“I will not let my happiness depend on other people.”
“ I will take care of myself first.”
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.
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.
There’s been signs but I’ve chosen to not pay attention, to not listen. But now I’m taking heed and acting accordingly.
Coming down our street there was a van packed up with the sign ‘By-Safe’ splayed across it’s backside. Okay I get the message.
I pulled the Lizard card today from The Wild Unknown, Animal Spirit, oracle deck. The Lizard is sensitive to the subtle, almost like a sixth sense; hearing what is yet to be spoken, seeing what is yet to be seen.
The Lizard’s energy and essence can be quickly worn down by big crowds, lots of travel, bright lights and over stimulation. The Lizard has shown its face today to tell me it’s time to pull back, to go within, seek my inner artist and start that creative project.
As I said, I was feeling the signs. This week saw me cancelling planned events and activities in relation to my nature projects. I’d started to self-isolate and have the inclination to draw my family in close. Not just for our own safety but for other people’s safety too. How do I know that I’m not carrying the virus? It’s amazing how much one person can stop the spread of the Coronavirus by self-isolating sooner rather than later.
Usually, the belief is what can one person do? In this case a hell of a lot. I’m working from home. I’m turning inwards and listening to my soul, my inner wisdom and I’m hanging onto my creativity.
“The meaning of the Inuit word “qarrstiluni” conjures up a striking image: “sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.” Teju Cole shares the word in his On Being conversation, and I’ve been drawn to it in the months and weeks since COVID-19 began affecting communities across the world. The pandemic has exposed how interconnected and interdependent we are as humans. Everyday practices, like handwashing and covering our sneezes, have become the most basic duty we owe to friends and strangers alike. And we’re finding thoughtful ways to care for one anotheramidst the tumult.”
The Pause, the newsletter from On Being . Subscribe now for more.
Today, I’m 60 posts into my #100daysofblogging here on my website. I think the first two months of the year have flown by. As we look towards Spring, I feel hopeful that I will fulfil this challenge, I feel hopeful that I’m learning so much from the journey.
During these 60 days, I’ll not lie, I’ve lost the spark, the creative spark from time to time. Those days when I can’t be bothered to come here. Those days when I’m tired or busy or just can’t face the blank screen. But making this commitment to myself has brought me back daily.
The spark is rekindled by remembering my purpose and passion. As the cheetah above signifies. Sometimes I just need to stop and check in with myself and check that I’m doing something for the right reasons. For something true to me.
I took upon this challenge for myself because I wanted a means to keep in touch with my creativity. I believe that action breeds action. Touching the bubble keeps the bubble afloat and important and in focus. Blogging helps me keep writing here and elsewhere.
The spark is rekindled by turning up. Do something. Do anything. Move forward. One word at a time. One foot in front is another. But don’t give up. The spark is rekindled by the feelings I experience when I know I showed up for me once again. It makes me smile. And Lord, do I like smiling.
Girltrek has announced March 1st as Black Women’s Appreciation Day. It’s about giving thanks to black women we know and don’t know. It’s about publicly flooding the world with thanks and love for black women who have not and continue to not receive their/ our rightful thanks, appreciation, gratitude, props and recognition for all that we do in this world; families, work, society and the Earth.
I totally embrace this day and give thanks to all the black women who came before me, trailing a path. I give thanks to all the black women walking beside me now. And I give thanks for the paths we trail for the black women to come behind us, our daughters. My Miss Ella.
I also give thanks and appreciation for myself. How I daily rock #blackgirlmagic against the odds. #ThankBlackWomen. Pass it on.
With this extra day in February, I take the time to write and read and reflect. This month has flown by and I’ve started more books than finished I think. But I’m not too fussed as I know I am reading more and widely to feed my curiosity as well as provide food for my own writing; inspiration.
Completed February readings include:
1.Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (99U)
2. Longstone – LJ Ross
3. The Hermitage – LJ Ross
4. The Mating Habits of Stags – Ray Robinson
5. Blogging for Authors – Nina Amir
Ongoing February reading include;
1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley
2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham
4. Life without Diabetes – Roy Taylor
5. Aphrodite’s Magic – Jane Meredith
6. Surfacing -Kathleen Jamie
7. Fleshing Out the Narrative – Marielle S. Smith
8. 8 Master Lessons of Nature – Gary Ferguson