©️Janey Colbourne 2017
This poem is also a public post on my new Patreon page
©️Janey Colbourne 2017
This poem is also a public post on my new Patreon page
I’m taking part in Papergirl Blackburn this year. Artists of all kinds donate work to be exhibited and then given away to members of the public.
Artist: Janey Colbourne
I am primarily a writer and musician but I’m a very visual thinker with a vivid imagination. I meditate and practise shamanic journeying and I like to walk in the woods and talk to the plants. I sometimes draw pictures of my visions and dreams. My octopus sketch is my attempt to capture the spirit of a dream I had about a baby octopus that wanted to be rescued and taken to the ocean. It was a significant dream that I wanted to share because of the feeling it gave me. This baby octopus is overflowing with unconditional love.
I drew the picture on my iPad with my finger. Although the drawing is very simple I think I have captured the mood of the dream. I awoke with such a lovely feeling that stayed with me, I’d like to pass that feeling on.
I also like to…
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As promised, today is the day of my patreon launch. I’m very excited to start this new venture. I hope that you would like to join me. Subscriptions start at $1 a month, which is only about 79p! You can cancel anytime if you feel it’s not for you. There’s plenty more information over on my patreon page about what I do, the rewards I’m going to offer and my long-term goals.
“I believe I have something worthwhile, important and highly relevant to share with the world. I wish to speak for the disenfranchised; for more-than-human nature, for those living in poverty, the disabled and those who suffer discrimination. I want to continue to be accessible to those who cannot pay for my work and to share more widely my vision for a better future.”
To find out more, click on the link below:
UPDATE: my patreon Page is now live at www.patreon.com/janeycolbourne
I am currently preparing my Patreon page to go live this Thursday 16 November 2017. Patreon is a type of crowdfunding site that enables creators to share their work with subscribers and for subscribers to support creative work that they like. The subscriptions are on a monthly basis.
My first tier of supporters will be called acorns. Acorns will contribute $1 per month to receive exclusive access to my patron-only posts, or previews of work, such as poetry, short articles, seasonal newsletters, book reviews, music, spoken word and so on.
The second tier of supporters will be called seedlings. For $5 a month seedlings will receive all of the above plus occasional extras such as sneak peaks at my current projects, behind-the-scenes, insights into my creative process and thoughts from my journal.
The third tier of supporters, saplings, will receive all of the above plus occasional extra goodies, such as exclusive access to videos, pdf or mp3 downloads, for a contribution of $10 a month.
The fourth tier of supporters, oak trees will receive all of the above plus a signed copy of one of my books for $15 a month.
The fifth tier, mother trees, will receive all of the above plus a signed copy of another of my books for $20 a month.
The signed books will be my two published books of poetry, ‘See with Heart’ and ‘Growing with Gratitude’, which are also available to purchase from Amazon
I’m very excited to be launching this page, which I’m hoping will grow into a like-minded community, where I can connect with my readers. Your support would mean a great deal to me, as it will contribute to enabling me to earn a full time income from my writing. I will of course continue creating my free blog here and continue my other social media posts. My forthcoming Patreon page is an opportunity for those of you who have found this blog worthwhile and interesting to offer support in return, and also will give you access to exclusive posts and behind-the-scenes from me.
I’ll be posting the link here on my blog when we go live on Thursday. Hope to see you there!
Thank you to all my followers. I hope you continue to enjoy my blog.
© Janey Colbourne 2017 all content and images
I’ve been musing on some of the concepts I’ve encountered regarding life paths and our choices and difficulties in life. One such concept is that we ‘choose’ our challenges or obstacles. Now I’ll agree that there are times when we can get in our own way so to speak, and it’s always important to examine ourselves for any possible self-sabotage, conscious or unconscious. Sometimes a block can be serving a deeper need of some sort, and if this can be brought into awareness and resolved it is possible to move forward. Also of course, our choices do have consequences, sometimes unintended ones, and maybe even years later. Accepting responsibility for our decisions makes it easier to accept potential consequences and also can empower us to deal with them. I also accept that within each one of us are particularly qualities and talents we have to potentially offer the world, and that finding a path we can take to achieve that gives meaning to life, although there are myriad ways to fulfil that. There may be times we feel we are ‘on the right path’. Everything flows and opportunities open to us. We feel that we belong. When we feel our life is on the right path it is because the choices and opportunities we take at that time are a good fit for our psyche and therefore we feel a sense of right fit or ‘destiny’.
However, personally I disagree with the maxim that we always choose our life circumstance. I’m sure that blaming is not the intention of those who hold these ideas, which are often shared to offer comfort or a sense of empowerment. However that is not necessarily the feeling triggered on the receiving end. Of the same ilk is the idea that things are ‘meant to be’ or ‘happen for a reason’. Underlying these is the same implication—that we deserve the hurts that happen to us—an insidious form of victim-blaming. To say that an abandoned infant, or a child in a war zone, an abused woman, cancer sufferer or murder victim ‘chose’ their situation would probably be a shocking statement to most people, but these extreme examples highlight the disturbing sentiment of such maxims. Ironically, suggesting that a person chose their situation can amplify a feeling of powerlessness. If the reality is that their current difficulty is caused by external factors beyond their control, and therefore they have limited power to resolve the situation, then the claim that they chose this implies that they ought to be able to fix it for themselves, leading to feelings of failure and inadequacy. Being told that we should be able to fix something that is beyond our power to fix creates even deeper feelings of being trapped and powerless.
I would like to undertake a reframing of these ideas, which I believe will conserve and enhance the self-empowerment and self-responsibility that is intended by proponents of these ideas, whilst removing the blame aspect. Rather than saying I chose or deserve a situation I like to take the attitude that nevertheless I can learn something valuable from it. This resonates with the perspective of Roberto Assagioli, the founder of psychosynthesis—that difficulties in life are opportunities for growth, encouraging a positive mindset without the negative feeling of self-blame.
The concept that ‘everything happens for a reason’ is related to ideas about destiny and predetermined paths in life. These are narratives that some people feel gives them a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and a sense of security. Personally it’s not a narrative that I find reassuring.
There is a difference between association and cause and effect. It’s a subtle but important distinction. We may learn something valuable from a difficult circumstance but that does not have to mean it was ‘meant to be’. In fact this thinking reverses the cause and effect; I learned something from this, ergo, it happened because I needed to learn it. What if reality is ‘it just happens’ and we make the best of it? This is not to dismiss that there are clearly times when we unconsciously re-create a situation in our social lives or relationships until we learn from it, often related to emotional wounds from childhood. But again, this doesn’t have to mean that the whole experience is occurring in order to create that learning, simply that we can’t move on from the experience until we learn the way out. Once out of it, we are hopefully wiser and stronger. But sometimes people are so damaged they can’t move on. Does this ‘happen for a reason’? It is always true that an individual can choose how they respond to a situation but sometimes their wounds prevent them from seeing or being able to act on all their choices, and sometimes their choices really are truly limited. The only choices then are how we look at a situation. I have been through a lot in my life. I don’t personally find it helpful to think that I ‘chose’ all that pain, or the pain I caused other people in trying to cope with it. But I damn well did choose to face it all and work through it and make the best of what I do have.
I choose to see the good in my life and in the world around me. I don’t deny the pain, but I don’t let it blind me. I don’t believe it ‘happened for a reason’ but I do believe I can choose a narrative of my own that helps me make sense of my life. Sometimes a painful experience can lead to a positive outcome you may not otherwise have had. Like the current in a river, a boulder can redirect the flow in a different direction. One door closes, but another one opens. Humans have an incredible capacity for hope and renewal. We can make good out of the bad. We can take our pain and remold it to make something good. We can choose our own narrative interpretation of experience. If ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘I chose this life’ works for you in your own life, that’s great, and I respect that, but please consider it may not be helpful for other people. The problem is not in having that for your own narrative, but in projecting it onto others. We can support each other to see what choices we do have, and to find our own sense of meaning and purpose. Empowerment means writing our own story.
©️Janey Colbourne 2017
Trigger warning: content discusses sexual violence
I’d like to thank the Guardian for the detailed and clearly written article ‘Harvey Weinstein: a list of the women who have accused him’ by Caroline Davies and Nadia Khomami on 21 October 2017. This article conveys how the women felt they were manipulated and intimidated, and in some cases physically attacked by Weinstein and I think it’s important to hear those voices as a counter to the victim blaming that I have been seeing on social media— in some cases, most alarmingly, from other women survivors of sexual assault. Not only are perpetrators dominating, controlling and destroying lives, they also have the satisfaction of seeing the women blame each other for it. This demonstrates the level of their manipulative powers and that misogyny is deeply endemic in our culture.
According to the allegations in this article, the victims were all terrified of Weinstein. When a man unexpectedly removes his clothing in inappropriate circumstances the first thought of a vulnerable woman (or man) is, how far do his lack of boundaries go? Can I get out of here alive? What do I have to do to get out of here alive? This is not a man who is taking no for an answer. If you’re going to run or fight, you had better be sure you can get away. And you have a split second to think about it before he makes his move.
As a society, we need to have a conversation about what constitutes consent. Acquiescing out of fear is not consent, whether it is fear for our safety, career, or anything else. As it happens, many of the women quoted in the Guardian article said they found some way to escape. Nevertheless, judgement should not be laid on those who did not feel safe to resist his advances. The shame of compliance in the face of sexual intimidation is one of things that keeps victims quiet, that allows the perpetrators to get away with it, to continue getting away with it, committing sexual violence to so many others. Weinstein preyed on the young and naive, allegedly telling them, “This is how Hollywood works”. Power is the keyword here. Sexual violence is all about power— a cycle of using power to maintain power. Abuse of power in order to abuse in order to have power. A powerful cycle. Manipulation. Charm. Lies. Shaming. Gaslighting. Being in a position of power or authority. Physical violence. Threats. Blackmail. Bribery. Do not underestimate the psychological powers of a predator.
Gaslighting is a term to describe a technique of manipulation where a victim is made to doubt their own sanity, memory, judgement and perception, through the use of mind games and deceit. This enables the perpetrator to keep the victim trapped, dependent and compliant. If as victims we are blaming and silencing each other, then we have all been gaslighted.
No victim should be made to feel ashamed for what happened to them, or for how they dealt with it. For some, the #metoo campaign has been profoundly triggering. For those who cannot bear to speak of their pain, I hope that those of us who do may offer some comfort that our voices challenge the acceptance of this violence as a normal and inevitable part of life, in the hope that all our daughters may have a better, safer future.
Janey Colbourne 2017
Recently I’ve been finding myself drawn to tree stumps. This was perhaps in part due to my observations of a local tree that had to be cut down after splitting during a storm, and which subsequently showed herself to be very much alive by sprouting abundant new growth, and whose story I documented in a previous post: A Photographic Study of Stumps: there’s life in the old tree yet #365dayswild #naturenarratives. Another factor which sparked my interest was the film ‘Intelligent Trees’, featuring forester Peter Wohlleben and Dr Suzanne Simard, in which the dynamics of the mycorrhizal network were explained. Tree stumps in a forest may continue to live, even in the absence of any leaves of their own, as they may receive nourishment from other trees via the mycorrhizal network just under the soil that links all the trees. This led me to a closer observation of tree stumps to look for signs of life. It is rare for a tree stump to not maintain some form of life. Many tree stumps have a mossy hat on the cut surface, often also sprouting fungi of one sort or another, and some do actually have leafy regrowth. A fallen tree may continue to grow lying on its side, as some of the root system is still connected underground. Even dead wood is a supporter of life for insects and fungi, a visible manifestation of the cycle of life. So, in one way or other, trees that have fallen or been cut down are still very much a part of life. Their tenacity, longevity and force of life is truly incredible, something I find reassuring and comforting in this fast-paced modern world of disposability. In death there is life.
NB. If anyone wishes to comment on the species of fungi that would be most welcome, as that is not my area of expertise.