I Dare You

I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.” Maya Angelou

Today, I am daring myself to draw again. To allow myself to draw and dream and to be just curious again. To try things out, to practice with colour and not worry if it’s not right , if I get it wrong. I dare myself to get out my coloured pencils and to just try. To draw for me. And this is scary as it’s for nothing else I’m working on. It’s doing something for no other reason than to just try. And it doesn’t matter if I’ve got no time and other things are pressing. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t know where to start, or what I’m doing. I have an inkling to try so why not go with it. I dare myself today.

What are you daring yourself to do today?

The Creative Life

You need to know what you want right now, but not where it will lead you. You don’t need to know the end goal or how it will all fit together. – Anna Lovind

The gift of time

Today, I was due back up at the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session for all around the themes of Hadrian’s Wall and the new Lost Words exhibition. Unfortunately, due to adverse weather conditions, the event has been cancelled.

Even though, I’d spent the last few days in preparation for the storytelling, which I view as time well spent not wasted, I’m grateful for the free time I’ve been gifted today. I felt as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulder and now I can relax into Sunday. And I’m not going to rush and fill this empty time with all the jobs I have piling up with the house or family or work related stuff.

What I intend to do and what I’ve been doing is to remain curious and allow myself to be intuitively guided towards what I feel I want or need to do. Okay I might have to do some dishes or we’ll be eating off our hands all day. But at the same time, I’ve been visiting my visual journal and experimenting with my resources; journalling, moving paint around, doodling, dreaming. Being creative but just enjoying the process and not really thinking about the end product.

Sometimes, I need to take the time and space to remember the benefits of my visual journalling practice, what it’s seen me through, supporting my healing and grieving, and how it supports me to remain curious about my creativity but also life, my life in general.

Launch Event

I was invited to the launch event of an exhibition bring the book Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane to life at the Sill this week. I’d seen the book and have admired the images, but I hadn’t spent much time with the text.

The premise is that generations of children are growing up not knowing the names of things in nature, or being able to recognise them. That this knowledge has slipped out of existence and this book was created as a way of recapturing the magic, bringing these lost words back to life. Such words and natural living things as bramble, conker and fern.

I had the most enjoyable evening talking to fellow visitors as well as hearing some of the spells within the book being read aloud. It was inspiring so much so that I intended to link into the idea of lost words, and lost worlds as I return this weekend to the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session about the multicultural communities from ether past who lived and worked around Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

Fern

Fern’s first form is furled,
Each frond fast as a fiddle-head.
Reach, roll and unfold follows.
Fern flares.
Now fern is fully fanned.

Robert MacFarlane

The Mountain

I started 2020 off by starting an online course with Creative Non-Fiction called Writing the Lyric Essay: When Poetry & Nonfiction Play. It’s five weeks of writing time on my personal essays and I’m enjoying reading a range of new writers as well as reacquainting myself with ones of old.

Last week was looking at the lyric essay in relation to e prose poem. I was introduced to the weird and wonderful work of Charles Simic and the early work of Toi Derricotte. It was a lovely week of red and writing and the words just seemed to flow. Here I share a piece with you called The Mountain.

We climb in the rising heat
and I feel heavy.
Rucksack clinging around
my waist like a troll,
I’m at the end of the line, always, as if I need the others, fitter and whiter than me, to pull me up the steep pass.
I tell myself, I’m taking my time to savour the moment, enjoy the view as my breath escapes like a monoprint; white lake
surrounded by shades of grey; flint, slate, gun-metal to charcoal.
The majestic mountain.
Because I’m afraid to love,
I keep my wetsuit on
and enter on foal legs
the clearest blue lake
known locally as bottomless
as well as home to a water dragon. The dragon does not scare me.

However, letting go does.

Blogging Reflections: one

Over three weeks into my #100dayofblogging challenge; the aim to post something everyday for 100 days straight, and I’m looking for some space to reflect on the task so far.

I’ve not posted anything mind boggling, or life changing so far but I have been showing up. Maybe not showing up in my fullest capacity and maybe not showing up with much of a plan either but showing up I have. And I’m noticing a turn. A turn towards wanting to write more, especially poetry after a rather dry period there.

So that’s a good thing. I’m also thinking of the three quarters left to go of this challenge and what I want to see more of in the coming weeks.

First, I want to see more poetry( already mentioned that Sheree!) Maybe trying out different forms. Already been writing some haikus. I’ve got an itching to try haibuns again. Love them.

Next, I want to start a series. I started a series in relation to Black British Art and I want to continue with this with a focus on different Black British Artists who have influenced me or who I’m just finding out about. I’m excited about this as I’m feeding my creative pot in the process.

I also want to share a vlog or two regarding my working practice, especially regarding visual journalling as I think everyone should be doing this! Amazing results in terms of how you respond and treat yourself.

Other posts I’ve been thinking about have been lists, personal facts and fictions, ‘how to’ posts as well as sharing my daily routines, morning and evening and what a productive day looks like for me as a freelancer etc.

I hope you stick around for the ride as I’ve been enjoying it so far. Yes there are days when I can’t be bothered to show up here but when I do show up, I’m pushing on through the doubts and fears and tiredness and bringing something into existence that didn’t exist before. I think that’s cool and it’s a good enough reason to keep on showing up here too.

#onwards

Not making any promises but …

It’s nearly 5 years since I adopted a visual journalling practice for everything. My life and troubles. My dreams and creativity. My sanity. And the practice of using text and images and collages and paints and washi tape and anything really I can get my hands on has been life changing and empowering. Visual journalling brought me back from the brink. It’s been my safety blanket, my confidant, my cheerleader, my vision. Visual journaling has taken me to Iceland and retreats, national creative projects and inaugural residencies. I can’t promise this is what happens to you when you try it. I can’t promise the results you’ll feel and see when you sign up for the current offering from @olwen.wilson which is safe and guided visual journalling. The only thing I can say is that this practice will change your life and how you centre yourself within it. Check out @olwen.wilson and see what she’s offering. You will not be disappointed. #visualjournalling #visualjpurnal #creativepractice #iamdreaming #patience #compassion #selfcare #selflove #selfempowerment #emopweringwomen #creativeretreaticeland #icelandcreativeretreat #power #claimingmypower

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.