Slow me down universe
ease the pounding of my heart
by quieting my mind.
Give me amid the confusion of my days
the calmness of rolling hills
break the tension in my nerves
with soothing streams.
Help me know the power of sleep
Teach me the art of one minute holidays.
To look at a blooming flower
or the face of a child
or a face to face chat with a friend
Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. Greta Thunberg
Extinction Rebellion; recorded conversations from Marble Arch. Danny Nedelko (IDLES cover) on BBC6 music & Foxx Frequency May playlist and Wake Up Your Artist retreat (with relaxation recordings) and poem from our refugee ‘welcome ticket’ recipient, my friend Joseph Mpanga,
and your stories please… if you wish to share… with the UK government’s climate emergency declaration this month I decided to theme my next sharing, Trees.🌳
This month saw the occupation of 5 sites in central London by Extinction Rebellion, bringing together thousands of people to voice concerns over climate change. I arrived early on Monday morning and met with friends from a number of faith groups who together planned what was needed to hold the Marble Arch site for a lorry to come in and be disabled in the roadway to then become the stage for the weeks events. The lorry came, and while, people were locking themselves to the underside, others set up solar panels to run the sound system.
The same story was unfolding at Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Trafalgar Square – each with a programme of open mic sessions, artists, speakers and training /information for anyone who wanted to know more (I spoke to Tash; Bassist of Brighton’s much loved feminist lesbian band Siren – who was running one (see below). Among the main messages of XR is about Citizens Assemblies, a method of gathering a diverse range of people from society and hearing opinion on social issues (thanks Naomi for explaining this also in the interview)
The atmosphere was like festival, music played, food on donation from Hari Krishna and a few other kitchens, children played, drawing in chalk on the roads in these now traffic safe spaces. Eye contact, gentle, thoughtful conversation. I heard speakers on the environment, feminist approaches to politics, poems, meditations and contemplations from faith groups.
Around the site were also stewards (thank you Rebecca -also interviewed below) and at points.
Extinction Rebellion families, thank you for the invitation to sing with you, it was lovely
A few months ago I hear this song by Bristol band IDLES, a friend sent me a link and I had tears in my eyes after 30 seconds of listening. This might surprise you because of the style of music, it’s big and loud and vocals Joe Talbot kind shouts the melody. Saying this, how about these lyrics?
My blood brother is an immigrant/ a beautiful immigrant
He’s made of bones, he’s made of blood, he’s made of flesh , he’s made of love, he’s made of you, he’s made of me, unity…
They touched me enough to want to try and work out how I might turn it into a cover.
With the help of my friend Sophie Lowendahl (pictured – violin) we did.
Thanks for Tom Robinson who played it a couple of times on 6 Music, in April, on the introducing mixtape and sitting in for Steve Lamaq with a show of bank holiday cover songs. still available for a little while.
Below the original and my version is Songs for May, a playlist by Foxx’s Frequency with the song in.
Springs’ Wake Up Your Artist retreat felt beautiful, thanks to all who came and thank you too to those who supported our refugee crowdfunder. Joseph joined us who had in previous years ‘suffered’ the UK Immigration system/detention centres (I put suffered in marks to reference Joseph’s ability to turn anything into a learning experience!) and brought us much joy for being with us. This is a poem by Joseph and below some relaxations from the week.
Lastly, I invite you to remember some trees from your life that meant something to you.
Following the UK governments climate emergency declaration, I wanted to make, in a moment of collective insecurity, a collection of comforting, supportive and restorative memories…
heres the link, please send me yours if you wish to
Alongside the recordings in my journal pages I have recently released an ep of songs ahead of an album. You can visit hereto stream and download.
Please don’t let money be a concern. Feel free to pass through the donation screen with my blessing if you would like to download any songs and have no means to donate.
Any donations will go to my recording and traveling fund – thank you.
The UK government has declared climate emergency, from this week first/second week of May. Many have named this before though now following a few weeks where climate change has become mainstream news due largely to Extinction Rebellion and the visit of the Swedish teenage environmentalist/ school strike activist Greta Thunburg. I wonder how this is […]
The UK government has declared climate emergency, from this week first/second week of May. Many have named this before though now following a few weeks where climate change has become mainstream news due largely to Extinction Rebellion , David Attenborough’s BBC Climate Change Documentary and the visit of the Swedish teenage environmentalist/ school strike activist Greta Thunburg
I wonder how this is be acted upon in the coming months/years.
Writing Oak Tree at new year brought together some threads I’d been contemplating, the relationship to those we can’t talk to (of course you can ! but in terms of a verbal exchange!) but are in relationship with and what this means for climate change. It felt important to contemplate that, the wisdom thats there, the experience, lessons possible to receive from life as it’s happening around us.
I heard once, ‘trees are the biggest living thing you can hug’ I like that -I’m a tree hugger sometimes 🙂 . Mostly though I like being beside them and head for woods if I need to clear my mind. I’ve heard it’s the oxygen that draws us there and I like the feeling of there being roots underneath me.
The CO2 – breath exchange I find a wonder – 1 tree provides that relationship for 2 humans.
One thing I do everyday for the love of trees is this …I wonder if you’ve seen Google search engine alternative Ecosia affectively everytime you search trees are planted.
So I wondered about collecting tree stories – a way of being in touch with that respect and reverence – care to send me one?
Charlotte, Vancouver, Canada
Monks ordaining Trees and Climate emergency declaration in Vancouver
My friend is driving down an old highway in Chiang Mai to Lampang there are some very loved trees there and he told me the local monks have ordained the trees as monks to prevent them being chopped down by the promoters of an extended highway ..apparently this is happening quite a bit – Deforestation is a issue for Thailand as it for many places and the move to ordain trees thus protect them is very important. The Buddist monks have been wrapping the trees in orange material to protect them from harm .Whilst it doesn’t guarantee there safety the majority in Thailand are Buddists and their trust for the monks better judgement is high .It is a unique idea originally started by the Thai Forest monks and has spread .Of course often elsewhere a colored ribbon is more harmful than good and can mean a untimely end or signify a property line – so it is a very positive move 🙂 You are very welcome to post the story . I did read that -about the UK declaring a climate emergency – kinda bittersweet isnt it ! I mean its great that they recognize the need- its very sad that there is a need . I also read that there was a protest outside of Ottawa City Hall in Canada demanding the mayor join some other municipalities in doing the same – a motion was made and I believe that they did declare it 🙂 .. Vancouver city has already declared a climate emergency which was done in January, I am on Vancouver Island ..which is an extension of .. and a ferry ride from Vancouver
An acorn growing in Cornwall from where her father passed away during the war in Germany
My Fathers name William Henry Tanner, he was in the Devon & Dorset parachute regiment 6th Airborne , he was 29 years old killed crossing the Rhine on 24th March 1945
Thank you Joe, trees have always been a great source of joy for me, alongside of rivers, growing up by the Thames. Yes you can use my picture, I’d be proud of that .
Onbeing episode with Wangari Maathai.
Wangari Matthai is a nobel peace prize winner, the first black woman actually to win it for community work around conservation- I loved listening to this woman and felt you would too the episode is called Marching with trees
love from here
Heritage tree project
https://heritagetrees.org.uk/ in case of interest a project that finished last year x
Heritage Trees ran from January 2015 – December 2018 and aimed to celebrate, record and protect our local tree heritage – the trees, woodlands, hedgerows and orchards which are part of the fabric of our towns and cities. Watch the video to find about the difference the project made.
Charlotte, Vancouver (again, thank you Charlotte)
Story of Piplantri in India
This amazing village in India plants 111 trees every time a girl is born
Tree houses and the ‘seven sloughs’ (marshes)
As a kid I had a pretty intricate and impressive treehouses. I grew up in a huge yard with a backyard slough, and my brothers and I built a suspension bridge that went over the water and into the trees in the woods across. There were a lot of sloughs wrapping through the woods until they met up with the river. We called them the seven sloughs and spent loads of time adventuring around them, and skating along them in the summer 🙂 Once on a school trip we went out and planted trees.
Grandparent and oak tree picnics
Each Summer at the start of the holidays we’d go to a park near where my grandparent lived and have a picnic there – pretty sure it was an oak tree, it looked like it had an old face, my sister, my mum and I could hold hands around it. Early tree hugging memories !!! We continues after my grandparents passed away until we moved from there.
thank you I enjoyed remembering that
Be like a tree
I was feeling down, sad and down a few years ago and a friend sent me this picture. I made a drawing of it and had it in my diary since then, there’s something about that makes you feel ok again with all that goes on sometimes inside your life and outside in politics and the landscape. I come back to it often and if I feel sad again I remember it, look at it or find a tree, or imagine a tree – I can always do this
Mary Oliver poem
(I love this poem too Paula thank you , Mary Oliver , who passed away this year pictured with her dog Percy )
My favourite poem about trees by Mary Oliver When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”
Br Dao Kein
thoughts from my friend, monastic at the Plum Village monestry in France.
people as trees
I always thought of my partner was like an Oak tree. I always felt compelled to buy her images and jewellery of The Tree of Life. I have a similar feeling and compulsion with another friend.
Also Some people have something of trees about them. Feel free to share this,
“The choice to love is a choice to connect— to find ourselves in the other.”
Human all with Gender identity sharing project and in Foxxs’ Frequency New Year playlist. New song Oak Tree with BBC6 playlist. Relaxation meditation on theme of mothers from Wake Up London afternoon. Arts retreat Refugee crowdfunder – funded. Upcoming events Extinction Rebellion interfaith and family group actions and wonder of garden flowers opening and leaving ladybirds.
Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts and feelings about Gender identity. I’m touched by the openness, honesty and vulnerability – if you read it and feel you would like in some way to contribute please do anytime.
As I was preparing to post this journal page Stonewall’s Trans day of visability image came through, it seems attitudes and understanding is changing. I found growth in my new learning of words and ways to understand others’ experiences and my own and inspiration from these places, thank you Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and this Huffington post article.
Human All came as a response to just one conversation I heard and is a simple wish to accept others. During my reading I found these artists who too give voice to the understanding of gender, Christine and the Queens, Aye Nako, Ezra Furman, Shawnee, Shea Diamond
thanks to the wonderful Nick Kenrick, Sergio Costa, Walther/Wilma Ghabitt and Andy Hall for making this what you hear
Human All was also in this playlist by Canadian music ambassador Foxx’s Frequency last month- an hour and a half of songwriters, as always, my heartfelt appreciation to Fox 🙂
I’ve been writing Oak Tree for a while, I remember the guitar line began to emerge during my Plum Village winter stay in 2016. Then last Summer at the Greenbelt festival, during a songwriting workshop one of the participants wrote the line, ‘the resilience of the old Oak tree’ Over New year just, I began feeling I’d like to write a song about my relationship to trees and this line came back to me, I also had some thoughts from Kareem Ghandour who put the tree inside with the line ‘resides inside me’; so its quite a collaboration really.
I know when strong feelings of hopelessness begin to arise in me, I sometimes need to find a natural place outside, I like the idea of befriending trees, seeking comfort and confidence under their branches. Maybe you have ones you can remember in your life?
Here’s a link to Fresh On The Net, Tom Robinson (BBC6) community page, where Oak Tree made the ‘Fresh Faves’ a couple of weeks ago, and thank you also Sarah Gosling at BBC Introducing for also giving it some air time.
If you write songs or know someone who does, visit the link to submit songs weekly. The community is supportive and encouraging, thanks Tom and listeners there.
picture posted in ‘All Is Love’ IDLES fan page yesterday, artist Mari Andrew
This week at Wake Up London we had a theme of Mothers; our birth Mothers, our spiritual Mothers and the Mother in us all. Here’s a relaxation I led with ‘Lay Down’ at the end.
Amidst the appreciation and joy shown on Mothers day, it also feels right to acknowledge the difficulties Mothers experience; our sharing group that day reminded me the pain and that can be associated with Mother child relationships in the context of our world, influenced as it is by the violence of our structures. My wish with the relaxation is to bring a little healing if possible to those who hear it; I played it certainly for my mother and father and me.
If anyone is in London in April, Extinction rebellion has a day of their trademark creative, non-violent, disruptive action on April 15th. I am involved in the interfaith and family group for the day if you’d like to know more, please let me know and I can add you to the threads.
Here’s a few songs sung together from a recent visit,, thank you the dear and attentive Jo for the invite, and the cake 🙂
A short note to say thanks to the supporters of the crowdfunder to bring someone with a refugee background on the Wake Up Your Artists Retreat (I’m writing this on the way to Germany for it) A friend called Joseph who has been through the detention system in London will come along, I am so glad to give this experience and havee Josephs infectious smile for the week.
If you are interested and able to donate anything for future places, please get in touch – we have a lovely new website for the retreat too which is here:
To round this post I have become a bit obsessed with the flowers in our garden so far this Spring!. While the warm sunshine brings to mind the broader change in climate it also brings these beautiful colours, a call I feel to be in moments of wonder; and that brings to mind a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh:
Falling back in love with the creativity and wonder of the earth is the revolution we need.
and similarly – time to say farewell ladybirds came…
In other wonderment , the ladybirds have been on the move, propelling themselves into the Spring air outside my window, lost count at around 70 – if I ever find hibernating ladybirds again, I will enjoy awaiting flying day.
Alongside the recordings in my journal pages I have recently released an ep of songs ahead of an album. You can visit here to stream and download.
Please don’t let money be a concern. Feel free to pass through the donation screen with my blessing if you would like to download any songs and have no means to donate.
Any donations will go to my recording and traveling fund – thank you.
Welcome to the Gender identity sharing space. The above song was inspired by a question put to monastics at Plum Village (home of Thich Nhat Hanh, a place I am fond of) last Summer. The visitor to PV was asking what they felt about transgender and gender identity. While I can’t remember the whole answer it took the theme of inclusion and love, I do remember the first sentence; that me along with many others wrote in their note books: ‘The Buddha said, all our blood is red and all our sweat is salty, we are all human” and it became the chorus of this song.
I was born a man biologically speaking, though growing up I know there were ideas of being man that made me feel unsettled; aggression, the competition around sports (although I do love playing when it doesn’t matter if you win or lose), preoccupations on sex never seeing tender, drinking, not being encouraged to express love/affection; it feels to me that so much of this media driven, the creation of binaries around gender that try to establish an ‘either or’ thinking; I was blessed with open parents who didn’t mind how long my hair was or what I was interested in, poems, drawing, playing my guitar, singing, they encouraged that, though I know for others it’s not so easy.
I remember reflecting a lot on the ideas after writing the song and wrote in my journal, I feel cisgendered some of the time and sometimes I don’t, it’s a rainbow in there! Having the support to feel into that rainbow, that river, is what I felt growing up. I usually wouldn’t identify as transgender, or would I? Sometimes I would, though friends I have shared with who do identify trans describe stronger feelings than I have, toward playing with gender, and some have transitioned.
I would love to hear what you feel about your gender identity , described by Transgender Support as ”how we feel about our gender identity in our hearts and minds”.
Stonewall charity Acceptance without exception
Gendered Intelligence: understanding Gender in creative ways
and how about this to start? – thanks Ella/Ez for sharing this with me from the spoken work poet Andrea Gibson – more from Ella/Ez below…
Tona Brown, U.S
violinist/ soprano transgender activist- thank you for being in touch Tona : )
Hi Joe, thank you for reaching out and for thinking of me please share this video and subscribe to “Conversations with Tona Brown” on Youtube to hear the latest interviews from LGBT professionals and allies! Thanks for your work, thank you very much for mentioning me! Tona
In conversations with Tona Brown, Tona holds interviews, here with trans-attracted men, talking about experiences and also legalities around marriage, families, and partnership.
Renowned, loved LGBTQ activist within the African-American community, you can find out more here thanks again Tona, nice to have a little contact
friend, blogger, thank you – we shared this half an hour conversation earlier this year
Hey all, I’m Ez/Ella – you can call me either, or perhaps some creative mix between the two.. EzElla? 🙂 Joe’s interviews of
me some months ago marked a beautiful point in my journey of openly talking about my experience of finding more fluidity in my gender expression, something I’d only recently started physically exploring within the safe spaces of dimly lit LGBTQAI* nightclubs. As you can hear in my giddy speed of talking in the interview, finding the freedom and welcoming spaces to express my male side (in the way that manifests for me) brings me a lot of joy and inspiration. Since then, I’ve been feeling more and more at ease in expressing a fluid gender identity – helped by travelling in Thailand where the anonymity and appreciation of ‘Tom’ girls made me feel free in my self-presentation, later in the liberating, supportive drag scene in Birmingham, and then amidst my amazing Wake Up friends at the recent Wake Up Ambassador retreat.
While a part of me definitely resonates as non-binary (I believe society creates and maintains a restrictive narrative of what it means to be a ‘man’ ‘or’ ‘woman’) I am also very much drawn to the term ‘gender fluid’ as it evokes that ocean-like spaciousness in which to continuously explore, shift and grow with my self-expression and understanding. Though I find it challenging to arrive at a final, single theory on the meanings, origins and functions of ‘gender’, ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, what I am sure of is the joy I feel when letting myself be in the world from a place of moment-to-moment authenticity.
I am such a believer in the incredible power of lovingly encouraging people to express themselves the way they feel; providing a heck load of spaciousness in which they can explore and self-define outside of the rigid limits of mainstream gender narratives. This alternative way of relating to others would create a more accepting, compassionate and diverse society – with this, people could feel safe and happy to be in the world as they truly feel. ❤
friend, massage therapist and artist sharing a few words
a piece of prose, thank you Kim
This is where it all started. It’s a normal afternoon, and there’s people in the market square, they’re standing in twos or threes, on the corners, or on the pavements, so that they intercept anyone why wants to get from A to B, they’re in their coats, they look like they’ve been there a while, in their hands are leaflets, they’re putting them in the hands of everyone who walks past, they reach out to them earnestly, they cannot be avoided, the words in their hands, are about a teacher, a teacher who teaches in the local school, the school everyone in the town attends, they had these leaflets printed, because they think it’s an abomination, because they think they need to stand in the streets in their coats in the cold grey early autumn day, telling people, that it’s a violation, letting this person teach, because they left school a Miss, and will be returning Sir.
That is how it all began. With being told about the people, who were out in the market square, leafleting. It was the summer before year 7, and I was sat on the sofa, and I’m still in shock.
I may never be over it. I’m glad. Mum tried to explain, she told me that they had a woman’s body with a man’s brain. I remember she used the word transsexual, I know the papers said it was a sex change. I took it in my stride. It made total sense to me. They were a woman with a man’s brain. They were going to have a sex change. They would return to work a man. They were a man. He was a teacher and a man. That was that. There were people in the market square flyering. I thought of him and what that must of felt like, and what he must of thought. How he felt.
I could talk forever, about the folk I have known since then, and loved, about the very many things that formed a part of a topic that lodged itself inside me, and has never left, putting down roots, in the centre somewhere if you sliced me through, I could talk about all the research I did, all the things I posted in the hope that by sharing these things, more people would understand, and the world would change, . . but the story, really, starts and ends here. On a cold autumn day, and people standing, in their outdoor coats, with leaflets in their hands.
Walther and Wilma
personal sharing of expressing gender from my friend and harmonica player in Human All
Gender fluidity – flexible identity
In search of myself, I came across a part of my personality that I have not realize for many years. I discovered my feminine side, the woman in me. I could never really imagine what it means that my being is made up of different parts. I carry not only the genes of my parents in me, but also their behavior to a certain extent. So there is my mother, my father in me and me as an inner child. But how does it feel to be in the role of my father, my mother or the inner child? I could never feel that. But this time I wanted to know. I wanted to see myself as my own mother when I was a little child.
I wanted to express my female part somehow. That took a long time. I put on clothes and wigs over and over for months, until I finally saw my female part well represented and no longer felt just as disguised pretending to be a woman. That was the most important step. I gave myself the name Wilma.
I was happy about my appearance and felt comfortable with it. But I was afraid to show myself in public. Finally, I made my face up pretty and put on the nicest clothes in a combination that suited me best. Then, I dared to go to town as Wilma for a couple of times. It was important to me that I could fully identify with Wilma. I returned in a very satisfied mood each time and liked to slip into my role as Walther the next day. This experience gave me the feeling that I had become a more complete and freer person. Gender fluidity is important to me, so that I can put myself well into the female or male parts and look at them from a certain distance. It’s a flexible identity.
Wilma dressed nicely and hugged a baby doll some day. I imagined that I was my mother and that the baby was myself as a little Walther. To make it feel more realistic, I chose a doll that is as heavy as a real baby. Now I am mother Wilma. My beautiful clothes and my pretty women like face help my imagination to be a loving mother with a young baby. In this way I try to create a happier new childhood in me and to catch up with everything that I needed at that time. Wilma is my mother. I am her child. She is weighing me in her arms. I’m Wilma, I’m my mother, I’m a little child, Walther. I am in the arms of my loving Mama Wilma, who is there for me.
shares a favourite quote by Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw
“Instead of saying that all gender is this or all gender is that, let’s recognize that the word gender has scores of meaning built into it. It’s an amalgamation of bodies, identities, and life experiences, subconscious urges, sensations, and behaviors, some of which develop organically, and others which are shaped by language and culture. Instead of saying that gender is any one single thing, let’s start describing it as a holistic experience.”
Video share from Australian charity, The Self Definition Project
This wonderful Australian site made this , felt it would be good to share here
songwriter Ha, video share from Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.
I came across this Q&A video on YouTube and Thầy’s answer here put a wide smile on my face – not sure if you have watched it before, my thoughts on Gender Identity align with what he shared here:
‘No outsiders’ campaign in Birmingham
Don’t know if u know about this Joe. Protests re the No Outsiders primary school pshe programme. Basically designed to teach equality
The link is related to protests that have been going on in Birmingham related to it. The focus has been lgbt in the protests
No gender identity focused but feels related
One thing that came up in the news is it is being portrayed as Muslim objections though there were also Christian groups and non religious others present.
My friend lives on the street featured in the video. She said there are two gain families on the street. Together four houses decided to hang up flags. They were threatened and then decided to take them down. Its caused a divide on the street that wasn’t there previously. I understand there us some sadness about this but a kind of stubbornness on both sides.
Description in the Sun newspaper and some personal thoughts
I can’t believe I’m sharing something from the Sun, though I found this article, doing so research and I found It informative and written in a easy to understand way.
In my own experience, I trust an emerging female gender expression in men if that makes sense, Im a man and feel glad to nurture my famine side – also feel the importance of listening and learning from Women, I get touched I can feel it by Women being angry at me for being a man, and then I wonder what is happening there? This is still something I’m living with but deferring to women perspective feels right. This has become a my thoughts on feminism maybe, but it feels relevant.
I suppose I’m sis gendered I would say at times and at other I feel the movement, especially if I’m with more masculine men.
sex and relationship education campaign petition
I recently found this campaign and wanted to share it hear, it feels to my own view that education around including all the colours of the rainbow, and some we don’t maybe even see, is an important step toward inclusion, moved by the shared words here above and Birmingham – I love your song Joe, you know that!.
activist, writer (simply radical blog) friend Kirsten, an articles looking at considering the vulnerability of women in conversations about gender identity.
Hi Joe, Basically I agree with this trans writer, pleading for more understanding of women’s concerns about preserving safety of women’s only spaces, alongside a recognition that more needs to happen to protect trans people. I think it’s an important
quoting from the piece… full piece here
‘We need to recognise that there are two disadvantaged groups here. We need to protect single-sex provision for women and affirm everyone’s right to break out of life-limiting gender norms, while simultaneously acting to improve trans lives, systems and services in ways that do not undermine women’.
and more trans stories in this essay series from the economist here :
You Tube Channel Queer Kids Stuff
A friend sent me this – a video explaining transgender to children from You Tube channel Queer Kids Stuff
“LGBTQ+ vids for kids! I’m your host Lindsay and with the help of my best stuffed friend, Teddy, we’ll be teaching you what gays mean, what LGBT stands for, what’s up with marriage equality and so much more! “