A Gratitude List

“My blessings always overflow.” Abiola Abrams

  1. I’m grateful for time away alone in a VW Camper. A dream come true.
  2. I’m grateful for the Autumn light on the mountains in the distance.
  3. I’m grateful for the sound of the sea shhhing me to stillness.
  4. I’m grateful for my babies being well and happy.
  5. I’m grateful for the people who come and go in my life.
  6. I’m grateful for protected boundaries.
  7. I’m grateful for money in the bank.
  8. I’m grateful for projects coming to an end, successfully.
  9. I’m grateful for the hot sweet potato and pumpkin soup.
  10. I’m grateful for the grey heron who’s hunting for fish just in my sightline.

Sticky sparks

when the wind moves                    

between the seasons                                     on a moonlit night

there’s just enough       space                       for you        to lie down 

too narrow rooms and too narrow 

                                           thoughts 

keep you trapped beneath       glass      

ground      you     ( like a freak of …)

it draws blood from your hips to stay

everything in this world                           you’ve touched                                       you’ve tried to love 

yet your sticky sparks                    dare 

anyone to come close

running free

Climbing trees, juicy mangoes

pliant flesh and ashy elbows

to be running free through the long grass

and burrs sticking to legs, gaze widening

no thought for shiny brown skin

causing hate, no thought for others

just green

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing.

I might have disrupted the page already with paint, or marks or collage. But this was done to eradicate the blank page. And this was done with that one purpose in mind and then left to see another day.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m going to do. Will I make a mark with paint, pencil, piece of paper, what? I just know I need to start.

I might want to cover the white spaces. I’m drawn to colour. So using colour excites me. So I drop a dollop of paint, red maybe and then I know I need to move it across the page. But how? Finger, card, roller? Each brings a different texture to the page, each brings a different coverage to the page.

So now I’ve started but still I have no idea what I’m doing or where this piece is going. But I start responding to the mark that has just gone before. What do I need to do next to work with this last mark or interruption? What would speak with it? What would speak against it?

If I have no idea, that I pick up a pencil and allow my hand to loosely move it over the page, making circular marks. This gives me a moment to think, to look at the page and see what is missing, what is needed.

But when I say thinking, I don’t mean conscious, logical thinking. Let’s call it musing or dreaming instead. As my mind is empty when I’m in the creative process. The outside world falls away. My cares and worries fall away. I’m just focusing on the page in front of me. And not in a concentrating way, or a hard stare kind of way. Just like my hand is holding that pencil, in a loose kind of way.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing. But I’m listening. Being attentive to what the page, the piece now coming together wants from me, wants next. One mark, then the next, communicating to each other and then the next.

At some points in the process, I’m up close, working on just one corner of the page. At other times, I take a step back and allow other parts of the page to come into my line of vision. At some points, I fall in love with just a section of the whole. I give it some care and attention. I bring it up and out further. I make it sing, because in the process, I sing through it too.

At this point, the rest of the page needs, deserves this care and attention so I start listening elsewhere. Keep coming back to the places I love and savouring their presence.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing but being open to the dance of possibilities. I make myself vulnerable to the process as I feel this it the only way I can move forward with the process.

I come with no expectations, no desires to make pretty art.

I come to the page to feel and express.

Walking In Search of Purple

I’ve started again. I think it happened a couple of weeks ago now. But I’ve started walking out and searching for the colour purple again. I first started this last year during lockdown, when I would take a daily walk, but walk with intention. My intention was to search out purple, usually purple flowers, pause give thanks and snap a photo.

As Alice Walker write in The Color Purple “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

Walking is a meditation. Like breathing. When I walk my footsteps fall into a rhythm with my breathing. I always feel better after a walk. During the troubling times of the Coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter uprisings around the world, I’ve been searching for purple, more often than not. Does that mean I’m been looking for God? Looking for the reason maybe for all this suffering? But maybe there’s isn’t any reasoning for everything that’s happening. Maybe it’s just a case that this is how things are in the natural scheme of things. How it’s always has been and will be? That’s there’s meanness in the world and suffering and pain as well as beauty.

As more and more in society reopens after lockdown, and more and more people are making demands on my time and attention, I’ve slipped back into walking and searching for purple. And I think this is not to just fill my creative pot with joy, but also to makes sure I keep moving through this world at my own pace. Slowly. And when I lean into taking things slowly, doing things at my own pace, I know I’m in control of everything that is happening in my life.

It’s me taking back me power. And I think that’s what purple symbolises for me. As a colour, for centuries it has been associated with power. Not just regal power, but also because it was so expensive to make, purple was only worn by the select few, the echelons of society.

To be empowered from the inside out is real power for me. Power isn’t how much money or status you have in society. For me, it’s how much you value your own worth, protect your boundaries, lean into what makes you feel happy, what brings you joy and continue to relight your creative fire.

This is power to me. This is purple.

Honouring My Wholeness

It’s nearly been a couple of weeks now since we, Olwen Wilson and myself, completed facilitating our online visual journaling retreat called Honouring Our Wholeness. For three sessions spread over six weeks, we created space for a self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour.

This was a unique and well-needed safe space for us to come together and just be. To let down our loads and know that we weren’t going to be judged but held. It was such a nourishing and nurturing space that without it, I feel a bit remiss. This space came along at the right time when I needed to take things slow and lean back into my visual journaling practice. What I need now is to remember what I learned from this experience and continue the journey; this healing journey I’ve been on for over six years now.

Six years ago, I started my visual journaling practice through a virtual course run by Lisa Sonora called Dreaming on Paper, at that point. It came into my life when I needed to explore my voice. When I needed time and space to get in touch, probably for the first time, with my true self. It provided me with an anchor when everything around me was disappearing, had been destroyed. Visual journaling kept me afloat, when I could have easily drown.

These are the things I need to remember when I do get a bit lost because of outside demands, or when I’m being far too critical on my own arse. Self-compassion. self-care and self-love are waiting for me when I open my journal and just play. Just try. Just turn up for me.

It was such an honour to be gather with these beautiful and generous people during Honouring Our Wholeness because that’s what we did for each other and ourselves, we showed up and offered ourselves compassion, care, grace and love.

All I can say now is MORE. I WANT MORE.