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.

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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.

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