The Beauty of Failing

Loch Lomond

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.

River Fallon

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.

Craig Royston

A Week of Rain is Forecast

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.

Tune in and see how I get on next week.

Leaning into the season

This woman likes to wear her secret,

taste tart stars along the evening’s edge.

She be breath, she be mild roughness

all sharpness fading in time.

 

I’m loving the season, getting out and walking in the crisp morning air. Loving it. Expect to see more berries on these pages. Until then I share my berry ripeness.

Fiery Autumn Love

“The woman who is willing to make that change must become pregnant with herself, at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

I love Autumn. I always have but it’s just now, in the last few years, that I’ve really embraced this love. Confessed this love to anyone who would listen. Maybe it’s because I was born during this season. Maybe it’s the feeling of beginnings I have for the season with the return to school. Or maybe it’s the array of fiery colours.

There is something about the light during this season which touches my soul and brings me hope with a tinge of sorrow. Each year, during this season, we used to travel to Barcelona for a week or so. And there, the light at this time of year, is even more pronounced. The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are lowering but when you get that light, that golden, warm light during an Autumn day, well the world doesn’t seem such an awful place. You can see and appreciate its beauty.

Many moons ago, I created a writing retreat in the mountains surrounding Rome, Italy, taking inspiration from the changing seasons within the landscape. The landscape’s on the change during Autumn and I wanted to explore this through creative means with others hence the retreat amongst the olive groves and rich colourful berries. Again there was a certain kind of light that would progress down the mountain through the day and rest into the evening with a creamy glow.

There’s hope during this season but also a necessity of letting go. We see this with the falling leaves, the flowers drooping , turning brown and crumpling into dust at the touch of a hand. There’s the ending of growth, death even, to make room for the next stage of development and growth and life.

I’m entering ( or could I already be there?) the Autumn of my life. In all honesty, I have been for the last few years. Since the pandemic, if not before, when there has been a great shedding of things, people, relationships, and responsibilities. I refuse to carry on, carrying the burdens of the world on my shoulders, trying to do it all instead of acknowledging the changes and entering this next phase of my life with grace.

This is what I’ll be exploring during this Autumn season. The beauty and grace and changes of the season. Within nature but also within myself. During Autumn, there’s a letting go, a surrender to what is, letting go of what was and a tenderness as there’s a slow progression into the next phase.

I’m not turning my back on my ageing process but I’m probably grieving the loss of youth, attention and usefulness. But this is the time, in that golden light, to embrace my condition of changing woman. Greet the transformations that are happening inside and outside of me with love. Like my love for Autumn. Autumn is here. She is beautiful and fiery. And definitely not silent.

Summer Loving

It’s been a short sharp second they’re since I’ve been here.

I’ve been enjoying the fruits of summer. The long hot days and nights. The light. The carefree feeling that a summer breeze brings. Being off the clock and not having to worry about the time.

I’ve also been busy working on the BALTIC commission and really enjoying the process. I’m loving seeing ideas come to fruition.

But this time can’t last forever. I know season’s change but so learning to live in the present with gratitude and grace.

It is in place that we locate ourselves

It is in place that we locate ourselves, mark ourselves in relation with others; it is  in place that we survive. – Meena Alexander  

Within my body, I carry the stories 

of my mother, grandmothers, 

sisters and aunts. My body carries 

their stories of love and loss;

wounds passed on through

bone and blood. Leaving scars, 

leaving diminished spirits.

But just as those stars are burning

bright right now, leaving their trails

of light, my body, my beautiful body

will survive, heal and fire. 

Great North Run 2022 – Confirmation

This race has been a long time coming.

I was due to run The Great North Run in 2020. But we all know what happened then.

Then I postponed it in 2021, as we were not out of the woods in terms of a global pandemic. And they changed the route. And I had a marathon the next month.

Then here we are in 2022, and the reasons for running this race are still there and probably becoming more and more prevalent.

I’m running the Great North Run on 11 September 2022 for Mental Health Foundation.There is nothing more important, hand in hand with our physical health, than our mental health.


There have been times in my life when I was out for the count, when I was low and depressed and considering suicide. It was the support of family and friends and professionals that got me through this difficult time. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of or something to hide.

We live in such a shitty world where everything can affect our mental health and well-being. But we also live in such a beautiful world where anything is possible. If we can just dream it.

I will support the Mental Health Foundation because they support us in our times of need as well as work hard to find the ways and means to prevent mental health problems and issues. The Foundation sees its role as being to address both the knowledge gap and the implementation gap.

Over the coming months, I’ll be sharing the statistics about the UK as well as global mental health statistics, issues and problems.

Please consider supporting me on my quest to run 13.1 miles again from Newcastle upon-Tyne to South Shields by pledging as little or as much as you can afford here. Thank you.

In Bed with Intuition

Nothing beats journaling in bed. Still half-asleep but fresh coffee bringing me around. And the day ahead. Expanding or constructing as I see fit.

I come to the page and allow my mood to guide me. What page to put pen to or image or colour.

It’s my intuition who leads the way, gently. Before my intuition was dead and gone. Repressed and forgotten. But slowly, through trust and patience my intuition is very much in the driving seat these days.

And I like it this way. She never sees me wrong but keeps me safe, creative and present.

Visual Journaling 24/05

::REST::

I just posted this over on my Patreon page for supporters, but I through it was relevant to post here. These are the revelations my visual journaling practice through up!

Visual Journal Spread – 22/05

Hey hey hey

How you doin’?

Me, I’ve been hitting on myself hard. Berating myself for spending last week in a stupor of low energy and slow pace productivity.

The practice of ::SLOW:: accompanied with the practice of ::CARE:: was not being practiced last week.

I could start shouting, ‘Shame on you, Sheree.’ But then I’d just be repeating the no compassion, no grace, no patience attitude and treatment towards self of last week.

Do you ever learn, Sheree?  Are you just circling the same old wounds and territory? Are you just right back in the same spot as before?

Nah man!

I’m not circling, I’m spiralling ( in a good way).

On this healing journey back to self, the pathway is a spiral. Yes there’s circling involved but with each new rotation I’m further up and further in, deeper into the exploration and becoming.

It’s like going up a mountain when you reach a vantage point. You get a better lay of the land as your vista opens up. You’ve got more data to play with moving forward/ upwards/ sideways/ and sometimes backwards. But you’re not in the same position as before because you have that experience, thoughts and feelings, events and reflections that have come to pass in the interim.

My takeaway therefore from last week is, ‘When you know you have a busy week ahead, Sheree darling, put in the diary rest and recovery for the week after that one.‘ Capeesh?!

If I schedule in the downtime, make a date with myself, then I won’t be riding my arse for not having enough energy to complete the things that might give me energy. 

Instead of guilt-tripping myself,
I’d be able to luxuriate in the feeling of knowing that’s all I’ve got to do in the time and space available is ::REST::