What we need is tear leaders, not cheer leaders. We need tear leaders to teach us how to mourn. – Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
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
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.
‘i said to trauma,
“i am so much more than you.” ‘ – Kai Chen’s Thom, I Hope We Choose Love
The final prompt last night in Honouring Our Wholeness with @olwen.wilson had us wondering about what seeds we could plant if we consider how we are so much more than our trauma.
This is what I created. ‘Discovering New Landscapes.’ Trauma is a very familiar territory for me. I’ve been carrying around these fragmented pieces of land in my body for years ever since I was 9 years old and my dad died of leukaemia. Then my sister died. Then my mum died. One traumatic experience after another builds up layers of scar tissue, thick and hardening, from the bones out. Me thinking I can protect myself from pain hiding within the rolls of fat around my body. My whole body is a landscape of accumulated pain, suffering, abuse, self-abuse, rejection, hate and cruelty. And yet, last night in this gathering of women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, I traced golden lines around my trauma. I remembered my mother and her body, like the pomegranate, full of seeds, but who’s garnet juice ran out as she miscarried after having me, which reminded me of my miscarriage before Miss Ella came along. But from these seeds within and without, new life, new power can be nurtured and brought to fruition. New landscapes of grasses and wild flowers can be tended. In time. In space. In body and mind and soul.
Get ready to immerse yourself in the Great Outdoors on this special day when everyone is encouraged to think about nature.
Bring the #OutdoorsIndoors on International Earth Day
Northumberland National Park’s writer in residence Dr. Sheree Mack loves immersing herself in nature. She has learnt to destress through nature and found inspiration for her creative writing in the great outdoors.
Join Sheree and National Park Ecologist Gill Thompson on International Earth Day to discover how to get the most out of your personal nature experience.
Date And Time
Thu, 22 April 2021
11:00 – 14:30 BST
From some hints on where and when to find hidden natural delights to practical tips on capturing your own precious memories through journaling, this online workshop will prepare you for a meaningful connection with nature.
Joining details will be sent ahead of the event.
This is the first event I’ll be facilitating in relation to my writer in residence with the Black Nature in Residence Project.
Consider this. You might have an idea that takes seed, but as it grows and develops it blossoms into something amazing which you could never envision when you started. One such seed, which was planted way back in June 2018 during the Iceland Creative Retreat with Olwen Wilson, is finally coming to fruition today.
Honouring Our Wholeness , hosted by Olwen Wilson and myself is a self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour. This is time away from the busyness of our lives to create in community within a space where we are recognised, safe and nourished. We will take inspiration from our connections with nature and ourselves.
Imagine really being seen, heard and acknowledged!
Over a six-week period, we plan to meet on Zoom on Sundays, April 18, May 2 and end on May 16, 2021, from 1 – 4 pm ET/10 am – 1 pm PT/6 – 9 pm GMT.
During each three-hour session, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to play in our visual journals to really dig into the joy of creating for ourselves. Visual journaling is a simple but effective practice which has seen me through so many ups and downs and life experiences. And I’m so excited to be sharing this practice with Olwen through this offering.
Both, Olwen and I have immense experience of expressing our thoughts and feelings through our visual journaling practice. Reaping the benefits of listening to and observing our interior worlds and environments around us. But the power and wisdom of this practice we can’t keep to ourselves as we constantly share our joy of visually journalling with others through workshops, retreats and social media.
Anyway, I’ve said enough. Head in over to the Honouring Our Wholeness information page where there’s further details and how to apply. We’re accepting applications right the way through to 26 March 2021.
How much is this going to cost you?
Honouring Our Wholeness , a virtual retreat specially created to provide an empowering and rejuvenating space for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour is a unique offering which comes with a unique price tag.
Price for participants – £0/ $0 ( Thanks to funding).
Olwen and I do hope you’ll join us.
Honouring Our Wholeness
A self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour.
Hosted by Sheree Angela Matthews and Olwen Wilson
Sundays, April 18, May 2 & May 16, 2021
1 – 4 pm ET, 10 am – 1 pm PT, 6 – 9 GMT
Your participation is requested for all three dates.
Let’s explore our connection and relationship with nature and ourselves together.
Working in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, we bring you a unique and new creative writing workshop tapping into the wonder of nature.
The Trust is spearheading a special campaign to raise awareness about the importance of insects to all of life, including us humans. The Trust is trying to raise awareness as well as money that can be used to protect these vital players in life as we know it.
Taking inspiration from these small and mighty creatures, this workshop will be a 1.5 hour generative writing workshop where attendees will explore new ways to write about the natural world as well as our connection within it. Following a series of prompts and possibilities, participants will have a chance to share their work within the group.
As I shared in September, I might not be meeting up with people face to face, and staying home all cosy and safe, I’m becoming more social virtually as I appear on a number of different podcasts.
Well a couple more episodes came out last month which I think I should share here.
The Nurture Project, hosted by Sophy Dale, is a podcast series which came out of an online project on how we can nurture ourselves, which ran in 2020. This is a series which features podcast interviews with a range of inspiring and insightful creative small business owners, including myself. In this conversation, I talk about all things self-care, ranging from wild swimming to hand cream, and the importance of caring for our sources of inspiration as well as ourselves. Take a listen, there is wisdom to be shared.
The next conversation I want to share with you is with the lovely Naomi Woddis for The Two of Us Shorts. Originally broadcast on Reel Rebels Radio, here we discuss the power of creativity to work through trauma and my relationship with nature and its power to heal. This was such a juicy and liberating episode where I take a deep dive into the difficult stuff. Have a listen and let me know what you think by getting in touch.
I’m stuck within
the healing threshold
drowning in grief.
to turn back,
to move on.
raised, I lick
a November thirst.
across the silken
land to peace.
give me your light;
a blister in this bitter air,
as once again
with head down
and heart up,
I set forth
into becoming adrift.