Hello and welcome. Displayed here are a selection of artworks, photographs, mixed-media and collages created by Sheree Angela Matthews; artist + teacher + creativity enthusiast. Visit the store to find out how to buy.
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.
“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
‘It’s hard to be calm in a world made for whiteness. ‘ Austin Channing Brown
My last post, Black Fatigue, was written in a moment of anger, hence all the mistakes. Not mistakes in the argument or feelings but in the spellings and grammar. But I make no apologies. Sometimes it’s good for the soul, or good for me to let the anger out that I’m carrying around, moment to moment, daily.
It’s probably one of the rare occasions, I’ve allowed myself to vent as I have learned through years and experiences being an angry Black woman gets me nowhere. But the flip side, where has being an amicable and amenable Black woman got me? Probably well down the road of mental health issues and questionable wellbeing.
A week on, and I’m still sick and tired of the things playing out in my life as I move through this world in the body of a Black woman but still not recognised or treated as a fellow human being. I could even say that things have gotten worse as with time, more slights and ignorance and lack of awareness of their actions and inactions accumulate. Continue to accumulate as I get older but also as I attempt and fight to be met eye to eye with others as a human being deserving of living and striving within this world.
I oscillate between exhaustion and anger. Being depleted and fired up. And the worse thing of all is those that cause this suffering are oblivious to it. And even when I take the time and energy to point it out to them, how their actions are being unfair, unjust, unreasonable, and not seeing the situation in it’s totality they get on the defensive, do not engage with the issue, but deflect it away with comments like, ‘ I won’t engage with you when you’re being so aggressive.’
I stand by my post Black Fatigue. I just wish I’d mentioned emotional labour too. I can see now, as I reach 50 years old this year, that I have spent my lifetime trying to fit in. That means trying to be white. That is the only way to be let / given an inch in this game/ society/ life. I’m expected to be white because this is the cultural way of being. White people believe being white is right and good. Anything ‘other’ is wrong and should do everything right to become more white.
Now as I continue to question this standard, the way of operating in society, in the world, I’m going to become more and more angry and exhausted because I’m constantly being judged for being a Black female in a world made for whiteness. Everywhere I turn, in the street, on social media, on the TV, my self-esteem is being chipped away while living with the disparities in job opportunities, health care, education, and in the justice system. And I’m supposed to be happy and grateful when someone white talks about diversity and offers a crumb as if it’s taking a risk. And then if I have the audacity to ask for more, there’s tears.
I’ve taken a break from social media as I was falling into the comparison spiral trap as well as putting pressure on myself to produce. But I see now what I was doing was performing. This is my pain and this is my joy. I was striving for the viewer, for you, to see me, treat me, like a fellow human being. It appears it’s the only dance I know. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be white at the same time as trying to convince/explain/ argue that I’m worthy, that I’m a fully functioning and feeling human being who deserves to be here for your discarded crumb. Fuck that for a game of soldiers.
I’m taking back control and my power so I can control my rage. Not to protect others but myself. I’ve got to make sure now that my anger doesn’t destroy me. I’m putting in emotional labour with me, for me now.
Can you feel it? Change in the air. A change in the energy; the undercurrent. I can feel it. I feel a quickening in my blood, as I move out of wintering, slow still. But I feel a rising in my energy levels along with my excitement that accompanies it.
Spring is on the horizon. The days are getting longer. The light is coming back. And it feels so good. Because I’ve journeyed through the dark months and I’m still here. And I’m not trying to be dramatic but this last year, since we as a family went into self-isolation due to the Coronavirus, was not foreseen. When I was dreaming and making plans for 2020, being in lockdown was not on the agenda. The best laid plans went to the wall and a deep saddening grief followed.
I have a lot to be grateful for over this past year, the past few months, today. I’ve been practicing leaning in more to gratitude because it supports me in realising that my life is blessed on so many ways.
Now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on the horizon, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been able to have due to the pandemic. If it wasn’t for lockdown her in the U.K., I wouldn’t have experienced that there is another way of working a s being in this world which doesn’t have to be rushing about, producing something, everything, every minute of the day. I’m grateful for being able to slow down and enjoy my life more, deeper.
I’m grateful for all the old and new people I’ve met up with this hear. I’ve been able to attend so many cool and important events around the world from the comfort of my own home, this year. This has been nurturing a s inspiring.
Right now, today, I’m grateful to still have my health. Yes I keep beating on my body with negative self-talk, but today that stops because I’m alive still, and well and able to continue living the way I want to live and how I live.
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).
I find this card difficult to read. I think it is a warning towards becoming narcissistic as well as falling into the comparison tap. This month I returned to social media and I wonder if it was for the right reasons. I must say I’ve been happier without it. We may look into a mirror and see ourselves, but we can also look at others and see ourselves reflected back and maybe not like what we see there. There’s being honest with ourselves as well as distorting the image. The mirror is all about self-perception and this can be a construct. This image is a shard of a mirror, a portion which can become a trickster if allowed to gain purchase between me and my true self.
In the poem by Juan Jimenez, ‘I am not I’, the translation reads,
I am not I. I am this one walking beside me whom I do not see, whom at times I manage to visit, and whom at other times I forget;
I attempt to remember myself, commune with myself, the one inside through my creativity. The words and images I work with each day are my practice of holding up the mirror as well as letting it fall, and not relying to heavily on what I see or others see, but on what I feel, and hear when I pay attention and listen within.
I appreciate this card’s appearance more now than before because we all need these checks and balance to stay on our own path.
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.