Writing Elsewhere

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Since May, I’ve been sharing my writing on Medium. This is a platform I’ve tired a number of times before but for some reason the habit just didn’t stick. I now know this probably had something to do with having nothing really to say. But now I do.

I’ve been contributing to the Binderful Blog, which a small online community of women, started a few years ago, which offers classes to support women questioning their lives. Maybe shaking up the status quo from the kitchen table outwards. I’m due to create a class with Binderful but in the meantime, I’ve been writing on Medium for them.

If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve shared so far then click below to read the articles.

Learning to be Inside

Comfort Reading

Pandemic Food Ways: A Little Sweet Treat

Waiting To Be Allowed In

My Voice is my Weapon

It hurts living on our knees

My Blissful List for April

1. My DryRobe – This is a must have for when I’m going on a sea visit. I just slip my cossie on underneath and I’m out the door. Sometimes if the sea is far out, I’ll wear this robe right up to the shoreline, snuggled into the furry lining, soaking up the last few ounces of warmth before I throw it off and dive into the cold North Sea. And then I know it’s waiting for me when I come out, to soak up the wet and keep off the wind and rain and get me all warmed up. This was a gift to me from me and it just keeps giving. I love my DryRobe hugs.

2. My footed mug. – It was a special red, hand planted one with birds from Anthropologie but I broke it the other day. I was mighty upset. Making do with this little beauty from Tesco’s for now. But hot coffee on repeat. Just the ritual of making it, popping the kettle, rinsing out the cafeteria and putting in two scoops of decaf coffee and pouring the water on and allowing it to brew. The smell in the kitchen, the rising steam. Small simple pleasures.

3. My turquoise plush blanket. – When I left my last teaching job they brought me a gift voucher for Debenhams as a goodbye gift. I took it, I think £30, and bought this comfort blanket as it was a luxury item and I felt I’d just gone through a few months of hell teaching full-time and deserved a little treat in my life. This blanket is super cosy and has been my hygge go to ever since then.

4. Books and more books. – Growing up I used to hoard books. I used to buy them thinking by just having them in my possession I would be intelligent and knowledgable. I now know I have to read the books to gain their insight and message. And this is what I love to do. Anywhere really. Sitting room, bedroom, the bath is a favourite. And I love my physical books but hells bells if I’m going somewhere and packing is tight, then Kindle books will do for me. I just get lost in books, and inspired and cheered up.

5. Paper and pens – Yes I like my fancy journals and fountain pens. But when it comes down to it, just give me any scrap of paper and a pencil and I’m happy. I can then create. Lists are my go to in times of trouble or doubt. If I can brain dump whatever I’m carrying around in my head and body onto that paper, I feel better in the process. I can get things organised, I can let down my load and walk away feeling lighter, calmer and happier.

What is your Bliss List for April? Give me 5 items or more. just follow your bliss and see what you come up with. What makes you happy? What makes you glow from the inside out?

March Reading

March has come to an end. Even though it’s felt like the longest month from hell, someone on twitter mentioned 36 years and 9 months in length, my reading hasn’t been as steady as I’d like.

Please excuse me if my mind has been otherwise occupied. If news bulletins and articles and live updates were in book form then this month I would have consumed thousands of volumes as I seemed to have taken up residence at The Guardian news website. It is constantly on refresh. I’m taking care of myself though by having days when I do not consume the news, I stay away from social media and literally inhale positive, feel good art and literature and music. I highly recommend it during these troubling times. anyway, on to what I have read.

Completed March readings include:

1. Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, poems by Jake Skeets

2. Swims by Elizabeth Jane Burnett

3. There are more beautiful things than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

4. Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson

5. Splinters are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson

6. Life without Diabetes – Roy Taylor

7. Fleshing Out the Narrative – Marielle S. Smith

 

Ongoing March reading include;

1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley

2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham

4. Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols

5. The Northumbrians by Dan Jackson

6. 8 Master Lessons of Nature – by Gary Ferguson

Let’s Go Outside …

We’ve started running as a family.

Me and my husband and our 9 year old daughter.

I started running about 8 years ago after the birth of said daughter as a means of getting rid of my pregnancy weight gain. Since then I went on to run a lot of 5ks, two 10ks, two half-marathons and three marathons. My last marathon was the London one in 2014. And it became my personal best time.

After this, I ran for the sheer fun of it but I soon fell out of love with running for one reason or another. I started training for my Great North Run in September this year once I got the okay back from the doctors about my back in January. But it’s been hit and miss.

Not with the lockdown, I’m craving the outdoors more than ever and running, putting some distance between me and home, is something I can drop into. So when my husband said he wanted to start running again I asked if he wanted company. And he was going to use our daughter as an excuse, with the schools being closed, she’s with us 24/7. But I wasn’t having it.

We started with NHS couch to 5K podcast. It’s what I used all those many year ago when I started running for the first time and it’s what I use every time I want to get back into running and build up my time and distance in a manageable way.

So it’s early days running with my peeps. But I’m enjoying it. And even if the 9 year old, Miss Ella, is complaining and feeling the pain at the moment, I think give it a few more weeks and she’ll be loving it. I know that’s how it kicks in for me.

Sharing Your Work – 003

“ When women speak truly they speak subversively – they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experiences as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change.” – Ursula Le Guin

Moving Forward

I’m nearing the end of #100daysof blogging, my first 100 days project of 2020. Last year I managed to knock out three different 100 day projects and I definitely feel the benefit of such daily practice this year. There is more of a flow to my practice; less friction, more ease.

With this in mind, with about two weeks to go on my blogging challenge, I have decided to continue with the blogging for another 100 days. With April just around the corner, National Poetry Writing Month, I think it would be remiss of me to not pick up this challenge and explore my poetry skills here.

So come the beginning of April, get ready to see 30 days of poetry, based around the theme of nature. I’m excited about this as this has been something I’ve been exploring in my personal and professional lives for the past few years. It’s a pity that my access to the outdoors will be limited for the foreseeable future with the Coronavirus but this could be a way to keep the spark alive; the connection with nature alive and present.

I might even bring back in my practice of creating haibuns. But I definitely want to emulate, ‘ The Country Diary of a Black Women’, something I created years ago after being inspired for Edith Holden’s books and made it my own.

Pause

I was talking to a dear friend, last night via FaceTime. We hadn’t connected with each other for months. Our schedules just didn’t coincide. But now, as the outside world slows down, we managed to connect and spend an hour or so catching up. With her living out in Washington State and me in the North of England, over the last ten years of our friendship, we’ve managed to stay in touch pretty well. Sometimes in person too.

We both feel that what is happening in the world now, with the pandemic is awful and worrying. But we both recognise a shift in the pace of life, that this has brought about too. Closing our doors, literally to the outside world, not going to work, not socialising with people face to face, has meant a change in behaviours. We’ve gone within and have started to appreciate all those little things that were right under our noses all along. We’ve started to experience gratitude for the lives we’ve created and are still able to enjoy.

For me, this time has given me the space to purposefully lean into my creative practice. I’m not pushing it, striving for productivity like I have in the past. And I’m not beating myself up when I don’t happen to complete my to-to list for each day. I mea, whenever have I managed to complete that never-ending to-do list? But still there’d be that voice at the end of the day berating myself for what I didn’t accomplish instead of congratulating myself on what I did do. Now I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator and it feels weird but it also feels right. I’m settling into the self-isolating with my family, and trying to take better care of myself. I’m fixing my own oxygen mask first and that feels weird but right also.

Things are not good at the moment. Especially when I do venture outside for the essentials and see the empty shelves in supermarkets. Also when people seem to not understand the concept of social distancing and still stand up on my arse as if we’re in a packed train carriage. Step away from me, man. I want to shout. Use some common sense. When I have to be out there, it soon annoys me with how some people are reacting, and my panic levels start to rise as a result. This is when I choose to walk away and find some space in nature. Walking outside is still possible and so is going into the sea. Thank goodness. Small mercies, I’ll gladly have for now. Out in nature, watching the waves, listening to the birds, seeing buds bursting on branches, my mind soon calms down, my breathing deepens, and my smile reappears.

So yes, things are not good at the moment with the Coronavirus but things could be a lot worse. And I think things, the situation and the way society operates at the moment, are going to get a lot worse before better. Here in the U.K., each day sees an increase in the number of deaths from the virus as well as the number of confirmed cases. We haven’t hit the peak yet, as we’re lagging behind such countries as Italy and Spain. And this isn’t me wishing the worst on us or anyone else. This is me being real.

Spending time catching up with my friend, was needed and beneficial for us both. Yes we caught up with what’s been happening, but we were also able to see each other. See that we’re okay and send out hopeful vibes that one day we will meet again. Who knows what the future holds. Who knows how this social isolation will end, if ever. But we can have hope and we can make the best of a bad situation. Gratitude helps immensely here, believe.

The Creative Body

For the past few weeks, I’ve been itching to come to the canvas. To crack open the paints and create the images that have been streaming through my head usually when I put my head down to sleep. But in all honesty, I’ve been too mentally and emotionally exhausted to pick the paintbrush up.

Then I cut myself some slack and said to myself, you don’t have to get the paints out, just pick up a pencil or pen and draw something. So I did. And after the pencils came the charcoal and then the chalks and oil pastels and ink. Each stroke of line moved onto another and another medium to pick up and use. And before I knew it I’d created a body; a black woman’s body.

I’m now itching to do more. So the black women’s faces and bodies, one of my 100 day projects from 2019 are coming back for the official #The100dayproject which starts on 7th April till 15th July 2020.

To support me in this task, I’ve also signed up to Connie Solera’s Painting the Feminine again, which is always a rich space to create images from daily. Looking forward to exploring where these black women want to take me this year. Stay tuned.