Tag: women (Page 2 of 3)



my head is in the clouds today.

this is no metaphor.

but it is
an altar
moving more slowly
than usual.
of connecting with
in the ethers,
big things
and small,
with magic wands
not letting
our brains
get in our way
as we
into our

More about 365 Altars

my soul food


mary talks to her bookkeeper from under the dryer, hammering out an appropriate memo to explain to her employees that there will be no holiday bonuses this year – not because of the economy (well, not directly anyway), but because her store manager (for reasons she can’t fathom) approved 33 hours’ worth of overtime for one full-time employee and 24 hours’ worth of overtime for another. after those two checks are written, there simply isn’t any more money.

suzie sits on the gold sofa with a leopardskin throw over her legs as she patiently explains how to cook a turkey to her daughter who is preparing the holiday dinner for the first time ever.

janie’s grandmother drops by to beam her pride at her teenage granddaughter who is now working as the salon’s receptionist and girl friday.

as i sit waiting for kristi (the owner and my stylist) to mix my color, an adorable little 10 year old girl appears at my chair and introduces herself. “are you alison’s mother?” she asks. “i sure am,” i told her.

“i’m ansley. miss alison is my voice teacher.”

that’s when her 5 year old sister, lily appears. in her flannel nightgown. we chat a bit, and just before her mother appears back on the scene, lily tells me “you’re funky” – which i take as a compliment and put my glasses on to punctuate and prove her right. “lily, child, you go put your clothes back on. go on right now. shoo,” her mother says, sending the girls to what was a bedroom when mrs. geiss owned the house decades ago. ansley and lily will spend the day playing with brandie’s (the other stylist) daughter while their mothers spend the day making other women like me feel special and beautiful.

in answer to the simple question as to her readiness for the rapidly-approaching holiday, beth pours out her grief, frustration, and exhaustion. as she tells us about her mother who’s in the depths of a deep depression, currently in ICU where the medical staff treats her body and refuses to treat her troubled mind, as she tells us about her teenage daughter who’s recovering from injuries received in an automobile accident, injuries requiring her mother’s assistance with everything – and i do mean everything, phone calls are quietly ended and cell phones tucked away. it’s two days before christmas, yet all thoughts of shopping and parties and cooking completely disappear as we bear witness to beth. in that moment, nothing is more important to us. nothing.

this is my soul food. this gathering of women in an old victorian house tastefully transformed (with the help of mid-century accoutrements and the tasteful style of the owner) into a veritable pink tent where women come together regularly in the name of beauty, always remembering that there’s beauty . . . and there’s beauty.


today’s post is my response to today’s #reverb10 prompt by mysticflavor: What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

sign of the times


with no men around,
the girls are in charge of the scepter tonight,
and we’re watching legally blonde 1
followed immediately by legally blonde 2.

i love these movies.

love the messages they send – the very important messages they send.

and i wonder how my mother’s life would’ve been different
if she’d had someone who believed in her
and kept telling her to listen to her self,
to use her own voice,
to do it her way.

she wanted to go to college,
and the high school guidance counselor
once asked her about going to college,
but she’d always been told that
there was only enough money to send
her little brother to college,
so she told him no, she wasn’t going
and he (the guidance counselor) didn’t pursue it further.

she did run for office once,
but my dad,
who’d held many political offices,
didn’t support her,
so she was the only candidate
with a teenage campaign manager.

i wonder what else she would like to have done
in her life.
last time i asked, she said
it was more than enough being
mother to her three j’s.

and i don’t doubt that she’s telling the truth.
but i still can’t help but wonder
how her life
would be different
had she been born
in a decade
when it was okay
for women to start sentences with
“i want,”
when women had a voice
to call their own.



personal appearance is important to mother and alison.
both know how to throw an outfit together.
both know what looks good on them.
both know how to talk to hair dressers
and know their way around a makeup counter.
both are beautiful, beautiful women.

did it skip a generation?
that would be the easiest explanation.

but actually, there was a time when
i was pretty
when i threw together
strikingly novel
and interesting outfits

but then responsibilities grew
while finances shrunk,
so i learned to
on things other than my appearance.

i told myself
that being pretty was
and unimportant.

and that’s true


i still want to
lose weight
and feel
comfortable in the
beauty parlor
instead of feeling like
i should apologize
and explain my presence
and be grateful that the
hair dresser doesn’t
see my name on the book
and put a bag over her head.

i want to feel

but there’s an important difference:

i cared most
about what other people
thought about me,
felt like my appearance
defined me
and was the sum total
of what i had to offer.

now, though,
it’s, well,
it’s all about me.
i want to feel comfortable.
and confident.
i want to feel pretty –
not because of what others think,
but because i want to smile
when i see me.

and i’m finding that as i
make time to write,
as i dare to speak what’s
true to me,
the weight slowly
slides away
and regardless
of how my hair looks
or what i’m wearing
or whether i’m wearing makeup or not,
i begin to feel pretty

how can i love you better? (day 22)


despite my loud and plentiful protestations,
she held my hand
and dragged me into
in the moon-lit ocean
at the bewitching hour
of 3 a.m.
standing knee-deep
in the frothy waters,
the red flag
warning us of riptides
that just might
pull us under
and tumble us into a
place we’ve never been before.

we talked in
mirrored likeness
of the waves
that broke on top of each other
and crossed at angles to each other
i was no longer her mother
she was no longer my daughter,
until we were, instead, simply
two women
who cherish,
and console
each other,
alone on the beach,
holding hands while
standing knee-deep in the ocean
basking in the moonlight
magic of this
wondrously beautiful moment.

(this is what my daughter and i did last night while my mother/her grandmother slept.)

sands through the our glass (day 21)


years ago, an acquaintance told me of having to bring sand in to a job he was doing in the middle east. not that there wasn’t sand there, of course, but because the on-site sand wouldn’t do what he needed done. you see, each individual grain of imported sand had rough, sharp, pointy edges as compared to the grains of sand there that had lost their edges as winds repeatedly blew them against each other. he needed grains of sand with edges sharp enough, defined enough to peel back the layers of accumulated paint he was removing.

i think of that several times today as we settle into a routine, a rhythm. as we find a way to be together as a lineage of women without losing our individual selves and falling back into being a creation that pleases. eventually we’ll delight in the discovery of individual and shared differences, desires, and dreams, but the first few days can be a bit on the scratchy side as the edges come in contact.

ethics (day 20)


i want to tell you about the time i was good,
but i was good because they were bad.

i want to tell you about the time i survived,
but i survived because they were abusive.

i want to tell you about the time i won,
but i won because they lost.

i want to tell you about the time i tripped,
but i did that all by myself
and i just don’t feel like going

respect, day 16


my name is jeanne, and i have authority issues . . .

i have long despised the words i heard far too often as a child, “with every head bowed and every eye closed,” words that preceded some man standing in the pulpit elevated above us and pontificating under the name of prayer. even as a youth, i did not want or need men speaking for me. even as a youth, i knew that prayer is something that can be done silently, by each person in his or her own way. even as a youth, i knew that some of these men used prayer as a spotlight, a greeting card, absolution, subterfuge.

so every time we gathered for dinner, one of the things i dreaded most was mother beckoning us to the kitchen, instructing us to hold hands, then asking the youngest child in attendance to say the blessing while the rest of us were to bow our head and close our eyes just like in days gone by.

eventually came the day when i could no longer go along quietly, my silence an implied endorsement.

“mother,” i said to her before one family gathering, “if you want to pray, that’s fine. i respect that. i do, however, ask that you not expect me to or demand that i join in. i ask that you respect me and my belief system and allow me to pray as i will. or will not.”

i went on to explain my belief that prayer is something that can be done in any variety of ways by individuals in ways they see fit. “the beauty of prayer,” i told her, “is that it’s no less effective if those around you don’t even know that you’re praying.”

“when others subject me to their prayers, i feel like they are forcing their religion on me without regard to my belief system. perhaps you could simply say,” i suggested, “‘join me as you will.’ that allows us to opt in or out. that is respectful of everyone in attendance.”

now she didn’t have to do this, of course, she’s my mother. according to the way i was brought up, i am to respect her without comment.

but she did. she dropped the required praying before a meal, allowing us to express our gratitude and seek grace in our own individual ways.

and i love her for that.

home remedy, day 15


whenever she gets the chance, my mother extols the virtues of vinegar and water. she keeps a jar full in her refrigerator, and i stand here before you swearing that you won’t confuse it for sweet tea but once.

according to my mother, vinegar and water . . .
clears phlegm
clears your head
cures a cough
unstops your ears
settles a stomach
soothes an itch
trims off the pounds
stops allergies
cures sinus infections
erases acne
lowers high cholesterol
lower high blood pressure
brings a rosy glow to your complexion
alleviates acid reflux
and more.

in the same breath, mother will point out that on top of what all it does for your body and health, vinegar and water will also . . .

shine your shoes
shine your hair
whiten your teeth
remove dinginess from clothes
clean windows without leaving streaks
remove water marks from wood
lift stains from carpet
freshen the garbage disposal
polish brass
clean the microwave
deter ants
get the stink out of refrigerators
shoo flies
clean toilet bowls
kill grass
kill weeds
cut the scum off shower doors
prolong the freshness of flowers
make a dog smell better
soften paintbrushes
remove bumper stickers
tenderize meat
remove fruit stains from hands
and more.

i don’t know if it’ll do everything, and i’ll readily admit to having some qualms about putting something into my body that will clean a scorched iron. but i declare, today i feel so bad (i have a cold that i’m SURE i caught from kelly who’s had a cold and obviously forgot to wash her hands before going to the keyboard to tweet and comment, thereby spreading her cold germs to me), i’m minutes before mixing me up some vinegar and water.

in a mayonnaise jar, of course.

the shelf life of ink, day 14


outside of checks
and thank you notes,
and invitations to the annual class reunion,
my mother doesn’t write.

she collects quotes
written by others,
though if she ponders
why they appeal
or how they apply
to her own life and self,
i don’t know about it.

i, on the other hand,
some days more copiously
than others.
take today, for instance,
where my journal bleeds red
to match my heart.

the same journal that once was
little more than an
accounting of how i spent my time
each day.
now bears witness
as i write what i would love to read.
my honesty
and deepest thoughts and feelings
inked out on the page,
my journal the only one i trust
to receive and contain.

then i read an admonition from phyllis theroux
warning journal keepers to
keep in mind that children
might read one day’s entry as
the undying truth
without considering the context.
and i feel the weighty responsibility.

mark twain’s new 3-volume autobiography,
is about to be released
some 100 years after his death.
why so long?
he wanted the freedom to
speak his truth
without fear of
his words harming his loved ones
or driving wedges all around.

and so i can’t help but wonder
if i shouldn’t take the safe
road again
and go back to chronicling my comings and goings.
do i really want to risk saddling
my children
with discovering the essential me
through my words that accumulate
as i discover
the essential me?
i want them to understand me,
to at least see me as a complex –
perhaps even complicated –
woman of layers,
but what if i’m eternally
misunderstood and despised instead?

what if they never visit my grave
to change out the flowers?

maybe i should just amass a
collection of quotes
and let my chiclets
assign meaning and likeness
as they will.

« Older posts Newer posts »

Where in the world is The 70273 Project? Please add a pin to show us where you are in the world. (1) Click the + sign in upper righthand corner of map. (2) Enter your first name only. (3) Enter your city/state. (4) Using the pins at the bottom of the map, select a marker based on how you are involved. (5) Select preview to see before posting. (6) Select submit to post. Please add a marker for each role you serve in The 70273 Project.

Support The 70273 Project

Allow me to introduce myself . . .

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.

special delivery: get blog posts hot off the press


© 2024 Jeanne Hewell-Chambers’ Barefoot Heart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑