“I can see your brush strokes,”
he harumphed
this man who wanted me to pay
his people to repaint what I’d just finished painting.

More and more
I am showing my brush strokes.
And when I’m using metallic paint,
the strokes will show.

Some people don’t like seeing the strokes.
Some people find the visible strokes
offensive or uncomfortable,
preferring an all-concealing, even coating.

Shoot, sometimes I don’t even like the strokes.
When I was sweet,
when I was a nice girl,
when I blended in
and caused no trouble
and agreed appropriately
and stroked and cajoled
and said only things I knew would be
accepted – occasionally even lauded,
when I couldn’t even tell you what I
wanted or needed or was even all about,
well, truth be known: that was easier for me, too.
I knew the rules,
the parameters.
I know how to play that game
and it became so second nature to me
that I didn’t have to think about it.

It was,
in what now seems
a warped sort of way,


But let me be clear:
The days when I remake myself
into an image you find pleasing
is over.
If you find my words offensive,
if you don’t agree with me,
if you don’t like seeing
brush strokes,
there’s a solution that’s easy, simple:
Don’t read.
Don’t look.
Don’t listen.

Move on.

Instead of contacting me
and asking that I remove a post,
instead of contacting her
and demanding that she take down her words,
Stroll another lane of the internet.


I spent a lifetime
contorting myself into images
they would find pleasing.
Then I spent another lifetime,
telling my daughter to do the very same thing.
Because I wanted her to be safe.

And now I know:
Safety is not found in becoming
somebody other than who you are.


As for those brush strokes . . .

It is no longer okay
to say
“This offends me, so I want you to remove it.”
It is, however, perfectly okay to say
“This offends me, so I will
read elsewhere.”

It’s easy, once you get the hang of it:
Don’t like a particular stage show?
Don’t buy a ticket.

Don’t like a certain kind of music?
Change the dial.

Don’t like a particular television show?
Watch something else.

Just so you know.


  1. Mark

    Preach it….

    Wonderfully said.

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Mark. Am still steaming, but calming down a wee bit.

      • Mark

        I felt the anger, yet it is still something that needs to be said. There are times I believe people are just looking for reasons to be offended, then they pounce.

        • whollyjeanne

          I agree, and I’m sick and tired of it. I no longer assume responsibility for their comfort or entertainment or whatever.

  2. Angela

    Yes, ma’am, we’re getting the hang of it, Jeanne.

    • whollyjeanne

      I just hope THEY get the hang of it;)

  3. emma

    I effin love your brush strokes, chica! Paint away.

    • whollyjeanne

      thanks, sugar. and i, yours. it’s time, isn’t it? time to show our strokes. past time, actually.

  4. Renae C

    Do you give lessons?

    • whollyjeanne

      oh, renae, you make me laugh. shoot, sugar, i’m just learning this myself.

  5. Elizabeth Marie

    I like that the paint is metallic because that reminds me of silver, and my hair is now kind of silver, so I’m like a metallic brush stroke these days when I open my house or let my fingers loose. Thank you for the reminder to encourage my daughter to be exactly who and what she is rather than what other people expect her to be (including me).

    • whollyjeanne

      And you know what? It WAS silver. Gunmetal silver, to be exact!

  6. writemuch

    i felt your ire… and am so glad you have chosen to let your brush marks show.

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Susan. Me, I’m STILL feeling my ire . . .

  7. jo miller

    You, Our darling Southern friend are helping to save our very souls. Powerful,right on I could cry,but I am so excited to get out there & live my life ~ ‘They’ do have their choice to change the channel & I have the choice to reclaim & to not give my power away, quite so easily.
    Thank you. I give thanks that you & your words were brought into my life. a gift I accept with love- I am humbled once again and surrender to the shared wisdom.
    this is all so amazing. sending you love,respect,gratitude & even more love. thank you.

  8. jo miller

    Your photo is so enticing.

  9. notyourpreacherswife

    I love this. Being a “new southerner” I have been confused and suffocated by people pretending to be who they aren’t. Or biting their tounges so as not to offend. I thkn we’re gonna be friends!

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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