that woman is me

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You know, years ago I drove down a two-lane country road and as I looked at the clapboard look-alike houses all lined up one beside the other in what looked for all the world like a cow pasture, with short, straight driveways connecting each house to the road leading out of town, I said “I want to go knock on the front door of each of those houses and ask the woman who answers, ‘Did your life turn out the way you wanted it to? If not, what are you going to do about it?'” Today I stand before you as that woman. And as that woman, too. I am the woman knocking, and I am the woman answering. I am the woman on both sides of the door.

It’s not my biological clock I hear ticking – at least not THAT biological clock, but the biological clock that leads tick by tock to my demise. To the end of this life as I know it. Has my life turned out the way I’d hoped it would? Well, let me answer this way: there are things I’d like to be different about my life, and if I’ve learned anything in all these decades, it’s that if I want things to be different, I am the go-to girl to make it happen.

Let’s start with the things I like about my life, the things that just need regular expressed appreciation . . .

My husband, my daughter, my son, my dog. They stay. Period. (Though I am taking my maiden name back.) (I kinda’ wanted to keep it all along cause it’s always wrinkled me being treated like I’m some object, some knapsack to be flung from one family to another.) (But you’re right: that’s another post entirely.)

And I love living here on the waterfall, so I’m not moving. Well, not like that anyway. See one thing in the Dissatisfaction Column is my size, my weight. And I could go on a gluten-free diet, I could purge my plate of everything I love to eat, but the thing is: I’m a picky, picky, picky eater, and I adore Southern food. And if the clock is ticking, I see no reason to make myself miserable. Maybe when I start moving more I’ll feel so much better that I’ll want to do something drastic and so thoroughly unlike me, but to start, I’ll just take more walks and count the days till January when the new community fitness center opens in town.

Besides that, I want . . .

  • to unshackle my tongue so I never have to feel validated (or annoyed) by seeing other people say what I wanted to say but was too afraid to.
  • to retire the parade of qualifiers and disclaimers I usually tack onto every sentence and to be bold enough to stop you if you start that nonsense.
  • to be the kind of person you can feel comfortable and safe with.
  • to turn the tear ducts loose.
  • to create with abandon and glee.
  • to forego the practice of apologizing for myself.
  • to get reacquainted with the earth, maybe sometimes through my bare feet.
  • to unlearn worrying about whether you’ll like me or not.
  • to forget how to justify and explain everything I think, feel, and do.
  • to regain personal space, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
  • to get by with less stuff and more space.
  • to laugh and enkindle laughter.
  • to live poetically.
  • to make everybody I come in contact with, including the woman in the mirror, feel like the rare and special and extraordinary person they . . . we . . . are.

Or, as I said to my friend Angela just a few days ago: I want to fling-it from the f##k-it line.

How’s that for starters?


  1. Brenda

    Could you just attach another little car on that train for me?

    • whollyjeanne

      always, sugar. in fact, we’ll share a car. how’s that?

  2. Jane Cunningham

    this just made me gasp and cry… you already feel so many of those things to me.. we need to skype… i want to talk about this with you … this vision of you wonderiing about these people and those houses made me think of this song… and i LOVE your heart and your vision Jeanne… thank you for writing this x

    • whollyjeanne

      what a great song, sugar. thanks for sending that and for being here. yes, skype. you and me. soon. xoxoxo

  3. Foxglove Lane

    Fling-it, I love that! Go for it you hace such spirit:~)

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you so much. I feel so seen, so supported. Thank you.

  4. angelakelsey

    Can’t wait to read what will be flung! xo

    • whollyjeanne

      Well, you already know most stuff cause I have a tendency to fling whenever we talk. Just getting bolder, stepping out a wee little bit more. Join me? xo

  5. Sandi Amorim

    I am also the ‘go-to girl” when something needs to get done or a project needs a leader. Sometimes I resist that. I want others to step up and make things happen. Sigh. But then I take the first action and the next and the satisfaction that usually shows up displaces the resistance and all is well again.

    And I will happily fling things with you on the f##k-it line.

    • whollyjeanne

      Oh I know exactly what you mean, Sugar. I’m just tired of rescuing, tired of feeling responsible for so many people who refuse to accept responsibility for themselves. There. I’ve said it. And I love having you stand beside me, flinging from the f-it line. I’d say let’s hold hands, but we need to fling with both, me thinks.

  6. Kim

    I LOVE THIS! 🙂

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you for taking the time to let me know you stopped by, Sugar.

  7. Meredith S

    That penultimate line! I love it! Also, I don’t endorse going removing gluten from your life unless you really, truly suspect it’s causing unpleasant reactions in your body. I gave it up as an experiment to see if my gastrointestional disturbances would clear up — and they mostly did. And when I eat wheat? I suffer for it later on. If you don’t feel like it’s causing a reaction, do NOT try it. Eat an extra helping of spaghetti with buttered bread in my honor, please! And round out that meal with a good 2 or 3 freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. And don’t forget to lick the cookie dough off your hands. You have to wash your hands anyway — waste not, want not! 😉

    And to answer your rapping on my chamber door: it hasn’t, but I’m 2/3’s finished writing a prompt series that should help me clarify what I intend to do about it. I’ve stopped worrying about making sure it helped others (a comment in February left me feeling like I wasn’t offering what I was “supposed” to be offering — but I *AM* offering what I’m *supposed* to be offering). If it helps someone else who’s walking a similar path, that’s fabulous. If not, then at least I’m getting something out of this. At least I’m cultivating myself and that life worth loving. Next year brings a big milestone birthday, and I’d like to celebrate it feeling good about myself and my adulthood. I want to make my childhood self proud.

    • whollyjeanne

      Cultivate seems to be your word, Sugar. It’s who you are, it’s what you do. And you unknowingly touch on something else I’m about to post about later this week. I mean since I’m flinging from the f-it line and all.

  8. sarah

    very good for starters. coming on strong like a rushing stream smoothing its rocky bed, splashing the tree roots that seek it, reflecting the sky in wild bits.

    i am standing on the front stoop with my fingers spread on the door in the cold daylight, feeling the warmth gradually seeping through the wood from my fingers spread on the door in the dark foyer. listening for my breath.

    • whollyjeanne

      you’re so right, my friend: it is only a start. and i know in my bones (where your voice lives) i don’t need to think about it or write about it or talk about it, i just need to live it. period. as always, your words calm me, restore me, enkindle me. thank you.

  9. writemuch

    Jeanne: I do love this and want to do all of it with you!

    • whollyjeanne

      Hey Sugar! So good to see you – let’s go, let’s get to it, why don’t we. Ready . . . Set . . . Go!!!

  10. ☆little light☆

    I need to figure out how to make sitting here less painful.
    wonderful sugar, just wonderful.. and so?
    when do you start?
    because I am going to let you go first and tell me how it works..
    but I will be right behind you all the way!

    • whollyjeanne

      you are beside me, sugar. right beside me.

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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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