Tag: churnings (Page 2 of 9)

Will You Still Love Me?


Once upon a time I was a productive junkie. Just the thought of creating a to do list revved me up, charged my batteries, got me going. And the satisfaction of checking things off? Oh my goodness, nothing felt near as sweet as reviewing the day’s list at bedtime and seeing all the items marked through. Each tick mark translated into “job well done.” With enough tick marks, I could be sure I’d left my mark, made the day count, earned my existence.

That was then.

Now, I have to drag myself to the paper to create a to do list. Digital task management software proves too easy to procrastinate, too easy to slide things over to the next day, the next month, the next year. Plus the satisfaction level just isn’t there without the sound of pencil scratching across the words on the paper. Besides trying every journal known to woman, I’ve come up with all sorts of carrots to lure myself back into such a simple, definable, provable existence. One item per index card, color coded by category. Moveable sticky notes lined up by category inside a colorful file folder for each day. And the rewards? Oh my goodness at the reward systems I’ve created and laid out before myself.

But no go. Despite it all, I cannot recapture that sense of being a woman-with-a-daily-mission. It’s not the system. Checking tasks off a list no longer satisfies me . . . probably in large part because the tasks on the list no longer satisfy me.

I seem to be living in a state of generalized grief. Where I once prided myself on cleaning the house every single Friday so it’s be spic and span for the weekend, I have to force myself to give it a quick going-over twice a month. I set the roomba out in a different part of the house every morning, make up the bed (because there’s something quite nice about pulling back the covers, even if I do rather detest moving the decorative pillows back and forth), do the laundry, and call that enough. I don’t really grieve the to-do list driven existence. Not specifically, anyway, because I do miss that feeling of structure the to do list provided. I miss that feeling of accomplishment, that feeling of satisfaction.

I grieve things I haven’t even begun to articulate – I’m living the vegetable soup of grief and mourning. I grieve who I once was, who I could have been, who I am today, and who I might be One Day. I grieve for time squandered. I grieve things said, but mostly things not said. I grieve for my son and, in a different way, for my daughter. I grieve for the loss of my personal space. I grieve people I’ve lost due to death or miscommunications, misunderstandings, differing interests, or something else. And despite the fact that I’m an adult woman with adult children and though he died in 2000, I miss my Daddy like you wouldn’t believe.

And here’s the thing: I am fine with that.

I write about living in this state of generalized grief with great dread of the emails and phone calls that might come. Offers to pray for me, witness to me. Obviously I’m not a good Christian if I’m feeling like this. Others will want to cheer me up, urge me to talk to a therapist, tell me about what pills they are taking to feel better.

Here’s what I want to know: when did happiness become the ultimate desired state of being? Want to know the truth? I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve felt blissfully joyful . . . and that sorry showing has always been something that made me feel decidedly less than. Something I’m ashamed of. Something I ought to be ashamed of, given my circumstance in life. How dare me not be happy, know it, and clap my manicured hands.

Even with the to do lists and the structure they provided for me, I’ve had spells like this before. I’ve used every euphemism I could think of: I’ve been in funks and fallows. Had stomachaches, headaches, needed quiet time, all that. I’ve been known to run like hell, too. Escapism, I call it. Going out in search of distractions, leaving would-be reminders and wagging fingers behind, at least for a little while. I’ve tried. Lord knows, I’ve tried. Even when I didn’t put on makeup, I’ve put on my best, most cheerful happy face and did my best to make somebody else happy, happy, happy since I couldn’t always seem to do it for and by myself. I’ve run and I’ve hidden and I’ve denied in every way you can think of (though I’ve never even veered near the S-word) – not so much from the melancholy, sadness, depression, grief and mourning, acedia, or whatever, mind you, but from the shame, from the feeling of shirking My Responsibility, from the dread of hurting family, from the fear of being left alone because I’m no fun any more.

This time, though, I’m just sitting with It, sitting in It, this murkiness, this darkness as some might call It. And though it feels good to write this, I don’t mind telling you that I’m scared. I don’t just dread the folks rushing in to help, to fix me, to make me feel better. I dread the ripple effects this public display of negativity might have on my family. There’s still a stigma attached to not being happy, you know. At least around here there is. Will I need to sew every member of my family a special shirt emblazoned with a special version of The Scarlet Letter?

In days gone by, I feared parents wouldn’t let their children play with my children if they knew I was more sadful than joyful. I didn’t – and still don’t – want people examining my mother and blaming her for things done or not done in my upbringing. I didn’t – and still don’t – want to take a pill that will mask this, turn me into somebody else who, while the-new-she might feel foreign to me, will be found acceptable by others. I’ve lived most of my life that way without pharmaceuticals, thank you very much. I didn’t and still don’t want to talk to a therapist for a whole bunch of reasons we might or might talk about later.

So what if I’m grieving? So what if I’m sad? So what if I’m melancholy? So what if I’m living with acedia? Maybe grief is another lens to look through. Maybe melancholy is contemplation. Maybe sadness is a filter. Maybe acedia is a call to authenticity. Maybe mourning is another way to love.

I can still authentically be the life of the party – this is not the sum total of who I am. But it is very much me, too. And it’s not just the rainy weather talking here.

i don’t really know what to call this


I’ve taken to visiting thrift stores
and antique shops
every chance I get.
Once I visited to drop things off,
now I visit in search of
things I don’t know I am looking for
until I spy them.

Last week I found this recipe box
just like the one I owned when
the children were small.
That’s a block of time on the calendar, you know,
an entire lifetime, actually,
“when the children were small”.

My little tin box was filled
with index cards,
each bearing a recipe
for something that would feed us.

It seemed to simple then,
when the important things,
the nourishing things
fit on an index card.



do it just for today
then tomorrow
then the next day
and the next.
do it for as long as it takes
till you no longer
need a sticky note
to remind you:

be the character you want to play.
be the apology you want to say.
be the song you want to sing.
be the partner you want to love.
be the verb you want to enjoy.
be the dance you want to do.
be the walk you want to take.
be the letter you want to write.
be the altar you want to create.
be the ink you want to spill.
be the tree you want to hug.
be the friend you want to have.
be the life you’ve always imagined.

it’s simple, really


when i say yes, please
or no, thank you
or even just yes or no . . .

when i speak without pre-qualifying
or apologizing for what i’m about to say . . .

when i lay down the need to defend
what i know to be True . . .

when i simply show up and live
my one wild and precious life,
the life that has my name
and nobody else’s name
on it . . .

when i create “just because”,
without worrying a single wrinkle
about the ability gang:
or if it’s a good use of my time or not . . .

when i live as though living is the only thing that matters . . .

that’s when i know glee
that’s when i know ease
that’s when i know play
that’s when i know free
that’s when i know full.


inspired by today’s skypeversation with my friend and writing partner, julie daley
whose birthday is tomorrow, 7/26.
all together now: happy birthday to you . . .

Of Martyrs and Moochers


I’m over at Bridget Pilloud’s place today, pondering prosperity and wondering why it is that you can’t loan family money or help in other way, for that matter. I mean, really. Just seems to me that with all the people in need, I’d prefer to help my family first. But is that possible? And when does helping turn the corner and become something else, something decidedly and glaringly NOT helpful?

It’s easy enough for me to wag a finger and answer these questions from what THEY ought to do or what they ought not to do, but this time I stood in front of the mirror and looked in my own eyes when I asked some hard questions.

Maybe you’d like to drop by and say hey? I’ll leave the light on.

Will the Real Jeanne PLEASE Stand Up?


Our dog growls and barks and shows her anger when someone behaves badly or trespasses on our personal space. Our dog rolls on her back in the grass and smiles from rib to rib. Our dog sleeps and naps and just goes with the flow. Our dog lets her leg move uncontrollably to show her pleasure when we pet her in just the right spot. Our dog forgets and forgives when we ignore her or put her on a diet or don’t respond to her wants as expeditiously as she would like. Our dog says little, never complains, lives in the moment, apologies only when absolutely necessary then moves on, is always glad to see us, and holds no grudges (at least as far as I can tell).


I want to remain calm, despite what is happening to and around me.
I want to squeal with joy or bawl in frustration like the baby in the restaurant till people are holding their ears to make the sound bearable.

I want to be patient.
I want to act, act fast, and act NOW.

I want to accept everybody as they are.
I want to outlaw stupidity this very afternoon.

I want to connect with people.
I want to be left alone.

I want to be needed.
I want everybody to go figure it out for themselves.

I want to be nice and pleasant so people will want to be around me.
I want to snap peoples’ heads off and spit out the seeds.

I want to set and accomplish goals.
I want to play and saunter like there’s no tomorrow.

I want to offer guidance.
I want people to go find their own way and maybe (or maybe not) send me a postcard.

I want to think literally and logically and formulaically so you can see my brain shine, so I’ll be though of as smart, intelligent.
I want to leave the thinking to my bones. Maybe you’ll understand it, maybe you won’t, and I want to be totally okay with that.

I want to go to a party.
I want to go to a silent retreat. For one. (But I want you to bring me food periodically. Just leave it at the gate.)

I want to talk in parables.
I want to cut to the chase so there’s no mistaking what I am saying.

I want to be in control.
I want to let the breezes show me the way to go.

I want to be kind.
I want karma to kick some folks in the shins while I’m still alive to enjoy it.

I want to be able to sum myself up in a 6-word bio on one half of one side of a business card.
I want to cherish and indulge and honor my many and varied interests and talents and forget about labels to help you peg me in less than 60 seconds.

I want to trust that things will work out for the good of all involved.
I want to stay the hell away from groups in the first place.

I want to be confident and in charge.
I want to be blissfully vulnerable.

I want to trust people unequivocally.
I want to lock all the charlatans up and throw away the keys.

I want to overlook and accept.
I want to call out everything and everybody. Overlook? Blind acceptance? How do you think we got in this mess in the first place?

I want the Mona Lisa smile to be my lipstick.
I want to laugh and cry and sometimes be a non-committal blank slate.

I want to mince my words, saying very, very, very little so that each word counts.
I want to spill all my words – every last one of ’em.

I want to feel supported, so could I please get you to read this before I mash the send button?
I want to put it out there in its raw honesty and let the chips fall where they will.
In other words: I want your approval,
but I don’t want to want your approval.

I want to create for the sake of creativity, to do things just for the sake of planting goodness in the world – you know, like Johnny Appleseed and his seedlings.
I want to be paid for what I do, create, and am good at. (And I want you to think of that so I don’t have to ask.)

I want to be affable and easy to work with so people will want to do the things I’m paying them to do.
I want to take her head off because I’m not paying her to behave like a moron for christ’s sake.

I want to have a steady, predictable rhythm to my days.
I want to nap, write, stitch, and walk at will.

I want to make people laugh.
I want to make people cry.

I want to make people think.
I want people to stop thinking and start feeling.

I want people to look up to me.
I want people to look up to themselves.

I want people to follow me.
I want people to get off all bandwagons (including mind) and start thinking/feeling/creating/living for themselves.

I want to talk things out.
I want to settle this and move on.

I want to give people a chance.
I want to snap without planning or apology when I know I’m being lied to, tricked, mislead, manipulated, or any/all of the above.

I want to whet all my appetites.
I want to stop the overwhelm of taking in so much information and just go with what I’ve got.

I want to get answers from others who’ve already trod the path.
I want to rely on myself and my body as a cache of knowledge.

I have something to say.
I have nothing to say.

I want to know what it is I’m here to do.
I want to live in the Mystery Unfolding.

My name is Jeanne,
and this is me in any given 24-hour period.

Maybe I should just become a dog.


looking for that bridge over troubled water


be a good girl.
think about others first.
don’t be selfish
or stuck up
or conceited.
play nice.
wait your turn.

it’s your turn now.
go for it.
who cares what other people think?
if it pleases you, that’s enough.

i’m so confused. i’m so damn confused.

write the book you want to read.
comes a time when you have to consider your readers.

so which is it?

if i do something just because i enjoy it, that’s okay, right? well, what if i want somebody else to like it, too?
what if i want somebody else to value my work, my creativity, my contribution?

back in the days when i was trekking around speaking professionally, some high falutin’ fella made money hand over fist by saying something like you can accomplish anything – anything at all – as long as you don’t mind who gets the credit. to which i always thought: bullshit. i mean maybe that’s true on paper, but if i do the work, make the effort, create something that didn’t exist before, by golly i want credit for it.

then somebody throws “ego” into the mix and scolds me for having one.

they remind me that i’m supposed to look the other way, turn the other cheek and all that but hey, let me tell you something: according to my cousin who is Somebody Who Should Know, to turn the other cheek was actually a call to civil disobedience back in the day. it wasn’t rising above and refusing to wallow with pigs knowing that you’d both get dirty, it wasn’t letting yourself be a doormat or a booster seat for somebody else, it was a means of entrapment.

maybe it’s supposed to be enough that i value my own contributions, but maybe that doesn’t always play out in real life. maybe that’s why i’m so angry lately when i get to stewing about aging and leaving a legacy and not having one to leave on account of i’m supposed to be downright giddy with happiness that somebody else took the credit for something i did or said pffffft to something i created or overlooked me cause let’s face it, unless it says something real cute, how many people actually look at the doormat anyway?

whoever said aging isn’t for sissies
sure knew what she was talking about.



and then the day came
when she opened her fingers,
relaxing the chokehold she had
on things that no longer seemed
so important.

and in that releasing,
the fronds of her heart unfurled,
the leaves becoming steps
allowing entry to
more goodness
than she’d dared
dream possible.

~~ :: ~~

today’s altar: release

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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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