If you receive our Studio Notes, then you would have read that the beginning of 2021 did not go as planned. Miss Ella got sick, real sick, having to go into hospital for a few weeks to recover from an infection. We didn’t know what was happening and it was worrying.
At the same time, our local hospital trusts brought in stricter restrictions in terms of visitors to hospital. They brought in the rule of one parent per child, 24/7. So swapping out of parents to give some respite and relief. No sharing the load.
It made sense that Miss Ella’s dad stayed in hospital with her as then I’d be available to run around, bringing in food and changes of clothes, as I drive while Miss Ella’s dad doesn’t.
Not being able to see her, cuddle her and tell her everything was going to be alright was so frustrating and painful. For a few weeks there I was self medicating with wine and binge eating crap just to numb the pain and worry. For a few blissful hours each night, I could switch off and forget everything. But the worry and fears were still there to face me the next day.
We’d decided that when Miss Ella was discharged from hospital she’d come stay with me to recover. I hadn’t been with her for so long and it also gave her dad a break after his hospital stay. I needed to be there for her, be switched on and watched her like her hawk. Therefore, alcohol was out of the question.
I’m so pleased that I’d made this decision because within 24 hours of being out of hospital, I had to rush Miss Ella back in with the same symptoms as before. This time, I was the parent to stay in hospital for a few days while they worked out what was wrong and treat Miss Ella again.
By the time we got home again out of hospital, I was 5 days into not drinking. And even though we’d been on another rollercoaster of a ride and alcohol was offered as a means of unwinding and forgetting the recent health scares, I abstained. Again I wanted to be alert and on standby just in case of another emergency with Miss Ella.
So that’s the long story. The short story is Dry January is happening and it wasn’t on my radar. And I’m not really following it as I’ve said, I’ve been drinking this month. But today, I’m 8 days dry.
Sobriety is something I tried last January and completed the month. This year, I’m planning on going beyond the month.
I think my drinking became an issue for me in terms of my behaviours and actions and go-to during 2020 lockdown, marriage breakdown, separation and new home period of my life. It became easy to reach for the wine bottle and forget my worries and concerns. But I just can’t accept the excuses any more. It’s not really worth it as our recent health scares and hospital stays have illustrated.
Throughout, 2022, I intend to share my journey with sobriety here as I realise writing about my struggles is part of the cure. I
After a really busy November, I was looking forward to a quiet December. It has been a slower pace to last month, but there has still been deadlines and events that I’ve needed to prepare for and attend and reflect on.
So past mid-December already, and I just feel as if I can slow down again now. But I say this but I must have been resting in some kind of way because I went back to my art journaling practice yesterday.
My art journal practice is different to my visual journaling practice only in the fact that I use fewer words and these Black women always seem to show up in the midst of the page somehow.
Here we have another one, who showed up yesterday out of the darkness that was developing on the page. And isn’t she delightful. She’s got a twinkle in her eye and a wish in her heart.
To be in the studio yesterday, playing on the page, I even completing a handmade zine which will be on display in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, was a joy and much needed. As it signalled to me that I’m back to listening within. That I’m back to creating for me and just for the hell of it. That I’m coming home.
Thank you, Sheree. Now continue to rest. And create.
I’ve started again. I think it happened a couple of weeks ago now. But I’ve started walking out and searching for the colour purple again. I first started this last year during lockdown, when I would take a daily walk, but walk with intention. My intention was to search out purple, usually purple flowers, pause give thanks and snap a photo.
As Alice Walker write in The Color Purple “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”
Walking is a meditation. Like breathing. When I walk my footsteps fall into a rhythm with my breathing. I always feel better after a walk. During the troubling times of the Coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings around the world, I’ve been searching for purple, more often than not. Does that mean I’m been looking for God? Looking for the reason maybe for all this suffering? But maybe there’s isn’t any reasoning for everything that’s happening. Maybe it’s just a case that this is how things are in the natural scheme of things. How it’s always has been and will be? That’s there’s meanness in the world and suffering and pain as well as beauty.
As more and more in society reopens after lockdown, and more and more people are making demands on my time and attention, I’ve slipped back into walking and searching for purple. And I think this is not to just fill my creative pot with joy, but also to makes sure I keep moving through this world at my own pace. Slowly. And when I lean into taking things slowly, doing things at my own pace, I know I’m in control of everything that is happening in my life.
It’s me taking back me power. And I think that’s what purple symbolises for me. As a colour, for centuries it has been associated with power. Not just regal power, but also because it was so expensive to make, purple was only worn by the select few, the echelons of society.
To be empowered from the inside out is real power for me. Power isn’t how much money or status you have in society. For me, it’s how much you value your own worth, protect your boundaries, lean into what makes you feel happy, what brings you joy and continue to relight your creative fire.
“In my longing for depth I have been re-rooting in the earth, in myself and my creativity, in my community, in my spiritual practices, honing in on work that is not only meaningful but feels joyful, listening with less and less judgment to the ideas and efforts of others, having visions that are long term.” Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy
Consider this. You might have an idea that takes seed, but as it grows and develops it blossoms into something amazing which you could never envision when you started. One such seed, which was planted way back in June 2018 during the Iceland Creative Retreat with Olwen Wilson, is finally coming to fruition today.
Honouring Our Wholeness , hosted by Olwen Wilson and myself is a self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour. This is time away from the busyness of our lives to create in community within a space where we are recognised, safe and nourished. We will take inspiration from our connections with nature and ourselves.
Imagine really being seen, heard and acknowledged!
Over a six-week period, we plan to meet on Zoom on Sundays, April 18, May 2 and end on May 16, 2021, from 1 – 4 pm ET/10 am – 1 pm PT/6 – 9 pm GMT.
During each three-hour session, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to play in our visual journals to really dig into the joy of creating for ourselves. Visual journaling is a simple but effective practice which has seen me through so many ups and downs and life experiences. And I’m so excited to be sharing this practice with Olwen through this offering.
Both, Olwen and I have immense experience of expressing our thoughts and feelings through our visual journaling practice. Reaping the benefits of listening to and observing our interior worlds and environments around us. But the power and wisdom of this practice we can’t keep to ourselves as we constantly share our joy of visually journalling with others through workshops, retreats and social media.
Anyway, I’ve said enough. Head in over to the Honouring Our Wholeness information page where there’s further details and how to apply. We’re accepting applications right the way through to 26 March 2021.
How much is this going to cost you?
Honouring Our Wholeness , a virtual retreat specially created to provide an empowering and rejuvenating space for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour is a unique offering which comes with a unique price tag.
Price for participants – £0/ $0 ( Thanks to funding).
The Hunter is a predator and is always on the hunt. To fail, and not bring back the prey, is not part of their makeup.
The Hunter will journey far and wide seeking what her heart is calling her to seek. Skilful, decisive and focused when this card appears, there is an activation of the great creatures of the world such as the lion, the shark and my favourite the wolf.
When this question appears, you have to ask yourself three questions: What am I hunting or seeking? Why am I seeking this? Is the weapon of choice I’ve chosen needed for the task at hand?
In response to these questions I had to be honest and really look within. Journaling around them my answers become clearer.
I’m seeking healing justice. I’m not sure what that is or what it entails but this is the feeling and focus that came through. I know to heal is everything and this is not just on a personal basis. I know when I work through my trauma, I’ll be in a better position to show up for others, to support others in their healing journeys. That’s the reason why I seek healing justice for me and my community.
My weapon of choice is a pen, my creativity, but it come powered up the connection I forge, daily for myself and others, with nature. I believe that once we heal and re-connect with Mother Nature, we are beginning to heal and get back to our true selves who is and always will be one with nature.