Reading and Writing, Writing and Reading

A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.

Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.

Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.

So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.

What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.

This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.

My Studio Adventures

A studio is a sanctuary. A studio is somewhere you can escape to. Escape from the noise, from all the other commitments. The stresses of the world.

Here in a studio, you are able to immerse yourself in inspiration and creativity. It’s a personal space where you can be yourself, enjoy the freedom of taking risks and daydreaming without interruption.

Over the years, this has been what this space has been; Living Wild Studios. These studios were created so I’d a space online to explore my creativity and myself. A safe space where I’d be able to pick up pen and paper, paintbrush and glue and not worry about what was about to pour forth. I felt secure in my ability to explore and learn from it. I’m so grateful for creating these studios for me, first and forth most. But over the years, I’ve grown to love being able to share them with you.

Now that I’ve moved homes after a separation from my husband of nearly 25 years, I’m fixing to created another studio, closer to home, a physical studio to call my own.

Over the years, I’ve tried to create this space through different homes and means. At one time, I had a corner in a sitting room, another time I took over the spare room once the eldest went off to Uni. At another time, I had the privilege of being able to pay for a purpose built studio along a train platform. But that didn’t last.

I’ve lived for the last few years between rooms in a flat as a studio. Always having to move my resources and supplies as the room was needed for something or someone else.

This is my studio as it stands now. Needing a lot of work. But I can see the potential of the space as I attempt to zone it into the different art forms and headspaces I occupy when I create. Of course the bike isn’t staying. It can’t stay. But I think as it stands in the middle of my studio now it’s an indication of how I’ve been treating my creative genes for the past few months. A dumping ground as well as neglected and discarded.

This room will be changing next week. Check back into see the studio take shape and become a working wonderland of curiosity and fun.

Be thankful for the life you have

We take so much for granted in our lives.
We tend forget that life itself is a gift.
A gift which we have the potential to make amazing.
We owe it to ourselves to take the time and space to become more aware of what we already have. And appreciate it.

What I’m grateful for at the moment:

1. A roof over our heads.
2. Food on our plates.
3. Our health as a family.
4. Friends to care for and be cared by.
5. Broadband to support me to create new work opportunities.
6. Pen and paper and magazines to cut up.
7. Love.
8. The morning sun. The morning rain.
9. Water.
10. My hoping heart.

My Blissful List for April

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?

104 postings and counting

I missed the checkpoint. I’ve been so focused on posting here daily, and sometimes twice a day, or today three times, that I missed the 100 day/ posts achievement. Isn’t that usually the case though? Too busy doing the thing / reaching for the goal that we miss the opportunity of celebrating the achievement of success when we do so. Typical.

Here I give time and space to acknowledging the achievement. Well done Sheree, good effort. Take a pause and savour this moment …

Yes I know 100 days are not up yet. That’s going to be April 7th. 100 days from Jan 1st. But I’ve hit the mark of 100 postings and then some a couple of days ago.

In the past, I took on the challenge of posting something creative everyday on my blog, Everyday Creativity, it was called. I’m not sure how I managed it then as 365 days seems such a long time. But managed it I did as I saw it as practice as well as accountability. Taking up this challenge this year, has reminded me of how much can be gained from staying committed and consistent with creativity daily.

I’ve already mentioned here that I intend to continue blogging for another 100 days as I’ve just gotten started really. Just finding my stride as I’m interested to see what happens next, where does this space go next? And what will this challenge do for my practice? Even though, we’re in lockdown in the U.K. I’m finding that there is plenty to keep me busy in doors as I take on a number of creative challenges for the month of April. Looking forward to sharing the progress here with you. So here’s to the next 100 postings and thanks for coming along for the ride.

K

Let’s Go Outside …

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.

My Sister, My Wound

While the lockdown has been going on, I’ve been leaning into my creativity. One resource which has been helping me with reading and writing is the Social Distancing Writing Retreat hosted by Amanda P Moore.

Each day, there are four parts to each prompt. First there’s a poem to read followed by an essay on craft. Bearing these two in mind, there’s a writing prompt followed by an outlet, a place to publish your creations recommended.

I’m behind in the prompts but I’ve been finding this retreat a rich oasis of inspiration for my writing.

Here is a piece, I’ve redrafted today after following the readings for Day 6.

My Sister, My Wound after Ross Gay

No matter the mauling.

No matter the removal of face awaits.
There is no coming back
from coming to you.

My body betrays me
offering myself just like that.
With arms furred with pollen
like bright things at your feet;

marigold, opal, purple kale.
Biting my tougue, smile open
singing my insides our like an angel,

for you, to you.

I place my head into your mouth
knowing I’ll lose my head,
just like the sky biting down
into my torn flesh.

Sharing Your Work – 003

“ 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

Sharing Your Work – 002

“ I think deep down we know that our creativity is not just for us. The creative power flows through us and it’s not meant to stop there. We need to keep the faucets open and allow the gift of creativity to circulate, so that it can touch other people. So it can grow beyond our own limited reach. “ Anna Lovind, The Creative Doer

Spreading the Joy