The hero or victim of your life

wonderwoman.jpgWe all live our lives, and we are all LIED to in childhood about what its going to be like – we are sold sanitized fairy stories where they took all the gruesome bits out because it might upset the children. Except we learn, that those gruesome bits are there for a reason, the gritty and ugly is a real and unavoidable part of life – EVERBODIES life, there is no escaping it whether you are rich or poor – people of all ages, all classes and all strata of society deal with “stuff” every day – nobody it totally immune from a messy divorce, a bully in work, a parent with a mental illness, cancer, disease, failure – no matter how protected and sheltered our life may be.

So why don’t we prepare our kids for it? why do we fill their heads with banal cartoons that don’t always mean anything, where the prince and princess always meet and fall adoringly in love with nothing messy, and no pregnancy or kids to report either. Nobody fails in our kid’s stories, everyone’s a winner, good always prevails and there’s ALWAYS a happy ending

Is life ALWAYS like that – not so much, so people still keep seeking it, the dream whatever it may be and keep chasing, without stopping to pause and be truly happy in this life here and now. The idea is in us that if our life doesn’t match up to their stories we were told it was going to be like then perhaps we are not really enough. There will also always be those toxic people who want to perpetuate that feeling in us to, so they can feed us their magical solutions. The religions who prey on our fears about death or lack of family, lack of a moral compass or guidance. The drug pushers with their prescription pills, making anything out of the box abnormal, keep your head down and obey the programme or you might just have something wrong with you – we can fix you but your wrong, not enough as they make millions in their industry. The companies selling us th solution in terms of courses and lifestyle changes – insecurity and discontentment are BIG business. Its good to push to improve yourself your life and your circumstances but be assured you are enough as you are

why?

It is because you are a hero. Sometimes when something bad happens in life, and we have something we have to overcome, whatever, it may be, maybe it is that messy divorce, a job loss,  disability, sickness, lack of love, poor economy and few local prospects. You can in a way, start to feel like a victim in life, perhaps you dropped out of college,whatever it may be – life can be tough and knowing how to navigate our lives is not something we are given a great deal of help with – life doesn’t come with a manual and even if it did it would be out of print pretty quick because the game is changing all the time.

So… if you have made it this far, bloody well done, your a hero of your life, not a victim , even if you didn’t get to have the life you dreamed of, because you can and will overcome everything that is thrown at you and even in a moment of defeat you can know its not forever with the right help, with time to reflect and learn. Read the gruesome fairy stories with all the hate and jealousy and grit and create your own. Because that’s what life is about – there’s a great blueprint for the journey we ALL go through in some shape way or another, where we make the Heros Journey -where we go from ordinary to meeting real and difficult challenges and finding our own way around our limitations. Sometimes we may get “stuck” – being stuck may last for years, but onward we go because life goes on and everyone gets some sort of success in the end – it just may not look like the traditional happy ending – there may be compromises but its all a heroic journey, even if its one of struggle every day.

So, If you like to 70 or 80 imagine how many challenges you have gone through and overcome – life is still beautiful – so that makes you a hero – even if it can seem like your a victim in some way.

Fantastical Tales by Michelle Smith

They want my life story, a neat little ditty to fit in before tea,
Who shall I be, a heroine strong or a victim that hides now and you never see
A girl lost not found that never moved beyond fantasy unicorns and never never land
Shall I embellish my tale and add fantastical things, fairies or an ogre or two
Magical winged beasts, villains to slay by the rising of the light
Do you want a story that makes you feel a little wiser than your years
Do you feel lucky for all the monsters that did not go bump in your night
The trials not all of us bear, but perhaps we do
War wounds and scars haunt us and keep us from flight

Into the deep comfort of that good night, where love conquers all
The happy ending guaranteed, well that’s not always how it falls
Some tales are sweet, dramatic and with rhythm
Others weak that let tears leak
On to the floor
To collect in puddles, swept away in a hall
Which tale shall I tell you because I was there I lived it all

 

 

Poetry – Laughter like a Jelly in a bowl

wibblewobbleOnce a month I love to take part in a traditional storytelling circle and this has now been promoted as a great way to maintain good mental and emotional health.

There is something primal and beautiful about a gathering of unique souls who each have tonnes of life experience behind them meeting together to share their stories, tales, poems, and songs and to laugh and celebrate life.

In our digital world this community sort of gathering which so common when we lived in big families or in tribes is not always so commonplace anymore – nor always is it found in our culture the ways or ordinary people coming together to share their wisdom and their unique perspective on life and their creativity – which is a gift EVERYBODY has in some way shape or form.

Creativity is reported to even being taken out of our state schools – so the beauty of sharing our creative inspiration and wonder is something that seems to be being placed in the hands of the few, while the rest are relegated to a life of passive consumerism.

So how to fight this – well I create every day – I may do some sketching or some poetry or just some writing about my ideas and outlook on life, which is also a kind of therapy – free writing, but you can get some really interesting fruitful stuff from that

I am also an esl teacher and with my students I ALWAYS encourage their wonder and their joy and their creativity – I may be teaching English as a foreign language but art is a universal language – pictures transcend the language barrier so I feel they are really important in both communicating the language and also empowering more effective communication in the students.

So anyway, in today’s creativity this evening, I wrote a poem about the joy found in being silly, making a joke and gathering to share stories, poems and lyrics – a joy that is FREE and available to everyone if only more would grasp it by using their gifts which may otherwise be wasted in our culture.

The poem has many uses, I can perform it in the storytelling event, I can use it in teaching children, I can read it to my son and family and friends, and I may one day put it in a book with my own illustrations. It would be GREAT for a laughter yoga session

If you want to try writing a poem like this, then a technique you can try is choosing a few keywords you want to work with such as laughter or jelly in a bowl – and then free write around your subject – just write freely sentences without punctuation or worrying about spelling on your subject and what you have on your heart. Then read your writing and pick the main words and phrases you want to include in your poem, note the general theme – then work on put the sentences together in rhyme – look at meanings of words and alternative words that rhyme – piece your poem together. Polish it off with a conclusion and there you have your poem. Give it a title and publish

Laughter like a Jelly in a bowl

Someone tells a joke
Spreads some fun or a poke
Does clowning like a jester
While being extra kind
Making mirth and playing the fool
Really isn’t a dumb thing to do
Laughing at the grey and serious
Is something great and quite hilarious
It sends love and light right out
into the world, for all to find
 
and soon we are all are smiling
and giggling in our bellies
like a jelly in a bowl
wibble wobble wibble wobble
Ha ha ha ho ho howl
 
Having fun is natural
and something all should do
send sunlight in our faces
is the joke on me or you
Loneliness, sadness only appear
when none are living in joy and cheer
Meet together, and be happy
share life, stories, poems, lyrics and jokes
And surely we will all be merry folks
 
Cause soon we are all laughing
and giggling in our bellies
like a jelly in a bowl
wibble wobble wibble wobble
Ha ha ha ho ho howl
 
 
Like jelly in a bowl
is the laughter in my belly
a bowl of joy and plenty
not for the few, but for the many

Essence of community

One of the facts of modern life is that it is always changing. Now many people are choosing to live differently, they know that a job for life and a stable career with the same employer isn’t a likely scenario anymore. People get hired and replaced very easily. Families are smaller, more people live alone and as singles. Jobs may be online or found online in an increasingly global marketplace

So, there has been some sacrifices made in this, there more change and insecurity in peoples lives now, relationships and marriages are also often not lifelong and increasingly people need to be more and more self reliant as they deal with lifes challenges increasingly on their own.

A community is often no longer even in packed cities, as people live and work in different industries, in different places and without large families behind them and increasingly without religion and church as a backing also

So if you want to navigate life in rich meaningful company, despite doing it all mostly solo – where do you go these days to find such great company?

Churches have their place, but often they can be a little negative and not really progressive enough for most modern people.  So where else can we meet our neighbours in style and not feel so isolated? Lonliness is increasingly a problem here in Wales and not just amoung the elderly.  Facebook community brings people together ut that jut int the same as a good meet up in person

Well the good news is that you can increasingly find more and more great community initiatives spring up with social events that you dont need to be religious to enjoy.

In my area a local housing association has given the community a one bedroom flat to use as a community space, which is then used to host, ladies social evenings, mens events and other community activities such as a big lunch which will be a street party, bringing the whole community together for a free meal (bring your own dish) and workshops where skilled members o the community volunteer their time to teach skills uch as creative writing, poetry and the arts to others and the elderly.

So this is just one idea. Another idea which is running in the area is a storytelling club –  what is a community without a shared sense of wonder and wisdom passed on. This is where professional and amateur storytellers alike come together to share their stories, they can be wonderous tales of traditional fairies and goblins or hard lessons from life – whatever you would like along with some local poetry and music. it all makes for a great night of entertainment and conversation and a growing wisdom tradition with workshops run on how to perform and make a story from scratch.

Another idea is a community arts scene – you can have a regular group of artists getting together to make art and exhibit on things that matter to the community and the area, anything from the Dreamtime component of the landscape, to fashion or social concerns.

Another wonderful idea that has been started in our area is a kindness movement – this is where the local community gets together and meets regularly to discuss what acts of kindness they can do for their communities – anything from haircuts for the homeless, pay it forward schemes, or painted rocks people can find with hopeful messages on them to brighten their day. Done on mass this can really make a difference

Just a few community-building activities that could be tried to bring people together, provide them with the support they need, stave off loneliness and contribute to a bright future for your area.

 

 

 

 

The white horse that carries us home

Death – the final journey.

This is something many of us choose NOT to think about, after all, if you are young perhaps there is no need to contemplate the finite nature of our existence.

But here and there we get reminders, we see our grandparents growing older, their struggles and pains as they need assistance with their daily tasks.

Our pets may die and leave us bereft of their company

and as we grow older and older ourselves, some of our companions and friends leave this world, sometimes suddenly, it may be a murder, or a heart attack and sometimes in really horrible circumstances such as a long struggle with an illness like cancer.

For myself, I had a health crisis which came on quite young, it wasn’t a fatal illness but there were many times I thought I may die due to being sick – so this caused a change in me. I became religious, I studied the sacred texts of many religions. I experimented with meditation, reiki, studied and made mandalas, prayed long and hard, sat long in silence, and thought deeply. Then I rejected religion altogether when my health was much better and TRIED to go back to my old ways of just living but I found that I was different and changed by my experience and the sacred was with me to stay along with my wounds.

Now I make art and had just started an every day drawing art challenge, when I got a message from a friend, that another mutual friend who has a disability and had been struggling with cancer for a long time, many months wasin fact, is going to die.  First it had been breast cancer they beat that, then it had been leukemia, they battled that, and now it seems they had found another mass in her liver and it’s cancerous. So now the doctors say there is nothing they can do. Visitors requested for her last hours,  days or weeks to make her comfortable before she leaves this world.

So, this was also a moment in my life where I had decided I didn’t really want religion and in particular Jesus of religion in my life anymore – sickened and dismayed by the actions of many Christians and also in toxic shock over some of the more poisonous and difficult to swallow parts of this religion. BUT just the day I got the news about my friend, doing my art challenge, I had drawn a picture of Jesus with his white horse which indicated as a rider He was faithful and True.

jesus

My friend had been going to church before she got ill which is how i knew her and had dedicated herself as a Christian and had stayed with the faith during her long illness and now she was facing the final journey.

So I looked at my art and what I had drawn and decided that yes there would be a use for this – Not only had my art reignited my own faith in a way, but also I realized that this picture was for my friend to brighten up her room.

 

horse

 

I drew some more, just a white horse on its own no rider. The horse we ride to take us home. I scoured the internet for inspiring images and saw a beautiful picture of a single boat, and suddenly I saw it in my mind’s eye with flowers – so I used the image and drew my vision and then came the poem – about the lonely boat and our final journey.lonelyboat

A lonely journey

a lonely journey all alone
to a place that is just unknown
from the shore well wishing hands wave farewell
so many cheers and prayers and thanks to dwell
with us on our passage through the time
to the place of endless rest
and know there isnt any test
Just love and peace thats eternal too
although we will miss and think of you
sweet memories of a friend and her smile
Goodbye for now, until one day, we reconcile.

So, I realise now the benefit and need of religion in our lives…. it for these moments, to express the inexpressible, to appreciate life in all its ups and downs the dramas and the darkness and the light times, to find hope and meaning when there otherwise appears to be none to comfort. It may not be literally true but it certainly contains truth that is experienceable and felt by millions of people, enriching their lives and causing them to enrich the lives of those around them. Sometimes it does go a litle awry people fight and kill over truth, or threaten small children with hell – but otherwise religion, especially the Christian religion, and your following Christs instruction is all about guiding the misguided, caring for the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless seeing people through major passages, birth, marriage, parenthood, death and providing wisdom that cannot be learned, that is just a little inspired and supernatural. Cures that defy all understanding, and soothing and bringing peace to the disturbed. The cries to God do not go unheard.

So yeah, I’m going to go visit my friend who is dying and bring her my pictures and help brighten up her room, tell her and weave her some stories and help her die in dignity with hope for the journey. Then when my time comes I too am going go peacefully into the night hopefully fully prepared.

The discipline of drawing every day

Decided to get a bit more serious about my art practice and in my efforts to stay sane amid the constant global crisis on the news and my own personal battles – I have decided to take my drawing and poetry practice up a notch.

I generally practice creativity for stress relief and my own well being but also I feel that its the complete opposite to what so many other people are doing in terms of making something negative added to the planet. I make art not only to manage my health and well being but also to contribute something to the earth, to add a piece of beauty somewhere that didn’t exist before. Its also a spiritual practice in that its a form of mindfulness, you are completely here and now an present at the moment when you make art, but its also a method of recording my dreams and visions and any gift of communication I have with the Great I Am. God, Goddess or Higher Power.

Anyway, i have now decided to try and do some art or drawing of some kind every night now – I was thinking I have a whole host of images online for inspiration, just to get some drawing practice in, on drawing body parts, and birds and animals and plants etc from photographs. My form of artwork isn’t realistic, it tends to be visionary in some way, but drawing practice could be a really good thing to do every day for the next few months. possibly accompanied by some poetry making from the images. (ekphrasis poetry)

So I got off to a good start this evening and made 3 pieces of art that didn’t exist before and a poem.

Mrfox

Mr. Fox, wistfully sniffing the air in the breeze
of a blood-red forest, dappled colourful leaves
a butterfly flutters by but keeps him company
a scene that makes Albion proud, accompanied by an autumn symphony
of tree trunks creaking, branches swaying aloft
along he goes sneaking, wily, craftiness, sly, but soft
padding feet, bush tail sweeping, he slips away
farewell oh fox, return another day

King Fisher Diving

kingfisher

Diving for dreams.

Diving for dreams, diving for trinkets
Diving for a silverfish, a jewel that’s unseen
beneath the silver waves, of the river, so clean
sparkling waters, part and yield your fruits
The diving king of fishers is coming for loot
an underwater lair, a place with no air
hidden beauties, long forgotten treasures, all are there
Mirror reflections sparkle and gleam to conceal what is real
of the deep aquatic kingdom, a place for lost gems or a meal
Pierce through the visages plunge deep into the unknown
the shock of cold water yields to untold happiness reknown
as we seek different trinkets and gifts long discarded
sustenance for life’s journey and bounty unguarded
Kingfishers lessons for diving in the deep
Beyond the veil of the psyche, as from those still waters peep
past your fears concealed, there are real riches to keep.

Bluebird of happiness

bird

Exciting new clothing and home wears collection

An amazing original collection of designs from Wales UK shiningnaturewrap

I recently discovered the amazing designer website VIDA – this is where you can upload your art and designs and easily transfer the images onto clothing, skirts, wraps, yoga pants, tee-shirts, scarfs, and accessories.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how effective my spiritual art and poetic musings in visual form were as designs for this collection of visual poetry I have now created on the VIDA platform.

Some of my favorite samples which include – Nature Shining wrap, shell skirt, moonlight flora skirt, golden delight bag and so many others.

All my designs have been created with positive intentions, creativity, poetry and beauty in mind, inspired by the inner landscape of dreams and imagination or the natural wonders found in the hilly land of legend and song Wales.

treejournal

If you wish to support the artworks and designs of original independent designers making clothing, accessories, and homewares to wow everyone then you need look no further than VIDA – incredible designer items at a very reasonable price – global shipping and satisfaction guaranteed.

You can view the full collection here: https://shopvida.com/collections/michellesmith

Be inspired and take a look at all the artwork designer pieces available or if your an artist and designer, consider adding your own creative voice to the mix.

 

 

Wisdoms root

white

Inspired by Robert Burns poem the Bards epitaph. I’ve been reflecting on wisdom as a tree of life described in books like the Bible and what it means to be wise. Self control and prudence is her root and shes truly beautiful a white reflection of something glorious and greater than ourselves. I wrote my own poem and made some art(above) in honor of Lady Wisdom. The gnostics believed lady wisdom and the Bride of Christ were one and the same 🙂

Wisdoms root

Silver lady standing tall
whos the fairest of them all
moon maiden bright
white goddess of light
no image is found of the woman renowned
shattered mirror, lost dreams
beauty is not as it seems
but thats how you learn, cause you just cannot earn
a place in the hearafter
fairy bells and laughter
an island of song there to rest.
A serenity of heaven the place, thats the best
Wisdom divine is the luminous woman so fine
self control is her root, and her graceful foot
a reflection to sigh of the Glory on high
Prudence her name and she gives gifts of fame
and old age ripe and healthy, and probably wealthy
a sure sign of Grace on the old human race.

EDIT

Since I wrote this post i have had news that im going to be part of an exhibition with a group of artists called the Last Foundation – the exhibition is on Last Foundation – New directions. So basically the new directions all of us ex-students are going in since passing the course. The ex-students that make up the group Last Foundation have gone onto various fields – fine art, fashion, textiles. For myself I have developed my poetic and storytelling voice, writing short stories in a creative writing class and performing my poetry around Swansea and also being creative in training to be a copywriter – but I have decided I really want to explore the amazing world of new media and digital storytelling. So, Im going to apply for the New Media Degree in Carmarthen and learn everything about videos, film, animations, apps, UX design and so on. So the exhibition will reflect this – im going to do a digital storytelling version of my poem on wisdom and a semi-animated video using after effects and my digital art will be displayed in a cut up mosaic form like a smashed mirror. Ill also include my artwork in the semi-animated video along with royalty free images and sounds I’ve collected from the internet.

I did some further free writing on the project to see what else my poem and artwork could tell me

Wisdom is a tree of life and all those that hold on to her will be blessed (proverbs 3:18)

wisdom is alluring – but she is not to be enjoyed or partaken of by men she is chaste and a reflection of the divine, her gifts are a measure of His Grace – she does not act independently

mirrors reflections – smash the mirror for looking at self – selfie culture, lost in broken dreams and unwise living – beauty is not found in self reflection its found in being the mirror reflection of the Greater Glory a spark eminating from the source of it all. Its in reflection on Him that we may become beautiful and wise – joyful, clean, holy, white with hair like wool

wisdom as a moon maiden
The moon is a reflection of the sun, and so too is true beauty but a reflection of the Creator and its His light that gives delight in the an otherwise barren and bereft form. So it is for the Christian, our job is to be reflections of the Light of the Great Light – the source of all illumination and Glory. Without Him we have no light, we are not radiant or beautiful in ourselves but by cultivating the gifts of the holy spirit and turning our faces to greet the Sun of Righteousnes we too can be beautiful and reflect the His light in an otherwise dark night of an unbelieving sinful world.

Famous Poets – Robert Burns

It was Burns night the other night and in my town, here in Wales we celebrated it too, with a couple of scots people living in exile. I had never been to a Burns night so didn’t quite know what to expect. It was good though even as a vegetarian we had a delicious scots broth soup followed by haggis, catering for everyone, a meat haggis and a vegan haggis for those who didn’t fancy this kind of meat… and it was delicious. Then came the poems, everyone got to pick a poem from random from the hat and perform it in front of the audience. There did appear to be a little serendipity present in who got which poem. I noticed that my comedian friend got a very apt poem for him. “Man was made to mourn” – this to a man who loves to make people laugh.  (see below)

To me this poem was quite apt as I had been thinking on the sufferings of man that do not appear to be to do with good or bad deeds or karma or any such thing. Maybe not living wisely, but people cause misery to other people all the time and there seems to be not much of a remedy to it (unless you wish to become a hermit) lol

The poem I received to recite was a little more cheerful, called the bards epitaph. I struggled over the Scottish dialect but laboured on and got an applause at the end

 

 

Upon reflection of this poem which too seemed personal to me, as I consider myself an aspiring bard, storyteller and poet that I learnt some noble truths. Listen to your bard as he or she can steer you in the right course in life and know also that the root of wisdom is self-control. I thought about this and how it is often wiser to say nothing or speak later than to blurt out something from the emotions with no self-control. Self-control is needed for lots of things, to lose weight, diplomacy, legal matters, teaching, parenting. To be self-controlled is to be wise and show restraint or at least be a little wiser than the fool.

Poetic Musings

As well as being an aspiring copywriter, artist and proofreader – I’m also a poet. I regularly write poetry for performance in my local area. You may see me with a group called Poets on the Hill and my favourite venue to perform is a place called Creature Sound, behind the train station in Swansea City Centre.

One of the qualities of a good copywriter is that they are a storyteller. I painted a piece on the storyteller archetype for exhibition at Swansea Fringe Festival and wrote a poem about the storytellers of old and how they can help guide people in their lives through their inspiration and insight. This type of poem is called an Ekphrasis as its written about the feelings and ideas we receive upon looking at a piece of art, in this case my painting.

storyteller

The Storyteller

dripping from heaven
nectar of insight
light and dark cycles
ethereal visitations
visions dreams, experience
Dancing,
take butterfly flight
come to life as a story
bring smiles cheers lighten fears
listen in awe and delight

I also wrote a poem in my musings on Jesus Christ and my experiences of the Christian Faith – it expresses the heart of many of the churchgoers I met. The desire for peace in the afterlife and peace here and now in the storms of life. The hopes and triumphant shouts of those who trust in the gentle saviour – written Christmas 2017.

Jesus Christ

Madman, fool, liar or lord
One day to return with the sword
he was a scapegoat for me
but I see him not as the victim
but triumphant walking on the sea
of Galilee, barefoot humble
transcendent
inviting all to a great party
in the clouds which do not rumble
peace in the storm
so don’t be forlorn
before we see him, we will hear the horn
announcing his arrival
and he will have no rival
Lord of all or none
As sure as the rising sun

I also wrote about the wild woman archetype – I’m very interested in Jung’s work on archetypes and the old patterns in the collective unconscious that human beings can tap into in their lives, which are greater than themselves. This is a strong pattern for women. (cwtches is a welsh word for cuddles)

Wild Woman

Ode to a woman of the wild
animal friend and natures child
swish and chique shes a girl’s best friend
she brings cwtches by the fireside
heart of warmth comfort and amore
soul of the party, dancer and more
awesome gap between life and death
it’s her you ask to improve your health
daughter, cousin, granddaughter, wife and mum
Cheers to a girl, who really is fun

I wrote a poem about my dad, who aspires to be a working-class hero who and truly understands John Lennon’s song by the same name. It looks at class difference and how we are never really told anything truthful, so we look to conspiracy theories for the answers and reasons for the way things are. Nothing is implausible and in knowing about all the different opinions and theories, the working class can be kept safe from the greed and rule of the various factions of elites.

Working Class Hero

here is tall paul who knows how to live
a working class hero he wants to be
painter, provider, lithe and swift
a family man who isnt a div
conspiracy theories, he knows them all
threats to the common man; he predicts their fall
great taste in music and mellow in age
who knows, one day we may see him as a great sage

Lastly, I wrote another ekphrasis poem about the work of Frida Khalo and how the wounded deer speaks to me in terms of suffering endured, in a world that doesnt always care – and about the woman in masculine roles. Women have been breadwinner and homemaker and both male and female in many respects in western society for some time now… sometimes this causes us to be wounded from playing the stag. This is my take on it.

the-wounded-deer

Wounded She Stag

Bolts from the blue
pierce me through and through
lifes steely darts, leaves me bare,
defeated, with none there to care
only the hunter with his photographic stare
virile no more, the wounded she- stag
face of youth, not a hag

 

 

 

 

A Dream…

I have a dream and the dream starts here

Quill_3764655_lrg

I have decided I want to start my own business working from home. I will be offering copywriting and proofreading services as well as teaching English as a foreign language. I already have a part-time job teaching English to Chinese children now I want to expand into copywriting and proofreading.

How to get started?

It starts with getting the desired skills. I have enrolled in two courses. The first is a copywriting course with the College of Media and Publishing 

https://collegeofmediaandpublishing.co.uk/product/copywriting-course/?v=79cba1185463

This course is fully comprehensive, very professional and they assist you with looking for work once completed. I have just finished my first assignment and am now awaiting feedback and marking

The second course is for proofreading and this is with the Proofreading Academy. Excellent value for money and they guarantee you work at the end of it.

https://www.proofreadingacademy.com/

I also practise my writing skills by writing and performing poetry in my free time and I attend a creative writing class in my local area.