Plans for May

I announced on Instagram the other day my plan to go on another social media hiatus in May. This is something I periodically do as a means of self-care. In the past, I’ve left it too late before taking a break and I’ve been left rolling in the dregs at the bottom of the barrel. I’ve been burnt out and rendered speechless with nothing productive to say.

I’ve learned from this experience, I’m planning my retreat ahead of schedule, when I’m still in a good position and enjoying the experience. I’m taking a rest while the going is good. And there’s a voice saying to me, I’m a fool for going now, for leaving the party early so to speak. Things are getting exciting, I’m making connections. I’m also receiving a lot of support for my #100daysproject. I go silent and I will loose all momentum, all exposure etc.

My sanity and health is more important. I take breaks from social media as an act of self-care. The time away gives me the time and space to go within and listen more carefully to my own wisdom. Going dark on the internet, gives me a chance to create without distractions or comparisons. It gives me space and permission to breathe.

I’ll still be posting here as well as on Patreon and sending out Studios Notes during this time as I feel as if I’m just getting started with this blogging malarkey.

This break is coming at a time when our new project is beginning, which involves more Black, Asian and ethnic minorities getting out into the British Countryside. I’ll share more details soon.

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5 ways to cultivate creativity

In the past, I’ve struggled with creativity. I thought I could neglect it and keep it under wraps. But creativity is an energy which won’t be silenced or railroaded.

It has to be respected, nurtured and practiced. Frequently.

Here are a few ways that I stay creative, they might even work for you too.

1. Turn up daily.

Being creative is a practice and you can only practice when you turn up. Turn up at the page, the canvas, the computer. Turn up without expectations, just commit to giving creativity some time and attention and see where it takes you.

2. Never give up, never surrender.

Some days the ideas are flowing. The words are all making sense. The colours are working together. I’m in the creative flow and I feel so much joy. But other days, I’m finding it difficult. I’m struggling to make sense, to feel good about what I’m doing. It’s icky. But I keep going. I keep turning ip because I know I’ll get back to the flow and joy and sweet spot.

3. Fall in love with the process

Process over product every time. Through focusing on the process, I’ve a much enjoyable ride. I learn so much about tools and skills and techniques. I’m present in the moment rather than jumping ahead to the end and stressing about if anyone will like what I create. With focus on the process, it doesn’t matter if anyone gets what the finished piece is about because the value comes through the practice.

4. Diversify

I suspend attachment and worries and stress when I create multiples or dabble in multiple creative projects. When I create in batches or move between different art form such as writing poetry and painting an abstract, it means I don’t place all my eggs in one basket. It means I’m not focusing on perfection or completion. I’m focusing on this mark now. And then the next mark. And how they talk to each other. I’m lost in the movement and the creating.

5. Trust yourself

This is probably the hardest thing to cultivate in terms of creativity as far too often we listen to our fears and self-doubts. We spend time and energy overthinking the process or second guessing our actions. We doubts our abilities and intentions. We fall into the comparison trap and before we know it we’re paralysed. We cease to create and feel a failure.

Trust in myself as a Creatrix has developed over time through practice. Through showing up and doing the work and enjoying the process. The more I do the more confident I am in what I have to say and share creatively with the world.

Loosening The Bounds

I missed submitting for the special challenge with Nine Muses Poetry this month. The challenge is to respond or be inspired by a different photograph posted at the beginning of each month. For April the image was fittingly Viewing Cherry Blossoms at Ueno, by Katsukawa Shunzan. I completed this poem this morning in response.

Loosening the Bounds

I wish I could say,
the orchard is a rare find.
That I never think of blossom.
That the pure smell doesn’t
undulate to the sea.

But that would be lying.
At this time of year,
there’s no escaping the stain,
the crowds. No escaping him.

His neck is red. Pain in his head.
That must be why he seldom smiles.
I know I put them on a pedestal.
I want what they had.

How they kept the blossom from dying.

Perhaps, the sea is history
and the lop-sided pagoda clinging
to the shoreline, made me think
we were going somewhere.

Same images played over and
over again. The trickster,
just using my face. My skin. My voice.
Give me the cherry blossom every time,

time with my sisters,
lost in the crowds, easing off
our sandals, loosening our bounds
like blossom caught on the bsea breeze.

My Favourite Influencer

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I’ve started my second #100daysproject of 2019. Joining in with the official challenge, #The100dayproject, I’ve decided to focus on created images where I see myself reflected, #100daysofblackwomen.
I’ve purposely not set up any long, drawn out rules. All I have to do each day is create a face or figure of a black woman. Far too often in art, if a Black Woman is present, she is not represented in an empowering or positive way. She might be the servant, or a sexualised object, ridiculed and degraded.
I want to look upon art and see my multifaceted identity reflected; the good and bad, the truth.
It’s only been in the last few years really that I’ve embraced this practice of creating, painting black women. I know taking Painting the Feminine with Dirty Footprint Studios, hosted by Connie Solera has influenced this development. Creating within a supportive group of women and gently pushed into our own ideas of what femininity can be has been a catalyst for
my explorations and expressions.
A recent discovery has pushed me further into my own visual language. This has been finding the artwork of Mystele Kirkeeng and then watching her create her pieces.
Watching Mystele and learning about her practice and techniques gave me permission to trust my own messy process. Seeing her process made me value my own for the first time and to lean into it more. It’s such a glorious feeling to finally believe in what I create at the same time as not worrying or stressing about whatever anyone else thinks about my artwork. Mystele reminds of the joy and excitement I can have for my own creativity. And this is priceless.

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

already there inside you

I return after a three month hiatus for social media to take a few weeks away from work, in the real world, to recharge the batteries. I spent my time away from cyberspace, reconnecting with my self and my creativity but also working hard to build a union. At the moment, I’m close to burn-out because of it. So I need to step back and assess how I’m using my energy.

For the past few days, I’ve been operating with a sharp pain within my right side. I’ve experienced this pain before, a few months ago, but that pain came and went within a day. This pain has stayed. It may be related to something deeper inside that is happening, but at the moment, I’m reading it as a sign. My body is telling me to stop and I’m listening.

Metaphorically, I’m reading this stabbing pain, which increases when I bend down or put any pressure on, as a thorn in my side. That there’s been someone or some situation which has been causing me a lot of grief and heartache. Hence the rest. And I’m not going to allow this to continue to sap my energy and attention.

What I’ve been doing is stretching my body out, leaning into the pain and breathing. Kundalini yoga. Allowing the sensation ( see I changed the word there) to course through me and be. Yes I still feel the pain and discomfort but at least, I’m managing it. I’m not allowing it to stop me. Or define me.

I know if I was alright with myself, whole even, the past few months of attrition wouldn’t bother me, wouldn’t touch me. I also know that it takes a lot of energy and belief and self-love to let it just flow away and not touch me. It’s a practice. I continue to practice this each day. Some days I manage this and some days I don’t.

I leave you with some words of wisdom I read today on IG, from @the_ardent_alchemist, I’m thankful for this reminder.

>> … and suddenly you know in a flash – – just like that! – – that there is nothing to strain or strive for and there never has been. everything you need is already there inside you – it has been given to you and it can never be taken away … <<

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.

Shifting Energy

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I had the house to myself for the last two days. I thought I was going to vegetate indoors, enjoying the space but my body was calling for movement. I remembered a small sketchbook I’d purchased ages ago for working outdoors with. This was the perfect time to use it. I didn’t know what I was going to do or take with me but the mere thought of it got me excited and motivated to get out there.

I wrapped up and started walking in the direction of the sea. This was the first time I attempted to paint outdoors. Hence things didn’t go to plan. It was windy and cold and there were people. But I enjoyed the challenge and want to do it again and again.

And it was just great to be outside and enjoy the light. This is my favourite time of year and I allow it to slip away too quickly, as I get busy with work and commitments. But if I remember that the sky is blue and that getting out there shifts my energy, hopefully I’ll get in some more painting sessions outdoors.

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