[from my journal yesterday morning, 2/14/13,
on the occasion of day one of my big, milestone birthday]

Today I wake up
a milestone birthday.
This is the birthday card I send myself.
I call it My Womanifesto.

I have no more time to waste

on conforming
or contorting
in hopes that you will find me pleasing or worthwhile.
If you are that focused on me,
if you are willing to devote so much time and energy
to keeping me small so you can feel late and powerful,
I give that back to you and call it what it is: your problem.

I will not sit still
Or be quiet
Or calm down
on command
ever again.

Don’t expect me to show my work
simply because you don’t understand.
I am out of apologies, justifications, and explanations-on-demand
and I am not restocking.

Never again will I diminish my light
or quiet my voice
or step aside
– especially when i know i am right –
for fear it will diminish you
or make you feel bad
or incur your wrath.
That is your problem to deal with.

You may label me
and make assumptions
about me
simply because I am
a Southerner
and a Woman,
because I call people I care about Sugar
am funny
carry too many pounds
don’t use phrases like
“for the common good”
“it’s not fair”.
Yes, you can surely do that . . .
and it will show
your ignorance
and small mindedness.
It will say much more about you
than you are trying to say
about me.

No longer will I sit in the
cold drab metal folding chair
in the dim corner of the room
waiting on somebody . . . anybody . . . to ask me to dance.

I don’t have to like you
And you don’t have to like me,
and even if we do like each other,
we don’t have to agree on everything.
But know this: I will not stand still
while you berate me
or insult me
or call me names
or stomp, kick, or otherwise malign me
because I think differently.
Don’t have to
and I won’t.

If I like you and believe in what you are doing,
I will be your number one cheerleader.
I will support you, encourage you, hold you.
I will help you any way I can but know this:
I will not be disrespected or taken advantage of ever again.
And I will not give you something simply because
I have it
and you want it.
That’s where the word earn comes into play.

I will ask you daily if you’ve thought for yourself
so be ready for it,
because it’s what I’m most passionate about:
thinking for yourself.
I will if you will.
I abhor bandwagon mentality,
despise it, I tell you,
and I will do everything within my power
to support you as you burn your bushel basket.
This political correctness stuff
has to stop.
We are different,
and we each shine in our own way.
I am ready to embrace my shine,
to turn it loose,
and I’m ready for you to do the same.

I am declaring to us both
how I will live my life from this point forward:
no excuses,
and no apologies.
This is a big, milestone birthday
and for the first time in my life,
I feel free to unzip, step out, speak up.
I have tenure, you see,
so I can take up as much space as I want
and I can make as much noise as I want
and I can speak and move and live
as raucously and as tenderly
as I want.

I . . . have . . . tenure.

[ ::: ]

I love this woman, and I love this post.


  1. Susan F.

    Very simply–yes! (and Happy Birthday)

    • whollyjeanne

      Oh hell yes. Said it, now it’s time to live it. XO

  2. Meredith S

    Tenure. I like that. Happy (Belated/Continued) Birthday! <3

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you . . . And remember, Sugar, you are going to claim your tenure sooner than I did. That’s our deal, right? XO

  3. ☆little light☆

    I love this women.. and I ADORE, LOVE AND APPLAUD this post!

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you, moon friend. Thank you. XO

  4. angelakelsey

    I love “tenure,” too. No one can fire you from your position, and really, no one can harm you in any ultimate way. You can speak and write and teach what you believe. You can explore and learn and grow. You can expand fully, without restrictions. I like this Big Birthday stuff. I might have to have one of my own soon! xoxo

    • whollyjeanne

      Yes, tenure is our friend, our knight in shining armor, our bulletproof vest. Mostly, it’s our chair at the table . . . the table we pulled up to uninvited, of course.

  5. Janet

    Happy Everything! Honestly, I was surprised by your manifesto. I love your writing (and have borrowed it – remember?) and can’t imagine you taking a back seat, second chair or second anything from anybody, ever. Congratulations on making Tenure – coffee is on me when we get to meet at Bucks. Janet

    • whollyjeanne

      interesting point, my friend, and i thought about this as these words were pouring out of my fingertips. i remembered a favorite cousin saying “i’ve never known you to hold back” several years ago, and how i laughed at that. i think this womanifesto was more for me – i don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or incur anybody’s wrath, but i’ve been far too politically correct. you don’t see that because you are one of the ones i let get close, one of the few i feel comfortable enough with to be honest and let down my guard and check the pc at the door. i can be honest with you – even on the rare thing we don’t agree on – and you love me through to the other side. i miss the blog we used to do. wanna’ rev it up again, perchance? gonna’ take you up on that offer next time i’m down, but i’m more of a milkshake girl. or maybe cider. bucks has something for everyone. love you big.

  6. Brenda

    I arrived at this magic number just a little (2 years) before you–And all I can say is a good loud southern “Amen!!!!!” to all you wrote!!! Love ya, Brenda

    • whollyjeanne

      thank you, sugar. i am kinda’ surprised at how good i’m feeling about this big birthday. liberated. freed. unleashed. xo

  7. Jane Cunningham

    brave beauty <3

    • whollyjeanne

      thank you, sugar. i just don’t see any need in going quietly. it’s not that i want to argue – it’s not that i have a platform (well, that’s not actually true, i do have a passion/platform), it’s not that i want to pick a fight, i just want to be able to have my say. i want to live my own life. if that makes sense. xo

  8. ☆little light☆

    had t come and read this again.. It’s just so…SO!

  9. Guest

    Wonderful, simply wonderful!

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