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I am an STD, hidden beneath
Lurking in the unseen,
Shamed for being me
A virus permeating. If you catch me..

You’ll be dirty too, so stay away.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
About my negativity.

But it wasn’t my fault.
It was passed on to me.

I thought it was love.
Well that’s what he told me.

Sharing is caring.
That’s what he’d said to me.

Don’t you.. look at me with your judgmental eyes.

You see… you don’t see.

You don’t really see me.
You just see what you want to see.

Look deep, look down.
Oh yep! There’s the frown.
You look disappointed…
Don’t worry. You can’t be as disappointed as me.

The echo’s get louder.

‘You don’t love yourself’ says he.
‘That’s not true…’ says me.
‘You lied.
You took what you wanted.
You rolled the die.
You left me here.
Did you think I’d cry?’

He laughs. That laugh. Infectiously.

But this time.

I see.
It’s not too late.

‘Catch’ he throws…
‘No thanks’ I reply..

I walk away.

‘How ridiculous’.. I think.
Just then. I thought that STD was me.

Written by Becki Burrows

May 2018

©Copyright owned Rebecca Burrows 2007

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AUTHENTICITY


Who are you.
I look behind the mask you wear.
Your fake smile and your well cut hair.

I look into your eyes. And yet.. you stare. Blankly.

At me.

Who are you? I wonder.

Can I trust you? You in the trackie bottoms
And the scruffy hair.

And I think…
Are we really going to be defined by what we wear?

Prada, ADIDAS, Primark, CARHARTT
Stupid big names that have made their mark.
On you. On me.. on all of us here.

We wear these dumb labels with pride. And…

Yet I ponder. Who am I?

Stripped naked I see you stand and shiver.

Too masked in the pressure,
To stand up and stand tall.
Until one day.

The tears bleed out.. rolling down your cheeks like a waterfall.

I look.
And I see you.
Because it’s just like a mirror.

What was it all for?
Your eyes request an answer.
An answer.
An answer I do not have.
And so I shrug back.
‘Life is pain’ and that’s a fact.
Just don’t be afraid.
This too shall pass.

And he removes the mask.
‘Do you like what you see?’ he asks.

It really. It really doesn’t matter to me.

Smiling gently…the mirrored image
Disappears back into the glass.

And there I am.
Left with me.

 

Dedicated to all those I have met on my journey. To all those I haven’t met yet. And to those simply passing by. I wish you all well.. 

Written by Becki Burrows

Everything written on this website is copyright protected. 

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I… have written a poem. For International Women’s Day… #internationalwomensday
 
LIFE ON PLANET EARTH: I AM A WOMAN
by Rebecca Burrows
 
The soft and safe space of my mothers womb
I sleep and grow.. comfortable in my warm cocoon.
No need to come out in to the world just yet.
Quite happy here thanks! Despite the fact it’s rather small and wet.
 
Trials and tribulations await. But I will not know this until I’m fully awake.
And as time ticks and I’m forced to come out..
My resistance kicks in and I scream and I shout.
 
The cold air strikes and hits my face.
Fear kicks in and tells me this could be a cruel place.
 
The days pass by…and I work hard as a good girl might.
Wash the dishes, be quiet, sit still and not shout.
Little girls do not scream, play with boys or go out.
 
Study more, eat less, play with dolls, wear a dress.
Only good girls do well.. those who curtsy to guests.
 
‘A mayde schuld be seen, but not herd.’
The old saying goes.
“So take that! And shut up!” the ole man moans.
 
But why?! The girl asks herself as she’s left in the house.
With a hoover,
The iron, and an ole dusty shelf.
“And don’t fuss!” he bellows as he takes the boys out.
 
“It’s not fair..” she whispers to the small little mouse
Before grabbing the broom and chasing it out…
 
Left behind. Clean the house! What’s the point of all this?
Scribbling in her diary which she hides behind the shelf.
 
“When I grow up…” she neatly writes down (in secret code – just in case it is found!)
“I will never marry a man like..hmmm” she scribbles with a frown.
And as the days pass by, and she grows up and moves on.
The marks on her body have taught her to just ‘bite her tongue’…
 
“You want equality? Well doors open no more!” the suited man laughs
As he goes on ahead slamming the door made of glass.
She wanders on behind with a shattered heart.
“Equal pay? Go away! And how dare you ask!.. Do you really think you’re as good as a man at the task?!”
 
“You tweeted #metoo.. er no job for you. Calling rape *all the time…let’s make THAT a crime!”
“It was simply a slight little pat on the arse!”
“But how do you know.. were you there..” she asks.
“Read the papers” the arrogant man laughs.
“Do you really think it’s that easy to pass…
Such a crime through CPS” her anger sparked…
“And what about not trusting everything we read where’s that gone!?” she starts to plead..
 
“Oh Sit down! Shut up! And chill the fuck out…stop complaining, stop moaning.
And stop making out… you’re so ‘hard done by’ just be a good little girl and help me out”
“Too skinny, too fat, too educated or too thick.”
“Too weak, too sensitive.. and you’ve not got a dick.”
 
“You’ll never win” the guy slyly laughs…
“But THEN… since equality’s in.. let’s pay halves”
He winks.
And she decides to do what society has taught her she should.
Keeps her mouth shut. Takes a slug of her drink. Just be appeasing. And just act ‘good’.
#internationalwomensday
I will leave this with the Aretha Franklin’s epic tune ‘Respect’
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Words and photography by Becki Burrows

“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975….That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past…looking back now, I release I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years..” Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

It was that time. My stomach lurched. And a feeling of overwhelming sadness and doom came over me as I sat on the bus. I was fine when I left. What was wrong with me. I hadn’t expected to feel this way. I’d expected to be glad to leave. I was surprised that was not the reality. I woefully and yet hopefully, texted a few friends.

“Busy”..

“Sorry busy Becks..”…. “Far too busy..” another responded. I winced. Saturday evening and a twang of loneliness was starting to set in. Oh the love and hate relationship with oneself and the juxtaposition of the either joy or despair of isolation.

“It’s like.. I want to be alone… but… it’s like. In another way. I don’t..”

The bus passes Canterbury.. (the trains being delayed due to a leaf on the track..it’s always the little things!)…

*I could just get off here and stay in a hotel* I ponder to myself. It’s 5pm and I remember that everywhere else in the country shuts shop at 5.30. Not many options of what to do after that. *Nah I think. And I sit back and decide to just head home.

I had been staying at the Middle Piccadilly retreat, Dorset.

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Middle Piccadilly Retreat

And I hadn’t expected to feel this way. In fact I’d presumed the opposite. It was not as if I had been around people the whole time during my stay at Middle Piccadilly..a detox/shamanic healing retreat in Dorset. I had been excited to go. Of course! Yet also perhaps slightly cynical. With a bit of fear. Due to the thought of being on juice for two days without solids. I like to chew. And feel the different textures and taste of food. Don’t we all?

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Vegetarian Falafel, just one of the many dishes on offer at Middle Piccadilly.

I found some yoga retreats to be.. hmm not really about the yoga. Too many young fashionistas obsessed with their weight (and yours!) and trendy ‘overpriced’ yoga outfits rather than the actual practice or history of yoga. I’m not saying I’m not concerned about my weight but when one feels insecure..those places sure can be a rather intimidating environment when someone curls their lip slyly at ones figure. I remember when one of the retreaters – who was slightly plus sized came off the plane and greeted the rest of us. The yoga instructor whispered.. she doesn’t look like a yogi..”… to all the more.. ‘slighter looking ladies’. *F*ck that.

And then there was the bootcamp. I had been on a previous bootcamp – running around for 8 hours a day for 7 days. Admittedly I came out straight out and ate all the crap I had been trying to not consume in the first place. On my second visit to a diferent boot camp.. by day two,  and by push up 571 after a cracker for breakfast. I thought you know what. F*ck this. And made a sharp exit.

Extremism. Black and white. Which is exactly the sort of *thinking*  I am usually trying to escape from. All or nothing. Working out everyday. Or not at all. Working all day and night. Or procrastinating. For me the bootcamp way of doing things doesn’t really work. It’s like. It’s like… self f$cking punishment. Sure parts are fun. And yes I’m not a ‘dog’ and shouldn’t need a ‘reward’ at the end of the day. But all work and all work. Is not that rewarding. (I hate it when instructors use that line “You don’t need a reward you’re not a dog”… yeah yeah.. *rolls eyes*) and when one replies in a facetious manner.. “Well. Actually this guy once said..” doesn’t wash.

Then there was the yoga retreat that was meant to be all veggie health food, no meat or alcohol on site. Well let’s just say that went out of the window when a bottle of Vodka was discovered under the sink by one of the girls.. and well. Doing yoga with a hangover is not FUN.

So how about actually doing well. Nothing. And actually doing ‘nice’ things for oneself. Like having massages. And relaxing. Sitting around at home – can often not feel that relaxing especially when the incessant mind *I should be doing this* or *I  should be doing that* the haunting SHOULD SHOULD SHOULD’S that haunt our daily lives. Generally resulting in extremism or NOTHINGNESS. Well. I speak for myself.

And so I arrived at Middle Piccadilly and Eliana, 87 – who founded the establishment in 1986 with her husband greeted me cheerfully. I was astounded as she told me that she practices yoga everyday for 20 minutes and has done ever since she was 30. *And I never saw her once in Sweaty Betty yoga gear!*

“Try to not do any work while you’re here!” she smiled as she checked me in.

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Eliana – Middle Piccadilly founder and shaman.

On the first evening I meet a woman who has been there for several days. ‘Its so hard!’ She exclaims. It is a quiet time of year so there are not many people about. She starts talking about food. Fish and chips. And all things nice. I look at my juice. “Lets not talk about food” I urge.

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Lemon and Ginger Juice

DO NOT understand why why why go to a health retreat and then sit around mourning chips, kebabs, burgers and alcohol. It has happened at every retreat I have been to – and quite frankly my advice is – if you shut that one down straight off – your journey will be far easier. For it is simply fellow camaradie in self punishment. And futile in my opinion. Would you really go into a rehab and talk to a heroin addict or alcoholic about drugs or alcohol..

Oh hi- you’re trying to quit booze! Well.. do you miss wine? Beer.. heroin.. what about the fun and parties?! By the way I went to an amazing party at the weekend shame you missed out”.

I retreated to my room that evening…stomach slightly rumbling, armed with a few books ..’Fear’ by Thich Nhat Hahn and ‘The Body Keeps Score’ by Bessel Van Der Kock. The room, clean, comfortable and secure.

On the second day headed to the kitchen where my next juice was awaiting me. The woman I met the previous night is leaving. She is nursing her juice slowly. I take note of that and nurse mine too.

My first treatment is a therapeutic massage. By Claire one of the therapists. She takes me to a relaxation room and asks me about allergies and the scents that I prefer. I lie down. “Do you mind your stomach being massaged?” She asks.

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Manager Dominic, Claire and the cat.. name unknown..

“Erm. Well. I’ve never had my stomach massaged” I shrug, remembering  the time I went to a massage parlour in Korea and an old lady – wearing literally only her knickers started massaging my boobs after jumping up and down on my back. *Can’t be as weird as that experience* I think to myself.

Lunch and dinner are again juices. Yet, surprisingly I sleep well during the evening.

The next day, however, I awake feeling a bit depressed and lethargic. “Damn. I should of done more with myself yesterday!” I tell myself.

I go for my next juice. I am alone. But have shamanic healing at 10am. *Mmmmm juice*. I think to myself.

I am starting to get hungry now. The hardest part I am told. The first few days.

“With the Shamanic Healing just try and be open minded” Claire the massage therapist had urged me the day before.

I took that on board. On my first day Eliana had asked me about my health and all the generic questions one needs to ask someone. I had been surprised when she guessed my childhood past straight away.

With a caring nature paired with keen perception my instincts trusted her.

So I lay down on the table. And Eliana set her Shamanic tools out. She picked up a feather

“Calling to the winds of the west….!” she started.

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Eliana, Middle Retreat founder.

A part of me wanted to giggle. But I resist and decide to try and take it seriously. After all. What the hell do I know. I know that technology, materialism and disconnection has taken over the world.. and that most of the population are on anti depressants. Which can’t be normal.

So I feel happy to embrace and get back to a bit of earthy nature and universal connection.

She sits by me and asks me to close my eyes. And starts to talk about my childhood. My mind resists. *Eurgh I really don’t want to talk about that right now* I think. But then whatever helps, I’m keen to try.

“Always be curious….” A group therapist had said to me once ….”Always be curious when you don’t want to talk anymore”.. I remember I had probably rolled my eyes with a ‘oh whatever’ stance to what I considered psychobabble at the time.

But then. She could have been right.

“Ok” I persist. “What is the colour in your chest.. can you see it.” she asks. “Er. Erm Yes.” I reply with my eyes closed. “It’s er black…?”…

She relates this to a serpent from my past and asks me to pull it out and yell. I have my eyes closed and envisage this. I do as she instructs and I try to yell. But again. Feel silly.

“I feel stupid” I say to Eliana. “It’s ok” she urges..” So I yell. Admittedly not that loudly feeling embarrassed. “Louder!” she urges..

Whilst there is no one in the room with me I imagine my three brothers and most of my male friends in my mind guffawing and mocking me.

The “night sea journey” is the journey into the parts of ourselves that are split off, disavowed, unknown, unwanted, cast out, and exiled to the various subterranean worlds of consciousness… the goal of this journey is to reunite us with ourselves. Such a homecoming can be surprisingly painful, even brutal. In order to undertake it, we must first agree to exile nothingStephen Cope

I leave the room relaxed and thoughtful. My mind awake. As I had been asked to go back to my past. Something that has never and never will leave me. Although my desire to let go is strong. I aminterested by the perception in my mind post shamanic healing.

I go for my next juice. Starving and a bit grumpy, I steal an apple.

“I don’t believe in juice diets” I think to myself.. “plus how am I meant to go for a well you know! Need fibre don’t we..”…

Ahhh the beloved mind. Always very good at excuses. It can talk oneself into the silliest of things.

I eat the weetabix and apple.

And cue: guilt…….. “Tsk. You can’t even do two days!” my mind berates.

At dinnertime Dominic the founders son – and the person who now runs Middle Piccadilly is there juicing my next drink. We chat about several things.

“Well it’s not that bad if you do eat an apple or something it’s not like it ruins everything.. or is that much of a big deal” he says.. which seems a healthy way to look at things.

I start to wonder if he had counted the apples in the bowl and knew that I had eaten one that afternoon. I look for the hidden cameras.

“Erm. Yeah..” I shrug. ‘Guess not”.

And the next day! I am introduced to food! A delicious bowl of oats soaked overnight in water – resulting in a milky texture awaits me in the kitchen. I am surprisingly not that hungry but eat it thankfully.

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Overnight soaked oats

My next appointment is an holistic massage again with Claire and is more about getting in touch with the body. She talks about chakras and sensations within. We discuss disassociation.

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Raw Nut Burger with Avocado Mousse

For dinner Dominic makes me a cold ‘raw nut burger’  which is served cold with an avocado mousse and an abundance of salad. *Dominic is a genius* I thinkIt is delicious. And probably the best vegan/vegetarian food I have ever tasted..I am in awe of his cooking skills. “Really you made this recipe up? Really.. ” I go on. Irritatingly. The “burger” is followed by a deliciousness gluten free cheesecake made from cacoa beans.

 

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Cacao Cheesecake

I don’t feel deprived. Not like the punishment of a bootcamp where one works out all day and returns to a dinner of  half a cracker.

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Claire, Middle Piccadilly Retreat

And before I know it.. time is up. And on the last day I have a mud wrap and a good chat with Claire about life, relationships, being a woman in a mans world etc. I shower and smother myself in organic coconut body lotion. My body feels soft and relaxed.

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Claire preparing a mud wrap

Whilst I was only at the retreat for four nights and five days… I could easily have stayed longer. Having the freedom in the day to do what one pleases but having the structure of treatments and regular meal times incorporated kept boredom at bay. 

Whilst I don’t want to be a cliche,  I believe that this retreat was the first time I had experienced what the term ‘self love’ really means.

Being kind to the body. Not putting it under gruelling tasks for the sake of society (from over working out – to binge drinking). Taking time to just connect to oneself. Just being. Without ‘trying’ to just be. Nourishing the body and trying to eliminate stress in a healthy way.

And so.. you know how the story ends. On the bus.. feeling sad at having to say goodbye. But. On to the next adventure..

Middle Piccadilly is in a beautiful location in the English countryside, and has a homely community vibe without being overbearing. Eliana, Dominic and Claire are very likeable, friendly individuals. And it is as many reviewers have said online. “A home from home”... well they weren’t lying...

I highly recommend.

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Beautiful Rural Retreat in the Dorset countryside Telephone 01963 23468 Email relax@middlepiccadilly.com

www.shamanka.com – for the School of Women’s Shamanism

www.middlepiccadilly.com 

Follow Dominic and his tasty recipes at www.instagram.com/the_lifestylechef

A FEW OF THE ABOVE RECIPES CAN BE FOUND HERE

You can follow me at www.instagram.com/becki_burrows

Becki BXx

Words and photography by Becki Burrows

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“I’m off to the cafe! To start my essay!” I exclaim to my friend. But when I leave my abode I know a part of that’s not true. I have things on my mind – and whether this is a form of procrastination, trying to make sense of the world – or just simply spilling my heart out to a world – that hardly ever listens… well. It’s probably easier than starting my essay right now (I’m currently studying an MA in Human Rights at UCL which is intense to say the least but hey! I know what Jus Cogens means now! ).. 

So back to procrastination. Dating in a large city. And well dating at all – can sometimes feel like a pull push situation. As an independent woman – I feel I’m consistently trying to understand what it actually is men want. Swinging between submissive and dominating I tend to find most guys these days pretty fucking lazy if I’m honest. But then these recent years I’ve generally attracted guys who are younger than me. Maybe that’s it.

After getting a little too emotionally involved with the last guy (who I’m not even sure is properly gone), I do believe it’s better sometimes to just move on and date someone else. Quick.. quick! Quickly. Push those feelings underground! Eurgh. Feelings. Is there anything worse. It’s good when it’s good. But I’m not afraid to say I am not that keen to to feel the  rubbish ones. I DEMAND EUPHORIA! Hmm.

Plus apparently due to my age – I’ll probably want babies soon – so might not be a great choice for him. I was pretty furious the assumption that was made on my age.

Oh yes. I obviously want babies and am hormonal.

So I was swiping on Tinder.

Nah. No. God this is shallow. Wtf is he doing. I am so shallow. I am going to hell. 

“Tinder is all about sex Becki” my friend whatsapp’s me.

“No. No it’s not – lots of people go on Tinder dates.. it’s not all about sex!”…I adamantly reply to my friend. Who is a young 53 year old. But obviously a little old fashioned. Obvs.

I have had only had one previous Tinder date. And he is simply a Facebook friend now. Nothing happened. The end. So I wasn’t too intimidated.

“Do you want to come out for a few drinks?” a guy. A cute guy – looking the spitting image of Billie Joe Armstrong.. asks. OMG IT’S BILLIE JOE.. my subconscious screams. Fit.

“Can’t. Broke lil next week” I reply.

“I’ll pay to go out if you like” he offers. Temptation knocking at the vaginal wall. Can I come in.. 

Wow. I could hardly even get the last guy to buy me a coffee. Hmmm. Hmmmmm.. hmmmmmmmmm “ok… ” I reply.

My friend texts me – “careful it could be dangerous!” he says. Don’t be silly I reply. This is London – it will be a public place – lots of people meet people online..

I get ready. But haven’t heard from him. I look out the window. It’s fucking cold outside. I remember the last guy I dated. And I start to feel too tired. God what’s the point I start to ponder. I look at my phone. Can I actually be bothered with this. I question myself. I get into my bed.

“You want to meet central?: He queries. “hmmm. I think actually sorry but I’m going to cancel…sorry”..

The Billie Joe lookalike texts back. “Ok he replies… “I think you would probably disapprove of me anyway.’

“Why!?” I ask… “I like to stay out late and go wild!”

Oh I laugh. Thinking nothing of that. “Well that’s normal isn’t it on a weekend”

He sends me a picture.

unnamed

“OMG” I reply. Yeah naive. Feeling comfy and relieved that I am in my bed. Shit. That’s a lot for a first date. I think.

Screenshot_20171111-183338

So that was left.. then the next day..

Screenshot_20171111-181003

 

Screenshot_20171111-181014

 

Vanilla. Interesting. I think to myself. Is that sexual bullying I ask myself. I mean. So fucking what if I am Vanilla. Ice ice baby.

I remember a guy I dated when I was about 26. We were only together for 3 months – when he decided he wanted me to get a strap on. I thought about it. For a second. And I decided that. If I did it. I’m not sure I’d be able to look him in the eye again.

So I got really drunk. Snogged his female flatmate in an ‘anti man!’ moment. And legged it in the middle of the night.

But I do find it rather much when men (when dating) are only interested in one thing. My vagina. Ok – so men like to have sex. So do women. And not every guy you sleep with you want to marry. But still. Do I tell you about my sexual needs pre first date?

And.. isn’t life painful enough without whipping on the first date. Or indeed something shoved up my arse. And I question. In today’s society do we really let intimacy grow? Sex is important. But what about the rest. Friendship. Bit of romance. Then let the whipping commence? Hmmm.

So enough procrastinating. Enough I say!

I delete Tinder. And think.. fuck that. Fuck him. Fuck that one. Fuck him. In the non sexual sense.

And lastly. Be good – stay safe. And remember – whatever you enjoy – it’s cool – as long as you both are consenting adults!

Just maybe some flowers and a whip?

Bx

 

 

 

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