Finding hope in the dark

My deepest thanks goes to my readers who showed their support to me in this difficult time of burn out that I have been going through. This recent pause to my work here at tortoise & lady grey was such a necessary exercise. It gave me the time distance to reflect on what it is that I do here, and why I am driven to write and create for my audience.

The reason that do what I do is this: I firmly and passionately believe in our capacity as individuals and a community to drive cultural and economic change.

The experience of trolling was difficult for me, not least because it brought back trauma of childhood bullying that is imprinted on the very fibre of my being. As a intelligent, shy welfare kid I was the subject of bullying right from my early moments in school. At five years old I learned that society does not like people who are poor. Something that I was continually reminded of through into my adulthood. That is a lesson I can never forget. Even though, for the most part I see my bullying experience as a place that I have learned resilience and compassion, and even though, at 16 years old, I realised that I didn’t actually like the people that hated me and stopped giving a damn, the trauma of a childhood of bullying is still there, and it comes to the surface in my emotional responses to unfounded personal attacks.

And that brings me back to cultural and economic change. The reason that I write here- and the reason that I started my social enterprise Lead Mama Lead– is that same. I wholeheartedly believe that the conscious and kindhearted people of the world have the power to change the world for the better. And that my part in this journey towards a more sustainable and just economy is to remind people of their power, and to inspire them to step into that power and create change in their little corner of the world.

Right when I was in my dark moments with the my work in this blog, I was reading Hope in the Dark for my Ethical Activist Book Group, and this beautiful book helped me to find my hope again. (A full review of this book will be coming this month) Activism is not a journey with a final destination. Every time gains are made, there will be elements in our society that try to undermine those gains.  We see that in a current US government who doesn’t understand what the environment was like without an EPA. We see it in young women who don’t realise that rape within marriage was only made illegal in my lifetime, and who think that feminism is somehow irrelevant now. We have to commit ourselves to the process of activism for our whole lives. In the time that I have been blogging, I have seen sustainable fashion grow from obscurity to global relevance. Our impact may still be tiny, but it is not insignificant. There will be wins and triumphs in this activist journey. However, we cannot ever stop being activists, even if we need to take a pause from time-to-time.

That brings me to the concept of sustainable activism. We need to sustain ourselves for the long haul, as we fight for the big changes to bring about a more ethical and just world. The silver lining in my recent experience of burn out is that I have come away with inspiration for my next book- A self-care guide for eco-activists. This work will be drawn from my experience growing up with complex poverty and systemic disadvantage, the resilience and strength that I have learned from this, and the mechanisms that I used to take care of myself. I am very excited to get started on the writing process for this book. If you would like to support me in my writing process, and get exclusive insights into the book as it develops, you can do so by becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

I am so grateful to those who supported my work financially by buying 6 Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe or my Guide to Sustainable Textiles, and by becoming a regular patron of my work.  This support is essential for sustaining the costs of running this blog. We have grown to believe that everything on the internet should be free- whether that be films, music and quality journalism. Before I started creating work myself, I fell into this category too. It is another way that we have become blind to the true value of the work that people do. But if we value these things in our lives, we need to support them in any small way that we can. Because behind these works of art or creation are real people with bills to and families to support. If we value the role that artists, activists, and journalist play in our society, we need to step in to ensure that they are here from the long haul. I do this myself, as a patron to creators and journalists, and as a member of the Guardian. I want my work to be as accessible as possible so that it can have the greatest impact. This is why I write so thoroughly for the blog, and why I price my guides at affordable prices. Each time a reader supports my work, it makes it a little easier to keep this important activist project going.

Blogging can be such a lonely pursuit. I know that you are there, because I see numbers of website visitors, and I see occasional purchases of my book. But far more rarely do I hear from you in the comments. I was so heartened by your conversation and words of support to my last post. I hope that you continue to reach out and join the conversation as this blog continues. I love hearing from you all, and your thoughts always add additional depth to the articles.

Thanks for being a part of this community, and this activist journey of mine. I look forward to many more years journeying together.