Unmoved, she barely glanced at me as she went off to continue playing with her cousins…

Later in the evening after everyone had left, I repeated the exchange with my husband Paul. He asked why I was feeling so sensitive.

On the contrary, I told him, I was fascinated.  What about the painting prompted this two year old to stop, look and give an unasked for opinion? Why would she say she didn’t like it? What did she find disagreeable? I wished aloud that she could have had the ability to articulate the reason for her reaction. My musings led to the bigger picture, the question of criticism overall: understanding where it comes from, the person’s agenda, expertise, background, knowledge, our reaction to it, our own tendencies to be critical, etc.

I had conversations about it with others. “Out of the mouths of babes” and “She’s pure of heart” and “She knows what she likes” were some of their responses. Those discussions became deeper, leading to provocative debate over the definition of criticism, why people criticize,  and whether there can be any value to critics generally.


Zoey the art critic

Hard at work, colouring

Your thoughts?


See below for comments to this post…



Whoops! Michael Ondaatje and Me…

Have you ever had any mortifying moments of embarrassment? I’ve had plenty of them. It’s funny how we remember forever such moments and the feelings we have around them. The other day I was reminded of one such time.

I was taking a leisurely stroll exploring my new neighborhood. The air was crisp, clear and sunny-a taste of spring hopefully around the corner. On my way back  home, I stopped in front of TYPE, a small independent bookstore.

michael ondaatje3

I stepped inside. Listening to chatter between the sales woman and customer, I wandered the aisles glancing at the racks, shelves and tables full of new books, celebration cards and knickknacks of various kinds and uses.

And then, I stopped at the table displaying a book of poetry by Michael Ondaatje.

michael ondaatje

I flipped its pages, deeply sensing the book would be dedicated to his late friend and collaborator, Barrie Nichol, otherwise known worldwide as bp Nichol. It was.  (bp was my creative writing prof when I returned to university as an adult in the mid 80’s. )

michael ondaatje2

Memories start spilling out…

Reading those two names reminded me once again of the time when Ondaatje caught me unprepared for class.  But first, the background.

I was enjoying this particular course focus on early Canadian Literature since nothing like it had been available when I studied the subject in high school twenty years earlier. We read groundbreaking early Canadian books including Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso. At the time, I was also taking three other demanding courses: Media studies, Logical Thinking and Writing, and an intensive hands-on art course called Line and Form. Each prof gave us assignments to complete during Xmas break: a take-home exam from Media; a quiz for logic; creation of art pieces for a portfolio; and the reading of a short book called Tay John by Howard O’Hagan.

Did I mention I’m also a wife and a mom to four children, ranging in age at that time from 2 1/2 to 13 years? Needless to say, I had to set priorities. As an avid reader, I figured that I could read the book quickly at any time, so the decision was to leave it til I could take the time.

So, to continue…

We are back from Christmas break. I’ve arrived early to take my regular spot, a seat at the front of the very small classroom, facing the podium. Our prof steps up as usual to begin her lecture, but instead proceeds to introduce the already well-known author Michael Ondaatje, who, she says, is the world-renowned Tay John expert. “Wow!!’ I thought. “Who knew?”

Then I look again at the book’s cover…Tay John2

It reads, “Afterword by Michael Ondaatje.” How nice! Impressive, I think.

Tay John2

Ondaatje nods, walks up to the lectern – which is only about six feet a way from me – leans in, and begins… He says Tay John is a mispronunciation of the french Tête Jaune (Yellow Head), referring to the hair colour of the protagonist who is the result of a rape of a Native woman. She was impregnated. Before giving birth, she died and was buried on a hill. Legend goes that her child arose as a toddler out of the earth – and strode away.

Since I have not yet read the story, I am listening so carefully my mouth drops open with  surprise. Unfortunately, Ondaatje’s attention is caught by the movement. He leans further forward on the lectern. “And if you haven’t read that,” he roars at me (or so it seemed), “you haven’t read far, because this piece of information appears on page TWO!”

I was mortified. Completely. I felt my face burn. All I could think of was that he didn’t know me, nor my name, nor did he read or grade my exams. Those facts saved me.

A few years later, I graduated on the Honours List. And was armed with yet another story to share with you.

Life is like that, isn’t it?

#MeToo-I was only 11

I have been wanting to write this post for years. This is the first time I share this story – my secret – publicly.

Here is why:

The speed at which the #MeToo, #MoiAussi and similar movements have taken traction and spread worldwide after the Weinstein scandal exposure frankly astonished me so greatly I was compelled to create a collage to depict the phenomenon visually:MeToo

No previous public accusations of sexual abuse against celebrities and politicians have ever resulted in such a spilling of stories from long traumatized victims. The swift downfall of  public figures, heads of companies and leaders of major organizations is unprecedented. Why now, why this time, I wonder? Why not when Polanski, Clinton, Cosby, Ghomeshi,  or even Trump were news media headlines screaming alleged sexual harassment or rape accusations? What broke the dam of silence?

What led one celebrity after another to spill the beans? Safety in numbers? Hope that revealing their experience and pain will help others come forward? Belief that finally society will accept abuse happens – and the victim isn’t at fault? Expectation that the accused would not be able to overcome the numbers of their accusers coming forward…

I’m not a celebrity. I’m a mom of four married kids and grandmother of eight. Most people in my circle of friends and acquaintances are unaware of what I endured as a child, although I’ve become more open to share it if conversations move in that direction.

I’ve been reading with considerable curiosity the copious articles posted online analyzing the characteristics and modus operandi of these alleged predators – and comparing them with my own experience. Here are some of my conclusions:

Predator. An abuser is often a predator. He or she chooses to work or volunteer in a field where they have continuous access to an unsuspecting supply of potential victims. The predator works him/herself into a position of power. Besides heads of corporations, directors and producers, think boy or girl scout leaders, sport coaches, close relatives, caregivers, therapists, or family friends – and, yes, priests. My abuser was an elementary school teacher.

Until now, fearing retribution and law suits, if anyone did admit or made innuendos that they were abused, usually they didn’t name names or places. Until now. 

Mr. Shaver (Charles Victor, according to 1958 archived list of Ontario teachers, and U of T archives) was my grade six teacher at Toronto’s Glen Park Elementary Public School. I remember him as tall, with a deep dimple in his chin. In his role, he had a recurring pool of girls to choose from year after year. Of course, I didn’t know that. I was relatively new to the school and had no idea of what was to come.  Not that anyone who knew would have said anything. 

Procurer. Procurers are much like pimps.They are the people who round up potential victims and present them to the predator. Benefiting from their role in one way or another, in an unwritten or stipulated arrangement, they set up an innocent-seeming scenario, such as a supposed business meeting, and then redirect the prey to an isolated, confined area which serves the predator well. The confused, frightened victim has little chance of escape.

In introducing the framework for abuse, Predators charm and lie. They gain trust, then use that trust to terrify the abused.

Shaver would shut the door to the classroom after school, and take turns lifting his female students, sliding his hand beneath their underwear as he moved around the room.

I wouldn’t say Shaver specifically had procurers. But someone in that school had to know what was going on…especially after my mom told the principal.

Protectors. This group consists of all the deniers, including family members, the legal defense teams, the senior executives, directors of boards, bosses and friends. This  includes anyone benefiting from, working around or for, the predator. These people condone it, or know something is fishy, or deal with complaints over years. They refuse to step in, hold the predator to account, or force the accused out. This group – whether its inaction is for fear of suspected collusion, shame, loss of income or potential lawsuits – pretends, won’t acknowledge or refuses to accept the evidence or wrongdoing. Or they are advised nothing can be done and to  stay clear. The result, of course, is that  the predator can keep on assaulting more victims.

Consequences of Breaking the Silence

Families are split into camps – supporting or defending either accuser or accused – that never speak to each other again. Victims lose their privacy, dignity and careers. They are disbelieved, shamed, faulted and threatened. Their indignity and shame is imprinted in the minds of anyone who knows the story. They are made to feel responsible for the acts or for potentially destroying the accused. In some countries, victims – even those who are little girls – are forced to marry their rapists. 

At one point, I think it was the spring of 1958, I finally worked up the courage to tell my mom. I don’t know what I expected her to do, but I needed to reveal my secret. I certainly didn’t expect her to come to speak with the principal of the school. Mom was a young immigrant from war-torn Europe who was understandably reluctant to approach people in authority. I was unprepared for what she did next – and its consequences.

Until then, I was a good student. Although somewhat shy, from time to time I was chosen to assist  in an activity led by a teacher of younger students. I liked learning. Shortly after my reveal, I was sitting at my desk during a lesson when we heard a knock at the door. The principal walked in and asked Shaver and me to come out into the hall. My heart began to beat wildly. We three stepped out to join my mom who was standing there. The principal got to the point. I don’t remember what he said, except that I was accusing Shaver of something or other. I don’t remember the words or how the accusation was framed. The principal paused so Shaver could respond.

Abusers will deny, deny, deny. They are cowards who are terrified about owning up to their acts. They also manipulate the situation so their victims appear to be liars or story-tellers, or perpetrators of a major fraud. 

I remember Shaver towering above me with his dimpled chin and no sign of remorse looking at me straight in the eye. Indicating surprised shock,  he spit out, “Why, Nellie, I can’t believe you are making such accusations. You know they aren’t true.”  I don’t remember saying a word. The principal took a moment, and then gave us – abuser teacher  and abused pupil – permission to return to the same class, and then he walked away. So did my mom. What else could she do? The authority had made judgement. The collusion continued. She had no power. And I was back in the classroom with my predator.

Predators use their power to humiliate, control and isolate victims who displease them. They can ruin victims’ self-respect, careers and futures. Here’s what happened to me…

From that moment on, I was no longer molested. However, I became a non-entity, completely ignored in class. As example, during spelling practices, whenever the teacher would go up and down the rows, asking students to spell words, he’d skip over me. Students would put up their hands to let him know. I never said a word. My marks went down to a degree that in the last weeks of school he called me up to his desk to whisper to me that I was going to fail the year.

Abusers take control of their victims through threats and bullying. They threaten anyone who will think of exposing them.

I told my mom. She called the principal. He assured her I wouldn’t fail. You’d think this would be another alarm to him. But, no.

The next year, I transferred to another school, closer to where we lived at the time.

This story is not done…

Fast forward to 1966/7. As a Toronto Teachers College student, I was on a week assignment of practice teaching in a grade one class at Wilmington Elementary School. Part way through the week, I was having lunch at a table in the teachers’ lounge with my back to the door. Suddenly, I heard a man speaking loudly as he entered the lunchroom. My spine bristled when I recognized the voice out of the past. I turned my head slightly to confirm my fear. It was Shaver, smiling face, dimpled chin and all, now the vice-principal of this school. I quickly turned back my head, and felt sick.

If they work or move in the same circles, it’s not uncommon for victims to come across their abusers. They feel completely powerless, intimidated by the unspoken secret, re-victimized by keeping silent. Yet, until now – and even now – what recourse did/do they have?

The next day, I was leading a lesson at the front of the class, trying not to show my nervousness, as the teacher at the back of the room watched and graded my performance.

The door opened, and in walked Shaver. He sat at a desk near the teacher.  My heart skipped several beats while I tried to pretend he wasn’t there. At the end of class, he approached to invite me to his office. I picked up my books and binders and followed him, praying he didn’t remember me. As we walked along the hallway, I noticed two young girls giggling, hanging around in the copy room (where the stencil machines and copiers were situated.)

We arrived at Shaver’s office. He sat behind his desk, I sat in front of it, in a chair facing him, barely able to look at him. Waiting for the ax to fall, my heart thumped like crazy. I was twenty.

Ever so friendly, he began to talk. He said it was good to see me, asked how I was and about my family. He proceeded to praise my teaching to the skies, that he’d never encountered in all his years a teacher as brilliant as I. (Such bullshit!) He assured me he’d be ever so  happy to offer me a job at his school.

As I have said, a perpetrator’s modus operandi is to isolate, intimidate, threaten, lie, charm and bribe. He was true to form…

I couldn’t look him in the eye. I gave short answers while staring at his chin.  When he was done his chat, we stood, I picked up my books, said good bye, and  walked out, heaving deep breaths.

On my way back towards the exit doors, I saw the two lingering girls. Heading over to them, I asked why they were still there. They replied they were waiting for Shaver to get them. My heart sank. I leaned towards them and hissed, “Don’t wait. Go home! Go home now!!” They looked at me in confusion, and didn’t move.

When my dad came home from work that evening, I asked to go for a walk with him. I don’t remember ever previously discussing my trauma with dad but I did during that walk. I was furious and wanted to finally report Shaver. Dad shook his head and recommended I not do it. Why, I asked. “Because,” he said sadly, “you will be blackballed by the Board of Education and will never be able to work as a teacher.” My dad understood the times.

Victims feel guilt for not calling up their abusers. They feel tremendous guilt, not only for themselves, but also for not protecting future generations of victims. I know.

The story is not yet done…

Fast forward to 1996/7. My book Grading the Teacher: A Canadian Parents’ Guide, four years in the making, was published by Penguin Books Canada at the beginning of the school year in September of 1996. It became a bestseller featured by every major national and local media outlet across the country, including Macleans and Today’s Parent magazines, the Toronto Star, and CBC radio and television. The impetus of the book was my experience with Shaver and the need to encourage parents to protect their children.


So. A few months after the book was published I was walking through a Shopping Centre when I was approached by women who had been students with me in that grade six class. Mothers themselves, they mentioned the book, congratulated me and then proceeded to implore me to not ever tell anyone about what had happened in that class.

Obviously victims themselves, they were – as many are – ashamed, and couldn’t face the consequences.

Years ago, I heard through some grapevine, that Shaver had been promoted to principal.


For those of you who know me and those who do not, I have had and continue to have an incredibly fulfilling, creative life surrounded by wonderful family and amazing friends. My husband, who knew about this from almost the moment we met, has been my rock, my strength, my protector, and my promoter.

As difficult as it was to write this post “exposing” my secret, if it’s the impetus for real discussion and truths, then it is worth it. So, yes, you are welcome to forward it to someone who may find it helpful and a good source for important conversation. – Nellie


What are your thoughts and experiences in regards to the points made in this posting? Share in the comments section below…

Creativity: Setting Parameters

Creativity and creative solutions can often come from setting very specific or restrictive parameters. Believe it.

Here’s an example…

While searching through my art portfolio, I found an art pad which included preliminary drawings for a painting challenge our class had been assigned. The object was to choose a subject while emphasizing in it something indicating or starting with the letters from A to L.

I decided to create a painting entitled Birds, From A to L, while adding another restriction: limiting the color/colour palette.

After extensive research and consideration, I carefully planned a draft on the sketch pad, dividing the proposed painting into sections:


Birds study 1

Draft plan layout w sample colours/etchings

A: Air > Thinking  about how to depict the idea of air, I decided to show in the upper left corner a bird souring along with air balloons rising.


A: Air Study on left photo; Finished section on right

B: Beak > I chose to draw the profile of an eagle’s beak.

Birds study 15

C: Claw > The claw, or talon, had to indicate power and strength. Again, I chose the eagle as the example.

Birds study 16

D: Ducks > I wanted to show them taking off and flying.

E: Eggs > As I tend to do, I wanted something different and mysterious  in the painting, I chose to include wry humour with a dozen eggs in a box, some of them broken. I didn’t have that many eggs, so kept moving them. It took a day of sketching to get them and the broken ones right, in my opinion.

F: Feather > Years ago, my husband brought back home a large, gorgeous eagle’s feather he found while visiting Canadian country singer icon Ian Tyson’s Alberta ranch. That feather, still on display at our Muskoka cottage, became the anchor of the painting.


G: Geese/Grass > Have you seen geese landing on fields and beaches to take a rest and replenish during their long flight? Their V formations are a sight to behold.

H: House/Home > I wanted to incorporate many aspects of birds, such as their variety, appearance, environment (wild and tame),  etc. Hence, the bird house…

I: Infants > Baby birds nestled together seemed to be an endearing way to depict this letter, and demonstrated the life cycle (from egg to soaring birds to eggs for consumption) …


J: Jungle > I enjoy the beauty and personality of parrots, and wanted to indicate possibly mated birds, too.

K: Kingfisher > I looked through magazines to find the prototype for this one.

Birds study 17

L: Loons > We have loons on Lake Muskoka. Their distinct cries across the water are so hauntingly beautiful. A visitor pointed out that the loons are prehistoric and that the eagle is more recent development, so the painting is full circle. I don’t know if the information is true. I like to think it is.

Below is the completed painting, purchased as a gift for a bird lover who has a Masters degree that included studying bird species. It hangs in a place of honor, lighted up for family and guests to admire.

Birds from A to L

Birds, From A to L-22″ x 30″ Watermedia by Nellie Jacobs. Smaller copies available for sale…

  • Creativity is
    • personal,
    • individualistic,
    • can be enjoyed by, and shared with others.
  • Restrictions imposed can lead to something you would never have considered.
  • Choices you make as a result won’t necessarily be replicated by anyone else.
  • There is no right or wrong.

What are your thoughts and experiences in regards to the points made in this posting? Share in the comments section below….

Creativity: Shifting “Should” Mindset to “Could”

[Click here to see the YouTube video]

I had just completed the painting and wanted to share the process. So yesterday I posted photos and this text on Facebook:

Parts of the completed reworked painting …Please help me give it a title…

 I have included throughout this article photos of various sections of this unnamed art piece. The complete painting is posted at the end…

floral fantasy1Elaine Rose immediately suggested ‘Floral Fantasy’, which I like.

floral fantasy2Then I got a heartwarming, validating comment from acquaintance and Facebook friend Andreea Negrea:

This is just beautiful Nellie ! I’ve come back to this post 3-4 times today just to take another look, there is something in this painting that’s hidden… I don’t know how to explain it. There are so many elements in it that give me a different emotion every time I come back to look at it. For some reason I want to call it “The longing”, that’s what came to me every time. I love it. You are very talented.

I find painting to be a unique way of expressing oneself and I wish I had that talent. It must be an amazing way to release emotion and energy.

floral fantasy3Andreea’s comment inspired this blog post …Read on…

floral fantasy4I am just getting back into creating art after a very long break, in spite of  the fact that – as with any creator – when I’m fully into it, the process of art creation takes me to a high, a place that’s beyond this world, to feeling that is  almost indescribable, at least on a public site as this.

I want to share with you information about the painting’s years’ long development and the creative truths verified along the way …

floral fantasy5Years ago, I framed what I thought was a completed painting as a triptych, and hung it on a wall. Here is the original:

floral fantasy originalOver time, however, whenever I looked at it – except for certain elements – I came to hate it.

I felt it was too busy, too dull, too much of an experiment in too many areas that didn’t really work as a whole. Two years ago, I took it down and turned it to face a wall.

Every time I walked by, I’d glance at the back of the frame, and wonder what to do with it.

Two weeks ago,  I  spontaneously began dismantling the frame layer by layer.

First off were the screws holding the support wire, then the glued wrapping paper protecting the back, followed by the heavy cardboard backing held in place by dozens of staples, and finally, the white matte. It took almost an hour of careful removal to free the painting.

I placed it on a table, ready for something, but what? I’d stop, stare at it and wonder, “What should I do to improve it? What if I mess it up?” And then,  after a few days, asked myself, “Who am I answering to …and, really, who cares?” I decided to let go of the “should” and instead embrace the “could”. What could be done to make this painting more exciting, cohesive and, even, mysterious?

Out came pastel crayons, liquid acrylics, and magic markers. The colour red became my friend. Each day, I eliminated the busy-ness, added a bit of colour here, a brush stroke there. And then, yesterday I was done!

floral fantasy7Not only did I enjoy the process, not only did I love the changes, but the fact that someone else expressed her emotional reactions to it was really an unexpected icing on the cake.

I wrote a note of appreciation, “Thanks again, Andreea. Your response is very meaningful to me.

floral fantasy8To which she replied,

Thank YOU for sharing something so beautiful, something made by your hands and driven by emotions and soul. This was truly a breath of fresh air in this social media world that’s full of disturbing and draining drama … Keep doing all you do, it’s inspirational!

Here’s the completed painting, needing a title… (I LOVE the red!)

Floral Fantasy_1

Untitiled Triptych – Multi-media 21½” high x 31½” wide

[Click here to see the YouTube video]

After posting on Facebook, my friend and fine artist Elaine Clarfield Gitalis, who taught a few of my art courses (see my next article for her A to L assignment), wrote, “…the red was a bold move!……you made great painting out of a good painting!”

My reply, not a word of a lie? ” Red just came to me like a bolt out of the sky. Who can explain those moments, Elaine? There are no words.

So, I suggest anyone looking for creative solutions:

  • Let go of restrictions caused by
    • traditional practices,
    • preconceived ideas,
    • self-criticism,
    • concern of what others expect or think, or
    • striving for imaginary perfection (who is the judge?).
  • Experiment with new elements and fresh ideas.
  • Access limitless creativity and problem solving change your thinking from “should” to “could.”


What are your thoughts and experiences in regards to the points made in this posting? Share in the comments section below….

Nellie Jacobs Presents SunnySideUP!

As previously, this week’s SunnySideUp! preview was a success! (Then again, we plied participants with great refreshments beforehand to soften them up…)

I LOVED doing it. I loved the interaction of guests to each other (meeting for first time) and to the stories. I’m looking forward to take the show on the road.

SunnySideUp promo card
(Yes, for those of you who have asked. Nellie Jacobs Presents SunnySideUP! would be suitable for men, if they have a good sense of humour – and are accompanied by their wives. Great for moms with their daughters who are young moms. Leads to all kinds of discussions and memories….)
SO, if you would like an entertaining, fun-filled program for a meeting, workshop, fund-raiser, or special occasion, and if you belong to a women’s network – such as a chapter of an organization, a book or study group, a Sisterhood, Woman’s Auxiliary, or a circle of friends and neighbours – that might enjoy a couple of hours of laughter, contact me for details. Let’s chat, with no obligation on your part. I am happy to discuss fee and email to you a pr package.
 Below are excerpts of testimonials from participants in Wednesday’s presentation: 

SunnySideUp2!-2Thank you so much for a delightful afternoon. You are such a good story teller that I forgot my aches & pains for a few hours. Please send me your poem about f*ck’n dancing… Thanks again for a wonderful afternoon.” Lila Satok

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Nellie” Sondra Ezrin

Thank you for a delightfully entertaining afternoon. It was easy to relate to all your stories Nellie. Some happy , some sad but all with a humorous slant. It is wonderful to see a glass as half full rather than half empty. Good luck. I even liked the sweater you made.” Kathy RottmannSunnySideUp2!-3

“Hi Nellie, I was truly entertained with your stories and of course being your neighbour for 41 years a few of them included us! I truly feel blessed to have grown up with our children and with you and Paul next door. Good luck in all you do.” Cheryl Graff

A great afternoon! Creative Nellie at her best – a natural!” Bonnie Otto

Hi, Nellie!!! Thank you for inviting me!! ..,your stories weave common threads of our lives into tapestries of our common experiences as daughters, working mothers, wives, and (some of you lucky people) grandmothers . Or something like that !!!! …The stories were wonderful and I enjoyed every moment!!! It was great to connect with new people in such a lovely environment. Each story contained recognizable moments for someone in the group. It was a great afternoon —- ohhhh and the refreshments were out of this world!!!! Those Skor bars—– to die for.

SunnySideUp2!-5I would change nothing… except … maybe allow some time for sharing stories after you speak? Your stories spark other stories. I loved the story behind your poem so much and could relate very easily to it. So I started videotaping it up to the point where you started reading the poem. Thank you again for a wonderful, warm and enlightening afternoon.” Fran Cohen

(Click here to watch Fran’s video.)

“I’m still chuckling remembering some of your stories. I see you doing a ‘One woman show’ in intimate theatres. I love the rather worldly naivety in your presentation. All the very best to you.” Tamara Penn

SunnySideUp2!-4“I think you have a great idea and your positivity is amazing. You reach  out and draw people in with ease and warmth.” Laurie Manoim



You are able to encourage people to “open up”, shares thoughts, stories and feelings and, even more importantly, encourage and enable them to connect with each other. The afternoon was light and light-hearted while still touching on some of the realities of life that are not always “light”. Keep doing what you are doing — you bring joy, happiness and laughter to those around you — what could be better!! Also — if you would like to share the chocolate cake recipe….. I would be a willing and mouth-wateringly happy recipient!” Lynn Catzman


Just got back from your SunnySideUp performance and it was hilarious. I can’t believe how everyone laughed and enjoyed your life stories. You are so creative and should bring your talent to a wide audience… You are a natural born comedian and you write your own material. Congratulations.”  Lusette Shapson




To read my post about the first SunnySideUp! preview and the motivation behind it, click here.

To Like, Connect, read about ongoing events, and share your own stories on SunnySideUp!’s Facebook page, click here.

Click on each of these blue links for more details about the SunnySideUp! program, my book take-home bonus gift  Making Opportunity Knockrave reviewsFAQs, pricingcontact, and to visit the new Nellie Jacobs Presents SunnySideUp! website homepage.

Click here to  contact me.

Now Playing: SunnySideUP!

My friend Barbara has been after me for years to pull together and share the stories I’ve told her about encounters I’ve had with others. She says I have such funny way of presenting – even experiences that aren’t funny to begin with, yet turn out so – that audiences would enjoy listening and participating.

I resisted. Look, Barbara’s a really good friend, and she always laughs uproariously at my telling, so why would she say otherwise? And she’s a great audience all by herself.

She and I each like a good moral, metaphor and character analysis. Barbara thought the themes I’d likely weave through the presentation would speak to and connect with common experiences of participants. She thought I could provoke great discussions and sharing of others’ stories.

I resisted.

I reThirsty Free Clipart #1sisted until a few months ago, when life circumstances were unfolding that almost shut me down. I thrive on being creative. Creativity raises me, envelopes me, encourages and inspires me. Without creativity, I’m in a drought, saddened and very, very thirsty.

Sound drastic? It was.

So. You know how sometimes events come together and build? A former aquatic instructorlaughter%20clipart emailed me that for years she has shared my sweater story and laughs like crazy each time. A neighbour I met at the hairdresser became hysterical over my meeting my former boyfriend at the bank after 40 years story. I still fall into gales of laughter along with the listener every time I unfold the recent true story about my mom and a dog…

In the manner of a really good friend who understands me, Barbara kept hammering at me until my shell of resistance began to crack. I started to record, remembering more and more as days passed. My creative juices began flowing again. She and I discussed at length format, themes, issues, organization of material, what to include, our objectives and the impact we aimed for.


Over months, we brainstormed a title, planned a preview event, prepared a special guest list and decided on food to serve.

A month ago, we sent out invitations. Two weeks ago, when guests arrived we offered a table full of refreshments and drinks. Well sated, they took to their seats. The imaginary curtain went up – and the show began. How did it turn out? Read for yourself:


Thank you, Barbara.


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