Mathematical Mindfulness (making book birds)

As you may know this is my year of taking time out and living slow in order to mend.

At times this makes life a little lonely and isolated unless I make the effort to travel and push my anxiety. So today I did just that, I volunteered for my favourite people/ place/ festival/ oraganisation: Wise Words Festival. If you don’t know what they do check them out. They are an extraordinary festival run by people with enormous hearts and passion for change through the arts.

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Anyway, I go every year, whether working or as a guest, and always get involved. Last year I worked collaboratively with them on a number of projects :

This year I’m unable to work to my usual capacity but want to be a part of the goings on, so I decided to volunteer as an artist and maker instead.

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Today we met at my beloved Cowshed Studios to add the ever-increasing flock of book birds that migrate to the festival each year to roost in the trees. I’ve always loved them as a feature and thought they looked like the most complicated things to make. Little did I know how easy they are to create. If you have an hour to spend and a free pair of hands you can make them too. Warning though, its hugely addictive and you may take to your bookshelves, so make sure the books you use are ones you’ll never want to read again.

All there is to it is paper-folding, much less complicated than origami, and a lot of repetition as you need to fold each and every page. You only have to turn to Pinterest to see all the ways you can repurpose and up-cycle old books. I just searched ‘book folding patterns’ to discover all of the marvellous things people create.  I managed 4 books today using simple folds. Here are some pictures of my efforts.

Being a creative I chose a book of mathematics to transform first. I did end up getting caught in some of the pages as I was folding.

The best thing about this activity is not the result but the process of making. It is manual, easy, and repetitive (like a nice set of sums!). Before long it become calming and meditative, productive and relaxing. I could spend hours folding and chatting.

Why not give it a go yourself with an old book. All you have to do is pick a type of fold and repeat with every page in the book till it’s wings unfurl and a new bird has hatched.

If you are in the Canterbury area you could volunteer too, just follow this link to find out how…

 

 

Adventures 

Right in the middle of my darkest days I created a what’s app group called ‘adventures’. This was the group of people I knew would be willing to keep me occupied and go on adventures big and small. It quickly evolved and became the trusted group to catch me when I fall.

When I had my second overdose, and was out of my tiny skull, I remember my friend whispering in my ear that I must want life because I created this group and they were here to live the adventures with me. 

I’ve started to see this time that’s been so cruelly imposed as something different. It’s a time to take stock, slow down and find new and old things to do. In other words go on adventures. 

The other day I fancied a bag of crisps so walked the 90 minute round trip to the nearest shop to do it. Before you cry ‘but you can’t walk far with a disability’, I have good days and bad and this was a good. Also not working and being weighed down means I have energy for me. Energy that I use to make myself healthier to withstand the next flare. The next day I was in agony but it was worth it.
I’m living life in slow, at my pace, and at the same time making fun plans. Things I’d really like to do are: 

  • Write and develop my blog
  • Write creatively 
  • Travel as far as my body will let me all over the world
  • Go off grid as much as possible 
  • Bake myself unsad (more on this another time)
  • Write a story and get it published
  • Learn modern calligraphy 
  • Learn how to take photos properly
  • Do an illustration course
  • Learn how to screen print properly
  • Ride my bike
  • Read
  • Collaborate with others

Edit 7th November – I forgot to add dance and sing, such a hole ridden brain. It was the reason I started this post. If anyone want to offer me lessons I’ll feed you x

I’m not sure how these things are going to happen as I’m limited by health and my tiny benefits budget. But if anyone out there can help my year of adventures please get in touch. I’d like any advice or support from any of you reading this to make things happen (donations and freebies also welcome). I can repay you in hugs and cake. And I will use all the experiences to be stronger and be able to give back to all those who need it.

I don’t know about you but I’m excited…

All brine and piss and vinegar

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All brine and piss and vinegar,

my mouth is raw.

The pages full of false knowledge

blame the ‘lies’ that my tongue spits.

 
Blisters appear with each spiteful word,

spat at you in a moment of rage.

Anger trapped, desperate for an escape.

They are your lies not mine.

 

Tongue raw from yesterday’s drinks,

burnt and scraped with comfort eats.

Morsels that last a moment,

before they decay and rot.

 

I cannot taste anything but bile,

and vinegar and pain.

I seek the comfort of cold, smooth

kind and compassionate words.

 

My mouth is silenced,

I wake with it glued tight,

a mess of brown clotted blood,

teeth caked in earthy dried fluid.

 

But from inside there is something,

spun from a silver thread.

It speaks truth through your lies.

It’s a tale yet to be told.

 

‘All brine and piss and vinegar’  is borrowed from The Decemberist’s song “Grace Cathedral Hill”

The book that told me ulcers are caused by lies also told the reader period pain was caused by not embracing being a woman enough. I rarely lie, any more than anyone else. I love being a woman. Go figure? It’s like trying to be rescued by a Christian who keeps on insisting my auto immune is because I don’t believe in god. I don’t. Theres some proper drivel out there. I choose to follow my heart.

 

 

Colour

I’m at my sister’s in Bristol for a much needed mini break as part of ‘being kind to myself’. I’ve slotted into her family life and am drifting along finding it difficult to switch off. 
On the first evening we went swimming despite my crippling fatigue. I’m glad I did as 20 minutes splashing around in water was a respite from overthinking and I felt like I’d taken a step towards a new start.

On Friday daytime I mostly napped. Absolutely shattered and emotionally drained. I’ve been trying not to do this because of the awful insomnia, but this time I couldn’t stop.

This recharge meant in the afternoon I could go out with the boys and into the centre.

Bristol Biennial Is in full swing so our first stop was Liz West’s exhibition Our Colour at the Pithay.  

As you can see we loved it. It’s basically the 4th floor of a disused office building bathed in coloured lights to make the full rainbow spectrum. There’s nothing more to it which makes it strangely wonderful. We chose to sit in different parts to see how it made us feel. I loved watching people of all ages react to the colour zones.

What was most interesting was seeing where people were drawn. Most people seemed to congregate in the extremes. Calm and laying down in the purple at one end, or bathed in neon pink at the other whilst standing and taking it all in.  

When we left we chatted about how good it is when you can experience installations and art freely. There’s no constraints in these spaces and no rules on how to act like in traditional galleries and arts events. Theo had the freedom to roam and react and we thought nothing of lying flat on the floor to take pictures. 
It was like full on colour therapy for the soul and made me realise one part of myself. I am a huge seeker of beauty in the world and love to experience visual art. It makes me feel curious and excited and feeds me energy. 
To take part in this I needed my spoons. But by taking out the strains of work I was free to enjoy and explore. My goal for this month will be to seek more beauty without the guilt of not working!