Saturday, January 4, 2020

One Word 2020

My favourite post of the year. The time when I get to reflect on the previous 12 months and look forward to the next 12. This year seems to have extra weight as it as it is the start of the new decade. Less a clean page and more of a brand new notebook. In 10 years time I'll be 56. My kids will be 25, 23 and 21. Adults. This decade will be one of great change. Best to set the right foundations for what is to come.

The Early Years

My One Word choices over the years have been Fresh, Depth, Goals, Mind. I missed last year but perhaps it should have been Dreams. 2019 saw me round off the decade by publishing a book and running a marathon. Two things I have been dreaming of since I was a little girl.  The last 10 years have seen me move house, move countries, move back, get a job, get another job, say goodbye to my dad, raise 3 kids, go through a separation, do several triathlons, fall in love, travel and so much more. Ten years is a long time. The highs and lows are inescapable - but that life, and the older you get the more you realise that that is what makes people so interesting. It's what gives us depth.

The early years of this decade were filled with the demands of three young children. The later years saw me reclaim some of Me. So much to do so little time! Perhaps that's why I chased those goals and dreams with such focus and determination. But with so many of my life goals and self work done over these past few years, it's time for the focus to swing again.

My One Word for 2020 is SLOW.

I want this decade to be one of soft slowness. To press pause before it's too late. I want it to be filled with family and memories and calm. This year I'm going to focus on building a happy home, giving the children the support they need and making sure I don't get to the end of their childhood with a trophy cabinet of accomplishments for myself and cobwebs of regret.

To start I'm going to force (I mean encourage...) the kids to sit down and write a family manifesto with me. I'm also hoping to put some time and money into doing up the house a bit - if my Airbnb weekends away have taught me anything it's the importance of our surroundings - so guilt be gone. Baking and Books are also high on the agenda. As are family meal times, family movies and wider family gatherings. Also - decluttering. Does it ever end?

To quote Joni Mitchel "Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone...". So sorry kids, time to spend some time with mama. I'm going to appreciate what I have before you all disappear on me. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Life Lessons – Big Ideas For Better Living

I've written about my own life lessons here before - back in 2013 I listed them as - 
1. Money is not important (when you have it)
2. Laugh like you mean it
3. Engage with your kids
4. Do the hippie shake and get in touch with your inner self 
5. Make art

A few years older and wiser I'd add some other major lessons to that list now, such as - 

6. Seemingly impossible goals can be achieved when you take consistent small steps forward each day
7. Sometimes the scariest thing is the one that will bring you the most joy
8. The drinks industry sold us a lie
9. Nothing is more important than the health of you and your loved ones
10. Your mess becomes your message
11. Second chances do exist (and you appreciate them all the more).
12. Sea swimming cures all moods
13. Play the long game

The older I get the more intrigued I am by the mind, our thoughts and the reality we create for ourselves - so the brand new 'thought festival' from The Sunday Times is right up my street. 
They are going to be presenting a never-before-seen take on wellbeing. 

Melissa Hemsley

"Bestselling authors and world-class thinkers combine under one roof for an insight-fuelled weekend of talks and debates, as Life Lessons shares big – but practical – ideas for living better. Boasting thought leaders such as Bill Bryson, Derren Brown, Richard Dawkins, Marie Forleo, Ruby Wax and Alain de Botton, the festival will see influential figures share their unique life lessons for a happier, healthier and more inspired life."

Marie Forleo

Richard Dawkins

The weekend features over 40 talks from more than 80 speakers, along with an abundance of mindful activities including yoga, meditation, sound therapy, crafting and more. Designed with a structure that will allow guests to not only learn from experts but others around them, with taster sessions to explore new skills, and examine their career potential Life Lessons is a chance for attendees to design a better future for themselves.
Visitors will build their own bespoke programme from topics such as nutrition, health, sustainable living, business, society and psychology. The festival will tackle questions both big and small, from whether it’s possible to design a perfect society, to which foods are beneficial for both humans and the planet.

Bill Bryson

You can join the mailing list with a 48 hour pre-sale for all sign ups from TODAY the 29th November and general release going on sale on the 1st December. Ticket packages will include different tiers for desired talks over the two days.
Visit for more details, the full list of speakers, and to pre-register for tickets. 

See you there!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

How to overcome marathon fears

How do you overcome marathon fears? Good question.

October has been tough. The fear of the marathon is very real and I've been struggling to focus on any of the positives. My head is filled with worst case scenarios -waking me at night and giving me adrenaline filled palpitations during the day.  What if it rains heavily? What if I get cramps? What if I hit the wall? What if I get stuck behind 22,000 other runners? What if I don't make it to the finish line? What if, what if, what if...

So, in a bid to remind myself of some of the good stuff, I'm doing what I always do in these situations - writing it down. 

So, how to overcome marathon fears? Remember that...

1. I actually like running. 
I need to remind myself of this fact. The 6am rises on cold, dark mornings have almost knocked it out of me. 3 miles out, 3 miles back, up that godforsaken hill day after day after day has left little love left. But those weekend runs along the seafront or taking on a new trail that I've never done before - that's where it's at. The space and time and endorphins and energy that I get from running are all good. I just need to remember that. 

2. I've done the training.
I couldn't be more prepared than I am now. I've put in so many months of training, following the plan to the letter. Hundreds of miles clocked up. Three 20 mile sessions and countless other 'long' runs. I'm as ready as I will ever be. 

3. I'm lucky 
I have no injuries, no coughs or colds. 

4. Visualisation
I've been mentally visualising myself running over that finishing line. Whether it's 4 hours, 5 hours or 7 hours - I will get myself over that line one way or another. And I'll still have done a marathon. 

5. Support
I've had incredible support over the past few months. So many messages of advice and positivity. Not to mention the incredible donations I've received to the charity I'm running for. I couldn't be more thrilled and humbled. Thanks to every one of you. I'll be picturing your hands on my back pushing me along at the tough points. 

Ok that's all I've got.  Hopefully it's enough. We'll see in about 3 days time...

I'm running the Dublin Marathon on Sunday 27th October 2019. If you'd like to support me and help the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People in Dublin - you can donate here

Friday, October 4, 2019

To Stephen's Mother

I'm a mother too.
Three children

It's a tough gig sometimes
The heart bursting love of kissing their silent downy cheeks at night
To the overwhelming guilt of a bad day they didn't deserve
Or maybe they did
I question myself daily.

I worry about who they will grow up to be
Have I done enough.
Will they be kind, creative, compassionate
Or cynical and cross
Or maybe a little bit of everything
Like the rest of us. 

I watched your son last night
Before he took to the stage at his own gig
He sat in the bar with friends
Nervous but appreciative. 

A sudden interruption marched up to their table
Young man
I watched your son speak to him with grace and kindness
And saw his father's tired embarrassment turn to gratitude and pride.
A sense of relief.

Later I watched as your son picked that young man out in the crowd,
Name checked him from the stage 

Eye to eye
True connection. 

I worry about who my children will grow up to be
Will they be kind, creative, compassionate
Have I done enough

He calls you The Gardener
But he is the greatest thing you have ever grown. 

Stephen James Smith is a spoken word poet from Dublin and is currently touring Ireland and the UK. More info and tickets available here:

His poem The Gardener made me weep.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Finding Single Parent Resources and Friendship

It's strange when you get thrown into a world you haven't inhabited before. You're suddenly meant to know what to do and how to handle situations you've never dealt with before. You desperately search for information wherever you can find it, but you're clueless - you're learning as you go and hoping to God you make the right choices.

But how are you supposed to know what tax credits are available to a single parent when you've never been one before? How do you make sure your children are ok? That you don't lose yourself to anxiety and stress? That you are protected financially? How do you establish boundaries? Agree custody arrangements? What about maintenance? How do you manage all the emotions? Draw up a separation agreement? Find a good lawyer? Deal with Christmas? Who is entitled to the family home? And how to you find other women who have been through the same thing?

I can't give you the answers to all of the above. But I can help with some of them. One of the most important lessons I've learned in the five years since my marriage broke up is how important it is to have someone who is further along the road than you. Someone who gets it. Who can give their perspective on things. Who can offer a contact or a website or a podcast that may help. But what if you had a whole tribe of those people? And what if you could meet up with those that are closest to you? What if you had a single parent network in your area that had each other's back, supported each other in the tough times and where you could have fun times too?

Enter Frolo

A genius idea from a formidable woman, Frolo is the brain child of Zoe Desmond. Like most brilliant ideas it came from a place of personal need - when Zoe first found herself as a single mum-of-one she wondered how she could find friends who were in a similar situation.

She says "What I was not prepared for was the loneliness and isolation I would feel as a single parent." Zoe wanted to find others that wanted to meet up for Sunday lunches, go to the play park, or even take trips away together. She couldn't find a way - so she created it herself.

The Frolo App is available for download now, and Frolo officially launches in Ireland in September. To get a feel for it hop over to their instagram account which has a mine of information in stories, or listen to the Frolo podcast.

This is community at its very best - connected, strong, understanding, knowledgable and fun.


The second thing I know for sure after these five years is that all of your deepest fears and greatest unknowns can be dealt with if you are in a good headspace and have the right mindset. They won't always be easy to navigate - but if you are feeling strong and prepared you'll make better choices - which will lead you to a happier life.

Which is why I'm launching my single parent online workshops. These series of workshops aim to get you through the most difficult of times and out to a better, brighter place.

If you're interested in hearing more just click the link.

The first launch workshop took place last week and this lovely feedback made my day :)
The Clarity theme is brilliant and something I often forget to stop and think about, especially when I’m just on autopilot or in survival mode. I really like that it [the workshop] is short and simple.  - Anna

Special Offer!

In other news.... The Book Depository currently have Untying the Knot at a 38% discount with free shipping worldwide!

If you are a single parent or recently separated, please know that there really is the right help and resource out there for you - it's just a matter of finding what fits your own particular needs at a very specific time.

If you have any questions or need a helping hand finding your direction - you now know where we are.

Friday, July 19, 2019

One Word 2019

Only 7 months late for my one word challenge this year...

I'm just back from holidays where I tuned in, dropped out and thought a lot about...


One of the things I realised when I was disconnected from social media for a full two weeks was that I missed writing. I miss the depth. I miss finding the right words in the right format to portray whatever feeling or experience I'm writing about. I miss working things out as I start off on a blank page and come to conclusions and understanding as I reach the end of it. I miss the community. I miss the creativity.

The holiday (and social detox) gave me clarity on lots and lots of dreams and goals I've had whirring around in my head over the past few months. I've kept them in my messy head instead of working them out and getting clear on them here, in writing. Silly me.

And so that's my One Word for 2019. Clarity. 

So how do we gain clarity? And what does it actually mean?

It's only taken me all my life to realise that maybe coasting isn't the greatest way to play the game of life after all. Letting life happen to you instead of mindfully forging a future is tempting. It's more romantic, more bohemian, more devil-may-care than plotting and planning. But getting really clear about where life is heading can bring greater rewards, greater excitement, greater control and greater freedom.

It's not massive life changes I'm talking about. It's regular check-ins with myself. It's asking where I am right now, where I want to be in one year's time, why it's important to me, and what I need to do or learn to get there.

I now have a list (And you all know how much I love a list :))

One of my greatest goals for the next year is to grow Untying the Knot. Not as a book but as a series of workshops. I want to take those women who read it and found it helpful, and bring them to the next level. To reignite their hope in their family's future and show them how to get where they want to be. I want to find others that are struggling through separation and divorce and give them support and guidance.

I spent a long time battling with myself about whether I am qualified enough to do this, and after a lot of soul searching I know I'm ready. I've spent time and money on courses to fill the knowledge (and self-belief) gaps, so that I can build the very best tools and resources for those who join me.  I have the personal experience and the best experts, and I'm now building a series of online workshops to bring it all together.

The first 4-week workshop launches in September, but I'm planning on doing a free one-hour online 'Clarity' workshop in August, so if you are interested in joining me just sign up below (and no - you don't need to be separated or divorced - everyone is welcome to this one!)

This workshop will help you get clear about where you are now, where you want to be, and what you need to do to get there.

Untying the Knot -  Join me! 

Gaining Clarity in Croatia

I'm excited.

And nervous.

But mostly excited.

Please spread the word and pass it on to anyone who you think may find it useful.

The next chapter begins...!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I wrote a book

Every since I was in school I have wanted to write a book - seeing it published was the ultimate goal. After that, well, it didn't really matter that much did it?

Um, actually yes, it turns out it did.

What I now know is that when you put your heart, soul and sanity into writing a book, some sort of validation is a must. If it's a pat on the back from your two friends who read it then that's fine. If it's a party with friends and family to celebrate then that's even better.

What I got back was, now that I take it all in, quite remarkable.
  • Radio interviews with the likes of Ryan Tubridy and Ciara Kelly
  • Hotlist appearances
  • The window display in Dubray bookstore (!)
  • Five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads
  • Articles in the national papers
  • TV appearances
  • Heartfelt messages from people I'd never met, telling me what a difference it had made to their lives (this was truly the best)
  • Photos from people spotting it in bookstores
  • Outpouring of pure loveliness
  • Talks and live readings
  • And one of the best nights of my life ever, ever. My lovely, LOVELY book launch.

A post shared by Kate Gunn (@katetakes5) on

It's not that I'm boasting (honesty), I just needed to write it all down and have it all recorded in case I forget what actually happened. Or have to pinch myself to believe it.

So dreams really can come true. In fact I'm already working on my next one...

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