Tuning in to nature

As I let my senses continue to take in my surroundings, I experienced a feeling of what can only be described as sacredness. I do not use the word in a religious sense. Rather, I felt an immediate sense of great respect, of being part of something intangible and much greater than myself right there, in that moment. This feeling contained a mix of peace, connectedness, undeniable beauty and a strong sense of reality. I had, for a short moment, completely tuned in to nature. – Claire Thompson

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Passion for nature

I have a passion for the natural world. Spending time in nature fills me with happiness, wonder, calm, comfort and strength. It gifts me with a sense of belonging and brings me closer to who I really am. – Claire Thompson

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Things I Know About Starting Over

Work in Progress

In 2015, when the shit hit the fan, I had to change. My whole life was in tatters and I had to find a way to live again. But live on my own terms. Live true to my soul.

For decades I’d been on the production trail. Do do do. Produce produce produce. Because I’d eventually I’d get to the promised land. I’d be successful, famous and accepted.

What I know now from having to start over is that there is no end point. There’s only the journey. I’m in a constant state of becoming. Becoming a better version of myself. But I will never be complete or perfect because that state just doesn’t exist. It’s a fallacy we’re fed to keep us keeping on. The desire or promise keeps us working with our heads down, selling out our souls for very little rewards. We think we are living the life we want to live but really, we’re living the life ‘they’ want us to live. The system, that is.

Now, I’m happy with less. Happy to work small. Happy with little ripples I create because I know in my heart that this is the authentic me at work. I know now, what I do, I do from the heart. I do in service to others with no expectations or need for anything in return. Living my life on my terms is my reward. And that’s enough. I’m enough just being me.

Biggest Change of 2017

#decemberreflections2017 – day 9 – The biggest change I have experienced in 2017 is around the confidence I have in myself. Confidence in who I am inherently, flaws and all. And yes I am striving each day to be the best version of myself, my authentic self, and this is not because I’m unhappy with me, the way I am now, but because I know within my bones that I’m here to make a difference, to bring about positive change for others. In order to fulfil this potential I have to be willing to change myself to accommodate, in reflection and in relation to the amazing opportunities and adventures I’m honoured to experience during this journey. #authenticsheshe #womenscreativity #empoweringwomen

Burning Woman

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This year I attempted to make a concerted effort to read more books. I felt that I was missing out on rich and varied worlds and ideas by not reading enough. I started off well but I think things went off the boil mid-year, when things in my family life got a bit hectic and harrowing.

I’m trying to pick things up now moving into 2018. To choose just one book as the best for the year is something I cannot do. Also you usually just remember the last few books you’ve read as they are the most recent. To think back over the year, if you haven’t been keeping track is difficult to do anyway. Note to self: keep a record of what I read next year!!!

So I choose Burning Woman by Lucy H. Pearce on the premise that this is one of the books I have kept returning to over the year as it is so packed with juicy truths that resonate with me deeply. This is kind of like a handbook for claiming our power as women internally and externally. I definitely claim the title of a burning woman. #decemberreflections2017

The Creative Retreat Iceland Is Here


When I was at my lowest a couple of years ago, I channelled what little energy I had left into a pipe dream.
I didn’t have much money or direction. I was working on myself from the inside out but wasn’t sure of the path. But my soul whispered to trust; trust in myself.

I’m not sure when Iceland came onto my radar, but it has always captivated me. It always seemed to me to be a distance mythical land that would remain thriving within my imagination and never become a reality. Until I took action and made the decision to invest in myself.

I booked a flight to Iceland with a credit card without much time to reconsider or second guess myself. I didn’t have a plan, I just took one small step after another to create this trip away. Booked the flight, then thought about places to stay. I thought this would be my only chance to get to Iceland so I’d try to see as much as the country as possible. I booked a hire car, and started to plan my route around the whole island, stopping each night in a different place. Hotels, motels and hostels, whatever was available I made the bookings. My dream was becoming a reality because I was believing in myself. Believing that I could do this.

By the time I reached Iceland, May 2015, I had a map and a plan but I was still scared. I’d never visited the country before, I hadn’t driven there, and I certainly didn’t speak the language. But I’d been dreaming about this and now it was happening so I made a promise to myself to just enjoy it. Go with the flow and enjoy.

The sun was shining that first day I drove north out of the Reykjavik, onto the ring road, heading to the Western peninsula of Snæfellsnes. It was just me and Beyoncé’s Lemonade, in that car. This trip to Iceland changed my life. And that’s not hyperbole because by the end of my time there, I felt empowered, I felt free and back to me, the authentic me. I had done it all by myself for myself and I felt amazing. I also knew I had to return to Iceland, and keep returning to develop our relationship as we were speaking to each other on a deep level, on a soulful level.

I have returned to Iceland twice since then and I’m planning to return in 2018. And I’d like you to come with me. I didn’t have anyone with me to show me the way, so I found my way around one step at a time. I would love to be your guide, your safe and supportive passage into Iceland. I would love to share my love of Iceland with you. Go check out the Iceland – The Retreat page, to see what I have planned for our time together. Any questions, just get in touch.

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.