Hello and welcome. Displayed here are a selection of artworks, photographs, mixed-media and collages created by Sheree Angela Matthews; artist + teacher + creativity enthusiast. Visit the store to find out how to buy.
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. “
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.
I sit on the bed, cross legged,
window open. Hearing a kid
scream, a car engine revving.
And there, just then, a seagull
flies by carrying bunch of leaf
and twine in its beak. Say you,
what you building? Stealing?
It’s now I’m aware of the trees
trees outside coming into leaf.
Buds unfurling like green ton-
gues with beard and feathery
flower clusters. What tree are
you? And why do you reach so
to the sky as if all that matters
is to grow and thrive? Zooming
traffic, loud, draw my attention
away from nature, from inside
But that’s usually the case with
modern life: a distancing from
our true nature with incentive
of moving faster, go anywhere,
produce anything of fake worth
as if our life depends upon it.
I’ve missed two days of being here. I didn’t post anything over the weekend. Did you notice? I mean who is actually reading my blog. Some days nobody and sometimes that hurts but then I remember I write for me first and foremost. But sometimes that harsh reality feeds into my desire to post or not post especially if I’m sick or low on energy. Self-care is one of my mantras as well as practice.
This weekend I completed my Outdoor First Aid training. 16 hours of intense learning, practical study all the way so that if anything was to happen while taking a group out into nature I could administer first aid.
60% of deaths in the U.K. could be unavoidable if more people knew how to save a life or give immediate, temporary first aid to give an individual who’s injured or had an accident a fighting chance of survival.
I found this figure staggering and unacceptable. Also the figures show that women and children receive the least amount of first aid, CPR really, as there’s a reluctance to touch for a fear of causing offence or being too heavy handed. I find this even more appalling and start to think what the figures would show regarding black women? I’m not even going to look because I don’t think those figures would have even been recorded, never mind be any better.
I shouted out in my class, I don’t care if you have to cut my bra and see my breasts to administer CPR on me if it saves my life. Of course this received a laugh and then jokes about having a t-shirt made with that same message on.
But I think there are people in this world who think that my life isn’t worth saving. And who has the right to think that or to act or fail to act in a way that endangers life?
I find this world maddening and angering a lot of the time. But I have practices in place that helps me to diminish this anger towards others and this society we live in so I can turn towards light and love. And that’s no new-age woolly all nicey kind of love but this is a fierce, fighting self- love which is self-care and feeds my self-worth so it isn’t dependent on anyone else’s opinion or actions. It has to be.
So yes I missed a couple of days here and I’m not tracking back to fill them in as I might have done in the past. I’ve made this decision because I think and feel, and I don’t need anyone else’s opinion on this, that I was doing greater and better things this weekend.
Over the weekend, I attended a Wretched of the Earth gathering in London focusing on #climatejustice, billed as Building Our Power. This was a first for me to attend such an event; where I knew the majority of participants would be black, brown and indigenous people as well as gathered together to discuss the climate crisis. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited about the prospect as far too long I’ve been the only black face in the room when talking about the natural world, the environment and conservation.
The event didn’t disappoint. It was such an amazing and inspiring space to be part of as everything was being co-created; the values and actions, the tactics and strategies of the movement moving forward. What struck me and what I take away with me and move forward with is the way that the climate debate is framed within Western society is wrong and misleading. There has been growing concern for endangered species and the melting icecaps and how we can make a change through recycling and other such individual measures. Yet this narrative keeps hidden the major causes of climate change along with the pain and suffering that has been experienced for decades within the Global South because of such.
Climate Justice is about re-writing the narrative and exposing the inequalities and injustices that have been going on for the last 500 years through colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. This climate emergency cannot be divorced from other issues such as housing, crime, poverty and racism. we enjoy a privileged standard of living in the West because communities and people in the south suffer, be that through being used as cheap labour or have their homes and livelihoods decimated due to extractions industries and drought.
There is so much to be learned around these issues which I’m motivated to explore and share. The creative non-fiction memoir of mixed genres which I’ve been writing this year centres about a black woman’s body with/in nature, I envision to take on a more climate justice stance as I continue to champion how nature has helped me heal and how we, humanity, need to heal through our re-connection with nature.
In 2015, when the shit hit the fan, I had to change. My whole life was in tatters and I had to find a way to live again. But live on my own terms. Live true to my soul.
For decades I’d been on the production trail. Do do do. Produce produce produce. Because I’d eventually I’d get to the promised land. I’d be successful, famous and accepted.
What I know now from having to start over is that there is no end point. There’s only the journey. I’m in a constant state of becoming. Becoming a better version of myself. But I will never be complete or perfect because that state just doesn’t exist. It’s a fallacy we’re fed to keep us keeping on. The desire or promise keeps us working with our heads down, selling out our souls for very little rewards. We think we are living the life we want to live but really, we’re living the life ‘they’ want us to live. The system, that is.
Now, I’m happy with less. Happy to work small. Happy with little ripples I create because I know in my heart that this is the authentic me at work. I know now, what I do, I do from the heart. I do in service to others with no expectations or need for anything in return. Living my life on my terms is my reward. And that’s enough. I’m enough just being me.
I’ll be coming back to this topic again in future blog posts but for now let it be known that I started blogging because I’ve got a big heart that has to share.
Blogging called to me many years ago, like 2004 when I started the first website for a group I set up. Back then I saw the blog as a means of keeping an audience up to date with what we were getting up to. I saw it as a means of spreading the word and connecting with others. I suppose I still believe this is my reason for blogging now.
It also helps with writing practice, something I didn’t realise or appreciate until the words ran dry and it was because I stopped blogging. I stopped showing up for me, for believing in me and began to believe what others thought about me and my writing.
But that was wrong, as even when I knew no one was really reading my words, connecting with my thoughts and feelings, I still chose to share them in a public way in the hope that one day, someone out there is search of some words that could inspire them, touch them, change them stumbled upon my blog and it made all the difference to their moment, their day, their life.