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.

The Art of Slow Writing

Collaborative anti-racism broadsides collaborative project with Theresa Easton

I started my Patreon Page in April 2018 with the focus on Slow Writing.

I stated:

The Art of Slow Writing

“When our lives change, when the world changes, we must reinvent ourselves as writers.” – Louise DeSalvo.

Taking inspiration from Louise DeSalvo’s book, The Art of Slow Writing, I’m choosing to create fine writing; writing of quality and writing of worth. I believe in order for this to happen, I need to find my way back to slow writing.

Slow writing is a meditative practice, creating time and space for understanding my relationship to my writing, the writing process and working towards my best work.

I envisioned it as the space where I wrote the memoir ( memoir then, Mixmoir now).

I said through a facelift of my Patreon Page that:

I’ve been writing a creative non-fiction memoir which includes personal essays, poetry, quotes, paintings, photography etc and this continues as this piece of creation centres the black woman’s body with/in nature. What I envision now is this piece taking on a more critical and political perspective with climate / environmental justice taking up space as this is my reality, our reality, even if there are systems in place which would lead us to believe otherwise.

Using my art is my resistance, is my activism and I just see it as time to start owning it. Blatantly so.

All that I’ve been wanting to achieve and working towards has morphed into one – this idea of black / brown bodies with/in nature. This is my full-time obsession and I’ve been making big changes in my personal life to reflect and accommodate this. This includes Patreon.

It was within this space that I created the term Mixmoir to describe what I’m trying to create. There, here, everywhere.

When you take on a project, a writing project that is arduous and long and messy, there’s a tendency to get lost along the way. Get tangled up in the details, get into your own head and manipulate your own weaknesses and doubts to the point of stop writing and just spending your time and energy just wishing.

I’ve got to the point of feeling sick and tired about feeling/acting/behaving this way. This inactivity within a writing project I feel so deeply about. Which is so vital to my being.

So this is me attempting to change the story and get the damn book complete on my own terms by any means necessary by glueing my arse down to the seat and just writing.

Welcome to my practice.

In Bed with Intuition

Nothing beats journaling in bed. Still half-asleep but fresh coffee bringing me around. And the day ahead. Expanding or constructing as I see fit.

I come to the page and allow my mood to guide me. What page to put pen to or image or colour.

It’s my intuition who leads the way, gently. Before my intuition was dead and gone. Repressed and forgotten. But slowly, through trust and patience my intuition is very much in the driving seat these days.

And I like it this way. She never sees me wrong but keeps me safe, creative and present.

Visual Journaling 24/05

::REST::

I just posted this over on my Patreon page for supporters, but I through it was relevant to post here. These are the revelations my visual journaling practice through up!

Visual Journal Spread – 22/05

Hey hey hey

How you doin’?

Me, I’ve been hitting on myself hard. Berating myself for spending last week in a stupor of low energy and slow pace productivity.

The practice of ::SLOW:: accompanied with the practice of ::CARE:: was not being practiced last week.

I could start shouting, ‘Shame on you, Sheree.’ But then I’d just be repeating the no compassion, no grace, no patience attitude and treatment towards self of last week.

Do you ever learn, Sheree?  Are you just circling the same old wounds and territory? Are you just right back in the same spot as before?

Nah man!

I’m not circling, I’m spiralling ( in a good way).

On this healing journey back to self, the pathway is a spiral. Yes there’s circling involved but with each new rotation I’m further up and further in, deeper into the exploration and becoming.

It’s like going up a mountain when you reach a vantage point. You get a better lay of the land as your vista opens up. You’ve got more data to play with moving forward/ upwards/ sideways/ and sometimes backwards. But you’re not in the same position as before because you have that experience, thoughts and feelings, events and reflections that have come to pass in the interim.

My takeaway therefore from last week is, ‘When you know you have a busy week ahead, Sheree darling, put in the diary rest and recovery for the week after that one.‘ Capeesh?!

If I schedule in the downtime, make a date with myself, then I won’t be riding my arse for not having enough energy to complete the things that might give me energy. 

Instead of guilt-tripping myself,
I’d be able to luxuriate in the feeling of knowing that’s all I’ve got to do in the time and space available is ::REST::

Circulating My Preoccupations

Visual Journal 21/05

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been granted a scholarship to participate in Susannah Conway’s Journal Love Club for a whole year.

It’s a gift that just keeps on giving. I get a prompt everyday, a growing community on Mighty Networks, people sharing practice and a live zoom call once a month.

Usually, I start my day with my visual journal practice as above and then by the time I’ve done that the prompt from Journal Love Club has come through so I can continue and respond to that.

Journal Love Club Prompt 21/05

In the past, I’d be on my case for using so many different journals. I would also get confused by what went where and then lose stuff, not knowing where to find the gems. Now, I’m much more of a mind that if I’m showing up to the page, at all or once or twice or more, it’s all a win.

The common denominator between all these different journals is me. And this practice helps me along on this journey of getting back to me. The core me. The authentic me.

After today’s prompt which asked me to look over my recent journal entries to pull out themes; what’s been grabbing my attention, this entry came out:

Nothing is a surprise when I look back and see what issues and ideas keep circulating the journal pages.


Identity, fear, never being good enough.

But then I started to switch things up in response to this prompt.
I’ll never to good enough in a system which is stacked against me.
In a system wired for us to aim for perfection even when we know it doesn’t exist.
But more so, if it did exist it wouldn’t be available to me anyway.

So knowing this I surrender. I let go. Not give up, but surrender means not allowing time and energy to strive for this, to even fight it.
But to use this energy and channel it into the things that are important to me. Not even taking into account the system, the white gaze but making my audience that little Black girl inside and the one in my house now.

And maybe through this I can heal as well as be a better mother to myself and my daughter.

That feels good, that feels better.”