Today me!

When I consider where I was this time last year, I was knee deep in hospital visits and worry. My daughter was in hospital fighting an unknown infection, not getting any better. The hospital had reintroduced one parent one patient rule. I thought it best for her father to stay in hospital with her instead of me. I wasn’t coping well within a system set up to ignore the Black body.

I also wasn’t prepared to handle her father’s anxieties and worries if he wasn’t by her side. It also made sense as I had the car so I could come and go and bring in what was needed. Everything was centred towards my daughter getting better. It was like time stood still and all other things paled into insignificance. It helped me sort out my priorities.

Thinking about where I want to be a year from now, I want to be in a better relationship with my body. Yes, lost weight but more so made peace with her. I want to be knee deep in self-love and no longer considering or settling for being second best. I’ll no longer be satisfied with accepting someone else’s scraps. I know my worth and do not accept anything less

I’m in a state of constantly becoming and at the heart of this journey is my own healing and well-being. I’ve got a toolkit of practices which I use to support my health and well-being and protect my mental and emotional health also.

I might be dating and I might not. But that isn’t my life or will be taking over my life. I am my life and what I choose to be and do is my life.

A year from now, I’ve also completed a major writing project which I’m super proud of. I’m ready to launch it into the world and accept the increased exposure it will bring. Good or bad. Because I am in a secure, loving and trustful relationship with myself.

I am invincible. I am awesome. I am me.

Shine

i had too much

shine

for you not

to want

to take

a piece

it’s a shame

you continue

to take it

once you

are gone

Going it alone

Lensa AI

Getting into the Christmas spirit, I’ve been meeting up with friends for eats and drinks these past couple of weeks. I’ve been enjoying my time going out, catching up and dancing my little heart out.

Each time though is marred a bit by the line of questioning that always seems to follow while out and while the drinks are flowing.

So have you got yourself a new man yet? So what are you doing to meet someone? What are we going to do to get you fixed up?

I haven’t really spoken much about my separation from my husband. Probably because it still fresh and also because there were two of us in that relationship and talking about it publicly is disrespectful I feel. For now.

However, as we move into 2023, moving further and further apart and having less and less interest in each other’s lives, thoughts and feelings, friends and family think it’s about time for me to get with someone else.

But I have to ask where is it written that for an individual to be ‘fixed up’ that they need to have a significant other to be so? It’s beginning to fuck me off more and more each time I’m asked these questions, so where’s your new man etc.

Their justification is that they think I’m awesome, a wonderful person therefore why am I alone or should be alone? Why not share your awesomeness with someone else. This is their reasoning no mine.

And I repeat this fucks me off that they think I should be sharing my awesomeness with someone else. That it’s a waste not to. That there must be something wrong with the world if I’m such an awesome person and have no one to share it with. That I’m awesome and alone. So there must be some on thing wrong with me!

And this is the part that fucks me off the must. I’m so awesome but not awesome enough to keep all this awesomeness for myself, to myself. That I do not deserve to direct all this awesomeness towards myself. That’s I’m not enough to be awesome alone. Take all my time, energy, attention and love and keep it for myself, because I’m worth it.

Where is it written that my only value or awesomeness is truly recognised when I’m hooked up with someone else who probably doesn’t deserve it, would take it for granted and steal it for themselves?

Where is it written that to be alone is frowned upon, is seen as something wrong and that it must be because I haven’t found anyone or no one else finds me attractive rather than an active choice?

I choose to be alone and focus on myself because I deserve to follow my dreams and hopes and not hang them on someone else’s or on someone else being around and loving me.

I choose to not direct my time and energy seeking ‘the one’ because I believe my time and energy is better used focusing on me and fine tuning the energy I’m putting out into the world. If this kind of energy attracts someone else so be it, but I’m not going to put my life on hold or stop shining ‘this little light of mine’ because I do not have a man in my life to be with and love.

I’m not going to go around thinking I’m less than because I’m not in a relationship, because no one is loving on me at the moment. Because I don’t need anyone else to. I can do that all for/ by myself.

And this isn’t me just settling. It’s not me realising that the world doesn’t live Black women and I may’s well give up on trying to find love with someone else. I know this to be true by the way. But this is not influencing my choice, my decision.

I’m choosing me because I can. I chose me when I walked out on my last relationship. And that hasn’t changed it’s just become more of my mantra now as I navigate singleton status. I’m not pining for anyone else. I’m not searching anyone else. I’m not measuring my worth by being with someone else

I’m choosing me, every time. And that feels good for me. So do me a favour and stop asking me when or how I’m working to get a new man in my life and just rejoice in my choice to {BE} alone.

Taking Myself Out On A Date

I like to think of my creative practice, especially my writing as a lover. There are times when I need to fall back in love with my practice, my writing in particular. The muse might be acting shady or we might have just fallen out and not seen each other for a while. This is when I need to start dating my muse again.

In order to fall in love with my practice again, I need to start dating my muse again. I need to treat my muse like a lover and start putting dates in the diary. Make an effort to show up for my muse. Get dressed for an evening date. Spend time on my appearance. Put on my favourite perfume. Make my favourite drink and show up at the page. All part of the ruse to get my muse to show up and spend time with me again.

When I do this, start to treat my muse like a lover, I start to get excited about our time together. I look forward to meeting up, I enjoy the time we spend together and can’t wait until we meet again.

This is all part and parcel of attempting to keep me committed to my practice. To not allow anyone else or any other thing to come between me and my practice. As I need my creative practice like air. To be completely finished with my muse and my creative practice, to separate forever from my lover would be devastating to me, to my being.

So when I think or feel that I’m letting things slide, start taking things for granted and not even bothering to turn up at the page, I know it’s time to start paying special attention to my lover. To make the effort to show up and let them know that I do care for them. That I want to be with them. And that I love them and can’t do without them. I let them know how much joy they bring me. That I appreciate them and that I don’t want to be with them.

Treating my muse like a lover is not just a reminder to my muse that I care but it’s a wake up call to myself that I want them in my life. That I love them, my muse, my lover, my creative practice.

Fiery Autumn Love

“The woman who is willing to make that change must become pregnant with herself, at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age.”

Ursula K. Le Guin

I love Autumn. I always have but it’s just now, in the last few years, that I’ve really embraced this love. Confessed this love to anyone who would listen. Maybe it’s because I was born during this season. Maybe it’s the feeling of beginnings I have for the season with the return to school. Or maybe it’s the array of fiery colours.

There is something about the light during this season which touches my soul and brings me hope with a tinge of sorrow. Each year, during this season, we used to travel to Barcelona for a week or so. And there, the light at this time of year, is even more pronounced. The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are lowering but when you get that light, that golden, warm light during an Autumn day, well the world doesn’t seem such an awful place. You can see and appreciate its beauty.

Many moons ago, I created a writing retreat in the mountains surrounding Rome, Italy, taking inspiration from the changing seasons within the landscape. The landscape’s on the change during Autumn and I wanted to explore this through creative means with others hence the retreat amongst the olive groves and rich colourful berries. Again there was a certain kind of light that would progress down the mountain through the day and rest into the evening with a creamy glow.

There’s hope during this season but also a necessity of letting go. We see this with the falling leaves, the flowers drooping , turning brown and crumpling into dust at the touch of a hand. There’s the ending of growth, death even, to make room for the next stage of development and growth and life.

I’m entering ( or could I already be there?) the Autumn of my life. In all honesty, I have been for the last few years. Since the pandemic, if not before, when there has been a great shedding of things, people, relationships, and responsibilities. I refuse to carry on, carrying the burdens of the world on my shoulders, trying to do it all instead of acknowledging the changes and entering this next phase of my life with grace.

This is what I’ll be exploring during this Autumn season. The beauty and grace and changes of the season. Within nature but also within myself. During Autumn, there’s a letting go, a surrender to what is, letting go of what was and a tenderness as there’s a slow progression into the next phase.

I’m not turning my back on my ageing process but I’m probably grieving the loss of youth, attention and usefulness. But this is the time, in that golden light, to embrace my condition of changing woman. Greet the transformations that are happening inside and outside of me with love. Like my love for Autumn. Autumn is here. She is beautiful and fiery. And definitely not silent.

Fire Woman

The fire which burns outside is still greater, for most of us, than the one that burns within.

Burning Woman, Lucy H. Pearce

There are times when I have so much I want to say but don’t know how. Ideas come and go and those moments of connection, when something clicks and I light up. And then flounder in how to communicate it. How to express what lies within.

There are plenty of times I have something to say but doubts and fears get in the way of expressing them. I long to be more courageous and bold in my expression without fear of percussions or judgements.

I know what I think and feel goes against the grain and to express these things in public would invite the gaze, backlash and cancel culture.

For example, we’ve just had a four day bank holiday, where there were parades and street parties and celebrations for Queen Elizabeth being on the throne for 70 years. But really what is there to celebrate? For me it angers as for these 70 years, people have paid for the royal family upkeep. But more infuriating is that the Queen is a figurehead of colonialism; the subjugation and exploration of Black and brown bodies around the world for centuries. And as a Black person I’m expected to shut up, celebrate this and be grateful.

But to say these things to anyone, I’d be the one with the issue, unpatriotic with a chip on my shoulder as someone recently threw at me when I described a racist incident I’d experienced which was tried to explained away as something else.

Just how it bugs me, when the term ‘women’ is used there is a silent, hidden (white) before it. That the default setting for woman is white and anything else such as Black woman is the ‘other’. To point this out would invite the comment that I always have to play the race card, or not everything is about race? Not that when someone uses (white) woman or (white) women that they do not see me included.

A few years ago, I started reading Burning Woman by Lucy H. Pearce. I felt the rallying cry for women to take back their power. To not hide from or be scared of the fire burning within. “She who dares. She who does what they say cannot be done, must not be done. She who tries and fails. She who does it her way.”

But coming back to it today, the words jar. I identify with the burning passion and rage inside of me that I need to express and enact upon, but I don’t feel my whole being/ experience/ body is contained within this book or within the term ‘woman’. I know that if I dare and do what I want to do, succeed or fail, the repercussion as so much more dangerous, dire for me as a Black woman. Not even acknowledging this within this book, or other books I’m reading excludes my experience as well as makes me feel as if I have the problem, and not that white supremacy culture is the issue.

Reading Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter to reconnect with the place, I’m having to turn part of myself off because there are certain things he says that I could find offensive. Throw away comments about African-America jazz musicians, artist or writers who made their home in Paris are not given their proper respect/ admiration/ regard as fellow human beings. Some points I feel their talent or success is not theirs alone but down to the white people they were befriended by or associated with.

I think what these reading experiences are illustrating for me, except for stoking my internal fires, is how much my lens/ gaze/ perception has been readjusted, changed and re-educated. How I’m no longer duped by white supremacy culture and how I now see behind the veil, the workings and manipulations. I no longer accept them or toil under them in silence.

Yes I feel that fire in my belly, and I’m using it to fuel what I’m doing outside of me. I may still have some fear of being burnt by it, my passion, my voice, my expressions but my greatest fear is remaining silent about the fires burning outside of me which are denied, overlooked or dismissed. And I’m ready to challenge whoever is lighting them and keeping them burning.

Writing my mixmoir on my terms is my way of allowing free rein for all the things I need to express and share in order to not be consumed from within by my fire and rage. The writing process is taking the flames and creating something beautiful and scorching.

Musing On Palimpsest

Within each moment, we are all these different layers of being, at the same time

Invoking palimpsests – composite surfaces, sutured landscapes, seamed memories and layered absence and presence.

Like palimpsest; a manuscript written on, lines and words laid down before to be reused and altered. Trace elements, remnants of the past words, lives and stories linger.

Just as within the landscape there is a layering of different landforms, reflecting different timeframes and influences, so too within our bodies there are layers of identities built upon over time and space, histories and legacies.

Look closely to see the different layers mingle and become one in the present. Echoes, cries and laughter move as one in memory and body. What’s happened and no longer happening defining me.

I’m a living memorial of a people who no long exist.
I cannot not and should not be wiped clear of their testimony.
I owe it to them to hold them in my body, heart and mind.

Laid down in our bodes and souls, in the fabric of my being like layers within the ocean, hidden depths of influences and meanings living, festering in the darkness, to someone erupt to the surface, seeking air seeking justice.

Cento for black birds pushing against glass*

Cento is a piece of writing, esp. a poem, composed wholly of quotations from the works of other authors. It like a patchwork quilt, a fabricated whole from scraps from other places, people and times.

May ZINE spread

For me I also see Cento pieces like collage, disparate fragments of texts, images, quotes, colours brought together, moved around to create something totally new and unique which pulls meaning from the parts in construction but together go beyond their initial meanings and purposes.

Alchemy comes to mind as well as conjure. Magic.

Is this Mixmoir a Cento? No as I’m using my own text and anyone else’s that appear within it are credited. But I think there is an element of Centoism within the text as I pull from my body of work for the past 6 or 7 years to construct it. Also the different genres of writing and art that are going into the mix to create the whole is Centoist in practice, maybe.

This is an example of a Cento I created recently, which I think will be included in the Mixmoir, eventually.

Cento for black birds pushing against glass*

The first breath comes from early morning blossom.

Rain falls short. Look. The unbuckling sky. Rain.

There’s an old pain. The memory of water keeps

flowing heavy with blood. Bloodhounds catch the scent.

Black bodies packed into boats and the tide still rolling in.

A corpse dangling from the end of a rope. Justice they say.

And they cut off parts for souvenirs. Within these city walls

there is no room for self-love. Grin, keeping grinning at the camera.

My heart catches on fire as it could easily be my story. My body.

Along blood lines, pumped into the centre of the wound

it’s the body that remembers as tonight this river will receive

the crushed burden like black morels under foot.

Pull the earth on top of her, turn her black face away from the light.

I can not. But they’ve got the centuries’ old tradition to fall back on;

the rich white man and the black woman kept close

in the big house always ready to be split.

*Cento composed of lines from my past poems which were partly composed of lines taken from various other creatives. The title is from Lucille Clifton, and other lines are borrowed from James Allen, Kara Walker, Tafisha Edwards, Ocean Vuong, Billie Holiday, Martha Collins, and Toi Derricotte. There also a nod towards the film Monster’s Ball.