I am learning to heal myself. I am leaning to turn pain into medicine. I may be at another crossroads. And I may to taking longer to get up as I am getting older and in need of rest. But I am learning to walk in uncharted territory. I am learning to let responsibility go. I am learning to let the guilt go.
I’m learning to not be afraid of death. I’m learning to accept myself. I’m learning to love myself. I’m learning to not limit myself. I’m learning to be free. I’m learning to fly.
I’m learning to shine my light for myself first and foremost. I’m learning to shed past selves, past skins, past traumas, in order to let my light shine brighter.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect about this event or what I was going to share. But on reflection now, I’m so glad that I was invited to take part because I learned so much about peatlands within the UK, around the world and the special place they hold within the global climate crisis.
So much of my language around nature and the environment has been formed through white supremacy culture which has been biased on colonialism and imperialism and capitalist consumption. And of which I am at great pains now to unlearn and find a new language or it is just a re-memory of the language of my ancestors where there is no separation between us and nature.
Something that was raised last night by Khairani Barokka, which was totally new to my knowledge and way of thinking was that within indigenous communities gender was much more fluid and diverse. The binary system of male and female/ he and she which we take as a given now, as the norm, is a construction and part of the colonist program.
That the idea of “the coloniality of gender,” which might have seen the binary gender system in Europe but was not the case for indigenous populations around the world who were brutalised, moved off the lands and eliminated through genocide. This is going to require more reading on my part but it will be completed eagerly as it’s more evidence of how this system to live and breathe is a construct of power for a few white people over the rest of us all.
I was brought up to treat books as sacred. They were a source of knowledge. You get your education and you’d have choices in life. You’d move on in the world. Have a better life than your parents before you.
Books were the gateway into this Paradise.
Each week, we would walk into town from our maisonette, along the busy dual carriageway. Once in town, we’d go to the market, to the one book stall and pick out a book. They were the tradition fairy tales with pictures and text.
If not them, then Enid Blyton books. For some reason, I felt the importance of books and the connection of them to my dad. He’d read us bedtime stories and I’d just love to be in his presence then. As he was softer and loving. Different from the angry man he was at all other times.
For some reason, who knows what goes through a child’s mind, I took to doodling in one of these fairy tale books. I want to say it was Snow White, but I could wrong.
A whole heap of scribbles and doodles took over the pages of this book. Why use the book when I had plenty of blank white paper? As I said who knows what goes through a child’s mind.
I just know that my father found the book and shouted at me with rage. And beat me. I’d done something wrong. I’d ruined the book. I’d ruined my chances of getting on in the world. I’d gone against the unwritten rule( or was a spoken one?) around how to respect books.
Older now, I hunt for books. I buy my own books. I read then. Some I don’t. Some I keep or give away. And some I purposefully, consciously make the decision to repurpose. Reclaim them.
I tear out pages and I cut these up. I smear paint on the pages left in the book. I stick images in them, tape, stickers. And yes I write in them. I write out my hopes and fears. My desires and dreams. My memories and traumas.
I think I was brought up right. To treat books as sacred. But it’s what you do with those books that count, I think. And a book has multiple uses/ purposes. I think. Multiple ways and means of instilling knowledge and opportunities and freedom.
It’s been a long journey for me to get to this point of choices. But I claim them all.
I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been granted a scholarship to participate in Susannah Conway’s Journal Love Club for a whole year.
It’s a gift that just keeps on giving. I get a prompt everyday, a growing community on Mighty Networks, people sharing practice and a live zoom call once a month.
Usually, I start my day with my visual journal practice as above and then by the time I’ve done that the prompt from Journal Love Club has come through so I can continue and respond to that.
In the past, I’d be on my case for using so many different journals. I would also get confused by what went where and then lose stuff, not knowing where to find the gems. Now, I’m much more of a mind that if I’m showing up to the page, at all or once or twice or more, it’s all a win.
The common denominator between all these different journals is me. And this practice helps me along on this journey of getting back to me. The core me. The authentic me.
After today’s prompt which asked me to look over my recent journal entries to pull out themes; what’s been grabbing my attention, this entry came out:
“Nothing is a surprise when I look back and see what issues and ideas keep circulating the journal pages.
Identity, fear, never being good enough.
But then I started to switch things up in response to this prompt. I’ll never to good enough in a system which is stacked against me. In a system wired for us to aim for perfection even when we know it doesn’t exist. But more so, if it did exist it wouldn’t be available to me anyway.
So knowing this I surrender. I let go. Not give up, but surrender means not allowing time and energy to strive for this, to even fight it. But to use this energy and channel it into the things that are important to me. Not even taking into account the system, the white gaze but making my audience that little Black girl inside and the one in my house now.
And maybe through this I can heal as well as be a better mother to myself and my daughter.
I do love a white gel pen on a black gesso page. I love the contrast but I also love that it reverses/ subverts the norm.
Quite fitting really when I was exploring my understanding/ operating of ‘The White Gaze’ today.
From Wiki: ‘ The White Gaze is the assumption that the default reader or observer is coming from the perspective of someone who identities as white, or that people of color sometimes feel the need to take into account the white reader or observer’s reaction.”
I wonder who wrote this definition? Loaded much, ‘assumption’ , ‘sometimes’ please. It’s our reality. It’s White Supremacy Culture. It’s the norm.
I’m learning ( all the time) how to survive the white gaze. And taking my lead from Toni Morrison, I know I have meaning and depth without the white gaze. My life has meaning without the white gaze. ‘ But we do language. That might be the measure of our lives.’
It might be a daily practice with need of constant reminders but I’m learning to create not for the white gaze, in spite of the white gaze and it’s repercussions.
Seeing in the end of the old year and into the new is a time I always take for reflection. Visioning and re-visioning my dreams and plans for the year to come is something I do to focus my energies for moving forward with purpose and grace.
As I mentioned in my last post, my guiding word for 2021 is SLOW. To support this process of living into my word with intention, I spend time working through Susannah Conway’s workbook Unravelling Your Year. This year, the pulling of a tarot card for each month of the year is missing from the workbook for some reason, but I’ve followed this ritual for so many years now, that I didn’t need anyone else’s guidance to do so except my own intuition.
So using Kim Krans’ The Wild Unknown Archetypes deck, I proceeded to pull a card for each month of 2021, and one final card as a guiding theme for the year. When I pulled the final card, there were two stuck together so I went with the two as my guiding principles. The Crone and The Hunter were the two cards that will become my over arching cards of 2021.
I intend to go into detail about what each of these cards signify and could mean for the year ahead in the following posts. I will also share about each card pulled for each month in a post within each month moving forward too. This is a good way to keep focused and coming back to the magic and potential that each card can offer as I journey through this coming year.
Yesterday we took a trip to the Centre for Life in Newcastle, a Life Science Centre which was showing a whole heal of exhibitions and films about space and time travel and the night skies. We rocked up there not knowing what to expect but we weren’t disappointed. I can see how the entry fee would put people off, as it’s kind of steep, but really if you’re being savvy which we weren’t really, you could stay in there all day, take a packed lunch and get your money’s worth. As it was we were in there for nearly 5 hours and we hardly covered the place.
It’s a place where your inner kid can roam. I suggest you take some kids along with you because then you have no choice but to get down to their level and look around the experiment stations, the brain exhibitions, the play stations and the displays with wonder and curiosity.
The best part for me was sitting in the Planetarium with my head right back so I could watch the night sky to its fullest on the dome screen. The presentation on the stars and constellations and our universe was so amazing. And I just found myself, like a kid again, exclaiming ‘wow’ at every new image and cool fact. This is the second time this year that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the night skies and I’m sure it’s not going to be my last as these happenings are working to open up a door inside me which always said I was too stupid to know anything about our universe or life beyond us. But maybe it was a case of just not giving this field of knowledge and research enough attention. It’s science right? And black girls don’t do science! Wrong!
Well I’m learning now and I’m definitely not too stupid to take it all in and run with it.
Dancing the Dream – the seven sacred paths of human transformation, by Jamie Sams
This is the new book I’m reading at the the moment. And I’m trying to take my time, to savour it and let the lessons sink in. But it’s not going that way. Every page that I’m reading, I’m nodding my head in recognition of the wisdom, of the truths that are being mentioned in terms of the energy that connects us all together. Our thoughts, feelings, judgements, our internal landscapes create our outside worlds. If these are full of negativity, this is the energy we are putting out into the world. And what goes around comes around. We are all connected. We are all one.
I made a promise to myself while reading this book to not write any notes. To just absorb the initiations. I intend to go back and reread the book after this first reading and actively work with the lessons. So this post is me marking this promise and making sure I follow through on it. Thank you.