SLOW: My Guiding Word for 2021

I know I’m not alone in stating that 2020 really kicked us in the nuts. It was a year from hell in so many ways, and not what was expected or wanted. But it also was a year of great change and realisation for myself. It was tough but there were also good things to come out of the chaos. One thing that I carry with me into the New Year is the practice of slow.

Whether we wanted to, or liked to, or not, 2020 made us all slow down. Being locked down, in the UK, for the most of the year, I got into a routine and practice of slowing down and being satisfied by achieving less and less each day, each week, each month. Consequently, being more in touch with my life moment to moment. I had to be more present within my life on a day to day basis as that’s all I had to occupy my attention. How I moved through my day, what I did, or ate. Who I talked to or not, who I spent time with or not, was all magnified to huge proportions, that I came to appreciate what I had and didn’t have within my life.

Slowing down was my way of living to the full within the restrictions and limitations. To the point that when the restrictions were eased, when there were more opportunities to re-engage with society, at the back end of 2020, before we went back into a lockdown, and the tiers were introduced, I chose to remain in this slowed down pace way of living. People were rushing and frantically trying to get back to ‘normal’, trying to catch up for the time they felt was lost and wasted during lockdown, but for me this time at home was time gifted. Time I used to go within and really work on myself.

Slowing down is a gift and a privilege which I’m not rushing to give up as we enter 2021. I’m going to use the word ‘slow’ as my guiding word for the year as an anchor to continue exploring what my life can become when I chose to go, to work, to be at my own pace. I intend to work out on a day to day basis what it means to slow down rather than work or perform at someone else’s urgent-got-to-be-completed-yesterday demands.

Slowing down is empowering as it means I’m taking back control of how I operate within this world. I’m not going to make demands on other people’s time or energy as if it’s totally necessary as I don’t know their story. I don’t know what other pressures they’re carrying at this time, so I don’t want to add to their burden with my time-sensitive demands. I hope through practicing this for myself and with others that other people will offer the same gesture to me. To allow me to move and be at my own pace, a must slower pace. Things will be done and completed all in good time.

I want to bring about change to what is valued within society, Western society in particular, where productivity and demonstrating our busyness is seen as admirable and something we should all constantly strive for. Rather than being slower, slowing down to savour the moments, and being more focused at the same time. Slow is not lazy or backwards or to be dismissed. Slow is simple and calming and nourishing.

I look forward to this year and exploring the art of slow/ slowness/ slowed down living and being.

December Reading

I was hoping to finish for a Christmas break sooner in December than I actually did. I wanted to ease into the holidays, getting snug and cosy and reading to my heart’s content. Of course even the best laid plans go awry. But I still managed to clock up some reads, as I got ready for 2021. What is going to be my focus the new year? I think there’s some clues within my December reading list.

Here are the books I read this month:

  1. Black Bodies, White Gaze – George Yancy
  2. Keep Going – Austin Kleon
  3. Creatrix – she who makes – Lucy H. Pearce
  4. Slow: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Hectic World – Jo Peters
  5. The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
  6. The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton

Tripping Over Joy

Tripping Over Joy
by Hafez

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint
Knows that the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move

That the saint is now continually
Tripping Over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.

November Reading

This month was a bit sparse on the reading front but there were still books that got finished.

  1. The Festive House – Alison May
  2. Autumn Skies Over Ruby Falls – Holly Martin
  3. The Taxidermist – Shazea Quraishi

Update – NaNoWriMo 2020

The first two weeks of November have come and gone. Fast.

The first week was all about conversations with people around the globe. And all of them seemed urgent and necessary. So I gave them my all. So that going into the second week, I had to think about my boundaries and start to control the conversations. Work more to my schedule and energy levels and needs rather than others.

The second week of November was no less demanding, as I had to plan a number of differences workshops that were/ are coming up. So this week has definitely been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to keep the shop front neat, sort of thing.

So my energy levels and attention spans have been up and down already this month and this has affected the time and attention and care I could offer up to my memoir.

Two weeks in then to the NaNoWriMo challenge and nearly 20000 words down. And considering all that I’ve just shared about November so far, I’m pretty pleased with the word count. Ideally, it would be good to be at 25000 as it is the half-way mark, but it is what it is. And it’s 20000 more words than I would have created if I’d not taken up this challenge. Win win I say.

I might not clock up as many words in the second half of the month as I move into editing mode. But we’ll see. The aim is to complete the current essay around grief as well as complete another essay about slavery, DNA and my body. So plenty tochall be getting on with and hopefully I’ve got a better handle on my diary as we enter the second half of the month.

Nature Writing Workshop – Our Essential Insects

Working in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, we bring you a unique and new creative writing workshop tapping into the wonder of nature.

The Trust is spearheading a special campaign to raise awareness about the importance of insects to all of life, including us humans. The Trust is trying to raise awareness as well as money that can be used to protect these vital players in life as we know it.

Taking inspiration from these small and mighty creatures, this workshop will be a 1.5 hour generative writing workshop where attendees will explore new ways to write about the natural world as well as our connection within it. Following a series of prompts and possibilities, participants will have a chance to share their work within the group.

This is a virtual event and costs £5. More information as well as signing up can be completed here.

More podcast interviews

As I shared in September, I might not be meeting up with people face to face, and staying home all cosy and safe, I’m becoming more social virtually as I appear on a number of different podcasts.

Well a couple more episodes came out last month which I think I should share here.

The Nurture Project, hosted by Sophy Dale, is a podcast series which came out of an online project on how we can nurture ourselves, which ran in 2020. This is a series which features podcast interviews with a range of inspiring and insightful creative small business owners, including myself. In this conversation, I talk about all things self-care, ranging from wild swimming to hand cream, and the importance of caring for our sources of inspiration as well as ourselves. Take a listen, there is wisdom to be shared.

The next conversation I want to share with you is with the lovely Naomi Woddis for The Two of Us Shorts. Originally broadcast on Reel Rebels Radio, here we discuss the power of creativity to work through trauma and my relationship with nature and its power to heal. This was such a juicy and liberating episode where I take a deep dive into the difficult stuff. Have a listen and let me know what you think by getting in touch.

NaNoWriMo 2020

2020. I’m biting the bullet. October was billed as a creative retreat at home earmarked for me to get back into my mixed genre memoir writing. It didn’t go to plan and I found myself connecting more with the outside world and other people than I cared to really do. So this month of November, I’m taking back my time and space to focus on my creative endeavours.

I’ll continue reading a poetry book a day and writing a poem from the inspiration. But I’m steeping up my writing by taking part in the month long challenge of writing a novel, NaNoWriMo.org
it’s been a few years since I’ve taken on this challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days but I feel I just need this accountability and energy this challenge brings to get my out of my no writing rut.

And I have already felt it’s benefits as I am 5000 word done. It’s amazing what can be done once you get your arse in the seat, turn up and write. Keep tuning in to see how I get on.

October Readings

October turned out to be a great month of reading after I set myself the Sealy challenge; of reading one book of poetry a day for a month.
Here’a the books I got through:

  1. Other Poetry, no.23 – anthology of poetry
  2. Writing for my life – Nancy Levin
  3. The World Don’t End – Charles Simic
  4. Our Dead Behind Us – Audre Lorde
  5. Butcher’s Dog 12 – anthology of poetry
  6. Butcher’s Dog 13 – anthology of poetry
  7. What to look for in Autumn – Ladybird Book
  8. Facts about the moon – Dori Anne Laux
  9. Undersong – Audre Lorde
  10. Postcolonial Love Poem – Natalie Diaz
  11. What the Water Gave Me – Pascal Petit
  12. It Ends With Her – Brianna Labuskes
  13. I am an Island – Tasmin Galidas
  14. The Crossroads of Should and Must – Elle Lune
  15. Danger on Peaks – Gary Synder
  16. The Goddess Oracle – Amy Sophia and Mara Rashinsky
  17. Blue Front – Martha Collins
  18. The Autumn House – Alison May
  19. The Winter House – Alison May