I sometimes write this at the top of my page on a morning in my Good Morning Vietnam voice. And then proceed to have a conversation with myself. Checking in with myself to see how I’m feeling this morning.
It’s almost like a letter to self. My voice strong and loud in my head coaxing out the different thoughts and feelings and cheering myself on.
Almost like a long prep talk, I prime myself for the day ahead at the same time savouring then moment I’m in while completing my morning pages. The softness of my bed. The sound of the tumbling washing machine. The birds singing and the silence, when it’s there, humming.
I love this time of the day, just woken up and coffee brewed. Eyes and thoughts still hazy but an excitement rumbling on my belly. I get to do this each morning. This sacred ritual which I don’t take for granted but accept as a privilege.
I do share this practice, here, in workshops, in my writings and interactions with other people because it is a powerful source for mental health, dream making and becoming a better version of self.
I’d be crazy, selfish and inhumane if I kept this tool, this practice to myself.
We could all tap into this power and it starts with saying Good Morning to yourself. Your true self and continuing to turn up for the self who you see starting to appear.
I’ve given myself the task of posting here every day. Not only does this make me accountable, but it also forces me to show up, to be seen. Not so much by others, although that is part of it, to some degree. But most of all to be seen by myself. To value my contributions to my self-healing journey. To hear my own voice. Loud and proud.
This page created today, started a few days ago with the adding of colour to the altered book I’m using as my journal. And I don’t use the page sequential either. Throughout my day I add paint to pages for future backgrounds so when I turn up the next morning I have an array of pages to choose from to work with. My mind, my life, my feelings do not play out in a straight line so why should my journal do so.
This thinking takes the practice out of the need to be perfect and ‘right’. It allows it to be more authentic and vital. Also adding paint throughout the day is me taking moments to touch base with myself. It means I’m giving myself a moment of rest and stillness inside as I smear paint across the page. It also gives me a jolt of joy as I do love me some colour! 🖍🌈🎨🟦🟨🟥🟣🟩🟧🟤
I do love a white gel pen on a black gesso page. I love the contrast but I also love that it reverses/ subverts the norm.
Quite fitting really when I was exploring my understanding/ operating of ‘The White Gaze’ today.
From Wiki: ‘ The White Gaze is the assumption that the default reader or observer is coming from the perspective of someone who identities as white, or that people of color sometimes feel the need to take into account the white reader or observer’s reaction.”
I wonder who wrote this definition? Loaded much, ‘assumption’ , ‘sometimes’ please. It’s our reality. It’s White Supremacy Culture. It’s the norm.
I’m learning ( all the time) how to survive the white gaze. And taking my lead from Toni Morrison, I know I have meaning and depth without the white gaze. My life has meaning without the white gaze. ‘ But we do language. That might be the measure of our lives.’
It might be a daily practice with need of constant reminders but I’m learning to create not for the white gaze, in spite of the white gaze and it’s repercussions.
At the moment, I’m using an altered (romance) book as my visual journal. I go with my moods when it comes to deciding what to use next for my visual journal. I listen to my gut and what she’s calling for in terms of size, shape, texture of page, of journal she needs in order to show up daily for the next month or so.
So with an altered book as my journal I was calling for space to explore colours but also layering, composition and found text.
There will be pages that are heavy with colour and my handwriting while others I’ll crave colour with space and some text cut ups applied.
I’m using Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye at the moment to create found poetry for double page spreads. The Bluest Eye was the first book I read in which I found someone who looked like me and who felt the same self-hate I was experiencing around growing up in a predominately white society being within a Black body. It was revolutionary for me and my personal development to find this book when I did.
I suppose using a copy of the book now to cut up and repurpose is saying something about how I’m feeling at the moment and how I want to see myself on the page. How I want to take back the space, take up space and be validated. But on my own terms.
I love how powerful visual journaling is to my psyche and how I move my body through this world but does so through such a simple process. It never ceases to amaze me what comes to light and fruition through this practice.
After Covid in February, I committed to moving my body more in March. I felt tired and sluggish and beat. So I needed to shift my energy. Fast.
One way I committed to this journey was to set myself the task of walking every day. And for some reason it had to be 4 miles a day. I think this roughly worked out as my 10,000 steps a day. Now this is moving from 0 miles to 4 miles overnight. My body wasn’t happy.
What I found soon enough was how much more energy and joy I was experiencing in my day once I got out the door and walked. I walked every where for every conceivable errand and then some days I just walked because I promised myself to do it.
March came and went into April, and I continued the walking. Some days not quite reaching 4 miles while other days far out passing it. I noticed I was walking faster and at first this worried me. I used to think the faster you walked the less you would notice. Not the case.
I noticed the faster I walked the more in tune with my body and surrounding I became. My senses were more alert, colours were brighter, scents were sharper. I was more present. I felt amazing in my body and moment.
When I think I’m not in the moment, not in my body, in my walk then I slow down and start taking photos. I’ve performed photowalks for years now and I’m so pleased to be bringing them back into my practice now.
A Photowalk is just as it says on the tin; you walk and take photos of whatever takes your interest a long the way. I see something first and then stop and then see it again as I take a photo of it. Sharing it here with you, not only brings you along on my walk but also allows me to see whatever it is again and relive the moment, re-engage with my body and memory of the time. It’s a gift that just keeps on giving.
Today, I’ve upped my mileage to 5 miles a day moving forward. Of course I ended up doing far more, over 8 miles, but that won’t happen every day. If someone had told me back in February that you’ll be out every day walking just for the hell of it, I would have laughed as I was feeling pretty rough with and after Covid. But here as I up my time outdoors, living in and through my body, I’m so pleased I made this commitment to myself.
Look out for more Photowalks as the year progresses. I just love the beauty that can be found when I’m open.
Morning pages: visual journaling/ journaling done for now.
I like to get to the page first thing, the first thing I do each day after going for a pee and brewing some coffee. This is the ritual that is in place. Not every day can I fulfil this ritual, but most days, yes.
I find when I come to the page in this state, my night dreams are still hanging around me. I can still grasp onto them and explore them on the page. What do they mean? What is causing friction in my subconscious mind?
Today’s ramblings where not difficult to decipher as they relate to an email I received yesterday evening. I must bring back the ‘no email checking after a certain time’ rule. It just disrupts my calm flow state of mind when I do read an email late at night and allow it to work it’s way into my brain just before bed.
Anyway, I dreamt on it and was trying to find people who were in agreement with me about it. Hence waking this morning hopping mad as I’m not sure anyone did eventually agree with me. But I stand my ground this morning and go with my gut as she’s never seen me wrong.
It’s just tired really, having to point out yet again how the way someone is treating someone else is not okay. Maybe it’s okay to them and maybe no one has mentioned this to them before and so they continue to treat people this way. But common decency man, it costs nothing but goes a long way.
And maybe I’m taking it personally, maybe they act this way with everybody and not just with me and not because I’m a Black woman and viewed as less than. Maybe maybe maybe. This is how I’ve spent years making allowances for other people’s behaviour and treatment of me. Giving them the benefit of the doubt at the detriment to my sanity and my treatment of myself.
But no more. No one owes me nothing and no one owns me. I do not have to pussy foot around worried about causing offence because they’ve already caused offence to me so that shows me that they do not respect me and they do not see me. Therefore, you do not deserve my allowances, my excuses for your behaviour, or me trying to make you feel/ remain comfortable.
I’m not going to be rude or disrespect them but I will be speaking plainly to them. It will be interesting how they respond when I tell them my truth.
But all in good time, as another one of my practices is ::SLOW:: . Just because it suits someone to send an email at such and such a time, it doesn’t mean that it suits my timeframe and mind set to reply immediately and engage with their requests now. On their timetable, at their sense of urgency.
All in good time means all in good time for ME. Which isn’t at the exact moment as I think it’s another coffee for me and another few pages of visual journaling as I’ve got some shit to work out still.
Ah the beauty of visual journaling. Welcome to my world! See you tomorrow!
Things haven’t been going as planned over here in Sheree land and as such I find myself trying to reset my year. Each new month becoming my New Year.
But what I’m finding with each reset is that I’m disallowing the experiences I’ve had each month. I’m ignoring the progress I’m making each month, if any I may add. And I’m denying myself the joy and the pain of just living here and now.
So now we’re in May, I’m not resetting anything. Time is flying by but I’m living with it. And most of the time I’m happy within it too.
I live a blessed life really because most of the time, I’m in control of my time and how I choose to live it. Lately, I’ve been prioritising myself and my needs and wants. and I’m not even going to apologise for if this sounds selfish as I know when my needs and wants have been met on a daily basis, I turn up in the world for others and Mother Earth in a much better place. T
his means I show up with more love, patience and compassion for others. And that has to be a good thing for them, me and the world.
So I’m here at the beginning of May to thank myself for turning up here every day for the last two months, stretching my creativity. First with March and The Healing Properties of the Seas and then with April and a poem a day.
I’m also here to thank you for turning up here too and reading this. Liking it and even commenting on it. Thank you. You are appreciated.
I think I’ve gotten into some kind of groove now with posting daily and I don’t want to stop the momentum now. So what is happening in May? What’s going to be appearing here?
I think it’s time to share more about my visual journaling practice, hence today’s image. I partake in this practicing daily almost like breathing. And it sustains me just the same. So let’s move into May celebrating this life giving practice.
I hope through my sharing and discussion of visual journaling that you’re inspired to dip your toe into the practice also. It doesn’t have to be grand and it’s certainly not planned. I turn up to the page and remain open to what unfolds.
I’ll use the month of May to share what does unfold with you here. Hope you stick around for the journey. Thank you.