ten:three

1. Re-entry into my everyday after being away is harsh.
2. The sun glows low.
3. We walk the shore alone and smell the waves.
4. My everyday life is full of kinks.
5. The terns dance within the foam.
6. Strong black coffee steams.
7. Luther Vandross ‘Searching’ on the radio.
8. Emails plying up as is the washing.
9. Box set bingeing late into the night.
10. Not ready to start it all again tomorrow.

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Visual Journalling Workshop

 

I’m moving forward. I’m taking a leap. I’m putting myself out there.
I’m planning a visual journalling workshop in my local area for 21st October 2017.
This is something I’ve been wanting to offer for a couple of years now but the time hasn’t been right.
But maybe there isn’t ‘the right’ time. Maybe when you do it that’s the right time.
I’m working with a local charity, Old Low Lights Heritage Centre. They have a lovely, spacious and light
community room that you can hire for events.

What is visual journalling?
This is something I get asked and it’s something I’ve tried to answer here on the website with different posts about my practice.
At it’s basic level, visual journalling is play. Play in a safe space; your own journal.
It’s a space where you can explore your thoughts and feelings without fears or worries or judgement because those barriers are sidetracked through the doing.

Within any visual journal workshop, we get rid of the blank page straight away with paint. We use disused credit cards and gift cards to smear the colours that are calling to our souls over the white spaces. Just by doing this small, simple act our energies have shifted, we’re out of our heads and into our bodies, feeling joy and excitement within creativity.

From this point, while we allow the paint to dry we can start collecting images. Images that we are drawn to, that are calling us, that are the answer to a certain theme we’re exploring in our lives, a question we are holding in our minds, or an issue we are trying to work through. Theses images will become part of our journal pages as well as our journeys. Images have a way of cutting right to the chase, right to the core of an issue and anchors into us to create a shift in our feelings and thinking.

Once we’ve laid down some images, we work with a specific writing prompt to get us to open up to ourselves more. This is all taking place in a group yet the details are all within your unique journal. You experience the support of the people around you, the sisterhood, as you bravely dive into yourself.

But enough for now. The details of the workshop are on the flyer above and you can always contact me for further details.

Visual Journalling

 

[[Method:  A double page spread in journal. First covered in paints, a mixture of colours are smeared across the page with a disused credit card. Once dry,  images that take my fancy are stuck on along with text gathered from magazines. Then selected pages from the novel, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky – Heidi Durrow , are cut up to create something new, a poem. My handwriting can be seen added also with black ink, asking the question, why keep a creative sketchbook?]]
 

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. …No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

—Martha Graham, from The Life and Work of Martha Graham

 

What is my visual journalling? Why keep a creative sketchbook? What does it mean to me?

Visual journalling is a practice which I started two years ago taking inspiration from Lisa Sonora’s online course, Dreaming on Paper. 
My visual journal is my method, my way of remaining open to the life force, that creative energy that flows through me. When I enter my journal with paint, image and text, I am acknowledging to myself that I am paying attention to me.

Many moons ago I was introduced to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. Taken from The Artist’s Way , this is three pages of long hand writing as soon as I wake up in the morning. This is me getting whatever is in my head; worries, feeling, thoughts, moans and groans onto the page. Once out of my head, there is space for the good stuff to come through. My writing. My creations. My dreams.

 

[[ Method: A double page spread of added pages to customise my journal. Extra pages are created from full pages torn from magazines and then cut down if needs be to fit being stuck in with glue or sticky tape.  This creates an extra flap of space. Then it’s covered with lined paper, to write on and then covered with coloured tissue paper to add texture and sound. Cut out text, ‘flow’, added from magazine also.]]
 

Two years ago, my Morning Pages were not enough. Words had become my enemy, they were tricky and taboo. I was afraid of the blank page. It also become evident, that when I did write, the words themselves on the page where not enough. I wasn’t feeling the joy I once felt from just writing. My soul wasn’t being filled with light or colour. Everything seemed flat and lifeless.

While on holiday in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, relaxing away from it all, I found the space to play. Taking Lisa’s course enabled me to break through barriers and fears. I started listening to my instinct instead of adhering to any external rules and I began to smear paint on the blank page.  Red, yellow, orange, blue. Any colour that took my fancy, mixed with others. This movement of colour inspired me.  Loosened me up. Gave me permission to start feeling I was enough. I was ready then to add my dreams, plans, wishes,  and worries also to the page but it felt safe. I felt safe by getting more and more in touch with my internal voice. With my authentic self.

Mixing paint, colours, images, photography, words, quotes within my journal means I’m listening and observing, paying attention to what is pulling my soul, what is calling me to bring to life. What needs to sing?

I could not think of my life without my visual journalling now. I am completing my Creative Journey Facilitator Training  with Lisa Sonora at the moment, so that I can go deeper into this process as well as practice the tools and skills I’ll need to share my love of visual journalling with others. I’m so excited about taking this next step.

 

[[ Method: Paper cut up from Women Who Run With The Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Looking to create a new text from the words. Pasted text on to a magazine image of wildflowers. ]]

Me, Myself and Social Media

 

I popped back onto social media the other day to announce that I’ve decided to take another month away. I didn’t make this decision lightly, I mean, I’m trying to build up my business here and what kind of business will it be if not being marketed within social media? However, once this decision was made, I felt a huge pressure lift off my shoulders.

I don’t like who I become when I’m on social media. A friend on Facebook asked me a series of questions in relation to this comment, which I will attempt to answer here. Thank you, Kim for giving me the prompts to dive deeper into my relationship with social media which has been brewing for many years now.

I think a little bit of history is needed first, to illustrate where I’m coming from.

Prior to May 2015, Facebook was my social media of choice. I posted personal details, images and happenings but most of the time I used it to raise my profile. Through this social network, I gathered many friends and associates. Some I knew in person, while the majority, I had accumulated through the years of being a freelance writer. They were my colleagues and growing audience.

I had a thriving blog, where I shared my writing, my practice and my processes in an honest and open way. I’ve always felt that the writing world is a realm of mystery. Through public postings, I had hoped to breakdown some of that, making it easier for others to follow their dreams of becoming writers. I had a large following. Some posts being read by over 500 people. This popularity spurred me on to write and share further. My ego was in the driving seat here, for sure.

This life I created all disappeared after being accused of being a plagiarist via Facebook. This I have written about in detail in my book, rubedo. Through these allegations, I experienced the very vicious side of social media. The anonymity, the mob mentality accompanied with the lack of accountability meant that people said things about me that they wouldn’t dream of saying to my face. This is the beauty of social media; if you’re not using it, it using you.

For a time, I withdrew from public. I needed to heal and to find a way back to me, the authentic me. With creativity being my crime, creativity was also my cure. I started to put my toe back into social media, through Instagram. This was safer. I could share my images without anything coming back onto me. Through different online courses, I re-entered Facebook, but through closed groups only. Protection was my focus. Protection from further scrutiny and attacks. Protection from being hurt again.

Fast forward two years, I’ve come to understand my relationship with social media better. I find it beneficial for me and who I am becoming to take breaks from it. It started as a weekend, then a week and then a month.
I feel blessed to feel part of a community on social media again. I might have less ‘friends’ on there but I do know that what I’m putting out there is coming from the right place. The right place for me, from my authenticity. And if people are connecting with me on this basis then I’m happy about this. Grateful for this.

However, when things start to get on top of me, such as too many negative posts, too many hours spent mindlessly scrolling through feeds, and too many thoughts wishing my life looked more like someone else’s, then I feel it is time to take a break.

There are times that I find social media a distraction; as an illusion but which I’m buying into every time I go on there. I know each platform of social media has their different benefits and drawbacks, yet, I feel at times that there is a constant scrolling through feeds but without really taking anything in. But I think I continue to do so because of that fear of missing out. I continue to do so because I’m not sure how I’d be able to connect with people around the world.

There are the distractions, the happenings, and the glorious technicoloured lives that I wish were mine. There’s the jealousy and the envy. The need to be seen and not be seen. There’s the need to share the good stuff happening in my life and in the process collect the likes, loves and shares. There’s the constant swirling around of news about injustices, inequalities and violence within the world, with comments and shares but which really don’t create change in the real world. This frustrates me.

Yes I’m all vulnerable and authentic out there in social media but this is still just a slice of my life. There is little room to get to know the person, really, deeply on social media. That would take too much effort. And really does anyone see any value in doing so? I do. I miss the face to face experiences of talking to someone, really talking to someone when I spend time too much time on social media instead.

At present, I attempt to show all sides of me. The highs and the lows. But when I get into a funk, I don’t want to be seen, I don’t want the witnesses. But what that really means is that I don’t want to see myself. I want to hide from myself, and being off social media makes that so much easier. And then not so. There aren’t constant updates. There isn’t the need to put voice and an image to my life. I can just be in my reality 24/7 and hopefully through this process of silence and solitude, I can work myself through my funk.

In the first couple of weeks of being off social media, there’s a pattern of taking a photo and thinking straight away, ‘I have to share this on Instagram.’ If this is the only reason I’m capturing this moment in order to post it on social media, then that’s sad. This isn’t the way I want to live my life. I want to pay attention for me to be. To enrich my life, not for likes or comments on social media. Not for validation or recognition. I want to feel whole despite of this, not because of this.

I want to know in myself that I have created something of worth, because I think so, I feel it, not because someone on the internet comes along and says so. It’s about fostering that self-knowledge, self-belief of my own self-worth, independently of what anyone else says or thinks.

I know I still do things in this world for a reaction. To gain recognition, validation and acceptance. Much less than before but that itch is still there. Having time away from social media, aids me in weakening this need for someone else’s approval, at the same time as strengthening my belief in me being good enough just as I am.
Social media is addictive. Addictive in fostering desires for other people’s lives and not appreciating our own lives. In the past, I have used social media mindlessly, using it to fill a void within myself.
At this point, it ceases to be meaningful and becomes an added pressure, an added space in which to perform in a certain way, to a given standard.

I’m attempting to no longer use or be used by social media in this way anymore. I’m hyper-sensitive to the signs. When things start to slide this way, this is when I go on hiatus from social media. I take myself away from that arena, dive deep into my own life and continue the work on myself, away from public scrutiny.
I do come back out again but wiser and stronger each time. Changing in the process, growing and becoming the best version of myself through the process. This is self-care.

When I re-enter social media, I feel more safe and secure and stronger even in feeling that I’m showing up as me. I can once more expand in my own way, knowing that there will come a time when I need to contract again. I accept this cycle, it is part of life. My aim is not to avoid it. As I’ve mentioned before, if I knew of a way to do what I want to do and not be part of social media, I would take it (answers on a postcard would be greatly appreciated. Nevertheless, my aim is to show up in authenticity in the virtual and real world simultaneously.
I live and learn in the practice.

A Decision

“Life purpose is not a given —it’s a decision.” Eric Maisel

At the end of April, I declared to the world that I was taking a break from social media for the month of May, maybe longer. I didn’t say this to garner attention. I said this because I think it’s rude to be in conversations with people and then go silent. I was just letting my friends know the score; I was having a break.

I am having a break. I need a break. Something, in the past, I would have ignored. I would have just kept on trucking. I was the strong, independent black woman. I earned that label not because of who I was but what I did. I was super productive. I was everything to everyone. You wanted it, I’d get it for you. I was always trying to prove myself, to them, to others, to myself. Not anymore.

April was a hell of a month for good and bad reasons. April is the birth month of my children, so those were the happy occasions. A time to celebrate two beautiful people. But in between those dates, fell Woodland Leader training, project planning and implementing, launching the website and a whole heap of illness. Not for myself but for my mother in law. And that situation continues. But something had to give after that month of trials and tribulations. Emotional drains and scars. And it was me.

I’d spent the month propping everyone else up at the same time as fulfilling my own hopes and dreams and I just got burnt out. It got to the point that I had no more to give and didn’t want to give. One morning, I thought it would be a lot easier to not wake up at all. Of course I did face the day and the next as I’m that strong, independent black woman, right! But I had to release some pressure, cut myself some slack and coming off social media looked like a good place to start.

Now let’s get one thing straight, I don’t spend hours and hours on social media. But it is a constant stream of connections and conversations for me. At times, and I wish it wasn’t, a space for validation too. There was a time back in 2015, that I turned my back on Facebook and only went back to it because a course I signed up for was delivered through a Facebook group. I didn’t really get into Instagram until September 2015. Then I saw it as a good way to get the creative juices flowing again through sharing images. Words? Words were still scary for me. Off limits, came with too much baggage and damage. And twitter, well twitter was twitter.

However, the people I have connected with through social media have helped me immensely. And they might not know that. But they’ve helped me believe in myself again as well as the common good of humanity. I ‘thank you’ my online community. I do class you as my friends. And because of that, I know I can take the time to step away from social media.
No way do I see this as taking our relationship for granted. But more so of cherishing our connections to the point of feeling that I’m not really contributing anything if I’m struggling with myself. I feel that it’s okay with you if I have to step out of the room from time to time to retain my sanity. I know you’ll understand and support my well-being. I know I would do/be the same way with you.

It’s been 10 days since my last posting on social media. Some of those days have been a dark drag. I did lose my way there. Today is the first day, I am able to get out of bed at a decent time, and greet the day with a smile. I am letting go of my stresses a bit more. I’m factoring into my day meaning oportunities. I’ve gotten back into the chilly embrace of the sea. She was needed. Today, I’m appreciating the light a bit more and being grateful for the life I live a bit more.