Finding home…

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Tonight I found home. It’s been a while and I’m so happy to have found it again.

But before I talk about where I found it, let me explain a few things. I haven’t written in a while, and my last few posts have been quite ranty and tanty. I have felt like my head is spinning and to be completely honest (which I always am) I’ve felt overwhelmed, and a little bit lost.

When I get overwhelmed I tend to shut down, scroll Facebook and watch nonsense on Netflix while occasionally walking from room to room shaking my head at all the things I have to do, furiously making lists that have too much on them, before making another cup of tea and scrolling once again.

Anyone who knows me will attest to fact that I do a lot of things. Some people say I have too many interest/businesses/things in my life, but I am the epitome of a multi passionate person. It’s not about money, I just love doing lots of things and for me it’s so liberating to be cubicle free. I want to do all the things. All of them.

I have six businesses, a charity, a social enterprise and many creative pursuits that I love. I have been considering cutting back on some, but apart from one, which is my app, I honestly love each and every one of them and don’t want to give them up, well not right now anyway. When it comes to money, I believe in abundance and never quite know where my next income will come from, but I always have enough and know that I always will. Always.

So back to the spinning head and overwhelm. It’s not from all of the things I do, none of them are full time and all are passion projects. I feel like it comes from a place of not taking time to listen and find home. Yes I know that scrolling Facebook and watching Netflix isn’t finding time to listen but that’s how I deal. For a long time I dealt with my stuff by writing and I’ve missed that, so it’s nice to be here sifting and sorting out the thoughts in my head via the keyboard and the inter webs.

In addition to not taking time to listen, there is a part of me that is feeling distressed, dismayed and almost helpless about the state of our beloved planet, and the level of distress has left me reeling and and with that awful sense of hopelessness that comes when we feel like we have no control over our situation. As a control freak I can tell you this is a dark place for me. The way I’ve figured out I can dealt with it is to remind myself of the fact I can only do what I can in my own space, with the resources I have and do my best to be a source of information and inspiration for people who want to know more about how to look after our precious one and only home.

It also comes from a feeling that I have so much more to offer the world than what I have been doing and want to find that place of deep authenticity where I am living, loving and giving from my heart space.

So that word – home. Tonight I found home again.

I found it at yoga. I am a long time yoga lover and tend to come and go to classes for various reasons relating to my physical and mental health, maybe that’s another post, and I’d like to think I’m back on the mat for good this time.

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Home isn’t a place, an address or a country. To me anyway.

Tonight I found home on the tip of my nose as the air gently passed by my face. I found it in the soles of my feet as they held my body strong in mountain pose, it was there in my spine as I did gentle compassionate back bends. I found it on my skin as we were encouraged to hold ourselves with love. I found it in my heart as I held my hands in prayer pose.

I found home, deep inside of me.

Right where it has always been.

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What I’ve learnt so far about writing my book…

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I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. I’ve always written in some form or another and I’m sure I was born reading a book. For most of my career my writing was centred around business writing, product development and training material.

I started blogging in 2010 when I moved to Ghana, this is my fourth blog. One has been retired, but the others are still going, each with a different purpose and audience. While I’ve been published in magazines, I’ve never written a book and it has been on my to do list for many years now.

I decided that this, my 50th year was the year to finally make my book happen. I’ve got a big to do list this year, and time is running by too quickly!! I took myself off to Bali to retreat for 32 blissful days in June, in order to focus on writing my memoir about the year I lived in Ghana. The working title is “How I learnt to love my bum and other lessons from Africa”.

I had this grand idea that I would knock this book off in a month, with time to spare. Yeah right. I started well, but quickly realised that it was going to be more challenging than I had originally anticipated. I’m so used to blogging, quick wins and finishes that the process of an unfinished product at the end of each day felt all awkward and prickly to begin with. As my wise friend and fellow writer Helen told me, writing a book uses different muscles than a blog, similar to the differences between running a sprint and a marathon.

So, after 32 days I came home with just over 30,000 words completed, not too shabby. I also had an idea for another book and that’s 5,000 words in, as well as various blog posts and other creative ideas flowing all around me. I’m very happy with the outcome of my retreat and I plan to make it an annual event.

snoopy_writing.jpgThis is what I learnt:

  1. I am an expert procrastinator. I’ve written about this before here where I generously shared some of my best tips for extreme procrastination. I really am the queen in this area and if there was some kind of nobel prize equivalent, I’d win for sure.
  2. It’s not my husband’s fault. I always said I wasn’t able to produce a book with him around, because, well he’s my biggest distraction. However I left him behind and still managed to get distracted by lots of shiny things and almost everything else, every day.
  3. I remembered more than I thought I would. We lived in Ghana from July 2010-July 2011 and despite my hubby’s best advice to keep at least a small journal with even a sentence a day (yes he’s always right, as well as being extremely hot), I didn’t. This means I’m relying solely on my memory, which I’m pleased to say, has been very reliable to date. I have also found some old blog posts, photos and Facebook to be helpful.
  4. Writing a memoir can be painful and emotional. One of the reasons for writing this is to share my experience of living in Ghana. That year was both the best and worst of my life. It pushed all of my buttons, shoved me hard right out of my comfort zone and taught me more than I had learnt in the previous 44 years on the planet. Remembering the highlights and lowlights triggered quite a few tears.
  5. It’s ok not to get it perfect right off the bat. I learnt about shitty first drafts from Brene Brown and Anne Lamott and for that I’m grateful. I’m writing down the bones and fleshing it out later. I am a recovering perfectionist and this was a biggie for me.
  6. It’s ok to change direction. I thought I knew where the book would go, but it has taken me in very different places than I had anticipated, and that’s absolutely fine!

I’ve been home for a week now and I must confess to having lost my momentum a little, actually a lot, ok I’ve not looked at it since. I’m almost finished writing my smaller book and plan to have it off to the editor on the weekend, so after that I will pick it up again and get back into marathon mode.

Someone hold me accountable! Too many distractions…ooh look that’s pretty!

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I write.

 

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Roosters crow, birds of all kinds sing, and geckos make their chit chit sounds. Water flows rapidly over layers of rock filled pools, cool and calming to the ear. Children laugh and play, men and women work, motorbikes zoom up and down the hill. The pungent scent of incense occasionally touches my nose, mingled with frangipani, jasmine and wood smoke. A gentle breeze blows across my damp sweat kissed skin as the sun sets for another day.

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Where else would I be right now but here? Beautiful Bali, Island of the Gods, full of grace, elegance, wisdom and beauty, a feast for all the senses. As I lay here in the afternoon breeze, I’m playing with words, rearranging and sculpting them to create stories, poetry – word art to spread across the canvas that is my page.

I create word art that tells my stories, the stories of others and paints pictures in my heart and soul. I create art that tells of places, people and loved ones here and those long gone from this earthly plane.

I write because I love. I write because I live. I write because I am.

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Writing in Bali

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As any of my regular readers and friends know well, I have a longstanding love affair with Bali. Last time I was here in December/January I wrote every day, sometimes more than once a day. I love it so much. There is something about this place that gets my creative juices flowing and it doesn’t stop.

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Yesterday I was walking and contemplating the effect that this place has on me on so many levels. I was waiting for hubby to finish buying something and made a quick impromptu video about the concept of being cleansed in body, mind and soul and how it is so good for creative pursuits.

I’m returning to my beloved Bali in May for a whole four weeks to dedicate myself, my time and energy to my art and to write full time. Ah bliss! While I’m here I am very excited to be hosting an intimate Writers Retreat for women who know they deserve the time and space to nurture their creative spirit.

I have just three spaces left, so if you would like to join me in paradise and spend time just for you and your art, please get in touch.

I look forward to sharing my love of writing in paradise with you.

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I want to write all the words!

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Some days I just want to write and write and write and never stop. Once the flow of creativity overcomes me, nothing else matters. It is so good to create!

I have long wanted to find a hobby, pastime, passion, pursuit or whatever you want to name it, that consumed me. I have mentioned previously that I have long wanted to paint, draw or do anything creative and always felt tinges, no – actually whopping ginormous great huge big pangs of jealousy when I see artistic friends totally absorbed in their art.

For a start I have never found anything that held my attention for very long, and I have so many started and unfinished projects that it is almost embarrassing. Another issue is that I am pretty well talentless artistically, I can’t even draw a straight line. I also have always had difficulty prioritising artistic pursuits over the more mundane things that take up my time. The “shoulds” and the “to do lists”, oh don’t get me started on lists. That is definitely something for another post.

For instance I could never sit down to write if the bed wasn’t made, dishes unwashed, washing to be done etc. I am changing, albeit slowly. I have realised a lot of these tactics while helpful in allowing me to be free to focus on what needs to be done, often serve as a form of procrastination. Now that I have connected with writing more frequently I am getting more flexible and trying to be less rigid. For example recently if the urge to write overcomes me, I am simply dropping everything and writing. Obviously this happens if I am physically in a position to do so, which most of the time I am fortunate to be. And might I add, fucking love it!

Procrastination and distraction are still my specialties for the most part, in fact I could write a thesis paper on both of these I am so damn good at them, so these are the challenges I expect to face as I carve out my path as an artist for 2016.

So yes, I want to write words. All of the words. All of the time!

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The flow of writing (for me anyway)

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Some days I write nothing and others I write a lot. Yesterday I wrote three blog posts and I feel as if my followers may feel spammed and I am sorry about that, but I tend to go with the flow.

I have never planned my writing on this or any other blog – ever. What happens is that I might see something, hear something, have a thought in the shower, then grab my laptop and write it. Most posts take no more than a couple of minutes as it is really a flow of consciousness that I pour out, rather than trying to say something or make a particular point.

I write what I am thinking and feeling and go back to briefly edit, find an eye catching photo and upload. Once I start, I find I want to write more and more and more. This is the primary idea behind Julia Cameron’s morning pages. I have to confess I have The Artist’s Way and the morning pages journal and have even bought some lovely pens but it is so long since I have written freehand and I am yet to start. However I plan to do it as a daily practice from now on.

The reason I am going to start morning pages is I’ve found that sense of flow that comes from writing leads to that need to write more as I mention above. Up until this point it hasn’t mattered whether I write once a year or three times a day, but as I am about to start writing full time I need to have myself well prepared to keep the creative tap open and flowing.

I have never suffered writers block, but that’s not to say I am any better than anyone else. The reason is simply that I only write when an idea comes. I have never written through discomfort, distractions, boredom or any other challenges that writers face, as I have previously had no structure or discipline to my writing.

Things are about to change. I am going to write my book next year and I will be putting writing first as I have mentioned in other posts, and I’m sure I will face all of the above challenges and many more.

One thing I lack in ANY aspect of my life is discipline. In anything. I seriously have none and I don’t mind admitting it now. One thing I have learnt about myself that has really come to the fore recently is that I don’t deal with discomfort on any level, and I do mean any level. I think I will write about this in another post, but it is something I definitely need to work on.

So one of the goals I have set for myself is to establish a daily writing practice. It will be an interesting process for me but one that is necessary to explore this art that I love so very much.

Stay tuned, we are in for quite a ride!

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Cracked open

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it sits

lying in wait

longing to be cracked open

long ago hardened and crusted over

but soft and juicy inside

patiently waiting to shine again

the tough outer shell is gently softened

by artistic thought

each action taken

every picture drawn

or word written

gently coaxes it out again

the hard shell begins to crack

and fall away

it is safe to come out and live boldly again

become plump with flowing juices

growing and throbbing with the joy of being used

like a muscle long withered

it never forgets what it needs to do

the shell has gone, fallen away forever

fly, be free

let me see what I’m here to do

it is finally time to listen

creativity 

my heart and soul belong to you

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