Chuck, bartender

It was late fall and crisp.

Leafless trees were approaching fast.

But a still a few had tongues enough

to whisper; orange, yellow and red jazz

through the swinging door.

Inside the air was close and smoky.

Eyes closed, heads dropping into

their drinks, bodies swayed to the beat.

I blew into the bottom of glasses,

wiped and placed back onto shelves.

I caught her in the mirror, just her back

just as she was leaving the stage.

Her white gown flowing.

Wilted gardenia petals around the mike.

Pause

I was talking to a dear friend, last night via FaceTime. We hadn’t connected with each other for months. Our schedules just didn’t coincide. But now, as the outside world slows down, we managed to connect and spend an hour or so catching up. With her living out in Washington State and me in the North of England, over the last ten years of our friendship, we’ve managed to stay in touch pretty well. Sometimes in person too.

We both feel that what is happening in the world now, with the pandemic is awful and worrying. But we both recognise a shift in the pace of life, that this has brought about too. Closing our doors, literally to the outside world, not going to work, not socialising with people face to face, has meant a change in behaviours. We’ve gone within and have started to appreciate all those little things that were right under our noses all along. We’ve started to experience gratitude for the lives we’ve created and are still able to enjoy.

For me, this time has given me the space to purposefully lean into my creative practice. I’m not pushing it, striving for productivity like I have in the past. And I’m not beating myself up when I don’t happen to complete my to-to list for each day. I mea, whenever have I managed to complete that never-ending to-do list? But still there’d be that voice at the end of the day berating myself for what I didn’t accomplish instead of congratulating myself on what I did do. Now I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator and it feels weird but it also feels right. I’m settling into the self-isolating with my family, and trying to take better care of myself. I’m fixing my own oxygen mask first and that feels weird but right also.

Things are not good at the moment. Especially when I do venture outside for the essentials and see the empty shelves in supermarkets. Also when people seem to not understand the concept of social distancing and still stand up on my arse as if we’re in a packed train carriage. Step away from me, man. I want to shout. Use some common sense. When I have to be out there, it soon annoys me with how some people are reacting, and my panic levels start to rise as a result. This is when I choose to walk away and find some space in nature. Walking outside is still possible and so is going into the sea. Thank goodness. Small mercies, I’ll gladly have for now. Out in nature, watching the waves, listening to the birds, seeing buds bursting on branches, my mind soon calms down, my breathing deepens, and my smile reappears.

So yes, things are not good at the moment with the Coronavirus but things could be a lot worse. And I think things, the situation and the way society operates at the moment, are going to get a lot worse before better. Here in the U.K., each day sees an increase in the number of deaths from the virus as well as the number of confirmed cases. We haven’t hit the peak yet, as we’re lagging behind such countries as Italy and Spain. And this isn’t me wishing the worst on us or anyone else. This is me being real.

Spending time catching up with my friend, was needed and beneficial for us both. Yes we caught up with what’s been happening, but we were also able to see each other. See that we’re okay and send out hopeful vibes that one day we will meet again. Who knows what the future holds. Who knows how this social isolation will end, if ever. But we can have hope and we can make the best of a bad situation. Gratitude helps immensely here, believe.

The Creative Body

For the past few weeks, I’ve been itching to come to the canvas. To crack open the paints and create the images that have been streaming through my head usually when I put my head down to sleep. But in all honesty, I’ve been too mentally and emotionally exhausted to pick the paintbrush up.

Then I cut myself some slack and said to myself, you don’t have to get the paints out, just pick up a pencil or pen and draw something. So I did. And after the pencils came the charcoal and then the chalks and oil pastels and ink. Each stroke of line moved onto another and another medium to pick up and use. And before I knew it I’d created a body; a black woman’s body.

I’m now itching to do more. So the black women’s faces and bodies, one of my 100 day projects from 2019 are coming back for the official #The100dayproject which starts on 7th April till 15th July 2020.

To support me in this task, I’ve also signed up to Connie Solera’s Painting the Feminine again, which is always a rich space to create images from daily. Looking forward to exploring where these black women want to take me this year. Stay tuned.

The Goddess is back out, inside

She sits on my desk, in the spare room. My makeshift study/ studio/ freedom space. She’s a constant. A talisman. A charm. I sit sometimes when inspiration is lacking and just watch her as if waiting for her to move, to say something. But in all honesty, she doesn’t have to say anything as she is always communicating to me, with me, as she is inside me.

She is the voice of wisdom. She is my intuition. She is the quiet whisper, sometimes scream, that guides me along this path still. The small nudges and major cramps that emanate from my gut when I know something just doesn’t feel right. When I know a difficult decision, usually the right one, has to be taken. Now.

She sang out to me these past few days, singing, Lean into me, take me out again into the landscape of your home. You may be self-isolating, but let me help you look upon your home as a playground. As a space full of potential and inspiration. Let me help you make the best of a situation.

Here take my hand and I will show you the way.