Juggling Balls

A new month equals new focus. Reflecting on the month gone and planning for the month ahead. Already, I feel as if I’m juggling so many ball but I know I’ve been carrying them around for a while. And I do pick them up gladly, it’s just some days I feel a bit overwhelmed.
It’s sometimes difficult to keep a handle on everything, to engage and move things forward. It always cones down to time and never having enough of it to get everything I want done, done. And then when there might be a window of time, I don’t have the energy to complete any task. Times like these are about keeping the faith and believing in the process.

Projects on the go NOW: ( Part 1)

1. Arts Council Funded creative project with writers around the First World War.
2. Heritage Lottery Funded project with Muslim girls around the First World War.
3. Developing Living Wild Studios as a creative business. Need to update/ rejig the website first.
4. Facilitating a creative retreat in Iceland this June. Planning schedule and securing two more people.
5. Stocking Folksy Store to sell my paintings, prints and collages.
6. Complete the writing and developing of my first e-course around visual journalling.
7. Explore my Iceland landscape abstract photography and paintings.
8. Develop my self-portraiture project through further research and practice.
9. Return to my Flaneuse research to feed into an offering in Paris. Research trip needs to be planned.
10. Start the planning for a women’s gathering in The Highlands through a research/self-appointed residency in March.
11. Start responding to the writing prompts from Eat My Stardust.
12. Listen to the second recording from Liberated Lines and write.
13. Complete final draft of poetry chapbook and send to Culture Matters ASAP.
14. Start the research and writing for my next full collection around our relationship with the land.
15. Continue with my self-directed study around seeking the Goddess.
16. Complete my Creative Journey Facilitator Training with Lisa Sonora.
17. Return to my developing creative non-fiction memoir around death.
18. Complete research around further grants and funding for women’s well-being projects.
19. Continue research for social enterprise – air on skin (working title) to encourage more ethnic minorities to develop a relationship with Nature.
20. Start self-appointed residency – North Sea Writer-in-Residence.
21. Return to second recording of Wild Soul Woman Facilitator training and respond with notes.
22. Get more sleep. Drink more water. Get more exercise. Eat more greens.

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My Creative Year in Review – Part 1

In recent years during December I’ve taken the time and space to reflect back on the past twelve months in terms of my creative life. It is always inspiring and surprising to remember the things I have achieved as well as the mistakes I have learnt from along the way.

Following this practice of review means that I enter the next year, fired up and focused about the choices I want to make going forward.
If I had to sum up 2017 in 3 words it would include courage, voice and business.

Let’s take a look at each month ( the year will be split into two parts) and see what happened along the way to carry me into 2018, older but so much more younger in terms of wonder and curiosity.

January came in cold and dark. The ideal time to go deeper into my practice of hygge. During my winters walks #TheHealingPeopertiesOfTheSeas was conceived as a one day symposium all about our relationship with water. This has still to take place but the concept is out there and can be found on IG  and Twitter. Holding this idea throughout the year has meant that I’ve been curating short 10 second films around water. These will be available to watch and add to during 2018.

February was the beginning of my exploration of voice. Having been chosen to take part in an Arvon foundation residential course for writers wanting to make change happen, I met a whole heap of interesting people who supported me on my journey of claiming and using my authentic voice around the theme of my body in the environment. This led into further publications of my creative non-fiction poetic writing here. I was also exploring my voice through painting by completing Painting the Feminine with Connie Solera. This was another opportunity for me to embody my multi-layered identity, providing the tools and techniques to support my self-expression.

March saw me return to Iceland as part of a self-directed residency with The Westfjords Residency. To spend an extended amount of time in an isolated village miles from a major town was testing. I questioned what I was trying to achieve by doing this, in terms of my creativity as well as my life. It was unsettling to some extent as all my usual boundaries were missing and for a while there I did flounder. I also experienced some racial abuse while in Reykjavik which made me question my relationship with the whole country. March was definitely a learning curve which manifested in a deeper love of Iceland which meant before I left I made plans to share this love with my family.

April was another month of learning as I not only completed a Woodland leader training course in the Highlands of Scotland but I also went live with my new website and brand name Living Wild Studios. I’d procrastinated enough and it was time to be seen, showcasing all of my creative adventures under one roof.
It was a scary time but one that I wouldn’t change as I went with my gut and created a beautiful website I’m proud to call my home. It’s varied and dynamic and changing to reflect how I’m changing.

May seemed to have gone in a blur. I know it was a time of disrupted plans due to Alan’s mam being in hospital for an extended stay. It was a time of sticking close to home and putting my family first and foremost. But I did try to keep moving forward with Living Wild Studios as a business, extending my reach through social media. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy this month as I was trying to operate in a way that wasn’t being authentic to me. I had to explore my relationship with social media, with the pubic arena at large and withdraw to do so. This was good for me, for my sanity.

I continued my social media hiatus into June. I felt I was just settling into my own space and voice by the end of May so wanted more time away from distractions to listen within. This was an important month for me to dive deep into the Creative Facilitator Training I had started with Lisa Sonora this year. I had been building up a resistance to the course as it wasn’t as I had thought it would be. I expected more. But then I realised that this is an experiential course and I get out of it what I put into it. All along I’m using myself and my experiences and beliefs as the learning examples so in order to learn and move forward I had to be more engaged. A light bulb moment which saw me returning at the end of the month to social media to share my visual journaling practice, the foundation of my creativity, much more extensively and thoroughly than before.

ten:three

1. Re-entry into my everyday after being away is harsh.
2. The sun glows low.
3. We walk the shore alone and smell the waves.
4. My everyday life is full of kinks.
5. The terns dance within the foam.
6. Strong black coffee steams.
7. Luther Vandross ‘Searching’ on the radio.
8. Emails plying up as is the washing.
9. Box set bingeing late into the night.
10. Not ready to start it all again tomorrow.

learning to change 


Over the weekend, our clocks went back. We lost an hour and gained the darkness. Usually at this time of year, I go into a bit of a slump. With the night’s drawing in so does my mind and emotions. I get a bit grumpy as this is the way I’m supposed to act. I’m not supposed to welcome the dark, to enjoy the dark, I should be reaching for the light, or so I’ve been lead to believe. But this year, I sense a change. 

This November I plan to go within, deep within. Cosy up and settle into my new home at the same time as explore my internal darkness. I’m looking forward to the rest, to the reduction in the pressures to perform and show up. I’m looking forward to just being. and don’t get me wrong, I’ll not be idle. I’ve got plenty of things to keep me busy, to be getting on with behind the scenes. But allowing myself to rest and to take care of myself, is a change, is an advancement for me that I will continue to cultivate as I reap the benefits of such. But of course if these plans get disrupted, I have also learned to be flexible.

This time last hear, I was knee deep in curriculum planning, marking and examination preparations. Self-care amounted to getting to bed before 10pm and most nights that wasn’t achieved. Things weren’t really going to plan and I was constantly knackered. What I can take from that time now is my ability to be flexible, to not make a fuss but to just go with the flow because I learned that it was me and only me who was hurting. It was me and my unrealistic expectations that was causing the ruckus, not anyone else.

I carry this nugget of knowledge with me now, when my best laid plans go up in smoke because of unforeseen circumstances. I become disappointed and hurt and yet I also see that these things happen and I’m more adept at being centred, rooted in myself but still allowing my trunk to bend, and my branches to sway in an unexpected wind or storm. These things happen, it’s nature. It’s how I perceive and handly these changable circumstances is the development, is an indication of my growth as a human being.

years of marriage 

My husband, Alan and I have been together longer than I can remember, yet I’m still surprised by the turn of events, sometimes. At these points, I have to chuckle.
Alan, annoyed,  has said that I mine our lives for writing material but I do believe it’s not just my story to tell, so I do shy away from writing about our marriage as it is, while in the thick of things.
This relationship, when two individuals come together into a partnership, does play a significant part in my life and to not explore and reflect upon it in within my writing is denying a part of myself. As well as living a lie, as believe it or not, marriageland is not all hunky dorky.

During the years we’ve been together, Alan and I have experienced the rough with the smooth. They say a couple’s relationship changes when children come along. And that much is true. There’s had to be a lot more understanding and communication and patience. And sometimes it hasn’t always been there. 

I’m not offering marriage guidance here as I’m not an expert is marritable bliss. I only know what works and doesn’t work for me/us. So we’re still in the thick of moving house. This follows on the back of months of ill health, cancer treatment and hospital visits. You don’t realise the calm within your day to day until it is disrupted. You don’t realise the love and companionship and trust within your relationship until it has disappeared.
This isn’t a post about Alan and I spliting up, far from it. But it is a post about holding on and appreciating what you have when you have it. It’s obvious but sometimes we fail to acknowledge it, fail to act upon it, fail to live it. 

As we settle into our new home, the time and space has arisen to speak my needs and concerns to Alan as well as to check in with him about his needs and concerns. We’re still part of this dance, growing all the time as individuals and together. But it never ceases to amaze me as you hold a crystal up to the light the myriad of shapes and colours and delights that are revealed.

savouring the moments 

Even though the last few days have been full on with the house move ( and we haven’t finished yet), I am pleased to say that I have managed to find the time and space within each day to stop and admire my surroundings. I can recall moments of stillness when I have been present; catching myself smiling into the season, noticing the changing light, sensing the coming chill. Relishing the ruby richness of the berries. 
It really has been a gift to experience these moments of clarity, these moments of bliss in the sheer speed of passing time, and the sheer frenzy of activities. 
Time is running out in terms of getting the house cleared as well as for my favourite season being here in all her golden edges.
Tonight while driving back from the council dump, high up in the sky in front of me is a sliver of the moon. She moves out from the dark, slowly revealing a pale silver cheek. I feel blessed in so many ways,  to be living this life now. Thank you.

Paying Attention

As I travel to work, again I am paying attention to my surroundings. Now it is the sea as I take the ferry across the Tyne, from one shields to the next. The light always makes me relax into the moment. It is ever changing as time passes. But then when I look down upon the water, I see patterns, I see movement, I see beauty.
I’m collecting images each journey. I’m doing the work and not looking back at what I’ve created. I’m saving that until I have more time and space to reflect and move the project forward somehow. At the moment, I’ve just capturing what I see. And this makes me happy. This brings me joy and the flutter of excitement in my gut. And that’s enough for now.

Autumn – Pause, Reflect, Rebalance


This is my time of year. I’ve always loved Autumn since I was a child and taking as many different routes to school as possible to kick through the leaves.

There’s a crisp freshness to the air. Yes you can see your breath as you breathe out but you can also feel your fingers and toes getting cold. Your nose feeling the chill. There’s nothing like this time of year to bring you into the present moment.

October is my birthday month. The Black Moon in Libra was at the end of September marking the mid-point in the annual horoscope cycle. Libra, my sign, the sign of beauty and balance, is totally me as I seek both within my life with a passion.

This is a time when I will spend weighing up what has happened, what I have done so far along my path of enlightenment and authenticity. I intend to savour these moments of chill and beauty. Not rush off and make new plans for the future ( although I did make a couple yesterday. More to follow here!!). I try to refrain from doing and instead being.

This is a starting point, yes, but to pause, reflect, rebalance.

Update: Artist on Hiatus Residency


To say that the aim of this residency is to not engage in any artistic activities from September to December inclusive, I would have to confess that things are not going to plan.
I’m finding that making something, doing something creative; be it cooking a meal, baking, knitting, reading about art, playing with paints, these little moments of colour in my day are my highlights. These moments of play energise me, bring me back to me and how I want to spend my time.
I suppose I’m not learning anything new from undertaking this residency. I always knew that creativity was my life force. I suppose it is only reinforcing my self-knowledge.
I know I devised this residency to ease the pressure off myself, while having to work full-time. But I’m finding that these moments of creativity are what gives me the strength and energy to carry on with the full-time work. Without these pockets of colour and joy my life would be grey and nothing. I would be so unhappy and lost that I would worry how to carry on.
I know frustrations are creeping in as I wish I had more than just pockets of time to devote to my creativity and future projects. But I’m allowing myself the space to rest and dream. Not pushing myself but also not denying myself the time to plan and imagine.

Authencity 

I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted trying to be all things to everybody. I’m exhausted trying so hard to be liked and popular. But I’m not in my new job, in the position to be liked. I’ve got a job to do. But I could be doing a better job if I wasn’t trying so hard to be funny, agreeable,and gracious.

This isn’t something new. I’ve always had an extreme desire to be liked and loved. But it is only recently that I am more aware of this flaw and have attempted to change direction. And that is exactly what I plan to do this next week. I’m giving up on being liked and popular. I’m going to spend my time and energy on getting the job done to the best of my ability. If that pisses people off, if that means I am not liked, so be it. As at least I will be true to myself. I will be my authentic self. And that may at times be ugly, but it is way less exhausting.