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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Monday, January 7, 2019

Listography - Top 5 moments I never want to forget

Listography was a weekly linky I used to run back when blogging was blogging and we all lived in a cardboard box etc, etc. I used to love writing the posts and reading everyone else's entries, but it became harder and harder to think up topics and find the time, so I ditched it. But not before Top 5  decisions / places / books / mugs / albums / inventions / life lessons and many, many more lists were compiled.

Anyway, in a fit of nostalgia for the old times I thought I'd dip my toe back in familiar waters and cover off Top 5 Moments I Never Want to Forget. Feel free to join in. It's good to remember the good stuff and note them down for when you're old and senile (any day now...)

Top 5 Moments I Never Want to Forget

1. The Doll's House
My Dad spent months making it. Sawing and sanding and painting in the yard. The walls were white and the roof shined a glossy red. 'It's for the poor children' he told me. I was happy for them, but it didn't stop me being a little jealous. Jealous of the time he spent on it as much as the house itself.

On Christmas morning he stood quietly by, watching me open my own gift. As the paper was ripped off there stood the dolls house. My dolls house. I cried. 'What about the poor children?' I asked. He promised he had sent them something else, but his face showed a strange mixture of disappointment and pride. The Doll's House still sits in my mother's house. Forty years old and still reminding me of how loved I was.

2. Sea swimming in Byron Bay
I met a group of strangers and we became friends. We lazed around under giant palm trees and twirled fire under the stars. One day we were bored, looking for something to occupy the long hours of dreaming. We massaged henna into each others hair and then went running into the sea. Young and wild and free. I want to always remember that simple joy.

3. The births of my children.

Ok the first was appalling, but it's still the one that made me a mother. The other two were much easier. Birthing balls and legal highs. I drew the line at Recue Remedy mid-labour though.
'I thought you were going to hit me' confessed the midwife who had offered it to me. Each one was very different and very special.

4. My First Triathlon
The lead-in happened so quickly I didn't even realise what I was doing. Before I could even finish my 'Do you think I could do a triathlon', my brother had chucked me in at the deep end with minimal training and maximum possibility of humiliation. But I did it, and that feeling of accomplishment has helped me achieve lots of other goals over the following years.

5. The Book
My three life goals since I was very young and knew no better were (i) to become a mother, (ii) to run a marathon and (iii) to write a book.
The moment I received that letter telling me I had a publisher was a mixture of joy, pride, fear and awe. The book Untying the Knot comes out next week and I still feel of all of those things.

(And yes - I also signed up to the Dublin Marathon 2019 - might as well make it a hat trick).

So there's five.  I'm sure I've missed out some spectacularly obvious moments - but the ones that jump into your head with their arms frantically waving are usually the ones to go for. Pick me! Pick me!

What are yours?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Snapshot - Nov 18

How do you get your blog back up and running when there is tumbleweed rolling through the cobwebs? With a snapshot of course.

Here's what happening Chez Kate at the moment...

Listening to:

Courtney Barnett & Idles - both in the car and at their live gigs.

Idles are immense. Turn it up loud and cover the kids ears.

Courtney is my new girl crush - vying for top spot with Wolf Alice - it's hard to choose...

In other music news I've been asked to choose 7 songs that mean something to me for an upcoming podcast interview (more to come on that). Finding this immensely difficult. 17 might be more achievable. Maybe. 


Trust. About the John Paul Getty Jr kidnapping. Started brilliantly, beginning to get a little drawn out mid-way through.


All the memoirs.

A post shared by Kate Gunn (@katetakes5) on

This Is Going To Hurt was eye openingly terrifying. I'm so glad I've had my babies already. (And pray that none of them ever wants to become a doctor.)

Just started People Like Me. Lynn Ruane is a force. Her interviews and recent podcast won me over so looking forward to finding out how she forged her way from drop out to Irish hero.

Looking forward to:

Christmas. Not one present bought and no money to buy them with, but it always works out in the end (right??!)


Boots again - hurrah!


Vegetables. I've accidentally turned vegetarian again. Not sure how that happened...

Working on:

Final edits of my book. Can't believe that's actually true. Prepare to be bombarded in the coming months. (Apologies in advance).

Frustrated by:

Small children. Particularly the male variety.


Teaching the kids how to swim. Lessons are expensive and fairly rubbish, so I committed to taking them once a week myself. 6 weeks in and the progress is immense. We are all very proud of each other. I did a good thing.

Not enjoying:

Not a lot to add here. I'm pretty damn lucky.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

How to be healthy on a budget

I went to see Russel Brand record his Podcast 'Under the Skin' in a local venue this week. He was interviewing The Happy Pear on all thing veg related. They all talked about keeping true to their beliefs, choosing time with family over fame and fortune, and making healthy choices over easy ones. There was lots of inspiring stuff discussed. But the one question that I felt didn't really get answered was how to be healthy when you didn't grow up in an affluent area, or weren't blessed with the option of choices, or are just so bogged down in life that cooking from scratch and gym classes on a Wednesday morning just aren't going to happen.

So what about all the people who want to be healthy but are too knackered and / or broke to try?

I pondered on it for a few days and came up with a plan. Lots of this worked for me - although I have to caveat that by saying I grew up in the same affluent area, was lucky enough to have had a great upbringing and have always had amazing support along the way. So maybe I should just shut up...

What I'm aiming for here is inspiration rather than trumpet blowing. I often miss the mark though so apologies in advance.

3 Step plan for how to be healthy on a budget.

1. Give up drink. 
There I said it. Might as well get it out of the way early. I know what you're thinking, but all I can honestly say is that I never, ever, ever thought I would be someone who says 'I don't drink'. You can read more about how I fell into it here and here - but don't discount it without considering it. The health (and mental health) benefits are so massively gigantic that they need their own blog post - or book. Plus you have buckets more energy - which allows you to move on to step two.
Cost: Minus - you actually MAKE money doing this one.

2. Exercise.
Now that you're not feeling so sluggish you can think about starting to move more. What do you do with all those early mornings and extra energy? Go running. It's quick, easy, accessible and doesn't cost a penny. I used all the excuses in the book to get out of this one in the early days - too tired, old trainers, too dark, too cold, too embarrassing, no one to mind the kids... but (sorry) there's always a way. Find it. Do it. You never know where it will lead. I started with an out of breath, sweaty 1k jog around the block and am now doing triathlons. (Only one a year but it still counts!). Plus exercise gives you energy - so if you can just push through that knackered phase you'll really start to notice the difference.
Cost: Free

3. Go (semi) veggie
Your body is now a temple. You're half way to healthy and you are actually starting to crave better food. This is what I call the virtuous cycle - you've turned the corner. The extra time and energy from step one brought you to step two, and step two has pushed you on to step three. And step three reinforces step one and two and you're now merrily hop, skipping and jumping down the street high fiving everyone you meet. Your friends will hate you.

This step is where the budgeting bit gets trickier because processed food is generally cheaper than fresh. But by ditching meat and substituting frozen veg and pulses it's very doable. (Now it's the kids' turn to hate you).  And of course you have all that extra money jangling in your pockets from step one.
Meat-free is also much better for your body - not to mention the planet. There are tonnes to sites and sources full of budget friendly vegetarian recipes - even trying out a couple a week will make a difference.
Cost: Minimal

And that's it! New, improved, happier, healthier you.

Easy as 1, 2, 3.  Now you just have to start. Give it 30 days and see what happens - it could just change your life. And no sign up fees.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dalkey Book Festival - Coming Full Circle

I'm not sure if it counts as a full circle when there's only two stops - more of a round trip, which is a bit like a circle so...

First stop. This time last year I saw a pop up on my Facebook feed talking about a book festival. Even better - a book festival in Dalkey. Even better - a book festival in Dalkey with Billy Bragg.

Credit: Conor McCabe
We bought tickets, the sun shone, we pottered between pubs and marquees, weaving in and out of the crowds who spilled out from the doors onto the street, glasses in hand and smiles on faces. It was magical.

And to top it all off I got to meet Billy.

And so, after a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, we vowed to return next year.

A few months later, a very special lady I have had the pleasure of getting to know, Prishela Row, asked me would I write a short story for a book she was planning. It was titled 'The Kindness of the Irish People' and she wanted me to dig through my memory for a good example and write it down.

It's impossible to say no to Prishela. Plus of course I was honoured to be asked. The only problem was that my story featured me. What sort of a person puts themselves at the centre of a story like that?! But the story wouldn't go away, so I wrote it down, and it turned out that it wasn't my kindness that had made the moment special at all - it was humanity. It was the forming of bonds between strangers on a human level. I handed my story to her and promptly forgot about it all.

And then I got another tap on the shoulder. The book was coming out. Would I read my story out at the Dalkey Book Festival in June?

Second stop. Goosebumps.

The event is on this Thursday. I'm nervous. But most of all I'm deeply proud of my lovely friend who had an idea, and through her own magic wove it into reality.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Good vibrations


That was my one word chosen for 2018. It was picked with a view to drawing positivity to me. Hitting the sweet vibrations of the universe with a harmony that The Beach Boys would be proud of. Imagining all the great things I wanted from the year and pulling them towards me with the force of a black hole vortex.

Hey! Was it something I said? Come back here!

Ok, so some of the stuff is a bit out there. But I do believe that there's something in all of it. If you go around focusing on all the bad things that can happen - guess what? Bad things happen! If you focus on the amazing - well, you just never know do you?

There's a school of thought that believes that the universe delivers on our vibes. Literally. Our own energy reflected back on us. It's a crazy concept. But then so was electricity before we all took it for granted. And what is electricity but energy.

Electricity: a form of energy resulting from the existence of charged particles, either statically as an accumulation of charge or dynamically as a current.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this, but I have had some pretty incredible things happen so far this year. Life changing things in fact.

Professionally I've somehow managed to bag myself the role of Head of Social for eumom and Easy Parenting magazine. Like all good women (especially mothers) I was immediately flooded by imposter syndrome. Can I do this? Do I know enough? Am I the best person for this job? What if I fail? (Oh but what if you fly...)

"You know things you don't even know you know" a friend wisely counseled at the time. And you know what? She was right. Believe in yourself. No one knows everything, it's a learning game. Keep listening, keep learning, keep helping and keep being helped. 

(It also helps that I work here. )
(I know.)

A post shared by Kate Gunn (@katetakes5) 

Which brings me to Incredible Thing No. 2. 

I've written an actual book that has an actual publisher.  Gulp. Slightly terrifying. Especially as it is oversharing to the Nth degree. It's a book about separation. A personal story. A story which I wish I had been able to read when I was going through my own (dare I say it) 'journey'. A story which has the blessings of my family, my kids and my ex. It's a story of hope. My story. 

It's also the reason I haven't written a post on here all year and why I disappeared from Facebook for so long. The deadline is the end of this month so obviously I'm doing what all writers do at times of crisis - anything but writing. 

So that's all momentous. And it isn't even midway through the year yet. Call me crazy hippy lady but I'm going to keep sending those good vibrations into the ether and see what comes back to me. 

Who's with me? (Don't all rush at once now...)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

One word 2018

It's that time of the year again, time to not make resolutions but to review the year that has passed, and choose a new word to live by for the year ahead. A word that brings you back to what you are looking for when you are a little bit lost. A word that inspires you when you are tired. A word that helps guide your decisions when confusion reigns.

I'm not usually great at keeping things going past the good idea phase. I like to think of myself as the creative type - excited by new shiny things as they are dreamed up or pass by my eyeline. 'Oh look a good idea! Quick grab it before it disappears!'' I plan to hold on to the shiny new good idea and change my life with it, but then a new one comes along and, well, I can't hold on to them all can I? So I'll just let go of this old not-so-shiny-anymore one and grab the new one. Quick, before it disappears...

The One Word movement however has stayed shiny. This is my forth year doing it and all I can say is - it works for me.

In 2015, my first year, I chose Fresh. In 2016 it was Depth. Last year my word was Goals. I had some big ones that I wanted to stop putting on the long finger and just really steam roll through. My word was a way of reminding myself of the big picture throughout the year.

So how did I fair?

My big goals were to finish my book, start a pension, do a triathlon and be more patient with my children.

I made huge headway with my book. I got excited about it, getting up early to write and living vast chunks of time with the story rolling around in my head. I got the belief back - even to the point of sending it on to a few trusted pairs of eyes and a single publisher. But then I stumbled again. I know it's not right yet and I'm not sure how to fix it. With that in mind I've just signed up to a big scary 8 week course with the Irish Writers Centre. Perhaps this time next year I'll be checking off the goal that at times seems an immense impossibility and at others seems almost within touching distance.

I completed my One Year No Beer. I also wrote an article about the early days, appeared on the radio to discuss it and now may never drink again. I know.

I started a pension with the money I saved by giving up drink. Rock n' Roll.

I completed the Dublin City Triathlon and came 4th in my (aul one) age group. (I think there were more than 4 of us...). My one word helped me through many a training session.

I went sunrise swimming, and even dragged the kids along some mornings.

I did at least one sea swim every month for the year.

And then there's the patience thing. I'd like to think I improved. I certainly learned a lot this year about dealing with children's ever changing emotional needs. How listening, supporting, working through issues together helps empower them. And how labelling a child never, ever helps. I also got a big fat healthy reminder that it is how we react to our children's emotions that is the key to really helping them. We've all been there. They shout at you. You shout back. They scream louder. You explode. When all along if you'd taken the time to find out where the anger was coming from and talk it out with them you both could have learned something. I'm not saying it's easy - especially in the heat of the moment. But recent weeks have taught me that lots of extra love and positive reinforcement works wonders on behaviour and household happiness. More of that this year please.

So on to 2018 and my word, which this year is Mind. 

I've spent a lot of this year exploring the power of the mind, and the more I read and discover the more I know it's the answer to everything. And there is so much to learn. From teaching your kids the life skills of resilience and grit, to opening yourself up to the power of the universe - everything stems from your brain.

I've been reading up on neuroplasticity - which basically is the science of rewiring your brain. The good news is that no, you are not born that way. You can train your brain to grow new neurons, build new pathways, become compassionate or grateful or happier - or even more patient. Wow.

Meditation also looms large in my plans. Taking time out each day to allow the subconscious space to breathe and speak to you. I'm going to upgrade my current free app to a paid version which hopefully will make me do it every day. Bring on the calm.

Universal intelligence - far less scientific but still worthy of exploration will also feature in my 2018 plans. I keep coming back to this as if it's simply positive thinking, but I'm pretty sure it's much more than that. It's believing in your potential and having faith that what you want is available to you. (If this time next year I'm an author you can take it from me it works. If I'm not you never have to read another crackpot hippie mantra post from me ever again.)

Kindness, gratitude, abundance, confidence, positivity. Live how you want to live. Be the person you want to be. If I master all that and pass it on to my kids I'm pretty sure that's a parenting Olympic gold in the bag.

This little story from Ruby Wax's 'Sane New World' sums it up in all it's simplicity.

Have an amazing 2018.

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