cutting through


I’d like to add his initial to my monogram
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?

There’s a somebody I’m longin’ to see
I hope that he, turns out to be
Someone who’ll watch over me.

i’ve been a feminist all my life, and yet . . . these lyrics to the george gershwin song always bring tears to my eyes.


do i strive for self-reliance because of feminism or is it borne of disappointment and enough experience to know the truth behind the old saying “if you want something done right, do it yourself”? does it matter? and even though most days i want to be a self-reliant woman, i am not ashamed to tell you that way down deep, i want to be taken care of.

at least sometimes.

“can a woman be self-reliant and still feel betrayal and abandonment at the hands of another?” i recently asked a friend of mine who enjoys these chewy conversations as much as i do. of course one question begets another then another, such as: is self-reliance really the goal, and if so, what does desirable/healthy self-reliance look like? and: how has the journey to self-reliance hurt women? helped women? and last (for now) but definitely not least: say we want to be held, to be seen, to be taken care of (at least on occasion). is that possible to go hand-in-hand with being self-reliant? which, of course, leads us to still more questions about asking for help, vulnerability, worthiness . . .

you get the gist.

join in if you want. share your thoughts, your questions, your stories. the more the merrier . . .

~~ ::: ~~

today’s altar is dedicated to cutting through it – whatever “it” is, staying with “it” as long as it takes.

More about 365 Altars


  1. Meredith

    Yes, you most definitely can be self-reliant and still feel betrayed and/ or abandoned by someone. I know this from experience. I mostly do everything myself for the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with the work. However, it’s nice to be taken care of, too. Some days are harder than others, and on those days it takes everything in me NOT to get upset that it’s mostly on me to get things done.

    • whollyjeanne

      some days i struggle, too, to not be resentful or fall prey to a full-fledged pity party when i feel like i am atlas.

  2. Tracey Selingo

    On December 4, 1994 I was standing in a receiving line at a wedding. I was alone, but happy. Very happy. The happiest I had ever remembered being. The best man standing next to me was distraught that I didn’t have a date. In between smiling, saying hello and sipping a gin & tonic that I placed on the railing behind my green taffeta dress he kept telling me I needed to be with someone. I needed a date. I needed a dance partner. For the first time in a long time, perhaps the only ever up to that point I knew I didn’t. I knew my happiness didn’t rely on being loved by someone else. He wasn’t buying it. He kept bringing men over to me. It was comical in a train wreck kind of way. When he finally exhausted himself-good lord it took a long time-he asked me if there was anyone in the room I round remotely attractive. And he promised to keep the secret between us. I point to guy at the shrimp bar…who I married two years later.

    I’m sharing all this because I truly believe I met my hunk-of-a-shrimp-bar-man because I finally felt, deeply felt, self-reliant. I still do.

    I don’t think this self-reliance is a coat of armor that protects me from anything, though. I just leads me to believe that regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, I will survive. Oh yea, this song is playing in the background:

    • whollyjeanne

      what a beautiful story, sugar. i love your perspective. i’ve long said that there’s something sexy/attractive about a woman who knows her own mind and is comfortable in her own skin. attractive to others, and attractive to our own selves. and now, i’m going to listen to the song that’s playing in the background . . .

    • whollyjeanne

      p.s. about that song . . . YES! music takes me places i can’t get to otherwise, and this one can rev me up like noneother. thank you, sug.

  3. noelrozny

    I can say from experience that trying to be totally self-reliant can backfire in all sorts of nasty and unpleasant ways. Everyone needs someone, maybe not all day long, maybe not every day of the year, but we all need to be taken care of from time to time (and to do the same for ours, our lovers, our family, our friends.)

    • whollyjeanne

      thank you, sugar. you bring up some good, chewable points . . . i think it’s the “all day long” and “every day of the year” that discombobulates me. though i mightily resist a predictable, linear, formulaic world where each day looks like the one on either side of it, i slip back into dusty old programming that to vary, to not be the same every single day in every single way is undesirable, embarrassing, bad. on paper, it seems self-reliance is a good thing – and like you say, on some days in some ways, it is. but it’s no5 a 24/7 thing.

  4. angelakelsey

    I am still chewing on the question of what the “it” is. Another post, please. xo

    • whollyjeanne

      more conversation, please;) xo

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