When life throws you curve balls to knock you off your feet and forces you to reassess everything in your life, this is when you lean into the practices which have seen you right.
Those practices which keep you buoyed when it appears you’re drowning or about to go down.
Those practice which you practice everyday but really come into their own when the chips our down.
One of those practices is keeping a gratitude journal. And it doesn’t have to be something major or time consuming.
Thinking on one simple thing is enough to switch my thinking, to get me to count my blessings and step up again. Renewed, restored and ready.
This week has been a week of happenings and announcements and shit hit the fan moments. But I’m alive and here to live another day. So all is not bad.
I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. Maybe to test us. Maybe to move us into a better situation. To gain clarity and perspective. To live a better life on my own terms.
This card ‘thunderstorm’ signifies tremendous upheaval and change, happening or about to. And it is out of my control. But I must keep the faith, trust in Mother Nature that these things are happening for the best.
Things are out of my control. But how I respond to this period of upheaval is within my control.
I’m choosing to count my blessings, lean into my practices and give thanks. Give thanks for all that is going right or is good in my life right now. Here and now.
I’m grateful for the light. I’m grateful for rest. I’m grateful for a warm comfortable bed. I’m grateful for morning coffee. I’m grateful for time spent with the people I love. I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful for my creativity. I’m grateful for all the opportunities which have and are coming my way. I’m grateful for food in the cupboards. I’m grateful for the roof above my head. I’m grateful for the air I breathe. I’m grateful for the earth between my toes. And I’m grateful for the water that holds me.
April was National Poetry Month in the States. I attempted to complete and share a poem a day for the month.
On the whole, I just missed a few days towards the end of the month. Things went a bit off the boil, when things got a bit busy. What with birthday celebrations and friends visiting, my attentions were distracted and my energy levels were depleted.
But hey 20+ new poems which didn’t exist before this month is always a win in my book. I feel when I do these challenges, what I produce is hit and miss. Because of the necessity of creating something everyday, the time needed to go deep into a subject or issue is lacking. Surface shenanigans are usually the case.
Speed is needed rather than depth. But now, as May rolls along there is time to revisit and redraft and build upon what is already there.
It’s time to slow down the poetry creation process and spend some quality time going deep. Do some more research, collect some more stories and facts as inspiration and see what happens from there. Let the poems sit and fester and start to speak for themselves.
My poetry writing muscles have been flexed and they’re primed to continue lifting heavier weights of meaning and impact now.
I’m looking forward to see which pieces develop, which ones will fall by the way side and which ones will become pure steel.
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.
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.