wide open mouth
wide open mouth
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.
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.
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.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W. B. Yeats
“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
What we need is tear leaders, not cheer leaders. We need tear leaders to teach us how to mourn. – Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
— Jelaluddin Rumi
It’s been one hell of a week. And it isn’t over yet. I just feel exhausted, drained and a bit bruised and a battered with the world. Can I say the system?
No. I’ve stopped using these kind of non-descriptive terms along with the likes of ‘institutional racism’. As these are terms used to conceal the truth, to deflect attention away from the people who create racist policies and practices. Who act on their racists attitudes and ideas. Who internalise racism and reflect it outwards against others that look like them.
I’m so sick and tired of being made to feel grateful for the crumbs that are thrown my way. That I should shut up and put up and a smile sweetly if I’m invited to the table. That I shouldn’t rock the boat, that I should be shamed or struck by fear into silence. Smile sweetly and just nod my head.
I’ve played the game and helped others tick their boxes as at the time I believed it would bring about change. That once I’d convinced them of my humanity, explained my existence and displayed my intelligence and worth then they would have to listen to me and take me seriously.
I’m sick and tired of this being played out again and again. All I can do is speak up. All I can do is work hard to create opportunities and experiences that weren’t there before for others and myself.
All I can do is call out injustices and imbalances in power and access where I see them. To not stand on the sidelines bickering but creating change on my own terms to make society a more equitable place.
I’m no longer gonna allow others to be putting their labels, insecurities and lenses on me. I know what my intentions are and I know they come from my heart. And I’m not sure everyone can say that when we live in a world which celebrates the achievements of one over the many and rewards the ones who are amenable saying the words that others want to to hear rather than speak their truth.
Guilty was the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial for another bad apple. This is hardly justice if the murders of Black and People of Colour by the Police, through state sponsored terror continues. There needs to be more accountability, there needs to be a cutting down of the whole rotten tree, there needs to be a redistribution of power.
I’m so sick and tired of the infighting, of the lack of listening, of the personal agendas and vested interests. Why are we living as if everything is scarcity, therefore everyone’s in cut-throat competition. Instead of embracing the reality of abundance. There is more than enough to go around except a few insist on hoarding a majority share. If everyone was given the right conditions, their rightful share/ place/ space to thrive, we would each fulfil our own potential.
Just like nature displays. Just as she sets the example. Today on International Earth Day, I just wish more individuals connected with nature, and therefore themselves and each other. The most powerful energy is love. But too many people continue to feed and act on hate.
And I’m just sick and tired of this being the case.