My Voice in Virtual Places

During these changing working conditions of moving into visual spaces to connect and share and create, I’ve been enjoying a lovely run of being a guest on a number of different podcasts, separate from The Earth Sea Love Podcast, connecting women of colour and nature.

As mentioned before, I was welcomed onto the Prompted By Nature Podcast with Helen Forester where we talked about working to get more black bodies out into nature with funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Since the first one, I’ve gone on to be a guest with Yarrow Magdalena with Daydreaming Wolves, where I enjoyed the opportunity to share about my creative practice and sea swimming and not being able to foretell the future but being okay with that.

On Speak from the Body, a podcast on practical ways to reconnect with the body and nourish your soul, hosted by Avni Trivedi, I had the opportunity to speak at length about my creative practice, visual journalling and how it saved my life, 5 years ago now.

And the final one I’ll share with you today, as there are more to come, is from the countryside charity CPRE, Campaign to Protect Rural England. In this episode I’m a guest with Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex, where we discuss the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in the countryside and nature.

Reading and Writing, Writing and Reading

A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.

Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.

Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.

So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.

What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.

This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.

The Prompted By Nature Podcast Interview

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I had the pleasure of being part of the Prompted By Nature podcast this month. It was good to have a chat about my relationship with nature and the work I’ve been completing within the region, with Earth Sea Love, offering opportunities to Black, Asian and ethnic minority women and girls to enjoy experiences with/in nature.

We talk about amongst other things:

* The importance of BAME visibility and representation in natural spaces and the marketing of nature-based brands as well as the need to motivate a new generation of black women leaders
* The financial side of accessibility in nature
* Land as holding trauma and associations with enslavement
* Nature as a space of oneness

I’ve just listened to the podcast for the first time and I was smiling along with the conversation, as it is so good. I share a lot and there are some words of wisdom that we could all take away. Check it out here. Thanks.

 

Writing Elsewhere

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Since May, I’ve been sharing my writing on Medium. This is a platform I’ve tired a number of times before but for some reason the habit just didn’t stick. I now know this probably had something to do with having nothing really to say. But now I do.

I’ve been contributing to the Binderful Blog, which a small online community of women, started a few years ago, which offers classes to support women questioning their lives. Maybe shaking up the status quo from the kitchen table outwards. I’m due to create a class with Binderful but in the meantime, I’ve been writing on Medium for them.

If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve shared so far then click below to read the articles.

Learning to be Inside

Comfort Reading

Pandemic Food Ways: A Little Sweet Treat

Waiting To Be Allowed In

My Voice is my Weapon

It hurts living on our knees

Becoming in May

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I was attempting to complete my second round of #100daysofblogging while also creating a poem a day for National Poetry Writing Month in April. I was going well. I past the mid-point, and I just ran out of steam. And I also think enjoyment. I wasn’t really inspired with what I was writing. I think I was writing for writing sake. To fulfil the challenges and not my soul. Sometimes this works for me. I know in the past, I’ve created daily words for years and thought nothing about it. But I suppose I’m getting older and wiser and also figuring out what’s important to me and no one else. What my gut has to say about things takes precedent.

I have been writing in other places though during this impasse on the blog. I have a piece over on Medium for the The Binderful Blog titled, ‘Learning to Stay Inside,’ and documents my journey with the Coronavirus. I have also returned to my mixed-media memoir and I’m happy to say we’re in love. We spend a lot of time together getting to know each other again and working out what’s working between us and what’s not. We’re open and honest with other, basing our relationship on our vulnerabilities. I’m more than satisfied with how things are working out between us. I know I have to keep honouring this process by turning up each day and just touching in.

Turning up here today to find some words I needed for the memoir, meant I took the time to read over some past posts. See where I was at different times over the last five years. While reading, I gained a sense of perspective as well as pride for what I have created here. I love my website, because it’s attempt to present me and my process to the world. And it’s not polished or professional but it is real. It gives you a glimpse behind the curtain. It’s honest and vulnerable and it is so me.

So I’m not going to beat myself up for not completing a challenge. And I’m also not going to beat myself up if I miss days, or weeks before coming back here to blog. I’m learning to treat myself with more grace. And how that’s looks it still a work in progress but I do know as Michelle Obama wisely said, it is becoming.

” Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. It’s forward motion, a mans of evening, a way to reach continuously towards a better self. “

April Readings

499101E6-7BA1-4776-816D-D64A7195244AMy reading habits this month have been flitting here and there and everywhere. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate and be disciplined enough to see a book through to the end. Being that said, when I did get into a book such as An America Marriage by Tayari Jones, I finished it in a day. Demonstrating that I just needed a book to grab and hold my attention to keep with it. But isn’t that usually the case? This book was fiction, something I’ve not been reading for a couple of months and the main characters were African-American. And it sang from the page right up to the end.
Still got all the books I’ve started this year on the go. Nature non-fiction book really, linked to my work, so with the lockdown, it makes perfect sense that I’m not rushing to complete these.
Here’s April’s readings:

1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
2. Afro-Persimism: An Introduction by Frank B. Wilderson III
3. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr Joy Degruy
4. All Yarrow Magdalena’s zines
5. Black Girl Magic edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds, and Jamila Wo

SeaSwim

SeaSwim
SeaSwim

I’ve been resting up this weekend, after feeling exhausted and a bit depressed. I leaned into my creative practice as well as self-care practices such as fresh air, walking, yoga to make sure I finished the weekend in a better place.

I sat on Sunday evening creating a little gift for anyone and everyone who has been enjoying my sea posts throughout this time of quarantine. I’m taking a break for a while from social media and probably blogging too as I rest and go within. I’ll still be completing my poetry and my #100daysofblackwomen but just not posting them anywhere publicly. All the more to share when I do return.

In the UK, we have another 3 weeks of the coronavirus lockdown.  I want to use this time to tap into my inner wisdom more and ramp up my self-care and self-love practices. I want to come out of this darkness a better version of me. Transformation takes time and effort but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

I leave you Seaswim,the first of many zines that I’m planning to bring out of the studios during 2020. I hope you enjoy this beginning.

Day 1 – NAPoWriMo – In these troubling times, our way of being comes into sharp focus

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April brings with it the challenge of National Poetry Writing Month. One poem per day for the next 30 days. What better way to kick start my next 100 days of blogging if you take up this challenge. So follow along as for the next 30 days , I’ll be sharing a poem I create, sometimes in response to the prompts posted over here, sometimes from other inspirations. But I’ll be hopefully following the theme of Nature for this body of work.

Day 1 – In these troubling times, our way of being comes into sharp focus

Taking out the rubbish

I’m met by a bully of a bird

on our backyard wall.

 

He doesn’t take his leave.

Indolent, he waiters along the bricks

beady eyeing me.

 

Mum used to say things

must be rough at sea

for seagulls to be so far inland.

 

Today, I don’t think this is the case.

I think people are no longer at sea

forcing these scavengers

 

reliant on the discarded chip

or bit of fish to become urban

into backyards where citizens

 

take their recommended

or is it permitted

daily shot of sun while in lockdown.

 

This seagull surveys the scene.

One foot, two foot, two foot, one.

Head jerking alert, yellow sickle beak,

 

hooking the air with it’s call.

Grey wings once settled now stretched

wide with an inkling to take flight

 

but it decides to stay, close.

Two foot, one foot, one foot two.

A shared landscape it’s always been.

 

Perhaps, now, more obvious

how we all have to adapt

to a new way of being

 

which might have us all eating grass yet.

March Reading

March has come to an end. Even though it’s felt like the longest month from hell, someone on twitter mentioned 36 years and 9 months in length, my reading hasn’t been as steady as I’d like.

Please excuse me if my mind has been otherwise occupied. If news bulletins and articles and live updates were in book form then this month I would have consumed thousands of volumes as I seemed to have taken up residence at The Guardian news website. It is constantly on refresh. I’m taking care of myself though by having days when I do not consume the news, I stay away from social media and literally inhale positive, feel good art and literature and music. I highly recommend it during these troubling times. anyway, on to what I have read.

Completed March readings include:

1. Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, poems by Jake Skeets

2. Swims by Elizabeth Jane Burnett

3. There are more beautiful things than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

4. Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson

5. Splinters are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson

6. Life without Diabetes – Roy Taylor

7. Fleshing Out the Narrative – Marielle S. Smith

 

Ongoing March reading include;

1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley

2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham

4. Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols

5. The Northumbrians by Dan Jackson

6. 8 Master Lessons of Nature – by Gary Ferguson