Rest and Creativity

After a really busy November, I was looking forward to a quiet December. It has been a slower pace to last month, but there has still been deadlines and events that I’ve needed to prepare for and attend and reflect on.

So past mid-December already, and I just feel as if I can slow down again now. But I say this but I must have been resting in some kind of way because I went back to my art journaling practice yesterday.

My art journal practice is different to my visual journaling practice only in the fact that I use fewer words and these Black women always seem to show up in the midst of the page somehow.

Here we have another one, who showed up yesterday out of the darkness that was developing on the page. And isn’t she delightful. She’s got a twinkle in her eye and a wish in her heart.

To be in the studio yesterday, playing on the page, I even completing a handmade zine which will be on display in the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, was a joy and much needed. As it signalled to me that I’m back to listening within. That I’m back to creating for me and just for the hell of it. That I’m coming home.

Thank you, Sheree. Now continue to rest. And create.

Studio Notes Are Back

I sent out a Studios Note today.

I’m not sure when the last one was. I can’t even say I’ve been on a hiatus or even a sabbatical. I just haven’t been communicating all that well with the people who want to hear from me.

I think I’ve been wasting my time and energy trying to communicate with people who don’t give a flying fuck about me and what I have to say.

So things are changing around here. Well not really around here, more so with social media and pouring my time and energy into a black hole.

The first of November marks the return of Studio Notes which will be hitting your in boxes every month from now on. So if you’re not on the list, get thee here and sign up.

I have a plan you see. I have a topic or issue I’ll be addressing each month. As you might have guessed, this month was all about my imminent departure from social media.

Here’s a snippet of my justification for leaving:

Social Media doesn’t make me a nice person to myself.

I become resentful. I compare myself to others. And I criticise myself for not doing enough, not sharing enough. I want to be authentic and honest on social media but sometimes I have to ask what is the truth and am I just performing on their for likes and comments and followers?

And most of the time, it’s just all overwhelming.

I know when I’ve had my breaks from social media, I’m calmer, more satisfied with my life and more centred.

It’s quieter and in the quiet I can hear myself better, clearer.

And more importantly, I create. I create more and create more without fear. Without worry or doubt or judgement

I’m interested in knowing and feeling what I could create when I’m not distracted by social media. When I’m not constrained by social media.”

I hope to hang out a lot more here come 2022. I hope to see you here too. Thanks for being here.

January Tarot Card – The Pilgrim

The Pilgrim goes on a journey. An outward journey, usually on foot, which mirrors an internal journey at the same time.

January has started slowly, just the way I wanted and needed it to be. I’m listening to what I need and I need more time and space hibernating, or wintering as I call it. I’m taking a slow walking journey within for the next few months which means I might not be showing up here as often as I’d like or want. But this pilgrimage towards my soul is needed. It’s needed to replenish as well as heal me.

December Reading

I was hoping to finish for a Christmas break sooner in December than I actually did. I wanted to ease into the holidays, getting snug and cosy and reading to my heart’s content. Of course even the best laid plans go awry. But I still managed to clock up some reads, as I got ready for 2021. What is going to be my focus the new year? I think there’s some clues within my December reading list.

Here are the books I read this month:

  1. Black Bodies, White Gaze – George Yancy
  2. Keep Going – Austin Kleon
  3. Creatrix – she who makes – Lucy H. Pearce
  4. Slow: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Hectic World – Jo Peters
  5. The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
  6. The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton

Recipe: Oven Roasted Potatoes

Today I thought I’d share something that I cooked. As I mentioned before, I’m a vegan and I receive emails from Vegan Bowls by Coconut Bowls weekly. This little beauty, Oven Roasted Breakfast Potatoes was in my inbox today and I just had to try it. Delicious comfort food is always a hit wirh me especially when it’s cold outside.

Recipe by @eatwithclarity

Ingredients
5 cups chopped red or yukon gold potatoes (about 4–5 medium potatoes)
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
Black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley, for garnishing

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chop the potatoes, onion, and pepper into small pieces and add to a large bowl.
Toss with the olive oil and minced garlic until everything is well coated.
Add in the spices, salt, and black pepper and mix until well incorporated.
Add to a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. You shouldn’t need to grease the baking dish since the potatoes are all oiled up!
After 25 minutes, turn up the heat to 425 and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to help brown the potatoes. You’ll know they’re done when they can be easily pierced with a fork.
Serve with ketchup, additional salt and pepper, salad, or any other brunch eats!

January Reading

I didn’t set out into 2020 with a reading goal. I didn’t set any numbers but I did say I wanted to read more. Vague I know. And not the ‘proper’ way to set goals that you want to succeed at but at the time it was enough for me. And it’s been working.

January saw me curled up with actual books and the iPad sporting the kindle a lot more times than I felt I did at the back end of 2019. Could I say the whole of 2019? I’m not sure. Maybe my memory fails me here.

But the reading habit, the muscle memory of turning off all distractions and getting lost in a good book, fiction, non-fiction even poetry, seems weak in relation to the last couple of years to be honest.

Hopefully, with January now behind us, I can say that the drought is over as I hurtled through a number of books this month. I’m pretty proud of my numbers but also about how expanded I feel in terms of ideas and language and joy. The joy of reading has paid a long overdue visit and I want it to continue. So look forward to a monthly round up of books read each month. You might even find a book you’re interested in reading along the way.

I’ll list the books read and then give a review or details about just one of the books, as if I did it for all of them read this month, we’ll be here all day and come on, it’s the weekend.

Completed January books include:

1. Eat and Run- My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness – Scott Jurek ( started in December and completed at the beginning of January)

2. Turned Out Nice AgainOne Living with the Weather– Richard Mabey

3. Heavenfield – LJ Ross

4. Angel – LJ Ross

5. High Force – LJ Ross

6. Cragside – LJ Ross

7. Dark Skies – LJ Ross

8. Seven Bridges – LJ Ross

Ongoing January reading include;

1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley

2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham

4. Blogging Basics For Authors – Nina Amir

Book review in the next post. Thanks.

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.

Do you wanna know a secret?

Do you wanna know a secret?

Yes I thought that might get your attention. I’m willing to share my dirty little secret if you’re willing to listen?

Okay. Here goes.

I love Nordic Noir. There. It’s out now and I feel a whole heap better.

When I want to chill and relax and switch off, I switch on a Scandinavian crime drama or pick up a novel in the same genre.

There’s something about the landscapes that act as a backdrop for the crime, usually a grizzly murder, that holds my attention and enchants me. I know. Sick right! All these people getting bumped off and there’s blood and guts everywhere and I’m mesmerised by the ice and snow and the mountains that set the scene.

This genre is quality storytelling as well and solid characterisation and suspense and tension too.

I can binge watch a whole series or read a whole book in a evening ( and into early morning) when I get into a certain groove and I’m not ashamed to tell you. At the moment I’ve been making my way through Walter Presents series on All 4. Last night was Rebecka Martinsson: Arctic Murders. A Stockholm lawyer who returns to her hometown after a childhood friend’s death. And isn’t her home town remote, icy and full is lakes and mountains? Beautiful.

I know it’s pure escapism but from time to time it’s good for me, or anyone really, to suspend reality and slip into another, usually distant from the norm, world. I do believe it supports me in my day to day living and striving and thriving. A little sanctuary of make believe. I highly recommend it, I do.

Art Journal Play

When things get overwhelming, I take to colour. I think this is the reason I love Autumn so much. The myriad of colours; crimson, pumpkin, golden and umber. See what I did there? I elevated my vocabulary as sometimes I can be lazy and just use the obvious.

Anyhow. Back to the colour fields. Playing with colour fills my pot. Shifts my energy. And makes me happy. A simple task but well worth the effort.

Lately, I’ve started new journals. Square journals. Altered books. Notebooks. Any blank page I can fill with colour I will. I share some of the results here to inspire you to play. To let go and just lose yourself in the process. Forget the result. Forget perfection. And surrender to the joy of play.