No More Monday MOrning BLues

When I was teaching, I used to experience ‘Monday Morning Blues’. That dreaded feeling of going back to the grind after the weekend off. Going back to the bells and the timetables and the disruptive kids. One of the many reasons to leave the profession without a safety net in place, without anything lined up, was that I knew if I didn’t go then, I’d never get out. I was getting too comfortable, too used to the regular pay check at the end of each month, justifying the slog, the staying put within an environment that was slowly eating away at my soul.

I used to see cows outside my classroom window and I vowed not to become one of them; a cow put out to pasture, giving up on life and life giving up on them. I knew there was more to life that the 9-5 job, or as it was when teaching 7-7 job. I put my whole life, heart and soul into that job to the point of probably neglecting my child at the time. But I was after perfectionism, acceptance and recognition. I was defining my whole self -worth by how good or bad I was at teaching. And teaching shite I may add. Shite filled up with the words and opinions of mostly white dead men who probably didn’t think much of me being a Black woman.

I was duped into the belief that work was meant to be hard and difficult and long and mostly unrewarding. It was what we were put on the earth to do, to be. To work for most of of our lives for others, propping up the system and if we worked hard enough, we’d get time off at the end with a pension that would be taxed again. This is what I bought into and what was fed to me through family, education and society. To step out of this construction to pursue creativity, to do my own things and be my own boss was seen as weird, a risk, stupidity and misguided to say the least.

I knew how I felt. And I know how I feel. And even then I put a lot of store by how I felt. How I was uncomfortable in my own skin. How I felt a fraud. How I felt unbelonging and always striving for something that would never be mine. Acceptance. Whiteness. The Norm.

Now I don’t have ‘Monday Morning Blues’, because I don’t put that kind of pressure on my days, on my weekends, on my time. I pick and choose when to work or not. I try to have a 3 day week. Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday being the work days and the Monday and Friday flow into a long weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not idle. I’ll always be practicing my creativity ( I prefer using practice to work). I don’t think I’ll ever retire because being creative is who I am. And when I reserve certain days of the week for outside commitments, ‘work’ the other days are mine to create, to rest, to dream, to plot, to {BE}. And I’m grateful for the circumstance to be able to {BE} this way. I’m also grateful to my younger self who wasn’t afraid to jump and believe and trust that a net would appear to catch her fall. Again and again.

I’m quote proud to say I’m being useless to capitalism today. And the next day and the next.

Today me!

When I consider where I was this time last year, I was knee deep in hospital visits and worry. My daughter was in hospital fighting an unknown infection, not getting any better. The hospital had reintroduced one parent one patient rule. I thought it best for her father to stay in hospital with her instead of me. I wasn’t coping well within a system set up to ignore the Black body.

I also wasn’t prepared to handle her father’s anxieties and worries if he wasn’t by her side. It also made sense as I had the car so I could come and go and bring in what was needed. Everything was centred towards my daughter getting better. It was like time stood still and all other things paled into insignificance. It helped me sort out my priorities.

Thinking about where I want to be a year from now, I want to be in a better relationship with my body. Yes, lost weight but more so made peace with her. I want to be knee deep in self-love and no longer considering or settling for being second best. I’ll no longer be satisfied with accepting someone else’s scraps. I know my worth and do not accept anything less

I’m in a state of constantly becoming and at the heart of this journey is my own healing and well-being. I’ve got a toolkit of practices which I use to support my health and well-being and protect my mental and emotional health also.

I might be dating and I might not. But that isn’t my life or will be taking over my life. I am my life and what I choose to be and do is my life.

A year from now, I’ve also completed a major writing project which I’m super proud of. I’m ready to launch it into the world and accept the increased exposure it will bring. Good or bad. Because I am in a secure, loving and trustful relationship with myself.

I am invincible. I am awesome. I am me.

Everything is Possible

This year, I’m being brave by saying ‘yes’ to the things that light me up from the inside out. This will help with gaining clarity around what I’m doing. The things that are worth doing are the things that bring me pure joy.

I’m being brave by putting my trust in myself. To get rid of the doubt and questioning of self and to trust that I’ve always got my best interests at heart.

I bravely offer myself grace instead of judgements, making peace with myself as I’m tired of the battle. Instead of fighting myself, my instincts and my best interests, I’m gonna be loving on myself at every opportunity.

What does this look like in practice? I don’t know. But I’ll know what it feels like because I’ll be glowing and full of joy.

What will support me on this brave journey is my creativity. And offering myself creative solutions to problems and issues. Sobriety will help. Along with water inside and outside of my body. And rest and journaling and healing slowly and deeply.

Deciding to love oneself unconditionally is bravery especially when one lives in a world, a dominating system which doesn’t recognise one’s worth beyond oppression and exploitation.

I’m brave to keep on keeping on.

Hello 2023 with Creation and Healing

The Earthcraft Oracle

Welcome to 2023. Wow. We got here quick with 2022 flying by. I wonder what 2023 has in store for us all?

I eased into the first day of 2023, after a lie-in, with breath work, meditation and intention setting. For the life I envision, I need to invite in the energy of calm and peace.

I know (re)starting my gratitude practice will support me in this endeavour. No matter how small, taking a moment to give thanks, a small act of presence, mindfulness, and care is a gift I could be giving to myself daily. So why do I resist or forget and allow this practice to disappear from my life?

Fear. And that belief that I’m not worth healing. That I don’t deserve happiness and peace. It’s time to switch up my thinking and ways of treating myself.

I pulled the womb card today from The Earthcraft Oracle. I’ve been pulling one card a day for months now, and today does not fail to chime with how I’m feeling or send me the message I’ve been listening for.

The womb is the centre of all creation. The womb holds all the potential. This card comes into my life today of all days to remind me how to awaken my sacral chakra. To lean into creation as here there is healing. Create and heal are the same thing.

To create, one must imagine something that has never been. To heal, one must be willing to embrace a new way of being.

The Earthcraft Oracle Guidebook

On the first day of the year 2023, I take on board this message and practice to stimulate my creative centre and bring forth inspiration and healing for myself, and for those who came before me and for those who come after me. Ashe.

Defining My Focus – Trace Mentorship

Portfolio Review Sample, October 2022

I’m merging myself, self-portraiture, with nature. Self assimilated with nature. I’m exploring my connection with nature through photography( for now!).

I’m exploring the environment and the visibility of Blackwomen within the landscape. Using the photographic image to tell a story. In the process reclaiming the narrative of Blackwomen and nature and photography.

I’m exploring the Blackwoman’s space and visibility in love and in relationship with nature. My audience is the Blackwoman. I want her to enter the space I create through my practice and recognise herself there. I want her feel that she belongs, feel the joy and all the lushness created in that space.

This will be a multidisciplinary experience. This will be a celebration of mixness, hybridity and our bodies in love with nature.

Trace Mentorship Update

Portfolio Review Sample, October 2022

A recent addition to my portfolio has been details about my Trace Mentorship opportunity. This was an applied for opportunity to experience the time and space to focus on my photography through a structured programme with other women over 35 years old.

Through a series of talks, presentations, peer and professional reviews, the aim is to gain confidence, knowledge, exposure and further opportunities to develop our skills and establish our practice.

I haven’t really been able to devote the required time and attention to this programme due to immersing myself within the BALTIC commission, it feels like for most of 2022. With this being complete and installed, back from Washington State, now I have the time to really get to grips with this opportunity.

It started with a portfolio review with three experts. I had the great pleasure and honour of talking one on one with Hettie Judah, Cindy Sissokho and Bindi Vora. And what a tremendous opportunity this was to sit down with them (virtually) and talk about my work, my vision, my mission etc.

Not only were they very positive and supportive about my work, but they also offered inspiration, encouragement, reassurance and permission. Yes from talking to these people within the know, my practice, what I’m doing, or trying to do was recognised and appreciated.

I was given back permission and the confidence to keep doing me. To keep pushing the boundaries, to not place limitations on myself, my practice, or what a photograph can be/ can do.

I’m in a much better place now to expand my way of being, seeing and doing, and continue to bring my mixness, hybridity to what I do. I’m excited to see where this takes me.

I’m enjoying the process as usual and not worrying about the end product. And I’m taking my time, embracing the slow. This feels nourishing and good for my soul.

Archive: a Country Journal of a Blackwoman

A Visual Journal Spread from The Country Journal of a Blackwoman (Northumberland), archive

Right now my practice is on display within The BALTIC: Centre for Contemporary Art.

As I was out of the country when the group exhibition, Hinterlands, launched on Friday 22 October, 2022, I managed to get into seeing it after such event the following week.

I really didn’t know what to expect as you visualise the end result, the culmination of months of hard work, dreaming and winging it. But to actually see it all come together in a white cube space is another thing.

I visited my archive last week, with my daughter, excited and nervous and unsure. I got to see The Country Journal of a Blackwoman(Northumberland) exhibited on level 3 of The BALTIC. I was shocked and surprised to see my work out of context within this space. It was an emotional as well as nerve wracking experience.

Because of my absence, I had to leave instructions about the installation as well as extensive notes and labels for each art piece. There are about 50 items if not more within this creative archive. It’s to be expected that things got lost or mislaid in translation. So my focus for this trip was to make sure everything was how I wanted it to be.

After some discussion and sending of correct audio files, everything is now complete and as I want it to be presented to the world.

I’m not sure how I feel that during the launch of the whole exhibition, that things were wrong or missing. But I do know that after seeing everything in terms of my contribution and making things right after my visit, I felt great relief and was able to enjoy the achievement. It was also weird to be there at the same time as seeing peel interacting with my work. I’m not sure I want to have many experiences like that as their reactions did affect my state of mind, pride and achievement. And it would be very unsetting, I feel, to be there and witness someone laughing and disrespecting my work. I think this is something I need to gain a thicker skin for. But right now, my skin is thin for a number of reasons, tat I might explore here in time.

I know I have to return now, to take in the rest of the group show as well as the rest of The BALTIC’s exhibitions for this season, as this is a strong presentation.

I’m honoured to be showing at the same time with them.

Of course more reflection and images to come around this achievement.

HINTERLANDS
22 October 2022 – 30 April 2023, BALTIC: Centre for Contemporary

Fiery Autumn Love

“The woman who is willing to make that change must become pregnant with herself, at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

I love Autumn. I always have but it’s just now, in the last few years, that I’ve really embraced this love. Confessed this love to anyone who would listen. Maybe it’s because I was born during this season. Maybe it’s the feeling of beginnings I have for the season with the return to school. Or maybe it’s the array of fiery colours.

There is something about the light during this season which touches my soul and brings me hope with a tinge of sorrow. Each year, during this season, we used to travel to Barcelona for a week or so. And there, the light at this time of year, is even more pronounced. The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are lowering but when you get that light, that golden, warm light during an Autumn day, well the world doesn’t seem such an awful place. You can see and appreciate its beauty.

Many moons ago, I created a writing retreat in the mountains surrounding Rome, Italy, taking inspiration from the changing seasons within the landscape. The landscape’s on the change during Autumn and I wanted to explore this through creative means with others hence the retreat amongst the olive groves and rich colourful berries. Again there was a certain kind of light that would progress down the mountain through the day and rest into the evening with a creamy glow.

There’s hope during this season but also a necessity of letting go. We see this with the falling leaves, the flowers drooping , turning brown and crumpling into dust at the touch of a hand. There’s the ending of growth, death even, to make room for the next stage of development and growth and life.

I’m entering ( or could I already be there?) the Autumn of my life. In all honesty, I have been for the last few years. Since the pandemic, if not before, when there has been a great shedding of things, people, relationships, and responsibilities. I refuse to carry on, carrying the burdens of the world on my shoulders, trying to do it all instead of acknowledging the changes and entering this next phase of my life with grace.

This is what I’ll be exploring during this Autumn season. The beauty and grace and changes of the season. Within nature but also within myself. During Autumn, there’s a letting go, a surrender to what is, letting go of what was and a tenderness as there’s a slow progression into the next phase.

I’m not turning my back on my ageing process but I’m probably grieving the loss of youth, attention and usefulness. But this is the time, in that golden light, to embrace my condition of changing woman. Greet the transformations that are happening inside and outside of me with love. Like my love for Autumn. Autumn is here. She is beautiful and fiery. And definitely not silent.