A Month Offline.

Two weeks ago it came to me. Sat in a sunny cafe window, licking melting flapjack from my fingers and inhaling the cardamon in my tea. I reached for my phone and mindlessly scrolled through instagram. Moments before I had been immersed with ink on paper. I was getting somewhere good. I was feeling excited. It all got too much. I stopped and distracted myself. After a few seconds it dawned on me. CHALLENGE! ADVENTURE! Time for a month offline. The below writing is what spilled out when I got home that evening. In the spirit of allowing words, exploration, self to flow and not be stunted I am posting as it is. As I am. Bare. Open. Ready to listen and see what happens. 

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The first moment I open my laptop after deciding to give up the internet for a month i google “giving up the internet for a month”. After perusing the list of hits and taking a quick read of a Guardian article I decide to cut that dead. Close window. Open new Pages document to begin to write this down. Shit. I am officially all i-Lifed up to the i-Balls and have just shouted at my laptop for spellchecking ILIFED (ah ha, it doesn’t do it in capitals – fuck you Apple).

I am weary. It’s been a long day. This isn’t me loosing my will to live and donning a tinfoil hat. I simply need a challenge. An adventure. But one that isn’t about More! Action! Crazy! Information! Give! It! To! Me!, or something with less exclamation marks, but is about less information. More focus. More connection. Simply slowing the fuck down and allowing my magpie mind a chance to catch up with itself. To work on the blossoming projects I am gently stoking and not run off, with the click of a button, to a distraction, to follow a glimmer of a fresh idea, to stick some stuff up on instagram or twitter or Facebook or stare at iPlayer until something looks appealing to while away an hour watching.

I am a writer. An artist. A sensitive, creative human being. And I am in a fledgling stage of cracking open the shell I have been squirrelling away in (sorry to mix animals… As I said, it’s been a long day) for the last 30 years (that is all of my life, by the way) and finding my true voice. 12 months ago I took a leap of pure blind faith into my practice and I haven’t looked back.  I have acquired a stack of qualifications and good jobs in my life, but nothing seemed to scratch the itch. The itch I couldn’t quite name for so long. Now, with the wonders of hindsight, a fantastic core process psychotherapist and a brilliant mentor I am beginning to see that I have had the answer all along. I just wasn’t wasn’t listening right. I have spent my whole life thinking that I was odd. Odd in a bad way. The world has felt too much for me on numerous occasions.

I have felt bamboozled and overwhelmed by the whole thing. My experience of the world, my misunderstanding of my sensitivity, my emotionality led me to believe I was mentally unwell, broken, unhinged. For some time I think I probably was. But man did I know how to hide it. Most of all from myself. I have been a master of disguise, a chameleon, a fractured girl and woman of many faces who constantly looked outward for validation, reassurance and to be told where to step next. I have been in the long, heart wrenching, renewing and quite simply word defying process of self discovery (a wanKy word, perhaps – bloody spellcheck again – I know, but kinda bang on the nail) and I am finally listening. I don’t quite know what has clicked, re-railed or shifted direction but it has now gotten to the point when I quite simply cannot put this shit off anymore. This is where the turning off the internet for a month comes in. As is the natural state of all things yin and yang, or something, along with this new found sense of  FUCK YEAH comes a great big clanging ARRRGGGHHHH HOLY SHIT in response. The deep fear of doing something new. Of standing strong in myself and spewing (now that was meant to say speaking but is a mis-typed autocorrect I will leave) my truth. Of really listening to my needs, to the delicate dance of self-caring as a sensitive woman. Of losing my humour, or rather my ability to use humour as a means of emotional avoidance, should I stand in true alignment with my deeply raw, juicy self. I want to shed the defences I have built around me and live true.

The fearful, critical voice in my brain imagines this Kathryn to be a bit shouty, a bit whingy, a bit boring… but I see you voice for what you are. You served me well when I wasn’t strong enough to stand on my own. You did your best to keep me safe. But this Kathryn that is being built from the inside out knows that should any shouting or whinging occur it will be done with loving awareness. Yeah, ok… I’ve set the bar a bit high there. To rephrase and clarify, I am finally recognising that is just ok to be human. The ball of wool that sat heavy and tightly tangled within me for so many years is loosening and I can start to see the strands. There’s loads more space in there now and that arsey looking cat in my head has stopped nastily playing with it so much. I am standing on the threshold of gaining a great deal, it is the getting over the welcome mat – and a lovely one it is too – that is proving tricky.

There will always be distractions, fear, self doubt and uncertainty, but it my time to sit with this and get some discipline in focusing on my work.  My work is my life, my story, my communication to the world and right now it needs some real affection. 

If you are still reading this, well done. You may think this is all a bit melodramatic for a month off the internet! Interesting thing – that really doesn’t bother me! This is a break through. This stream of words has come out as a freely written whole and the trusting of this, of my experience, of not self-editing so much is completely what I am talking about. Also, I am highly aware that if you are still reading you may actually be quite engaged, and that’s good, and with the powers of the internet and information consumption those who aren’t that arsed will be off looking at cats on youtube or reading the news.

So here it is… Who knows what will come out of this. I am reluctant to state what I am working on here, so as to put in writing something I will then be accountable to show in some way at the end of the month. This is a pressure I don’t think I need and this, right now, would be done out of a LOOK AT MEEEEEE itch. The fine line between wanting to ‘be seen’ and wanting to ‘be seen to be something’. No more like buttons. No more retweets. No more mindless scrolling and multiple-tabs opened with too.many.things.to.absorb.

Here’s to asking someone a question if I don’t know something.

Going to library if I need to know something that happens to be in a book. 

Writing.

Listening.

Feeling my way. 

Talking.

Reading.

Listening to music… Without online mix/radio streaming. Erm…

Cooking.

Making films – if I can work out how to teach myself the things I need to learn without youtube tutorials. Errrrm…. Software manuals?!

Listening even more.

Recording sounds. 

Watching films.

Walking.

Looking.

A bit more writing.

Yeah… ok, this list is getting pretty smug and shmultzy, and if it was written in a nice font it would be on numerous candy coloured Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds.

That is it. The end.

Thank you for reading.

 

Lost & Found

I am very proud to present ‘Lost & Found’ the film collaboration debut from Jo Keeling  and myself.

As part of the brilliant Ffotogallery‘s  ‘Introduction to Digital Video’ course that Jo embarked upon in September, a short film was to be made. I was very excited when she came to me with the idea of making the focus our love for collecting.

To spend some time reflecting on how collecting has been a part of my  life was enlightening and energising and this made the basis for the script. Jo’s vibrant storyboard and directing brought this to life and it was such a blast to shoot!

I have been so inspired by Jo and our collaboration that I am due to start the course myself in a couple of weeks… I may stay behind the camera from now on!

A great creative start to 2014!

Lost & Found from Jo Keeling on Vimeo.

Apologies for the lack of embedding. Some Vimeo issue. Just click on link.

Not So Smart Phone

rain lashing on

wind whipped black

umbrella, barely

sheltering

us huddled

together

eyes fixed on

stark glow

in hand

gently, then more

aggressively, finger

punching at

tiny piece of

screen to

transport

us where

we need to be.

train times

halted

network

issue.

primate cooing

at fire

in wintery

glow, distracts

from fact

we could have

walked

there

by now

 

Traces

MJJ Hand written inscription

 

Soil Mechanics in Foundation Engineering: Volume Two – Theory and Practice. Z. Wilun and K Starzewski. 1975. Surrey University Press

Within the pages of old  books I find connection.  A space to rest. A space to enquire. I squirrel away plastic covered tomes from storage boxes. The neat handwriting of my late father. 1976. Aged 29. The same age I am now. November. The month I begin this project. Sensitive souls. Time spent alone. Alone or lonely? Thoughts that escalated and envelope. “You’re so like your father.” Meaning being made. Relationship developing. Understanding flowing. No absolute truths. No answers. I chose my perspective. I feel. I walk, I draw, I write, I think. You are with me. You are part of me. I create to express. To celebrate and validate the sensitive nature we share. I root my feet in the soil, to make stronger foundations. Traces of existence, activity, self, other.  Relinquish control.

 

Embracing Being Alone.

Good afternoon.

Where on earth has December come from?!  Term 1 at LB HQ has come to a close, as of yesterday and now I let out a long, relaxing breath.  It has been amazing.  Exhausting, head spin inducing and totally brilliant!

There is nothing quite like having Roadrunner legs and to remind you the importance of slowing yourself down.. and hopefully not with a well positioned anvil a-la Wiley Coyote.  I have been practising something rather unusual for me this last few months: resting.  This does not come naturally, and I find it rather tricky not doing something that is useful/fun/stimulating/in company/productive in some way or other.  However, through lessons of hitting brick walls and bouncing onto my backside I am beginning to more and more see the value in making time to rest and unwind regularly, even daily (!?) so as to keep a myself well.

This often involves being alone.  Wow, how tricky that one is, and I don’t think I’m alone (ironically!) in feeling this.  However, through being alone and allowing my true self to be seen, heard, felt and loved by me (oh the novelty!) the bits of life that involve other people are beginning to take on a richness and authenticity that is at the same time refreshing and wonderful as well as grounding and honest.  The exquisite sumptuousness that is coming from seemingly just doing nothing is a real adventure that I am merely in the beginning steps of.

In other news, and in the name of balance and creative nourishment, I am off for tea with the lovely Jo from Pretty Nostalgic later on to talk all things vintage, green, British and writing!  Followed by a day of Poetry writing at Bristol Folk House tomorrow.  I am so very grateful to have the space opening up, once I have calmed down, to find the time and energy to pursue what is really important to me.  Needless to say I will be spending this evening alone in my beautiful haven at home making Christmas presents and recharging.