“ 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
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.
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.
Kielder Forest and Water. Partaking in training to become a volunteer who will Osprey watch over the summer this year. It is an interesting gig, learning about the birds as they come back to the forest after wintering in Senegal or The Gambia.
Kielder has become the home for 7 mating pairs of Ospreys for the abundance of space and fish to raise fledglings. Our job will be to set up the scopes for viewing the nesting pairs. To talk to visitors about their behaviours and raise the profile of our birds as they work together to build up their chicks for becoming independent birds over the summer months.
There are also Osprey watch cruises upon Kielder water to check out all the nests along the reservoir.
In the past, I’ve volunteered for certain things, indoor jobs, like manning phones for charities, running creative workshops, talking to kids about writing etc. I’ve never volunteered for anything out in nature as I never thought I would be of any use. Or there was the underlying feeling of not belonging there. Bit by bit this self-limiting attitude is changing.
I look forward to start and share my experiences.
The walk is blustery. A chill sets in. The stone wall from centuries past worn into smooth layers, slips and trips around memories.
She breaths deep and releases aeons of pain. Her body relaxes into the currents. And with arms wide, she lets go. Her shadow is a moving dark mass across the landscape.
Her heart, the energetic space of unconditional love beats for all, pumping the blood of life throughout and between this landscape and hers.
Walking and writing for wellness. That is my choice of self-care.
Today saw me hold the first meeting, as project coordinator, for the forthcoming project Black Nature in Residence.
This is a project funded by Art Council England which will run for the rest of 2020 and into next year, where four black writers will be in residence at different natural heritage sites in the North East of England.
More details will follow over on Earth Sea Love as things develop. But for now, believe me when I say, I’m excited about my opportunity to be in residence.
A dull turquoise, maybe even duck-egg blue, worn and distressed
nestled into an alcove, pushed back to not intrude upon the small room.
What do you hold, what do you conceal? And you fine chair, straw seat
spindly legs and arms, who do you invite, who do you hold?
Passing questions, I hold, as I pass through this room. May I say
an artist’s room? Maybe. But the easel will hold the result. Hold the answers.
Don’t you just love the sound.
Click clack. The sound of metal keys
springing up to hit the taut paper
leave a black mark behind
that mesh together to make a word a sentence
a whole piece of writing.
The sound makes me feel useful
and diligent. The sound makes me feel
creative and inspired. The sound reminds
me of play and make-believe and efficiency.