From Trees to Cave Dwelling, I've been hibernating. (Trigger warning, post about Mental Health)
Last year I updated this website, navigating from that cute animated world full of child-like joy and happy animal faces, playing in the wilderness, to this sophisticated design where you get to know the practitioner beyond the social media posts and workshop facilitation. But where did I go?
Little has happened on the website, few social media posts and no workshops and courses. "Ahh the pandemic" I hear you sigh, fed up of yet another blog post hearing another opinion and experience about the major shake up. No, surprisingly not. Yes 2020 was a major year for all, shake ups of politics, fires destroying habitats, children unable to go to school and a virus that grounded the world to a halt, without a plane in the sky! I went quiet before that monumental day of 23rd March 2020, and when I watched Boris Johnson at 8pm on my sisters TV, I was relieved.
Finally I could stop and no longer feel guilty that I wasn't working hard enough, that I wasn't doing a good enough job, for I had already been signed off work for a few weeks, with depression and until that moment where we were all asked to "Stay Home, Stay Safe", I felt guilty that I wasn't working. But I WAS NOT WORKING! Depression had grounded me to a standstill, just like the planes at Heathrow, and I couldn't go anywhere.
For me depression was a numb feeling, where everything, my entire entity as a human, in a space, surrounded by loved ones felt like, nothing. I felt even more guilt. The life and love had vanished, like my soul had left and I was just a carbon life form, functioning, breathing, but unlike any other species on this planet, I had little desire to carry on. And I'm sorry, if you find that hard to read because it is hard to reflect on too, for me and for you.
This is not a blog post to share my intimate experience with the "Black Dog", "The Fog", "The Dark Place", "The Box", but to say "HELLO! I'm still here"! For I have spent the pandemic reflecting, like many others have too and I realised a platform where many of you saw my face regularly, I suddenly vanished with an odd share and post here and there.
In the years leading up to this major life changing event, I've had to pleasure to have been involved in a variety of community projects, delivering Forest School across the country and helping pave the way for Forest Bathing in Wales, bringing the benefits of nature into peoples lives. But if I knew how other people could look after themselves using nature, preventing and supporting wellbeing, then how did I end up feeling so terrible? That I am still understanding myself, but it had a lot to do with doing too much for one person to cope with and a little of surviving a divorce, among a few other things. But what I do know, is how using nature for my own recovery was a godsend, especially with the lack of support that would normally of been available due to the pandemic.
I am still in recovery, and I still have hard times but mostly I am learning to navigate them and see triggers, and identify my needs. It's not a linear journey like these typed lines, more a mural on the wall a lovely toddler decided to explore their Picasso on! And as I unpick the marks, I see how this will develop my understanding as a Practitioner, and one day I'll be adding this new layer to further workshops and courses, but for now I may flow from a keyboard, connecting people with nature in a digital age. During Lockdown pt.1, (the prequel to The Longest Winter - Lockdown pt.2), I set about adding my artwork and writing to my arts page, PoeTree, this was good for my personal development as I couldn't access nature beyond my front gate. Over the past two years I've used this platform to perform and exhibit my art work, and you can follow that on Instagram and at https://www.poetrywales.org/ as well as view my films on youtube .
I needed something else though. I like a project to get my teeth into, normally working in the heart of the community and that guilt crept in again that I wasn't doing enough. I wasn't ready to go back to work as I once knew it, and suspected the Acorn Children would need their Acorn Mother at home during the winter, so I returned to University, blessed with remote working I'm now exploring a Masters in Creative Practice in Education, with The University of Chester. And what a journey this is!
Through this dedicated time to explore my creative practice, I've fallen in-love with nature again. I am uncovering the wealth of experience under my belt and defining it, sculpting it and remodelling who I am, what I can do and where I want to take it. And this is where this message touches your screens, because I've rekindled with my roots and although quiet, plans and motions bubble away like a slightly overcooked marshmallow and one day, we may find our feet mindfully touching the grass of beautiful gardens and warming our hands on the heat of a campfire, together once again.
If you need to reach out for local support, head to:
Mind Aberconwy https://conwymind.org.uk/