Good Morning Sheree

Visual journaling 09/05

Good Morning Sheree.

I sometimes write this at the top of my page on a morning in my Good Morning Vietnam voice. And then proceed to have a conversation with myself. Checking in with myself to see how I’m feeling this morning.

It’s almost like a letter to self. My voice strong and loud in my head coaxing out the different thoughts and feelings and cheering myself on.

Almost like a long prep talk, I prime myself for the day ahead at the same time savouring then moment I’m in while completing my morning pages. The softness of my bed. The sound of the tumbling washing machine. The birds singing and the silence, when it’s there, humming.

I love this time of the day, just woken up and coffee brewed. Eyes and thoughts still hazy but an excitement rumbling on my belly. I get to do this each morning. This sacred ritual which I don’t take for granted but accept as a privilege.

I do share this practice, here, in workshops, in my writings and interactions with other people because it is a powerful source for mental health, dream making and becoming a better version of self.

I’d be crazy, selfish and inhumane if I kept this tool, this practice to myself.

We could all tap into this power and it starts with saying Good Morning to yourself. Your true self and continuing to turn up for the self who you see starting to appear.

The White Gaze

Visual journal 06/05

I do love a white gel pen on a black gesso page. I love the contrast but I also love that it reverses/ subverts the norm.

Quite fitting really when I was exploring my understanding/ operating of ‘The White Gaze’ today.

From Wiki: ‘ The White Gaze is the assumption that the default reader or observer is coming from the perspective of someone who identities as white, or that people of color sometimes feel the need to take into account the white reader or observer’s reaction.”

I wonder who wrote this definition? Loaded much, ‘assumption’ , ‘sometimes’ please. It’s our reality. It’s White Supremacy Culture. It’s the norm.

I’m learning ( all the time) how to survive the white gaze. And taking my lead from Toni Morrison, I know I have meaning and depth without the white gaze. My life has meaning without the white gaze. ‘ But we do language. That might be the measure of our lives.’

It might be a daily practice with need of constant reminders but I’m learning to create not for the white gaze, in spite of the white gaze and it’s repercussions.

I am learning to be free.

Another day another page

Visual Journaling Through The Night – 05/05

Can’t sleep. Won’t sleep. Story of my life at the moment.

Could be the change. Could be tummy pains. Could be anxiety. Who knows.

I just know sleep will not come. So instead of mindlessly scrolling I got the journal out again and explored the thoughts and feelings that were at the forefront of my mind.

To go to Paris again in June or not? I fell in LOVE in Paris when I booked a few days there in August 2009 to complete the PhD.

I needed to get away and just focus on the manuscript and be done with it. And Paris was the ideal place to go as it was quick and easy and cheap to get to but it would have plenty of sights and sound and tastes so feed my soul as I dredged it all of everything goes in order to complete the PhD.

It was such a magical time where I would walk most of them day, stop for food and drink and work on the manuscript and then walk some more. Photos galore. And then I would run during the evening through the streets enjoying the fading light and voices and sights of families coming out to socialise.

It also holds a dear place in my heart as I was pregnant with Miss Ella during this trip and didn’t even know. She was definitely a gift.

So I’ve been itching to travel again and go back to Paris now as I’m much older and wiser and have more of a sense of self to really appreciate all this beautiful city has to offer my thirsty soul.

But as my late night/early morning muses explored, I can’t justify the expense of going at the moment, well June, as money is tight after a few weeks of little work due to sickness and tiredness and lack of forward planning on my behalf.

So I’ll continue to dream of Paris hopefully be able to share my plans to re-visit this magical place somewhere in the near future.

Until then I’ll dream about it with my eyes open. As there’s no sleep coming my way.

Can’t sleep. Won’t sleep!

Let’s Go Outside

Visual journaling 04/05

At the moment, I’m using an altered (romance) book as my visual journal. I go with my moods when it comes to deciding what to use next for my visual journal. I listen to my gut and what she’s calling for in terms of size, shape, texture of page, of journal she needs in order to show up daily for the next month or so.

So with an altered book as my journal I was calling for space to explore colours but also layering, composition and found text.

There will be pages that are heavy with colour and my handwriting while others I’ll crave colour with space and some text cut ups applied.

I’m using Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye at the moment to create found poetry for double page spreads. The Bluest Eye was the first book I read in which I found someone who looked like me and who felt the same self-hate I was experiencing around growing up in a predominately white society being within a Black body. It was revolutionary for me and my personal development to find this book when I did.

I suppose using a copy of the book now to cut up and repurpose is saying something about how I’m feeling at the moment and how I want to see myself on the page. How I want to take back the space, take up space and be validated. But on my own terms.

I love how powerful visual journaling is to my psyche and how I move my body through this world but does so through such a simple process. It never ceases to amaze me what comes to light and fruition through this practice.

Hopping Mad Today

visual journaling 02/05

Morning pages: visual journaling/ journaling done for now.

I like to get to the page first thing, the first thing I do each day after going for a pee and brewing some coffee. This is the ritual that is in place. Not every day can I fulfil this ritual, but most days, yes.

I find when I come to the page in this state, my night dreams are still hanging around me. I can still grasp onto them and explore them on the page. What do they mean? What is causing friction in my subconscious mind?

Today’s ramblings where not difficult to decipher as they relate to an email I received yesterday evening. I must bring back the ‘no email checking after a certain time’ rule. It just disrupts my calm flow state of mind when I do read an email late at night and allow it to work it’s way into my brain just before bed.

Anyway, I dreamt on it and was trying to find people who were in agreement with me about it. Hence waking this morning hopping mad as I’m not sure anyone did eventually agree with me. But I stand my ground this morning and go with my gut as she’s never seen me wrong.

It’s just tired really, having to point out yet again how the way someone is treating someone else is not okay. Maybe it’s okay to them and maybe no one has mentioned this to them before and so they continue to treat people this way. But common decency man, it costs nothing but goes a long way.

And maybe I’m taking it personally, maybe they act this way with everybody and not just with me and not because I’m a Black woman and viewed as less than. Maybe maybe maybe. This is how I’ve spent years making allowances for other people’s behaviour and treatment of me. Giving them the benefit of the doubt at the detriment to my sanity and my treatment of myself.

But no more. No one owes me nothing and no one owns me. I do not have to pussy foot around worried about causing offence because they’ve already caused offence to me so that shows me that they do not respect me and they do not see me. Therefore, you do not deserve my allowances, my excuses for your behaviour, or me trying to make you feel/ remain comfortable.

I’m not going to be rude or disrespect them but I will be speaking plainly to them. It will be interesting how they respond when I tell them my truth.

But all in good time, as another one of my practices is ::SLOW:: . Just because it suits someone to send an email at such and such a time, it doesn’t mean that it suits my timeframe and mind set to reply immediately and engage with their requests now. On their timetable, at their sense of urgency.

All in good time means all in good time for ME. Which isn’t at the exact moment as I think it’s another coffee for me and another few pages of visual journaling as I’ve got some shit to work out still.

Ah the beauty of visual journaling. Welcome to my world! See you tomorrow!

Close up of visual journaling 02/05

We’re Moving Into May!

Visual Journaling 01/05

My oh my! How this year is flying.

Things haven’t been going as planned over here in Sheree land and as such I find myself trying to reset my year. Each new month becoming my New Year.

But what I’m finding with each reset is that I’m disallowing the experiences I’ve had each month. I’m ignoring the progress I’m making each month, if any I may add. And I’m denying myself the joy and the pain of just living here and now.

So now we’re in May, I’m not resetting anything. Time is flying by but I’m living with it. And most of the time I’m happy within it too.

I live a blessed life really because most of the time, I’m in control of my time and how I choose to live it. Lately, I’ve been prioritising myself and my needs and wants. and I’m not even going to apologise for if this sounds selfish as I know when my needs and wants have been met on a daily basis, I turn up in the world for others and Mother Earth in a much better place. T

his means I show up with more love, patience and compassion for others. And that has to be a good thing for them, me and the world.

So I’m here at the beginning of May to thank myself for turning up here every day for the last two months, stretching my creativity. First with March and The Healing Properties of the Seas and then with April and a poem a day.

I’m also here to thank you for turning up here too and reading this. Liking it and even commenting on it. Thank you. You are appreciated.

I think I’ve gotten into some kind of groove now with posting daily and I don’t want to stop the momentum now. So what is happening in May? What’s going to be appearing here?

I think it’s time to share more about my visual journaling practice, hence today’s image. I partake in this practicing daily almost like breathing. And it sustains me just the same. So let’s move into May celebrating this life giving practice.

I hope through my sharing and discussion of visual journaling that you’re inspired to dip your toe into the practice also. It doesn’t have to be grand and it’s certainly not planned. I turn up to the page and remain open to what unfolds.

I’ll use the month of May to share what does unfold with you here. Hope you stick around for the journey. Thank you.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing.

I might have disrupted the page already with paint, or marks or collage. But this was done to eradicate the blank page. And this was done with that one purpose in mind and then left to see another day.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m going to do. Will I make a mark with paint, pencil, piece of paper, what? I just know I need to start.

I might want to cover the white spaces. I’m drawn to colour. So using colour excites me. So I drop a dollop of paint, red maybe and then I know I need to move it across the page. But how? Finger, card, roller? Each brings a different texture to the page, each brings a different coverage to the page.

So now I’ve started but still I have no idea what I’m doing or where this piece is going. But I start responding to the mark that has just gone before. What do I need to do next to work with this last mark or interruption? What would speak with it? What would speak against it?

If I have no idea, that I pick up a pencil and allow my hand to loosely move it over the page, making circular marks. This gives me a moment to think, to look at the page and see what is missing, what is needed.

But when I say thinking, I don’t mean conscious, logical thinking. Let’s call it musing or dreaming instead. As my mind is empty when I’m in the creative process. The outside world falls away. My cares and worries fall away. I’m just focusing on the page in front of me. And not in a concentrating way, or a hard stare kind of way. Just like my hand is holding that pencil, in a loose kind of way.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing. But I’m listening. Being attentive to what the page, the piece now coming together wants from me, wants next. One mark, then the next, communicating to each other and then the next.

At some points in the process, I’m up close, working on just one corner of the page. At other times, I take a step back and allow other parts of the page to come into my line of vision. At some points, I fall in love with just a section of the whole. I give it some care and attention. I bring it up and out further. I make it sing, because in the process, I sing through it too.

At this point, the rest of the page needs, deserves this care and attention so I start listening elsewhere. Keep coming back to the places I love and savouring their presence.

I come to the page not knowing what I’m doing but being open to the dance of possibilities. I make myself vulnerable to the process as I feel this it the only way I can move forward with the process.

I come with no expectations, no desires to make pretty art.

I come to the page to feel and express.

Discovering New Landscapes

‘i said to trauma,
“i am so much more than you.” ‘ – Kai Chen’s Thom, I Hope We Choose Love

The final prompt last night in Honouring Our Wholeness with @olwen.wilson had us wondering about what seeds we could plant if we consider how we are so much more than our trauma.
This is what I created. ‘Discovering New Landscapes.’ Trauma is a very familiar territory for me. I’ve been carrying around these fragmented pieces of land in my body for years ever since I was 9 years old and my dad died of leukaemia. Then my sister died. Then my mum died. One traumatic experience after another builds up layers of scar tissue, thick and hardening, from the bones out. Me thinking I can protect myself from pain hiding within the rolls of fat around my body. My whole body is a landscape of accumulated pain, suffering, abuse, self-abuse, rejection, hate and cruelty. And yet, last night in this gathering of women, feminine and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, I traced golden lines around my trauma. I remembered my mother and her body, like the pomegranate, full of seeds, but who’s garnet juice ran out as she miscarried after having me, which reminded me of my miscarriage before Miss Ella came along. But from these seeds within and without, new life, new power can be nurtured and brought to fruition. New landscapes of grasses and wild flowers can be tended. In time. In space. In body and mind and soul.