At the desk

Today, I’m up at 6am. We return to school after half-term break, and after the school run, I have an outdoor meeting. So my time is spoken for during the day. So I get up early, to come to my desk, and write. I ‘m working on putting my priorities first for a change. And don’t get me wrong, no one puts pressure on me to put their needs and wants first. No, no one has to do that because I do it myself. It is I who thinks I should be and do everything to everyone and bend in so many different directions and ways to make this happen. And when I don’t I’m racked with guilt and think I’m a bad mother, wife, friend, human being even.

For now, I’m changing this record which has been on repeat for far too long. I’m changing it up and sticking on the record which is called, Sheree’s priorities. It’s a sound that takes some getting used to. It’s a sound I might want to turn off straight away as it’s too needy, to hesitate, too demanding, too vulnerable. But I persevere through practice. Through turning up at my desk each day, sitting my arse down and picking up that pen and facing the uncertainties, I know I’m strengthening a much neglected muscle. And it feels good to find and use those muscles I didn’t even know I had.

And this morning, the music of that priorities record, that new release, is so growing on me that I find myself tapping my feet, swaying and singing along to the sweet sweet tune of creativity.

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The Centre For Life

Yesterday we took a trip to the Centre for Life in Newcastle, a Life Science Centre which was showing a whole heal of exhibitions and films about space and time travel and the night skies. We rocked up there not knowing what to expect but we weren’t disappointed. I can see how the entry fee would put people off, as it’s kind of steep, but really if you’re being savvy which we weren’t really, you could stay in there all day, take a packed lunch and get your money’s worth. As it was we were in there for nearly 5 hours and we hardly covered the place.

It’s a place where your inner kid can roam. I suggest you take some kids along with you because then you have no choice but to get down to their level and look around the experiment stations, the brain exhibitions, the play stations and the displays with wonder and curiosity.

The best part for me was sitting in the Planetarium with my head right back so I could watch the night sky to its fullest on the dome screen. The presentation on the stars and constellations and our universe was so amazing. And I just found myself, like a kid again, exclaiming ‘wow’ at every new image and cool fact. This is the second time this year that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the night skies and I’m sure it’s not going to be my last as these happenings are working to open up a door inside me which always said I was too stupid to know anything about our universe or life beyond us. But maybe it was a case of just not giving this field of knowledge and research enough attention. It’s science right? And black girls don’t do science! Wrong!

Well I’m learning now and I’m definitely not too stupid to take it all in and run with it.

Miss Ella touching a piece of the moon

Priorities

I had a serious talking to myself this week after I realised I was wasting far too much time on other people’s stuff instead of catering to my own needs and dreams. So when our spare room became clear again, I snatched it with both hands and set up my writing space.

I’ve turned up three days in a row to this desk and my writing tasks and dreams. And it might not sound like much to you but to me, it feels like a breakthrough. I’m no longer thinking of blocks or hard work, I’m thinking just turn up and see what happens. And when I hold this attitude, I motor along.

So my advice today is if you want to get creative you do have the time. We’ve got to stop making excuses or allowing other people’s expectations get in the way of what we really want to do. Onwards.

I Dare You

I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.” Maya Angelou

Today, I am daring myself to draw again. To allow myself to draw and dream and to be just curious again. To try things out, to practice with colour and not worry if it’s not right , if I get it wrong. I dare myself to get out my coloured pencils and to just try. To draw for me. And this is scary as it’s for nothing else I’m working on. It’s doing something for no other reason than to just try. And it doesn’t matter if I’ve got no time and other things are pressing. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t know where to start, or what I’m doing. I have an inkling to try so why not go with it. I dare myself today.

What are you daring yourself to do today?

January Book Review

So the book, I’d like to talk about is Eat and Run- My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek. I think I was first alerted to this book while watching Game Changers on Netflix. If you didn’t know, I’m vegan and I’d heard a lot about this film, debunking the old myth about vegans not getting enough protein and ‘real’ protein can only come from animals; meat.

So even though I’d adopted a vegan diet at the back end of 2018, I’ve still got a lot to learn and was interested in athletes that are vegan, their training and good sources of protein.

Anyway, on Game Changers, Scott Jurek is featured as a record holding ultra runner and how he’s done it all while vegan. Even during the programme Scott’s fixing to break the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Record. And in 2015, the ultramarathoner completed the supported trek in 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes, at the time a new record.

I’ll say it now, Scott interests me becuase one of my dreams is to complete an ultramarathon. There I’ve put it out there.
In the past, I’ve ran 3 marathons the last one being in 2014 in London. After that last one, even though I smashed my previous time by an hour coming in just over 6 hours, I fell out of love with running. And really not done much since. 2020 saw me lace back up my trainers and start at the beginning again with Couch to 5K. And as usual, I’m taking it slow and steady but enjoying the buzz. I’ve got a place in the Great North Run, running for the charity, Mental Health Foundation.

Anyway, Scott roused my interest because he runs and runs long and hard on a vegan diet. I’m fixing to do the same so bought his book to find out how it’s done. And I totally enjoyed it as it’s a mixture of memoir, training manual and recipes. His drive for running springs from personal pains and the struggles he went through for a long time in his life. His friendships developed through the love of running are amazing and heartfelt. The recipes included such as lentil mushroom burgers and apple cinnamon granola sound delicious and are totally doable once I get my finger out. But the idea of carrying hummus tortilla wraps on long runs instead of these energy gels and bars just sounds heaven to me. And of course, Scott didn’t always get it right and failed but kept going, year after year, perfecting his training, his mind and body and nutrition.

Eat and Run was a good read not only because of its hybridity or because of its details about different ultramarathons but because the reader is taken on the many journeys with Scott, almost running along with him as he becomes a record breaking ultramarathoner again and again.

January Reading

I didn’t set out into 2020 with a reading goal. I didn’t set any numbers but I did say I wanted to read more. Vague I know. And not the ‘proper’ way to set goals that you want to succeed at but at the time it was enough for me. And it’s been working.

January saw me curled up with actual books and the iPad sporting the kindle a lot more times than I felt I did at the back end of 2019. Could I say the whole of 2019? I’m not sure. Maybe my memory fails me here.

But the reading habit, the muscle memory of turning off all distractions and getting lost in a good book, fiction, non-fiction even poetry, seems weak in relation to the last couple of years to be honest.

Hopefully, with January now behind us, I can say that the drought is over as I hurtled through a number of books this month. I’m pretty proud of my numbers but also about how expanded I feel in terms of ideas and language and joy. The joy of reading has paid a long overdue visit and I want it to continue. So look forward to a monthly round up of books read each month. You might even find a book you’re interested in reading along the way.

I’ll list the books read and then give a review or details about just one of the books, as if I did it for all of them read this month, we’ll be here all day and come on, it’s the weekend.

Completed January books include:

1. Eat and Run- My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek ( started in December and completed at the beginning of January)

2. Turned Out Nice AgainOne Living with the Weather– Richard Mabey

3. Heavenfield – LJ Ross

4. Angel – LJ Ross

5. High Force – LJ Ross

6. Cragside – LJ Ross

7. Dark Skies – LJ Ross

8. Seven Bridges – LJ Ross

Ongoing January reading include;

1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley

2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham

4. Blogging Basics For Authors – Nina Amir

Book review in the next post. Thanks.

Today’s Objective

Today’s objective was one thing and one thing only; to walk. I’ve been feeling as if I’m standing at the edge of a deep black hole and that my footing was slipping. I know I’ve been doing too much lately and have been feeling the burn. So I know where the feelings are coming from but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with or hold at bay.

So I made a promise to myself today to put myself first. And walking was part of my self-care objective. Walking for miles is a good way to root me back into my body, back into my present and out of my head and worries and that black hole.

Over 10000, 10k and 1000 calories later, I also made the decision of taking another social media hiatus for February. I’ll continue with my #100daysofblogging here because I’ve made a commitment to myself. However, I need to spend some quality time alone with my own thoughts and dreams and as usual social media has become a distraction. I’m also feel as if I’m falling into that comparison trap again and when that starts to happen I know it’s time to depart.

So I’ve created a creative residency for the month of February at home. I’m dedicating the next month to following my creativity on whatever journey she wants to take me.

So the last day of January saw me listening within and paying attention and acting on what I felt. And I already feel so much better for it.

Of course this website is going to receive the benefit of a concentrated desire to share. Let’s see what await us!