No More Monday MOrning BLues

When I was teaching, I used to experience ‘Monday Morning Blues’. That dreaded feeling of going back to the grind after the weekend off. Going back to the bells and the timetables and the disruptive kids. One of the many reasons to leave the profession without a safety net in place, without anything lined up, was that I knew if I didn’t go then, I’d never get out. I was getting too comfortable, too used to the regular pay check at the end of each month, justifying the slog, the staying put within an environment that was slowly eating away at my soul.

I used to see cows outside my classroom window and I vowed not to become one of them; a cow put out to pasture, giving up on life and life giving up on them. I knew there was more to life that the 9-5 job, or as it was when teaching 7-7 job. I put my whole life, heart and soul into that job to the point of probably neglecting my child at the time. But I was after perfectionism, acceptance and recognition. I was defining my whole self -worth by how good or bad I was at teaching. And teaching shite I may add. Shite filled up with the words and opinions of mostly white dead men who probably didn’t think much of me being a Black woman.

I was duped into the belief that work was meant to be hard and difficult and long and mostly unrewarding. It was what we were put on the earth to do, to be. To work for most of of our lives for others, propping up the system and if we worked hard enough, we’d get time off at the end with a pension that would be taxed again. This is what I bought into and what was fed to me through family, education and society. To step out of this construction to pursue creativity, to do my own things and be my own boss was seen as weird, a risk, stupidity and misguided to say the least.

I knew how I felt. And I know how I feel. And even then I put a lot of store by how I felt. How I was uncomfortable in my own skin. How I felt a fraud. How I felt unbelonging and always striving for something that would never be mine. Acceptance. Whiteness. The Norm.

Now I don’t have ‘Monday Morning Blues’, because I don’t put that kind of pressure on my days, on my weekends, on my time. I pick and choose when to work or not. I try to have a 3 day week. Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday being the work days and the Monday and Friday flow into a long weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not idle. I’ll always be practicing my creativity ( I prefer using practice to work). I don’t think I’ll ever retire because being creative is who I am. And when I reserve certain days of the week for outside commitments, ‘work’ the other days are mine to create, to rest, to dream, to plot, to {BE}. And I’m grateful for the circumstance to be able to {BE} this way. I’m also grateful to my younger self who wasn’t afraid to jump and believe and trust that a net would appear to catch her fall. Again and again.

I’m quote proud to say I’m being useless to capitalism today. And the next day and the next.

I don’t remember when I lost my most important treasure

The Goddess Series, 2023

I don’t remember when I started to hurt.

I don’t remember when I gave up on myself being enough, being worthy.

I don’t remember when I gave myself away to others at the expense of not keeping any goodness for me.

I don’t remember when I started to hate on myself and wishing myself away, wishing myself into something or someone else. Anything else but this. Anything other than who I really am.

I don’t remember when I started to hide myself away became secretive and dishonest as a means of protection and advancement.

I don’t remember when I stopped being my own best friend and started to seek this relationship, this love and attention elsewhere.

I don’t remember when I betrayed myself by thinking that I was someone who didn’t deserve to be here, as someone worthy of love and happiness and joy.

I don’t remember when I started to listen to others, the outside world and stopped listening to my heart, to my own wisdom.

I don’t remember when I stopped just {being} instead of doing. When {being} was enough.

I don’t remember when I stoped paying attention to what lights me up, my wants and needs, what makes me smile.

I don’t remember when I stopped being a child and took the burdens of the world on to my little shoulders like they belonged there.

I don’t remember when I stopped being in love with myself and gave this love to others who were not deserving of my love, who could not see me as me.

I don’t remember when I began to think I needed other people to love me instead of me just loving on me.

I don’t remember when or how or why all this happened, I just feel it. And now, here I am trying to get back to me, to me loving on me, the most important treasure, lost.

Undoing

with each word

i write

i am undoing

you from

my heart

i am undoing

your lips

from mine

your hand

from mine

i am undoing

your power

over me

Farewell 2022

2022 has been a challenging, unpredictable and painful year in so many ways. A year marked by illness after illness, I’d be justified in feeling the year was a series of starts and stops, stood and starts.

But, I’ve also managed to enjoy some wonderful experiences along the way, especially towards the back end of the year which I spent planning and organising in the first half of the year, while fighting illness after illness. There’s something to be said about dreaming on paper and best laid plans and all that.

2022 was the year of letting go and getting better. I have to believe this to move forward.

My word for 2022 was ‘open’. I know now that I needed this word and focus as a stepping stone, as necessary piece in the process of getting to where I am today, on the eve of 2023. Remaining open, percolating in the background of my attitudes, behaviours and being, meant that I was moving in the right direction even if it has been difficult at times to remain open and honest and trusting.

The pulling away from certain people and situations has been necessary. The release bringing about an end which can also be treated as a new beginning.

I feel a lot has changed about me this year, the most important one being my deepening understanding about this healing journey I’m on. In order to heal, I need to go through the necessary grieving, allowing myself to feel all the feels without the guilt or judgement or trying to hurry the process along. I’m learning.

I know I’m also quicker and more able to stand up for myself now. I choose me more times than not these days and this is a welcoming change and practice. It happens, this choosing of myself, not without guilt and doubts and feelings of uncomfortableness but I write it out.

My creativity, whether that be pen to page, paint to paper, or cut and stick, supports me on this journey for which I am grateful. These conversations I have with myself through the creative process are invaluable being life saving and supportive.

As I see in the new year, new priorities are surfacing. Such as healing, going even more slow and resting. Rest is resistance even as I waste time and energy resisting these changes. But I’m a work in progress, finding non-traditional ways to {BE}, heal and push against the system.

I heard someone recently describe themselves as the matriarch of healing in their lineage. Being the first person in their family who is doing the necessary work to heal themselves as well as for those who came before them and who will come after them. I take this title on for myself and the journey and task I’m on.

I will explore this healing journey further as I move slowly into 2023. Choosing me. No longer playing small, planning on becoming large.

Other

she is a sad

replacement

for the woman

you lost

the woman

you allowed

to leave

because

you were

never

man enough

to hold

The Final 100 Days of Writing

My writing year hasn’t gone to plan.

At the back end of 2021, I put in for an Arts Council England, Developing Your Creative Practice grant. I didn’t get one but I made a promise to myself to follow the project plan I had to submit with this application for the first 6 months of 2022.

Things just didn’t go to plan from the very beginning of the year, with family illness and myself getting ill etc. I was knocked off course and never got back on during the year.

Until now. London Writer’s Salon ran a 100 Days of Writing Workshop last night. Then there was 100 days left of 2022. Where has the time gone?

I attended along with over 300 other people, working through the workbook to get recommitted to my Mixmoir. And it worked.

I’ve set myself some goals and targets for the final 100 days of writing for 2022. I figure, I can turn it out for others when I have to or need to, the recent BALTIC commission being a prime example. Well now I want to use this commitment to others and their demands to my own advantage and complete something that is important to me instead.

My goal is to complete the Mixmoir in the final 100 days of 2022. I figure it’s about 3 essays and about 15 poems I need to get it into a completed state by the end of 2022. And I might even place in the word ‘shitty’ first draft of the whole thing there too in order to ease the pressure off for perfection.

My guiding words for this process are fun and play and experimentation. I want to enjoy the process and I figure these values with help me a lot with this task.

I’ve been wanting to write this Mixmoir now for about 5 years and I think I’ve just been taking it and myself far too seriously. So I’m inviting in the fun and joy and excitement about the project again.

And I’ve got the last 100 days of 2022 to crack on with it. And these final days of the year are not empty. I’ve got plenty of outside commitments, family responsibilities and travel plans to keep me busy. But this might be the kick up the arse I need to just finish the damn thing.

This Mixmoir is an important step in establishing myself as an expert in the field of Black Nature. I want to use this text as the basis of the Earth Sea Live CIC business. As a speaker and facilitator and expedition leader. But it’s doing nothing to further the cause if it’s not finished or published yet.

So here I am biting the bullet, getting my head down and ploughing on through.

No hold up! I said fun and play and experimentation in order to enjoy the process.

So my shoulders are back, my head is facing the light and I’m skipping off into writing pleasureland for the final 100 days of 2022.

Let’s see what I create.

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.