My Year of Deepening

tintype-577394653.781030While reading an email course I’d signed up to about community, there were links to the person’s website and courses. Before I knew it, I fell through the rabbit hole, following links and thinking of signing up to get another course which promised to support my quest in getting more in touch with my intuition.

Forget that, I probably couldn’t afford the course, the wonder and excitement juices were already flowing. The thrill of the new was taking over as I was pulling out the credit card. But wait. I took a step back. Backed off the ‘buy, buy, buy’ button and hit the breaks. What was I doing?

Buying another online course I wouldn’t finish? Spending money I didn’t have to spend? Fooling myself into thinking that this course held all the answers I was looking for?

All fantasy and stories we tell ourselves to justify the buy, the need and wish to accumulate yet another thing, I know off by heart. I don’t need width. I don’t need to buy another course, another book, another life. I need to focus and appreciate and dig deep into the things, the books, the skills, the course, the life I already have.

Around the beginning of the year, I’d heard about a #depthyear, but wasn’t sure what it was. I thought it was in connection with choosing a word for the year. But today, I found out what it means. The idea came about through an article by David Cain called ‘Go Deeper, Not Wider.’ Within it, Cain stresses a new tradition or intention of not starting any new hobbies, or buying any new things for a year but to revisit, reconnect, reuse the things he already had.

“No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.
You improve skills rather than learning new ones. You consume media you’ve already stockpiled instead of acquiring more.
The guiding philosophy is “Go deeper, not wider.” Drill down for value and enrichment instead of fanning out. You turn to the wealth of options already in your house, literally and figuratively. ”

In the age of consumerism, this is no easy task, as it’s habit to buy the newest gadgets and clothes. Value is placed on the new and the young rather than the used and the old. But what could be achieved and accomplished, if we just focused on what we had already and we took satisfaction and sustenance from that?

Subconsciously, I feel as if I have been going deeper through my #100dayprojects, first with abstract paintings and now with the black female portraits and figure paintings. Somewhere in my being, I felt the need to drill deeper into these practices in order to get better at them as well as to understand them. However, during the process, I’ve brought new art supplies and tools and books. I think this demonstrates a lack of trust in my own abilities by looking elsewhere for guidance and permission and inspiration.

All I need I have already. A lot of what I need is inside me to excavate, and if not then I can find the answers or further questions in the mountains of books and articles and courses I have accumulated over the years.

So take this post as the beginning of my year of deepening. Saturday 20 April, 2019.

By taking a whole year to go deeper instead of wider, I hope to develop a rich and joyful and carefully curated collection of interests, pursuits, skills and knowledge. I hope to reduce the power of newness and possessions has over me, in order to foster a deeper gratitude for what I have, the luxuries I already enjoy or have neglected.

Going deeper requires patience, practice, and engagement. Interestingly enough, these attributes have featured as my words of the year for the past few years. Maybe a sign that all has been leading to the point of awakening as I plan to delve deeper into this one glorious life I have.

A favourite quote …

It’s difficult to pin down my one and only favourite quote as I love so many. I use quotes as inspiration, as thought points, as guides.

At the beginning of each Studio Note I send out to subscribers, I include a quote, to set the tone, to ease into the topic of discussion.

Toni Morrison is always a favourite writer I quote because it was her book, The Bluest Eye, where I first found myself in literature. Before that, I always had to identify with the white female lead in the story. I found myself wishing I was something I was not; white, blond and blue eyed. In The Bluest Eye, I found myself, a little black girl growing up in a cruel, racist world, thinking if only she was white, then she’d be loved.

My quote isn’t from The Bluest Eye this time but it does touch upon this topic of self-love; my focus this year as my word is LOVE for 2019.

“In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. and all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver–love it, love it and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Sharing My Joy

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Just popping back in here quickly to highlight that I’ve created a new page all about my practice of visual journaling. For the past 3 years, this visual and creative practice has been my lifeline. It has not only got my head straightened out but it has also been my playground where big dreams have been declared and explored and come to fruition.

I do look upon this practice as magical. And the special thing is, everything is inside me waiting to come out. Through the use of paints, images, photography, collage, drawings, stamps and stickers, I get to tap into the magic that is inside of me, all the time, each day. No wonder I go all evangelical when I start to talk about visual journaling and share this practice. As it has quite literally changed my life.

Check out the new page in the portfolio and keep checking back as I continue to update it as well as develop the new ecourse to go with it.

Everyone visual journaling here we come.

Working Behind the Scenes

Through April, during my social media hiatus, I have had two intense weekends away from home. One experience nourished my soul. The other pained my soul.

I will write at length about this some other time, some other place. For now, the first weekend was wild swimming in Snowdonia. It was awesome and exhilarating and pushed me out of my comfort zone. And subconsciously, I must have known within my body that I needed this, and the sea swimming the week afterwards, in preparation for the following weekend.

I was the one and only delegate for my union, Artists’ Union England at the TUC Black Workers’ Conference. I presented a motion around discrimation within the arts and culture as well as the cuts in funding which are felt the most by already impoverished communities where Black, Asian and ethnic minorities predominately reside.

This weekend was educational, informative and inspirational, as well as a wake-up call. I say we live in a beatiful world, but this world is also ugly, unfair and unjust. Systematic racism is the operating means of power and control. And I forgot. I bury my head most days. I live in my own little world. And this is a luxury I have to readdress and change if I am to be the agent of change I want to be.

When you are woke, you stay woke. You have to stay woke in order to keep that fire in your belly alive.

Expect more to follow about both of these experiences and others.

But for the time being, this site is going into reconstruction.
It has been a year in existence and things need to change. Hopefully for the better. I’m not sure how things are going to turn out but I’m excited about the prospects.

This is a hold page while I do this much needed work behind the scenes. But I’ll be still writing and creating during this time.

To stay up to date you have three options.

1. Follow me on social media from May – IG @wildsoulwoman – images and words, twitter @awildsoulwoman – politics and insights

2. Subscribe to Studio Notes, receive a free download of poetry and intimate notes about my life and adventures about one or twice a month.

3. Become a patron for my Slow Writing practice on Patreon. Here I will be sharing my musings, creations and breakthroughs as I explore race, gender, power, the body and nature.

Hope to connect with you through any or all of these platforms.
Until next time, take care

Sheree x

We’ve got a Patreon Page

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I just send out a Studio Note this afternoon. And I’m sharing it here too as it has important information about my new creation; a Patreon Page.

Hello Dear One
I hope you are well.
We’ve been hit by another cold spell here’s in the UK, so I’m hygge-ing to the max; under throws, in my onesie with steaming coffee beside me. I’m also fighting an eye infection which is really painful as well reducing my vision.
I think I’ve been impatient to see into my future, rushing things when maybe I should be slowing down. So I have no choice now.
I’ve been reading Louise DeSalvo’s, ‘The Art of Slow Writing’ and something just clicked. I love writing on social media and sharing my creations, thoughts and feelings but sometimes it can be a distraction from the big work. Posting there is no substitute for getting out the stories I have within me and the stories I want to explore about black women’s bodies today, in society, as well in the past.
I want to change my practice. And it’s starts by taking back my time, to slow down my writing, learning my craft, and working hard to make sure every word carries meaning, carries worth and speaks from my heart and soul.I want my writing to bring about change. This is my way of being active within the struggle. Using my creativity. This is a revolutionary process. And I need your help.
Patreon is a platform that makes it easy for creatives to get paid. You pledge to support a creative through a one off payment or a monthly payment and through the process you get exclusive content and rewards.

Why do I need your support?

Your support will help me slow down my writing process but also help me write more. I know, a bit of a contradiction.
But this is how it will work for me.
Your support means that I have you watching. You are my motivation to write the truth, from a place of truth. With your support, there is no way I can make mistakes, slip up or drop the ball. You keep me accountable. You make an investment in my time and I have to deliver. For this I am deeply grateful.

On Patreon I will be sharing the process as well as the end products. I will be sharing the intimate aspects of my working processes. I will be learning along the way about myself, my craft, the world, the issues and I can’t help but share these breakthroughs as it’s part of my nature. To have you along for the ride means you are helping carry the load. You being there too eases the pressures on me, leaving more time and energy for me to create.

Is that you?

Please don’t worry if it’s not. As well as if you’re not able to support me financially at this time.

If you can, go check out my Patreon Page and see what rewards you can benefit from through sponsoring me. One-off contributions start from only $1, while monthly contribution start from only $3.
By all means, hit reply also if you have any questions or anything needs clarifying. I so look forward to seeing you over on Patreon.
Thanks for listening.
Until next time
Love
Sheree”

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Remembering last year

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A year ago, March, I was on an artist residency in the #westfjordsiceland – remember? I created this time and space alone for me from scratch because I wanted to return and experience Iceland again after my island tour.
Wow want a difference a year makes. I got lost a bit out there, in the dark and desolate place. But I also found out stuff about myself; that I love solitude, exploring new places, and sharing my joy on my own terms. I’m planning on doing just that in June, when we have a #summersolstice creative retreat happening in #Iceland. This is going to be an intimate affair. Only space for 5 women, including me. It’s half filled already. Writing, art, yoga, nature, Wild swimming, good food, good company, laughter and no doubt tears.
If you’ve been itching to visit Iceland, this is your opportunity. Time away from your everyday,experiencing the sublime within a supportive sisterhood as well as space and time for solitude. As I said, I like my solitude and breathing space. Just to be. Check out the details in my profile. DM if you have any questions. #practice #visualjournal #selfportraitureasmedicine #seeingmyself #wildawimming #outdoors #womenscreativity #walkingwriting #walkingwomen #creativeretreaticeland #icelandcreativeretreat
 

Four Months: Friday

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Friday is our last full today together. It is with great sorrow that I have to bring this circle to an end. I hate goodbyes. I usually sneak out in the dead of night, before anyone else is awake, to avoid saying goodbye. To avoid having to look my fellow travellers in the eye and allow them to see how deeply this time with them, this experience has touched me, changed me.

But today, this time, I stand before you and acknowledge how much you have brought and contributed to this retreat. I couldn’t have done it without you. I acknowledge how much our time together has left such an impression upon me. I know I’m not the same person who arrived here just a few days ago to facilitate this holding of space for you.

I don’t want our time together to end, but end it must but I stand before you saying goodbye confident in the feels that you are leaving here also changed; empowered and inspired and more secure in yourself and who you be.

Before we leave, let’s spend one more morning together with our visual journals. Let’s continue the magic one more time as we play with paint, visuals and texts. Let’s share those images of our days together; the sunrises over breakfast, the tears of recognition as we open up to each other, the smells of fresh cooked pancakes and strawberries and chocolate, the laughter late into the midnight sun. Let’s make a promise to ourselves to keep giving ourselves this time and space to think and dream and breathe.

In the afternoon, we drive to
Jökulsárlón. Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon, bordering Vatnajökull National Park in southeastern Iceland. Its waters are a strange turquoise blue, still and dotted with icebergs. On one side is a black sand beach. On the other, the route leads to the Atlantic Ocean. As mesmerising as this glacier lagoon is, it’s here evidence of global warming lies. What we do with this knowledge is yet to be decided. But the conversation has begun.

Four Months: Thursday

We leave our Eco-house early driving into Reykjavik for coffee and breakfast at Braun’s, a delicious bakery selling fresh bread, cinnamon swirls and croissants.

From here we have the length and breadth of the city centre to play with.

We become the Flaneuses, the walking women that we are. Armed with our cameras and pens and journals we begin our adventure.

We walk up the hill to the iconic church, Hallgrímskirkja. We take inspiration from the exterior, designed to resemble the Icelandic landscape with its rocks, mountains and glaciers. This a sharp contrast to it’s clean, understated and simple interior of grey and padded pews. We take the lift to the top of the tower and see the streets of Reykjavík below us as well as the sea and surrounding snow-capped mountains. We are Queens, women unto ourselves up here. We take this sense of power and awe back down as we sit and take time to capture our thoughts and feelings of being here, now. Being present.

Let me take you into a hidden garden of sculptures just by the church. Einar Jonsson Museum. Many walk by and miss this moment of beauty. But we don’t as you have a frequent visitor to Iceland as your guide. Me.  We stop and write here too soaking up the quiet and peace right in the middle of the city.

Down the hill we walk in the direction of the museums and art galleries. We have a few to choose from and it all depends on what they’re exhibiting. The Photograhy Museum is a favourite of mine. The criteria for selection is women, nature and beauty.

We enjoy a workshop within the gallery, stopping for lunch and sharing our creations. Then the afternoon we have the time and space to shop, walk, explore alone or together but really experience the feel and buzz of this compact but vibrant city centre.

As the days are long, we can stay as long as we wish in the city, grabbing dinner, catching a concert at Harpa, experiencing the nightlife. We play it by ear as the adventure just keeps enfolding just beyond our next step.

Four Months: Tuesday

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As I undergo my A Wild Soul Woman Certificate Training, I bring my learning and experiences to our time together with an exploration of the landscapes of Iceland.

In our morning workshop, we bring to the table a birthing journey – a journey to get closer to our true selves. Being with nature, writing and reading about nature, is the key to this process. As Mary Reynolds Thompson has said: ‘ In order to heal the self, we have to heal the earth and in order to heal the earth, we have to heal the self.’ We are in a circular relationship with ourselves and the world around us.

We are not on the hero’s journey but the heroine’s journey, so the path is not linear or goal orientated. Our path moves inward and spirals. This journey is all about the process, and the birthing of new selves again and again. We will move through the different landscapes of Iceland, on the page in our journals as well as on foot outdoors, to journey into the depths of our wild hearts.

Here in the desert, the barren land, we learn to let go, release our preconceived ideas of who we think we are as well as any identities that have been out on us by others, so we can just be. Surrendering.

But is everything really dead here? Within the lava fields, their is life and there is growth. Organisms have adapted and accepted what is,  learning how to thrive in such harsh conditions. We as women can learn from this and thrive also within space. In the silence and solitude, at the end of the end,  we can learn how to listen to our passion, to our fire within.