“It’s not what an artist does that counts, but what he is.’ – Pablo Picasso
During these changing working conditions of moving into visual spaces to connect and share and create, I’ve been enjoying a lovely run of being a guest on a number of different podcasts, separate from The Earth Sea Love Podcast, connecting women of colour and nature.
As mentioned before, I was welcomed onto the Prompted By Nature Podcast with Helen Forester where we talked about working to get more black bodies out into nature with funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
Since the first one, I’ve gone on to be a guest with Yarrow Magdalena with Daydreaming Wolves, where I enjoyed the opportunity to share about my creative practice and sea swimming and not being able to foretell the future but being okay with that.
On Speak from the Body, a podcast on practical ways to reconnect with the body and nourish your soul, hosted by Avni Trivedi, I had the opportunity to speak at length about my creative practice, visual journalling and how it saved my life, 5 years ago now.
And the final one I’ll share with you today, as there are more to come, is from the countryside charity CPRE, Campaign to Protect Rural England. In this episode I’m a guest with Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex, where we discuss the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in the countryside and nature.
That’s me. The smaller one in the photograph, looking off to someone outside the frame and smiling with no teeth.
I think I might be four or five and this is when I probably loved myself completely. Loved how I looked and talked and walked. Loved my whole being. This little girl is long gone. But searching for that love she held for herself is not over yet. It can be reclaimed and this is what I’m practicing now as I try to heal; to fall in love with myself again.
Step one involves positive affirmation. Saying and repeatedly saying nice things, good positive things about myself daily. What donI like about myself? I’ll share share 10 with you now:
1. I am a smiler
2. I like my energy and spirit
3. I am determined
4. I am creative
5. I am resourceful
6. I like my generosity
7. I am powerful
8. I empower others
9. I am funny
10. I am love
I’ve started, so I’ll finish. My thoughts when I think about coming here to record my readings for last month; June. This is the only way I’m keeping track of what I’m reading in terms of books, and when I started I felt it would be a worthwhile pursuit. Something to look back at, at the end of the year, and be proud at the achievement. At the fact of reading so many books. I didn’t set a target I don’t think. But forgive if I’m wrong as January feels so far away now. And thank God for this practice as I can’t remember what I read back then. Or even last month if I think about it. Hence being here now, before any more days of July rolls by and I haven’t marked down what books I read in June.
So here is the list of completed reads. And I’ve got so many other books on the go at the moment that I won’t be able to share them all, but I’ll share a smattering of them to give you an idea. There have been times when it’s been difficult to concentrate on a long read. I’d read a chapter and then skip off to do something else, or read something else. Concentration and focus have been elusive. I think that’s where poetry collections come into play. Quick and easy and brief.
Books read this month:
1. Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful by Alice Walker
2. Mama Amazonica by Pascal Petit
3. Between the Islands by Philip Gross
4. Hare Soup by Dorothy Molloy
5. Ledger by Jane Hirshfield
6. Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
7. The Creative Doer by Anna Lovid
Books in progress this month:
1. Overstory by Richard Powers
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
3. Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
4. The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare
5. Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
6. Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist
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.
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 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
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.
“ 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