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.

Let’s Start with a Poem

Extract from my recent presentation for the Women and Wetlands Panel Discussion

When Petrified Trees Stand Up and March Into the Sea

I carve out solitude to wander
wide open shores

sanddunes, pebbles and
wooden limbs

Submerged
a forest of trees
so tall they flowed
above the clouds

what we cannot control,
we destroy and call it progress.

We advance like the tide
to claim what
we have
no right to claim

concrete blocks,
seaweed and dead seals,
emerge from
frothy waves
and marram grass.

unseasonal storms
uproot ancient trees
while manmade
concrete lines
remain in tact
in place in defence

here a legion of
foreign bodies marched
to expand an empire,
build a wall
then leave it to moss.

Bizzing dragonflies,
shrubs of wax mirtle
and the coconut vanilla
scent of golden gorse

Some day soon
all this will be gone,

gorse, grass, concrete wall,

washed away like blood
as the sea returns to the source,

returns to where it belongs.

There’s a small hamlet, Low Hauxley nestled behind sand dunes along a long and quiet stretch of sandy beach on the Northumberland coast.
Here along the high tide line stumps of an ancient forest are visible.

It is believed the stumps were preserved by peat and sand and are believed to date back to more than 7000 years and are the remains of Doggerland- an area of bogs, marches and forest that connected the British Isles to mainland Europe.

Archaeologists have also uncovered animal footprints and it is believed red deer, wild boar and brown bears would have roamed ancient Doggerland forest.

These petrified trees. This really blew my mind.

My name is Dr. Sheree Mack. I’m Creatrix : she who makes.

My practice manifests through poetry, storytelling, image and the unfolding histories of black people. I engage audiences around black women’s voices and bodies, black feminism, grief and healing, nature, identity and memory.

I advocate for black women’s voices, facilitating national and international creative workshops and retreats in the landscape, encouraging and supporting women on their journey of remembrance back to their bodies and authentic selves. This journey is supported and recognised by Mother Nature.

I’m the founder of Earth Sea Love, which is a social enterprise, offering opportunities to People of the Global Majority living in the north east of England to develop a deeper connection with/in nature.

The Earth Sea Love Podcast has developed out of these experiences and aims to change the narrative around who has a right to have a relationship with nature. I’ve recently been writer in residence for Northumberland National Park Authority. A black-led nature project I will add. At the moment I’m Creatrix in Residence for Hadrian’s Wall part of the 1900 years festival.

My Practice is a Healing Practice.

The Practice of ::SLOW:: is how I engage with my work and the world. Living within White Supremacy Culture, we are indoctrinated into certain principles and practices which benefit the few rather than the many.

Leaving aside racism and the systematic destruction of Black, brown and indigenous peoples, White Supremacy Culture, perpetuates the pursuit of perfectionism, product over process, and quantity over quality, to name but a few.

This means that the majority of us live our lives at speed, with a greater sense of urgency, with feelings of never being or doing enough, resulting in reduced contact to ourselves, our intuition and inner wisdom.

Slowing down supports me on my journey back to self and ultimately self-love and healing. Being and walking with/in nature teaches me how to slowdown and pay attention and just be.

Nature shows me that there is an abundance rather than a scarcity. It is through these practices that I fell in love with nature.

Nature and I are connected. We are one, therefore falling in love with nature, I fell in love with myself. This in turn means I turn up in life, in connection with others not only as a better version of myself but in a better place to offer love to other people.

Women and Wetlands

Last night I was part of a panel discussion which tackled the subject of women and wetlands.

Crag Lough, seen from Peel Crags, Hadrian’s Wall

I was asked by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett at Northumbria University to be part of this event and share my work around my residence at Northumberland National Park and my explorations of peat bogs.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect about this event or what I was going to share. But on reflection now, I’m so glad that I was invited to take part because I learned so much about peatlands within the UK, around the world and the special place they hold within the global climate crisis.

So much of my language around nature and the environment has been formed through white supremacy culture which has been biased on colonialism and imperialism and capitalist consumption. And of which I am at great pains now to unlearn and find a new language or it is just a re-memory of the language of my ancestors where there is no separation between us and nature.

Something that was raised last night by Khairani Barokka, which was totally new to my knowledge and way of thinking was that within indigenous communities gender was much more fluid and diverse. The binary system of male and female/ he and she which we take as a given now, as the norm, is a construction and part of the colonist program.

That the idea of “the coloniality of gender,” which might have seen the binary gender system in Europe but was not the case for indigenous populations around the world who were brutalised, moved off the lands and eliminated through genocide. This is going to require more reading on my part but it will be completed eagerly as it’s more evidence of how this system to live and breathe is a construct of power for a few white people over the rest of us all.

I share an extract of my presentation here.

It is in place that we locate ourselves

It is in place that we locate ourselves, mark ourselves in relation with others; it is  in place that we survive. – Meena Alexander  

Within my body, I carry the stories 

of my mother, grandmothers, 

sisters and aunts. My body carries 

their stories of love and loss;

wounds passed on through

bone and blood. Leaving scars, 

leaving diminished spirits.

But just as those stars are burning

bright right now, leaving their trails

of light, my body, my beautiful body

will survive, heal and fire. 

Hopping Mad Today

visual journaling 02/05

Morning pages: visual journaling/ journaling done for now.

I like to get to the page first thing, the first thing I do each day after going for a pee and brewing some coffee. This is the ritual that is in place. Not every day can I fulfil this ritual, but most days, yes.

I find when I come to the page in this state, my night dreams are still hanging around me. I can still grasp onto them and explore them on the page. What do they mean? What is causing friction in my subconscious mind?

Today’s ramblings where not difficult to decipher as they relate to an email I received yesterday evening. I must bring back the ‘no email checking after a certain time’ rule. It just disrupts my calm flow state of mind when I do read an email late at night and allow it to work it’s way into my brain just before bed.

Anyway, I dreamt on it and was trying to find people who were in agreement with me about it. Hence waking this morning hopping mad as I’m not sure anyone did eventually agree with me. But I stand my ground this morning and go with my gut as she’s never seen me wrong.

It’s just tired really, having to point out yet again how the way someone is treating someone else is not okay. Maybe it’s okay to them and maybe no one has mentioned this to them before and so they continue to treat people this way. But common decency man, it costs nothing but goes a long way.

And maybe I’m taking it personally, maybe they act this way with everybody and not just with me and not because I’m a Black woman and viewed as less than. Maybe maybe maybe. This is how I’ve spent years making allowances for other people’s behaviour and treatment of me. Giving them the benefit of the doubt at the detriment to my sanity and my treatment of myself.

But no more. No one owes me nothing and no one owns me. I do not have to pussy foot around worried about causing offence because they’ve already caused offence to me so that shows me that they do not respect me and they do not see me. Therefore, you do not deserve my allowances, my excuses for your behaviour, or me trying to make you feel/ remain comfortable.

I’m not going to be rude or disrespect them but I will be speaking plainly to them. It will be interesting how they respond when I tell them my truth.

But all in good time, as another one of my practices is ::SLOW:: . Just because it suits someone to send an email at such and such a time, it doesn’t mean that it suits my timeframe and mind set to reply immediately and engage with their requests now. On their timetable, at their sense of urgency.

All in good time means all in good time for ME. Which isn’t at the exact moment as I think it’s another coffee for me and another few pages of visual journaling as I’ve got some shit to work out still.

Ah the beauty of visual journaling. Welcome to my world! See you tomorrow!

Close up of visual journaling 02/05

Under the Pink Moon, The Procession Thrums with Memories of Blossom

The Procession, 2022, Hew Locke

After Hew Locke. After Taylor Johnson

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.

Creatrix in Residence @ HOME

visual journaling spread

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.

In Honour of Slow ( a quiet protest)

Patreon Page Facelift

I’m Creatrix: she who makes.

”The speed at which we do something – anything – changes our experience of it.”
The Tyranny of Email, John Freeman

Over the last few years, I’m been practicing ::SLOW:: within my creative work, homelife, movements, relationships, thoughts and feelings. I’ve been turning away from the speed of 21st century society and the urgency of others to embrace my own pace.

This pace is ::SLOW:: which is not laziness or tardiness but is all about embracing balance, calm and sinking deeper into the creative process.

When we slow down and get off the carousel of productivity, perfection and quantity there is #radicaljoy to be experienced. There is a less is more mindset. There are richer moments of attention and awareness and connection. There is quality over quantity.

I’m Creatrix: she who makes with her hands, heart and soul.

My practice manifests through poetry, storytelling, image, walking, zine-making, mending and stitching, and the unfolding histories of black people. I engage audiences around black women’s voices and bodies, black feminism, ecology, trauma and memory, nature and connection, anti-racism, healing and joy.

I’m working within the system to challenge White Supremacy Culture and all it’s many guises. Dismantle and destroy. ::SLOW:: by it’s very nature is a quiet protest against this system of brainwashing and oppression and destruction.
At the same time, I’m re-centre-ing myself and creating outside the system. I’m exploring my own ways of working with me at the centre. Not marginalised and never minoritised. Doing my own thing on my own terms. I’m becoming whole through taking back my power and refusing to jump to other peoples demands, expectations and perceptions.

The underlining principle of this revolution is the practice of ::SLOW::

The ‘Slow Movement’ leans into the pleasures that are to be enjoyed by slowing down the process of everything. This connects me to my true nature as well as nature herself along with sustainability, simplicity, reflection and my rich multicultural ancestral traditions, rituals and practices.
Slowing the pace of how I live my life and create my life in the process is taking/ making a deliberate decision to do so. It’s a philosophy which embraces the local and seasonal rhythms and leaves room for and values thinking and feeling time. As well as REST.

::SLOW:: celebrates the process of bringing about work which has reflection at it’s heart and the time it takes to develop and nurture the necessary skills to create. There is being present throughout the journey and recognition of the becoming all along the path.

Funds from Patreon will go toward supporting – this quiet revolution of the practice of ::SLOW::

Your support is helping me to stick two figures up at the establishment, stating that there is another way of being.
We’ve all experienced it during the last two years of a global pandemic.

It has been shown that capitalism can be brought to a standstill and life can be lived at a slower pace. That we can connect with ourselves, each other and nature on a deeper level. Why can’t this be the ‘new normal’ instead of reverting back to the old ways of working and producing and exploiting?
Your support will help me to continue to embrace the practice of ::SLOW:: as I bring into the world my creations through word, text, fabric, film, audio and movement.

What you get for supporting this quiet revolution is a shining example of someone who is working on her own terms to bring about changes within herself and everyone else she serves and touches.

You get to share in the musings, and happenings, the breakthroughs and the heartbreak. I’ll be sharing my creations and developments here along with the resources and readings I’ll be exploring to lean into the practice of ::SLOW::

I hope with that you are inspired to take a stand against White Supremacy Culture in your own small and slow ways. As you have the power, we all have the power in our own way, to make a difference, to bring about changes in our lives and the lives of others.
And it starts with ourselves, with who we choose be, as we all have a choice.

I’m here now, sharing who I be with you.
Thank you for being here.

“The Slow philosophy can be summed up in a single word: balance […] Seek to live at what the musicians call the tempo guisto – the right speed […] Savouring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.” In Praise of Slow, Carl Honoré

Walking In Search of Purple

I’ve started again. I think it happened a couple of weeks ago now. But I’ve started walking out and searching for the colour purple again. I first started this last year during lockdown, when I would take a daily walk, but walk with intention. My intention was to search out purple, usually purple flowers, pause give thanks and snap a photo.

As Alice Walker write in The Color Purple “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

Walking is a meditation. Like breathing. When I walk my footsteps fall into a rhythm with my breathing. I always feel better after a walk. During the troubling times of the Coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings around the world, I’ve been searching for purple, more often than not. Does that mean I’m been looking for God? Looking for the reason maybe for all this suffering? But maybe there’s isn’t any reasoning for everything that’s happening. Maybe it’s just a case that this is how things are in the natural scheme of things. How it’s always has been and will be? That’s there’s meanness in the world and suffering and pain as well as beauty.

As more and more in society reopens after lockdown, and more and more people are making demands on my time and attention, I’ve slipped back into walking and searching for purple. And I think this is not to just fill my creative pot with joy, but also to makes sure I keep moving through this world at my own pace. Slowly. And when I lean into taking things slowly, doing things at my own pace, I know I’m in control of everything that is happening in my life.

It’s me taking back me power. And I think that’s what purple symbolises for me. As a colour, for centuries it has been associated with power. Not just regal power, but also because it was so expensive to make, purple was only worn by the select few, the echelons of society.

To be empowered from the inside out is real power for me. Power isn’t how much money or status you have in society. For me, it’s how much you value your own worth, protect your boundaries, lean into what makes you feel happy, what brings you joy and continue to relight your creative fire.

This is power to me. This is purple.