The week that started 16th September

LiLi smiling in September sun with a beautiful afro

All about preparation and readiness this week.

I’m so rested and ready to start my new job that I detangled my hair*, did the grocery shopping for a meditation retreat and stocked up on food for myself for September without breaking a sweat.

* Edited to add: during which time I watched 4 films 🥴

Endings and beginnings

My sabbatical is drawing to a close and I’m gearing up to start my new job at Spotify. I’m excited!

The Future is Back is winding up — just one month until our showcase at Gay’s The Word — and I’m looking ahead to what happens next.

How do I want to continue my writing alongside full-time employment and after my regular writing group disbands?

Enter my reflections on creating my own curriculum for writing. I did some research on self-directed study and it really helped me. Now I’m getting clear on what I want to achieve, and why, and how; as well as how I’ll know when I’m done. After that, I’ll make and commit to study plans.

Creating writing plans

Worked through the resources in Writing: Self-directed Study to get clear about what I want to achieve, why and how. Assessed my readiness to learn (step 1) and set learning goals (step 2).

I have a good idea of some practices, processes and healthy habits that will help me. I’ll use the GROW method to build on that (step 2b), ways to help myself learn (step 3) and plan how to evaluate my learning (step 4).

And then, using all that to make a study plan.

I want to use GROW method to put in place structures and scaffolding that’ll create the environment to facilitate those things.

Sunrise stole my breath

Remembered I can experience sunrise wherever I am in the world and it’s always spectacular.

What I achieved on sabbatical

Monday 22 July – Sunday 29 September

  • Wrote, and wrote, and wrote
  • Designed & delivered three workshops at the Liberating Structures European Learning Gathering in Hamburg
  • Visited The British Library for the first time
  • Organised my finances and introduced a friend to You Need a Budget (she hated budgeting – as I used to – and now she loves it, as I do. Result!)
  • Made the most of free co-writing space in August, thank you Spread the Word
  • Connected with trees and people of colour over a long weekend in the woods at the Wild in the City festival
  • Visited Whitstable with my mum (our first time there)
  • Watched plays – All The Shit I Can’t Say To My Dad + Blue Beneath My Skin, as part of THIS IS BLACK festival, and Chiaroscuro
  • Completed Learning How to Learn distance learning with Coursera
  • Attended a black history tour at the Natural History Museum, expertly led by Miranda Lowe, Senior Curator of Marine Biology
  • Met the Senior Curator of Reptiles & Amphibians at the Natural History Museum
  • Went on residency, Writing in Constable Country, at Flatford Mill
  • Deconstructed Agile with Tobias Mayer &co
  • Completed The Artist’s Way course for the second time
  • Celebrated endings and beginnings at Kew Gardens with friends
  • Surprised a friend in Málaga, had a wicked holiday celebrating at a villa in Benajarafe and stood in the sea for the first time
  • Heard Chineke! orchestra perform as part of Africa Utopia
  • Attained Level 2 Certificate in Information, Advice or Guidance with Lambeth College
  • Meditation retreat, self-organised with friends
  • Published weeknotes every single week

And there’s a little more to come, too, before it’s all over:

  • Visiting my three year old nibling
  • Planning the upcoming Liberating Structures workshop for October
  • Improving my session design for October’s The Art of Nothing conference
  • Foraging

Healthy habits

After some hectic weeks (months!), I created a less packed week to focus on those healthy habits I’ve sometimes been alluding to.

Waking (and getting up!) at 7 am daily

Here’s how I do it:

  • Alarm set for 7 am each day, yes, including weekends – it’s easier when it’s the same every single day
  • Wake with alarm, feel like nothing would please me more than to go straight back to sleep, wrestle internally until –
  • Bladder prods me to get up; follow the call
  • Make a cup of herbal tea, take my liquid iron supplement
  • Tell myself, “Just do your morning pages”
  • Do my morning pages
  • Feel a little more awake, but not there yet. Tell myself, “Ooh, your tea is the perfect temperature to enjoy now!”
  • Drink tea
  • Voila, ready for the day!

After this I’m generally doing whatever task is most difficult and/or important for that day. Writing a list the day before really helps. Last thing before bed I scrawl some things in my bullet journal. Generally the most difficult/important task is obvious at that point, so I put a star by it.

After that I make and enjoy breakfast. I recently started including goji berries, hemp seeds & soaked walnuts again, and adding maca powder for energy & verve. Hmm, let’s update my cranberry & pecan porridge recipe… Okay, done.

My mission is get up at 6 am from Tuesday, 24/09 onwards.

Daily dozen & food tings

I started using Michael Greger’s Daily Dozen checklist app and re-reading his book, How Not to Die this week, listen here.

Trees

I have monthly tree dates lined up for the rest of the year, yay!

  • Foraging
  • Caring for old trees
  • Identifying trees in early winter
  • More identifying trees in winter

Looking to set up some more. Ideally I’d be hanging out with trees every week, but maybe I’ll aim for twice monthly for now.

Writing

Last week I started studying The Craft of Character at Coursera. It’s not a habit yet, so I forgot about it for a few days before diving back in. I’m catching up!

Our flaws are often driven by what we desire most.

Brando Skyhorse
LiLi, defiant, next to a James Baldwin quote: "The place in which I'll fit will not exist until I make it."

And then I wrote a play, thanks to Dr Namita Elizabeth Chakrabarty‘s workshop writing for the stage at my writing group, The Future is Back. Not a whole play, but a play nonetheless. Never done that before… Really helped me understand my characters better. As an interdisciplinary writer myself, I’m so excited about having more ways of writing open to me.

Yay!

https://twitter.com/gobrightly/status/1174435793139638274

I’m inspired and reminded of the importance of music too. Namita played Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong, and so much came up for me from that one song.

And then, as I was writing, many other songs came to mind, and my protagonist spoke to me through them. Jennifer Hudson’s And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going & Whitney Houston’s Run to You

And remember, one great book can change your life.

Olakunle Kasumu after interviewing Olumide Popoola about her book ‘When We Speak of Nothing’