The Hors D’Oeuvres Of Life Theory

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As I get older, I have found that life simultaneously delivers the good times and the shit times.

Perhaps there is less sand in the hourglass so all the events are lined up to happen all at once. You can win an important award followed closely by the death of the loved one. Get a work promotion then find out a child is struggling with their mental health. Plan a trip of a lifetime to find out you have a life threatening lump.

Life is heightened when you get older. You see the unfairness of life and the randomness of luck. There are no reasons things happen the way they do, but you know they will happen. Everyone gets a turn with the shit stick.

From The Tools by Barry Michaels and Phil Stutz.

From The Tools by Barry Michaels and Phil Stutz.

Not that the dualistic nature of luck followed closely by loss always happens when you’re older.

I was so young, newly married and filled with dreams of a baby girl when she and I nearly died during her birth. With a significant and devastating birth injury that she will have for the rest of her life, I struggled with knowing if I should celebrate the dark hair babe with one blue eye and one green eye, when we were facing so many obstacles and worries.

In the end, I just loved her because I didn’t know how to do anything else. The doctors could help her and I could love her, plain and simple. And I did. Everything I have worked for has been for her and her brother. The education. The physiotherapy. The medical specialists. The therapists. The operations. The opportunities. It was all for them.

This weekend I helped her get settled into her final year of university and settling into her new home. I took my husband as last time I did this trip interstate, I had to put flat pack furniture together and it lasted about 25 minutes after leaving her apartment, before it fell apart.

I cried when I left this time, because I was so tired and because this will be the last time I do this for her and because I was so bloody proud of her. Finishing with a double degree and with a fabulous bar cart in her apartment for cocktails (Dirty Martini’s are her specialty), as she lives her life like Mrs. Flax from Mermaids, who only serves hors d’oeuvres for meals. She is pure glam from top to toe.

Mrs Flax and her fruit and marshmallow kebab sticks.

Mrs Flax and her fruit and marshmallow kebab sticks.

We all think we deserve a long purple patch of success but sometimes it is split into small bite sized serves. A success here, a win there, a moment of respite in between. If we counted up all the good things versus the bad things, I reckon we would be close to even.

So take the joy when it comes and do what you can when the shit storm arrives. Know the sun will shine on your side of the street again and pour yourself a drink and toast to this thing called life.

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My 6th Letter To You

Hello again,

How was the weekend? Are you okay? You know I’m here if you need someone to listen. I might not have the right words but my ears are very able and clear, so anytime you want to unload, I can carry it for a while for you.

I have been doing a lot of introspective work with varying results. The challenge, as you know, is to know ourselves but also allow ourselves to change and grow. The goal for me is to become more responsive and less reactive.

I was thinking that when we aren’t present in our own lives we tend to rely on the mask of personality we have created and rely on it to see us through the moment or the situation. But what if we were present at these times and we paused, (sometimes I am not good at this but I am trying to be better) and responded without ego and instead responded with curiosity and openness?

I know sometimes I never really feel like I’m really grown up. That I’m pretending to go through the day with responsibilities, it’s actually pretty funny when you think about it. Like you’re ten years old and driving the car, and having parent/teacher interviews, and choosing what to have for dinner. Imagine yourself at ten doing those things. It’s difficult to try and let go of the childlike qualities but also be responsible, most of all for yourself and your actions.

But I know you are doing so well and remember that these odd and unwanted feelings don’t have to stay and if you can let them float past like clouds then that’s all they ever were.

Do me a favour today? Please? Stick around. Be present. Don’t go backwards and don’t go forwards. Be here, now.

You matter.


Kate xx


P.S. My rose are in bloom. They are 22 years old. The yellow one from one of my dearest friend. The pink one I bought when my daughter was born. Aren’t they lovely?

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Christmas Wishes

Content warning: Suicide

This week I have learned of three suicides and one attempt. All men.

Discussing this with my husband, he said that this time of the year shines a light on what is lacking or what you perceive to be lacking in your life. Money, family, professional success, personal success, relationships and more.

This is the dark side of Christmas, and one I don’t have any answers in solving but all I can do is wish you well, male, female or other.

I wish you peace.

I wish you to buy only things that matter and you not extend yourself beyond your budget.

I wish you sleep.

I wish you warm memories of those who you no longer spend Christmas with.

I wish you guilt free eating and sensible drinking.

I wish you relief from expectations.

I wish you the power to say no.

I wish you the power to say yes.

I wish you contentment.

I wish you a sense of belonging.

I wish you stomach aching laughter.

I wish you acts of kindness both to give and receive.

I wish you health and healing.

I wish you to know that you matter. You truly do. And Christmas would not be the same with out you.

I wish you would stay a little longer.

x

On The Mammoth Loneliness Of Being Creative

A long time ago, when woolly mammoths were a big thing, loneliness was an important feeling that existed to remind us that it isn't safe to be away from the tribe. It beat at our chests and heads, warning us that pain is out there, a loss is out there, even death, perhaps from one of those pesky and clumsy woolly mammoths or some other dangerous mega-fauna.

But as we have evolved, we still have that sense of loneliness, even though the threat of death by mammoth is now slim to none. 

Loneliness is at epidemic proportions, with studies now saying it's worse for you than smoking or drinking, raising your stress levels and causing inflammation in the body, which in turn manifests into all sorts of serious illness, even death. 

So now the fear of the woolly mammoth is the actual feeling of loneliness. What was once a warning sign of danger, is now the danger in and of itself.

I don't think there is a greater loneliness than that of the creative person. You can spend days not speaking to anyone. You can miss phone calls or put out stern messages that you will not be available to sup or dance with until you meet your deadline. No exceptions! All these self-imposed rules exist so we can meet our desire to create and obey the muse that stalks within us. We self-punish to please what yearns to be let out of our minds and fingers, and this is for the term of our natural life. 

Then, just like a dream, you then wake and realise everyone has gone dancing without you, and you are alone with the woolly mammoth of loneliness as your only company. 

But not everyone is afraid of, or even dislikes their mammoth. Writers often make friends with it, tucking the feelings it evokes away in their mental notebook to be repurposed at a later date. Artists paint it, musicians score it, and poets plait it into a verse that stabs at the earliest parts of our awakening and DNA.

We head out into mysterious lands of the imagination without a compass, the place that no one else but us will charter and map. We face demons of our own making, we face grief, and loss, and fire and drownings and death and guilt and that is only up to Chapter 3. 

We take the photos and draw the shapes and paint in a way that makes others cry, just like you do when you hear that special piece of music that seems to have been written just for you, just for this moment.

We write and paint and compose and more, all of it for those who choose to stay in the village, far away from where the mammoth roams. We aren't resentful, we need them there, as not everyone can tame the mammoth, and we want them to be there for us when we return. We will share our stories, and they will sup with us, and tell us about the news in town and keep us up to date with the area, so we will be safe again.

They read the stories we write and dance to the music that is composed for them. They weep over the poems that remind them of a time before they were alive, and they hang the art that cheers them, even though they don't understand why. They are present and real and aware of the dangers of the mammoth and sometimes they drag us out of our caves, or back from the badlands, and pull us into the moment.

And when we come back to ourselves again and reconnect with the world by drinking and laughing with friends, our bodies and minds relax, the good chemicals are released. Yes, we are better for the loneliness, it forced us to be brave and rely on ourselves, to tame the mammoth, but coming back to each other again reminds us that we need companionship to feel safe again. 

We must remind other creatives they are not alone. We must support other creatives when the mammoth threatens to stomp them into extinction. We must call out the names of our fellow creatives, so they know that they exist and matter and their work matter. That they will always be missed from events, even if the mammoth says they aren't, that no one remembers them or their work (mammoths say things like that, mammoths also lie, a lot).

We must rely on each other to keep the loneliness in check. These relationships give us meaning and desire. These relationships are what fuels our work. Without them, who are we creating for? We want to be read, to be heard, to be collected, to be noticed.

These social connections fire up our dopamine levels and dopamine pushes us to find what we desire. We need the social relationships to help us realise our creative desires, just as we need the solitary block to realise them into some form of art. 

So, my beloved creative people who are reading this, don't deny yourself company and connection. It's all lived experience, and it's all important, for, in the end, to live well, you must live fully, mammoth and all.


 

In Praise Of Pottering

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There is a Serbian word, that translated to the feeling of contentment and bliss, that delicious sense of oneness with the universe when performing simple pleasures. Those small moments that add up to a fulfilled life. A contented life. I wondered if this is pottering, the Serbian way.One of my main skills in life is pottering. There is an art to high-level pottering and of this, I am a master.

The first rule for sterling pottering is to not have any particular goal in mind. Do not try and finish anything. If the act of pottering results in something being finished, such as the dishes, or planting spring herbs then so be it. It is neither good or bad. It just the outcome of that moment.

Do not set out with a goal. I repeat, no goals today my pottering pal. Just be. Maybe you are looking for a book and end up sorting out the poets from the playwrights. Or you sit on the floor, in front of the bookshelf and read the first three chapters of Love in a Cold Climate because you forgot how much you loved that book.

Stop looking at the time. Time will slow when you’re pottering, so savor the extra minutes and take care with your task. If you want to carefully wipe down the leaves of your Fiddle Fig, then take all the time you need. The Fiddle Fig will enjoy the attention and company.

You are allowed to be distracted. Have three things happening at once. A book open, a recipe you’d like to attempt open on your computer, a sewing project half done with no expectations of when it will be finished. There is no start or end when pottering.

Pick lemons, arrange them in the sweet bowl from the op-shop. Stroke the cat on the neighbor’s fence. Let the tea steep for an extra minute. You have time.

Tidy the car while listening to a podcast, wax the surfboard while humming a tune, pat your dog while sitting in the sunshine. Watch the coriander seeds sprout in the little plastic pot you picked up from the side of the road.

Wipe down a surface but only one. To do more than one is considered cleaning and right now we are pottering. It is about seeing and responding to the moment. Being in the moment and enjoying it.

I love cleaning my desk, with no intention to work there that day. Just wiping it down, rearranging my things, it’s meditative.

I move from moment to moment, doing what I want and what jumps out at me. But not too much because then it’s work and I have enough of that during the week.

Potter or putter or dawdle or tinker to your soul’s content. There is time enough to reach the goals and clean the house and tick things off the list, but for now, relax and feel the merak.