View from Zombie City

It’s a beautifully soft, sunny Friday afternoon. Myself and the Malshis are out for walk. We pause for a mindful moment. Innocently they snuffle among the dazzling white crocuses tails wagging. As happy and free as any living creature can be. For a moment I feel bathed in a warming sunshine, the first I’ve felt since November last. For a minute things feel normal. and light. Remember normal?

Remember a few short weeks ago complaining of packed buses and trains?

Remember hopping off the 39 A on Inns Quay- only carried along with the tide of humanity, feeling happy to be part of the hustle of the world?

Remember tripping down the steps of the office with abandon, for a coffee grab-at break time, circling the quays, pausing for a little moment on the Ha’Penny Bridge to watch the swans and pools of light?

Remember casually without a second thought organising coffee dates and lunch dates, nights out with the girls at the Market Bar and afternoon pints with the mates in rain slicked Dublin?

Remember bumping into old friends, hugging and kissing-remember for the love of God-handshakes.

All it took was a few short weeks for it all to change.

I shouldn’t have started playing with words or allowed a word in, yet again. Back a few weeks ago I was joking with a few friends about the word discombobulation. Somebody said I should try and work it into a blog post. You know that word? Almost musical isn’t it? It perfectly describes a feeling of being off balance. Sometimes happens me and I suspect you too. Often for inexplicable reasons. But how now dear readers, we live in very discombobulating times. And what is striking how very global the reach of this thing is. A shared human experience, for better or worse.

There has been a lot of discussion about how to manage mental health during this crisis. And I can hear a lot of people describing something which is new to them-the feelings of anxiety. I suffer from anxiety anyway on and off-which I’ve spoken about in other posts-so a feeling of an episodic sense of impending doom is pretty normal to me. I’ve accepted it as part of the way my mind works-so strangely I am adapting well to the crisis apart from one or two choking heart jumpers as I call them.

If these feelings are new to you-I can tell you what works for me if it helps. For me the number one strategy is to be out in nature -it can be as simple as a walk. Like a Mayo man who will never refuse a cup of tea, my dogs Harley and Minnie will never refuse a walk. And as these are strange times I’ve been practising on said walks a loving kindness meditation-this is a principle of Buddhism and it works. Simple as smiling at people you pass-you won’t meet many, and virtually all smiled or waved back, this morning. I’ve noticed that strangers are talking to each other more too.

Write stuff out if it is your thing. Get your hobbies and interests on track again. Read. I’m occupying the worried part of my brain by learning Spanish-it really helps distract me and to focus.

I wrote this post https://viewfromzanymountain.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/the-ache-and-the-void-of-loneliness/ a few weeks ago and in a way it frightens me. Loneliness was the word that stalked me back then. How very prescient, because this could severely become an issue for many people. And also I sort of talked about the fact that social media can be occupied by lonely people. How we need our social media communities and online friends now!

But yet out of all of this, good things have happened. Feeds and neighbourhood chat groups are filled with offers of help, to pick up food, clear gardens, check in with a phone call. Office workers, many working from home for the first time in their lives (including me) are checking in with encouragement, Spotify suggestions and tips. I’ve even got a new  dedicated writing corner as result-it usually was the corner of the battered leather sofa. People are having great craic online-some of you are mad wild you know, it’s great!

On Patrick’s Day , the Irish not known to ever let an opportunity to use their imagination or to have the craic, came up with ingenious ways to celebrate. There was the emotional one piper man parade in Limerick, the Dubs (mad as ever) doing a socially distant skit parade with St. Patrick banishing the virus; the neighbours out in their front gardens having a beer and playing their trad instruments and laughing raucously

You know I spent an eerie day in Dublin City Centre earlier in the week as I had to collect some work. I went in on an empty bus, wandered a deserted Temple Bar. I felt curious void  and hollowness  all day. On my return home I picked up a fluttering piece of paper in the garden. And then I noticed it-a simple flowering bud on the Golden Gage tree. A marvel of nature. And a thought struck me. Humanity, we’re going to be alright. Eventually.

Til next time dear readers.

Stay safe and do check in on the View from Zany Mountain FB page from time to time-where I post little snippets on day to day living and creating. Link to the right of the front page of blog.

Love as ever, Kat xx

Sunshine and Shade on Zany Mountain

Sometimes I hate this blog with all my heart. It has sent me so many people and thoughts and ideas, not to mention beautiful art, writing and songs. I almost feel I can never express enough gratitude for it all; I feel guilty- it’s overwhelming. So for anyone who has ever sent me anything-from the one word to the stories and essay and songs, I love and hate you in equal measure- I wonder am I too thin skinned, aware, emotional for it all. Some of you are so very talented it sends me diving for the corner-trying to catch my breath. How is there so much untapped talent out there? How????

Sometimes I love this blog with all my heart. I love it’s expansive skies, twists and turns, it’s open heart. The people and places. Sometimes I mavel as to where it has brought me and how it has brought me here. I love the fact there is a space called Zany Mountain that is mine and yours too dear readers. I’m certainly never going to stop writing here, and that’s a promise.

So what is all this whataboutery about you may ask? I blame Tommy Tiernan. Firmly. I love Tommy-I have always considered him a peer. And I’m very interested in what my ole Generation X peers have to say. He sizes up people, and crucially listens -he is super talented in fact.-both as a comic, writer and interviewer. Last weekend he interviewed uber confident singer Roisin Murphy, He announced in the middle of this interview as a performer, he has doubts. I sat bolt upright in the chair, spilled my wine. What??????? Tommy has doubts? It’s not possible in this world!

And then I remembered some messages I got on the mountain. How they ask can you write so confidently and openly about topics like you do? How can you write with all that heart, yet doubt yourself?

I need to be honest with you here readers. Sometimes I write and share stuff and instantly regret pressing send. Sometimes my heart beats out of my chest, wondering who is going to read the posts and what are they going to think of me. Sometimes I want to run for cover and cower in the corner after publishing-with nobody talking to me. Ever again.

And other times it feels light, and right and golden. You see in every creative journey there is this dichotomy. The balance between honesty and pretence because to create properly, it takes damn courage. Half the time it feels like stepping off a cliff. Sorry, let’s revise that most of the time it feels like you are jumping off a cliff. You are opening yourself up. Exposing yourself to the world. And it’s bloody hard. Under my sometimes apparent shining surface there is a shadow-look closely at my posts and you will see.

But-if it’s what you are meant to do, it’s what you are meant to do. And here is my advice-understand and accept your duality. Embrace it-let the tension simmer in your blood. It will make everything you create even better. I am as a person, both introvert and extrovert-both light and shade. So are all of you. Forget what others say -it’s your heart beating and your journey. Don’t expect it to be easy-but do expect it to be one of the most meaningful paths you’ll ever take

And as I’m about to publish I am now diving into the corner, changing my identity, covering my ears, running for the hills.

Wishing you courage dear friends

All my love as always.

Kat

Everything Ordinary is Blue

I couldn’t remember where it really began, but that’s not strictly true. I didn’t want to remember where it all began. Until I wrote this post here – The Past is a Foreign Country.  After writing this post I realised there is a part two or perhaps maybe the prequel to this story.  So I need to honour it further, here.

It started when somebody-a friend I like to have a laugh with-casually passed a remark that I seemed to be carrying a weight on my shoulders. My face burned-I thought I had become adept at hiding the heaviness I had been feeling. And curiously it was like that. I had been feeling an exhaustion, so deep I couldn’t name it. The only thing I knew is that it had become normal. My head felt strangely blocked  as if my thoughts were seized. Sometimes I would shake my head and the thoughts would fall like confetti, only to lodge below my eyes in a painful throb.

Saturday mornings were the worst -I couldn’t move out of bed. until way past noon. Not only was I recovering from the week, but I felt a strange overwhelm at the thought of the day ahead. It was a curious  day of the week to feel such a thing. But I supect a lot of that was rooted in my dead heaviness and knowledge that I wasn’t living my best life . I was living life, but not my best life. And the resting did me no good anyway, I used to experience waves of adrenaline so vivid it catches my lungs to even think of them now. I’d cling to my pillow like a life raft to make them stop. I now understand those to be anxiety surges and I was fighting for my life, my very breath  every time one struck.

And then things took a further step and I can pinpoint exactly where. I was in Ceann Sibeal in Dingle on holidays. The weather was beautiful, stunning but  I was driven cowed indoors into the shadows.  A curious shakiness had descended. I rattled all over. One day I couldn’t put on my pendent, my hands shook so badly. I looked in the mirror and begged myself to tell me what was happening. I could find no answer. Food had also started to taste like cardboard.  How was it in my beautiful place, my safe place, my soul  place, was I feeling like this?  How was I unable to engage with my puzzled child who only wanted to play a game of catch in the sunshine with her toy dolphin? In Ceann Sibeal where the air is light and  golden-it seemed heavy and oppressive. The very rocks, coves and islands-forbidding and sinister.

But then it got even worse. I got numb. Me, an empath, a senstive person, an open person.  I experienced a numb joylessness  that I might as well have been smothered. I experienced no feelings at all. The colour of everything became flat blue.

I isolated myself when I could. And the worry of it all is I existed as many people do. It’s a dangerous space to find yourself in. I painted on a smile. I clocked in. Nodded at all the right words, mopped the floors, filled the washing machine. I couldn’t write a word though.

And one day a friend took me aside and whispered to me me-“you’re not right, I’m begging you to do something, anything to get back to yourself, you used  to laugh, like” And finally the floodgates opened and  I cried and cried  for days’ week.

But I straightened myself up and took a few steps. I went to talk it out with a therapist. I took the meds. I went on a mindfulness course and  learned to look around at everything again. I started to write-everything and anything. And slowly my thoughts lightened and unclicked. I started  to go on long walks by myself-listening to classical music as I had started to find it so exquisite. Eventually one day some said to me you can’t unsee what you have seen in a coffee shop in Dublin and I surrendered to all of that.

One day I was walking and somebody sent me a really stupid joke. And I stopped in my tracks and roared laughing. Suddenly I went oh-there it is the -joy, the lightening was back.

I don’t  know why the descent happened but I was under very severe pressure at the time. The reasons really don’t matter. And I know that a lot of you will understand  this because you’ve told me your story. I’ve met you . And you’ve been open and generous in that space, so here is my story as a thank you back.

If any of this resonates with you. Take heart. Take steps. And I promise if you do you’ll get up off the floor. You’ll be pushing forward.  You’ll start to see again, dappled hearts in the Liffey and the crystal full moon. You’ll  have the craic and giggles over afternoon pints in some old man’s pub in Dublin in the rain. You’ll chase your silly old dog who still thinks he is a puppy to your favourite hip hop tunes  and there will be nothing there but that singular moment.

Finally I’d like to thank the people who encouraged resistant  me to write this post. I’ve tucked you all into my heart forever in my gratitiude. Even the one who told me in an exasperated fashion  to “just write the fucking, blog post” Especially you.

Joy to all

Kat x

 

The Intovert/Extrovert Paradigm

Where are you on this spectrum? I suspect none of you had to figure it out until now. I’m going to be the one rocking in the corner in a while folks . Actually I am the one in the corner rocking away., currently. I can’t bear it lads. I’m a people person-I derive not an ounce of energy from  being at home. I can actually feel my life blood drain away as I write,

I get my energy and sparks from other people-double down it from spending time with other creative people. In the company of other creative people things develop and form at an unrivalled pace.

And you know what I miss most of all? Tiny everyday interactions. I miss the woman who crosses my path every morning at 7.30 am  with that cute Yorkshire Terrier called Milly . I miss Davy up at the Hartstown 39 a bus stop-no idea where he works but we’ve been trading greetings for nigh on 10 years. Damn I even miss the security guard in work. and his ready smile and warm greeting

So to counter balance all of this and with the deep, endless  desire to keep writing and creating-View From Zany Mountain is going to enter the audio visual space. I’m terrified and almost frozen with fear. But hey-nothing creative happens without a bit of fear, right?

Tune in and be gentle-

All my love

K

Blocked, Locked down (and Mad Irish Women)

These are serious times. Exceptionally serious. You know it is serious if the Irish try to cover things up with humour. And the craic has been flying the last few days; yet underneath our fatal flaw remains- worry. It’s in the eyes-the private messages For all the jokes and craic and fun we are worried. But there is one thing we have as Irish people-the capacity to share. Here is the evolution of the Irish attitude to just about anything serious. We have a “be grand ” attitude initially, followed by the craic, followed by anxiety, followed by extreme worry, followed by let’s get through this-together. It makes for a rollercoaster of a ride but in a way a perfect trajectory.

Out of every joke and laugh lies our shadow side. And here is what I am learning as this all unfolds-it’s something beautiful- Irish people care about their familes and friends. They care about older people. They care about their young. They send messages of support to their peers. There is a sense of-let’s talk about this. There are messages on FB that go like this-“if I am well I can deliver the shopping to your door-let me know”

We are in partial lockdown here right now. I am still working in central Dublin. It’s very surreal-Dublin is a funny city-to be so vibrant as to be so alive-yet to be such small a city centre as to be almost a village. To see it emptied out this week was the strangest thing, but yet it reminded me of the Dublin I first met 20 years ago., quieter, more laid back.

The Irish soul will find things very tough in the next few weeks. It is not natural for us to practice social distance; to not gather, to not hug, talk or share.

But I have faith. I have faith in the Irish capacity for fun, for resiliance. I have faith in the support and kindness, the understanding. And I’ll bet my creative friends are going to to come up with some treasures in the next few weeks.

And if it all goes totally pear shaped, listen to the mad Irish women in your life. I am not joking- they are the ones Dad dancing to Niall Horan in the living toom, discussing the merits of Jude Law, promising to meet up for sessions when all this is over, and keeping that rickety old show on the road- even if those damn wheels come off

This post is dedicated to mad, yet wonderful Irish women.

Til next time

I’m writing my way through the lockdown-how about you?

Way to Commute the Zany Way…A Dublin Story.

Sometimes I need to insert -what is  referred to in change management-a little bit of a disruption.  Up here on the mountain-this is kind of reverse disruption-where I get out of soul baring and write about that other side of life-mundanity. And believe or not there is wonder in mundanity, the ordinary, the every day.

Where I grew up, there was no such thing as a commute. Limerick Mountain Village. 750 citizens, at a push.  I basically hopped over a ditch- meandered down Church Street and ended up  in school. Mam taught also in local school and Dad, well he had a shop so his commute involved actually going downstairs.  But yet- the 7.10 am bus used to stop outside my bedroom window (we were townies-Main Street)  And I would think -oh it’s dawn-how early and send  those hardworking souls boarding the bus to Limerick city good intentions-no mean feat, back then.

Fast forward a few years (ok a good few years) and I never realised how dawn would feature so strongly in my week.  And even though I’m mentally not the most super happiest first thing in the morning-I really do love the freshness of a new day.  Venus in December, twinkling over the heart shaped tree at my bus stop. Morning greetings with neighbours, all in it together. The red fiery dawns of February-the sun rising off the Liffey as you cross  O’Donovan Rossa Bridge in April  to hit the clock.  Coffee grab at Cost Cutter because it just makes life a bit perkier.

Commuting is discussed among office workers in Dublin like no tomorrow. How was it today? What route did you take?  And in a way it’s no mean feat-Dublin is at it’s heart a medieval city with a massive river running through it and everything funnels in from the suburbs.  That said-58% of us commuted via public transport (in 2018) and it’s going to get  even bigger.

So here are my tips for commuting and making the best of commuting in Dublin. The first of these is  to accept. Accept that auld commute. You won’t feel like it many days  but if you want a house and garden with trees and a bit of country or coastal air-you’ll have a commute. Much as I love Dublin city-I need to gasp some air out of it.

Know your routes and what’s there-you need to be efficient. Google Map how long your route is-do you have to walk? How long? Train or bus? Best bus route? Distance from bus stop or station?

Leap Cards-exceptionally boring piece of advice, but if visiting-get a Leap Card. This is the smart travel card that works for trains, buses and tram. If hustling and working in town-get a Taxsaver card. Your company will sort it. Saves you money and also that other job- having to top the thing up. It will come automatically out of your salary too before tax.

And now for some ettiquette-sorry I’m giggling here; I don’t care what nationality you are from, but Irish people do not -underline, italics, puts in bold,  SHOUTS -talk to people on the bus of a morning commute.  Obviously  if you meet someone you know-that’s fine but as a rule-see the above rule. and obey it!!! Irish people are warm and friendly except for  when it comes to mornings.  Evenings are a different matter-chat away then. if you like-but only if invited, you know someone and it flows!

It is acceptable to sleep on the bus-I’m a bus sleeper-I have my best sleeps courtesy of Dublin bus.  Strangers do not generally chat to each other-but I’m always happy to wade in with advice on directions and sometimes an auld chat may start, so go for it-it’s Dublin-conversation can meander, warmly and loosely and from nowhere.

And finally say hello to your bus driver and your commuting buddies now and then. Give ’em an auld nod-you know the people who are at the same stop with you or who  are crossing the bridge the same time as you.  I have a few people  who I give an auld wave and hello to. No idea who half of them are, but they have being crossing my path for years and why ever not-human connection in the middle of mundanity and our fast paced life-if I can contribute in any small way to it-I’ll do it.

Finally-ALWAYS thank the bus driver.  You’ve been warned. You’re in Dublin after all

 

Til next time-back to soul baring. I’ve a post I’ve been avoiding writing-so wish me luck.

Love as always,

Kat

 

 

The Ache and the Void of Loneliness

I hate when a word stalks me and forces me to write about it. This post is a little nore nihilistic and existential than my normal style.  But the word loneliness is  driven into my head and I keep seeing it in neon lights and in the experience of friends everywhere.

So what does your loneliness look like,

dear fellow human? Home sickness for a Main Street in County Limerick? Edge of the crowd of  the popular gang in work?  Socially awkward? Longing for who you can’t have-at the same time  longing for who you do have?  Longing in general? Heavy online relationship only?

So many questions  and so many anwers. And where does your loneliness feel? Back of the neck? Grooves of your heart? Your solar plexus?

And what do you fill that particular lonely void with? Sex? alcohol? drugs? shoes? So many questions.

Let me be honest so we can start the discussion.  I sometimes wake up feeling hollow. Hollow and longing for County Limerick. For my family. For mountains. For siblings. For even more love and better places.   I am am an active person. It does not stop me feeling on the edge of groups or struck down by sudden shyness. It does not stop me – the very definition of warmth  and friendliness, feeling the most isolated and alone person in the world. My loneliness resides in the solar plexus-bad feelings, good feelings-all there in the gut.  The lone wolf-ever present . Yours might reside elsewhere. But it’s there in all of us-guaranteed.

And you know what-it is ok. We need to walk with our shyness and loneliness. I’ve mixed feelings about social media-on one hand it’s made me incredibly connected-I’m a member of a a creative group and I can honestly say-I feel a connection with them that is so strong and natural-it’s like we have been reincarnated.  On the other hand I’ve met the loneliest souls in that  social media space.  But yes, we  all do reside in the lonely space, now and then.  The hollow space. The place where the gap in the heart resides.  And sometimes we need to reside in this space-alone-for in this space the stories, the honesty, the friendships, the true stories  emerge. And that ache, makes it somehow perfect.

Just me?

Dedicated to lonely souls, everywhere.