What we need

What we need is tear leaders, not cheer leaders. We need tear leaders to teach us how to mourn. – Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Don’t Go Back to Sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

— Jelaluddin Rumi

Black Fatigue

It’s been one hell of a week. And it isn’t over yet. I just feel exhausted, drained and a bit bruised and a battered with the world. Can I say the system?

No. I’ve stopped using these kind of non-descriptive terms along with the likes of ‘institutional racism’. As these are terms used to conceal the truth, to deflect attention away from the people who create racist policies and practices. Who act on their racists attitudes and ideas. Who internalise racism and reflect it outwards against others that look like them.

I’m so sick and tired of being made to feel grateful for the crumbs that are thrown my way. That I should shut up and put up and a smile sweetly if I’m invited to the table. That I shouldn’t rock the boat, that I should be shamed or struck by fear into silence. Smile sweetly and just nod my head.

I’ve played the game and helped others tick their boxes as at the time I believed it would bring about change. That once I’d convinced them of my humanity, explained my existence and displayed my intelligence and worth then they would have to listen to me and take me seriously.

I’m sick and tired of this being played out again and again. All I can do is speak up. All I can do is work hard to create opportunities and experiences that weren’t there before for others and myself.

All I can do is call out injustices and imbalances in power and access where I see them. To not stand on the sidelines bickering but creating change on my own terms to make society a more equitable place.

I’m no longer gonna allow others to be putting their labels, insecurities and lenses on me. I know what my intentions are and I know they come from my heart. And I’m not sure everyone can say that when we live in a world which celebrates the achievements of one over the many and rewards the ones who are amenable saying the words that others want to to hear rather than speak their truth.

Guilty was the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial for another bad apple. This is hardly justice if the murders of Black and People of Colour by the Police, through state sponsored terror continues. There needs to be more accountability, there needs to be a cutting down of the whole rotten tree, there needs to be a redistribution of power.

I’m so sick and tired of the infighting, of the lack of listening, of the personal agendas and vested interests. Why are we living as if everything is scarcity, therefore everyone’s in cut-throat competition. Instead of embracing the reality of abundance. There is more than enough to go around except a few insist on hoarding a majority share. If everyone was given the right conditions, their rightful share/ place/ space to thrive, we would each fulfil our own potential.

Just like nature displays. Just as she sets the example. Today on International Earth Day, I just wish more individuals connected with nature, and therefore themselves and each other. The most powerful energy is love. But too many people continue to feed and act on hate.

And I’m just sick and tired of this being the case.

My Voice in Virtual Places

During these changing working conditions of moving into visual spaces to connect and share and create, I’ve been enjoying a lovely run of being a guest on a number of different podcasts, separate from The Earth Sea Love Podcast, connecting women of colour and nature.

As mentioned before, I was welcomed onto the Prompted By Nature Podcast with Helen Forester where we talked about working to get more black bodies out into nature with funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Since the first one, I’ve gone on to be a guest with Yarrow Magdalena with Daydreaming Wolves, where I enjoyed the opportunity to share about my creative practice and sea swimming and not being able to foretell the future but being okay with that.

On Speak from the Body, a podcast on practical ways to reconnect with the body and nourish your soul, hosted by Avni Trivedi, I had the opportunity to speak at length about my creative practice, visual journalling and how it saved my life, 5 years ago now.

And the final one I’ll share with you today, as there are more to come, is from the countryside charity CPRE, Campaign to Protect Rural England. In this episode I’m a guest with Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex, where we discuss the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in the countryside and nature.

A Seasoned Connection

The clouds are stretched across the blue sky. The light is bright and it’s a welcomed gift as we enter the month of October. And with the season changing, I make a renewed effort to get out each day and enjoy the outdoors more. This is my favourite of year as well as my birth month. And although things are still up in the air in relation to the coronavirus and BLM and a multitude of natural disasters around the world, there are still blessings to be experienced and be grateful for. One blessing being able to walk outside my front door and be greeted by nature every day, no matter what the weather.

With the leaves turning shades and the air becoming crisp and sharp, I’m going to take this opportunity to deepen my connection with nature, with others and more importantly myself.

Over on Instagram, I’ve accepted the invitation from a friend to take part in #aseasonedconnection for the month of October where we share our relationship with nature in images and words. There are no rules accept connecting with nature, ourselves and each other. You’re more than welcome to join. And enjoy the coming season.

Day 17 – Why did Victorian glass domes of stuffed birds make people happy?

behind the scenes

dusty corridors lead to musky back rooms

where cold vats of animal carcasses wait for a steady hand.

2 partridges, a blue jay, a cedar waxwing and a hummingbird

positioned amongst a tangle of blossoms,

wings ever spread, bodies ever ridge,

gathering around a nest,

the wild and exotic brought in close, perching in a domestic setting.

Species preserved through behaviours which made them extinct.

such a colourful display; the fashion for an object of art;

stuffed birds for our delight, for our ever expanding egos.

Day 11 – NaPoWriMo- Mount Cherry

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And here, we begin our ascent.
Please be careful of your footing.
There are loose chippings.
Look up. See how the sun graces
her face. Depending on the time
of the day or time of the month,
she may greet you with her broadest
smile, inviting. Other times, shadowed
and closed. You have been warned.

As we advance, observe the lumpy,
bumpy terrain, discoloured in places
with distinct dark spots. She was born
with these. And here, stop, examine
the outcrop revealing her core. Layer
upon layer of flesh: emotions
and intuition and wisdom. Years
of neglect has made this particular part
almost impassable. Look away if you have to.

And here, finally, we reach her peak.
Or should we say, peaks. Sagging
too far into the clouds. Inexcusable.
But, we are blessed to witness her
during the fleeting blossom season.
Enjoy the cherry clusters lining the path.
Careful as slippery when wet. And we
wouldn’t want you to loose your chance
to prod and poke and objectify this
rare and formidable mountain.

#WeHikeToHeal

Today I wake to an email from Kenya and Michelle @Outdoor Journal Tour (ODJT) and the phenomenal work they’re doing in getting black women outdoors. They inspire me to do more especially when they share the reasons why black women need to experience the healing qualities of nature.

What makes me sad and angry is that they, we, don’t get enough support in this endeavour. Some people choose to troll them, us, derail us instead of recognise what we are doing and our struggle. Some people choose to not see inequalities and injustices in our society because it simply doesn’t effect them.

From a recent post on Instagram, ODJT shared their experience of being trolled but also the outpouring of love and support they are receiving for their work. Being able to see this support and understanding and love is fuel to continue what we are doing. Some people will never understand, listen or accept the way society does divide us along so many lines including race, gender, sexuality, religion etc. But we have to still have hope that change is here and there is more to come. We cannot give up hope.