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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Broken Wing

Walking back from the woods, I find you, a couple of spruce pine cones, squashed, into shapes that reminds me of a broken wing; feathers bent back at an awkward angle, tawny like an eagle or an owl.

My breath catches at the thought of death and destruction, of an imaginary bird, landlocked without the aid of one wing.

My heart somersaults at such a striking thought that’s followed quickly upon by feelings of blame lying at our feet.

Saving Lives

I could make excuses or just tell the truth.

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.

Launch Event

I was invited to the launch event of an exhibition bring the book Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane to life at the Sill this week. I’d seen the book and have admired the images, but I hadn’t spent much time with the text.

The premise is that generations of children are growing up not knowing the names of things in nature, or being able to recognise them. That this knowledge has slipped out of existence and this book was created as a way of recapturing the magic, bringing these lost words back to life. Such words and natural living things as bramble, conker and fern.

I had the most enjoyable evening talking to fellow visitors as well as hearing some of the spells within the book being read aloud. It was inspiring so much so that I intended to link into the idea of lost words, and lost worlds as I return this weekend to the Sill to facilitate a storytelling session about the multicultural communities from ether past who lived and worked around Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

Fern

Fern’s first form is furled,
Each frond fast as a fiddle-head.
Reach, roll and unfold follows.
Fern flares.
Now fern is fully fanned.

Robert MacFarlane

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.

Black and White Studies

Today I started a new project which I’ve been putting on the back burner. A project which @beyourownbeloved hosted by @viviennemcm helped me remember. I think I was spending too much time and energy on talking myself out of it instead on it. As Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, ‘You don’t need a permission slip to be an artist.’ #blackandwhitestudies #beyourownbeloved #selfportrait #selfportraitureasmedicine #blackartist #blackwomenrock #selfcare #selflove #selfcompassion #creativepractice #power

A Love Letter to the Sea

Oh my. I have missed you. My life. I didn’t know how much until I re-entered you again this morning at first light.

My soul began to hum again and then began to sing once more. I’d almost forgotten what she sounded like. I’d almost forgotten myself.

There was colour in my life but not technicolour; fizzy, vibrate reds and oranges and yellows and turquoise. These singing colours have been missing until this morning. Thank you.

I do feel cleansed and purified and detoxed and lighter. My skin is stinging. My feet are tingling. I might well lose the sensation in my toes but it was worth it to get back together with you.

You hold me captive but not against my will. You just keep coming at me. Light upon a crest of a wave. A constant. Washing a little bit more of me with each cold, cold caress. Until I can take no more. And I don’t mean I leave you. No. It means I need more of you, all of you. All over me. So I sink down and take you in, all over me. The pain and pleasure mingle together to escape into a deep guttural sigh. Relief and release. Joy definitely.

But also a sacredness which colours me with grace and gratitude and love.

I’ve never through of us together as a spiritual experience. But this is the most holiest of communions for me. Nothing else compares to this, not even sex.

Here I can take you whenever I want or need. But this is not possession. There is no possession of you because you are wild and free. What it is is a surrender. Almost like praying. An appreciation and inspiration. A giving of thanks. An admiration. You are so beautiful to be with. With your dark seeping liquid, this morning like mercury, tomorrow maybe like glass.

You fill me up with love and goodness and joy. And it’s the kind of love, I want to share. It’s the kind of love from which patience and compassion flows freely. There are no obstacles, boulders in its path. It gushes this love. At times like a geyser and at others like a waterfall. Never ending, always flowing from source to sea.

Or should I say seas as you are never the same sea twice. And for which I am in awe as well as in deep appreciation.

I know I depend on you but I never knew how much until now. Until this moment. This time I come to you bruised and wounded and scared and without hope.You have renewed my hope. You have blessed me with you just being you.

I planned to be with you this morning and I made it happen. But you did all the work that needed to be done almost effortlessly. You made me whole again. You healed me. Thank you.

Happy New Year – 2020 – Power to the People

I meant to get here earlier but after a late night, my new year has started slowly. But I’m not complaining, as I strongly believe in slow and steady. It’s how I run all my marathons and how I win them. Win them meaning finishing in one piece. I’m always competing against myself, winning this race called life daily as I become closer and closer to my true self. Daily as I choose me over anyone else. It’s not a natural practice as society isn’t set up to take care of number one. We’re taught this behaviour is selfish and are made to feel guilty if we for a moment decide to put ourselves first in the workplace, in a relationship, in our own lives.

I’ve been on this path for nearly five years now of cultivating self-love, self-care and authenticity. What’s supported me through this process has been choosing a word for the year. A word or concept that I have drawn upon to guide me along this path.

2015 – Voice. 2016 – Water. 2017 – Practice. 2018 – Shakti. 2019 – Love.

I feel all these words have complimented and build upon each other, to the point of reaching 2020 and my word of the year being a natural projection of all that has gone before. All that I’m becoming.

POWER is my word of 2020. Stepping into my power. Taking back my power. Living my power. This is the focus of 2020.

I can’t wait to see feel and experience everything that unfolds. But I’m not rushing anything. Slow and steady wins my race.

Happy New Year everyone. 2020, here we come.

The Healing Properties of the Sea

My task today is to write a love letter to the body of water that has sustained me, healed me, and nurtured me.

This has to be the North Sea as it has been on my doorstep for decades, even if, I’ve just come to appreciate it more in last 10 years.

A couple of years ago, I came up with the title, ‘The Healing Properties of the Seas‘ for a project involving water. It was basically 10 second videos of bodies of water. On a website for everyone to enjoy. Accompanying this would be a symposium, interviews with me talking to other people about their connection to water etc. There would be an open submission for people around the world to share their 10 second clips of bodies of water.

I have hundreds of 10 second clicks of the North Sea and other waters and I feel I don’t appreciate water enough. The planet’s water enough. I’m fixing to change this and hopefully get, ‘The Healing Properties of Water‘, off the ground. Are you with me?

Longsands, Tynemouth, UK