Moving with infinity – an intuitive walk in Venice

As I practised my shamanic drumming before going on an intuitive walk today, I found myself pacing in a figure of 8 around the bedroom. The movement came from my body – a natural urge – rather than my mind leading the way. The intention I set for the intuitive walk is: to find ‘dead’ space to sing to (I am doing art research in Venice for the British Council – see bottom of this post for more information on my project).

Image shows an art exhibit with sculpted landscape with a sheep with elongated legs laying down with legs folded up, a tiny deer (in relation to the sheep's - a tenth of the size) and a spherical light hanging above.

On leaving my apartment, I turned into a square and paused there, then backed out and followed intuitive prods that led me to Above Zobeide, the Chinese collateral exhibition that is part of the Venice Biennale. I used WhatsApp and photos to record my experiences.

Image shows an art exhibit with a sheep standing on elongated legs (like stilts) peering around the corner of a metal structure in a dimly room.

As I entered the space and gazed at the creatures with elongated legs in a barren landscape I wrote:

“I feel my chest aching. It feels so heavy. Bleak landscape. Animals with long, spindly legs. Awkward. Desperate. Sad.”

Initially I didn’t want to read the ethos of the exhibition but I felt drawn to the black pillars that described the artist’s references to Italo Calvino’s book, Invisible Cities. It’s a book that sits on my bookshelf and I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

Image shows a photo of text taken from the Above Zobeide art exhibition that reads: “barren atmosphere, this exhibition effectively expresses deep concerns about the continued development of our human civilisation, responding to the anxieties of our time. It demonstrates remarkable imagination, forward-thinking and innovation.

In Invisible Cities, the narrator Marco Polo avoids mentioning the city of Venice. Instead, he subtly infuses the characteristics of the Italian city into every metropolis he describes. Similarly, born and raised in Macao, Wong Wong Cheong creates an ‘exotic realm’ imbued with the unique features of Macao. The artist dissects the city’s long history, precisely defining that the concept of ‘foreign’ is always ‘relative’. He also reflects upon the dichotomy between ‘civilisation’ and ‘barbarism’. The exhibition reveals the pathetic and absurd phenomenon where people negatively emphasise the difference between ‘indigenous natives’ and ‘foreigners’, or between ‘residents’ and ‘immigrants’. Furthermore, it indirectly highlights the universal values of harmonious inclusivity in terms of multi-ethnic groups that have coexisted in Macao over many past centuries.

The exhibition also breaks away from conventional narratives, revealing how the artist, as a citizen of the world with an international perspective, casts off these standardised domestic portrayals in response to both today’s global issues and his own personal changes”

I left the exhibition and continued to follow my intuition, coming to a place next to a bridge with some steps leading to a canal. I sat on the steps, studying the seaweed swaying and lifting in the turbulence of boats passing. I added another note to WhatsApp:

“Interestingly, I thought about Invisible Cities by Calvino as I walked to the apartment for the first time on Sunday. I haven’t read it. It’s on my bookshelf. The exhibition is one I passed on my way to the apartment. I thought of the book as I passed the exhibition entrance although there is no mention of it and I wasn’t aware I was passing an exhibition entrance.”

After noting this, I climbed the steps to the bridge and saw padlocks attached to the ironwork – lovers declaring their love for one another with a lock and no key. As I peered at one of the locks I noticed a figure of 8 symbol and made the connection between it and my movement whilst drumming earlier.

Image shows a close up shot of a padlock chained to a the metalwork of a bridge. The padlock has a figure of 8 symbol drawn onto it.

Later I went to the White Poplar in Marinaressa Gardens and made an offering of nuts and my gratitude to the tree. I closed my eyes feeling its invitation to come closer, which I did. I found my body swaying in a figure of 8 movement, my left hip leading. Hearing people laughing nearby, I felt self conscious and the movement became less free. I breathed into my heart and found my left hip leading again and self consciousness dissolved. I had a sense the spirit of the tree enjoyed the little dance I had not planned on giving it. I thanked it again and left.

Image shows the ironwork of a bridge railing with padlocks chained to it. Through the ironwork and beyond is canal water with buildings either side of the canal, with a tower in the distance.

I bumped into another British Council Fellow and we went for coffee. We discussed meandering versus having a plan and the ease of the former. I shared my mental image from my aeroplane ride over Venice of seeing the man-made straight channels of water versus the snaky meandering channels made by the Earth. My colleague shared her partner works with wetlands to undo the damage made by man and re-snake rivers and streams, creating more diversity and more space for habitat. More water in the same space. More life in the same space.

My Research Project in Venice

When I applied for the opportunity to do art research in Venice, this was my project proposal:

My research idea is to walk around Venice following my intuition to find a place that feels ‘dead’. I will then visit the place daily to sing (without words) to the Earth. I will listen for Earth’s response and will follow intuitive urges to create in that place. It might be that I make videos, drawings, poems, and connect with humans and other-than-humans there. I would like to see whether it’s possible to form a connection with Earth in this place and invite other humans to join in, bypassing our othernesses, and see what the effects of this might be and how it might change my idea. I will hold workshops for other Fellows in the place and see what we create together in response to singing and listening to Earth. When I return to the UK I will collaborate with Outside In to share the experience and artefacts of this research via online events.

I am part of a group of 66 British Council Fellows who are invigilating the British artist, John Akomfrah’s work at the British Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2024. I applied for this opportunity through Outside In, a charity that has been supporting me to access the art world as an outsider artist since 2016.

Is it safer to fit in or stand out?

Listen to this article:

Do you want to be different or do you want to fit in?

When I was a teenager, with undiagnosed AuDHD and cPTSD, I desperately wanted to fit in, be accepted, be loved for who I was. I also wanted to express myself through what I wore and I had all kinds of ideas of the outfits I would put together to give space to this self-expression, but I didn’t let myself. I couldn’t. The need to fit in, not be ridiculed, and the desire to feel safe were stronger than the courage needed to stand out and be different.

photo shows a caterpillar with orange and yellow fur sticking on a green leaf

The need to fit in kept winning until the night of a fancy dress disco held at the only nightclub in the small town where I lived. My friends and I had been planning to go for a while and I had no idea what to go as, so I asked my mum to recreate a costume she made for me when I was 8 years old: a harem girl outfit with see through trousers that flowed from the hips, a bikini top and a yashmak to cover my face and hair.

photo shows a black spiky caterpillar on a green leaf

Looking back, it’s easy to see how problematic the harem costume was, not only as a 17 year old in the 1980s, but especially as an 8 year old in the 1970s. What the actual fuck?! I was a Brownie and our Brown Owl dressed up as a sheikh, and all of us girls were ‘his’ harem. Why on earth was this thought to be okay?!

photo shows a brown caterpillar with red stripes and short spikes on a green leaf

Moving on from the unconscious internalised sexism that seemingly made the sexualisation of 8 year old girls okay, on the night of the fancy dress ball, 17 year old me got ready and then freaked out at the sudden realisation that I would be nearly naked in front of a bunch of people I barely knew. I donned a long raincoat over my outfit, which I buttoned up to my neck, and headed to the club with my friends. Intrigued by my mac, several people asked whether I was going to take it off, which made me want to button it up even more.

photo shows a caterpillar with two protruding spiky tufts at either end of its short body and smaller spiky tufts along the bottom length of its body and looking like its wearing a vest of green with a circle cut out on the back on a green leaf

Eventually, as the club filled, the temperature rose and, after a few drinks, I undid the coat and draped it over a chair. My friends gasped and strangers came over to offer their praise for how I looked. So many people congratulated me that I could no longer fully believe I was an ugly duckling. The evidence was overwhelming that I was more than presentable. Again, it’s problematic because the outfit was adhering to sexist notions of the use of women’s bodies as sexual objects (to say nothing of cultural appropriation). However, it did wonders for my self-esteem, to a degree (it would take years of coaching, art, and therapy to get to a place of internal self acceptance and there are still parts of me that I am working on connecting with so that we can relate at a deep level).

photo shows a red background, a green leaf with a caterpillar that looks like a bunch of abstract brown, blonde and red shapes

The outfit was so different to anything that anyone else was wearing and it was celebrated by everyone who spoke to me about it. The night was a turning point for me and I began to let my ‘weird’ out by putting outfits together that looked highly unusual compared to the white mini skirts, black tights and white stilettos that most girls wore to the only nightclub in town in the 1980s. I’d turn up in a black lycra mini dress with a small ruffle at the top and hem, a man’s waistcoat, black over-the-knee socks with ruffles at the top, and black DMs. To paraphrase Sesame Street: one of these kids was doing her own thing. My mum frequently told me I’d get beaten up looking like that but I needed to express myself no matter how ridiculous she thought I looked.

photo shows a close up of a caterpillar from the front with spikes growing from its head and red balls on its face, on a green leaf

Imagine a world where weird is wonderful! I actually believe this is true and I’m frequently fascinated by other-than-human nature – the colours, shapes, movements and totally bizarre-looking ways of being to be found in environments that seem out of this world, but are very much in the world. In these places the beings just be their weird selves, as they are, responding to their environment as it responds to them.

photo shows a caterpillar on a stalk. It has 8 legs holding onto the stalk and two long spindly growths from its behind that curve over towards its body. It's face is huge, has a red circle with black inner circle and two black dots above the red circle.

For a long time I wanted to be ‘normal’, to fit in and belong to society. I saw myself as different / odd and that it was the fault of the effects of childhood sexual, emotional and physical trauma I’d experienced. Later, when I’d done a lot of healing and realised I was still ‘odd’ (using societal norms as a benchmark), I thought it was being AuDHD that made me so. Then I spent time considering that actually it’s society that is broken and labels of “disabled” are necessary in such a system so that some people might get the help they need in order to live in this system (not every person gets the help they need though).

photo shows black caterpillar with white long hair sprouting outwards from its sides

Lately, I’ve been seeing it differently. What if ‘normal’ is a coping mechanism designed to protect people from facing intergenerational trauma? Spending energy on fitting into the norms of society might be a good way of avoiding the painful truth that ‘normal’ doesn’t even exist. I’ve never met a person who is ‘normal’, have you?

photo shows caterpillar on a leaf. Its head looks like a snake. It is orange with black eyes.

Every human I’ve come across is weird and wonderful if I’m in the mindset to receive them as such. Similarly, every human is annoying as fuck if I am in that kind of a mindset. We are society. All of us. We are part of it even when we feel othered by it. Our differences could be as celebrated as the similarities. It can be hard to go against the grain of ‘normal’, to stand out and be different, strange, weird even.

photo shows caterpillar hanging upside down on a stalk. It has long growths that look like roots

Some people don’t get the choice to hide difference – gender, skin colour, ability, for example, are often on show. Some aspects of difference can be seen in behaviours and for ND people, social norms around etiquette, for example, can be a source of pain through not being privy to them. 

photo shows a caterpillar on a stalk that has lots of pastel colours on it and growths that look like roots

What I’ve noticed, as I’ve gotten older, grown in experience and through doing shit loads of inner work, is I now have many friends I can totally be myself with. I hardly ever spend loads of energy trying to fit into social circles that feel yucky. The times when I do mask to fit in socially are when I go to functions where I don’t know people. I’ve spent years unravelling who I am to get to this point and I’m grateful for the help I’ve received along the way. It’s ongoing and the work to re-member myself will probably be my life’s work. It’s hard sometimes, and exhausting, but often it’s fun and it’s always full of love.

photo shows a caterpillar on a leaf that has spiky tufts growing at intervals along its body and bright green and black and red markings along the centre line of its body

I’m writing this to celebrate difference. Without it, we are lost; with it, we thrive. Diversity is everything.

I’m Julia Fry. I’m a Creative Psychotherapist and Coach for Neurodivergent Folx. If you’d like to have a chat about working with me, feel free to reach out.

I’m also an Artist, a Poet and a Writer. My book, SHINE How to Overcome the Trauma of Living and Feel Our Way to Authenticity is available in paperback or eBook from various locations.

A Place Where I Love and Accept Myself Totally

Do you go on intuitive walks? Where you set an intention and then follow your intuitive urges and see what happens? This is one of mine…

photo shows cherry trees blossoming at the top, with ivy covering the trunks

My intention: to find a place where I love and accept myself totally. The walk took 44 minutes but I didn’t set a time limit. So much happened. Outside my block of flats I found a Cherry blossom sprig on the grass and felt an urge to pick it up. I followed my inner compass to a road where a line of Cherry trees grow (I wondered if it had come from there). They are covered in Ivy – kind of being throttled by it, yet still blossoming, but not as much as usual. I was reminded of my internalised mother, who is throttling me at the moment as I feel stressed moving into a new version of myself. I am receiving a lot of love from people in my life and that is resetting my nervous system, which sparks off old coping mechanisms of embodied self-criticism in the form of headaches. I am appreciating the protective, albeit misguided, nature of this coping mechanism.

Continuing my walk, I came across an uprooted shrub and I felt shock and sadness. It reflects my sense of trying to settle back into my home after 3 years of living in my van up North to complete my Master’s, where I slept at the sides of canals and regularly immersed in other-than-human nature with limited time in the greyness of towns / cities. I think it may also reflect how a lot of people on this planet might be feeling right now, with the craziness of war and unprocessed trauma being exacted on innocent people. Of course, it also reflects how we’re living our daily lives and how that is choking the planet, although if we make ourselves extinct, she will recover and thrive.

I moved on and, wandering slowly, noticed how life grows in so many places it’s not ‘supposed’ to – every nook and crack is home for a seed to grow.

Nearing home and I see a piece of Ivy laying on the pavement. It seems symbolic, although of what I’m unsure. I lay the Cherry blossom I’ve been holding next to it and leave it there. Two, separate, no longer entangled, yet held in the same place and I feel an internal shift.

I follow an urge to go to the Level (a park near my home in Brighton) and walk near the trees. As I reach the North East corner, my heart swells and I suddenly feel a sense of everything being okay, even in the messy, grittiness. As I leave the Level a song comes to me and despite, my chesty cough, I hum it, sending my gratitude through it to the Earth.

I arrive at my block of flats and the Caretaker is there, chatting with a man I don’t know. When he asks how I am, I tell them I’m poorly (I have a cold). They ask about my symptoms and we briefly chat before he makes a joke about man ‘flu being 10 times worse than childbirth. I shake my head and say I’m sure the population would be less if men gave birth. He talks about disease and war adjusting population size and then asks, “But why do we have war? Is it just in us to be this way?” I say, “No, it’s because of unprocessed trauma passed down through the generations.” He says, surprisingly, “Thank you. I’ll think about that today.”

I omitted to say that we don’t have rituals for people to act out war or initiation ceremonies and such; but it didn’t occur to me at the time, and that’s okay.

Thousand Yard Stare

When you looked like that,

Your eyes seeing another time and place,

I knew.

Soft brown somehow turned black,

Pupils blown,

And I knew.

Something had to give,

To pay for your service to the Queen,

When you weren’t seen.

The troubles affected your mind;

I knew you would turn to me.

I’d listen for the creak in the hallway,

Late at night,

When all were asleep,

‘Cept you and me,

Though I pretended to be,

Arms pinned rigidly either side of my body,

Duvet trapped,

As I barely breathed,

Heart thumping in my ears,

Fears rising so high they might shatter into shards in the next moment.

Fists clenched tight against my thighs,

Tense stillness mixing hope and listening, 


For your almost silent footfall.

Mouth arid but a desperate swallow,

Frightening in the sound it makes because




Could cause you to attack.

But it wasn’t that, was it?

Not me,

Not my body’s natural urges to move, no.

It was you,

What happened to you,

What they did to you,

What you didn’t express.


What you couldn’t express.

Home is where the heart is?

picture shows a tiny home shape made from cardboard
Cardboard Home, 2023, Cardboard, glue, oil pastels, string

Home, according to Mole in Wind in the Willows, is a place filled with “familiar and friendly things which had long been unconsciously a part of him and now smilingly received him back.” I read the passage this statement comes from aloud at the start of the Home workshop I facilitated for Outside In at Hove Museum on 9 December. We all shared gestures, sounds and a word to get a sense of what our homes felt like before creating artworks that depicted this feeling(s). Conversation flowed between strangers as their hands busied, and I felt delighted to sit with each person and get to know them a little bit as they made their home. You can see an image of our homes formed into a group below – a village perhaps.

picture shows several tiny homes from soft material or clay or cardboard or card and stuck to a corkboard with string and pins
A ‘village’ of homes at the Outside In Home workshop at Hove Museum on 9 December 2023

I feel the wisdom of Kenneth Grahame’s words about things in one’s home being friendly and welcoming. That is my experience and, as a neurodivergent person, I form a strong bond to things, like my drum, my Grandma’s jewellery box, my Macaw cushion cover, and the newest addition, my unicorn cat candle holder (see photo below). They have their places and I would not like anyone to touch or move them. I have a strong aversion to people touching my things, and if someone moves my things in the communal part of my home, well, I have to employ mindfulness of my thoughts and feelings with grit and determination. Thank goodness I know how to do this!

picture shows a painting with a cushion cover with an image of 2 parrots on it draped over the painting, with a shamanic drum resting against the painting, a black jewellery box, a drum beater and a candle holder in the shape of a cat face with a unicorn horn
My drum, my Grandma’s jewellery box, my Macaw cushion cover and my unicorn cat candle holder

Not all things in a home are friendly, however. I suppose it depends on the kind of home they’re in, or were in. I’m referring now to a recent trip to Hastings to visit a friend. There are many second hand shops selling ‘vintage’ items there. As we browsed, I was transported back in time to the 1970s, which was a deeply unpleasant decade for me, not least because of the horrible aesthetics that permeated everything – haircuts, buildings, decor, and home things. Things appear less than friendly in a home where a child is hyper vigilant for signs of attack from the parents. Being around so many things that reminded me of that time made me aware of how lucky Mole, and indeed, Kenneth Grahame, was to have the experience of a safe and friendly home. I am glad I now have that experience too.

The photos show the little homes I made in preparation for the Home workshop. I enjoyed making them immensely. They’re an excellent way of meditating on what home is like / means. What does ‘home’ mean for you?

Othering Me, Othering You

Image shows strands of finger knitted wool of differing lengths arranged in a circle with the ends at the centre in a spiral. The wool is multi-coloured.
Othering Me, Othering You, 2023, Wool

I created this piece using wool. The wool came from a cardigan I made where I found the seams to be too irritating so I unpicked it. I am very sensitive to seams and labels in clothing. I was left with lots of small balls of wool in varying sizes and I followed an intuitive prod to finger knit each ball into a long strand. This took a few months and during this time I was working on my dissertation for my creative psychotherapy master’s, which was a heuristic inquiry into the experience of othering people different from me.

This piece is a creative synthesis of what I found out about myself in the research. It became clear to me that othering people, for me, is a somatic response to being triggered by people that somehow remind me of the people that abused me in childhood. The somatic response of a tightening in my solar plexus then kicks off anxious thoughts that circle in my head. I came to this awareness through creative workshops that I held for myself in which I followed intuitive urges to move, be still, make things, or write. I sometimes found myself walking in a spiral and coming to stillness in the centre, where I would feel and notice.

The space created to feel and notice is depicted in the spiral of wool at the centre of the image. Othering happens regardless of whether I want it to, but I have space to observe, rather than act on it.

When I Write About Rape

Poem and call and response song

When I write about rape

It takes its toll on my body

As pain, grief, rage spiral

Threatening to pull me apart

With the tension of

Wanting to stay

And wanting to run.

Thinking she knew when I was 9

How could she not?

How could she not?

I saw the signs…

His body tightly sprung,

Ever more so as the day wore on.

How could she not?

How could she not?

As bedtime drew close

And I’m sick on the floor,

Begging to extend my time with the telly

In the relative safety of the lounge,

But no,

Disgusted by my plea,

She sent me to bed.

How could she not?

How could she not?

I hate bedtime even now,

40 years on.

It’s okay for him.

He’s dead and gone,

But I’m still here

With a tightly wound body

That remembers what my mind forgot.

Only now, I’m not losing the plot.

I’m seeing clearly how we forgot

Our connection to Earth

And the object projection that entails

The lack of relationship with

Our Great Mother,

Makes it necessary to treat one another

As things to conquer, to control,

But actually all we need,

As 4 young men once said, is love.

Reciprocal love that comes by

Singing and listening

To the animism present in everything,

Which makes things beings.


The chair you sit on.

The shoes that got you here.

The trees, oh, the trees with

Whom songs appear

When we listen.

Othering Me, Othering You Is This The Best We Can Do?

I completed my MSc Counselling and Psychotherapy – Contemporary Creative Approaches in August 2023 with a research project called Othering Me, Othering You – My Living Experience of Internalised Patriarchy. I’m going to share the following sections from my dissertation in this post: definition of terms, introduction, and conclusion. If you’d like me to send you the dissertation or have a conversation about setting up creative workshops to uncover hidden biases with compassion, please email me.

image shows a wall with 2 canvas paintings and 8 pieces of paper with drawings on them: a heart with 2 people inside, a person with their head inside a cloud with the word "worry" in it and the word "othering" written on the paper, a large multi coloured heart, two spirals - red and blue, a series of black circles, a pink triangle, a red circle with black spikes surrounding it with yellow outside of the black and green in the corners of the image, a diagram with colour coded lines leading to bits of paper, a collage with the words "would I have known where to start without this?" written on.

Some of my creative outputs from my research that I analysed for themes

Continue reading “Othering Me, Othering You Is This The Best We Can Do?”

I Am Loving Her Now

Just sit and be still;

Meagre sounds compete with massive silence.

Giving myself to it in a different way now,

Yet tinges of teenage angst touch me with cold, sad fingers,

And I need to grieve for her,

For the self who ate to feel love,

Then purged to rid shame,

Over and over and over.

For her unwavering measurement of worth

Taken in the flatness of her tummy,

As she cast her critical eye in the mirror,

And carefully counted out 200 sit ups.

Her daily prescriptions created control,

With love nowhere to be seen.

And I am loving her now.

I am opening my arms to her,

Telling her,

Showing her

She is enough,





And I love her.

I love her awkward shyness

And her brash, loud ‘big I am’,

Her need for solitude

And to play childish games,

I love her intelligence,

Often missed at school,

And I love her big heart that still can love the people who hurt her,

That ability to empathise,

And imagine;

I love her desire to be markedly different,

And her longing to belong,

Her ways of experimenting with clothes,

And gentle rebellions.

And I love her because there’ll never be another like her,

So my heart squeezes tears from my eyes

When I see her try to take her life.

And I whisper to the family dog,

Who wakes up the parents,

Who take her to hospital,

Where she is stitched up by a nurse with no compassion.

And I gently blow love into her

And walk with her all the way to now.

We are together.

Together we sit 

And ease ourselves into the massive silence.

So Much More

I wish I fitted into my brown trousers comfortably.

But I don’t.

I wish I could love this fat body.

But I don’t.

And who is the I in this case?

Small I soaked in patriarchal values.




All the ists exist in this I

That has narrow eyes,

Pursed lips,

Calculates and demands,

Constructs beliefs from spurious evidence

So it can fold in on itself with narcissistic glee.

A smirk twitches the corner of its lips

As it caves into itself with denigration.

The other I watches,



And sees without judgement

The games played,

The means manipulated,

And utters a simple phrase,

“That makes sense,”

As her gaze

Casts wider 

Into the contexts

That pattern themselves restrictive

For all involved.

She breathes deep and long,

Appreciates the battles

With self,

With others,

With the world,

Feels the sharp sadness spike her heart,

Sheds soft, soft tears

That roll and tickle their way

To her throat

Where a hatch opens,

A tiny hand reaches out

To catch the rain,

So beautiful in the sunlight

That dapples into the darkness,

Touches the pipes

That begin to warm

So she can make the sounds of love.

She sings

Of warmth

And beauty 

And rage

And soon the I’s are soothed into remembering:

There is more than this.


So much more.