Who’s afraid of the dark?

A 6.30am alarm wakes me. On a Sunday. And the gadget, a smart watch, ringing the alarm is somewhere on a desk somewhere hidden in a dark cold hotel room.
I stumble out of bed blind and unsteady, hand and arms outstretched in front of me, combing the black air, trying to touch something soild. Trying to stop the incessant noise.

I was brought up to fear the dark. It didn’t take my small imagination much to conjure up monsters under the bed and ghosts on landings. Lying perfectly still in my bunk bed pretending to be dead already, the dark dug deep into my psyche so that I grew up fearing my own reflection.

When I’m not watching my weight (come on, when am I not watching my weight?) I enjoy an extra cold pint of Guinness with a shot of blackcurrant to cut through the bitterness. A drink of pure iron. Thick like treacle, it works well as a lining on my stomach before multiple rounds of alcoholic concoctions follow. Who knows? Who cares? But as long as my core swims deep with the dark stuff I’m ready for anything.

On our living room wall in our maisonette flat in Bradford where I grew up, we had a velvet scroll depicting two islands. The land was made up of bright green stitched thread. The towns and villages were named in golden thread. Bright red blazed across the top, ‘The Islands of Trinidad and Tobago.’ I’m not sure if we were ever told but our dad came from those islands. It was a silent fact. I liked to touch the thread, when I got the chance. The stitching was tight and taut. My eyes, though, were pulled into the expansive black crushed velvet Caribbean Sea wondering how he survived the swim over to the U.K.

I thought these smart gadgets were supposed to make your life easier. Why wasn’t it flashing neon green, or red even, at the same time as sounding an alarm, giving me some clue as to it’s whereabouts? I felt I could have done better with my eyes shut. But I’ve been living that way for far too long. Now with eyes wide open to the dark, I’ve become wise to the tricks of history. I’m woke.

Vision Board 2020

So I’ve spent the past few days digging in deep to create my vision board for 2020.

Using the free vision board guide from Makeda Pennycooke, I was able to explore my accomplishments of 2019 and let them go in order to visualise and plan for 2020.

It was a very powerful and useful process which I am grateful for and would highly recommend.

2020 looks like a time of creating space and light at home as well as embracing more travel and nature. Health and fitness feature on the list probably after the scare of last year but also realising that in order to achieve anything next year and beyond I need to be in good health.

Happy New Year – 2020 – Power to the People

I meant to get here earlier but after a late night, my new year has started slowly. But I’m not complaining, as I strongly believe in slow and steady. It’s how I run all my marathons and how I win them. Win them meaning finishing in one piece. I’m always competing against myself, winning this race called life daily as I become closer and closer to my true self. Daily as I choose me over anyone else. It’s not a natural practice as society isn’t set up to take care of number one. We’re taught this behaviour is selfish and are made to feel guilty if we for a moment decide to put ourselves first in the workplace, in a relationship, in our own lives.

I’ve been on this path for nearly five years now of cultivating self-love, self-care and authenticity. What’s supported me through this process has been choosing a word for the year. A word or concept that I have drawn upon to guide me along this path.

2015 – Voice. 2016 – Water. 2017 – Practice. 2018 – Shakti. 2019 – Love.

I feel all these words have complimented and build upon each other, to the point of reaching 2020 and my word of the year being a natural projection of all that has gone before. All that I’m becoming.

POWER is my word of 2020. Stepping into my power. Taking back my power. Living my power. This is the focus of 2020.

I can’t wait to see feel and experience everything that unfolds. But I’m not rushing anything. Slow and steady wins my race.

Happy New Year everyone. 2020, here we come.

December

I’m happy to see this month come around even though I can’t believe that we’re hurtling towards Christmas and the New Year . Where has this year gone?

I’m glad to see the back of November after far too many visits and hours spent in hospitals and doctor’s surgeries.

We might be moving toward the shortest day of the year, but I’m feeling the light in more ways than one.

New moon on Tuesday and my intentions are already set. To shift my energy, my outlook, my state of mind through going deeper into my practice.

I’ve been in my retreat cave for a few months now, withdrawn from IG and Facebook for months. But it’s only now as we turn towards the dark further, do I feel more unhinged and released from the public realm and demands.

I mixed colours today; went through a 40+ box of acrylic paints, mixing them with white gesso to create new, more muted tones. And I’ll not lie, I was singing to the little paint pots I created. This simple act fed my soul. I was so grateful for colour. I could have stayed there all day just mixing and enjoying the colours that came to fruition.

I can’t wait to make some swatches of them as well as start painting with them. Using them each day this month is my plan as a means of deepening into my practice and retreating further into my cave.

Have you set any intentions for the coming circle of the moon? For the last few days of 2019? Please share if you have.

Putting things into perspective

Not even two week gone yet since I’ve had surgery on my spine and there’s a voice in my head saying you should be doing more. You should be further along in your recovery.

I didn’t sleep well last night, if at all. So I’m going through my day being super critical and super negative in my outlook. Today, I can do no good. Nothing right.

Before I allow myself to wallow any further or spiral downwards any further, I need to shift my energy.

I get creative. I’ll be sharing a new series over the weekend but for now not only getting into the creative flow helped but also considering what I’ve already achieved this year, helped in an upward swing in my thinking, self-reflection.

This year saw me complete not one, not two, but three ‘100 day projects’. This has never been the case before. I’ve never been able to complete one #100dayprojects before never mind three!

So what was different this year in my approach, my thinking, my practice?

I’m not sure if I can pin it down to one thing as I do believe it was a combination of things, such as timing, tasks, enjoyment, accountability to self etc. But I think the main reason came down to my perspective. I set the challenges, I chose the focus, the timeframes, the mediums. I was in control but more importantly I was doing it all for me. I wasn’t completing a daily piece of art for anyone else, for their approval or appreciation. I was doing it for me and how it made me feel while doing it.

Stuff the end product it was all about the process and how for that time I set aside to create all self-criticism and doubts and fears were turned way down low, to nearly a whisper.

So I’m taking this process and applying it again when the self-criticism and doubts and fears rear their ugly heads during my recovery stage. I’m getting creative, luxuriating in the flow because here I happy and at peace and in the flow.

A Quickening

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
― Martha Graham

Writing around this quote today, I realised that I feel energised when I create. I say ‘create’ but what do I mean?
Over the past few days of being confined to home, I’ve created pocket books, a days of December journal. I’ve decorated postcards for a international swap. I’ve put words, paint and scraps of paper to paper. I’ve collaged as if my life depended on it. And in a way it has. Because all of this creating feeds my soul and this is where my energy comes from.
My light source is my soul. If I feed this source on a daily basis then I have the energy to get through my day. And saying ‘get through my day’ sounds like a chore. But it’s not when I’m feeding my source, my light, my soul with this special, rich sauce that keeps me alive, brings me joy like playing with colour or words.
Things are not perfect and never will be. We’re not rolling in money and we have our worries. But each day, I feel I’m growing in light and grace and gratitude because I’ve made this showing up at the page a priority for me.
For me it all involves paper.
Paper and what I decide to do each time with that paper. Write on it, cut it, stick it, colour it, fold it, sew it. Paper.

Book-making

While laid up for a while ( and that’s another story), I’m spending my time being creative. This is the only way to keep me sane and to keep my mind and hands occupied as my body feels the pain.

This is the first book I’ve made, after a few years of not making any books. It may look shabby and wonky and still a bit plain, especially the cover. But I love it. I’m so proud of my creation.

Hand-made junk journals are the way the go. Expect to see more as well as see how this one develops as I start to fill it up with text and images.

I feel a Christmas themed one calling …

The Healing Properties of the Sea

My task today is to write a love letter to the body of water that has sustained me, healed me, and nurtured me.

This has to be the North Sea as it has been on my doorstep for decades, even if, I’ve just come to appreciate it more in last 10 years.

A couple of years ago, I came up with the title, ‘The Healing Properties of the Seas‘ for a project involving water. It was basically 10 second videos of bodies of water. On a website for everyone to enjoy. Accompanying this would be a symposium, interviews with me talking to other people about their connection to water etc. There would be an open submission for people around the world to share their 10 second clips of bodies of water.

I have hundreds of 10 second clicks of the North Sea and other waters and I feel I don’t appreciate water enough. The planet’s water enough. I’m fixing to change this and hopefully get, ‘The Healing Properties of Water‘, off the ground. Are you with me?

Longsands, Tynemouth, UK