Discovering New Landscapes

‘i said to trauma,
“i am so much more than you.” ‘ – Kai Chen’s Thom, I Hope We Choose Love

The final prompt last night in Honouring Our Wholeness with @olwen.wilson had us wondering about what seeds we could plant if we consider how we are so much more than our trauma.
This is what I created. ‘Discovering New Landscapes.’ Trauma is a very familiar territory for me. I’ve been carrying around these fragmented pieces of land in my body for years ever since I was 9 years old and my dad died of leukaemia. Then my sister died. Then my mum died. One traumatic experience after another builds up layers of scar tissue, thick and hardening, from the bones out. Me thinking I can protect myself from pain hiding within the rolls of fat around my body. My whole body is a landscape of accumulated pain, suffering, abuse, self-abuse, rejection, hate and cruelty. And yet, last night in this gathering of women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, I traced golden lines around my trauma. I remembered my mother and her body, like the pomegranate, full of seeds, but who’s garnet juice ran out as she miscarried after having me, which reminded me of my miscarriage before Miss Ella came along. But from these seeds within and without, new life, new power can be nurtured and brought to fruition. New landscapes of grasses and wild flowers can be tended. In time. In space. In body and mind and soul.

Honouring Our Wholeness

Consider this. You might have an idea that takes seed, but as it grows and develops it blossoms into something amazing which you could never envision when you started.  One such seed, which was planted way back in June 2018 during the Iceland Creative Retreat with Olwen Wilson, is finally coming to fruition today.

Honouring Our Wholeness , hosted by Olwen Wilson and myself is a self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour.  This is time away from the busyness of our lives to create in community within a space where we are recognised, safe and nourished. We will take inspiration from our connections with nature and ourselves. 

Imagine really being seen, heard and acknowledged!

Over a six-week period, we plan to meet on Zoom on Sundays, April 18, May 2 and end on May 16, 2021, from 1 – 4 pm ET/10 am – 1 pm PT/6 – 9 pm GMT.

During each three-hour session, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to play in our visual journals to really dig into the joy of creating for ourselves. Visual journaling is a simple but effective practice which has seen me through so many ups and downs and life experiences. And I’m so excited to be sharing this practice with Olwen through this offering. 

Both, Olwen and I have immense experience of expressing our thoughts and feelings through our visual journaling practice. Reaping the benefits of listening to and observing our interior worlds and environments around us. But the power and wisdom of this practice we can’t keep to ourselves as we constantly share our joy of visually journalling with others through workshops, retreats and social media.

Anyway, I’ve said enough. Head in over to the Honouring Our Wholeness information page where there’s further details and how to apply. We’re accepting applications right the way through to 26 March 2021.

How much is this going to cost you?

Honouring Our Wholeness , a virtual retreat specially created to provide an empowering and rejuvenating space for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour is a unique offering which comes with a unique price tag.

Price for participants – £0/ $0 ( Thanks to funding).

Olwen and I do hope you’ll join us.

Apply Now

Honouring Our Wholeness

A self-care visual journaling retreat for women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Colour.

Hosted by Sheree Angela Matthews and Olwen Wilson

Sundays, April 18, May 2 & May 16, 2021

1 – 4 pm ET, 10 am – 1 pm PT, 6 – 9 GMT

Your participation is requested for all three dates.

Cost: Free

Let’s explore our connection and relationship with nature and ourselves together.

Apply Now

Update – NaNoWriMo 2020

The first two weeks of November have come and gone. Fast.

The first week was all about conversations with people around the globe. And all of them seemed urgent and necessary. So I gave them my all. So that going into the second week, I had to think about my boundaries and start to control the conversations. Work more to my schedule and energy levels and needs rather than others.

The second week of November was no less demanding, as I had to plan a number of differences workshops that were/ are coming up. So this week has definitely been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to keep the shop front neat, sort of thing.

So my energy levels and attention spans have been up and down already this month and this has affected the time and attention and care I could offer up to my memoir.

Two weeks in then to the NaNoWriMo challenge and nearly 20000 words down. And considering all that I’ve just shared about November so far, I’m pretty pleased with the word count. Ideally, it would be good to be at 25000 as it is the half-way mark, but it is what it is. And it’s 20000 more words than I would have created if I’d not taken up this challenge. Win win I say.

I might not clock up as many words in the second half of the month as I move into editing mode. But we’ll see. The aim is to complete the current essay around grief as well as complete another essay about slavery, DNA and my body. So plenty tochall be getting on with and hopefully I’ve got a better handle on my diary as we enter the second half of the month.

NaNoWriMo 2020

2020. I’m biting the bullet. October was billed as a creative retreat at home earmarked for me to get back into my mixed genre memoir writing. It didn’t go to plan and I found myself connecting more with the outside world and other people than I cared to really do. So this month of November, I’m taking back my time and space to focus on my creative endeavours.

I’ll continue reading a poetry book a day and writing a poem from the inspiration. But I’m steeping up my writing by taking part in the month long challenge of writing a novel, NaNoWriMo.org
it’s been a few years since I’ve taken on this challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days but I feel I just need this accountability and energy this challenge brings to get my out of my no writing rut.

And I have already felt it’s benefits as I am 5000 word done. It’s amazing what can be done once you get your arse in the seat, turn up and write. Keep tuning in to see how I get on.

The Healing Threshold

I’m stuck within

the healing threshold

drowning in grief.

Too stubborn

to turn back,

too tired 

to move on.

Sacred scars

raised, I lick

to quench

a November thirst.

Navigation bleak

across the silken 

land to peace.

Sister moon,

give me your light;

a blister in this bitter air,

as once again

with head down

and heart up,

I set forth

into becoming adrift.

Reading and Writing, Writing and Reading

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.

March Reading

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

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.

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.