Inspirations for The Two of Us, my monthly radio show

Other Lives, Personal Journey, Radio, Recommendations

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Some years ago I had my very first radio show ‘The Conversational’ on Reel Rebels Radio. I became ill in 2011 with Lyme Disease and the unrelenting fatigue meant that I could no longer continue with the monthly show.  A great deal has happened in the years since. I’m still unwell but I’ve become more accustomed to it. It would be a lie to say that I’ve either learnt the fine (and impossible) art of pacing or that I’ve reached a state of acceptance.

Two things have made a massive difference to my day to day living. Firstly I’ve plucked up the courage to call myself an artist and not wince when I say it. And secondly I’ve discovered podcasts. These two statements are connected. I can’t say for sure whether my artistic ability has improved, although I’m confident in saying it hasn’t got any worse. However my relationship to my work has shifted. I’m more interested in personal story than ever and more recently (the one I love and bed) have found ways to integrate my photography, writing and interview, for example Whoever Was Using This Bed .

Being ill for such a long time has intensified my contemplative nature. My love of podcasts has a direct link to my social isolation. On better days I go for what I call a local ‘photo potter’ a camera in hand, headphones hon listening to On Being, Made of Human, Invisbilia or whatever I’ve carefully downloaded and curated before I began my walk. Story telling and story listening (whether in words or images) have become an integral part of my life in the last 7 years. Chronic illness brings with it a number of emotional hurdles. Lyme has gifted me with high end anxiety as a near constant companion. I first experienced depression after my parents divorced when I was 11 and it’s been a part of my life ever since. Luckily the treatments I’m having seem to keep it under control, that is until I have a flare and I can spend months housebound and often to bed.

Even though I live with depression and anxiety I believe I have a great capacity for joy. One of my greatest pleasures is found in human connection and satisfying my endlessly inquisitive nature. I never know quite where I get my ideas from. It rarely feels like I’ve made something up myself and more that it plonks itself at my feet and I’d be a fool to ignore it. As my love for podcasts began to develop I knew that I had a real craving to do another radio show. I just wasn’t sure what. I was clear about one thing – unlike my other show where I had two or three guests a show – now I wanted to explore the long form interview and have just one guest.

Two of my favourite, albeit somewhat gruelling, podcasts are Terrible, Thanks for Asking and The Hilarious World of Depression. The latter began as interviews with stand up comedians but has now expanded to other performers. Inspired by both of these shows I decided to talk to writers and from all disciplines about their experience and the result was The Two of Us, aired on Reel Rebels Radio.

Writing is home for me. I think you’ll find the writers here, Joelle Taylor Miriam Nash and S K Perry incredibly articulate and generous about their own mental health journeys. I decided to focus on both mental health AND emotional well being as I believe it’s like the flickering of a candle flame and most of us move from one to the other and back again throughout our lives.

I’m also interested in lived experience and intersectionality. Mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it cannot. I wanted to create my own mini mental health awareness campaign and to include exuberance, survival and complexity. The three guests that have appeared so far have been fearless in their honesty and shared breathtaking work. Have a listen. Enjoy and share the word.

 

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The One I Love – Exhibition and Private View

Events, Living Differently Project, Photography

Scarlett publicity

I’m working hard on my new exhibition ‘The One I Love’ which explores the relationship people with long term invisible conditions have with their pets.

Where : Free Space Project, Kentish Town Health Centre, 2 Bartholomew Road NW5 2BX

When : October 23rd – December 14th

Private View : October 23rd at 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Hope to see you there !

Naomi x

Living Differently – Holding the Gaze

Living Differently Project, Photography

Wall of meBack in 2013 I did an online photography course with Vivienne McMaster. Vivienne’s work encourages her participants to “discover tools that will help you to cultivate a relationship of self-compassion both through the camera and in your every day life” (her words from the website), the premise being that self portraiture can help us look at ourselves with love and lessen the hold of self-criticism. It can be a radical act to show up in front of the lens and direct that gaze, that multi-facted honest gaze towards our most bullying critic – us. We can feel the earth shift when we direct a look of love towards ourselves instead.

A year before this I began using photography as a way to deal with living with chronic illness. After feeling trapped in my body I felt an enormous sense of relief capturing what was happening to me on camera. I was both the photographer and the subject and that allowed me to explore my feelings in depth without having them overwhelm me. The camera was a tool for both investigation and validating my experience. I began my self-portrait journey wanting to record the truth and the last thing I wanted was to ‘play nice’ for the camera. As I continued my work with Vivienne I learnt how to enjoy being in front of the lens. I found out that I was a worthy a subject as anyone I had turned my camera towards.

A few years have gone by and I’m still adapting to a life I did not choose, still looking for  my own story in the midst of change. The past 6 months have been very tough and I’ve got puffy and swollen in my face. This shouldn’t matter, but it does. In an attempt to self-validate I forgot one thing – the constant passing of time. When I look at the photos above, all taken and processed on my phone, posing, pouting and beaming – I can also see someone trying hard to pretty herself for the lens. Looking at these pictures something is missing. Where is my body ? It’s no coincidence that I live with an invisible illness.  I’ve managed to hide myself from myself.

Looking  again I can see that even the most processed of them are a part of my story. Some days I let my vulnerability show, others I shine with joy and then there are the times when I feel the only choice I have is to ‘say cheese’, hold my gaze and face the world.

Re Issue – What a Dog Sees

Photography, Poetry, Re Issue

reflected-dog

Photograph – Copyright Dan Wesker 2010

What a Dog Sees

in a puddle of water
is not just his reflection
but the barks of other dogs

their yelps falling
in new rain
splashing a dance
in pre-breakfast air

sees
other paws muddy with joy
off leash

then tilts his wet nose 

towards sky
and buildings

some have bad people in them
they do not feed his brothers
and steal the wag
from happy tails

what a dog sees
are the circles
walked
by those on two legs

lack of courage
over cooked meals
unanswered telephones

so much water
and the memory of almost drowning
in his puppy paws

head cocked his ears
a net to capture
all this human chatter

and wonders what this world
would want
with all this talking


Poem – Copyright Naomi Woddis 2010

Re Issue – Thumbing the Gelt

Poetry, Re Issue

Thumbing the Gelt

I am the King of Coins,
wherever I go they listen.
I can’t resist the smell of burning,
It reminds me of home.

A coin fresh from the mint
feels like a brand new day,
a token of promises made
with double-crossed fingers.

Each wet wad is worthless
Lips speak of bribes. Each mouth
shaped by want. This
pretty paper is imaginary.

How I love that shiny gold,
a party dress dollar, each
element of a measured exchange.
I pass the time by counting

what I have. Three thieves
died of thirst in Death Valley
their dollars could not buy them water.
A cocksure wind blew 

their bucks away.
To know it is to lose it.
No one rules. But this.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2008

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

What is money ?
Who rules ?
How self determining are we ?