While waiting for the shower to run from cold to hot, I think of three things I’m grateful for today:

I’m grateful for CoCo ( mini convertible borrowing from a dear friend) because it got me places I didn’t to get to today. All in one piece.

I’m grateful for the warm oat milk poured over Weetabix, with chilled blueberries and chocolate sauce. Comfort food.

I’m grateful for the chance to see my daughter today as I dropped off a book with her after school before she went on to her dad’s.

28 days of gratitude

I’ve been leaning into my gratitude practice, but sometimes I’ve forgotten and let the simple task of listing one thing per day for which I am grateful for, slide.

What can I say, habits are made to be broken as well as upheld. And the bad habits always seem to be the ones we hold onto. While those habits that can actually benefit us and bring some joy, peace and happiness into our lives, we fuck up!

Gratitude is one of them. Gratitude helps people feel more positive about their lives. It fosters positive emotions as people reflect and savour and relish good experiences and events and relationships.

Gratitude improves people’s health and makes them more satisfied with what they have rather than focusing time and energy and regret on what they do not have.

It’s been proven that being more grateful makes you happier.

Well I could always do with being happier. Everyone could. And that is not to say that I’m not grateful for the life I have, the life I’m living and the people in it. But I could do with a reminder and become more consistent in my appreciation and gratitude.

Hence the next 28 days of gratitude. Holding myself to account in order to re-engage with this positive habit and hold on to happiness.

I want to wring out as much gratitude for each experience and happening and being in my life as I can. As life is a gift but sometimes I forget. So today we begin again.

It’s day one of my gratitude practice.

Today I am grateful for the lie in I managed to have before being woke up.

But I’m not complaining as I was woke up by Miss Ella for a cuddle. I’m grateful for my morning cuddle in bed with my daughter.

I’m grateful today for the hot black fresh brewed coffee that helped me wake up fully and engage with the day.

I’m grateful to have completed a big application and submitted it today and it helped to have company while completing this work.

I’m grateful for the time I got to be alone and focus on the tasks I had to complete today and not be distracted or interrupted.

I’m grateful today for the chocolate I managed to stuff into my face after said application was complete and I could rest

I’m grateful to be able to lie in bed now, warm and sleepy and write this gratitude list without having to think too hard about what or who I am grateful for today because I have ample choices to draw upon to share.

PAD/019 – i am becoming my mother

Commentary: years ago I wrote a poem titled ‘ i am becoming my mother’. I think it’s in my first full collection Family Album, Flambard Press 2011.

A few weeks ago while attending one of my late night across the Atlantic poetry group workshops, I had an inkling to revisit this poem with the intention of bringing it up to date. To try and incorporate all the ‘Sherees’ that have developed, spored since the first poem, since my mum’s death and teachings have passed into decades gone by.

So I created this piece. Same title but definitely more expansive.

i am becoming my mother

Dehumanising the Black woman. Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, Bitch.

The black woman is seen as one dimensional; the mule of the world, carrying the heavy burden of mothering all others except her own.

Her own children are lost; lost to the auction block, the ocean, the noose.

A Black woman is a source of strength and love. Passing on power as well as pain.

Her body carries stories, carries histories, carries an archive.

as a black woman,

resting deep within the meadow,

held in softness,

grass tickling shins,

dress billowing about

like blossom,

is a political act.

PAD/014 – the archives will never collect us within a good light

Visual Journal Spreads – April 2023

In the twisted far-reaching media archives, they’ve glassed us up and our blackness in.

Our blackness is the whole thing the whirling and worrying on water.

Our flesh lights up the world, our fighting flesh. And yet here,

we’re subdued to meat, our humungous hearts trophies.

Every whiteman has stood on our backs. Every child has suckled on our breasts.

Our mighty arms wrapped everyone together are lead to extinction in this glass tomb.

In the dark, our magnitude is masked, our monumental strengths forbidden.

Pages/ Soul of Dark n Light

Visual Journaling Spread

In the garden, warmth of sun on right cheek. Dark skin soaking up the heat.

Other cheek caught in the shade and cool breeze.

Body experiencing so many different sensations at the same time.

Gratitude to be in this body in this present moment. Present. Visual journaling outside.

Page black paint and collaged blossom papers. The light catches upon the pages, illuminating the wisdom and joy within.

Gratitude to be in this space in this present moment. Present. Visual journaling inside.

Soul dark hued and sadness rage collaged. The light catches upon the soul, remembering the true nature within.

Another Day Another Spread

Visual Journaling Spread

It’s the afternoon. And I’ve just finished another visual journaling spread. I might have been up at 7.30 and came to the page but again, remembering yesterday, I’m here to slow down. I’m here to savour these moments of light and joy.

I might have even shifted rooms in the process, moved from the bed to the couch. Exposure to more light and more bird sounds. Seagulls squawking and trees budding casting shadows on the living room floor.

The energies are quickening. There’s a fizzing of excitement in my stomach, my core. Who know’s what the day will bring?

The day has already gifted me time and space and colour and light and an immense feeling of peacefulness. Mindfulness. Kindness. Thank you.

Reading Poetry Too

Filling My Pot

Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.

Annie Proulx

April is National Poetry Month. Yes and as I’ve mentioned a good time to write poetry. But for me writing and reading/ reading and writing goes hand in hand.

Not only am I inspired by other people’s words, I’m invited into other worlds, internal and external worlds. Possibilities around structure, themes, ideas and voices are opened up for me.

Reading feeds my soul. Something I forget from time to time when things go awry ( I love that word ‘awry’. I first came to this word through Lucille Clifton’s poem, ‘Signs’).

You see what reading can do to my writing? Introduce new vocabulary. Expand my horizons. Make me smile.

So along with the writing this month, I’ll be reading poetry. I usual read at least one poem a day, after signing up to Poetry Daily , a few years ago now and not unsubscribing as I have in the past.

Add to that one poem a day, collections of poems, whole book collections and then you’ve got yourself a sweet honey pot of inspiration and ideas and joy.

So look out for the poetry I’ll be reading and sharing here over this coming month.

Today, I dive into Katie Marya’s debut collection, Sugar Work, which came to my notice through Poetry Daily, with her poem titled, ‘A Response to the 2018 IPCC Report’.What I loved about this poem was how issues about the environment through the report were being looked at from a slanted angle. Through our bodies and babies and families and friends. How in order to see what we are doing to the planet it has to come to our doorsteps, our bodies first. But of course we are all connected.

I’ll let you know what I think as I go on with Marya’s collection. I’m looking forward to diving in.

Shifting Energies

Last month this was my practice.

Stone Paper Journal, Paperchase

Straight forward writing on lined paper with a sticker here and there. I felt the need to get things out of me. I felt the need to get distractions out of the way and write from the heart.

Each day I turned up and completed three pages of long hand writing. Some days more. There was an outpouring. Leaning back into Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages helped.

This morning, the first day of April, this happened.

Altered book journal spread

My energies shifted. I wasn’t feeling the lined pages, black ink journaling this morning. I was feeling the need to slow down and wait for the paint to dry kind of feeling.

Yes Spring is here. And I’m embarking on a poetry challenge as well as my travels. But my body is saying there is wisdom to be gleamed if you take the time and space, now this morning, to slow down and listen.

So I listened. I have to slow down as I cover one page/ one spread at a time with paint to conceal the text underneath. Maybe still bleeding through in parts.

Altered book journal spreading drying!

While I wait for the paint to dry, I search for inspiration in images and texts. I don’t have any agenda and I don’t feel any frenzied feelings to get this done and done quick.

I’m taking my time because I have time to slow down, breathe, enjoying the grey light, the sweet vanilla latte, the birds making nests.

Thoughts come and go. Fleeting. And I don’t worry. If I need to capture them, they’ll come back around. The hairs on my forearm feel the draught coming in through the open curtains. Or is it from the open window in the kitchen?

My forefinger twists strands of hair into locks as I flick through a magazine, looking for images, text and colour. I take another sip of coffee, now cold because time has been slipping by.

Not away. As time spent in my creative process is time needed not wasted. It’s time I’m grateful for. But I can only mark this time, this gratitude, these feelings and sensations, when I slow down and be present.

Visual journaling, altered book or not, gifts me the luxury, no the necessity, of slowing down and {BEING}. Thank you x

we crave joy. we need safety

Words: adapted from ‘Conjuring Hands: The Art of Curious Women of Color’, by gloria j. wilson, Joni Body Acuff and Venessa Lopez

we crave joy. unmediated, defined by self, not by others.

for me, joy is intertwined with the idea of ‘safety’.

for me safety means not only protection from White hands that hold sticks, stones, batons, and guns.

but also safety from White minds and from White eyes.

in the past, in attempts at safety, i have resorted to running, literally and figuratively.

i fold in on myself to avoid harmful interactions. to keep myself safe.

i’m no longer prepared to relegate myself to the corner of the room. i go to the waters seeking guidance from the ancestors, seeking safety, seeking joy.