The Birthday of Our Ancestors

18 February is the birthday of two iconic Black Women who have had a tremendous influence on my life and writing.

Happy Birthday Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison


“In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.” – Audre Lorde


“Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison

Saving Lives

I could make excuses or just tell the truth.

I’ve missed two days of being here. I didn’t post anything over the weekend. Did you notice? I mean who is actually reading my blog. Some days nobody and sometimes that hurts but then I remember I write for me first and foremost. But sometimes that harsh reality feeds into my desire to post or not post especially if I’m sick or low on energy. Self-care is one of my mantras as well as practice.

This weekend I completed my Outdoor First Aid training. 16 hours of intense learning, practical study all the way so that if anything was to happen while taking a group out into nature I could administer first aid.

60% of deaths in the U.K. could be unavoidable if more people knew how to save a life or give immediate, temporary first aid to give an individual who’s injured or had an accident a fighting chance of survival.

I found this figure staggering and unacceptable. Also the figures show that women and children receive the least amount of first aid, CPR really, as there’s a reluctance to touch for a fear of causing offence or being too heavy handed. I find this even more appalling and start to think what the figures would show regarding black women? I’m not even going to look because I don’t think those figures would have even been recorded, never mind be any better.

I shouted out in my class, I don’t care if you have to cut my bra and see my breasts to administer CPR on me if it saves my life. Of course this received a laugh and then jokes about having a t-shirt made with that same message on.

But I think there are people in this world who think that my life isn’t worth saving. And who has the right to think that or to act or fail to act in a way that endangers life?

I find this world maddening and angering a lot of the time. But I have practices in place that helps me to diminish this anger towards others and this society we live in so I can turn towards light and love. And that’s no new-age woolly all nicey kind of love but this is a fierce, fighting self- love which is self-care and feeds my self-worth so it isn’t dependent on anyone else’s opinion or actions. It has to be.

So yes I missed a couple of days here and I’m not tracking back to fill them in as I might have done in the past. I’ve made this decision because I think and feel, and I don’t need anyone else’s opinion on this, that I was doing greater and better things this weekend.

Dear Strong Black Woman

I finally got around to buying Jennifer Sterling’s book, Dear Strong Black Woman: Letters of nourishment and reflection from one strong black woman to another. And beginning to read it.
I think I’ve been reluctant to read it as I was thinking it wouldn’t tell me anything new. And I think I was also not in the right place to face it, to face a big chunk of harsh reality.
I know what it’s like being a black woman in a predominately white world. In a world where my worth is questioned and examined daily and always come back wanting.
I’m a strong black woman and have had to become this way or live this stereotype for good reason. For survival. And being vulnerable and showing my weakness or even asking for help has been for decades non-negotiable. Not happening.
But I was wrong. This slim but powerful book is just what I need right now. As it speaks to my soul, it speaks to my suffering. It legitimatises my experiences and struggles. It’s a witness and a testimony to my existence. And I thank Jennifer for writing these letters to me and to other strong black women like me.
As hard as some of these letters are to read, they are the balm I need to keep moving through this world, strong but also vulnerable, open hearted and beautiful.

The Goddess Series is going on show!

I recently got this photograph from the #100daysofthegoddessandlove series enlarged and printed onto photo board.

I sat for a few days with her in my living room exhibited on a black metal easel. I would sit and just look at her. I would say to anyone passing, I made that. I was blown away by how beautiful my work looked. And it didn’t bother me if no one else loved it/ her it was enough that I did. I’m proud of my creation. I look at her and smile. I feel a deep swell of love for her. But really it’s for myself and my achievements. I don’t need anyone else to tell me I’m ‘doing good’. External validation is not sort or needed.

I didn’t make this physical piece of art to sit in my sitting room though. I’m preparing for an exhibition of prints; prints of the Goddess.

I’ve been invited to exhibit this series at a special fund raising event for a charity which is close to my heart, with which I’ve been developing a relationship with over the last couple of years.

The Angelou Centre, Newcastle, is a unique Black-led space dedicated to supporting and uplifting Black, Asian and ethnic minority women across the North East region of England. This centre offers a holistic approach to improving the lives of these women, some who are very vulnerable and are suffering. At a national level, the Angelou Centre strives to make sure these women’s voices are represented and heard, especially in relation to the issues that they face every day.

The Angelou Centre is celebrating 25 years this year and are organising an inspiring fund raising event to mark the occasion. It seems fitting that the Goddess should make an appearance at this special event because she is so very good at teaching myself and others what it really means to love and care for ourselves. There will be music and dancing, food and spoken word. I will be performing my poetry and reciting ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou. Such an honour.

I’m looking forward to the event but also nervous as I will be exposed in more ways than one on the evening. But I know in my gut that I’m so ready for this.

Friday 25 October, at the Grand Hotel, Gosforth Park. More details can be found here. See if you can come along. It’s for a great cause.

We’ve got a Patreon Page

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I just send out a Studio Note this afternoon. And I’m sharing it here too as it has important information about my new creation; a Patreon Page.

Hello Dear One
I hope you are well.
We’ve been hit by another cold spell here’s in the UK, so I’m hygge-ing to the max; under throws, in my onesie with steaming coffee beside me. I’m also fighting an eye infection which is really painful as well reducing my vision.
I think I’ve been impatient to see into my future, rushing things when maybe I should be slowing down. So I have no choice now.
I’ve been reading Louise DeSalvo’s, ‘The Art of Slow Writing’ and something just clicked. I love writing on social media and sharing my creations, thoughts and feelings but sometimes it can be a distraction from the big work. Posting there is no substitute for getting out the stories I have within me and the stories I want to explore about black women’s bodies today, in society, as well in the past.
I want to change my practice. And it’s starts by taking back my time, to slow down my writing, learning my craft, and working hard to make sure every word carries meaning, carries worth and speaks from my heart and soul.I want my writing to bring about change. This is my way of being active within the struggle. Using my creativity. This is a revolutionary process. And I need your help.
Patreon is a platform that makes it easy for creatives to get paid. You pledge to support a creative through a one off payment or a monthly payment and through the process you get exclusive content and rewards.

Why do I need your support?

Your support will help me slow down my writing process but also help me write more. I know, a bit of a contradiction.
But this is how it will work for me.
Your support means that I have you watching. You are my motivation to write the truth, from a place of truth. With your support, there is no way I can make mistakes, slip up or drop the ball. You keep me accountable. You make an investment in my time and I have to deliver. For this I am deeply grateful.

On Patreon I will be sharing the process as well as the end products. I will be sharing the intimate aspects of my working processes. I will be learning along the way about myself, my craft, the world, the issues and I can’t help but share these breakthroughs as it’s part of my nature. To have you along for the ride means you are helping carry the load. You being there too eases the pressures on me, leaving more time and energy for me to create.

Is that you?

Please don’t worry if it’s not. As well as if you’re not able to support me financially at this time.

If you can, go check out my Patreon Page and see what rewards you can benefit from through sponsoring me. One-off contributions start from only $1, while monthly contribution start from only $3.
By all means, hit reply also if you have any questions or anything needs clarifying. I so look forward to seeing you over on Patreon.
Thanks for listening.
Until next time
Love
Sheree”

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Getting Angry

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Last night I got angry and I mean really angry. I think I might have scared @hazmatt72.

This was a different anger to any I’ve experienced before. No I tell a lie. I think I might have had a glimmer of this deep visceral anger back in 2014 when I was organising #blacklivesmatter events and I was finding my political voice and going public with my thoughts about race.

And then I was silenced and all that anger turned inward. Turned against myself and how stupid I’d been and the mistakes I made. Anger turned up so high that I almost didn’t hear the whisper of self-compassion, forgiveness and love.

Fast forward to last night, the anger has shifted from focusing on myself to sending fierce fire balls out there.

I recently became a member of @secretmessagesociety ( or am I supposed to keep it a secret?!?) and my first Zine talked about developing a back bone. To start putting myself at the centre of my life and everything/ everyone else out there, outside of me is ‘the other’.

At the mention of ‘the other’ I had a gut reaction. A recoiling. As a black woman in colonial, imperial, patriarchal, hey (wo)man, in any kind of discourse, I ‘m labelled/ perceived/ treated as ‘the other’. And even though I have argued against this, this didn’t stop me internalising it. Taking on the label myself and seeing myself as ‘the other’ in comparison to the white norm.

Coming across ‘the other’ @secretmessagesociety, something shifted and was dislodged to the point that I’ve de-centred my whole belief, operating system. I no longer claim ‘the other’ as me, my label, my positioning out there and within me.
No. I’m right bang centre in my life, in my identity and everything outside of me is ‘the other.’ I’m no longer kept in the margins, the minority, the freak, the fat ugly black bitch, the deformed, the other.
I’m so gloriously centred with me/ within me.

And I’m angry. But a shimmering healthy get things sorted, changed sort of angry. Which always flows from love. #iaintsorry #hellno #fuckem #angryblackwoman #othering #decentre #takingbackwhatsmine #practice #process #patience #self-love #self-care #secretmessagesociety #gettingmesomebackbone

#sheofthewildwrites – hair

Day 7 – my hair feels like

:: A black woman’s body was never hers alone::
Fannie Lou Hamer

Is your hair real? she asks. I sit next to her on the stationary bikes.
Sweating.

I’ve seen them doing that kind of thing along the beach in Jamaica.
I say nothing.

Not to people like you but tourists. You know they pay for it.
I stare forward peddle faster.

Obviously, she’s an older woman who likes to talk. Maybe
the gym is a social occasion for her. I try not to judge.

Did it take a while for you to get it done?
I want to tell her that this is my hair. All my own hair.

Do you wash it?
Really, lady? You’re asking me if I wash my hair?

I want to ask her would she ask
the same questions to a white woman?

I focus on my reflection, and then catch her moving in.
Oh can I touch it?

No! You can’t. I find my voice.
She looks outraged and confused. But why?

Seriously?
I want to say

because I’m not an animal in a zoo
because I’m not your property
because this is my body.

But I say nothing. I move away and if anyone’s
watching it looks like I’m being rude.

#dreadscapes #blackwomensbodies #canitouchit #selflove