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.
There’s been signs but I’ve chosen to not pay attention, to not listen. But now I’m taking heed and acting accordingly.
Coming down our street there was a van packed up with the sign ‘By-Safe’ splayed across it’s backside. Okay I get the message.
I pulled the Lizard card today from The Wild Unknown, Animal Spirit, oracle deck. The Lizard is sensitive to the subtle, almost like a sixth sense; hearing what is yet to be spoken, seeing what is yet to be seen.
The Lizard’s energy and essence can be quickly worn down by big crowds, lots of travel, bright lights and over stimulation. The Lizard has shown its face today to tell me it’s time to pull back, to go within, seek my inner artist and start that creative project.
As I said, I was feeling the signs. This week saw me cancelling planned events and activities in relation to my nature projects. I’d started to self-isolate and have the inclination to draw my family in close. Not just for our own safety but for other people’s safety too. How do I know that I’m not carrying the virus? It’s amazing how much one person can stop the spread of the Coronavirus by self-isolating sooner rather than later.
Usually, the belief is what can one person do? In this case a hell of a lot. I’m working from home. I’m turning inwards and listening to my soul, my inner wisdom and I’m hanging onto my creativity.
Kielder Forest and Water. Partaking in training to become a volunteer who will Osprey watch over the summer this year. It is an interesting gig, learning about the birds as they come back to the forest after wintering in Senegal or The Gambia.
Kielder has become the home for 7 mating pairs of Ospreys for the abundance of space and fish to raise fledglings. Our job will be to set up the scopes for viewing the nesting pairs. To talk to visitors about their behaviours and raise the profile of our birds as they work together to build up their chicks for becoming independent birds over the summer months.
There are also Osprey watch cruises upon Kielder water to check out all the nests along the reservoir.
In the past, I’ve volunteered for certain things, indoor jobs, like manning phones for charities, running creative workshops, talking to kids about writing etc. I’ve never volunteered for anything out in nature as I never thought I would be of any use. Or there was the underlying feeling of not belonging there. Bit by bit this self-limiting attitude is changing.
Today I wake to an email from Kenya and Michelle @Outdoor Journal Tour (ODJT) and the phenomenal work they’re doing in getting black women outdoors. They inspire me to do more especially when they share the reasons why black women need to experience the healing qualities of nature.
What makes me sad and angry is that they, we, don’t get enough support in this endeavour. Some people choose to troll them, us, derail us instead of recognise what we are doing and our struggle. Some people choose to not see inequalities and injustices in our society because it simply doesn’t effect them.
From a recent post on Instagram, ODJT shared their experience of being trolled but also the outpouring of love and support they are receiving for their work. Being able to see this support and understanding and love is fuel to continue what we are doing. Some people will never understand, listen or accept the way society does divide us along so many lines including race, gender, sexuality, religion etc. But we have to still have hope that change is here and there is more to come. We cannot give up hope.
Walk down by the falls, in winter, catch the scent of wet clay upon the breeze of indifference. Dullness is broken by golden catkins, with a hint of blush. Light and soft prickles flutter, hanging long, delicate and strong. Underneath, collect the hazelnuts but pay a mind to the grey squirrel with a rosy back, who probably needs them more than you. Share and connect as we are all kin. We are one.
A friend mentioned yesterday that she was rushing around completing chores so she could get back to watching the Netflix series Love is Blind. Sheis addicted to it, against her better judgement. This got me thinking, what is this program about?
I binged watched the whole series up until the grand finale, aired today ( but I’ve now seen it!). It’s a reality TV series which is experimenting with love. They’re trying to find out if people can fall in love, make that deep soul emotional connection with someone they have never seen. They just get to talk to each other, in separate pods with a wall between them. But over a short space of time, with only conversation to make the connection, men and women do fall in love.
But will it last once they see each other? And then what happens when they get back into the real world? Obstacles are forever put in their path to test their love. This kind of stuff really gets me annoyed but not this time. I know the tricks and devices these programmes use to keep you watching and I was all in. I could see behind the curtain, all the knobs and pulleys used to create a reaction in the audience but I’m a romantic at heart. I was rooting for the couples, one in particular, to come through it still together and stronger and married. As that was what the twang finale was all about; their weddings days. Would they get married after knowing each other for only 6 weeks? Crazy, right?
I usually don’t watch reality T.V. It’s cringe worthy. I especially don’t enjoy how black women, if ever included, are portrayed and presented. I just don’t think we come off well in these type of shows. We are there as entertainment fodder. There to fulfil the stereotype. So I’m always reluctant to watch these shows, never mind invest time and energy and emotion into them.
Love is Blind got me at the first episode. I was sitting late into the night grinning at the TV like a love overdosing idiot. There were women in there that grated on my nerves, while others especially Lauren and Cameron who I wanted to stay true to each other, love no matter what anyone else might say and live happily ever after. I think I invested in this couple because she was black and he was white. The only inter-racial couple in the whole programme. And I wanted them to work against the odds probably because they reflect my reality of being married to a white man.
I have so many issues with this series. The mere fact that marriage is out there as something to aspire to. That you’re not complete until you find your significant other. Yes I know we are sociable creatures wired for connection but how many centuries have girls been socialised into women with the belief that catching the man ( and no mention of woman) being their destiny and ultimate goal. Our fairy tale system is set up to make girls feel that one day there Prince will come along and rescue them/ or whisk them off their feet as long as they’re beautiful enough, quiet enough, good enough. So yes I have my issues with the whole premise of the series and yet I still watched it all and cried at the end.
Why? Because the kind of love that these young people were looking for, and for some I think they found l, is the kind of love where you can be yourself within. The kind of love where your partner love you from the inside out. For who you are at your core. They can see your soul and stay by your side anyway.
Maybe that is a kind of fairy tale love. Maybe that love doesn’t exist and is all make believe. But this old romantic in me thinks it can be found. And once found, held onto with daily practice of giving and receiving love, remaining open and vulnerable and honest. Communicating about everything, always.
Today, I’m up at 6am. We return to school after half-term break, and after the school run, I have an outdoor meeting. So my time is spoken for during the day. So I get up early, to come to my desk, and write. I ‘m working on putting my priorities first for a change. And don’t get me wrong, no one puts pressure on me to put their needs and wants first. No, no one has to do that because I do it myself. It is I who thinks I should be and do everything to everyone and bend in so many different directions and ways to make this happen. And when I don’t I’m racked with guilt and think I’m a bad mother, wife, friend, human being even.
For now, I’m changing this record which has been on repeat for far too long. I’m changing it up and sticking on the record which is called, Sheree’s priorities. It’s a sound that takes some getting used to. It’s a sound I might want to turn off straight away as it’s too needy, to hesitate, too demanding, too vulnerable. But I persevere through practice. Through turning up at my desk each day, sitting my arse down and picking up that pen and facing the uncertainties, I know I’m strengthening a much neglected muscle. And it feels good to find and use those muscles I didn’t even know I had.
And this morning, the music of that priorities record, that new release, is so growing on me that I find myself tapping my feet, swaying and singing along to the sweet sweet tune of creativity.
I’ve missed two days of being here. I didn’t post anything over the weekend. Did you notice? I mean who is actually reading my blog. Some days nobody and sometimes that hurts but then I remember I write for me first and foremost. But sometimes that harsh reality feeds into my desire to post or not post especially if I’m sick or low on energy. Self-care is one of my mantras as well as practice.
This weekend I completed my Outdoor First Aid training. 16 hours of intense learning, practical study all the way so that if anything was to happen while taking a group out into nature I could administer first aid.
60% of deaths in the U.K. could be unavoidable if more people knew how to save a life or give immediate, temporary first aid to give an individual who’s injured or had an accident a fighting chance of survival.
I found this figure staggering and unacceptable. Also the figures show that women and children receive the least amount of first aid, CPR really, as there’s a reluctance to touch for a fear of causing offence or being too heavy handed. I find this even more appalling and start to think what the figures would show regarding black women? I’m not even going to look because I don’t think those figures would have even been recorded, never mind be any better.
I shouted out in my class, I don’t care if you have to cut my bra and see my breasts to administer CPR on me if it saves my life. Of course this received a laugh and then jokes about having a t-shirt made with that same message on.
But I think there are people in this world who think that my life isn’t worth saving. And who has the right to think that or to act or fail to act in a way that endangers life?
I find this world maddening and angering a lot of the time. But I have practices in place that helps me to diminish this anger towards others and this society we live in so I can turn towards light and love. And that’s no new-age woolly all nicey kind of love but this is a fierce, fighting self- love which is self-care and feeds my self-worth so it isn’t dependent on anyone else’s opinion or actions. It has to be.
So yes I missed a couple of days here and I’m not tracking back to fill them in as I might have done in the past. I’ve made this decision because I think and feel, and I don’t need anyone else’s opinion on this, that I was doing greater and better things this weekend.