This year, I’m being brave by saying ‘yes’ to the things that light me up from the inside out. This will help with gaining clarity around what I’m doing. The things that are worth doing are the things that bring me pure joy.
I’m being brave by putting my trust in myself. To get rid of the doubt and questioning of self and to trust that I’ve always got my best interests at heart.
I bravely offer myself grace instead of judgements, making peace with myself as I’m tired of the battle. Instead of fighting myself, my instincts and my best interests, I’m gonna be loving on myself at every opportunity.
What does this look like in practice? I don’t know. But I’ll know what it feels like because I’ll be glowing and full of joy.
What will support me on this brave journey is my creativity. And offering myself creative solutions to problems and issues. Sobriety will help. Along with water inside and outside of my body. And rest and journaling and healing slowly and deeply.
Deciding to love oneself unconditionally is bravery especially when one lives in a world, a dominating system which doesn’t recognise one’s worth beyond oppression and exploitation.
Welcome to 2023. Wow. We got here quick with 2022 flying by. I wonder what 2023 has in store for us all?
I eased into the first day of 2023, after a lie-in, with breath work, meditation and intention setting. For the life I envision, I need to invite in the energy of calm and peace.
I know (re)starting my gratitude practice will support me in this endeavour. No matter how small, taking a moment to give thanks, a small act of presence, mindfulness, and care is a gift I could be giving to myself daily. So why do I resist or forget and allow this practice to disappear from my life?
Fear. And that belief that I’m not worth healing. That I don’t deserve happiness and peace. It’s time to switch up my thinking and ways of treating myself.
I pulled the womb card today from The Earthcraft Oracle. I’ve been pulling one card a day for months now, and today does not fail to chime with how I’m feeling or send me the message I’ve been listening for.
The womb is the centre of all creation. The womb holds all the potential. This card comes into my life today of all days to remind me how to awaken my sacral chakra. To lean into creation as here there is healing. Create and heal are the same thing.
To create, one must imagine something that has never been. To heal, one must be willing to embrace a new way of being.
The Earthcraft Oracle Guidebook
On the first day of the year 2023, I take on board this message and practice to stimulate my creative centre and bring forth inspiration and healing for myself, and for those who came before me and for those who come after me. Ashe.
I’m merging myself, self-portraiture, with nature. Self assimilated with nature. I’m exploring my connection with nature through photography( for now!).
I’m exploring the environment and the visibility of Blackwomen within the landscape. Using the photographic image to tell a story. In the process reclaiming the narrative of Blackwomen and nature and photography.
I’m exploring the Blackwoman’s space and visibility in love and in relationship with nature. My audience is the Blackwoman. I want her to enter the space I create through my practice and recognise herself there. I want her feel that she belongs, feel the joy and all the lushness created in that space.
This will be a multidisciplinary experience. This will be a celebration of mixness, hybridity and our bodies in love with nature.
A recent addition to my portfolio has been details about my Trace Mentorship opportunity. This was an applied for opportunity to experience the time and space to focus on my photography through a structured programme with other women over 35 years old.
Through a series of talks, presentations, peer and professional reviews, the aim is to gain confidence, knowledge, exposure and further opportunities to develop our skills and establish our practice.
I haven’t really been able to devote the required time and attention to this programme due to immersing myself within the BALTIC commission, it feels like for most of 2022. With this being complete and installed, back from Washington State, now I have the time to really get to grips with this opportunity.
It started with a portfolio review with three experts. I had the great pleasure and honour of talking one on one with Hettie Judah,Cindy Sissokho and Bindi Vora. And what a tremendous opportunity this was to sit down with them (virtually) and talk about my work, my vision, my mission etc.
Not only were they very positive and supportive about my work, but they also offered inspiration, encouragement, reassurance and permission. Yes from talking to these people within the know, my practice, what I’m doing, or trying to do was recognised and appreciated.
I was given back permission and the confidence to keep doing me. To keep pushing the boundaries, to not place limitations on myself, my practice, or what a photograph can be/ can do.
I’m in a much better place now to expand my way of being, seeing and doing, and continue to bring my mixness, hybridity to what I do. I’m excited to see where this takes me.
I’m enjoying the process as usual and not worrying about the end product. And I’m taking my time, embracing the slow. This feels nourishing and good for my soul.
Right now my practice is on display within The BALTIC: Centre for Contemporary Art.
As I was out of the country when the group exhibition, Hinterlands, launched on Friday 22 October, 2022, I managed to get into seeing it after such event the following week.
I really didn’t know what to expect as you visualise the end result, the culmination of months of hard work, dreaming and winging it. But to actually see it all come together in a white cube space is another thing.
I visited my archive last week, with my daughter, excited and nervous and unsure. I got to see The Country Journal of a Blackwoman(Northumberland) exhibited on level 3 of The BALTIC. I was shocked and surprised to see my work out of context within this space. It was an emotional as well as nerve wracking experience.
Because of my absence, I had to leave instructions about the installation as well as extensive notes and labels for each art piece. There are about 50 items if not more within this creative archive. It’s to be expected that things got lost or mislaid in translation. So my focus for this trip was to make sure everything was how I wanted it to be.
After some discussion and sending of correct audio files, everything is now complete and as I want it to be presented to the world.
I’m not sure how I feel that during the launch of the whole exhibition, that things were wrong or missing. But I do know that after seeing everything in terms of my contribution and making things right after my visit, I felt great relief and was able to enjoy the achievement. It was also weird to be there at the same time as seeing peel interacting with my work. I’m not sure I want to have many experiences like that as their reactions did affect my state of mind, pride and achievement. And it would be very unsetting, I feel, to be there and witness someone laughing and disrespecting my work. I think this is something I need to gain a thicker skin for. But right now, my skin is thin for a number of reasons, tat I might explore here in time.
I know I have to return now, to take in the rest of the group show as well as the rest of The BALTIC’s exhibitions for this season, as this is a strong presentation.
I’m honoured to be showing at the same time with them.
Of course more reflection and images to come around this achievement.
HINTERLANDS 22 October 2022 – 30 April 2023, BALTIC: Centre for Contemporary
Last week I attempted to walk the West Highland Way, again. And I failed again.
Around the mid point, well 52 miles in, I suffered an injury; a stress fracture in my right foot. It became too painful to continue. I was gutted.
After making the decision, I took my usual day to feel all the feels and then I got back up again. I switched this failure ( in terms of not completing the whole 96 miles) into a positive.
I walked along the byways and drovers roads and old railway tracks and had a great time being with nature. A week of forecast rain never materialised. The weather was bright and pleasant and welcome.
And the scenery was to die for. But I knew I couldn’t continue at the pace I was going. I had to weigh up the odds; continue to prove what? Or to stop and reduce further injury?
It also got to the point of no longer enjoying it. Because I was in pain and exhausted and feeling sorry for myself, I couldn’t enjoy the walking anymore. I couldn’t look up from the trail and breathe in the air and appreciate the view. My focus became the pain and how to get it to stop.
So I left the trail. Disappointed in myself but also proud of myself. I didn’t carry on seeking glory and jeopardising my body and the rest of my plans for the year and beyond. I took this hit of not reaching my goal in order to move through other goals easier or smoother.
I’ll not lie, I am upset about it. And had a funk about it. But at the same time, I appreciate the experience. I had such a lovely time waking up at the side of Loch Lomond with the last of the stars disappearing into a pinking sky over the glistening water. I felt blessed. And I still do feel this way to have had this opportunity of walking 52 miles from the lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland. Thank you.
Starting off Sunday next week, I plan to walk the West Highland Way, a well signposted trail from just north of Glasgow, Milngavie to the Highlands of Scotland, Fort William.
I tried to walk this trail about 8 years ago but failed at the mid point due to sickness. So this time, I plan to complete it by any means necessary. If that means someone else carries my bag with camping gear from one stop to the next then so be it. I’m not too proud to accept help.
But I’ve just checked the weather for next week. And apart from a sun shine sign on Sunday, the rest of the week is 50-60% rain each day. Every day until the following weekend.
Now I could let this put a dampener on the whole walk, pun intended. Or I could just carry on as I have been carrying on, full of excitement with a genuine positive mindset to complete the miles but to enjoy the process.
I’m going into this week of walking, shortest day 10 miles – longest day 21 miles, coming off the back of some good learning experiences which I want to bring to bear in this next challenge.
The first is my 100 days of practice to complete my commission for the BALTIC Hinterlands exhibition due to go live 22 October. I didn’t allow myself to get too far into my head, stress and worry about what I was creating. Instead, I really enjoyed the process of showing up each day and seeing what came out of it. I totally enjoyed the process and had fun.
The second is my recent completion of the Great North Run. I went into this event off the back of very little training and with the simple mission of completing the 13.1 miles by any means necessary. But I didn’t look upon it as something I had to get through, grin and bear it. No. I went into this endurance event with a healthy positive mental attitude. I wanted to enjoy the day. Get around with a smile on my face, really soaking up the atmosphere of the day.
These two learning experiences I will bring to my West Highland Way challenge. So it says it’s going to be rain for the whole week. I’m going to get wet. I’ll expect to get wet. No surprises then. So the flip side is when I see the sun, or glimpse a patch of blue sky, I’m going to feel gratitude and it’s going to put a spring in my step.
I’m prepared for the rain but if I get sunshine I’ll take it with a smile. I’m not going to cancel this trip I’ve been planning for months because of a spot of wetness. I’m going to get wet as I plan to get into the lochs along the way. I’m planning to take each mile as it comes and enjoy the journey. Rain or shine. I’m doing it.
Yes I’ll get wet. Yes I’ll be cold. Yes I might not dry out all week. But I’ll be out in the Scottish landscape soaking it all up.
Would I like more sunshine? Of course I would. Would I like to be stuck inside, head buried into a computer screen working for the man? Hell no. Give me a week of walking in the rain from the Lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland and I will gladly take it with a smile on my face.
When I took up a door to door sales jobwhile at University in London for extra cash, rain was sold to us sale reps. as “liquid sunshine”. I’m going to remember that as I trek through the miles.