Born Again: Baptism by Fire

The Early Years: GenX/Xennial Life

Growing up in the Genx/Xennial age, I was a naïve, yet fiery little idealistic girl with a compassionate streak for the lost, lonely and mistreated. Perhaps my compassion stemmed from feeling alone myself.

I was called a tomboy, or even a bitch, because I was quite opinionated and stubborn. Some may say I still am; it depends on who you talk to and when you catch me on a good or bad day. 😉

However, I was also the girl who regularly visited the old lady with multiple sclerosis in the run down trailer up the street. Our friendship blossomed in a strange way. I had been climbing the pine tree near her trailer and she asked me what I was doing. (I can’t imagine doing that now due to my fear of heights.) We struck up a conversation and that was that…a new friendship. It was an odd friendship to say the least. She was easily upwards of 65+ or older while I was around 10 or 11-years-old. (My family moved from the trailer park to the rival school district nearby after they bought their own property where they built a ranch home.)

As second oldest of a blended family of five children, I had to grow up fairly quickly. When I wasn’t babysitting my younger siblings, I was outside playing War with the local trailer park boys, fighting over sandstone rocks (they took mine, naturally), playing baseball and scraping my knees on the gravel during many, many bicycle rides.

I grew up in a firmly working class family with both parents working. I was a latchkey kid, but without the key. My older sister and I had to regularly climb into an open window to get in the trailer because for some strange reason my parents thought it was a bad idea to give their children a key. Times were different back then. As long as you came back home before the lights came on outside, you were free to roam. And roam we did. I used to ride bikes with my older sister and even my younger brother for MILES to see friends.

Reflections on “Winning” and Perfectionism

I was a strange mixture of intellect, creativity and feistiness. While winning arm-wrestling competitions in the third grade against the boys in the grade-school cafeteria, I also took time to write compelling short stories about a world in which rats were the protagonists and cats were the antagonists. (Oh…and moon over various crushes on the boys…the arm wrestling was a great way to get close to them on their level, of course.)

In art class, my classmates and I had an assignment to create our own comic strip. Mine was about an adorable family of corn kernels with tickets to a sporting event at the local stadium. The sporting event was a ruse to heat up the kernels into popcorn. I’m not sure if they went or even survived. I would like to think so, though (again…that youthful optimism).

I also was featured on the local television news station in fifth grade for a story I wrote about personified leaves excited for the fall and the fall colors. The creativity came into play with not only writing but also drawing. One of my babysitters taught me the blocking method of drawing Disney characters. I easily tired of that method and came up with my own illustrations and stories. In high school, I flourished in advanced art classes. It was where my mind could wander free without the pressures of high school conformity. My last art project, a post-impressionist painting a la Van Gogh of a Victorian lady looking off into the distance for her car ride (Uber/Lyft before it was cool…hahaha) was finished on the very last day of school.

I was the girl who would take charge on the school bus and yell at the top of my lungs at the boys for insulting my older sister or acting up. But, I was somehow still very sensitive and would go home crying to my Dad about the boys calling me fat. I was far from it, but those early insults stuck with me over the years. While my Dad would comfort me, he also used to say, “You need to get a thicker skin.” It was ironic considering I did in some aspects but didn’t in others much like today. I held onto a lot of those emotional scars almost like a girl scout badge of honor. Looking back, I realized it was their way of getting my attention no matter how negative. Somehow I lost some of that fire over the years.

Lack of Consistency: Falling Short

As I got older, I struggled with consistency in all areas of my life. I’m not sure if it’s because of my astrological sign (Libra ⚖️ – if you know, you know… 😉 ) or being a second born, middle child? With four siblings in a blended family, I felt out of place, like I had lost my identity at some point.

I love the challenge of trying something new or starting a new project, however after that challenge wears off, I move onto the next project. I would jump from one subject to another without sticking to one particular subject or focus. (These days I may be labelled as ADHD however I do not have an official diagnosis). So, it comes as no surprise that my spiritual life was no different in that aspect.

Spirituality: A Brief Background

My Christian upbringing was as varied as my siblings personalities – each of us are very different yet somehow we get along in our own ways. My Dad’s side of the family was Presbyterian, while my step-Mom’s was/is Catholic. I got used to bouncing back and forth between these two denominations. I attended Sunday school as a child. During my college years at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, I tried out nearly all of the local churches and on-campus Christian groups with my friends. I was even baptized in the Clarion River by the local Baptist pastor at that time. This is not to say I lived a pious and sinless life. I felt the conviction even back then of the dual life I had been leading between my college ways and everything with which college students typically experiment. But after I settled down and have a family of my own, I taught Sunday school at the church where I had married (the day after the flood of 2004).

The Tipping Point

It’s been easy for me act like I have it all together with this thing called adulting. Until I couldn’t anymore. That façade came crashing down during the separation from my marriage of nearly 12 years at the time and subsequent divorce. All of the stress I was holding onto throughout these years and trying to keep it together took a toll on my mental health in my late thirties. I’ve tried to make myself look like I had this adulting thing down pat. Meanwhile my soul and authenticity was dying a slow, consistent death inside. Apparently and ironically, it was the only consistency in my life at the time.

A New Focus

So, lately, I’ve been very focused on my spiritual life. It hit me out of nowhere to be honest. I was going along making my own career plans and goals (again…as if I was the ultimate problem solver) when it occurred to me that I should make a personal goal for Lent…easy enough…right? I love goals and lists. So, this would be no different…right? Right?!

Lenten Season: The Fire Inside

During Lenten season a lot of Christians make a goal of abstinence or personal improvement from one vice or another whether it’s a type of food (chocolate, donuts, fast food, etc.) or certain behaviors (overeating, smoking, self loathing…). Like New Year’s resolutions, a lot of these goals fall by the wayside after a few days.

What was my goal, you may ask (or not, whatever…I’ll tell you anyway because I love to overshare on social media)? I made it a Lenten goal to consistently read an entire book of the Bible at a time.

I did this in France during my study abroad in Amiens my last semester of college. I still have that same study Bible showing all of the checkmarks going through each book.

Sometimes I have the tendency to become legalistic in my views of approaching my Christian life (do this because that’s what “good” Christians do type of thinking). However, my spiritual life was becoming bankrupt in the process. And, this time, God took notice. Or, more like it, he said, “I’ve been here all along…you’ve been too distracted by the worldly things to notice.” (Again, paraphrasing.)

Well, instead of making it an arbitrary, scripture-reading goal, the Holy Spirit was like: no, no honey…this isn’t going to work. You’ve got to dive DEEP into spiritual waters this time. (Obviously, I paraphrase…but you get the idea).

While I haven’t stuck to the consistency I thought was necessary to this Lenten goal, I have been able to jump around to different scriptures that spoke to me for that day. I feel like the Holy Spirit has been guiding me in this journey. And, God has laid it on my heart that loves me unconditionally, while still firmly in my sinful nature. I can start from where I am to read the Word without the pressure of putting external goals of consistency on such an internal and personal spiritual goal all the while letting go (VERY stubbornly) of my need for validation and perfectionism.

My mental state during this spiritual cleansing and burning process has been nothing short of an emotional wreck. Unfortunately, friends, family and coworkers have witnessed this firsthand. I’m sure they were concerned for my well-being without fully understanding what I was going through.

How could I explain this spiritual fire burning up what was left of my personal perfectionistic charade to completely rely on Him? It’s a very difficult task to make sense of the spiritual in a world based on the seen and scientific to explain faith in the unseen and invisible. It’s the equivalent in the secular world as saying you still believe in the Easter bunny or Santa Claus (you didn’t hear that from me!). Or worse yet…blaming this spiritual rebirth on my mental illness alone. I believe that the two are not mutually exclusive. You can have mental health issues, but ALSO have a spiritual awakening. Many native cultures believe that Western culture is too fast to diagnose mental issues that very well could be spiritual in nature. Some of those that may be labelled as mentally ill here would be considered “healers” there. I’m not saying that is necessarily my case. But, I do find it a compelling argument. Also, I’m not saying that all mentally ill people should not have therapy or medications. No matter our differences, all are created equal according to Jesus and worthy of love (even if we don’t believe it ourselves).

Some have to learn this the hard way. (And by some…I mean me.)

I have a renewed sense of purpose and the feeling of a huge burden or boulder more like it lifted off of my shoulders. I can feel the stress and strain lifting. And, I can see daily that the Lord is my shepherd. Sheep is used in a negative way these days. But, we all sheep in one way or another…We all follow a path of our own choosing whether consciously or unconsciously. Whether it’s religion, politics or otherwise. I am choosing to follow my authentic path with my eyes wide open and my heart wide open with a compassionate ear to hear those different perspectives. Will I be perfect? As a Christian, we are called to strive for perfection by walking in His way. Are we perfect? No, but that’s why we have His grace. Amen for that!

P.S. I do hope you have a very Happy Easter. And, may the Lord open your eyes to how he has worked and continue to work in your life daily. May we continue to show compassion for others as he has for us.

Surface Designing for Print on Demand: Where to start?

In a previous episode of my Fearless Artcast podcast on Anchor, I talked briefly about print on demand resources. However, you may think you don’t have the expertise to create designs for these sites. I am here to tell you that you can.

My Navy Spring Florals seamless surface design on a tote bag for sale in my Redbubble Shop.

Recently I’ve been taking Skillshare courses by surface designers. My favorite right now is Cat Coquillette. Check out her Instragram here. She shows you how to make seamless designs you can easily upload to any products on these print on demand websites. As a matter of fact, I created a seamless design called Spring Florals recently that I uploaded to my Redbubble account. You can check out those products at

Vintage Green Spring Florals seamless surface design pattern by me on A-Line dress for sale in my Redbubble shop.

Some of the design tools you can use include Procreate for iPads, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator on your PC (purchased through Adobe Creative Cloud for a monthly fee), or even free options such as Gimp or the free version of Canva. For Canva you can upgrade if you want to access the pro features. But to start I would recommend trying the free version to see how it works for you. What is nice about Canva is that it provides templates for different social media sites. Just be sure to check the terms and conditions on what you can and cannot use their images for sale. Usually, you can use some as long as you change them significantly. Check those terms and conditions just to be sure!

Going back to that Skillshare class with Cat Coquillette…She mostly uses Procreate, which I personally prefer. For the record, this blog post nor my podcast are sponsored by Skillshare or Cat. I just love both and want to share these valuable resources with you.

If you don’t want to pay for Skillshare or are on a limited budget, you can always check Youtube for tips and tricks on how to create surface designs. And, also don’t forget the tried and true…Books. Personally I love books. I have multiple books on art, crafts and how to create and sell your art. But, I’ll leave that for another podcast and blog post. For now, I urge you to put yourself out there and try to learn these surface design techniques and get your work out there. You’ll never know how well your designs will be received until you try and try again.

Good luck & Keep creating…

Art & Soul Mixed Media Retreat: Colorado Springs

I attended the Art & Soul Mixed Media Art Retreat in Colorado Springs, Colorado from Monday, October 18th, 2021 through Wednesday, October 20th, 2021.

During my time there I took the following courses:

  • Snapshot Paintover with Lisa Bebi
  • Boro Needle Case with Ruth Chandler
  • Wabi Sabi, Boro and Collage with Donna Watson
  • Pet Portraits with Lisa Bebi
  • Cabinet Card Reinvented with Clarissa Callesen

I will cover each course over the next few blog posts.

Snapshot Paintover with Lisa Bebi

My first class began at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 18th with Lisa Bebi instructing the workshop on how to paint over black and white photocopies of family/loved ones or images she provided. She taught how to colorize an effective art piece on photocopy paper and adhere it to a substrate (canvas board or wood in this case). She is a Certified Golden Paints Artist Educator. Her works include a huge variety of whimsical and fun paintings featuring her family members. As she said in class, she has “sold her parents” numerous times. Ha!

A lot of her customers/clients identify with her work because it reminds them a certain family member of their own during a different time period. She uses a lot of older images that portray a bygone time period. And sometimes she’ll take those old pictures and place the subjects in a new time period (such as a painting of her mother in a spaceship).

I made my mug shot image provided by the instructor into a witch. Perfect for Halloween! And the final image I painted over was of an adorable little girl I gave collage wings to courtesy of Lisa’s collage images provided by a couple of graphic elements books she brought to the workshop. Check out the gallery of images:

  • Mug Shot image
  • Adorable Girl Image
  • Natural History images book
  • Vintage journal images

The Creative Hustler: Increasing income streams through your art


A Painting Workshop

Recently, I was interviewed on the BiggerPockets Money podcast with Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench (check out episode 190).

I had heard they were looking to interview more women for their podcast to review their finances. I figured, sure…I could use some help.

I’ve been trying to get my financial house in order for quite sometime. As an early middle-aged single mother of two sons (ages preteen and teen), I realize I have a long way to go.

But, there’s hope.

Mindy and Scott gave me a lot of great advice. Regarding my multiple side hustle ideas, Scott in particular suggested that I focus on one at a time for 90 days at a time to really give one a chance to grow. Mindy suggested that I continue to submit my artwork to Redbubble on the side because it’s so automated after that I don’t need to really do anything except wait for the money to come in.

You see…side hustles have always been my “thing”.

I started making handmade greeting cards and papercrafts to sell at local craft and vendor shows. Then, I branched out to selling wedding invitations as a dealer for the Birchcraft brand. During those times, I attended a wedding vendor show in the Pittsburgh area as a wedding invitations vendor. And, I even attended the National Stationery Show at the Javits Center in New York City. I have friends who live in Brooklyn who allowed me to stay with them while attended the show.

So, what have I done so far since the interview?

I’ve painted two new paintings and posted both designs onto products in my Redbubble shop. You can check it out here:

Redbubble Shop

As for my “main” side hustle, I’m focusing on teaching step-by-step painting workshops. My first step was researching how to market. I went to YouTube to see how other people are doing it. Now, I’m ready to move onto the next step, which is outreach to local organizations. I’m keeping my outreach short and sweet. Telling them what I do, giving an example of one I’ve done before and seeing how I can help them. Below are some photos from my last painting party. It was for a college friend’s daughter’s 11th birthday. I taught the daughter and her friend how to paint the axolotl, the daughter’s favorite amphibian.

The birthday girl painting her favorite amphibian, the axolotl

I’ll keep you updated on my side hustle progress.

Happy Hustling!

~ Rachael Caskey

The Creative Hustler

Print on Demand Resources for Artists and Designers

If you’re anything like me, you’re looking for ways to monetize your art and designs. But, you don’t have the money to manufacture products.

Lucky for us, there are print on demand companies willing and able to do that for you. These online companies include Redbubble, Teespring, Spreadshirt, Printful, Printify, Zazzle and many more.

If you have an Etsy shop, some of these sites integrate with Etsy so that you can post your art and designs on various products that are printed and shipped directly to your customers. The beauty is that You don’t even have to pay for these services up front. They take their money after you get a sale. Check out my Etsy shop Papercraftersnook to view the print on demand products I have there.

One of my print on demand products featuring one of my paintings

In these print on demand sites you can set your profit percentage to control how much you get paid from the sale. If you have any questions about print on demand or would like me to go in depth on each one please feel free to contact me. Have you used print on demand with your art or designs? I would love to hear from your experience. Until next time!

Happy creating!