My father would say so much with his eyes and hands. Sitting up in his burgundy armchair like a thorn. He would dress in waistcoat and trilby to walk up the road to the bookies on blossom warm afternoons. And when he was gone, I waited in his shadow for his sing-song step to return up the stairs. And when he didn’t return, I sat there lost like our place in history and the world.
Something was wrong when I left the country. Heart tight, sorrow crawling through the blood. Leaving meant joining an age-old tradition, down dusty roads at the crack of dawn. Humid bodies, sweat mingling fear, ebb and flow red blue and green paints. Thrumming bass behind the truck. Before us, lined streets, roped between black and white bodies. We whine to claim space.
I love the freedom assembled lines give. Celebrate, protest, mourn, and escape: The Procession. My father who packed away home in his grip on arrival; was Roberta Flack who set off a smile. I was left to shift between the gap and practice owning something around blackness. I had a feeling I would never be enough. There are times of melting, with the turn of a record, under a pink moon, when there is so much beauty to live, when I recount memories of love tucked inside.
The rain pours down, the temperatures drop. And we’re inside.
Miss Ella has Covid again so we self-isolate. We do our bit to keep the infection rates down even if no one else does.
Forced to stay in door could play on my mind, could make me frustrated and resentful if I let it.
What I’ve been doing is getting creative. Creatrix in Residence @ HOME is me allowing my imagination to wander while my hands are busy. Even my body as I continue to knock out my 4 miles a day of walking, indoors. It takes a whole heap longer than when outdoors. So I mix things up with a bit singing and dancing to Silk Sonic.
Things could be a lot worse. But poor Miss Ella. Just getting better after her stay in hospital and now this is just another set back. She’s taking it well as she gets creative too with video games, you tube, make up and singing.
Apart from writing a poem a day for the month of April here, I’ve also been making a ZINE a day as I’ve been accepted to present at the Edinburgh Zine Festival 2022 in May. Getting all my creations ready to share, swap and sell hopefully.
Hopefully, all will be well by the time this comes along as Miss Ella is going to be my assistant, sharing in the non- profits.
If you receive our Studio Notes, then you would have read that the beginning of 2021 did not go as planned. Miss Ella got sick, real sick, having to go into hospital for a few weeks to recover from an infection. We didn’t know what was happening and it was worrying.
At the same time, our local hospital trusts brought in stricter restrictions in terms of visitors to hospital. They brought in the rule of one parent per child, 24/7. So swapping out of parents to give some respite and relief. No sharing the load.
It made sense that Miss Ella’s dad stayed in hospital with her as then I’d be available to run around, bringing in food and changes of clothes, as I drive while Miss Ella’s dad doesn’t.
Not being able to see her, cuddle her and tell her everything was going to be alright was so frustrating and painful. For a few weeks there I was self medicating with wine and binge eating crap just to numb the pain and worry. For a few blissful hours each night, I could switch off and forget everything. But the worry and fears were still there to face me the next day.
We’d decided that when Miss Ella was discharged from hospital she’d come stay with me to recover. I hadn’t been with her for so long and it also gave her dad a break after his hospital stay. I needed to be there for her, be switched on and watched her like her hawk. Therefore, alcohol was out of the question.
I’m so pleased that I’d made this decision because within 24 hours of being out of hospital, I had to rush Miss Ella back in with the same symptoms as before. This time, I was the parent to stay in hospital for a few days while they worked out what was wrong and treat Miss Ella again.
By the time we got home again out of hospital, I was 5 days into not drinking. And even though we’d been on another rollercoaster of a ride and alcohol was offered as a means of unwinding and forgetting the recent health scares, I abstained. Again I wanted to be alert and on standby just in case of another emergency with Miss Ella.
So that’s the long story. The short story is Dry January is happening and it wasn’t on my radar. And I’m not really following it as I’ve said, I’ve been drinking this month. But today, I’m 8 days dry.
Sobriety is something I tried last January and completed the month. This year, I’m planning on going beyond the month.
I think my drinking became an issue for me in terms of my behaviours and actions and go-to during 2020 lockdown, marriage breakdown, separation and new home period of my life. It became easy to reach for the wine bottle and forget my worries and concerns. But I just can’t accept the excuses any more. It’s not really worth it as our recent health scares and hospital stays have illustrated.
Throughout, 2022, I intend to share my journey with sobriety here as I realise writing about my struggles is part of the cure. I
We take so much for granted in our lives.
We tend forget that life itself is a gift.
A gift which we have the potential to make amazing.
We owe it to ourselves to take the time and space to become more aware of what we already have. And appreciate it.
What I’m grateful for at the moment:
1. A roof over our heads.
2. Food on our plates.
3. Our health as a family.
4. Friends to care for and be cared by.
5. Broadband to support me to create new work opportunities.
6. Pen and paper and magazines to cut up.
8. The morning sun. The morning rain.
10. My hoping heart.
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.
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.
I started running about 8 years ago after the birth of said daughter as a means of getting rid of my pregnancy weight gain. Since then I went on to run a lot of 5ks, two 10ks, two half-marathons and three marathons. My last marathon was the London one in 2014. And it became my personal best time.
After this, I ran for the sheer fun of it but I soon fell out of love with running for one reason or another. I started training for my Great North Run in September this year once I got the okay back from the doctors about my back in January. But it’s been hit and miss.
Not with the lockdown, I’m craving the outdoors more than ever and running, putting some distance between me and home, is something I can drop into. So when my husband said he wanted to start running again I asked if he wanted company. And he was going to use our daughter as an excuse, with the schools being closed, she’s with us 24/7. But I wasn’t having it.
We started with NHS couch to 5K podcast. It’s what I used all those many year ago when I started running for the first time and it’s what I use every time I want to get back into running and build up my time and distance in a manageable way.
So it’s early days running with my peeps. But I’m enjoying it. And even if the 9 year old, Miss Ella, is complaining and feeling the pain at the moment, I think give it a few more weeks and she’ll be loving it. I know that’s how it kicks in for me.