Summer of Authenticity: Fully Alive! [Wholly Jeanne]

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If I could gather up all the sugar and wisdom and humor of the South, I might come close to handing you this week’s guest blogger. But I don’t have that kind of time for gathering, so I’ll let her deliver herself right to your eyeballs. 


How This Southern Belle Does Summer (or The Bats Have Left This Belfry)

Bells once divided my day into segments. Bells told me when to get up, when to be in my seat, when to close my books and head to another class, when to go home. It was all very structured, very orderly, very decided. And just when I thought the bells would never end, along came the bell heralding the end of the school year and the start of the summer, and I’m here to tell you: that bell was music to my heart’s ears.

In the summer, bells were replaced with birds and bullfrogs and breezes, all marking time in a more leisurely way that begged and allowed me – and me alone (except for those pesky dental appointments that my mother committed me to) – to decide what to put in each box on the calendar. Would I ride my bike up and down the dirt road or would I pet the dogs and cats? Would I go exploring in the old chicken houses? Would I rearrange the shop where the dead uncle I was named for once puttered? Would I go snap some photos with my adorable little Brownie camera? Would I go swimming in the little pond where the cows drank and cooled off? Would I collage my closet doors with different photos ripped from magazines or would I go to walk and find more rocks to add to my already-bulging collection? Regardless of how I spent it, each day was filled with tingling possibilities and incalculable wonderfulness.

Time marched on, of course, and quicker than you can say “jack rabbit”, there were no bells. My two amazing children were out living to their own bells, and my husband took early retirement and threw away the alarm clock. I was bell-less . . . and rather adrift, if you want to know the truth.

Then along came this year’s Big Birthday, and you talk about a bell ringing event – this was it. This bell tolled the end of infinity, each clang telling me in no uncertain terms that I’m the great decider again and urging me to get on with it cause there’s a finite number of ding-dongs left.

So I did.

I decided that 2/14 (my birthday) is now my New Year’s Day, and I penned a list of things I intend to accomplish and ways I want to fill the boxes on this year’s calendar. Once I was done, it was pretty obvious that 2013 is the year I build a body of work and a body that works.

On Ideal Days, I spend the morning writing the books, plays, posts, and articles that have been jangling around inside for I don’t know how long while the late afternoons and evenings are devoted to stitching my Hymns of Cloth. Before, after, in between and all around that, I feed my fitbit (a gift from my son before he knew about My List) with walks, and I finally signed on the dotted line for a yoga class – something I’ve been threatening to do for the longest time.

It’s not always easy sticking to this schedule that’s marked more with bells of desire than actual metal-meets-metal bells (though both do have clappers – couldn’t resist). All too often I fall back into that familiar place of hearing and heeding other people’s bells while mine sit silent, and I declare there are times when it would be so much easier to whip out the white flag, to forget my body of work/that works and just wake up every morning and see who gets to me first.

But you know, I can’t. I just can’t.

There’s something – some inexplicable, magical ingredient (perhaps the death of infinity?) that keeps me donning the fitbit and lugging around a pocketbook big enough to hold my journal, favorite pens, cloth, needle, and thread. Sometimes I write or stitch in 15-minute snatches because that’s just how it is, and some days my fitbit goes to bed hungry. In spite of that, accepting responsibility for myself and what I want, mapping out my own life and what I want to accomplish puts me as close to that youthful expansive feeling of certain possibleness as I’ve been in decades. And it feels good – it feels damn good . . . and that’s worth ringing a bell or three in and of itself.


A stone turner of long standing, I’m fluent in English & Southern, Charming & Cranky, I write, I stitch, I perform. Cloth is my bones, stories are my blood, laughter is my oxygen, and photos my floss.

You can find this lovely southern belle in all these fabulous places:

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Part of the Summer of Authenticity: Fully Alive! series, now available as a free eBook!


{ 4 trackbacks }

It’s Summertime, and I’ve Gone A-Visitin’
June.17.2013 at 8.49 am
Lee Bontecou
June.17.2013 at 1.36 pm
It’s Summertime, and I’ve Gone A-Visitin’
October.7.2013 at 6.59 pm
Lee Bontecou
October.20.2013 at 8.17 pm


SquarePegKaren June.17.2013 at 7.53 am

I’m ringing bells with you, Jeanne! And loving that your b.d. is now your New Year’s Day!!

whollyjeanne June.17.2013 at 9.01 am

I always knew you were a bell-ringer, Sug. Always. xo

Dian Reid, CPCC June.17.2013 at 9.47 am

So great to have you come-a-visitin’ and ringin’ bells over here @whollyjeanne:disqus

This has me thinking about my own bells, and how they’ve starting doing some singing and dancing lately. Sometimes all it takes to get them going is that 15-minute-snatch of writing or running or [insert personal favorite bell-ringing activities].

I kind of wish I lived near a belfry just for the reminder. Maybe I’ll bookmark this post and set a reminder to read it every now and then. Or at least on your New Year’s =)

whollyjeanne June.17.2013 at 6.18 pm

Thank you so much for inviting me, Sugar. Belly dancing – you make me laugh. I’m so glad our paths crossed back at the end of 2009. xo

Carrie Hensley June.17.2013 at 12.48 pm

I am tickled that you are taking yoga. What I really am loving, however, is that you are ringing your own bells! There are no white flags, here! WooHoo

whollyjeanne June.17.2013 at 6.20 pm

Hey Sugar! Yup, ringing my own bells. And yes, I’m taking yoga, too. I can’t do everything in yoga class on account of I have short arms. That’s mu excuse, and I”m sticking to it;) xxo

whollyjeanne June.18.2013 at 5.57 am

Thank you, Moonseeds. High praise from the woman who tucked me in last night by saying “tomorrow we stitch another verse in the hymn of our days…” xo

Little L Author June.18.2013 at 12.47 pm

I love you Wholly Jean!….one of the posts I click on immediately in my inbox….Kudos to the smart folks who hosted this writing!

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