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.
I started running about 8 years ago after the birth of said daughter as a means of getting rid of my pregnancy weight gain. Since then I went on to run a lot of 5ks, two 10ks, two half-marathons and three marathons. My last marathon was the London one in 2014. And it became my personal best time.
After this, I ran for the sheer fun of it but I soon fell out of love with running for one reason or another. I started training for my Great North Run in September this year once I got the okay back from the doctors about my back in January. But it’s been hit and miss.
Not with the lockdown, I’m craving the outdoors more than ever and running, putting some distance between me and home, is something I can drop into. So when my husband said he wanted to start running again I asked if he wanted company. And he was going to use our daughter as an excuse, with the schools being closed, she’s with us 24/7. But I wasn’t having it.
We started with NHS couch to 5K podcast. It’s what I used all those many year ago when I started running for the first time and it’s what I use every time I want to get back into running and build up my time and distance in a manageable way.
So it’s early days running with my peeps. But I’m enjoying it. And even if the 9 year old, Miss Ella, is complaining and feeling the pain at the moment, I think give it a few more weeks and she’ll be loving it. I know that’s how it kicks in for me.
I was talking to a dear friend, last night via FaceTime. We hadn’t connected with each other for months. Our schedules just didn’t coincide. But now, as the outside world slows down, we managed to connect and spend an hour or so catching up. With her living out in Washington State and me in the North of England, over the last ten years of our friendship, we’ve managed to stay in touch pretty well. Sometimes in person too.
We both feel that what is happening in the world now, with the pandemic is awful and worrying. But we both recognise a shift in the pace of life, that this has brought about too. Closing our doors, literally to the outside world, not going to work, not socialising with people face to face, has meant a change in behaviours. We’ve gone within and have started to appreciate all those little things that were right under our noses all along. We’ve started to experience gratitude for the lives we’ve created and are still able to enjoy.
For me, this time has given me the space to purposefully lean into my creative practice. I’m not pushing it, striving for productivity like I have in the past. And I’m not beating myself up when I don’t happen to complete my to-to list for each day. I mea, whenever have I managed to complete that never-ending to-do list? But still there’d be that voice at the end of the day berating myself for what I didn’t accomplish instead of congratulating myself on what I did do. Now I’ve taken my foot off the accelerator and it feels weird but it also feels right. I’m settling into the self-isolating with my family, and trying to take better care of myself. I’m fixing my own oxygen mask first and that feels weird but right also.
Things are not good at the moment. Especially when I do venture outside for the essentials and see the empty shelves in supermarkets. Also when people seem to not understand the concept of social distancing and still stand up on my arse as if we’re in a packed train carriage. Step away from me, man. I want to shout. Use some common sense. When I have to be out there, it soon annoys me with how some people are reacting, and my panic levels start to rise as a result. This is when I choose to walk away and find some space in nature. Walking outside is still possible and so is going into the sea. Thank goodness. Small mercies, I’ll gladly have for now. Out in nature, watching the waves, listening to the birds, seeing buds bursting on branches, my mind soon calms down, my breathing deepens, and my smile reappears.
So yes, things are not good at the moment with the Coronavirus but things could be a lot worse. And I think things, the situation and the way society operates at the moment, are going to get a lot worse before better. Here in the U.K., each day sees an increase in the number of deaths from the virus as well as the number of confirmed cases. We haven’t hit the peak yet, as we’re lagging behind such countries as Italy and Spain. And this isn’t me wishing the worst on us or anyone else. This is me being real.
Spending time catching up with my friend, was needed and beneficial for us both. Yes we caught up with what’s been happening, but we were also able to see each other. See that we’re okay and send out hopeful vibes that one day we will meet again. Who knows what the future holds. Who knows how this social isolation will end, if ever. But we can have hope and we can make the best of a bad situation. Gratitude helps immensely here, believe.
She sits on my desk, in the spare room. My makeshift study/ studio/ freedom space. She’s a constant. A talisman. A charm. I sit sometimes when inspiration is lacking and just watch her as if waiting for her to move, to say something. But in all honesty, she doesn’t have to say anything as she is always communicating to me, with me, as she is inside me.
She is the voice of wisdom. She is my intuition. She is the quiet whisper, sometimes scream, that guides me along this path still. The small nudges and major cramps that emanate from my gut when I know something just doesn’t feel right. When I know a difficult decision, usually the right one, has to be taken. Now.
She sang out to me these past few days, singing, Lean into me, take me out again into the landscape of your home. You may be self-isolating, but let me help you look upon your home as a playground. As a space full of potential and inspiration. Let me help you make the best of a situation.
Jon Hopkins at The Sage Gateshead was phenomenal. His kind of music, electronica, is not usually my kind of music. But it was my husband, Alan who invited me along. As a kind of date. Jon and his support, Hayden Thorp, did not disappoint.
Polarity the show, with lights and haze, we a mingling of the gentle with the raw. There was tenderness and harshness. Closing my eyes, and the music getting into my body, I fell into a trance hard and profound. Letting go and just floating on the beats was an amazing experience and one I haven’t felt in a while. There were moments of sheer frenzy and then moments of stillness. Beautiful. I want to explore more of Hopkins’ music as well as Thorp’s because I’ve found having preconceived ideas about certain music genres can close me off from moments of clarity and enjoyment. I’m going to practice being more open to newness and stuff outside of my usual radar or comfort zone. Who knows what doors this will open inside me?
With this extra day in February, I take the time to write and read and reflect. This month has flown by and I’ve started more books than finished I think. But I’m not too fussed as I know I am reading more and widely to feed my curiosity as well as provide food for my own writing; inspiration.
Completed February readings include:
1.Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (99U)
2. Longstone – LJ Ross
3. The Hermitage – LJ Ross
4. The Mating Habits of Stags – Ray Robinson
5. Blogging for Authors – Nina Amir
Ongoing February reading include;
1. The Last Wolf – Jim Crumley
2. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
3. Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore – Patrick Barkham