“In my longing for depth I have been re-rooting in the earth, in myself and my creativity, in my community, in my spiritual practices, honing in on work that is not only meaningful but feels joyful, listening with less and less judgment to the ideas and efforts of others, having visions that are long term.” Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy
A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.
Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.
Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.
So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.
What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.
This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.
The clouds are stretched across the blue sky. The light is bright and it’s a welcomed gift as we enter the month of October. And with the season changing, I make a renewed effort to get out each day and enjoy the outdoors more. This is my favourite of year as well as my birth month. And although things are still up in the air in relation to the coronavirus and BLM and a multitude of natural disasters around the world, there are still blessings to be experienced and be grateful for. One blessing being able to walk outside my front door and be greeted by nature every day, no matter what the weather.
With the leaves turning shades and the air becoming crisp and sharp, I’m going to take this opportunity to deepen my connection with nature, with others and more importantly myself.
Over on Instagram, I’ve accepted the invitation from a friend to take part in #aseasonedconnection for the month of October where we share our relationship with nature in images and words. There are no rules accept connecting with nature, ourselves and each other. You’re more than welcome to join. And enjoy the coming season.
I’ve started, so I’ll finish. My thoughts when I think about coming here to record my readings for last month; June. This is the only way I’m keeping track of what I’m reading in terms of books, and when I started I felt it would be a worthwhile pursuit. Something to look back at, at the end of the year, and be proud at the achievement. At the fact of reading so many books. I didn’t set a target I don’t think. But forgive if I’m wrong as January feels so far away now. And thank God for this practice as I can’t remember what I read back then. Or even last month if I think about it. Hence being here now, before any more days of July rolls by and I haven’t marked down what books I read in June.
So here is the list of completed reads. And I’ve got so many other books on the go at the moment that I won’t be able to share them all, but I’ll share a smattering of them to give you an idea. There have been times when it’s been difficult to concentrate on a long read. I’d read a chapter and then skip off to do something else, or read something else. Concentration and focus have been elusive. I think that’s where poetry collections come into play. Quick and easy and brief.
Books read this month:
1. Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful by Alice Walker
2. Mama Amazonica by Pascal Petit
3. Between the Islands by Philip Gross
4. Hare Soup by Dorothy Molloy
5. Ledger by Jane Hirshfield
6. Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
7. The Creative Doer by Anna Lovid
Books in progress this month:
1. Overstory by Richard Powers
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
3. Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
4. The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare
5. Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
6. Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist
Their influence upon me was unacknowledged.
A light touch, with the hint of lemon,
at times translucent like a petal.
It was only when someone pointed out
a cluster of her words and his images
sprouting between mine
that I made the connection, that I caught
their dark shadows napping within my lines.
I had to apologise as I went about pulling
them out by the roots , laying out new foundations
in order to breath life into my own creations
growing from my gut to my heart to my hand.
a spongy carpet;
clusters of green stars
amongst cotton grass
big rosemary and cranberry.
Curlew, Steng Moss Bog
peatland upland graasland.
blue stockinged long long legs
wading curved bill down.
I miss the air
against my skin
flicking hair impressions.
before they breed
the male bubbles a call
high pitched across the greyish mist.
threatened they skim
mudflats and dig for shrimp.
this closeness to nature
of cream of buff
of feather is like love
being ripped out
from the roots and fashioned
to fit the narrow folds of life,
yet still being golden and wild.
1. My DryRobe – This is a must have for when I’m going on a sea visit. I just slip my cossie on underneath and I’m out the door. Sometimes if the sea is far out, I’ll wear this robe right up to the shoreline, snuggled into the furry lining, soaking up the last few ounces of warmth before I throw it off and dive into the cold North Sea. And then I know it’s waiting for me when I come out, to soak up the wet and keep off the wind and rain and get me all warmed up. This was a gift to me from me and it just keeps giving. I love my DryRobe hugs.
2. My footed mug. – It was a special red, hand planted one with birds from Anthropologie but I broke it the other day. I was mighty upset. Making do with this little beauty from Tesco’s for now. But hot coffee on repeat. Just the ritual of making it, popping the kettle, rinsing out the cafeteria and putting in two scoops of decaf coffee and pouring the water on and allowing it to brew. The smell in the kitchen, the rising steam. Small simple pleasures.
3. My turquoise plush blanket. – When I left my last teaching job they brought me a gift voucher for Debenhams as a goodbye gift. I took it, I think £30, and bought this comfort blanket as it was a luxury item and I felt I’d just gone through a few months of hell teaching full-time and deserved a little treat in my life. This blanket is super cosy and has been my hygge go to ever since then.
4. Books and more books. – Growing up I used to hoard books. I used to buy them thinking by just having them in my possession I would be intelligent and knowledgable. I now know I have to read the books to gain their insight and message. And this is what I love to do. Anywhere really. Sitting room, bedroom, the bath is a favourite. And I love my physical books but hells bells if I’m going somewhere and packing is tight, then Kindle books will do for me. I just get lost in books, and inspired and cheered up.
5. Paper and pens – Yes I like my fancy journals and fountain pens. But when it comes down to it, just give me any scrap of paper and a pencil and I’m happy. I can then create. Lists are my go to in times of trouble or doubt. If I can brain dump whatever I’m carrying around in my head and body onto that paper, I feel better in the process. I can get things organised, I can let down my load and walk away feeling lighter, calmer and happier.
What is your Bliss List for April? Give me 5 items or more. just follow your bliss and see what you come up with. What makes you happy? What makes you glow from the inside out?
I missed the checkpoint. I’ve been so focused on posting here daily, and sometimes twice a day, or today three times, that I missed the 100 day/ posts achievement. Isn’t that usually the case though? Too busy doing the thing / reaching for the goal that we miss the opportunity of celebrating the achievement of success when we do so. Typical.
Here I give time and space to acknowledging the achievement. Well done Sheree, good effort. Take a pause and savour this moment …
Yes I know 100 days are not up yet. That’s going to be April 7th. 100 days from Jan 1st. But I’ve hit the mark of 100 postings and then some a couple of days ago.
In the past, I took on the challenge of posting something creative everyday on my blog, Everyday Creativity, it was called. I’m not sure how I managed it then as 365 days seems such a long time. But managed it I did as I saw it as practice as well as accountability. Taking up this challenge this year, has reminded me of how much can be gained from staying committed and consistent with creativity daily.
I’ve already mentioned here that I intend to continue blogging for another 100 days as I’ve just gotten started really. Just finding my stride as I’m interested to see what happens next, where does this space go next? And what will this challenge do for my practice? Even though, we’re in lockdown in the U.K. I’m finding that there is plenty to keep me busy in doors as I take on a number of creative challenges for the month of April. Looking forward to sharing the progress here with you. So here’s to the next 100 postings and thanks for coming along for the ride.
March has come to an end. Even though it’s felt like the longest month from hell, someone on twitter mentioned 36 years and 9 months in length, my reading hasn’t been as steady as I’d like.
Please excuse me if my mind has been otherwise occupied. If news bulletins and articles and live updates were in book form then this month I would have consumed thousands of volumes as I seemed to have taken up residence at The Guardian news website. It is constantly on refresh. I’m taking care of myself though by having days when I do not consume the news, I stay away from social media and literally inhale positive, feel good art and literature and music. I highly recommend it during these troubling times. anyway, on to what I have read.
Completed March readings include:
1. Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, poems by Jake Skeets
2. Swims by Elizabeth Jane Burnett
3. There are more beautiful things than Beyonce by Morgan Parker
4. Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson
5. Splinters are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson
6. Life without Diabetes – Roy Taylor
7. Fleshing Out the Narrative – Marielle S. Smith
Ongoing March reading include;
1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley
2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham
4. Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols
5. The Northumbrians by Dan Jackson
6. 8 Master Lessons of Nature – by Gary Ferguson