The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jean Whatley--Unleashed and Unfettered

Jean Whatley, author of Off the Leash, proudly holding up her book. The publisher is Blank Slate Press,
and Subterranean Books kindly donated 10% of the sales to the Humane Society.

         I had the privilege and the pleasure of hearing Jean Whatley talk about her new memoir. The book signing was at the Humane Society. It made me regret putting on mascara, because there were many moments when my eyes filled with tears.

        It's not that Jean spoke of only dark things, nor was it that she lacked a sense of humor. It was an uplifting talk, full of sardonic wit. The overall messages she wanted to impart were:

  • Follow your dreams...Don't put them off or it might be too late when you finally have the courage to try to achieve them.
  • Visit the people who matter. Now. And tell them you love them. Now. If you wait, the window of opportunity might slam shut.
      So why the tears? I think I was so moved because Jean came very close to not going after something that she desperately wanted and needed. She was so honest with the audience, I ached with her over her marriage crumbling and I was quivered right next to her as she stood at the edge of an emotional and a financial cliff...and she had the courage to step off, not having any idea how it would end.

      After reading her blog postings as she traveled across the country and after hearing some excerpts she read aloud and reading some snippets of the book myself, I know this is going to be a funny, poignant, and moving memoir.

      Have you read Jean's book and if not, when are you planning on buying it? Or

      What kind of huge "cliff" did you step off during your life, and how did it end up?


Jean Whatley at the Humane Society, signing her book. Her memoir tells how she and her dog Libby
went on a journey across the country that was more life-changing than Thelma and Louise's car trip.



21 comments:

  1. Hi Sioux,

    Sardonic. I dig that.

    I can honestly tell you that I am the one choked up right now. As a writer, you understand that while we wrangle the curser to the screen because there's something in use that makes us do it, we also DO it because we hope our stories touch someone's heart. Thank you for your generosity, your camaraderie and your kind, kind words.
    Jean

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    1. Jean--

      You're quite welcome.

      This summer I read Leonard Pitts Jr.'s "Freeman." I frothed at the mouth recommending it to everyone I saw. (Well, maybe that's slightly stretching the truth, but not by much.)

      I have a feeling I will be doing the same for "Off the Leash" soon...

      Jean--thanks for having the courage to begin the journey you took with Libby, and thanks for having the perserverance to write the book.

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    2. Hey,

      There were days when I wondered, "what the hell am I doing this for?" And there was always one thing I came back to -- I had posted a note in my journal, (I had this Moleskin notebook I jotted down all my notes and lists of things to do) in which I said, "if I write my stories, the people I have loved will live forever."
      That's the thing I have to keep reminding myself of now. Truthfully, it's through the enthusiastic support of other women writers, like the good friends you've amassed on this blogsite, and especially my good friend Linda O'Connell,who encourage me now. I am indebted to you all.

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    3. Jean--And as you page through your journals and your book (and at some point, bookS), the people and the experiences will live on forever...

      Like Madame DuFarge (or is it DeFarge) in "Tale of Cities," who knits to chronicle her tales, you're jotting them down and tapping them out.

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  2. Hi Sioux,
    Thanks for posting Jean's advice. Visiting people who matter and telling them you care is so important and timely.
    As far as huge cliffs, it seems whenever I step off one someone is always there to help me land safely.
    Donna

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    1. Donna--You are lucky! That's probably because you are there doing the same thing for your friends and family.

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  3. Off the Leash will take you on the ride of your life as you ride shotgun with Jean and Libby. Her honesty is refreshing. You'll love the book.

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    1. Linda--I know that just from the talk she gave. Thanks for turning me onto Jean...She's a real gem.

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    2. You all are TOO kind. I do appreciate it. Sioux, (do you just use that on your blog....did I sign your book Sue?) Anyway, take a look at my Off the Leash Road Stories Facebook page -- cut pics of you!

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  4. Did Jean have a blog about that trip? Because something sounds familiar, like I might have happened across such a blog with that kind of scenario.

    As for the cliff...I had to put in some ellipses for you, since you're cutting back.

    I LITERALLY stepped of a cliff in southern Alaska. It wasn't huge by conventional standards, but it was at least twelve feet high, and overhanging a rushing stream full of salmon, with poachers and snagging hooks on the opposite bank. My sister grabbed the back of my CPO jacket as I was going over, and saved my life. At least that's what I told her, hoping she had seen that special episode of Kung Fu, and would thus feel responsible for me the rest of my born days.

    As for how it ended up...(enjoy, ye of few ellipses)...I'm still kickin'.

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    1. Val--

      Yes, Jean did have a blog/stream/something.
      That's how I initially read her stuff, after Linda told me about her.

      You DO strike me as the swim-upstream kind of gal, so you should have felt right at home with the salmon...

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  5. Thanks for the head's up. My reading list keeps growing! And Jean's advice is right on target.

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    1. Lisa--My stack is pretty tall right now, too. But that's a good thing--having lots of good books to read.

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  6. I plan on making it to one of Jean's book signing events... and purchasing her book. Wish I could have made it to this event.

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    1. I think you will thoroughly enjoy it, Lynn.

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  7. So sorry I missed that, but I don't intend to miss reading her book. As you know, I jumped off my own cliff and am still waiting to find out how that story ends.

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    1. Tammy--
      I loaned it to my daughter. If she finishes it before she heads back to Florida, you're next!

      And you know exactly what will happen...you'll have a marvelous trip down, and then you'll land on your two feet--safe and sound.

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  8. I had the privilege of meeting Jean when she spoke at Saturday Writers a couple of months ago. What a neat woman! I so agreed with things she said, and found myself nodding along in agreement as she spoke. I'm thrilled for her, too, that she DID take that giant leap and made the trip she wanted to take. One of these days I'll get to one of her book signings, because I don't have the print book yet. Thanks, Jean, for being who you are and encouraging the rest of us to follow our dreams as well!

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    1. Yes, Becky, it is great when we can get to a book signing and support fellow writers in that way.

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  9. Hi Lynn, Sioux, Becky, Linda,Tammy, Lisa, Donna...ALL,
    Here's a cool thing to think about. I was having dinner recently at a friend's house, we do these periodic "Whine and Wine" Single Girls dinners. Many of us are divorced, two are widowed, most of us are straight, a couple of gals are gay -- it's an interesting mix of women who've faced challenges in our lives and come out the other side, not bitter. This is significant, because if you added up our mountain of hurt, we could be. I was telling this one gal, who was at my end of the table, about how remarkable it was that I continue to encounter open minded, peace seeking, self-possessed, but not self-absorbed, (big difference) people who help affirm my journey, which rolls along, every day. And what she said to me really stuck, she said something like, "once you open yourself to these experiences and messages from the universe, and the wonderful people and new thoughts, creativity which can flow from that, you discover the pipe is WIDE open." I thought that was really wonderful. So, the pipe is WIDE open -- and I continue to be flooded with good, new experiences and people.

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    1. Jean--Your W & W group sounds ALMOST as good as our WWWP writing critique group, which includes Linda, Lynn and Tammy.

      No, it's probably just as bawdy and snarky and rich...

      From the sounds of it, your pipeline is sturdy, the diameter is wide, and it's thousands of miles long. May it continue to be so...

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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...