My Creative Year in Review – Part 1

In recent years during December I’ve taken the time and space to reflect back on the past twelve months in terms of my creative life. It is always inspiring and surprising to remember the things I have achieved as well as the mistakes I have learnt from along the way.

Following this practice of review means that I enter the next year, fired up and focused about the choices I want to make going forward.
If I had to sum up 2017 in 3 words it would include courage, voice and business.

Let’s take a look at each month ( the year will be split into two parts) and see what happened along the way to carry me into 2018, older but so much more younger in terms of wonder and curiosity.

January came in cold and dark. The ideal time to go deeper into my practice of hygge. During my winters walks #TheHealingPeopertiesOfTheSeas was conceived as a one day symposium all about our relationship with water. This has still to take place but the concept is out there and can be found on IG  and Twitter. Holding this idea throughout the year has meant that I’ve been curating short 10 second films around water. These will be available to watch and add to during 2018.

February was the beginning of my exploration of voice. Having been chosen to take part in an Arvon foundation residential course for writers wanting to make change happen, I met a whole heap of interesting people who supported me on my journey of claiming and using my authentic voice around the theme of my body in the environment. This led into further publications of my creative non-fiction poetic writing here. I was also exploring my voice through painting by completing Painting the Feminine with Connie Solera. This was another opportunity for me to embody my multi-layered identity, providing the tools and techniques to support my self-expression.

March saw me return to Iceland as part of a self-directed residency with The Westfjords Residency. To spend an extended amount of time in an isolated village miles from a major town was testing. I questioned what I was trying to achieve by doing this, in terms of my creativity as well as my life. It was unsettling to some extent as all my usual boundaries were missing and for a while there I did flounder. I also experienced some racial abuse while in Reykjavik which made me question my relationship with the whole country. March was definitely a learning curve which manifested in a deeper love of Iceland which meant before I left I made plans to share this love with my family.

April was another month of learning as I not only completed a Woodland leader training course in the Highlands of Scotland but I also went live with my new website and brand name Living Wild Studios. I’d procrastinated enough and it was time to be seen, showcasing all of my creative adventures under one roof.
It was a scary time but one that I wouldn’t change as I went with my gut and created a beautiful website I’m proud to call my home. It’s varied and dynamic and changing to reflect how I’m changing.

May seemed to have gone in a blur. I know it was a time of disrupted plans due to Alan’s mam being in hospital for an extended stay. It was a time of sticking close to home and putting my family first and foremost. But I did try to keep moving forward with Living Wild Studios as a business, extending my reach through social media. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy this month as I was trying to operate in a way that wasn’t being authentic to me. I had to explore my relationship with social media, with the pubic arena at large and withdraw to do so. This was good for me, for my sanity.

I continued my social media hiatus into June. I felt I was just settling into my own space and voice by the end of May so wanted more time away from distractions to listen within. This was an important month for me to dive deep into the Creative Facilitator Training I had started with Lisa Sonora this year. I had been building up a resistance to the course as it wasn’t as I had thought it would be. I expected more. But then I realised that this is an experiential course and I get out of it what I put into it. All along I’m using myself and my experiences and beliefs as the learning examples so in order to learn and move forward I had to be more engaged. A light bulb moment which saw me returning at the end of the month to social media to share my visual journaling practice, the foundation of my creativity, much more extensively and thoroughly than before.

Iceland Insights

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I’ve been thinking of 2018. I’ve been making plans. The New Year will see me visiting Iceland again for a few days. I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. While on retreat in March in Pingeryi, I briefly got to witness some pale ivory lights by down the sea shore. Their movement was magical and sublime. I’m getting ready for more.

In preparation for the creative retreat planned for June, I’ve revisiting in January to complete the final touches also. As a means of getting me in the mood over Christmas, I’ve been creating an Iceland Oracle deck of cards through a course from Tara Leaver. These cards are linked in with #icelandinsights; a photo/ journal prompt challenge I’m running during the month of January.

I’ll be posting images and text each day during January 2018 on IG, Facebook, Twitter and here. And you are more than welcome to join me. Use the #icelandinsights and we’ll be able to find each other.

Shifting Loyalties

I’m getting ready for the off again. Remember my time in residence on a canal boat with idlewomen? I facilitated a visual journaling workshop for women while there which was really inspiring. Well off the back of that, I’ve been invited back as a guest speaker/ presenter at their informal conference for women in Lancashire next week.

Shifting Loyalties is a gathering of women. Establishing in 2016 in collaboration with Silvia Federici in 2016,
for a week we’ll be living together near Pendle, a place known for its persecution of women as witches in the 1600s, utilising the space to have critical conversations and self-organising against society’s treatment and representation of women. This is an opportunity to share stories and experiences at the same time as becoming empowered as a sisterhood to make change, internally and externally.

All week I’ll be sharing my visual journaling practices through workshops and a drop-in room hopefully inspiring and encouraging other women to explore and adopt this creative practice for self-care and self-awareness.

I’m pulling together my resources and materials, gathering journal prompts that I feel will be accessible as well as beneficial for us to dive deep within safely and effectively when I realise that I could be a witch.

Witch. I really haven’t considered it before but I’ve got witchy tendencies. I believe in the Divine Goddess. I worship the natural world; Great Mother Earth. I observe and honour the Wheel of the Year, sensitive to the seasons and rituals as we cycle through the year. This year, during Samhain, I spent time at my altar conversing with my dead ancestors.  I look upon this path I’m on as magical, empowering me to grow, change and heal.

I call myself a Wild Soul Woman who listens to the wisdom within; my intuition and instincts. This is where my power lies. Maybe this isn’t the mainstream way of thinking and believing. But this is my truth.

The Witch was feared because she ( and sometimes he) lived “outside” the natural order. They represented a different way of living that challenged the status quo. Self-contained and self-possessed, they were a threat that could not be explained  and had to be eliminated.

Unfortunately, witch hunts still happen today in such places as Africa and India where old women are killed on the mere accusation of being a witch.  It saddens me that women who know their own power and worth and self-determine their lives, are persecuted and destroyed.

I’m hoping that my time at Shifting Loyalties will clarify my thoughts and feelings around this realisation at the same time as strengthening my voice in speaking out. ‘shifting loyalties is another beginning…’

 

years of marriage 

My husband, Alan and I have been together longer than I can remember, yet I’m still surprised by the turn of events, sometimes. At these points, I have to chuckle.
Alan, annoyed,  has said that I mine our lives for writing material but I do believe it’s not just my story to tell, so I do shy away from writing about our marriage as it is, while in the thick of things.
This relationship, when two individuals come together into a partnership, does play a significant part in my life and to not explore and reflect upon it in within my writing is denying a part of myself. As well as living a lie, as believe it or not, marriageland is not all hunky dorky.

During the years we’ve been together, Alan and I have experienced the rough with the smooth. They say a couple’s relationship changes when children come along. And that much is true. There’s had to be a lot more understanding and communication and patience. And sometimes it hasn’t always been there. 

I’m not offering marriage guidance here as I’m not an expert is marritable bliss. I only know what works and doesn’t work for me/us. So we’re still in the thick of moving house. This follows on the back of months of ill health, cancer treatment and hospital visits. You don’t realise the calm within your day to day until it is disrupted. You don’t realise the love and companionship and trust within your relationship until it has disappeared.
This isn’t a post about Alan and I spliting up, far from it. But it is a post about holding on and appreciating what you have when you have it. It’s obvious but sometimes we fail to acknowledge it, fail to act upon it, fail to live it. 

As we settle into our new home, the time and space has arisen to speak my needs and concerns to Alan as well as to check in with him about his needs and concerns. We’re still part of this dance, growing all the time as individuals and together. But it never ceases to amaze me as you hold a crystal up to the light the myriad of shapes and colours and delights that are revealed.

Missing Stories

You may have missed her story.
There’s a loud silence
when a black woman is brutalised/raped/murdered.
Front page headlines seldom carry outrage,
hardly carry a mention.
My heart catches fire every time
I have to decipher the details
through a pinhole of shadows.

I see her being followed home from that party.
Them two stalking her apartment
thinking she’s got money just by the way she holds herself.
Or at least her grandmother must.
They break in. Gag and tie her up in the basement
where they each take their time to beat and rape her.
What I remember from between the missing lines
is those bastards making off with a few dollars,
an iPad and a laptop after they set the house on fire.
You may have missed her story.
Let me tell you another story along the same brutal missing lines.

lichen

The symbiosis of a fungus and a green alga, lichen is the first plant to colonise a hardened lava field. Versatile and hardy, it thrives to survive under harsh, volatile conditions. She marvels at its tenacity, wishing she was as hardy. Wishing she was as robust. Clinging to rocks, tree trunks and wire, lichen grows and glows, sexually producing spores in sacs. Branching and shrubby, once upon a time she would have been too afraid to look so closely, to distinguish life amongst the dark holes of decay. Now she does not look away. Now she sees the beauty.

Coppery red flat tops
curl in towards
soft shiny centres

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April – A Poem A Day

beacon of light

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at night lit up
like a beacon
of salvation

A nation divided. At the point of civil war.
A heathen Priest, who everyone trusted and respected who was called upon to decide. After hours of meditation, he proclaimed that we should believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we should to keep our pagan sacrifices and the eating of horseflesh private. It was agreed. People were baptised and the Priest throw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall, now know as Godafoss.

April – A Poem A Day

the last accordion men

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Closed to air plane traffic, cracks in the asphalt house dandelions and buttercups. Radio silence. Zero fumes. Thingeyri airport ceases to welcome travellers.
And yet drop by on a Tuesday night, and you will hear music. The last accordion men in the hanger play as if the traditional dances of Iceland are in full swing still. Grey haired, stooping, hoarse men of age put their arms and fingers and memories through their paces. Their beautiful youth moves through each moaning note. No music is written down. Unless a boy is amongst them this merry-go-round music will die with the last accordion man.

Over the roar of the engines
and the thumbing of the wheels
the wheezing heart of old switches

 

April – A Poem A Day

Fishing

The worship of fish, for subsistence and profit, declines in response to the fishing quota system. Villages hugging the shoreline struggle with time and the departure of the young. At Thingeyri, out there in the fjords are three massive green nets holding artificially reared super fish. Trout. Not native to the area along with the multinational< company owning them.
One day, a hole is found in one net. How many fish escape, no one knows. How the fish survive in open water, if any, no one knows. If the escapees mate with the other fish, no one knows. It’s not the companies problem. It’s not an issue worth investigation. The hole is mended. The trout continue to be farmed to yield their optimum value. White white flesh to satisfy the foreign customer’s tastes.

red headscarf tied tight
bent and slow
she walks to harbour

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April – A Poem A Day