I want to be held

I want to be held by arms wrapped around me. I want to put my head on another’s shoulder and lean my body on another’s body. I haven’t felt this feeling so viscerally for a long time, as I do now. There is a longing for touch, but more than that, for support too. 

When I sit here with it, sit here on this very couch, which holds me so generously, I can imagine being held, being loved in that way that I am the most important and loved in the world by another, and wouldn’t it be amazing that the feeling be mutual? 

And here I sit wondering, even then if it were so, would it all be only the gift I give myself? To see myself as the most loved through another’s eyes? Perhaps I should skip the middle man and love myself. For who knows me better than I? And who has the power to forgive, for who knows better than I all that needs to be forgiven? And isn’t it the kindest act of all, this unconditional act of forgiving and loving? Perhaps it frees the whole world of my neediness and demands. And perhaps it frees you to love me more honestly without having to perform acts of heroism to prove your love. Frees you to be you and only you. 

But there is more to this that I am beginning to recognize is also true, this wanting to be free of the need for a lover’s love, to find a spiritual altitude where this moment as it is, is enough. I, of all people (I can hardly believe it) armor my heart, the same heart I give away so freely, I wait to see if it is rejected and rush to protect it. Not that it works. But I see the effort to deflect the pain and find a way through to solid ground again and again. I either need to convince you to love me, or convince myself that I don’t need it. Neither work. And maybe neither are true. And what does life look like to just give up? Can I even give up? I assumed it meant that I would transcend this feeling of want. But maybe it just means that I accept it. And since I have NO answers, I will try to take Rilke’s advice:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

New Abstract Expressionist work

Painted over the summer of 2020, when life just gets so real there is nothing to do but to paint with abandon. All works are for sale. See the contact page for inquiries.

New Work COVID 2020 :)

These small works were done during and after a 12 week online workshop I took with Nicholas Wilton, a professional artist in the San Francisco area. It brings together a number of studio practices I have learned over the years and some new ones as well! I hope you enjoy this nature and LIGHT inspired series. For more information on the work, prices and availability, please contact me by email.

Newest Work

Mural with artist
Artist with mural of Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Hi! Updates seem to be few and far between! Posted here are my two newest paintings, one a mural. My life at the moment is quite busy with preparations! I will be traveling next week to take a workshop in fundraising to support Euphrates Institute, a global peace building organization I now work with (visit Euphrates.org). I then will be attending camp in Missouri to support their middle school program for two weeks. And when I return will be packing and moving across town! Downsizing and clearing out gobs of stuff in the process! And yes, that means selling  lots of art at a discount! If there is something you have seen on this website (click on Menu button in top right corner to see art) or my facebook page (riverdogstudio) that you would like to purchase, I can be reached through the contact page on this site or on facebook. The discounts will be taken off of the listed price. Some as much as half off! Its negotiable! 🙂  I’m also available for commissions, sales or workshops starting in August. Happy summer everyone!

"Coneflower" by Debra Myers copyright 2019
“Coneflower” 24×24, acrylic on canvas available $800

a new year, a new focus

New York Harbor from World Trade Center One

With the new year, I found myself being drawn back to my roots – drawing and painting in my sketchbook and focusing on design projects more at work. I love designing solutions for others’ needs and have had a lot of opportunities to design everything from vehicle wraps to logos for clients. I will be adding a design page to my website soon.

I have also gotten a lot of pleasure from the simple art of sketching. I love working with different media in my moleskine journals – acrylic inks, paint pens, macron pens, pencil, watercolor. In fact, I have had so much fun with it, that I am now offering workshops to support others with their art journals. Even if you have never kept an art journal before, it is never too late to start! And no experience is required. We will be learning about many different types of journals as well as many different techniques. There is something for everyone! So be in touch to learn more about local offerings and travel workshops.

Lastly, I still enjoy painting large and small scale commissions. Thanks for stopping by to check out my website and art!

Welcome to River Dog Studio!


I have a new website in the works.  Until it is up and running, please check out my updated galleries above.  Work that is not for sale will say NFS or SOLD.  I also work on commission.  I accept payment via PayPal, cash or check.  For pricing and questions, click on the contact tab above.

Thanks for checking out my work!!

Decorative Arts

Hand-painted knobs

I haven’t posted anything in a long while.  Its been a very busy summer. I will be adding a gallery page to my website for decorative arts.  Featured here are examples of recent work along these lines.

I have worked in decorative arts, handcrafts, and fine art my entire life.  I love the variety this affords me and the opportunity to bring beauty to functional pieces.

I work on commission and can ship anywhere in the US.

Y is for YES!

Thanksgiving Square Chapel copyright Debra Myers Woodward
Thanksgiving Square Chapel
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

I have a friend who loves Yes! In fact, he loves it so much that he has named his consulting business, Live Yes, and…. His name is Travis Thomas and if you haven’t already started listening to his podcasts and daily Periscopes, you are missing out! And he has a book soon to be published too! (Follow this link to find out more about Travis and Live Yes, and…!)

I took a “30 days of Yes” course with him a couple of times. It is a real stretch for the places where I have preferred to settle back to my comfort zone, but even so (and especially because of that) I highly recommend it.

For example, one of the days the assignment is to call someone and tell them you appreciate them.  I’m not sure I have done that yet during the course. (I am noticing that some days I just say no. haha!) To be honest, I am not a big fan of talking on the phone, unless someone like my sister calls me and we catch up and talk for quite a while.  Otherwise, I have found texting to be a life-saver.

But I have noticed that recently, I have been making more phone calls instead of texting, especially when I am coordinating information or asking questions. I notice more light-heartedness about calling, that I am not as worried about what the other person will think or how I will get off, if the conversation goes too long. I just offer my honest need to go and let it go!  Its almost an epiphany to learn that it can be so easy.

Today I had to make several (only 4!) phone calls to professors at a local university for whom I had no email address.  On top of that, I had to invite them to an event and explain the purpose while I am still not very fluent in how to discuss it.  I had been avoiding it for a few days and finally, today I did it.  The first one I got a voice mail and hung up.  Then I collected myself and called back and stumbled all over myself but managed to get through it.  The second call someone answered! That was almost worse, and I pretty much fumbled around on that call too.  By the third and fourth calls I was getting the hang of it and did pretty well leaving messages.

And even though I was a bit embarrassed in the moment on the call with a real person in particular, I was able to let it go immediately afterwards.  What would be the purpose of holding onto it? They will either accept our invitation and attend or not. Thats the way of it.

And today, I said YES to walking into my darkness and doing what I was afraid to do, instead of staying in “no” and running from it.  It’s a small step, but thats all it takes to move forward….one small step at a time.


X is for XOXO

"Love is a present" copyright Debra Myers Woodward
“Love is a present”
copyright Debra Myers Woodward

I often sign off my emails with XOXO. It is my way of offering a virtual hug and kiss on the cheek to someone.  There is an emoticon that looks like someone blowing a kiss which I have often used too.

I have regularly used the emoticon with my son, but when I signed off on a text once with xoxo, he yelled (in all caps) GROSS!! haha. I thought that was funny that he made a distinction between the two.

Since this is the only word that really came to me to write about with the letter X, I decided to go for it and looked up the XOXO to see where it came from. (The following info is from wikipedia.)

In the middle ages, the X was signed at the bottom of a letter or on an envelope to signify a cross and was intended to mean sincerity, faith and honesty.  The signer would then place a kiss on it to indicate their sworn oath.  There was also the fact that many people did not know how to write and so would place an X in place of a signature and again would place a kiss on it as a show of their sincerity.

Apparently according to internet lore, the O comes from North American heritage when Jewish immigrants came to this country and did not wish to use the Christian symbol to sign their name, so they used the O instead and placed a kiss on it.

I rather like the idea that XOXO is an indication of sincerity, faith and honesty.  It is so much more than hug and a kiss and I look forward to thinking about this meaning when I use it in the future.  Am I being honest and sincere? Where is my faith placed as I sign off my text or email?

And it will be fun to explain it to my son and see what he thinks if I use it with him. Will he then prefer that to the emoticon?

What do you know about xoxo?