It’s All About You


I’ve missed you.

I told you, “I will never leave you” and then I did. I didn’t mean to drop off the face of the planet since my last post on September 2nd. I have actually gone through withdrawals, kind of a “post” traumatic syndrome, traumatized by not writing and hearing back from all you folks whom I truly care about.

But I got sucked in. I got sucked back into the frenzied vortex of nail-biting normal, even though I stuck my legs out, stiff as a board, pushed against the sides as hard as I could, grabbing the rim of that dark tunnel, holding on for dear life, clinging to images of fiery desert sunsets, fog draping the green hills of the Shenandoah Valley, my golden dog waiting for her next bite of pancake in the back seat, the 50th time I’d played my favorite Jackson Browne song. I tried to go back there. I tried to put my mind in reverse, as I’d do yoga in the family room, but Louie licked my toes.

Exercise with Louie the Dog

Louie is so disruptive to denial.

He broke my concentration and there I was, worrying again, sucked back to reality, down, down, down, the swirling spiral of being a grown up who, now, after the road trip to revive a life, has to pay the piper, and the gas man, and the mortgage, and the car payment and the past due doctor bills. Forget the cable guy, I sent him packing. We don’t need no stinkin’ cable.

Okay, don’t yell at me. I know we all have to be grown ups. I just have to figure out a way to earn a living, that will keep a roof over my head, (plus the two college kids and two dogs) but will spare enough energy and brain matter to write the book, but won’t gunny sack me. That’s what my brother Don used to threaten to do with a good-for-nothin’, misbehaving dog. “Gunny sack it” he’d say. As if he ever could throw a mutt in a burlap bag, tie a knot and toss em’ out by the side of the road, according to some perverted Texas rural myth he’d heard. Anyway, that’s how I felt before I went on my recent excursion. Remember that Jean? I do and she wasn’t worth killing, as my mama used to say.

So, today,  I just said no. I just said no to a job offer.

They had actually called when I was in Lake Tahoe. I was thinking, “Man, that’d be great! Not to have to worry about actually LOOKING for a new job? Just waltz back into town, start outlining the book, land an agent, do some more blog posts, organize 1,500 photos, send thank you notes to all my hosts and backers, edit a video reel of all the incredible stuff I saw and share it with everybody, oh, and actually WRITE the book and start a new job. No prob.”

Oy. This is what I’ve been doing for the past ten years and I’m here to tell you brothers and sisters, it does not fucking work.

So,  I just said no.

It’s not that it wasn’t a good job, an honorable pursuit, actually it was, working in politics again, for someone I actually admire, who is on the right side of the issues and by that I mean correct. But, hypocrisy reared her ugly head, as I’m preaching the gospel about listening to your gut, following your intuitive self, paying attention to the signs! Like I don’t recognize the signs, when a ball of stress wads up in my stomach, while I’m updating my resume and I’m telling my inner voice “don’t make me come down there! Just sit down and shut the fuck up!”  Well, the gut won. Score one for the gut, who said: “Jean, you can NOT be anybody else’s pitchman anymore! You can not promote another product or cause or candidate except you. There are not enough years left in this lifetime for you to take on anybody else’s campaign but your own. You have to do this. Now. ”

That’s what this whole trip was about, challenging our fears, going for our dreams even if it meant going against the grain of convention and common sense. Right?  But if you thought I was scared on the road at times, this is worse! It’s not the boogey man, it’s the bill collectors!  I wake up every morning saying, “what am I going to do? How is this going to work?”  But, I’m telling you like I’m telling myself; we can not give in to fear.

I see people hunkered down in fear every single day. And the funny thing is, when I was out on the road, the people who seemed the most relaxed were the ones who had the least to work with. I’ve already picked up some freelance work and I’m thinking about being a checker at the grocery store. I’d rather do that than be a political press secretary again. At least I can work a night shift and write during the day. I am as serious as a heart attack.

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I am happy when I write and I’m happy when I’m with my dogs. It’s as simple as that. My pledge to you is that I won’t cop out. I will continue to work on crafting a life around what I think I’m supposed to do, rather than shoehorning that dream into the threadbare scraps of leftover time at the end of the day. We know the folly in that. And this would be my wish for you, to be engaged in meaningful, life affirming work that makes you happy.

Because, truth is, this is all about you. At least this post is. I’m much too self-absorbed to make the whole damn thing about you. I just wanted to tell you tonight, how much I appreciate your spirit and your encouragement and support. I write this with tears in my eyes, swear to God.

Since I began this journey, we’ve grown into a community of nearly 10,000 eyeballs. Well, it’s really more like 9,999 cause my little brother Jay, can only see out of one eye. (Trust me, he’ll laugh about this. He’s the guy who told me on the tennis court, “pretty damn humiliating being beat by a one-eyed man.”)

So I want to thank all you eyeballs from the bottom of my heart for taking a peek at this website. And on my Facebook page, holy Toledo, (that saying will never be the same for me) I’ve had more than 62,000 post views. These kinds of numbers on the tote board REALLY help me with prospective agents.

And guess what? I’ve actually had a conversation with one. It’s an early “look-see” but we’re talking. This is thrilling. The journey continues.

A Woman With a Past by Jean Ellen Whatley

This will explain the whole mess.

You can help me by continuing to post links to this site or my Facebook page on your blogs or Facebook pages. And, in one last shameless plug, I will have the prequel, “A Woman With a Past: The Post-Apocalyptic Approach to Men” available on Amazon soon. Here’s the book cover.

Look for a button on the site as soon as Sean, my son and Web dude, gets it done. (I know, I’ve been yammering about this for weeks) But I will have a “button” for you to receive an email when it’s available for sale. As in cha-ching, like at the grocery store. I’ll thank you when you come through my checkout line.

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. You have a new fan, love your writing and style. Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more!

  2. Can’t wait for the books to flow. I love your adventures and I can see you as a check out person by night and a writer in your jammies during the day. I will keep following you. Good luck and don’t wait so long to let us know what you are doing.

  3. Follow your dreams. The journey doesn’t end in your jammies. Your journey will begin when you fly off to your next author appearance and book signings :) Keep it in high gear and keep going.

  4. I don’t even know you, but I know you won’t give up and you will figure it out. I know you met Nate Damm, and what an inspiration he is. My son, Anthony Lambing, is also walking across America. He sold his car and is living on the bare minimum financially, but his life is rich beyond belief. I think we can easily lose focus on what’s important because we are bombarded with things that aren’t. I get notices when you post, so I’m happy to know that I won’t miss anything from now on. I love your style. Sherry–Imperial, MO

    • Wow. That’s all I can say. See? That’s why I like this medium, other people get to share their amazing wisdom. Thank you Sherry in Imperial. I don’t know you either, but I’m glad to meet you, as Mick Jagger once sang.

  5. I am shocked … shocked and dismayed … that there is no product endorsement for either the jammies company or the sweats company. So refreshing to read in a commercial free zone.

    Anxious to see your results.

    • Whoo-eee, you had me going for a minute. “Shocked and dismayed” Reminds me of a Baptist preacher I interviewed once in Greensboro, North Carolina, who said he came out one morning to find, not only one, but two of his Chrysler automobiles had been stolen right out of the rectory parking lot. “Shocked and dismayed” were his exact words. I was doing a story on the cheap, plastic key mechanism that was so easy to pop off, you could start the cars faster with a flat edge screw driver than you could a key. Stealing Chrysler cars became sport. He got the cars back. Cops found them a few blocks away. He told me he remedied the situation by, “now, I’ve got The Club” and he paused, then added,”and I keep my shotgun by the door.” The only thing he didn’t add was, “Amen.”

  6. You know I am behind pushing all you all the way to the top, Sista!

  7. I don’t have a Facebook account, but I will definitely be talking about you to my friends and family members who do! I admire you so much for continuing to try to live by what you believe is right. I haven’t followed the same path as you, but I’ve come to the same conclusion: maybe it’s better to get a simple job to pay the bills, and be able to do what you really love and/or find important in life, rather than having an “Important” career that eats up the rest of you and your time. Good luck to you, and I hope to hear more – and good news – soon!