A message to my friends

My friends to me are what one lover can never be.

It is absurd to imagine a thing exists such as one person to provide all these things.

Connection to my friends is one of the most important things in my life.

In our daily lives, we walk somewhat alone, going about our days, personal challenges, our routines or lack of them, with a unique rhythm, pace and direction.

On hard days it can feel like we are stumbling or dragging our bodies slowly and heavily with low reserves of energy. 

On better days we walk with a confident stride, light on our feet, focused, present and alert to our surroundings. 

On special occasions with a childlike playfulness we run or even leap.

When you need a connection:

Imagine a friend/s going about their lives, what they may have going on at that time and send them waves of love and good feeling. On some level whether conscious or not this will be of benefit to them. I know it to be true. Feel your connection to your friend, imagine walking side by side. This offering beyond yourself will immediately be of benefit to you. 

When it is not possible to have your friends physically present (for example you have moved somewhere new or you have retreated a little) this does not ever take away from your friendships because we are all connected beyond our physicalities. 

I truly understood this when one of my closest friend, Zsi, who I loved so deeply, died very shockingly and suddenly in an accident a few years ago. This had a massive impact on my state of consciousness and as a result of this shift I began living life even more fully and deeply than I had before.

Even though she was no longer physically present she became part of me. I recall her and feel her presence through the memories we share and what I learned through our beautiful friendship. She also occasionally visits me in dreams.

I have not been the same since this happened. It deepened further my appreciation for the value and importance of each person in my life and their contribution.

It is very important that we remind one another of the things we most value.

Our friendship goes beyond this meeting in the flesh. It is operating on a deeper level of the heart.

What warmth comes to my heart when I call to mind you, my sweet friends and beautiful tribe.

Beneath this walking of ones independent walk is this, I can visualise it:

An intricate, finely wired network - a web that supports and holds the mass of us. 

We are each an important part of it. 

This web grows richer, stronger and more colourful each time we reach out and connect whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Do not ever forget that your part in it effects each and everyone of us. Never underestimate the power and contribution you have. We notice. You may not think we do at times, but we are all seen. We all matter.

As the years pass on, the patterns of these interconnnections grow more intricate and intelligent. It is ever changing.These networks also move beyond our tribe. Each time we join together at gatherings we are given life, we can go back to our own lives fuller, more whole to share this feeling of love and warmth with others.

When one of us is going through a hard time, we are all holding you within this web of support. No one is forgotten. The light of your part in the web may glow a little less brightly at this time. 

The rest of us will surround you and hold you and glow brighter to support you until you are ready, recharged and bright on your own again.

Then when it is someone elses turn we will do the same, again and again for every single one of us.

When lovers come and go friends will remain.

My friends to me, 

are what one lover can never be. 

You are all my loves.


Bjork appreciation moment


Bjork striding through life spreading colour through darkness

It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything on here. The last time was when Bowie exited the ole stage.

Fairly often, I reflect on the transcient nature of life, its impermanence and questioning what its all about.

I move frequently between feeling my insignificance and tininess in the world while considering and figuring out my place in it, then feeling my potent energy and passionate lust for life, connecting to this enthusiasm for the gift of being alive. I understand how important it is to be conscious of the short time we spend here and respect that I must try and be of some use and make the most of the time while am here.

Very often it is common in our society that we praise someones life and appreciate their influence on us once they have died. 

We reflect on how much they meant to us, what they taught us, we go through all the work that touched and influenced us. We may discover things we did not know while they were alive, things become more significant since they are no longer here in physical form. Work they created may be analysed more and may seem more meaningful. We are left with memories, work, objects, feelings and impressions. 

This is natural of course, as death can be a dramatic way of drawing collective attention and energy as it is directed and focused on the individual. We may learn what that person meant to us, new wisdom and insights with the benefit of hindsight.

The dance of their life unique, so utterly their own, we may form a new picture, a deeper understanding and feeling for the essence of the person. 

It is very often the case that death itself assists us in appreciating someone, sometimes sadly, more so than we did when they were alive.

But we must take time appreciating those who touch us while we are alive damn it. I feel very strongly about this. I wish people wrote a variation of eulogies while people are still alive more often. Maybe it would be a bit much to be fed back just how wonderful someone can be in the flesh?

I for one am happy to celebrate sharing my appreciation for those I deeply respect and admire.

I like to appreciate those who inspire and touch me, finding gratitude on a regular basis. 

This website is an archiving process in itself, a way of sharing a few things (no matter how humble or small a gesture it is in the great scheme of things). 

It is small gestures that make up our lives too, as well as more dramatic things. How much of life is mundane and normal alongside the more pertinent and deeper experiences? Quite a lot.

This is just one reason why it is so important to build up daily disciplines and habits that are meaningful in some way or contribute to a bigger web or picture. It is what amounts to create our whole life, moment by moment. 

What do you choose to do everyday that can become a body of work or something that means something to you as an individual? I am asking myself this frequently at this time in my life as I figure out new directions and path ways. These daily habits build our whole life, it is what we may be remembered for. 

Do not underestmate the power you have to effect others. If you forgot, small gestures do matter too. People remember the little things, I have learned that time and time again.

I will gradually be writing about people who inspire me here, particularly making room for women. 

So now on that note…it is Bjork time.

Exisiting in the same life span as Bjork feels incredibly precious. I love her so very much. She is a beautiful freakish entity and there is no one like her. 

My first introduction to her was one Saturday morning in 1993, I was watching Going Live, innocently eating my cereal while sitting cross legged on the floor looking up at the telly alone. 

She popped up frying eggs singing in her quirky manner Venus as a boy'. I had not seen anyone like her, there was something so other worldly about her, I was captivated in an instant and my little 10 year old brain pulsated somewhat. I gazed in curiosity, transfixed. Needless to say I was thrilled to lay eyes and ears upon her. Mezmerised by Bjork in that moment, deep impression made, only got deeper over the years to now. 

See her roar and scream (click below) when she was in The Sugar Cubes in 1988, when she was just 23. I share this particular video as it is so very raw, a basic example of her monumental talent. Despite that this was a very early music video, the sound is weird and distorted, its quite a funny video and is generally quite jarring. It doesn’t effect how great she is and this comes through with intense power. This brings me a lot of joy everytime I come back to this. I watch this when I want to tap into a bit of her magic and crazy spirit. It just gets better and better over the years. Here shes so into it she actually goes cross eyed. Cross eyed for Gods sake! Its truly wonderful. This makes my heart flutter indeed.


Now, I am simply going to share some photos of this unbelievably creative, curious spirit. It reassures me to know she is alive and creating on this earth at this time right now. Even if she’s just asleep  in this particualr moment she could potentially be having werid arsed dreams, or just speaking in her wonderful voice. You do not need me to tell you the reasons she is incredible. She just frickin is. You have your own relationship to her.

Bjork exists. Let’s just take a God dang moment. This reassures me and brings me an instant feeling of positivity.

How can I/you bring a little bit of Bjork into my/your life? What can she inspire in us? 

She is a creative fire spirit, so utterly authentic and true to her unique nature. She’s a freak (compliment). She doesn’t care what people think. She works hard. She plays like a child with being alive. 

Thank you Bjork you wonder spirit.

That is all. Peace.

bjork speed painting by moroteo56-d4asi7z



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Onwards David Bowie

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I wondered the streets of Brighton this afternoon having heard the news of Bowie’s unexpected death first thing when I woke up.

I’d been listening to him all week early on morning walks to work. 

Through the lanes today, head phone in one ear, he continued playing on, and simultaneously I heard faint glimmers of him, through the other, as I passed cafes and shops all showing their respects. As I entered, I conversed with others sharing this common connection, a warmth between us. 

I heard a strata of his musical styles throughout the afternoon, not knowing what was coming next. Found myself floating in a space in between my personal relationship to this artist, crossing over into the world of others each with with a unique thread and connection of their own. 

Today, all crossing over, spilling, connecting, shared. 


                                        Collage - Martina Ziewe 2013

Living in complicated and insane times as these, when someone of this magnitude and significance dies it offers a sense of commonality, a dialogue and strangely in some sense a little coherence as a large majority of people at least, are all on the same page, in that we can relate to one another and appreciate this.

I liked Comedian, Simon Pegg’s comment today which you’re likely to have come across:

"If you're sad today, just remember the world is over 4 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”

I often feel like this about great artists and people I admire, grateful to have been influenced and inspired by them, and just knowing that is comforting. Truly great artists are a gift to the world. David Bowie, like to so many of us, has been a huge and significant inspiration to me.

When someone of this talent dies, that really resonates with you, it is like an off shoot of when a friend or family member dies. As they have been an ongoing familiar connection throughout your life. So many of us are sad, touched and moved today.

So again, reminded of how ridiculously short life is, especially when it comes out of the blue. I am personally, not surprised that it was not revealed to the public that he had cancer.

It seems almost fitting that he would exit the physical world in such a way, not drawing it out, but a fairly quick transformation to whatever follows. 

My first experience of David Bowie, like so many of my generation (having been born in 83) was seeing him in The Labyrinth. I have watched that film at least 25 times I would estimate. Like so many films of my child hood I knew the whole script and the soundtrack off by heart. I found him strange (obviously), a real oddity, and those leggings of course. He was like no one I had seen before. But the wonderful soundtrack and his unusual way of speaking is what made the lasting impression as well as those mesmerising eyes. 

Growing up, David Bowie was a name, in the background, always there. I would see him from time to time on TV, on things like Top of the Pops.

In my first year at university when I was about 19, I was with a friend, Jemma Freeman, in her halls of residence room. She is a talented guitarist (Landshapes.) She played David Bowie in the background and was clearly hugely influenced by him. I was in awe watching her play guitar and not long after we watched The Man who fell to Earth

I knew his music and was familiar with it over the years, but not through going out of my way to hear it. Life being the organic process that it is, depending on who you come into contact with and the circles we hang out in he actually didn’t feature much for me until a lot later in very recent years in fact.

It was not until I was about to turn 30 that I was exposed in one huge seismic shift to the extent of Bowie’s legacy. It’s absolutely not cool to admit that it was through the exhibition at the V&A that this late awakening occurred for me. 

But who cares, about being cool. This is my experience of how and when I came to get it. And it was great.

Like with Patti Smith, I was primed enough to be mentally prepared for his brilliance perhaps (the whole coming to artists in our own sweet time thing) This was when my own authentic connection to him happened. In a way, what happened, felt like what many people feel when they get into something as a teenager, there is often that part that becomes a little obsessed, which I certainy did whole heartedly.

My friend, Sarah and I queued for the David Bowie exhibition early one morning, a couple of days before the show was ending. It was a sold out show, so we were trying our luck. Having queued for quite some time, we were eventually offered two tickets by the man in front of us, as his friends could no longer make it. We were thrilled.

I can sincerely say it was one of the most exhilarating and incredible exhibitions I have ever been to. It revealed to me the extent of his dedication to his work and the sheer depth of his talent in one go. 

Music, theatre, fashion, painting, film, mime and more. A true artist who tried his hand at everything, with no limitations. All possible avenues of creativity he could explore, he did. The exhibition itself was so well curated and deeply immersive, I was overwhelmed by his prolific nature and talent. I was captivated and enthralled seeing his evolution and development as an artist all at once. Because I hadn't followed his progress in real time it made it all the more crazy to see one mans life development in what I essentially experienced as 2 hours or so. Like going to the cinema and following the protagonist for a couple of hours, you come out and feel like you’ve just been through what they have. His amazing life was condensed into an exhibition which was huge, rich and full of wonder and endless avenues and possibilities.

I was truly inspired by his productivity and constantly evolving creative process. Sarah and I were buzzing. The final room displayed an array of his costumes on mannequins and footage of a live concert. The whole show was incredibly atmospheric. I saw his true genius at once. Something clicked in my brain and I loved every minute of this experience. This tidal wave of inspiration all at once. 

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After the show Sarah took this photo of me in another part of the V&A, when we were both in high spirits. 

It was only when I looked back at the photo that there I recognised there is something of the Ziggy Stardust album cover about it, but this was unintentional. I must have just channeled a bit of Bowie having information overload and I love this photo as a result of that.

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Since this exhibition I’ve probably listened to Bowie every other week in one form or another.

When I am inspired by something I tend to get quite obsessed. I will research the hell out of something. If I was an actor I reckon I’d be a method actor, as I tend to fully immerse myself in it. I watched loads of interviews with him, listened to all his albums and watched documentaries. One of the things that captivated me the most was, as people are always discussing, is his chameleon nature, how he openly admitted to trying out these different characters and becoming something else.

He wasn’t afraid to try new things, constantly changing and evolving, experimenting all of the time. He said:

“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel the need to have somebody qualify my work in a particular way. I’m working for me.”

It excited me that he played so much with his physical appearance and experimented with these different characters.

Here’s an interesting quote:

“One half of me’s putting a concept forward and the other half is trying to sort out my own emotions. And a lot of my space creations are in fact facets of me - I have now since discovered. But I wouldn’t admit even admit that to myself at the time. I would make everything a little up right personification of how I felt about things.

Ziggy would be something and it would relate to me, Major Tom and Space Oddity would be something - they’re all facets of me. I got lost at one point. I couldn’t decide whether I was writing the characters or the characters were writing me or whether we were one and the same”.

This aspect of David Bowie greatly captured my imagination and is one of the things I am most intrigued about him as an artist.

This exhibition and then my personal exploration of his work there after reignited in me, the fact that we can reinvent ourselves, over and over. That we live numerous life times in just this one. He had huge success, but he never got stuck in one era, he constantly evolved and developed and became something else during his whole life. Some artists get stuck on a loop, on their best work or hits, but David Bowie didn’t do that. He was truly engaged in his creative process, never resting on his laurels, never repeating old formulas or sticking with a style or genre in any sense.

After this I was truly inspired. Like so many his androgyny and sexuality I found interesting and intriguing. I played a little more again with the way I expressed myself through how I dressed. I was making a lot of art work at that time and made a couple of little pieces over the years inspired by him. I also allowed myself the space and time to renew looking into my own sexuality more consciously and it opened up these parts of me more allowing me to explore my identity and sexuality in new ways. 

He symbolises the ability we have to create who we are as human beings, of reaching ones creative potential, of evolution and is pure inspiration.

I also love his work ethic, his sheer dedication and drive.

I could go into writing about my experiences of certain songs and what not. But there are countless avenues I could go down. There is currently so much being written about him. This is simply my appreciation for him having been alive and the personal effect he had on me as an individual.

I am forever grateful and touched by his existence in this world. 

There is no one like him nor will there ever be.

As much as I felt sad today, I admire his apparantly swift exit from the world (although we don’t know the full story) - as bold and unpredictable as his creations. With gratitude and deep respect, I can only imagine the sort of crazy stuff he will go onto next.

Yes Bowie, thank you.

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 The Archer

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Impromptu self portrait taken with The Archer in mind - 2013

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Interview in 1973, this image epitimoses his non conformity

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Holy Moment, a little collage - Martina Ziewe - 2013


Page from sketchbook - 2014


Ashes to ashes - (click for video), one of my favourites


I payed a visit to the Bowie Mural - which has since become a tribute spot, Brixton, on Saturday 16th Jan.



                 Drawn in January 2016 just after he died

Solitary Retreat

Scotland 7th-14th August 2015


                    View from the hut

In August I took myself on a solitary retreat in a hut called ‘The Vajra Sheilin’ at the retreat Centre Dhanakosa in Balquhidder, Scotland. I had been 3 times on group meditation retreats at Dhanakosa over the years. The hut is located 300 feet away from the main retreat, it is out of bounds so you remain undisturbed. It is located up on a hill of a valley overlooking Loch Voil. At the beginning of the week you choose a selection of food from the larder, fruit and vegetables and fresh produce, simple vegetarian items. All the pulses and dry goods are in the kitchen of the hut. You can pop back quietly during the week if you need to top up supplies. If you need to communicate with community members for anything, you walk down a hill, put a note in a bucket and raise a flag. When the flag is raised they check out what you need and lower the flag when accomplished. This is the only mode of communication for the week. There is no phone/internet reception.

I have been on numerous group meditation retreats in various locations since my first one in 2004 in Inverness. Scotland is the place I go to when I want to retreat as I love walking in the landscape and the peace it brings me. 

Retreats can offer you a glimpse of living in a community setting and is a way of taking your practise deeper to revitalise what you do in your every day practise. 

Solitary retreats go one step further and have more of an ascetic quality to them as one is completely self reliant. It is important to have a strong foundation of experience before going on one of these and to be in a mentally stable state of mind in the application to attend.

I am not interested in becoming a nun (clearly!), although sometimes I have joked about it when life is getting on my nerves. The reason I go on retreat is so that I can dedicate a concentrated period of time to deepening my own practise. This retreat included the following: meditation, chanting, pranayama, gentle yoga asanas including yin and restorative yoga, deep relaxation, Chi gong, reading, just sitting, observing, contemplating, visualising, singing, resting, doing very little, feeding the birds, cooking healthy food, washing up, walking, sleeping, photography and writing. 

Often after a retreat when I return to my regular life in a town or city following this intense period of meditation and contemplation, I feel I can participate even more fully and whole heartedly having spent this time going inward. It’s a way of recharging the batteries in order to enter my life with a new sense of purpose or dedication. I find it very beneficial which is why it has become something I do at least once a year for the past 11 years. If I can look after my own needs in this way with focus I am more likely to be of use to others on my return, in whatever form that takes, the relationships I have, the projects I work on, the work that I do.

This was my first solitary retreat, I had no instructions or plan, my intention was to simply get in touch with awareness and uncover the presence within me, to access my true nature.

I am sharing some entries from my travel journal of this time. This was the first time I was staying put for a week after lots of moving and transitory experiences, allowing myself to take it all in and become still.

Although this is very personal, I hope it may give some insight into why taking time to be on your own can be important. I know that I have been sceptical about ascetic life styles and have wondered sometimes what use it is to our society if people hide away becoming nuns or monks. I also would like to share this as it is helpful for me to make sense of things I experience and writing is a way of processing and learning from life experiences. The last thing I want is for this to be an act of ‘navel gazing’ as ‘they’ say. I hope it can be thought provoking and maybe even encouraging to others to take time to yourself and see what that can offer you.

Retreats are for a set period and then one returns to regular life, which I believe can be incredibly helpful and far from a selfish act. Ultimately I retreat so that I am easier to be around and hopefully can be of service in some way in the world. If I am mentally stable through looking after my mind through meditation and physically healthy through eating well and doing regular exercise I am more likely to be more useful than I might be if I was working non stop in the centre of a city, eating junk food and never paying attention to my breath or my thoughts. It seems to suit my temperament anyway.

 (-----------Implies time passing, same day)


                     Vajra Sheilin

Mon 10th 

So what am I doing here? I sensibly planned that this would be a good place to come after walking the epic Camino De Santiago and then being at Borderland Festival and am happy I did. I am now in one spot, not going anywhere.

In the city, in regular life the days fly by. If you haven’t achieved loads by the end of the day you can feel it’s not enough. 

Doing very little is hard here too, however. I feel like I should be ‘practicing more’. But being is enough. One day I wrote a to do list out of habit (which I’ve been doing as long as I can remember). All it said was ‘go with the flow’, so I ripped it up and threw it away whilst finding it rather amusing.

Be present in all that I do. Come into the being state. All is valuable. 

I’ve noticed I often have this slight restless feeling within in daily life particularly if I ever find myself at home during the day. Society and the status quo train us that we should always be busy and doing and achieving more and more to be a success. When we are not doing, we feel a sense of lack or that it is not enough. 

When in fact, quite the opposite is true.

We need to do less to come into the being state so that we are fully alive and awake in our actions. Maybe these first couple of days of me feeling this slight restlessness is a residue of that, of all those years in London and the intensity of it. Just shaking off habitual patterns that are still holding on.

My intention on my travels this summer has been to be with whatever is and to be open to what is in front of me, to the unknown, to reality with awareness. I have a strong foundation of years of practise and now is the time to do this retreat. No guidance or instruction from anyone, totally alone, independent and self reliant.

I’ve had a few passing thoughts today wondering what I will do with the next part of my life. I’ve created this seismic shift ‘flicking all the switches at once’ as someone I met aptly put it at Borderland, and it only dawns on me gradually. Since leaving my flat in London I’ve had the phrase in my head ‘home is where the heart is’ come to me. It feels like a good philosophy to live by since the heart is something I focus on so much on a daily basis. It makes sense. Wherever I am engaged and in touch with the heart I am at home.

10 years in London is a decent rounded number and they have been incredibly informative years.

Before I try to figure out where I am going and what I am doing, it makes sense to acknowledge where I actually am…

I am sitting on this porch up on this hill, as the water evaporates from the trees on the other side of the valley up into the clouds. 

I have nothing tying me down right now, no job, no home, no money, no partner, no kids, no material assets. I have myself. I must utilise this time of freedom. If one thing is for sure life will not always be like this. 

Right now, sitting here, this moment, this simplicity suits me very much.

This time last year I was staying with friends, working at their kitchen, staying in a caravan in the Cotswolds for about 10 days. I sat in a field and looked out. I ran through where my life had taken me since leaving school and up to that point. I visualised out into the open field what I wanted to make happen in my life next. After about an hour of meditation, I was startled and gasped out loud as a pheasant dramatically flew out from the trees from behind me and out into the distance across the fields. The words ‘fly the nest’ came to mind. When I returned to the caravan I wrote in my journal that by this time, Aug 2015, I wanted to: have left my flat, London, my job and to travel and volunteer in various places.

Well, now skip forward to the present. I have achieved that and am still in the process of that now. This visualisation became a reality. That’s how it works. And now some of that is already in the past!

I am working with the same friends for a month this time having achieved my goal, and in a matter of weeks will be staying back in the same ramshackled caravan alone in a field, no doubt trying to figure out the next move again!

Life is a mixture of being present where you are and having a rough idea of what you plan to do with it.

I’m happy right now, living in nature with the birds and the mice for company. A little dwelling like this with so much space around me, lush green trees and watching the weather dramatically change before my eyes across the valley. I have sat for hours simply watching. It feels so wonderful living so close to the elements. I do feel cut off from people and it’s all about the landscape.

Since hitting the road walking the Camino De Santiago I have enjoyed making wherever I am a home for the night, being cut off from ‘the folly of man’ somewhat and escaping from crazy city life. To do a solitary retreat is to come into contact with simply being and revealing the stillness beneath the craziness of life.


If ever there was a time when I want to snuggle up and watch back to back episodes of Six Feet Under, which I have done in my life rather a lot, in times of illness or sloth, it is now. Preferably while eating chocolate. 

I am innately a bit of a hedonist really. I do enjoy treating myself! I’ve given up drink for 1 month to 6 weeks nearly every year since I started uni. I go with out alcohol for a week or two and it’s fine. I don’t need to give it up as it is not a problem for me, but good to try these things from time to time to break habitual acts. Now that I have done that I don’t feel the need to do it again.

The rain has been atmospheric throughout the day. I went for a short walk and practised some asanas. 

Right now I don’t feel like ‘contemplating’, ‘meditating’ or any kind of ‘Self enquiry’.

I feel like chocolate and entertainment for the first time since being here 3 days in. Funny to think that in everyday life, generally if I have a whim, without much hesitation I tend to just go with it, Facebook, chocolate, watching a bit of TV, general distraction, still in moderation but I will just go with it because it’s so close by, so easy to do so. 

And right now I do want to do that. When you have a break from these things you do really appreciate them. The chocolate one is a hard one to break, I am a chocoholic. 

For now all I can do is read, I’m so glad I brought books as I very nearly didn’t. I was going to be a purist about it. Screw that. I don’t want to contemplate all the time! Thankfully I am proof reading dad’s new book, Vistas of Infinity and reading Dancing Barefoot, Patti’s biography. I am so happy I have them for company.


                                       Writing desk

Up until now I have generally felt calm, quiet and not a strong sense of my egos need or attachments. But in all this quietness I feel my habits arising (samskaras). I’ve spent a lot of time in my 20s contemplating stuff of a spiritual nature. 

Sometimes you just need to balance it all out with a bit of fun and entertainment! And that’s fine. But here I can notice it when it comes up and see what happens when I do not have that distraction to hand.

As I walked past a rock earlier I had a memory of coming here years ago with my ex boyfriend to retreat together, he took a photo of me on that very rock which I recognised immediately and the photograph came to mind, I stopped in my tracks. I had a vivid memory of him crying when we broke up and I found myself spontaneously crying a little, feeling the way he may have felt. I felt very sad. It was as if I became him, experiencing what he had felt at that time. I wondered how he was in that moment. I sent waves of love to him and wished him will.

Out here alone, random memories of people come and go unexpectedly as if from out of nowhere. It must be because there is space and time to do so. 

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                               The path through the forest to the hut

When I walked in the forest earlier I sat down on the ground. I purposefully visualised all my previous lovers one by one walking slowly towards me through the clearing. I saw each one clearly in my minds eye, I acknowledged them for having been part of my life, quietly with no judgment, simply watching them walk on by gracefully, one by one appreciating each ones uniqueness. A mixture of love, sadness, tenderness and acceptance.

Later I imagine being an old woman looking back on all the important life experiences there will have been and how it must be too much to take in at times. How confusing it must be to remember all of the life times we have within just this one alone. The people that are so important to us that we then have nothing to do with anymore. That will be distant memories.

I feel myself so physically very cut off from others right now, but they still come to me, they are all a part of me, my make up. I imagine always living alone like this, with the birds, and think how lonely it would get, left with just your memories. The depth of emotion that can come with a memory. 

Suddenly I feel like an old woman sitting on a porch as I cannot see what I look like while I sit, I feel in advance of my age. I actually feel like I become an old woman who has lived those thousand lives within this one. I am strong. 

Suddenly I come back to, being this age I am now. But I feel like I am her now too, simultaneously.

Socialising is so much a part of my make up, I love it and here I am sitting on a porch in the middle of nowhere imagining I am an old woman! What a laugh.


               The porch

I’ve always thought to myself ‘I’m not searching for enlightenment’. I am not ‘on a path’, but I am interested in reaching new states of consciousness and living more authentically.

Reading dads book here, I am reassured by this quote which comes at the right moment for me with regards to these higher states of consciousness that are possible to access, as I have been curious and wondering about that lately:

"We also need to liberate ourselves from the idea that this state of consciousness is reserved for some spiritual elite. Quite the opposite is true: it is humility and surrender that will grant the humblest of people residency here if their heart is pure, committed to authenticity and surrendered to the source”

I find this deeply reassuring. I’ve sort of always felt it’s never quite in my reach but deep down I do want more to be revealed to me. Particularly right now at this exact point in my life. I feel I am making space for going deeper now. This whole year has been making room for it in fact. 


I’ve just acknowledged to myself that I quite enjoy my own company! 

I have a truly good relationship with myself. 

I am grateful to be able to admit this as this has not always been the case. 

There have been dark nights of the soul.

I am contented with this realisation.

I acknowledge that right now I do not have hang ups or neuroses nor am I self critical. I do not have negative thoughts. 

I feel gratitude. I realise my hard work has paid off.

I’m coming into a deeper part of myself. While staying at another community last week, I had nothing to hide, nothing to prove, I felt comfortable in my own skin, happy to be alone or with others equally. I know myself well enough to know when I need company or when I need space, to just take myself quietly away. I felt no desire to tell anyone about myself. It wasn’t relevant. I wanted to listen to what they had to say and witness their experiences. I could see them for who they were clearly and I loved and accepted everyone I met with friendliness. 


I see another quote in the book that resonates with how I feel right now: 

"We have no interest in following a ‘spiritual path’ because every moment is complete and spiritual in its core essence”

It’s true. I understand it now.


Today, I hid the clock. Makes me think of Patti ‘Fuck the clock’. 

I only checked it once when I was going to bed when I learned it was 10pm. I’ve not gone a day without checking a clock in my adult years just for the sheer fact that we have appointments to keep in regular life. 

It was refreshing to go through the day eating when hungry rather than set meal times and being able to tell roughly what time of day it was by the light. 


Do not forget that when you go into a town or city that you do not need more. You don’t need any of it. Think how little I need here and remember. 

The mind is a powerful thing, we do not need to be over stimulated, there is so much to work with, without irrelevant distraction. We are so finely wired, we do not need more. 

Today I feel great privilege, that I have also felt on previous days, what it is to be staying here. It is humbling. The quietness and stability one has within in this quiet environment. We do not need to fill our lives with so much. When in this privileged position of being here alone in this hut it is my duty to meditate and dedicate this warmth of heart to others. Todays focus is on joy, the heart and love. I practise specific metta practices all day and feel the love rise up abundantly with joy for each moment and I offer it out to the world.


Sending out love

Here my friends and family pop up fairly regularly in my mind, they are indeed a part of me, I send love and warmth to them going about their days, I know on some level they will benefit from this.

Another good quote:

"Practitioners know the great power of meditation lies inside the heart, in the fearless abandoning to love. Many spend years in meditation trying to force the mind to focus. All the strict effort may be wasted if the heart is not employed. Why not spend minutes surrendering to the heart and consulate the union with the very source instead of forcing nature along routes it is not designed to go? Then, when you have drunk all the joys the heart has to offer and you feel replenished, keep the fire burning and humbly and secretly take it with you wherever you go.”

Yes to that.

I have a few distinct experiences of my heart chakra being awakened. The first vivid one is my first retreat at Anam Cara in 2004 when I was 22. The lady who ran the retreat centre, Margaret, was talking about a sweat lodge she held, she was speaking so openly about her experience and that of others and how it benefitted them. She was serving us wholesome delicious food whilst telling us stories. She was standing, present, holding the space. My heart spontaneously awakened and I felt the energy encircling it and warming me, I felt overwhelming love as a physical sensation and things changed from then on. 

When my dear friend and Soul Cat, Zsi died in the Luxor hot air balloon tragedy 2 years ago (with her partner and 17 others) this was an enormous thing and offered a huge transformation in my life. Nothing has been the same since, nor will it ever be. Like taking the red pill (The Matrix) and seeing how far down the rabbit hole goes. With any great consciousness shifts there is no going back. Things just get deeper.

My heart set on fire that day, just like she did when she died. She is now part of me too. My heart continues to burn at varying degrees. It is my teacher. The heart is everything. But those first few months it burned its fiery passion in the most intense way I had not experienced before. Certain words triggered it, certain thoughts or feelings, it burned. The fire element has always been powerful for me but more so since that day in 2013. Life has not been the same since.

From then I started sharing the heart mantra more when teaching, that Lisa (one of my teachers) offered to me and I taught heart connecting practises more and more in recent years. I get a lot from the metta bhavana practise and have been doing them here quite naturally and informally, starting locally and extending love out to the whole universe. This is my practise in this life time.

I vow to plunge into the heart and discover more.

Here is an excerpt of a letter I sent to a friend, Daisy. When I met her last week it was like discovering I had a little sister, 10 years younger.

‘It’s 8am, I’m in the sheilin, which is more a home than a hut. It has a single bed, a desk am writing at, overlooking Loch Voil and the misty hills, little birds eating seeds at the window, an armchair and shrine, a kitchen and little bathroom, a porch with a chair. I’m like a cross between Snow White, with the little birds and mice visiting and a little old lady up here, perhaps meeting somewhere in the middle. 

I love cooking healthy vegetarian meals after a few months travelling, going most days to pick raspberries to have with porridge or smoothies with banana and honey.

This place brings about an inner stillness, peace, calmness and contentment. I feel stable and undisturbed by ego or thoughts, present with the simplicity of being. It is a real privilege to be here. I’ve understood that all is valuable, the normal ‘mundane’ things cross over with the formal yoga, qi gong or meditation practise. I’ve understood this intellectually in the past, but here I get it. Remove the boundaries of what I consider ‘spiritual practise’ and keep awareness of what is beneath it. I get that spiritual practise is ‘getting over yourself’, once the mind quietens and one is less concerned with an identity, the being state relieves one of any burden. So I can approach washing my clothes, cooking, sitting, walking all with the same awareness.’

This bring me to this piece by Thich Nhat Hahn which I’ve had in mind throughout the week, this summarises one of the main things I finally get in my time here:

"There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.

If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.”

What’s more, we are not alive during this time we are washing the dishes.

In fact we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either.

While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future - we are incapable of actually living the miracle of life.”


Last night I finished dads book. I get his advice that I just need to have a focus for my meditation and do it everyday.


I do feel today that feeling again now, of wanting to have some form of entertainment besides all this quietness. I’m glad I only booked 1 week not longer. 

It reminds me that as usual it always comes back to balance, that doing these formal practises is good, then it’s ok to watch a film/socialise/eat cake/have a drink, that kind of thing. 

I wouldn’t like to live like this all the time. 

The senses entice us, but we should not let them control us. The mind wants to be occupied and thrives off intellectual stimulus. I also accept I do need my excitement and stimulus in life. Yep, I could never be a nun!

Tomorrow is my last full day here and I am ready to move on. I’m looking forward to having a laugh with people again.

What I will take away from this retreat is the meditation practise, the information from dads book, the inspiration, the knowledge of all being connected - everything I do - mundane and formal, treat all the same. 

Now for a bit of distraction from this contemplative stuff.

I’ve spent many hours during the week sitting quietly. I’m going to lay back and read Patti Smith.


                            Laying on the porch, Patti accompanying me writing


Never more so than on retreat does it become so obvious when we use distraction to get away from looking inwards. Our whole society is designed to look out. What a conundrum.


I got a bit of cabin fever today as I’ve been in all day until 4.45pm when I finally left to go for a walk. I felt instantly better. A little walk every day, I have learned, is good for all levels of wellbeing, this habit I’ve developed in the last year I will take into the rest of my life. I want to be one of those old people where their grandkids say ‘granny still walks for miles every day and does her daily exercises.’ 

On the walk I ended up running a bit. I felt very alive and awake. I felt creative internally today. That feeling of going inward to come outward again which is what retreats are partly about for me. Thoughts of the joy of being and sharing coming back. What this means for me creatively next - l don’t know but there is an abundance within to be shared. Some things I noted in my phone (which I’ve only used for note making, no reception up here) on the walk just now:

You don’t need to try to be anything

Meditate daily to tap into the source

Channel this vitality and it will come out through you in its own unique way

Take this new calmness, peacefulness and gentleness with me

Watch things rise and pass away


I read the guest book from cover to cover during my stay here. It is full of great stuff since 2009, entries from people who have been here. The energy of the space is very strong, years and years of people visiting with the intention of going deeper, is a powerful thing, and reading the words of those people, it is a lineage of sorts, and is quite a privilege to be part of it.


                  My contribution to the guest book

‘I gently place my hand on the cold lush green moss in the forest, I hold this piece of broccoli up infront of a tree, pause, eat, take delight, in its crunch, this one candle burning, when I look at the hills opposite, as I sit at this desk I see the ragged line of japanese ink over the top of it, the mouse with the big ears occasionally scuttles when I least expect, as I soften my eyes and gaze gently at nature I feel it breathe, again in the forest the crows dramatically fly out of the pine trees as if in slow motion, other world, picking raspberries on my daily walks, the subtle mist after a rain shower, you sweet sweet birds, chanting Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu, unexpected tears and choked up throat, I think of my teacher and her mighty chant, i keep going, hardly getting the words out, this time I really mean it, I chant for all beings to be happy, I get through it, I find the chant come from my heart and come into my own, feel the privilege of this cabin and being here, to understand properly this time (no longer intellectually) that there is no separation between the practises of formal yoga/meditation/qi gong and other more mundane activities, it is the awareness behind it that matters. This place offers stillness, calmness, peace and love. Once the mind quietens and one gets over the self, all distraction removed, we are free to let one thing merge into the next. I walk, I nap, meditate, chant, wash my clothes, sing, love, write, practise yoga - all merging. I will take this into the rest of my life. I feel contentment and an inner well of creativity bubbling up, found myself skipping by the loch just now. I said out loud:

“Don’t shy away from the moment, it will be over before you know it” - with joy!

(I usually use full stops until now, a stream of words!)

I’ve been reading the draft of my old mans book (he came here before - picture of the giant squirrel in here) a quote I am inspired by:

“Good meditation is the opposite of having experiences. It is finding the resting point within us and spending as much time as possible in the stillness of it”

It has been a calming, grounding, peaceful week. Feel the connection of all of us passing through this cabin all with individual personality and wisdom coming through. Peace and love to all who have and will spend time here.

Martina Z xxx’


                                  Dad’s contribution to the guest book


I dreamt briefly of an ex last night, it was very realistic.

I guess being up here gives the unconscious space for things to come up to the surface. Sometimes dreams reveal to us the passing of time and that some things will never happen again. They are gone. That is life. Impermanence.

Is there someone out there suitable for me? It’s hard to imagine. But I’ve had so many crazy life experiences, I don’t know what awaits me. After recent deeply painful heart ache, my defence mechanisms not surprisingly came up. I denied the idea of marriage or being with one person, but deep down I think I do want the companionship that society tells us we should have. I’m just not sure it exists. But it is up to life to take care of such things I have no control over.

Here I am in this hut by myself up on the hill, happy in my own company, with who I am. Unsure of where I’m off to next, where to travel to or where I will live.

It’s exciting not to know.

Years ago in a different time, during depression I have gone through, I would have wanted nothing more than to admit that I am utterly contented in my relationship with myself as a strong independent woman. It’s vital to acknowledge this moment and where I have got to.

The person I want to be I already am. My true nature I am gradually discovering and will be revealed to me over time with continued practise and dedication. That is all. Reveal what is. Nothing to become.


I find myself day dreaming of having a home. I visualise how I would like it to be. 


Who knows what my 30s will hold? So much can happen in a year, let alone 5, then 5 again.


For the first time since being in Scotland this summer, it feels like August, the sun is out, the sky is clear. I’m topless and the sun warms my skin. I’ve spent the morning meditating, practising qi gong on the porch, writing, watching the bats, I made a healthy salad am eating now. 


               Body as landscape


My first time verbally interacting with someone came today, (other than giving an old man directions on my first day and saying the odd hello to the occasional person along the loch on my walks), 

I asked the chef down at the retreat for a knife to open a sack of potatoes in the larder. Yeah, was nothing special.

I raised the flag a couple of times. All I needed was extra loo roll as I have got through about 8 this whole time, as I’ve had severe hay fever. I just got used to constantly blowing my nose and sneezing a million times a day but it has been a royal pain in the arse at times.

It is 11 years ago today I went to that first retreat when I first practised yoga at Anam Cara in Inverness. I use this date as my official date of getting into yoga, like a little anniversary I acknowledge every year. I remember seeing Sudaka, the teacher, doing Qi Gong outside in the sun on the lawn and being intrigued. 

Now here I am, in the present, on a solitary retreat doing qi gong outside in the sun. I am also a fully qualified yoga teacher. Interesting how much that decision to attend my first retreat shaped my life to bring me here now.


                                         Opening up


It’s my last day here and I feel it. Walking down to get vegetables I felt very light in every step. I felt sharp in my mind, totally alert, yet calm and steady all at once. Life is going to get better and better. I can feel it.


I went for a walk earlier along the loch and up a long gravel path, passed the chopped down forrest and pine trees. It had a strange dark energy and atmosphere due to the trees having been cut down. My eyes were extremely itchy and I was sneezing non stop. Lot of trees had fallen, they looked almost violently ripped from the forest floor.

On the last day of the retreat, I take a walk into reality. What is hidden behind the hut, is the land of the destroyed forrest, I feel deep sadness and grief to the depths of my being. To me this symbolises that no matter where you go man destroy things. I feel that pull reminding me of the reality of being in the world, the destructive force. I am reminded of the state of the world at large. I feel utterly sad. I know that even when you take yourself off on retreat, there is no getting away from this fact. One cannot hide from anything, not that I went there to hide. I went there to see. It is all connected. I start to mentally prepare myself for going back ‘into the world’ (which I’m aware is an illusion, this is the world too, it’s just not the everyday world I am usually occupied with).


I went for another walk after dinner down to the loch. Last time I was here was in 2012. The reflection of the valley in the loch was a mirror image, was beautiful in  autumn. Not a ripple in site, utterly still, I took some incredible photos then.

Now it is summer, the reflection so different from before, the loch as still now as it was then.

I went into the next field across a stream via a fallen tree - I saw ripples and patterns appearing on the surface of the water and became mesmerized.

I stood on a rock quietly, still. I watched attentively as these mysterious little ripples were emerging trying to figure out what was causing them. After some time trying to glimpse at what it was, I figured out there were these tiny frogs jumping out and creating this dance, all across the surface. Exciting and full of energy, yet meditative. The patterns they created was a delight for the eyes. Beautiful. I was utterly absorbed and captivated. I remembered I had met my power animal on the shamanic retreat I had stayed on last week and it was a frog. 

Beautiful reflections of reeds in water. I wished I had my camera, but then surrendered to the moment. Perfect light. A dance.

I must have been watching the frogs dance for an hour at sundown.


I am happy it’s my last night here. Ready to sit on a long train journey tomorrow, will be about midnight by the time I arrive to see my family. I’ve cleaned the cabin and packed my bag. Going to read, do some gentle stretches then go to bed. Tomorrow have to be out of here by 11. Train is 4.30 from Edinburgh. It’s just gone 9 and getting slowly dark. 

What I’ve enjoyed about not having any plans for the day, is that here you never know how the day is going to turn out, a lot of it has to do with the weather as you are so close to the elements, or simply the animals coming and going, who will make an appearance today? A bat, a frog, a door mouse I wondered daily. Just going with the flow. No lists all week!

I want to take away from this, the regular meditation practise, the stuff learned from dads book, this inner calmness, peace and ease I feel in my self, this ability to choose to uncover stillness. I now understand it is always there. Now that I have had space to reveal it. The stillness is within. Our distracted minds do not give us room to uncover it. That there is no one thing that is more important than another to practise, allow things to cross over and do not separate things, mundane or not, all is part of life. The act of being of service in the world.


I just did 30 mins of asana, really feeling the body again after all the practise this week. So good to exercise in this way every day. Then did 30 mins pranayama and meditation. Was a very peaceful practise. My mind is often quieter at night. Peace.




I am now on the train from Edinburgh to Kings Cross, then heading down to Sussex. 

As I walked down the hill to the loch to complete the week I was greeted by one of the community members who was the very first person I spoke to. Was lovely, he offered me a cuppa, gave me envelopes and stamps for my letters. I thanked someone who had written me a note and leant me some walking boots one day, that I had messaged with the flag! I had a nice conversation with someone who had taught me meditation years ago and he asked how my week had been. Everyone was friendly and warm. I enjoyed every tiny gesture. When I walked down to the main retreat centre toward the minibus, all the retreatants were saying goodbye to one another hugging each other so chatty and animated.

I talked on the bus to a woman who was asking questions about my experience of being on my own up there, she was really intrigued. It felt so nice to communicate with someone and to share with her. We had great conversations, she was really interesting.

I chatted to another French woman from the retreat on the train to Edinburgh, as she got up to leave, she left her scarf on the train so I called out to her and passed it to her quickly and she smiled affectionately, put her hands together in prayer and left. 

I had between 2-4pm to be in Edinburgh before my train. So I wandered out into the rainy streets where the festival was happening. I went along the main drag where there were charismatic theatrical types everywhere, performing, handing out flyers. It was so exciting to be out ‘in the world’ again. I felt joyful and exuberant. Everywhere I went lively people offered me flyers and tried to entice me to see their shows, to which I responded “I’d love to but I’m getting my train soon!” or as time passed “I only have an hour here’ and they would each respond saying “it’s not enough!” or  “have a great hour!” and I felt charmed and happy by the camaraderie.

The first place I went to was an Italian cafe. I was so glad I went to that particular cafe as it was a lovely experience. The waiter was Italian, charismatic and attractive. He knew it, but it didn’t matter. When he spoke Italian it was almost like he was ‘acting being an Italian’, he loved being Italian, it was like watching someone play with their character and thoroughly enjoy it. He treated every guest with the utmost friendliness and dedicated service, he looked each person right in the eyes, asked where they were from, spoke a few words in their language, laughed and was basically charming everyone he came into contact with. Each persons eye who I caught I felt a connection and knew I was the same as them, that we are all one and the same. I felt the energy of the room and the atmosphere Edinburgh was offering. Each member of staff did a good job and took joy in the act of serving others. As I got up to leave I said to him “You clearly all enjoy working here, there’s a lovely atmosphere”, he said “thank you, we do have a good time”, he was appreciative and as I lifted up my big bag he seemed impressed, smiled and bid me farewell. I said bye to the others and left happily. I feel if I want to say something I will just say it, and if I don’t feel like saying it verbally my thoughts and gestures say it all and on some level people do pick up on these things. It is about the awareness behind our actions. Watching our thoughts. 

Charisma, being, authenticity, joy, friendliness, presence, warmth, kindness, vitality. I appreciate these qualities.

I felt the life and vibrancy of the festival. I loved its intensity. Yes, I am ready to be out in the world participating whole heartedly and generously! I thought of the first four lines of Shakespeare’s ‘All the worlds a stage’:

"All the worlds a stage. And all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts”

I felt alive and joyful, happy to walk the stage.

When I was in the station I felt connected to everyone. I saw a proud father rocking his baby affectionately and attentively. I offered a woman with a young child my seat and she appreciated it. I had a laugh with two women, as suddenly Jeremy Corbyn ran passed to catch his train with cameras following him and I asked them to fill me in on the news, they found it funny that I had been on retreat for a couple of weeks and admitted I knew nothing of what the latest news was as I’d been in a hut!

I really felt the presence of each interaction with those I came into contact with.

By the time I came back onto the train I was happy I had a couple of hours at the festival and was heading home. I knew my friends were performing in Edinburgh, they were all close by, but alas it was not the time to visit them, my train booked and a place to go. But I sent them warmth for their creative endeavors.


That night I stayed up talking to dad until the early hours of the morning. We talked about his book, about my experience of the retreat, which he had done a few years previous and written a book about his experience (The Ten Minute Moment) I felt healthy, strong and present. 

That day, I had come out of a week of being alone in a hut in a valley, spent a couple of hours in the hectic city while the Edinburgh Festival was on, travelled for most of the day then had really intense conversations with my ole man.

That night I became quite overwhelmed. The energetic effects of the week revealed themselves to me.

I was aware while communicating of the incredibly strong energetic sensations in my subtle body. As I listened to dad talk about the state of the world catching up on the news, consciousness, meditation, life after death, his book, (the usual stuff with him!) I felt every word he spoke resonate in my body as an actual visceral experience. If he said the word ‘suffering’ I felt a sensation of suffering, if it was ‘joy’ I felt joy, if it was ‘light’ I felt light, it went on and on, everything felt in my being. I felt wired and sensitive to everything. I took deep full breaths and exhaled slowly through my mouth. I lay my head back, closed my eyes and felt utterly alive in the moment. My heart set on fire again, burning with love and intensity for everything. Unsure of what to do with it all. As I felt my whole being set alight and I breathed, Dad was looking away quietly and down. 

We sat in silence for a few moments. He said he could see I was overwhelmed. I said it was time for me to call it a night. I went to bed in the conservatory of their house. I looked up at the stars on the clear night. I was so utterly awake, I could feel energy pulsating through my veins. I felt so alive I didn’t know what to do with it. 

So I told myself, just like I have when I have been on hallucinogens in the past that when I wake in the morning for the sake of me being able to function in the world I need things to dull down and become more regular and mundane again, otherwise it will be too much to deal with and I may not function normally! The next day we were having a family gathering for my mums birthday and thank fully I felt more normal again. This time calm and full of love.


A few days later, I find myself going 120mph on the back of my friend Stace’s motorbike through the South Downs while the sun is setting. I am exhilarated and I think to myself ‘How can it be that one minute I am alone in a hut in a remote location sitting quietly in meditation and now I am here at the opposite end of the spectrum yelling out vocally with joy at the exhilaration of the speed?'

I know in theory it’s about balance but I still find myself doing these things. 

That’s why I could never be a hermit, I love life too much.

I retreat. 

I come back. 

I participate. 

I’m not hiding from anything.

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Blog 6, Published on 17th Dec

Working at night

Every so often, quite out of the blue, I wake in the middle of the night absolutely wired with a sense of pure and utter aliveness, an awareness of being embodied and the importance and gift of that. It’s like an involuntary switch gets flicked in my mind, and that is it, I am awake. 

Often, it is with an awareness of the state of the world at large, of the bigger picture and my tiny humble part within it. It is energetic sensations running through my veins, localised, potent picking up on what’s going on at large, funnelled down to this little human vessel that I borrow. It also happens on full moon.

I used to try to go back to sleep. Not anymore. 

Once I realise I am simply closing my eyes and feigning rest, enough is enough. I do not resist being alive and awake. 

I now recognise it straight away for what it is and I accept it with grace, then zeal. 

I’m not talking here about nights where one is awake because you are worried, anxious or fearful. No certainly not that.

I’m talking about the feeling of "I’m alive and I sincerely and deeply need to do something with this intensity, this passion for life and the gift of being alive.”


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                            Hands of the clock, Zsi Chimera

So, I sit up, turn on the lamp and write. At times like this it is easy to do so, pages and pages for hours, so focused. 

Eventually it gets light and I’ve missed the main bulk of rest.

The first time I remember doing this was at university, which was an incredibly stimulating and informative time. The friends I made who opened my eyes to new ways of seeing and our shared experiences that woke me up, the existential questions and the passionate discussions. All influencing one another with delight taking us to new realms in our minds, places I had not yet accessed. Full of this vibrancy, so stimulating, we were questioning and searching. 

I would wake then as I do now.

To work at night is exciting.

It is joyous to know that conventionally it is a time when I should be in slumber, in darkness, and I am not.

What really matters and concerns me most comes to the surface, from the unconscious. 

The room I am awake in is quiet, the people I live with are asleep, I imagine the local neighbourhood, then further afield, everyone snoozing tucked up in their beds. 

Of course there are millions of others awake too. 

But in that room I am occupying, alone and quiet it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It is just me and the page and I am focused.

Being awake when others are unconscious is a great symbol of an appetite and an engagement in what it is to be alive, of being in this human experience.

There is a state of passionate urgency within. Everything is pregnant with potential.

So excited about being alive that you have to do something about it in an instant.

To wake while many sleep is the time to work.

To wake while many sleep is the time to work.

To wake while many sleep is the time to work.

In these dark times, now is the time to get to work.

Awake in the darkness while so many are unconscious.

Keep working.

Blog 5, published on 4/12/15

On leaving & coming back home (by the sea)



Skyline from Hackney

On train in West Sussex

I was born in Shoreham-by-Sea, grew up in Worthing. 

I left home when I was 19 to go to university in Kingston. After graduating I lived and worked in the halls of residence for the summer then moved to London. First place was a scuzzy flat in Whitechapel in a Bangladeshi neighbourhood, 30 seconds from Brick Lane. We signed the contract in a Burger King in Islington, that set the tone. I remember opening a cupboard door and the whole thing fell off the wall and everything slid diagonally to the left crashing violently, it was like being on a ship or the stage set of The Young Ones. The boiler constantly broke, we used a gas and electirc key which we often forgot to top up. Our land lord was unreachable and when we finally managed to get hold of him he’d come up with unconvincing excuses like “sorry I got hit by a bus.” So it was cheap and that’s what we wanted. I lived with Hannah and Louis who I met on the Fine Art Degree.

The following summer Hannah and I managed to save a little and took ourselves to Spain then travelled across the USA for 2 months, from New York to Nevada on Grey Hound buses and Amtrack trains. I lived off a grand for the whole trip just by the skin of my teeth.

I moved back to Worthing with my folks for about 9 months, my gran lived with them and my uncle moved in too, as he was dying of lung cancer, we came together to support one another until he died. 

I then moved back to London in 2007, stayed with friends for a couple of months until I found a group of artists who I moved in with in a warehouse in Hackney Wick, it had an enormous open studio where we all worked. There were about 8-12 of us living there at any given time.  We gutted it and built the wall partitions to make our bedrooms, there was no heating, which was really tough in winter, it felt like sleeping in a car park, I slept in a hat and scarf with 2 hot water bottles, one for my feet and one for my belly with 2 duvets. There was a mouldy shower and the most unhygenic kitchen. The warehouse overlooked the canal and the site where the olympic stadium was being built. We had group crits, life drawing evenings, projected films on the huge walls, held group exhibitions, we participated in Hackney Wicked Festival, and collaborated on work together. There were parties. I was there for 2 years when the time came to move on. 

I couch surfed for a couple of months until I found the next place. A lovely two bed flat in Hackney Central where I have been living the last 5.5 years. Hackney was like a proper home for me and I loved living with just one flat mate. I finally had heating which was like the biggest luxury ever. Four different people lived there over those years. The last couple of years, I shared with Woody, we made the front room into a studio where we could work til the late hours riffing off one another, making work together and generally playing. There was wine and music. I loved that flat and our time together there. 

I had been considering leaving London for the last couple of years. The struggle of living hand to mouth on the earnings I was on, never being able to save and the rising rent prices every year. This slowly started pushing a lot of people to the outskirts or out of London altogether to find alternative affordable places to live. This included a lot of friends who were also increasingly frustrated with various aspects of London and the ever growing gentrification process.

I went up to Edinburgh in 2012 and was considering moving there. It was winter, so freezing that it made me angry which ruled out the possibility instantly. I couldn’t bare it and realised I didn’t want to be that far away from my loved ones. Scotland has since remained a place I retreat to when I need time in nature.

I researched living in Bristol with a visit last year where many friends had moved to from London. But it didn’t feel the right place for me. I considered for a while moving to Brighton, as every time I come home, with Worthing being down the road I would always go straight to Brighton to see friends. I  have a very strong link and pull towards it as a place.

At one point I was keen on the idea of moving to Berlin, as I’m half German and thought it could be a fresh new start, I also have friends there and it could be a bold step to shake things up a bit.

All in all I was in London about 10 years. I left London in May this year not knowing where I would end up living. I just knew I wanted a big change and to flick all the switches at once. Work, home, city, all of it. Change.

My plan was simply to be completely open to what was in front of me to what life presents, to trust in life unfolding instead of trying to shape and control it too much. I slowly said goodbye to the clients I had spent many years building up, my beloved Hackney Central flat and sweet flat mate, my friends and my deep connection to London and its culture. My relationship to London is deep and strong and will always remain, but I didn’t want to live there anymore. I had done my time. I spent my most formative years there, from 23-32. The over crowding getting worse on public transport, the close proximity of people and constant stimulus was unhealthy. I needed space and time in a more natural place.

I came to the conclusion, that what I would spend living for a couple of months simply just getting by in London, that I could, for that same amount, 2 thousand, I could leave everything and go on an adventure to shake things up. I would leave and embrace the not knowing where I’ll end up part. I spent much of 2015 making this one of my main projects.

So I left my flat on 1st May, which was the deadline I set myself. I couch surfed with friends.

On the 1st June I headed to France with Hannah. The adventure began. We started on The Camino De Santiago pilgrimage together across Northern Spain. She was with me for 10 days, of which 6 were spent walking. Once she left to fly back to the UK, I carried on and the real personal journey began. (I plan on writing a blog on this here in the near future). I managed to walk the entire 775km of the pilgrimage in 30 days, I was in Spain for 5 weeks. 

I spent 6 months travelling all in all. I went to a festival in Denmark. I volunteered in different communities in the UK, spent quite a bit of time in Scotland. Most of this period was indeed, spent in nature. There was a lot of writing, photography, walking and meditating. I worked in various places and communities in exchange for food and a bed. I had enough to tie me over to get from A to B. It was a fine art and I lasted until a couple of weeks ago ( I worked for money for only 1 month of this period) when I came back to stay with my folks. 

By this point I had thought I would end up moving to Brighton after a few months touching base at home. 

But an unexpected change of personal circumstances and an outside opportunity means that it looks like I will actually be living in Worthing now. This is something I didn’t see coming and I am going with it and currently getting my head around.

The last place I thought I would live turns out to be the place I left 13 years ago. 

So I have come home. 

Who knows what will happen in the next year, let alone the next 5 years. There is always the missing part of the jigsaw, tha parts that you don’t know are coming. The people you meet, the life events that unfold. The influences around you.

Because of the amount of life experiences I’ve had since leaving home, when I walk down the old street of little terraced houses where I grew up in Broadwater I feel huge. My mind has expanded and changed. It’s like coming back to a toy town. 

So now, here I am. Back where I started. I am going to gradually set up a new life for myself down here again unexpectedly. Get work, new clients, create, work hard, make new friends and reconnect to old ones. 

Today I find myself feeling a new sense of appreciation for where I grew up. What a beautiful part of the country it is. When I need a break from working indoors, writing and looking for work again, I take myself off quietly for a walk, which is what a lot of 2015 has been about, walking. The beach is just 15 minutes away. 


The open sea, November 30th 2015

I am hit by the openness of the space before me when I look out. The dramatic waves, the grey sky, the fresh air, the sea breeze. I love it. 

There are obviously fewer people, than what I’m used to in London. I have space around me that I could not get in London, being in such close proximity to one another.

I am using this period as a time to hiberate for the winter and gather myself for the new. I am determined to be more prolific in my work. It is about hard work and focusing. It is a time where I can get on with my own projects build things up from scratch using all my experience to decide what happens next. It is not about Worthing as a cool place to live, as that is just not the case. You do have to leave for that. It is about the sea and the sound of the sea gulls.  I am not going to pretend that the main thing Worthing has going for it is that it’s near Brighton. As a place to lay my head at night, to walk by the sea, to work hard and to pay cheaper rent, yes to Worthing, 25 mins from it’s big sis Brighton I can handle.

I will visit London fairly regulalrly keeping my contacts there and getting my culture hits, see the odd old client. I will go to Brighton regualrly as this will be a life line to socialising with friends. I also hope to get work in Brighton. I like that am I am not living in Brighton because it means I can enjoy visiting it regularly but without the rent which is ever increasing. So I get the best of both worlds.

Living back in Worthing this time, unexpectedly, does feel like a coming home, it’s familiar, but with renewed purpose and possibilities. 

Right now I appreciate shelter, warmth, family, meeting old friends, grounding and having the space to create the next phase of my life and again be open to who comes into my life. To all my friends living in London and thinking of leaving. I seriously would consider moving to Worthing. I live a few minutes from the station which gets you to London in an hour and a half and Brighton in 25 minutes. Living here is not as expensive as either of those places. I guarantee that in the next couple of years there’ll be articles in the likes of The Sunday Times magazine or Guardian supplement and all those cocky papers on why you should move down here. But I just wanted to say it on here first! 

Also to my friends, if you want a break by the sea, come visit me, I’m ready for you. Maybe you are thinking of relocating and researching other possibilities too, so come do some of your own research into other options. There is life outside of London, life goes on. It is hard to feel pushed out. But there are alternatives. 

It is OK and the air is fresh.

See you soon.

Here are some photos I took on the windy atmospheric walk along the coast today. 

Blog 4, published on 30/11/15

Note to self, on Values

I wrote this to myself when I was staying in a caravan in a field this Autumn in the Cotswolds, where I was working in a kitchen in the day and spent a lot of time writing at night, it was quite a solitary time. I wrote this in one sitting at about 4 in the morning on full moon when I couldn’t sleep.  There were quite a lot of restless nights of mind not shutting down and lots of questions and dissatisfied scrawls. With not much distraction, there was a lot of time to think. There were dark nights. This was a more urgent and ultimately postive night of writing.

I thought I could keep it to myself. Or I could just share it. So I went with the latter. 


The little green ramshackled caravan          


Working at night


Kindness, no matter what is going on. 

Kindness, kindness, kindness

Always remember how important this is and do not underestimate the effect this has on others even the tiniest of gestures.

It does matter

The only way to respond to madness is to stay sane

Do not have expectations of others, why should what someone else does affect your underlying wellbeing?

Trust in life’s unfolding, in its innate wisdom

Surrender to the unknown

Let go

Do not try to control life, listen to what is happening and respond to it accordingly

Go about your day offering positivity into the world, every interaction and gesture matters, it adds up to create your entire life

Be in the moment


Beneath all movement and activity is stillness, it’s always there, once you’ve accessed it you can always come back to it, it is beneath everything. 

Remember, now that you have direct experience of it, you can always remember and choose to reveal it in any given moment. 

Pay attention


Spend at the very least 10 minutes a day sitting quietly in meditation

Connect to the sun directly, closing your eyes, recharging and connect to the source whenever you can

Feel the cooling presence of the moon on your mind


Be that which you wish others to be for you

If you want something give it away

Dad: “life is one big cosmic soup waiting for you to add your unique ingredient”

Kevin: “life is a giant playground”

If you have an urge to respond to something, make art of some kind, be creative, go with that instinct, that is when things are authentic and potent, use that energy and direct it while it’s hot and full of fire, act quickly, seize the power

Try new things regularly

Gaze out of the window when travelling and let your mind wander

When you feel that impulsive feeling where you want to do something out of the ordinary to shake life up a bit, and you almost chicken out, like it’s close to slipping away, do it in that instant. You know how good it feels.

Why worry? The moment will be over before you know it.

Walk regularly, it is when you are between the two worlds

Be conscious of what you eat


Live through the heart, connect to it daily, this is your main practise as this Martina

“True wealth lies in the heart” Desikachar

Read regularly

Finish things before you start new projects

Always learn or develop a skill

Friendship, family and community is the most important thing

Do not identify with your thoughts, they are not who you are

Be generous and open hearted

After heart ache when your heart closes its doors, come back to your innate abundance again and again no matter how painful, stay connected, it’s part of being human to be hurt by others

If you feel you want to compliment someone give them a compliment, don’t hold back, you have no idea what it could mean to them

Charisma and charm are beautiful things to possess in life

Be true to yourself

Authenticity is everything

Allow your nature to be as it is, do not try to be anything other than yourself

No need to try to be anyone

We are all made up of the same stuff, treat people equally

Do not gossip or speak badly of others

Make art in whatever form you feel and share it with the world 


Write, develop this part always

Write everyday


Be there for your friends and remember what an honour it is to be able to help others when you are strong

Work hard, have a strong work ethic

Treat everyone with the respect they deserve

We are all equal

Respond to what is, not what you think it should be

Be generous

Live from a place of abundance

Share your vulnerability

In this fast paced world don’t feel like you have to keep up, stand still, do less than you are told to do. Being busy is lazy. Be still and focus on what is infront of you. 

One thing at a time.

Never take for granted when you are feeling mentally, physically and emotionally healthy, you know how awful depression is. Appreciate good health on all levels.

Always be there for friends, look out for friends in hard times

List 5 things at the end of each day you are grateful for

Spend time regularly being quiet

Life is too short for self doubt, you have a right to create and share what is real for you in this experience of being human

You could die tomorrow, so live fully and deeply with joy

The world responds energetically to what you are putting out

All of the experiences you are having now are as a result of past decisions and actions, what do you want to do now? Direct your attention and make it happen.




The Ambivalent Pony


Birds on wire 


Living in a field of black sheep



Blog 3, published on 24/11/15

Laurie Lee on Charm, me on Charisma

This autumn on my travels I read Laurie Lee’s ‘I Can’t Stay long’, a collection of essays and stories, in which there is a five page piece called ‘Charm’ which I found, as you may suspect, utterly charming. 

Here are some favourite parts that I underlined...

It opens with:

“Charm is the ultimate seduction, against which there are few defences. If you’ve got it, you need almost nothing else, neither money, looks nor pedigree. It’s a gift, only given to give away, and the more used the more there is.”

And continues with these most excellent ones…

“Real charm is dynamic, an enveloping spell which mysteriously enslaves the senses. It is an inner light, fed on reservoirs of benevolence which well up like a thermal spring”

“You recognise charm by the feeling you get in its presence. You know who has it”

“Apart from the ability to listen -  rarest of all human virtues and most difficult to sustain without vagueness - apart from warmth, sensitivity, and the power to please, what else is there visible? A generosity, I suppose, which makes no demands, a transaction which strikes no bargains, which doesn’t hold itself back till you’ve filled up a test-card making it clear that you’re in trouble.”

“It reveals itself also in a sense of ease, in casual but perfect manners, and often in a form of serenity of mind. Any person with it is more than just a popular fellow, he is a social healer.”

“But charm, in the end, is flesh and blood, a most potent act of behaviour, the laying down of a carpet by one person for another to give his existence a moment of honour”

“Charm is the rarest, least used, and most invincible of powers, which can capture in a single glance. It is close to love in that it moves without force, bearing gifts like growth of daylight”

And finally, culminates in this line:

“In the armoury of man, charm is the enchanted dart, light and subtle as a hummingbird. But it is deceptive in one thing - like a sense of humour, if you think you’ve got it, you probably haven’t.”

He knew. Old Laurie Lee. Oh how I love his words.

Reading Lee’s personal analysis of this wonderful human quality inspired me to write on charisma, another marvellous quality some human beings are graced with posessing.

One definition of charisma is

1. A special personal quality or power of an individual making him capable of influencing or inspiring large numbers of people

2. a quality inherent in a thing which inspires great enthusiasm and devotion

Listening to Russell Brand talk a few years ago, who personally, I find incredibly charismatic, he quoted Quentin Crisp on what charisma is:

“Charisma is the ability to influence without logic”

Like charm, I’m not convinced charisma is something you can try to possess. One can’t practise becoming more charismatic, well of course you can try, but am not sure you will entirely succeed. This makes me instantly think of angry or frustrated Buddhists I’ve met in my life who refer to themselves as Buddhists. Better, perhaps not to claim to be one. Leave that to others to decide? 

There are tons of self help guides out there on this kind of stuff. Entrepreneurs and Life Coaches who wrote books in the 90s, when Anthony Robbins and Wayne Dyer were novel and new. There are numerous  articles or tips listed online about how to be charismatic. But that’s a bit lame isn’t it? Not real. 

Like when you see people reading these books in public on the underground. Reminds me of the phrase, ‘don’t air your dirty laundry in public’. If you’re going to read ‘How to win friends and influence people’ maybe start by doing so quietly and furthermore, alone. 

Some people have just got it, charisma, quite naturally, like charm. It’s odd when you can feel someone trying to be something they are not. Just as it is utterly strange when you can see someone sitting in front of you whose read somewhere that mirroring your body language will make you like them, or when they lightly touch your elbow when ‘practising flirting’.  It’s not natural because its orchestrated which means it is inauthentic. Better to be real, allowing things to happen. So if magnetic qualities like charm and charisma are a gift, of grace, a natural quality a person posesses within and therefore shares by simply being…Maybe now I am getting somewhere…

In simply being.

What are some of the qualities that makes up charisma? 

Presence is key, as is warmth, the ability to listen, a certain quiet confidence, the ability to share vulnerability, humour and more.

Charisma. It’s almost onomatopoeic depending on how you say it, maybe in a New York 1950s gangster accent, or with empahasis on its metre.

I can visualise it in colours. Bright and expansive. It’s energetic, vibrant, present to the vitality of the moment. A slight urgency of living. Of being human and beyond. It shares and reaches out. It is positivity and pure possibility. All the good stuff. 

Authenticity is everything to the quality of charisma. In fact Authenticity, is everything. I could write about that too.

One quote I want to end this little piece of little thoughts with is one I find continually life enhancing. When I try out what it suggests my life transforms instantaneously. Every interaction becomes so utterly potent, genuine and most of all tender. Instantly kinder and loving. It is this beast of a quote, said by someone called Og Mandino. Check it out:

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”

Feel the feeling of charm and charisma arise simply by being, the interactions that follow are so much more real and beautiful. Refined and authentic.

Never mind what you are or what you’rd like to be. I have never much cared for the term ’self improvement’. 

No to Self improvement. Yes to Self Revealing.  In being. Revealing. Charming, charismatic, authentic. Real. True. 

Listen carefully to others,  pay close attention. Take the focus away from yourself, of trying to be this or that kind of person, better than, or more than. Or ‘growing’ as a person.

Simply listening and being with who is infront of you, truly in the moment and the charm of being whole heartedly human, let’s honour eachother and see how our relationships and lives enhance every day together.

A few qualities to think about, a few quotes to mull over. 

Blog 2, published on 23/11/15

On Patti Smith

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                    Self portait, December 2012

If you’re an admirer of Patti Smith, you will know it was the 40th anniversary of the release of Horses this year. That she galavanted around the world on tour performing the album. As those who know me, will only be too aware, she is one of my key influences and biggest inspirations, my hero in fact (which is a term I never thought I’d use). The time has now come where I am sitting down and dedicating time to write in honour of Patti Smith, this fasincation and why I feel she is still so deeply relevant to our times. 

Watching the footage of her perform at Glastonbury this year is uplifting and fills me with joy and renewed optimism about the mighty force within us. At nearly 70 she still has the gusto and passion that she did as a young woman in the 70s. Her spirit is strong and that goes beyond age. 

In these strange, confused dark ages we are living through, it is absolutely vital for all of us, right now to keep the fire within us alive. 

Patti is someone who does that. A rebel so dedicated to her work, we can all learn something from her. At Glastonbury she was offering the torch on to generations that follow hers singing People have the Power, with optimism and conviction. I am a student of Patti Smith. She is worth learning from. 

So here is the story of my relationship to this mighty Artist, sometimes referred to as ‘The Grandmother of Punk’ which is endearing, maybe a little bit patronising but still take it with a pinch of salt. I’m not writing a biography, this is purely personal, you can look that stuff up easy enough. 


While at Art School someone not relevant to my development once reeled your name off non chalantly in a list of influential people, I can’t remember what his point was, nor who the other people were, he had a sense of apathy and arrogance in his delivery, that is my vague memory.

It was not the time to be introduced to you then. No grace nor charm about that moment. It did not have the  unanticipated sense of joy of that day later on down the line. That would have deep resonance, out of the blue, an unexpected gift, delightful and true. 

The foundation laid, prepared, I was an open book, welcoming new inspirations, my student days over, a year since leaving art school, those days now passed, now gone. Life as a poor ‘artist', now working mundane day jobs, the reality of life after the university bubble now becoming real in all of its utter mundaneness.

The time came, it was 2006. I was 23. Soft amber light outside, my favourite kind. The sound of the old familiar sea gulls. Working in an independent bookshop, back in my hometown on the seafront, having recently got back from travelling across the USA that summer, living back with my folks. 

We come to our heroes when we are ready for them. We discover music in our own sweet time, in an organic unfolding. Sounds so utterly new and delightful to our young fresh ears. Like the first time I heard the Velvet Underground’s ‘Andy Warhol’ in the early hours one morning at 16, but that’s another story.

The time you would be introduced to me, I was ready, the timing ideal.

I was in a music shop, MVC, on a coffee break from the bookshop. I perused the collection casually, aimlessly, mildly curious, when I came across the CD Horses. Unexpected discovery. There you were looking back out at me just casually leaning, with presence.

I stoppped in my tracks. Drawn to the cover I was captivated in an instant. At a time where I was back in a place I had left 4 years earlier, surrounded by books during a quiet month more often than not bored out of my skull, that work break enhanced it all and changed my world.

I was curious and intrigued by you. Brain rewiring, the neuro networks in electric blue having new and captivating conversations, lighting up, moving in all directions, forming new patterns. New orbits forming around my being encircling me with new possibility. Invisible threads reaching out and beyond.

I saw the black and white photograph and loved everything about it; the composition, its simplicity and grace, your sense of self assurance, poise and ultimately your ambiguity and androgyny that topped it all.

I bought it knowing nothing of the music but eager to discover it. An innocent.

Perhaps, I reflect now, almost 10 years later, I fell a little in love that day, like you did when you saw Rimbauds photo as a young man.

Next thing, discovering the music, what it contained, GLORIA and Relondo Beach I Iistened to over and over while cycling to and from work along the promenade beach, reigniting something wild and free within me, that you represented. Oh and Break it up, like nothing, nothing I had ever heard before. You reminded me to see the world with the artists lens. Something I sometimes lose but always comes back again.

The way you dressed. I looked you up, captivated. Enigma. COOL AS FUCK.

Again a rite of passage, like a teenage girl. I wore my white shirt and tie to work, black scruffy blazer with all its tears and holes, dark trousers cut just below the knee. I also often wore a trilby hat as I liked the way it felt. Little did I know then, that you worked in bookshops too. Know for a fact I looked far from cool but I enjoyed expressing myself in this way, inspired, not wearing feminine dress, (not that I had much in the past) but reminded of how I loved how it felt to know I can express myself in whatever way I choose. So so good. It was a  time of great curiosity and questioning in more ways than one.

You went on the back burner from time to time, burning quietly but never forgotten. Simmering at times that I needed reminding, that people like you exist. Your name came up over those years, but you were never mainstream famous famous, not like Bob or Bowie, not mentioned as much. Way cooler in your oddness to not be a household name like that.

In recent years you’ve been at the forefront more, my key influence coming to the shore. That’s the thing with heroes, they come back and visit you, pop up in your consciousness like guides when you could do with reminding of the things that matter to you. 

At any time, sometimes an unexpected knock knock, they wake you up

All my friends know it, how strongly I feel, I’ve certainly mentioned you enough. 

I’ve introduced you to women who are around the same age as when I discovered you, knowing it is my duty. I played Relondo beach to a Jordanian girl while walking the Camino de Santiago this summer. As I watched her, I could see the delight in her eyes as we walked side by side across Northern Spain. What a joy it was to open the doors for her and invite her to walk through.

I've read Just Kids 3 times so far.  The second in New York for 10 days alone. Mostly walking endelssly and sitting in diners and cafes in the rain, simply writing. Underlined, marked with stars, dog eared. Facing out on any new bookshelf I can occupy along with your other works. 

I've painted you, it was also partly me, you on the mic, me wailing from the heart singing for my recently deceased friend Zsi Chimera who died in a hot air balloon accident in Egypt for the painting You left in flames.

I have made smaller paintings, prints and drawings too over the years. Given one to my dear friend Arks who loves you almost as much as I do. I’ve also taken self portraits channeling the attitude of Horses as my start point. 

Sketchbook details

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                           Patti/self portrait combo

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For my birthday last year one of my closest friends, Sarah gave me a card smiling sweetly, she wrote inside that I was going to see you with the Soundwalk Collective, when I read those words my heart burned with that familiar fire I have now grown so accustomed to, it went directly to the source of all power and vibrancy. The best present anyone could ever have given me. For Real.

A year ago around about now, my dear friends Arks, Sarah and I went to the Union Chapel in Islington. I was excited all day, I felt nervous as if before an exam.

I am alive, this is it - print collage with inks, 2014, Martina Ziewe

I looked around the audience of the ambient church, soft lighting, pews slowly filling up as I sat alone for at least an hour while my friends went to the bar way cooler than me. I was not going to lose those seats. Observing the audiences demographic, a mix between people in their 30s, not girly girls, interesting clothes, ones who look like musicians, artists, and poets of course, and people in their 70s, and all inbetween. One woman of about 50 obviously inspired by your way of dress, big scruffy boots and a wild mane of hair. I felt fondness for them all, knowing we had you in common which meant I’d probably get on with them.

Four pews back, to the left of the aisle. Close and ready. So ready.

Eventually you entered. You did not speak to the audience at the beginning. You went straight in, did your thing. You were reciting poems for your friend Nico. The music of The Soundwalk Collective was mezmerising, dreamlike, meditative and surreal all at once. You spoke steady and contained, strong and commanding. And oh that voice. 

The lighting lit you up real intense, enhanced your wild white hair, witch like - the only way you would go, never hiding what you are and how you age. Just real. And the way the light hit your hair allowed it to glow and reach up to the celestials as you do with your presence. There was a perfect madness in your eyes. You held your hands up in a bold outward command as if channeling from beyond. Your aura electric and white. You had twitchy mannerisms and sometimes seemed to suddenly remember where you were, coming back to and I felt you become physically more embodied again, to then transcend up in unexpected moments, then fall somewhere in between two worlds then land. 

The audience one energy field. You ever present and true holding the room in the palm of your hand. I remembered your words in Just Kids - how you feed off the audience as much as we do from you, put more eloquently than that. When you looked out, whoever you were looking at as far as I was concerned you were singing for me. 

For I am the audience and you are the artist, I am the artist inspired by you. Without me who are you performing for? It is the perfect union. A  communion of energy and oh how I embraced it. I feel the fire in my heart ignite. Feel the fire. Feel it burn. Burn. Back to you, back to me, to all in the room and beyond.

You give to me directly, so generously. You are in a trance like Morrison, your hero. In turn I am transfixed by you. The way you described watching your heroes you are now giving to me. It passes on. It passes on.

You are so whole heartedly yourself. 

It took a few long moments to take your photo subtly, I was aware that any movement I were to make in the room could be seen, everyone so still and present, I was respectful and discreet, so magnified was it all. I eventually got one, grateful and humbled.

Patti Smith and the Soundwalk Collective, Union Chapel, October 2014

One part I remember the most is when you spoke the words ‘in the rain, in the rain’ you repeated, repeated, I was cast under your spell. Oh and the sound of those singing bowls. The visuals on the screen above you. It was that perfect mix, poetry, performance, story telling, art, light, music and visuals. You owned it, the stage, so authentic and true as you always do. So attentive to each moment.

Thank you Patti. I would like to take what you gave me that night and give generously to others in work of my own.

The night was powerful, you stood at the lectern giving the sermon of Patti Smith. I listened attentively and sincerely, I learned.

I’ve learned from your approach to work. Like when Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin died you went straight into your process of the experience and wrote a poem, a song or drew something out. You act with such immediacy, with drive and passion to what happens around you. I vow to do that more, to respond to life and honour it with razor sharp awarenss and use the passion I have for being alive to make work, while the fire is burning bright and share it.

 Self portrait, November 2015

I relate to how you relate to objects, the way you and Robert displayed your belongings in the spaces you occupied and valued the little you had. I arrange my postcards, books, little bits of jewellery and art works in much the same way, paying close attention, looking at my surroundings with tenderness.

I’ve sat on a pew listening to you feeling the exchange of energy. It has touched and indeed changed me.

I too, have something to give and share with people I come into contact with so deeply. I saw in you what you saw in your heroes. It goes on and on through the generations, all those you touch. 

You are so perfectly alive, creative, hard working, passionate and full of fire. 

I know that if I met you and we had a conversation, you would be generous and encouraging of my work.  

I would like to see you live once more. Not sure if that was the only time in this life. I’m happy I got to experience it either way, we’ll see.

 Self portrait 2014, Martina Ziewe

I vow to myself to have the presence, authenticity and passion of my own being and self possessing spirit. My driving force, my fire. Being totally and utterly myself. Free.

Patti and the Dalai Lama at Glastonbury 2015

I am closer to a place where I can see myself sharing more. I trust life will present the right circumstances when it is the time to do so. In performance, art or whatever way is best.

I’ve certainly laid the ground work and that has not been easy.

My introspective hours in dark small spaces and mighty open light ones, alone and working hard, sometimes in wired manic states, ready to be turned outward for all good reasons. 

Inward to outward, exposed and revealing light. That light which connects us all. 

I am ready. I am READY.                            



Self Portrait with book, September 2015

Update: since writing this blog I was asked to do a Patti Smith inspired modelling session. I model for art classes. So thought to share it here.

Blog 1, Published 21/11/

© Martina Ziewe 2017