This weekend,
I suffered a flare-up of the ever-familiar
fueled and fanned by the never far away question
“Do I even have a voice to call my own?”


Having spent my life as a teacher,
a mother,
a wife,
a daughter –
having written plenty of personal histories
been a freelance graphic designer helping folks look good in print
edited books penned by other women
now stitching Nancy’s drawings,
I can’t help but wonder:
do I lose my voice by giving other women their voice?


Is my voice one of back-up,
second string,
Is that as good as it gets for me?

My maternal grandmother made biscuits from scratch three times a day.
Folks devoured them enthusiastically (even when cold)
and praised her name with reverence and awe.

Do I have anything original and worthwhile to say from scratch?



Having almost finished In Our Own Language 3 (shown in photos above),
I begin stitching In Our Own Language 4.
95 drawings made in November 2012
in which Nancy wrote her name
then covered it up,
camouflaged it,
hid it.


  1. Merry ME

    All I have to do is hear the word “Sugar” and I think of one of the most original, brave, talented, encouraging women I know but have never met. You are the mountainscape to which people go to shout to the world. You are the echo that sends their voice back to them. Your voice doesn’t shout. It flows gently on the wind saying, “yes you can.” Yours is the voice of encouragement and love. I don’t think it gets more original than that.

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Sugar. My heart is warmed at your words.

  2. Tracey Selingo

    For reals? Here’s what I see, without ever having seen you in person: everything you do is from scratch—unselfishly, unquestionably empowering the world by raising women (and a few men, I imagine) up day after day after day after day. Just look at how you just exposed Nancy’s tender, yet universal, heart. Don’t we all try to camouflage our essence? Don’t we all need a woman like you to say, “Amen, Sugar” at *just* the right time? That is not a job for the weak or weary.

    I see you shining like the sun—showing up day after day, exposing the brilliance of everything (including that pretty mountain stream). Oh, yes, I do.

    • whollyjeanne

      Do we all try to camouflage our shining existence? Sometimes I think so, other times I sense that I’m the only one. Thank you for the gentle thunk upside my heart. Talk about showing up at “just the right time” . . . you always do. xo

  3. Moon light on the Mountain

    I have been thinking about this , I read what you said, and I have been pondering. I guess the only thing I can offer ( as always) is a few questions.
    What is your voice? How do you perceive it? What value do you place on the way that you do use your voice? How do you see your voice changing through the years? is it stronger, or quieter? Do you say what you mean? and mean what you say? Do you speak for yourself, when you give me encouragement to try? to you hear your voice when You say to the world ” this is Nancy and I love her to bits”? Do you want to speak in a different way? and why?
    I know I know…
    I am always asking a question…
    But I think your answers, will be a help? maybe?
    Love you Sugar, and your voice, is one that not only gives me courage, but fills me with Joy.

    • whollyjeanne

      your questions are such treasures. when i read “What is your voice? How do you perceive it?” my initial response was “That’s my ever-present, ever-unanswered question!” but then i read on and the lightbulb begins to glow. yes, my voice vascillates and changes and ebbs and flows through the years (sometimes daily), and yes – that is my voice when i encourage you to keep talking to ursa and sharing your conversations and yes, that is me when i proclaim to the world that i love nancy to bits. thank you. sometimes it gets so foggy out. xo

  4. Snow on the Mountain

    I read the comments below and wish I could express my thoughts about the things you do as eloquently as they. My mother said so many times, “Actions speak louder than words” And, indeed they do, The things you do tell so much about you. Of course I have the privilege of knowing you outside of your postings, your writings, and your projects. To me, all of these accurately describe the person I know you to be: talented, creative, intelligent, caring, and sharing, helpful, and intuitive. You have a way with words that is remarkable, and a way with people that is wonderful. You have a sincere interest in people and are always willing to help. You have a voice that is loud and strong. It speaks through your actions. And I love you!

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, Mom for always saying Actions speak louder than words and for living it, too. Thanks for consistently being my biggest champion, my most enthusiastic supporter. Thank you for taking the time to read my words and leave a comment in your one and true voice. I love you.

  5. judy martin

    This artwork that YOU have made with the visual information YOU were smart enough to organize and took YOUR time to do is one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.
    Beautiful and emotional work!

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