La vita é bella!
[… a short ‘essai‘ at explaining the mind/das Gehirn/l’esprit/de Geest/den Sjel/der Geist…]
The Levellers sang about Zeitgeist…
I want to write about Geist.
Many of the great Creatives (writers, artists, photographers, musicians, chefs…) of our times have suffered from mental ‘illness’…
Burns, Baudelaire, Vian, Van Gogh, John Lennon and most likely Dylan, Shakespeare, Mozart and Beethoven too…
Dealing with mental ‘illness’ is like dealing with the sun or the heat. Sometimes it is just too hot to feel this alive. I am constantly pulling myself back, thinking before I speak or act, holding myself in, conforming, abiding by ‘the rules’ and ‘getting back into my box’ when often I just want to run about naked, screaming into the void… (… a pillow works too…) … and why shouldn’t I?! Why should I smother the creative impulses within my soul?
Luckily I am an intelligent woman and I have learnt to close my eyes, take several deep breaths and return to my cage – ‘normality’ – to ensure that I am ‘accepted’ by my peers and society at large.
Had it not been for my unquenchable thirst for knowledge and my voracious, insatiable hunger to understand WHY I feel the way I do, I would be lying drunk in a ditch gibbering about monsters under the bed, or I would already have stepped off the l/edge… (I have been teetering on the brink several times ; utterly unequipped to deal with my own thoughts and feelings, yet still unwilling to leave…).
So, I developed a coping strategy. I talk. I tell everyone how I am feeling. If someone asks me how I am, I consider the question, take my own sweet time and then I tell them the truth. I tell them “I don’t know…” or “I feel a bit mental today actually”. It makes most people extremely uncomfortable and they tend to flinch, avert their eyes or run away, which is fine as I don’t have a lot of time for most people anyway. In the words of the ornery Dr House ‘everybody lies…’ Small talk is anathema to me.
When I feel an ‘attack‘ coming on … (that’s what it feels like, a physical assault: paranoiaextremeanxietylikesomeoneiscomingtokillyou…!!!!!) … my breathing quickens, my heart starts to palpitate, I break out in a cold sweat, I often cry quietly or sob extremely vocally and, la pièce de résistance, go beetroot and blotchy (always a good look). However, I have learned over time to ‘feel the fear‘ and accept it. Unlike the Balrog, it will pass. It will. It will pass.
I close my eyes and I breathe. That is all. I centre myself, just as Andy* says (he is a great teacher). I go right inside. I tune in to the world and forget about myself. I listen to the small noises surrounding me. I listen to my breathing ; the most natural thing in the world… and I wait.
I wait for my breathing to return to its natural rhythm, I open my eyes, sit quietly for a moment, stretch and go on.
It works. It is the only thing that actually works (for me).
No disrespect to anyone to whom I have spoken in the medical profession (psyche nurses, support assistants, CBT therapists, doctors, GPs…) but honestly the only thing that works and continues to work for me is re-learning how to breathe and doing it for 20 minutes every day.
It is so simple and it costs nothing.
There are around 17 million Americans taking Venlafaxine [a.k.a Effexor] at the moment. That is more than 3 times the entire population of Scotland. Seventeen million people suffering. Right now.
[you do the maths… http://www.drugs.com/price-guide/venlafaxine]
So let’s embrace the crazy! Every single one of us is unique. Refuse to be put in a box and labelled as ‘ill’. Listen to the voices in your head (then tell them to fuck right off). It’s your mind and your choice whether to do what ‘they’ tell you, or not. You have a choice. You always have a choice. To live and act responsibly (and keep breathing) or to give up and lie in that ditch with the monsters. Worst case scenario? Go to bed and wait it out. It will pass.
Sit down, be still, take a deep breath ; then get back up and keep going – one step at a time – because life is so beautiful. It would be a shame to waste it.
*Andy lives here: www.headspace.com
…written by Kate Morvern Reid at Balos on Crete on the 25th of July 2015.
Kronos – Time
Pin this to the kitchen door.
Learn to breathe
See the wood for all those trees?
Read a book
How will you know, unless you look?
Laugh a lot
Take good care of what you’ve got.
Fish the sea
Maybe some day you’ll be free…
Share a bed;
Show someone inside your head.
Eat and sleep
and sing and play…
because you never know the day.
It is written,
You have to listen…
and throw your fucking clocks away!
© KMR Balos July 2015
THROW YOUR FUCKING CLOCKS AWAY!
The most important lesson learned from 40 years on the planet is not to be ruled by a chronometer on my wrist, or on the wall, or on my screen, it really couldn’t matter less. Show up when you are ready. Eat lunch when you are ready. Meet someone when you are ready. God only knows how I managed to be a school teacher for nine whole years with all those bells and whistles and alarms… no wonder my head exploded! It is vital to my sanity and overall well-being to be afforded the ‘luxury’ of doing everything I do AT MY OWN PACE. I will not be rushed now because rush equals stress. And stress equals bad. Very, very, very bad. If other people around me feel the need to get het up and pissed off about my perceived tardiness then that is their look out. Alexander and I will show up exactly when we are meant to be there, no muss, no fuss. This is also not to say that I am always late. Far from it. I just get up an extra two hours early so I have TIME to take my time.
Maybe you don’t need this.
But I suspect you do.
Becoming a mum at 40 is no laughing matter.
I got up this morning feeling and looking like a sack of last year’s potatoes, (the ones that have been out in the coal shed all Winter: moldy, puffy and a little green) staggered to the kitchen and hit go on the kettle.
So far, so good.
I put a tablespoonful of my fancy Argyll Roasters, 100% mountain water extracted decaf (I don’t know either) into my cafetière. I even managed to let the kettle cool a bit before I did the biz and then, just as I was creeping toward the front door… (not to make a run for it, but to go and enjoy my coffee outside with the wind on my face, which, in an ideal world, is how my every day would begin…)
I stood on the creaky one.
So, back to the kitchen, eight scoops, shaky shake, gather up cosy, grumbling bundle, take to front room (he’s still not awake), pop pop pop, wheech off nappy, whack on new dry one, pop pop pop, bottle into gub (still not awake) sook sook sook…
Six and a half months in, I’ve got this down. (And those smiles, those sleepy, gorgeous smiles…)
It’s just everything else that is going to shit!
So far this morning, I have attempted to do a washing, (there are approximately four loads waiting, many of which items are coated in a variety of multi-coloured veggie mush that will need to be soaked and scraped before machine-loading and those are just my clothes…) I have run out of the extra-special, baby-kind, eco-friendly Smol sachets so have added a tiny dribble of Persil non-bio instead and crossed my fingers that the small man won’t be itchying and scratchying all week as a result, sworn loudly for the third time because I’ve burnt my toast (I had to put it down again because it was cold and someone had turned the toaster down to 2) the only saving grace is that the smoke detector has run out of beep (I may or may not have removed the battery), stood on the cat and sworn again because she is tiny and I really don’t want to break her, fallen over the leg of the new high-chair (why do they stick out so far?), stood on a piece of surprisingly sharp cat litter on the bathroom floor and tried and failed to find my spectacles.
Did I mention it was 4.45am?
Becoming a mum at 40 is HARD.
I am used to being a hyper-organised force of nature who gets things DONE.
Over the past few months I have somehow morphed into a perma-knackered, befuddled buffoon who bruises herself on literally everything and can’t even successfully toast a slice of bread!
My back hurts, my shoulders hurt, my neck hurts, my brain hurts, my fingers hurt (I have damaged my thumb unscrewing baby bottle tops, I shit you not), my TEETH hurt (what?), literally my entire body hurts.
I never get any time to myself. Any. Ever.
I am ON twenty-four hours a day.
My new job is an 168 hour working week.
Even when I am snoozing (sleep is but a vague memory at this point) I am still on duty, listening for the slightest wheeze, the tiniest cough; meanwhile the small man is sleeping, literally ‘like a baby’ ten hours solid, every night!
Now. This may sound like an ungrateful diatribe, and it is.
I am going to my mum and dad’s (Grinny and Grumpy) next week and I have been promised one whole beautiful glorious day to myself, A WHOLE DAY OFF.
The pour souls will be shattered by the end of it, but they did offer…
I’ll let you know how that goes.
OK. So, it’s not cool to like Valentine’s Day.
Truth be told, I freaking LOVE V Day!
It’s the one day a year it’s OK to spread peace, hope and joy. I’m sorry if you don’t have a ‘significant other’ to share the day with, but you have a cat, don’t you?
You have a mum! Somebody loves you.
Somebody loves you.
Maslow has it down, we need a purpose, we need wifi and we need love.
If we don’t have at least a few of these basics, life can become pretty unbearable and that is coming from a privileged, white, middle-class female who lives in the first world…
I could go on and on at considerable length about the virtues of love and having it and spreading it and needing it and sharing it, but it’s almost 3am and I should be asleep.
So here it is:
Tell someone you love them TODAY.
The more love there is, the less room there is for hate. That is all.
Happy Valentine’s Day x
I’ve been at a beautiful health retreat in deepest Devon for the last 18 days. Four hours of exercise every day (and that’s just before breakfast). Calorie controlled meals based on small portions of protein and lots of veg (carbs are the enemy).
I feel amazing. I am literally glowing. My skin is great and so far I’ve dropped 15lbs.
But all I can think about is the chocolate orange hidden right at the bottom of my suitcase. It’s nestled there innocently, beaming like a lighthouse: a beacon in the storm.
It’s my safety chocolate. I had to bring it. The sheer enormity of the panic attack of being stuck somewhere I don’t know with no access to chocolate is inconceivable. My heartrate has just risen from 65 to 127 just thinking about it.
It’s a problem.
It’s an addiction and I struggle to control it. The middle of week 3 and not one sniff of the beautiful, numbing, consoling, delicious, melty goodness. We’re not even allowed a cup of real tea FFS.
Beam. Beam. Pause.
I know I shouldn’t (I’m not stupid) and tonight I most probably wont, but this compulsion, this irresistible attraction, this uncontrollable urge is with me every day. I live with it. Some days I cope, some days I don’t. Some days I’m so driven to distraction and depressed by my utter lack of control that I feel like ending it all.
It’s a problem.
A very close friend struggles with alcohol. Her addiction is taken seriously. She has had treatment and is in recovery. She still struggles with it every day.
Another good friend is anorexic. Her condition is taken seriously and treated with compassion. She has had treatment and is in recovery. She still struggles with it every day.
My disordered eating is a joke. I’m just a greedy, fat pig with zero self-control who doesn’t know where or when to stop.
But the thing is, I’m not.
I’m not stupid, or disgusting or ugly or greedy. I eat less at mealtimes than most of the rest of my family. I eat healthy breakfasts and try to stay away from too many carbs and refined or processed foods.
But I binge.
When I’m tired, sad, lonely, fed up, depressed, pissed off, happy, unhappy, bored, alone…
It isn’t pretty. It involves tubs and tubs of expensive icecream, milk chocolate, Minstrels, stilton, good red wine, olives, crisps, crunchy nut cornflakes, chocolate raisins…
All of my favourite ‘bad’ foods all at once. One after the other.
I will literally eat all night. I don’t feel sick; I don’t particularly enjoy it after the first few bites of each new thing, but it’s comforting and it’s numbing and it feels good.
So, down it all goes. Five thousand extra calories? Six thousand? Three times the recommended daily amount (and I wonder how I got fat)…
On a ‘good’ day I’ll maybe only do double that recommended intake, but on Friday nights or Saturdays or days off or ‘sick’ days or basically any time I’m feeling down or hating life: it’s on.
It’s a problem.
Then comes the inevitable aftermath. The upset stomach and the crippling, agonising guilt. The shame. The self-loathing and rock bottom self-esteem:
I am disgusting.
I’m a slob.
I’m a pig.
I’m a greedy, ugly, fat, hateful piece of shit.
I’m not even worth the air I breathe.
So I curl up in bed (in BED) and I hide. From myself and the world. Until the next day comes and I do it all over again.
It’s a problem.
I need a solution. I need help.
Binge Eating Disorder [BED] is a real thing. It’s not sexy and it’s not pretty but it’s my reality and I live with it every day.
Some days I cope. Some days I don’t.
It’s a problem.
KMR @ Woodbury Park, Friday 27th January 2017
a blog before breakfast
It’s been so long since I wrote anything at all that I thought I’d try to smash out a quick blog before breakfast (regardless of its quality).
I’m coming to realise that it is impossible to do two things at once.
Multi-tasking is a myth. Probably propagated by the patriarchy to keep us women busy and out of the way while they waste their time fighting over things and being greedy.
Having a toddler is fun. Endless hours of fun. It is also the hardest thing I’ve ever done! It’s so demanding. Previously I had so much beautiful free time and peace and quiet that I often squandered it watching box sets and staring at my phone.
Oh to have those hours back. I now have to get up at 5am to have any hope of achieving anything before my brain turns to mush by 11am.
I’m not wishing it away, I’m using my new meditation skills to ‘be present’ and appreciate the moment I am in (which, incidentally is the only place that happiness is to be found) but it is hard not to pine for those halcyon Candy Crush days…
Nonetheless. This old night owl turned early bird has a few tricks up her sleeve. A few previously recorded songs so far unreleased and a few poems-in-waiting. Not enough for a collection yet, but some day.
My main problem at the moment is the novel. It is living inside me like a parasite, sapping my energy and depleting my enjoyment of the everyday; I have to get it out! So my aim for this year is to write for an hour a day. To just begin. I’ve been putting it off for years because I know it’s going to be difficult. But if I don’t make a start it’ll still be lurking in there with its tiny icepick, chipping away at me, so I’d really better get on with it.
If you don’t hear from me for a few months, I’ll be at my desk.
Time is such an odd construct.
Do you think Vikings wore wristwatches?
Dusk and dawn. Sunset and sunrise. These are real. They happen every day. Time is not real. It’s just an idea. We made it up.
Chew on that for a while.
Originally, I was going to call this collection Kronos (Time in Greek) as it is a concept I have been thinking about for a very long time and one that crops up regularly throughout the work. Time. The lack of it. The need for more of it. The relentless trudge of it. The unstoppable, infinite force of it.
However, if you really think about it, we invented it. It is utterly meaningless. OK, it’s handy to know what day to put the bins out or when to visit the dentist but really, wouldn’t we all be so much happier and far less stressed without it?
I find that as soon as I have a deadline to meet or even just a set time to be somewhere, time contracts and I am automatically losing my mind with stress. I am far happier on a day when I have nowhere to be and nothing to do and time just unfolds as it is meant to, no alarm to wake me before I am ready and no-one nagging me about my admittedly dreadful time-keeping.
Making the time to be present and to savour every individual moment is what is important to me now and I will never wear a wristwatch again.
Wouldn’t it be a better world if we could just throw our fucking clocks away…?
So, this whole Phillip Schofield thing has got me thinking…
Is it really necessary to ‘come out’ so publicly, in this day and age?
Does a celebrity have to debase him/herself LIVE on TV to garner the respect they deserve?
Was it all just an Insta publicity stunt (330,006 hearts and counting…)?
Am I getting cynical in my old age…?
It prompted me to respond with the following:
‘Have you considered you may be bi? I truly believe that every single human being’s sexuality lies on a sliding scale. Just because you are attracted to a man today, doesn’t mean you won’t be attracted to a woman tomorrow. It would circumvent so much inner trauma, just to acknowledge that we are all a little bit of everything. Live life with your heart wide open. Be open to possibilities.’
I feel like so many people are missing out on so much, by living life with their eyes and minds firmly closed to the myriad possibilities…
Don’t you want to experience everything? Wouldn’t you like to sample a little of everything life has to offer?
This ‘new’ idea of gender fluidity? I get it. We are born with a certain set of genitalia (unless, of course, we are born with both or neither) but we are not defined by them… or are we?
I don’t think there is an answer to that question. It’s all terribly personal.
My only suggestion is to live and let live and to encourage people to go out into the world and experiment! Try things out. Try things on. Figure out your style. Find out who you are and who you want to be! It is only by trying and doing and looking and listening, by touching and feeling and living and loving that we learn who we are meant to be and discover our own truth.
Do stuff and see what happens. This is my mantra for a life well lived. Go on. I dare you…
A decent pair of climbing boots…
We strode out from Mamore Lodge
Father and daughter
She setting a measured, leisurely pace
He keeping time
Nursing a sore shoulder.
As the track inclined and the view opened out
Loch Leven hove into sight
An old trawler tied up indefinitely
To a wee jetty on the opposite bank
Below the road.
Our goal, “The Seat”
High above the loch.
Above the snowline.
We crunched on up the gravelly track
Stones became slush
Merrells soaked through
A cold rush around the toes
Slowly warming up to a cosy squelch
Until the next icy onslaught.
Aches and pains forgotten
We reached our destination
And with frozen fingers
Snapped a shot or two.
“Let’s press on to the loch” she urged
Stirred by the chill air
And the thrill of actually using her muscles
A city slicker now
With pointy boots and fancy coats
No suitable garb for such an expedition
Bar a pair of old trainers.
Press on they did
Until chilly Loch Eilde Mhor could be seen
Resting quietly among snowy ridges
An army mast piercing the lumbering grey sky.
We about-faced then
Eyes full of mountains and lochs
Observed silently by a stag
The sun on our faces
We retraced our snowy steps
Back to the lodge
Back to the crackling log fire
Hearts ablaze with Munro-bagging projects
A map of Scotland
A box of coloured pins
And a decent pair of climbing boots…
Kate M Reid
18th January 2007
So. I’ve been thinking…
All this hysteria over climate change and global warming… Is Greta Thunberg actually just a decoy? Is she being paid by the Government? Is she yet another fear-monger?
If you buy an electric car this year the Government will give you £3.5K towards it. My trusty old unleaded petrol car is still good for at least another ten years… (she’s only got 45K on the clock) is it all just a marketing strategy? Are they all just trying to boost the flagging economy? My car is German, by the way, thanks for asking. We stopped manufacturing whole vehicles in the UK several years ago…
It’s all a bit of a mess, isn’t it…?
And this Corona virus. Does anyone remember Asian Bird Flu? Or Ebola? I mean, it’s hardly the first time we’ve all been going to die of a global pandemic…
And the terrorists… and the forest fires and the tsunamis and the earthquakes…
I mean if we worried about everything we would never leave the house.
I didn’t for about six months in 2016. I watched the whole of Netflix and got Tesco to deliver and it was great. Society didn’t like it because I got quite fat and I became a drain rather than a useful cog, but I had a great time (once I stopped feeling guilty about it…).
What’s my point?
Sell your TV. Or at least only use it for films and box sets. Don’t watch the news whatever you do. ‘They’ want us to live in fear so that ‘they’ can control us. Don’t be an unwitting cog in their machine. Disconnect. Switch off. Think. Play an instrument. Do a jigsaw. No OK, don’t go that far.
But seriously, maybe consider yoga?
World Poetry Day 2019
|“Tell me, what is it you plan to do |
with your one wild and precious life?”
The sun is out, it’s suitably mild, the daffs are nodding in the breeze…
could it possibly be Spring?!
I have a little poem for you, from the collection, on this global day of words.
over bactrian dunes,
Wind riffles water,
tearing the tops off waves
like some invisible giant.
Sun. Wind. Rain. Hail.
Life flits :
a plover on the wing.
Buffeted ; bruised
but not broken.
Life is short ; go to the beach x
It’s me! I’m out of hibernation and raring to go. I even have a gig lined up but you can only come if you take all your clothes off. You think I’m joking. The lovely British Naturist Society are hosting an event at the Glenmorag in sunny Dunoon at which I shall be reading aloud. Pretty cool first literary gig, if you ask me.
I hope life is treating you well and that you are as excited about Spring as I am.
I re-discovered this poem today during my web wanderings and just wanted to share the loveliness and spread a little love.
As to my ‘regular Sunday blogs’ mentioned below, ahem, once in 2 years is still regular, right?
The opposite of a book festival
is not a book-burning,
it is indifference. Let them hear
us sing the difference. Love’s words
are louder, brighter than flames. Listen
I have watched Love’s sweat-earned words
plunge readers’ hands into
soft sweatpalmed lyrical hugs,
become part of an always us.
I have seen words introduce someone
to Love. Love is a work of art.
Novel. Novella. Epic. Poem. Story.
Love is an inveterate writer of letters,
emails and txts. I love Love, whose hair
is cut like a haiku, whose mind is epic
as a novel, whose hands are bright and
restless as a bookmark. I love Love.
Love is an us, Love shows us
life is an us. Listen, may this always
be the festival that loves
to make a difference. This festival
reminds us we belong with Love’s words
which, like village halls and ceilidh
places, are physical and inwardly
permanent parts of an us. Let us give
thanks to that which brought us to an us,
let us never forget that the opposite
of a book festival is not a book-burning,
it is indifference. Let us make a difference.
e = 0
It occurs to me, the more I read and learn, that the crux of life, the answer I have been searching for all along is that everything is nothing.
EVERYTHING is NOTHING.
Sorry for shouting, but it’s just such a difficult concept to grasp, like trying to hold onto a fish, you think you’ve got it then *sloop* it’s gone…
Everything is exactly the same as nothing.
It is a thought that is there in all the great literature, Goethe’s ‘Faust’, ‘Le Petit Prince’, Shakespeare, Burns, Tolkien (yes I am including him, the man’s a genius).
I finished Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ last night and in the utterly devastating final pages one phrase jumped out at me so that I had to read it over and over again:
‘The magic point where every idea and its opposite are equally true.’
Everything is nothing. Black is white. Love is hate. Life is death. Joy is despair.
I have been vaguely aware of this idea, like a black dot floating about on the periphery of my conscious mind for a very, very long time, but it is SUCH a difficult concept to grasp that it has taken me the 19 years since my first attempt at Goethe’s ‘Faust’ to fully assimilate and then to finally be able to articulate it in any meaningful way.
It’s in my book. I have captured it and written it down. A snapshot. ‘L’être (et le) néant’. A glimpse of this greater Truth. The ‘thing’ I have been searching for. The ‘thing’ we are ALL searching for, whether we are aware of it or not. The REASON. The WHY. The TRUTH. As a thought it is still like a slippery fish, like trying to catch a snowflake, you have it then *poof* it’s gone.
It’s too big. It’s too fragile. It’s too important. It’s much too beautiful.
How CAN everything possibly be nothing? How CAN black ever be white? It’s not possible…
But joy can be despair. Life can be death. It is, every day. Love can most definitely be hate.
There is great truth in this insight, but it requires further exploration.
Donna Tartt concludes:
‘I’m hoping there’s some larger truth about suffering here – or at least my understanding of it – although I’ve come to realize (sic) that the only truths that matter to me are the ones I don’t, and can’t, understand.’
The fairy dust has settled…
I’m so excited to have a REAL website back up; I haven’t used WordPress since the good old Midden days and it feels great to have a proper platform to stand on again!
I’m going to try to give you an update every Sunday (my day of rest) a wee catch up on what’s going on in the world of Kate.
I went to church this morning (weird, I know) and really enjoyed sitting in communal silence with a bunch of pleasant strangers listening to a brass band, the glorious sound of a proper organ and singing some of my favourite carols. Even just the bells ringing at 10am on a sunny Sunday morning lifted my spirits and my heart.
It took me back to the year I spent in Germany living in the Manse of Cadolzburg Castle where the bells tolled every quarter hour of my existence… a sound I grew to find strangely comforting, once I got used to the aural intrusion.
I’m actually supposed to be in Germany at the moment but something held me here in Scotland, so I am happily camped out on the sofa at The Coach House (wearing dad’s yeti-suit as it is fricking freezeballs) packaging up pre-orders and playing with Mr Zig, who, we have recently discovered, HATES the snow! SUCH a big jessie.
Over half of the first edition has already gone out to various locations around the globe, the furthest afield so far is to Kari in California. It feels great to be free of all the pain that went into those poems. Each book I post leaves me feeling a little lighter. Ute, Kevin, Gordon, Duncan, Eddie and Pam, thank you for helping me pull it all together – I hope your copies have landed on your doormats!
I must also thank Dòl Eoin and Grant for the stunning cinematography and digital wizardry involved in promoting a project like this. It has been such a joy working with such talented folk. MORE!!!
I’m a bit of a wordy birdy so I will call a halt here, but please keep popping back as Dòl and I have some more visual treats in store for you…
Much love, stay cosy,
You found me!
Welcome to the site.
This page will feature regular updates with new videos by Dòl Eoin, poetry commentary and more.
There will be plenty to see and hear so keep coming back!