What I Could Do During Social Isolation – Freewriting

One thing that I’ve already mentioned before is writing Sophie Lives. Not that I expect to write the whole book, but I can write more of it. There’s lots of writing that I can do, I intend to keep up with my freewriting on a daily basis, whether that’s on here or in my notepad.

Meditation has been a part of my life for many years, although I have let that slip recently, and I we would like to take that up again, whether I do breath awareness or use the Insight Timer app. I like to put wax earplugs in, shut out the background noise and just focus on my breath, so I set the intent of meditating today.

My photography portfolio hasn’t been added to for s while. I think it would be beneficial if I went through all of my photos and created a folder for all of the best ones. It’s nice to know that I have taken a few good photos over the past few years and I need to make the most of these. If I have them all in one place then I can get back onto curator space and submit some of them to exhibitions and competitions.

My eating disorder recovery has involved attending online 12 step meetings, and I have a weekly routine of attending three. As well as keeping up with those, now might be a good time to log into some others, which would increase my social contact.

Of course I should continue reading as well. Currently I’m reading Palestinian Walks: Notes On A Vanashing Landscape by Raja Shahadeh. It’s a fantastic piece of non-fiction about the life of a Palestinian from the West Bank (Occupied Territories) and his walks through the landscape. It’s beautifully written, and naturally it touches upon the political landscape of living under Israeli occupation and how the illegal settlements have interfered with the physical environment. I have an interest in the political environment between Israel and Palestine, the conflict has been going on longer than my lifetime, it would be nice if this conflict would end at some point before I die. I hold out no hope for this, but I guess people didn’t believe the conflicts between Republicans and Unionists in Norther Ireland would ever end either.

During the 12 week period of social isolation I am aloud out for short walks and to the shops as well, which is something I will most definitely do.

There are more things that I can do, and this piece of writing has helped me to solidify my ideas from my previous post. I wish all of you safety, peace and love and pray that you all get through these challenging times safely and that you remain in good health.

The Blackbird – A Poem

The blackbird is the first to sing during the dawn chorus.

It’s four am and I hear her chirping

No other bird is making a sound

The blackbird is another sign of spring

 

I don’t mind being up early, while it’s still dark

Especially as the blackbird is awake with me

It warms my heart

And tells me that today will be a good day

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I need a good day

And I desperately need the signs of spring

The winter has been long, hard and wet, with never ending rain

I need that blackbird to sing

 

I’ve heard a rumour that April will be warm

Much warmer than usual

In the 20’s I’m told

April will also bring the full dawn chorus

 

Such hope and such joy this news does bring

A hope for life

And another winter won

I can rest in hope now that spring has begun.

Winter Is A Bastard – Exercise 1.6

Spring is most definitely in the air despite the periods of relentless rain. Crocus and daffodils are pushing their necks out of the ground, and they are adding glorious pockets of colour to my days. Such joy. My mood is improving slowly but surely, I’m isolating less, and I’m having more clarity of thought. Gratitude is what I’m feeling as I write this short piece of freewriting (I adore freewriting, it’s shown me that I do have lots to write).

But winter is a bastard, an effing c of a nightmare that I often struggle to get through!

This year my mood dropped at the end of December, and my thoughts darkened. I began to obsess about suicide, and I researched methods on the Internet, and purchased some pills which I believed would end my life.

Motivation and pleasure from activities deserted me and I felt hopeless. Situations which involved close contact with others was a struggle and I avoided people. Ultimately I was overwhelmed and tried yet again to take my life. Disappointed that I didn’t succeed, but the disappointment that I tried to end my life pushed me into accepting help. I’m now attending a therapeutic day unit. It’s a short term program for a few weeks, enough to get me through until I am able to keep myself occupied and productive.

My energy always improves in the spring. If only I could hold back the self destruction long enough to get me through to the lighter, brighter and warmer days.

My thoughts are much clearer now, and I am enjoying my studies. I had my coursework for over a month before I could even open the folder. Eventually I realised I had to just begin the first exercise, I couldn’t wait until my motivation returned, I had to simply take action without expectation. I’m so grateful that I did because I find it has brought joy and satisfaction into my daily life.

I’m looking out for signs of spring now. I’m not waiting for motivation I’m acting as if I’m motivated, and I’m finding signs of spring right now. Recovery is action. Hope is important but I can’t hope my way into feeling better, I have to put the effort into hunting for joy and gratitude.

Writing Is Magical – Exercise 1.5

Writing is magical – it transports us. As you sit ready to write this exercise, close your eyes for just a moment. Recall the last time you were out in the elements. Feel the wind, snow or pounding rain on your face, the chill in your bones. Open your eyes when you’re ready to write about this. Stay in the moment as you write.

The sky was bright, though it was cloudy. I expect the cloud must have been thin and the sunning burning bright behind it.

I sought out the winter flowering blossom. It brings a tear to my eye to think of it. It’s my beacon of hope. I’ve nearly survived this winter. I took out my phone, I had to take a photo, a momento of my being beggining to leave its dark winter home. I give thanks to a god that I don’t believe in. The signs of spring mean so much to me.

I heard the flutter of wings and turned my heard sharply, in time to catch a flock of pigeons urgently seeking flight. A predator must be around. Alas, its only a Magpie, no majestic Sparrow hawk for my mind to marvel at. There are people at the bus stop so I secretly salute the bird, with the saying “hello Mr Magpie, how are you and your family.” I realise there is only a single bird, “one for sorrow”, the words are an arrow to my heart, but I can’t stop the thoughts and fears arising. Suddenly a second bird appears, “two for joy”. I breath a sigh of relief. They briefly circle the tree then land. I notice one of them is preening small twigs. They’re forming a nest. Spring, another sign of spring. Yes. How marvelous.

 

Thank Fuck It’s Nearly Spring

To be honest it’s been a hard winter. I lost all interest in the people and projects that matter to me, and getting through each day has been a chore. A pointless effort with no reward. I’ve been in a very dark place, I’m still there on many levels.

However, today I felt some spontaneous hope. As I left home to attend counselling I realised it was light. The bus journey was diverted, and I found myself feeling excited to be living in London.

The past week I haven’t felt anything positive, but I have been putting the effort into positive behaviour. I’ve undertaken some photography for a long term project, I’ve read through some of my course literature, and I’ve undertaken a little writing yesterday and today.

Spring is just around the corner, and I’ve been looking for signs of it:- the growth of my trees, lighter afternoons, crocus and daffodils emerging, trees budding, and winter flowering cherry.

One of the things that true for me is that I have wonderful friends, and I seek additional support for my mental health. But life has still been a struggle.

Spring is a time of greater joy, energy and enthusiasm for me. Come on spring, please hurry up.

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Considering The Year Ahead, Life, Death And Photography

It would be impossible to think of the future without considering that there is the potential for me to die from heart disease. As you’re aware I have decided not to have surgery for my heart condition. I can see how dieing could be a scary experience, but I have been at peace since making this decision.

Knowing that I have a limited time left has most certainly helped me to focus on living well and considering whether my daily actions improve the quality of my life. This doesn’t mean running around like a mad march hare and doing, doing, doing. Sometimes I just want to sit still and do nothing, others I want to read or birdwatch, and occasionally I want to be around people.

I’m not used to being around people, and I can struggle even when I’m around those who I love and feel safe with. Getting the balance right for me isn’t easy, I’ve had a wonderful Christmas, but I’m ready to go home now.

When I return home my plan is to begin meditating daily. Meditation is most definitely linked to my creativity and photography. I have a few ideas for photographic project’s and I know meditation will help with developing these. I have vague ideas about making photos with others who identify as being non-binary or gender fluid, and making use of masks or props to explore and express gender identity.

I’ve particularly enjoyed my embroidered photography this year, for my project “Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia, And The Strengths Of My Recovery.” I completed the project just before Christmas, but I don’t feel ready to make these public at the moment. The wonderful thing is that I already have a gallery/arts project who would like to exhibit the series. I can see the potential for building upon this work to explore mental health further. Meditation will definitely aid my progress in these areas.

“Snippets” is a series I’m currently working on in which I write down snippets of overheard conversation and take a photo in the area of which the conversation was heard. I got the idea from a fellow OCA photography student Chloe Halstead. The idea is to have this as a long term project using my Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and to present the series as a photo book.

Hopefully I will also have some news about my application for a bursary to study an Open Foundation in Creative Writing, with the Open College of the Arts, I can feel some more photo essays coming along.

Colour is also going to feature in the clothes I wear, it’s time to bring more colour and variety into my attire, and today I’m top to bottom in yellow. I’ve also seen some green corduroys that I like. I’ll give them some thought.

I guess I’ll need to tone the colours down when birdwatching, something which I plan to do more of this year. I’m so grateful that I discovered RSPB Rainham Marshes. One thing that would aid my birdwatching would be finding a teleconverter that I can attach to the front of my Mzuiko 75-300mm lens. I can’t currently afford one. However, I have four photos appearing in The Loudest Whispers exhibition, run by The Arts Project London, during February, March and April. If they sell then I’ll be able to afford a teleconverter. Fingers crossed. 

I don’t have a bucket list, but I would like to be able to go on a birdwatching holiday during the summer.

Wishing you all a wonderful year ahead.

Assignment Five Update

This piece of embroidery has not been easy. Once I had pricked the photo I was overwhelmed with the amount of holes and the complexity. It’s necessary to make all of the holes before trying to work out where the hell to embroider and which threads to use. This photo has been demanding in terms of energy and focus.

The process is enjoyable though. I’m seeing the commitment as running parallel to the effort I have to put into recovery from my eating disorder.

My working title remains as “emotional States of my anorexia”, however the embroidery is about recovery, change and growth, and this needs to be reflected in the title.

Embroidering onto my self portraits has started to feel like an act of self love, whereas initially I felt neutral towards the process of pricking and sewing upon myself.

My tutor and I will be discussing my progress next week, and I look forward to her guidance, especially in relation to one of the remaining animals (I’m not happy with the snake) and with regards to mounting them. The electrical tape which I use to secure threads is bulky in the areas where I’ve taped several loose ends.

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Intuitive Eating – My Anorexia Recovery

Things are going very well for me, and on the whole my eating is now intuitive. I am able to select foods that I want to eat. Sometimes I have the foods that I want to eat, and other times I eat something that I fancy. I may eat out or I may cook at home, depending upon my other plans.

Here’s a salt and chilli beef which I cooked at home.

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Many places in London have Street vendors who sell a variety of foods. I’ve seen bubble waffles for a while, but I haven’t dared to have one until Saturday.

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It was delicious. Hot Nutella on the waffle, with chopped snickers, strawberry, cream, and more Nutella drizzled over the top.

I had this at snack time, but because the calories were so high I considered it to be lunch and had a snack at lunch time. My nutritionist was impressed that I was able to do so.

My Anorexia Recovery And Self Care

My recovery has developed very quickly since August. Initially I was on a weight gain regime, then onto maintenance, and now I’m learning some flexibility.

My nutritionist agreed that I could try a new food this week. We didn’t specify what that should be, but that I could choose it on the day.

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Yesterday I ate at East Street in Rathborne Place, just off of Oxford Street in London. East Street has a menu of many Asian foods. I chose a hot and spicy Thai chicken dish with Jasmine rice. Now that’s the kind of food I want to eat more off. It was delicious. The service was quick, friendly and accommodating (I changed tables because I felt a draft where I initially sat), the food was tasty, and the restaurant was stylish.

I needed some new clothes, and purchased a fab pink jumper and matching pink shirt, pink really suits me, but my real self-care was buying a bath bomb and soap from Lush.

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This was a reward for me having the courage to follow my heart and move to London. The photo of the bath bomb isn’t good, but the bath was. I smell like a fizzy lemon. Truly lush.

It was cold and wet in London yesterday. Not my favourite conditions to be outside in, but there’s always a photographic opportunity if we seek it out.

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The Pain Of Making Self Portraits

Firstly – I know have a working title for my assignment… “The Emotional States Of Anorexia”. The emotions that I’m photographing all relate to different emotions that I have experienced that relate to my anorexia.

Defiance (fuck you! I won’t eat and you can’t make me)

Pride (Yes – another target weight hit)

Rage (I fucking hate my self)

Joy (I can wear those new skinny jeans now I’ve hit that weight)

Fear (I’m so fucking scared of eating, l will have to kill myself if I do)

Grief (I hurt so much I can’t cope anymore)

Now I know that you know that I hate my photo being taken. I hate seeing photos of myself. It’s taken me sometime to build up the willingness to photograph myself. Tomorrow and Thursday I have the pain of seeing my face when I develop them. Fuck sake. Why am I doing this. I could have used someone else as the model.

Thing is I can’t. I know that these emotions are extreme and trying to work with a model and talking them into these states is gonna be challenging and time-consuming. I know these emotions and the thoughts that go with them. They’ve been a second skin that I’ve lived in. Consequently it’s taken me an hour to make these photos.

I’ve not liked doing it at all, but, I’ve got the photos that I need. I’ve captured the emotions. Am I putting them up on here? Not bloody likely. Once I’ve embroidered over them then I will publish them, but they, of themselves, are not the final piece of work. They are just part of a still life audio, visual installation that will be juxtaposed with the Laura Letinsky photography.

If I put my displeasure about the photos of myself to the side, I feel excited. This is coming together. My creative vision is clear, I can see the outcome.

Will I exhibit the six pieces I am creating? Damn right if I can get the right curator and the right space. It’s weird how I can feel so confident of that when I can’t stand seeing my photo. Perhaps it’s because my portrait is just a part of a larger piece of work, that my face will be sewn over? Perhaps it’s just a dichotomy of the human experience.