Hello and welcome. Displayed here are a selection of artworks, photographs, mixed-media and collages created by Sheree Angela Matthews; artist + teacher + creativity enthusiast. Visit the store to find out how to buy.
Many moons ago, I went to Washington State to visit a new friend, Sarah Spaeth, who I met while picking grapes on Monteleone in Lazio, Italy. That was over 10 years Aga now and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve had some adventures in the States, over here in Scotland and also Iceland.
While I was in residence with the Jefferson Land Trust, where Sarah was the Executive Director at the time, I fell in love with Fort Walden which was just down the road from where I was staying. It’s a national park with the sea, beach and trees and a creative centre, called Centrum.
I remember Sarah talking about this centre while in Italy and how much I would love it there and to come and see. She was right, I felt right at home there. And when I took my family over there, we spent plenty of hours hanging out there. It was my dream to sometime return and do a writing retreat there, or attend their summer writing program.
The summer writing program is just like going back to college for a week. Writing workshops in the morning and afternoon and then evening readings. To be immersed in writing for a whole week, with other writers, bliss. Obviously this year, it’s had to be cancelled. So instead they’re offering a Summer Writing Intensive but virtually. The next best thing. And something I could so attend.
So I am, starting tomorrow, I’m going to writing college and going to spend the week in poetry and fiction workshops. Go to some readings in the evening, but totally live the writer’s life and I do so from the comfort of my own home. And what’s even neater is that I’ve been given a scholarship to take part for which I am so grateful.
So apologies not is you don’t see me here next week, as I’ll be soaking up the writing atmosphere and vibes from across the pond.
I had the pleasure of being part of the Prompted By Nature podcast this month. It was good to have a chat about my relationship with nature and the work I’ve been completing within the region, with Earth Sea Love, offering opportunities to Black, Asian and ethnic minority women and girls to enjoy experiences with/in nature.
* The importance of BAME visibility and representation in natural spaces and the marketing of nature-based brands as well as the need to motivate a new generation of black women leaders
* The financial side of accessibility in nature
* Land as holding trauma and associations with enslavement
* Nature as a space of oneness
I’ve just listened to the podcast for the first time and I was smiling along with the conversation, as it is so good. I share a lot and there are some words of wisdom that we could all take away. Check it out here. Thanks.
Since May, I’ve been sharing my writing on Medium. This is a platform I’ve tired a number of times before but for some reason the habit just didn’t stick. I now know this probably had something to do with having nothing really to say. But now I do.
I’ve been contributing to the Binderful Blog, which a small online community of women, started a few years ago, which offers classes to support women questioning their lives. Maybe shaking up the status quo from the kitchen table outwards. I’m due to create a class with Binderful but in the meantime, I’ve been writing on Medium for them.
If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve shared so far then click below to read the articles.
This month was a hard month to concentrate on any longer reads. My reading was bitty and more about current affairs with The Guardian newspaper getting many hits. Other featured websites were The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Orion and The New York Times.
The readings was what it was, what it needed to be to get me through each moment, each day.
The one book I read, while I started many, was A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson. A poetry collection exploring the Grenfell disaster intimately which went on to win the T S Eliot Prize in 2019.
1. My DryRobe – This is a must have for when I’m going on a sea visit. I just slip my cossie on underneath and I’m out the door. Sometimes if the sea is far out, I’ll wear this robe right up to the shoreline, snuggled into the furry lining, soaking up the last few ounces of warmth before I throw it off and dive into the cold North Sea. And then I know it’s waiting for me when I come out, to soak up the wet and keep off the wind and rain and get me all warmed up. This was a gift to me from me and it just keeps giving. I love my DryRobe hugs.
2. My footed mug. – It was a special red, hand planted one with birds from Anthropologie but I broke it the other day. I was mighty upset. Making do with this little beauty from Tesco’s for now. But hot coffee on repeat. Just the ritual of making it, popping the kettle, rinsing out the cafeteria and putting in two scoops of decaf coffee and pouring the water on and allowing it to brew. The smell in the kitchen, the rising steam. Small simple pleasures.
3. My turquoise plush blanket. – When I left my last teaching job they brought me a gift voucher for Debenhams as a goodbye gift. I took it, I think £30, and bought this comfort blanket as it was a luxury item and I felt I’d just gone through a few months of hell teaching full-time and deserved a little treat in my life. This blanket is super cosy and has been my hygge go to ever since then.
4. Books and more books. – Growing up I used to hoard books. I used to buy them thinking by just having them in my possession I would be intelligent and knowledgable. I now know I have to read the books to gain their insight and message. And this is what I love to do. Anywhere really. Sitting room, bedroom, the bath is a favourite. And I love my physical books but hells bells if I’m going somewhere and packing is tight, then Kindle books will do for me. I just get lost in books, and inspired and cheered up.
5. Paper and pens – Yes I like my fancy journals and fountain pens. But when it comes down to it, just give me any scrap of paper and a pencil and I’m happy. I can then create. Lists are my go to in times of trouble or doubt. If I can brain dump whatever I’m carrying around in my head and body onto that paper, I feel better in the process. I can get things organised, I can let down my load and walk away feeling lighter, calmer and happier.
What is your Bliss List for April? Give me 5 items or more. just follow your bliss and see what you come up with. What makes you happy? What makes you glow from the inside out?
I missed the checkpoint. I’ve been so focused on posting here daily, and sometimes twice a day, or today three times, that I missed the 100 day/ posts achievement. Isn’t that usually the case though? Too busy doing the thing / reaching for the goal that we miss the opportunity of celebrating the achievement of success when we do so. Typical.
Here I give time and space to acknowledging the achievement. Well done Sheree, good effort. Take a pause and savour this moment …
Yes I know 100 days are not up yet. That’s going to be April 7th. 100 days from Jan 1st. But I’ve hit the mark of 100 postings and then some a couple of days ago.
In the past, I took on the challenge of posting something creative everyday on my blog, Everyday Creativity, it was called. I’m not sure how I managed it then as 365 days seems such a long time. But managed it I did as I saw it as practice as well as accountability. Taking up this challenge this year, has reminded me of how much can be gained from staying committed and consistent with creativity daily.
I’ve already mentioned here that I intend to continue blogging for another 100 days as I’ve just gotten started really. Just finding my stride as I’m interested to see what happens next, where does this space go next? And what will this challenge do for my practice? Even though, we’re in lockdown in the U.K. I’m finding that there is plenty to keep me busy in doors as I take on a number of creative challenges for the month of April. Looking forward to sharing the progress here with you. So here’s to the next 100 postings and thanks for coming along for the ride.
March has come to an end. Even though it’s felt like the longest month from hell, someone on twitter mentioned 36 years and 9 months in length, my reading hasn’t been as steady as I’d like.
Please excuse me if my mind has been otherwise occupied. If news bulletins and articles and live updates were in book form then this month I would have consumed thousands of volumes as I seemed to have taken up residence at The Guardian news website. It is constantly on refresh. I’m taking care of myself though by having days when I do not consume the news, I stay away from social media and literally inhale positive, feel good art and literature and music. I highly recommend it during these troubling times. anyway, on to what I have read.
Completed March readings include:
1. Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, poems by Jake Skeets
2. Swims by Elizabeth Jane Burnett
3. There are more beautiful things than Beyonce by Morgan Parker
4. Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson
5. Splinters are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson
6. Life without Diabetes – Roy Taylor
7. Fleshing Out the Narrative – Marielle S. Smith
Ongoing March reading include;
1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley
2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham
“ I think deep down we know that our creativity is not just for us. The creative power flows through us and it’s not meant to stop there. We need to keep the faucets open and allow the gift of creativity to circulate, so that it can touch other people. So it can grow beyond our own limited reach. “ Anna Lovind, The Creative Doer
A friend mentioned yesterday that she was rushing around completing chores so she could get back to watching the Netflix series Love is Blind. Sheis addicted to it, against her better judgement. This got me thinking, what is this program about?
I binged watched the whole series up until the grand finale, aired today ( but I’ve now seen it!). It’s a reality TV series which is experimenting with love. They’re trying to find out if people can fall in love, make that deep soul emotional connection with someone they have never seen. They just get to talk to each other, in separate pods with a wall between them. But over a short space of time, with only conversation to make the connection, men and women do fall in love.
But will it last once they see each other? And then what happens when they get back into the real world? Obstacles are forever put in their path to test their love. This kind of stuff really gets me annoyed but not this time. I know the tricks and devices these programmes use to keep you watching and I was all in. I could see behind the curtain, all the knobs and pulleys used to create a reaction in the audience but I’m a romantic at heart. I was rooting for the couples, one in particular, to come through it still together and stronger and married. As that was what the twang finale was all about; their weddings days. Would they get married after knowing each other for only 6 weeks? Crazy, right?
I usually don’t watch reality T.V. It’s cringe worthy. I especially don’t enjoy how black women, if ever included, are portrayed and presented. I just don’t think we come off well in these type of shows. We are there as entertainment fodder. There to fulfil the stereotype. So I’m always reluctant to watch these shows, never mind invest time and energy and emotion into them.
Love is Blind got me at the first episode. I was sitting late into the night grinning at the TV like a love overdosing idiot. There were women in there that grated on my nerves, while others especially Lauren and Cameron who I wanted to stay true to each other, love no matter what anyone else might say and live happily ever after. I think I invested in this couple because she was black and he was white. The only inter-racial couple in the whole programme. And I wanted them to work against the odds probably because they reflect my reality of being married to a white man.
I have so many issues with this series. The mere fact that marriage is out there as something to aspire to. That you’re not complete until you find your significant other. Yes I know we are sociable creatures wired for connection but how many centuries have girls been socialised into women with the belief that catching the man ( and no mention of woman) being their destiny and ultimate goal. Our fairy tale system is set up to make girls feel that one day there Prince will come along and rescue them/ or whisk them off their feet as long as they’re beautiful enough, quiet enough, good enough. So yes I have my issues with the whole premise of the series and yet I still watched it all and cried at the end.
Why? Because the kind of love that these young people were looking for, and for some I think they found l, is the kind of love where you can be yourself within. The kind of love where your partner love you from the inside out. For who you are at your core. They can see your soul and stay by your side anyway.
Maybe that is a kind of fairy tale love. Maybe that love doesn’t exist and is all make believe. But this old romantic in me thinks it can be found. And once found, held onto with daily practice of giving and receiving love, remaining open and vulnerable and honest. Communicating about everything, always.