Exposing America

A gentleman named Bill Howell eloquently wrote this letter.
Dear Mr. Trump,
It’s taken me a while to realize this and to admit it, but I’m grateful to you.
For the past few months I’ve spent a good deal of time lamenting your campaign and the poison it has so effortlessly generated.
I’ve watched our country imploding, our public discourse become polluted, our political climate grows ever more corrosive, and wrongly assumed you were to blame.
It’s only lately I’ve come to understand that you haven’t manufactured our current national ugliness—you’ve simply revealed it.
By saying the irresponsible, mean-spirited, ignorant things you say so freely and so frequently, you’ve given other like-minded people license to do the same.
You’ve opened up the floodgates for our corporate sewage to flow fully. People no longer conceal their vile mess, they now revel in it, they broadcast it and retweet it.
You’ve made bigotry and racism socially acceptable again and that has been a kind of twisted gift because
it’s allowed me to really see people; not as they pretend to be on the surface—but in the very depths of their wounded, weaponized hearts.
Over and over as your campaign has persisted, your supporters would tell me that they like you because you “speak your mind”.
It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized that you speak their minds. You’ve given credence to their prejudices and made those prejudices go mainstream.
Thanks to the terrible ground you’ve broken, politicians, pastors, friends, and strangers, both in person and on social media
now regularly out themselves as hateful, intolerant, and malicious—and they remind me just how close they are to me, just how deep the sickness in us runs,
and just how far we have to go together.
You’ve emboldened people to be open about things they used to conceal for the sake of decorum, and though it turns my stomach,
I know that this is the only way we can move forward; to have that cancerous stuff exposed fully so that it can be dealt with.
Our progress as a nation is predicated on authentic dialogue, no matter how brutal and disheartening that dialogue is.
In other words, you’ve let us know what we’re really dealing with here and while it’s been rightly disturbing, it’s also been revelatory.
That’s the thing about that kind of harsh light: you’re forced to see everything. Beauty and monstrosity equally illuminated.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think you’re the least qualified, least knowledgeable Presidential candidate we may ever have had participate this far into the process,
and if you somehow were elected I’d fear gravely for the world my children would inherit—should it survive your Presidency at all.

I believe you’re reckless, bitter, and completely reprehensible; the very worst kind of bully.

But whether you win or lose, you’ve already allowed me the blessing of Truth; about me, about you, about other candidates, about our nation.
And in the process you’ve also shown me that I am not alone in resisting you and this ugly thing you’ve revealed about us.
You’ve generated an equally loud, equally passionate response to it and this is where I find my hope these days.

I find it in those for whom equality isn’t just a cheap buzzword, it’s the most precious of hills to die on.
I find it in those people who refuse to be silent in the face of our impending shared regression.
I find it in those willing to be bolder in defending the inherent value of all people.
I find it in the growing army of those who will not tolerate hatred as a core American value.
I find it in those who reject violence as our default response to dissension.
I find it in the ever rising voice of people who will not let malice and bitterness represent them in the world.
Today I find my hope in those who, like me, will not be complicit in allowing bigotry and intolerance to become a source of national pride, because we’ve seen where that leads.

Yes, Mr Trump, you’ve unearthed our hidden sickness and you’ve allowed it to go viral.
You brought every awful thing about us out into the open.
You will NEVER Get My Vote!


“For Crying Out Loud”

Anyone who knew my father for any length of time learned he was a talented and quiet man; a leader. He inspired those who knew him to be creative, be the best they could be. Your efforts were not acceptable if he thought them ‘Half-Assed”.

Dads Army Portrait

Dads Army Portrait

A couple things I have done in my lifetime made him proud. I got sober and started concentrating on my talents as an artist. He bought a few of my paintings because he liked them, not just because I painted them.

sm-palm-shadows-97© ArtGiftsEtc.com

He inspired my latest art quilt, Geisha in The Snow
He gave me a print-out of an image he found on line and liked. I remember dad asking me if I thought I ‘could do anything with this’ as he handed the piece of paper to me. Although the quilt is not completely finished, I was able to show it to dad when he was back east in July. It knocked his socks off!

Geisha in the snow (quilt)

Geisha in The Snow-Step-By-Step

After I wrote my book-One Voice Raised: A Triumph Over Rape, he called to tell me he thought it was very well written and wished it could be read by all rape survivors. I know he passed his copy on to so many friends it was a dog-eared mess by the time he got it back. Or, maybe he never got it back? I don’t remember. It would be pretty awesome if my book were still being passed along with my dad’s recommendations.

One Voice Raised (Amazon)

Some of my earliest memories from childhood are of me standing by dads drawing table watching him work on his architectural drawings. I found the process fascinating. I imagine it must have been difficult for him to concentrate with me peering over his left shoulder while he drew, but dad never seemed to mind. I guess it must have been during these times with dad that I decided I wanted to learn to draw.

Pastel 1980

Pastel 1980

I spoke with dad about a week before he died. He told me he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and his doctor thought it had spread to his hip. I had the feeling he didn’t want to hang up from the call and that it would be the last time I would talk with him. I tried to shake the feeling, but it wouldn’t go away. I think he knew he was sicker than he let on.

He told me he wished he could go to Venice again. One of my sisters and a few friends and I were heading to Italy on October 10th. I promised we would send photos and told him I hoped he would get the chance to return.
sm-canal-19© ArtGiftsEtc.com

sm-gondola-ride-10-14-14-93© ArtGiftsEtc.com

sm-basilica-10-14-14-28© ArtGiftsEtc.com

On the 13th of October dad had what was supposed to be the first in a course of chemotherapy treatments. After the treatment he said he felt better-no pain in his stomach from a lingering bout of diverticulitis. It was the best he had felt in weeks and he said he thought he was on the mend…happy to feel like his old self again.
The next day dad enjoyed a big lunch and was in good spirits. He went to lay down for a nap and didn’t wake up.
Around 11pm the doorbell to our apartment in Venice rang. My sister unlocked the door and no one was there. It was just about the same time dad laid down for his nap in California. I guess dad made it back to Venice after all.
It would be just like him to ring the bell and hide.

sm-doorbell-© ArtGiftsEtc.com36

My father was an architect who played a part in the construction of many malls and buildings around the country and in Europe. Although these buildings will be around for years, I think his legacy will live on in his 5 children, grandkids, great grand kids and his friends. He taught us to try our hardest at what ever we pursued. By striving to be the best, you will never be disappointed in what you accomplish knowing you have given it your all.
And, he taught us to laugh. He loved to make us laugh.



Dads heart was to be out on the water and as often as he could he would be on his boat sailing.
Lately I have been hearing a Tom Waits song in my head:


Shiver Me Timbers

I’m leavin’ my fam’ly
And leavin’ my friends
My body’s at home
But my heart’s in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines
On a new front page sky
My tears are salt water
And the moon’s full and high

And I know Martin Eden’s
Gonna be proud of me
And many before me
Who’ve been called by the sea
To be up in the crow’s nest
And singin’ my say
Shiver me Timbers
Cause I’m a-sailin’ away

The fog’s liftin’
And the sand’s shiftin’
And I’m driftin’ on out
And Ol’ Captain Ahab
He ain’t got nothin’ on me.
So come on and swallow me, don’t follow me
I’m trav’lin’ alone
Blue water’s my daughter
‘N I’m gonna skip like a stone

Everyone who met my father learned a lot about themselves by listening to the advice and teachings from a man whose harshest words were
“For crying out loud.”
And when he was really mad, he added,
“You Jerk!”
Love you dad…gentle breezes…till we meet again.

Dads 80th Surprise Birthday Party

Dads 80th Surprise Birthday Party

The Gift Of Robin Willams

    In my lifetime I have witnessed the passing of many public figures but none so sad and frightening as the recent suicide of Robin Williams.


     Sad because we all lost a gem. He made us laugh and cry wanting the performance or movie we were watching to never end. I know I always anticipated his next roll and tried to catch every TV appearance. I envied his carefree and spontaneous manner. I admired his way of making us laugh at ourselves.

     Robin’s death is frightening because it reminds me that we are all vulnerable. Fame and fortune are not enough to isolate us from mental health problems like depression and substance abuse. They may, in fact, make things worse for some. Each of us has burdens but do we have to suffer alone? 

    He was loved by millions and he was alone.  I cannot imagine how horrible that isolation must have been for him. Was there no one he could reach out too? Did he feel he had tried everything and there was no help left?  His despair led him to take his own life to end his pain and all of us are desperate to make sense of it all.

    I read something on Facebook this morning that prompted me to write this entry. It references a Tweet about a movie Robin did the voice-over for. I didn’t see the movie>>>


“Suicide contagion and social media: The dangers of sharing ‘Genie, you’re free’

More than 270,000 people have shared the tweet, which means that, per the analytics site Topsy, as many as 69 million people have seen it.

The problem? It violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide.If it doesn’t cross the line, it comes very, very close to it,” said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Suicide should never be presented as an option. That’s a formula for potential contagion.” <<<

      I agree that suicide should not be an option. But, sadly we are reminded that too often it is. Maybe the “standards for talking about suicide” should be revisited.

    As a reformed alcoholic with 24 years sober, I know how difficult the discussion of addiction is. I know too the shame and humiliation felt by those who suffer. Choosing not to drink is a daily decision. But facing and slaying the demons that guided me to the path of drinking in the first place is what keeps me balanced and prevents me from slipping off of the very thin tightrope. Sobriety really is ‘One Day at a Time’ 

     Perhaps the most generous gift Robin Williams has given us is the opportunity for the discussion, recognition and treatment of mental illness, depression and addiction without social recriminations. Creating an environment where those who suffer begin to speak openly and freely can help us recognize red flags and find a way to help. Open discussion may offer hope to some and lead to fewer suicides.

     When a man who was loved by millions the world wide feels so alone and desperate- isolated in his own home that his only solution was to take his own life, we have to wake up. He is free of his pain and we can learn from it.

 Be at peace Robin Williams


 National Suicide Prevention Life line: 1-800-273-8255


A Farewell To Cancer, Farewell To Mom

The first time I can remember hearing the word ‘Cancer’ was when I was in Jr. High School. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor convinced her he could ‘Get it all.’ if she had a mastectomy. So, Nana agreed. I believe he removed her spunky spirit when he removed her breast. And, he did not “Get it all.” Nana died when I was in High School.


When I think of all the people who, since Nana, have died from cancer I get a sick feeling in my stomach. The mother and father of my best childhood friend, another good friends mother, a couple of neighbors, several friends and co-workers and today, my mother.

mom-October 2, 1931 to January 18, 2014149_n

The number of people who I know who have had cancer and gone through treatment and not survived is staggering and too many to name.

7 (2)

I use to believe a cure for cancer was close. I use to have hope. Now I don’t. I don’t believe the cure for cancer will never be released. It may have already been discovered years ago. When I consider all the diseases science has conquered in my lifetime, it is impossible for me to believe cancer isn’t on that list. But then I think about the size of industry that is devoted to cancer research and treatment and I get cynical. It’s easy to see how finding a cure is counterproductive to the search for a cure and detrimental to it all is the announcement of a cure for cancer.

Just imagine the staggering number of people who would be instantly out of work if a cure for cancer was announced today. Oh, sure, some would go on to research other diseases, but not many if you consider the big picture.
Scientist, Doctors, Hospitals, Pharmaceutical Companies, Medical Equipment Manufacturers, Therapists, Holistic Healers, Fashion Industry, Fund Raisers and on and on and on, would all out of work.

The never-ending search for a cure for cancer may just be one of the largest employers in this country. I am tired of hearing about the search for a cure. For almost ¾ of my life I have heard some mention of finding a cure for cancer every day. Oh how I would love to turn on the TV, radio or computer and see “Cure For Cancer FOUND!!” I have lost hope.

It was determined several years ago that breast cancer is hereditary. My grandmother died of it and today my mother died of it. I do not believe the cure will ever be announced in my lifetime so it’s likely I will die of it too.
If there is a heaven or here-after, I hope my mother made it there and she is finally at peace.
Give my love to Nana for me mom.




Dear Amazon.com,

It was brought to my attention today that there were some inappropriate ‘Sponsored Links’ on my book’s product page.
I am horrified and repulsed beyond your comprehension.
Please click on the photo below and take a good look at the screen-shot.

Amazon-"Wanna See Raping?"  WTF?

Amazon-“Wanna See Raping?” WTF?

What problems did you find?

‘Wanna see Raping?”
Do I have to explain to you why this is not only offensive, but criminal?
As one of the largest market places in the world you could be using your power to influence good as I have with my book
One Voice Raised: A Triumph Over Rape.
Instead you allow repulsive Sponsored Links like:

“Check out Rape” “Wanna See Rape” and “RapeVideos” to freely appear on my page.

How dare you!?!

I am trying to raise awareness and create an environment where victims and survivors feel safe and supported.
I am looking forward to the day when all of us who have suffered abuse, rape and sexual assault
are greeted by a world of trust and understanding.
A world that looks at the survivor and does not see what the rapist has done and does not condemn the survivor for being the
victim. I am looking forward to a world where all survivors find their voice and speak out against these heinous crimes.

Amazon, your endorsement of criminal behavior and repulsion is a clear indication of the problems my dream faces.

You disgust me.

My next step is to make your horrible choice of supporting sexually abusive behavior be seen by as many people as possible.
I sure hope this goes viral so millions see the horror that was revealed on my own product page today.

You don’t care.

Most Sincerely,
Jennifer Wheatley-Wolf
Author of: One Voice Raised: A Triumph Over Rape

Please share this post. Amazon must be stopped and you can help. Thank you.

Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow I will be 55 or as my husband likes to say, “Double nickel.”
How did this happen? When did I officially enter the latest stages of middle age?
It must have happened when I wasn’t looking.

I remember when I was a kid talking with my best friend, Dawn about growing up and getting older I guess we were in Jr. High School-15 or 16. One conversation turned to the year 2000- that seemed like light-years away. “I’m going to be 42 in 2000.” I said to Dawn. “If I live that long!”
Back then, our parents were probably in their 30’s and of course, to us, they seemed old. Wow, that must make me ancient in the eyes of teenagers today!

That's me in the white dress at 10 years old

That’s me in the white dress at 10 years old

But, I don’t think of myself as old. My body argues with me all the time about this as some days I wake up with an ache or pain somewhere for no reason. Most of my hair, what’s left of it anyway, is gray. Clairol is having a harder and harder time creating satisfying results with any of their best products. But, I keep trying.
My make-up kit has a variety of anti-wrinkle creams and smoothing lotions that promise to turn back the hands of time. Sometime I think to myself that maybe I’ll stop dying my hair and stop slathering the creams and potions onto my face morning and night and then I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. Not so fast, I mean, what if the creams really are keeping me young looking and I stop using them? I will be a wrinkled prune by next week. Best to continue with my quest for the fountain of youth for a few more years.

Me at 10

Me at 10

Me at 30

Me at 30

I have not decided how to celebrate this milestone, but I certainly will. Maybe I’ll take my camera outside for an adventure; possibly head over to the Smithsonian. There is always something interesting to see and photograph in DC. Maybe a movie at the I-max or in my favorite theater, the Uptown.

One thing is for certain, there will be ice-cream.

I have been on some kind of diet or another since I was 13. Seriously. Up and down goes my weight. It does take significantly longer in my late-middle-age stage of life to see the needle on the scale head south, but if I cut back on all food and get some exercise. Usually it’s walking endlessly outside or on the treadmill. As long as I do something everyday, I do see results.

leaf Oct 2013
Today I wanted to mow the lawn for the last time this year. Mowing would crunch up all the leaves from neighboring trees that fall in my yard and let them decompose and enrich our soil through the winter. The mower wouldn’t start. I asked my husband for help. No luck. Finally I gave up on the gas mower and dragged out the push mower. Yeah, it’s a piece of crap, but I was determined to help out with the leaf decomposition. An hour of pushing, pulling and lots of unjamming the blades and the lawn doesn’t look any different. I think a couple of stray, tall blades of grass got hacked off, but the leaves are still intact. I have no idea how, after mowing over and over and over, none of the leaves got any smaller. Mother Nature will have to do the work on her own this winter-I’m done. Oh, but there is an upside to the push mower…no gym membership is necessary to work the abdominal muscles. The lawn may look like crap, but I burned some calories so, I can have ice-cream on my birthday.

I will skip the cake as I have developed a sensitivity to wheat and eggs in my late-middle-age stage of life and have abstained from eating lots of foods I really like for almost a year in an effort to avoid allergy shots.
It’s hard to pass up fresh baked bread, pasta and desserts. But I’ve been doing it. Oh, I forgot to mention the allergist told me I am also allergic to chicken, soy, oats and chocolate.
WHAT? Chicken too? And CHOCOLATE?? Enough! I mean, a girl’s got to live a little doesn’t she? Make mine two scoops of chocolate-chocolate chip with nuts and whipped cream.

Me (The Sock Monkey Fairy) at 52

Me (The Sock Monkey Fairy) at 52

Ed Asner and me at the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival 2013

Ed Asner and me at the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival October, 2013.
Me at 54

Picture Book

I take hundreds, no thousands of photographs a year. Out of these I manage to get quite a few that I really like.
Many people have asked me what I do with all of these images.
For the most part, not much. The cost of printing is formidable and when I consider the number of photos I want to print, it’s impossible.

Every year I go through the newest folder of images selecting a group of them and I have calendars made to give as Christmas gifts. This is fun as it lets me see some of my favorites in print. When I really feel ambitious, I compile a photo book including suitable poems or quotes where they relate to an image.

In the beginning of October, I went on a Fall Photo Shoot with a group of photographer enthusiasts to Davis, West Virginia.
Our leader, Dave Blecman owner of Positive Negatives presented us with a coupon from NationsPhotoLab.com. This coupon was good toward the purchase of any of their printed items.
As a treat to myself, I went through many of my images, selecting favorites adding a few of my latest fall shots. I decided to treat myself to a photo book. I am glad I took the time to set it up and have it printed. It’s so rewarding to see my images presented in such a beautiful book!
The color is perfect and the finished product really makes my photos look professional.

I have been, since childhood, a big fan of picture books.
Maybe these early encounters with page after page of beautiful or exotic and fascinating images has influenced and inspired me to become a better photographer.
There is no finer gift than to be in the right place at the right time with my camera in hand except, maybe, seeing my images in the pages of my own picture bookalmost-gone-0ct-13_n

Eat The Ice Cream

Last night I had a huge bowl of ice-cream for dessert. Well, not just a bowl of ice cream. I went all out and added marshmallow cream and hot fudge. I ate every bite and I didn’t feel any of the usual guilt-pangs that go along with this indulgence. You see, I went to a funeral for a good friends mother yesterday. Usually funerals leave me feeling empty and sad and asking “What’s it all for anyway?”. But this funeral was different because Roz was different.


I met Roz for the first time on Valentines day in the late 90’s. It was a chance meeting at the Annapolis Mall while on a date with Marcus. Marcus and I saw Roz and her husband Stan sitting on a bench near the movie theater where we were heading to see Silence of the Lambs. Marcus introduced us and within the 5 minute in-depth conversation, Roz knew practically everything about me and my family. You see, she was the kind of person who was not satisfied with small talk. Roz would pleasantly probe and pick at you until she was confident she had a well-rounded understanding of who you are and what you are about. All the while smiling that famous, engaging grin. She left me laughing. About what? I cannot remember. But, I remarked to Marcus after we said our good-byes how nice I thought she was and I could see where her son Scott gets his sense humor.

It was several years down the road, after Marcus and I married, when I would have the good fortune of chatting with Roz again. At a birthday party for Scott, I walked into the living room and there was Roz surrounded by several other guests chatting animatedly about this one’s children and that ones career. She spied me as I walked into the room an immediately called out to me “Jennifer, how nice to see you again!” I was instantly wrapped in the warmth of her smile and became engaged in the conversation.
“How’s the book selling? Tell me about your latest quilt! And your sister Mollie, have you been on any new adventures together?” She tossed out questions faster than I could answer. I was shocked, surprised and flattered that she remembered so many details from the short conversation we had had 6 or 7 years ago. How could she possibly remember so much about me?

Turns out, everyone who met Roz has a similar story. She had a gift that is mind boggling. She genuinely wanted to know you and was truly interested in your life. Somehow, she not only remembered your name, but every detail discussed in the time you spent talking with her. Several days, weeks, months or even years later she would start a conversation by asking about your life and what was new since last you spoke. Always remembering as if she had just seen you minutes ago.

All who met her became part of her family. So yesterday at her memorial service, it was not surprising to see a room full of people who were her ‘family’ crying and laughing (because Roz loved to make you laugh) and all of us telling a similar tale.

Just seconds before the service began at the graveyard, as the last guests were approaching the tent, a strong breeze stirred over our heads touching all of us as it circled around and around for a few seconds. Roz embracing all of us-saying her good-byes. A butterfly skittered away as the breeze settled. In that moment I was reminded how our lives are connected; how we influence and inspire others. I realized how lucky I have been to have friends who genuinely care for me and include me as a member of their extended family. The time spent with these friends is special as it fills me with happiness and for a while everything in life is easy and everything ‘means’ something.
I was also reminded how short our lives really are and how we should make an effort to enjoy each second. So, in celebration of Roz’s life, I indulged in an ice-cream sundae. I believe she would approve. Safe travels Roz until we meet again.



It’s funny how life throws stuff at us and, without even realizing it we find ourselves a part of a much bigger picture.

I have been mulling around how to begin my presentation for the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) Conference in Seattle next April. I know, I have lots of time to get this finished. But, it doesn’t feel like lots of time.

Lots of time was the 21 years it took to solve my rape case. That was lots of time. In fact, it was long enough for me to work through the terror, PTSD and rebuild my life one painting, one photograph and one quilt at a time.
I’ve grown up, grown older, gotten married and have even written a book about all of this.

2013 eLit Bronze Medal Winner

I wrote-One Voice Raised: A Triumph Over Rape (Amazon) in approximately 3 months. That was easy. No, really it was.
Everything was there in front of me for 21 years. All I needed to write the book was a face and a name for the final chapters, That was the missing piece all those years. I didn’t see the face of my attacker. He threatened to kill me if I looked at him. I could not identify him. Once my case was solved, everything fell in to place and the book practically wrote itself.

The EVAW Conference draws professionals from every aspect of abuse, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. It’s odd to think they would want to listen to one more survivor’s story. What could I possibly tell them that they don’t already know?

I have been fortunate in that I have met many of the people who were involved in my case. Some as far back as 1988 and some from 2005 until 2010. This is pretty cool. I remember talking with a woman who processed DNA from my rape kit. I said I thought it must be wonderful knowing the work she does helps to convict (or exonerate) so many. I was shocked to hear her say that rarely does she get to know the outcome of a case or what purpose the evidence served. Unless it’s a high-profile case that makes it’s way into the newspapers, they plug away at their job and never see how the work they do changes lives.

I guess I just found a good way to start my presentation. I have to trust in myself to know where to go from there.


Amazon link to One Voice Raised: