Prayer to Yemoja

Yemoja,

Goddess of the sea, hear my plea.

As the rivers runs from your breasts , straight to the sea,

let your saltwaters wash over me.

Cleanse me to the soul and nurture me

so all my ill-feelings and sorrows and woes are taken

deep out into the heart of the ocean and disappear.

Hear me when I send out love for you,

my respect and grace and thanks for all that you do

for me, for women and for children.

I know you and you know me

and hear me when I honour your power, your grace

and your generosity.

Queen of the deep blue sea, I wish you only life and love and light

as when I come to you with my heart open

you make whole what is incomplete in me.

At the desk

Today, I’m up at 6am. We return to school after half-term break, and after the school run, I have an outdoor meeting. So my time is spoken for during the day. So I get up early, to come to my desk, and write. I ‘m working on putting my priorities first for a change. And don’t get me wrong, no one puts pressure on me to put their needs and wants first. No, no one has to do that because I do it myself. It is I who thinks I should be and do everything to everyone and bend in so many different directions and ways to make this happen. And when I don’t I’m racked with guilt and think I’m a bad mother, wife, friend, human being even.

For now, I’m changing this record which has been on repeat for far too long. I’m changing it up and sticking on the record which is called, Sheree’s priorities. It’s a sound that takes some getting used to. It’s a sound I might want to turn off straight away as it’s too needy, to hesitate, too demanding, too vulnerable. But I persevere through practice. Through turning up at my desk each day, sitting my arse down and picking up that pen and facing the uncertainties, I know I’m strengthening a much neglected muscle. And it feels good to find and use those muscles I didn’t even know I had.

And this morning, the music of that priorities record, that new release, is so growing on me that I find myself tapping my feet, swaying and singing along to the sweet sweet tune of creativity.

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Priorities

I had a serious talking to myself this week after I realised I was wasting far too much time on other people’s stuff instead of catering to my own needs and dreams. So when our spare room became clear again, I snatched it with both hands and set up my writing space.

I’ve turned up three days in a row to this desk and my writing tasks and dreams. And it might not sound like much to you but to me, it feels like a breakthrough. I’m no longer thinking of blocks or hard work, I’m thinking just turn up and see what happens. And when I hold this attitude, I motor along.

So my advice today is if you want to get creative you do have the time. We’ve got to stop making excuses or allowing other people’s expectations get in the way of what we really want to do. Onwards.

The gift of time

Today, I was due back up at the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session for all around the themes of Hadrian’s Wall and the new Lost Words exhibition. Unfortunately, due to adverse weather conditions, the event has been cancelled.

Even though, I’d spent the last few days in preparation for the storytelling, which I view as time well spent not wasted, I’m grateful for the free time I’ve been gifted today. I felt as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulder and now I can relax into Sunday. And I’m not going to rush and fill this empty time with all the jobs I have piling up with the house or family or work related stuff.

What I intend to do and what I’ve been doing is to remain curious and allow myself to be intuitively guided towards what I feel I want or need to do. Okay I might have to do some dishes or we’ll be eating off our hands all day. But at the same time, I’ve been visiting my visual journal and experimenting with my resources; journalling, moving paint around, doodling, dreaming. Being creative but just enjoying the process and not really thinking about the end product.

Sometimes, I need to take the time and space to remember the benefits of my visual journalling practice, what it’s seen me through, supporting my healing and grieving, and how it supports me to remain curious about my creativity but also life, my life in general.

Recipe: Oven Roasted Potatoes

Today I thought I’d share something that I cooked. As I mentioned before, I’m a vegan and I receive emails from Vegan Bowls by Coconut Bowls weekly. This little beauty, Oven Roasted Breakfast Potatoes was in my inbox today and I just had to try it. Delicious comfort food is always a hit wirh me especially when it’s cold outside.

Recipe by @eatwithclarity

Ingredients
5 cups chopped red or yukon gold potatoes (about 4–5 medium potatoes)
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
Black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley, for garnishing

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chop the potatoes, onion, and pepper into small pieces and add to a large bowl.
Toss with the olive oil and minced garlic until everything is well coated.
Add in the spices, salt, and black pepper and mix until well incorporated.
Add to a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. You shouldn’t need to grease the baking dish since the potatoes are all oiled up!
After 25 minutes, turn up the heat to 425 and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to help brown the potatoes. You’ll know they’re done when they can be easily pierced with a fork.
Serve with ketchup, additional salt and pepper, salad, or any other brunch eats!

January Reading

I didn’t set out into 2020 with a reading goal. I didn’t set any numbers but I did say I wanted to read more. Vague I know. And not the ‘proper’ way to set goals that you want to succeed at but at the time it was enough for me. And it’s been working.

January saw me curled up with actual books and the iPad sporting the kindle a lot more times than I felt I did at the back end of 2019. Could I say the whole of 2019? I’m not sure. Maybe my memory fails me here.

But the reading habit, the muscle memory of turning off all distractions and getting lost in a good book, fiction, non-fiction even poetry, seems weak in relation to the last couple of years to be honest.

Hopefully, with January now behind us, I can say that the drought is over as I hurtled through a number of books this month. I’m pretty proud of my numbers but also about how expanded I feel in terms of ideas and language and joy. The joy of reading has paid a long overdue visit and I want it to continue. So look forward to a monthly round up of books read each month. You might even find a book you’re interested in reading along the way.

I’ll list the books read and then give a review or details about just one of the books, as if I did it for all of them read this month, we’ll be here all day and come on, it’s the weekend.

Completed January books include:

1. Eat and Run- My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek ( started in December and completed at the beginning of January)

2. Turned Out Nice AgainOne Living with the Weather– Richard Mabey

3. Heavenfield – LJ Ross

4. Angel – LJ Ross

5. High Force – LJ Ross

6. Cragside – LJ Ross

7. Dark Skies – LJ Ross

8. Seven Bridges – LJ Ross

Ongoing January reading include;

1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley

2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

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

4. Blogging Basics For Authors – Nina Amir

Book review in the next post. Thanks.

Toad Bible

Our teak sideboard housed the Bible. A small leather thing like a black toad. I think it travelled across miles of ocean lodged in my father’s chest. It didn’t actually croak but shook and I swear I heard it breathing when I ran passed the sideboard into the glass cabinet shattering the patterned glass into tiny pieces. I spent my entire childhood picking up those pieces of glass and adding them to a jigsaw box. In all the hundreds of years we were trapped in that maisonette, with the shaking sideboard with the breathing bible, we never could afford to replace that glass. 

The Weekend

It’s been a busy weekend. I’m not sure if it was planned that way or if it just creeped up on us. But it was definitely a family kind of time. And as I start getting ready for turning in with a good book ( more to say here as I share my reading for the month soon), I do so with a contented smile on my face.

For the last few months, the weekend has come and gone with nothing to show for it. Yes this is prime time to rest and recover from the week. But it is also important time to reconnect with those closest to me. My peeps. And this can be done inside or outside the house. The important thing is to make the time. And to be honest, we haven’t been making the time.

I feel the difference, now at Sunday night, of enjoying a weekend where we have made time for each other. We’ve been to a basketball match as a family. Met up with friends for rollerblading. Went on an evening excursion to look at the dark skies. It was cloudy though but still a learning experience. And then today, having granddad round for dinner, was the best way to round it all off.

We’re not made of money and probably couldn’t do all these activities every weekend. But it wasn’t so much about what we did or where we went. It was all about spending time with each other.

I’m grateful for what we did this weekend as well as how we were. Doing and being together has set me up for the week ahead with a smile in my heart.

Do you wanna know a secret?

Do you wanna know a secret?

Yes I thought that might get your attention. I’m willing to share my dirty little secret if you’re willing to listen?

Okay. Here goes.

I love Nordic Noir. There. It’s out now and I feel a whole heap better.

When I want to chill and relax and switch off, I switch on a Scandinavian crime drama or pick up a novel in the same genre.

There’s something about the landscapes that act as a backdrop for the crime, usually a grizzly murder, that holds my attention and enchants me. I know. Sick right! All these people getting bumped off and there’s blood and guts everywhere and I’m mesmerised by the ice and snow and the mountains that set the scene.

This genre is quality storytelling as well and solid characterisation and suspense and tension too.

I can binge watch a whole series or read a whole book in a evening ( and into early morning) when I get into a certain groove and I’m not ashamed to tell you. At the moment I’ve been making my way through Walter Presents series on All 4. Last night was Rebecka Martinsson: Arctic Murders. A Stockholm lawyer who returns to her hometown after a childhood friend’s death. And isn’t her home town remote, icy and full is lakes and mountains? Beautiful.

I know it’s pure escapism but from time to time it’s good for me, or anyone really, to suspend reality and slip into another, usually distant from the norm, world. I do believe it supports me in my day to day living and striving and thriving. A little sanctuary of make believe. I highly recommend it, I do.