A Letter To My 18 Year Old Self

Dear 18 Year Old Kat,

Everything got better.

You’ll discover many things in your final year of secondary school. You’ll drink for the first time, kiss people, go to house parties and spend Saturdays wandering around the city. You’ll also fight with people, and fail class tests and feel low, but I promise it get’s better.

You passed your Leaving Cert. You got that B in English that you dreamed of thanks to a hell of a lot of reading and a little chat with Ms. Munnelly. That conversation outside the R.E room gave you back your spark. You fell out of love with writing, but don’t worry, it came back. Hold onto how you felt when it was announced to the class that your short story was the best, scoring 99%.

Your mind will be full of troublesome thoughts for quite some time, please don’t suffer in silence. Tell your parents. Tell your class tutor. Go see a counsellor. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Depression is common. Counselling will help, I promise.

Ignore the people who mock you for being shy. Being an introvert is part of who you are. You’ve yet to discover who you really are, but you will, and she’s not the worst person ever. Don’t let someone’s negative view of you impact your self esteem. I know it’s easier said than done, but you’re worth so much. Remember that.

Value the time you spend with your friends. You will meet some great people during your time in school, but friendships fall apart and people fight. Treasure every moment you have with these people. Dance at house parties. Ramble around the city centre. Wander around the local parks. Sit by the canal and natter about everything and anything. Waste your money on McDonald’s. Oh, and don’t be ashamed to talk about Glee, that show may have been cheesy, but it made you smile.

Please stop straightening your hair. Your brown curly hair is one of your best features. Also, you’re going to dip dye your hair blonde. Everyone will tell you it’s looks great, but trust me it’s hideous, please never do that again.

Stop arguing with your parents. Your Mam and Dad are two of the most amazing people on the planet. Tell them you love them every single day. Spend as much time with them as possible. Bring them out for dinner when you have the money. They have taught you so much and will support you every step of the way, even when you drop out of college.

Yes…  in the future you’ll drop out of your Level 8 course, and it’ll be terrifying, however it’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Don’t worry, you’ll find your feet and discover two wonderful courses that you’ll adore. You’ll become features editor of your college newspaper too, and have work published, yes, really!

You’re going to fall in love. You’ll feel content and bright and merry. You’ll go on dates and mini holidays and share many kisses. Ignore the mushy rom-coms, love is complicated and stressful. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth will not have a fight over you, I’m sorry. You’ll suffer through a great heartache and a painful breakup, but I promise it’s not the end of the world. Your heart feels happy and full again.

Do the things that make you happy. I know it’s a cliche, but please follow your dreams. Write every single day. Read as much as you can. Go to the movies and to the beach and to bookstores and cafes by yourself, it’s scary but trust me it’ll help build your character. Be goofy and embrace your pasty pale skin. Buy coffee from local cafes, because Starbucks may seem cool but their coffee tastes like dishwater. Go on holidays with your dearest friends, even if you’re struggling with money. Learn how to use a washing machine and eat more fruit. Visit your grandparents more. Drink water on nights out if you want to. Stay away from cigarettes. Wear whatever makes you feel confident, even that silly bowler hat you’re currently obsessed with.

Remind yourself that the dark days aren’t permanent, things will get better, I promise.

Sincerely Yours,

22 year old Kat.

 

 

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Coffee for One

There is something so comforting about watching the world go by with a warm mug of coffee in your hands.

I’m a true introvert so I adore spending time by myself. It calms me down and gives me the time to be alone with the dozens of thoughts whizzing around my mind.

I love peaceful mornings when I’m alone in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil as I try and decide which mug I want to use (a very important decision) for the first cup of coffee of the day.

Visiting my favourite cafe on a rainy afternoon fills me with waves of contentment. Sitting by the window with a cappuccino in one hand and a book in the other is one of the greatest feelings.

Buying a takeaway cup of coffee at Heuston Station before boarding a train to the countryside makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Curling up on my bed as the rain pours down outside makes me feel calm. The warm glow of the fairy lights brightens up the room and a mug of coffee sits next to a vase of peonies on my bedside locker.

I love ordering coffee for one. Solitude and coffee is the perfect combination.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Moments

A few years ago, during the days when my mind was flooded with dark thoughts, I contemplated suicide. I was weighed down by an overbearing depression, which left me feeling hopeless. However, the waves of negative thoughts have started to calm down. They make an appearance every now and then, ebbing and flowing in and out of my mind. But I am getting better. The days are brighter and my thoughts are lighter.

The world can be a very dark and lonely place when you contemplate suicide. I found the strength to overcome this difficult time in my life. And now, I see the world differently and appreciate the little moments, more than ever before.

FullSizeRender (4)I am grateful for the days when the sky lies still and silent above our heads as we potter about.

I treasure the moments when I catch my Mam laughing at something silly my little cousin did.

I love seeing my Dad sing along to the radio when his favourite song is playing.

I can’t help but smile when our pet cat chases a crunchy leaf around the garden.

I adore the days when I curl up with a giant mug of tea as the rain trickles down the window pane.

I love the feeling of freedom when I walk by the sea and feel as light as the sand beneath my toes.

I feel so merry when my sisters come home from a concert and fill the room with their excitement and infectious energy.

I appreciate the stories my grandparents tell me, even though I’ve heard them many times before.

I love the moments when I freeze and think back to those dark days. I smile as I remind myself of my strength. I am here. I am still alive and I am getting better. And those moments when I remember how far I’ve come are the greatest moments of all.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

Happier

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I have a love/hate relationship with the On This Day feature on Facebook. It reminds me of my secondary school days where I was free and the only thing I had to worry about was passing my geography class test, or having enough money to go see the latest Twilight movie with my friends. However, it also reminds me of my progress. It shows me photos of my past self. I was young, naive and sheltered. I had not yet discovered who I was, the real me, my true self. But today, as I write this post on a train to Galway, I’ve realised that I am happier than the girl in those photos, and that I have changed a lot.

I no longer watch Twilight movies. I finished school and passed my Leaving Cert. I got that B2 in English that I worked hard for. I have new friends. My skin has cleared up. My mousy brown hair is now copper. I’ve developed stretch marks and scars and cellulite. I’ve ran marathons. I’ve studied both creative writing and journalism. I’ve had work published in newspapers and on websites. I’ve read tonnes of books and watched many new movies. I’ve drank tea with my grandparents and pina coladas with my best friend. I’ve danced at concerts and cried at concerts. I’ve hopped on planes, trains and buses to new cities. I fell in love and I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve battled with anxiety and depression and I won. I discovered an unknown love for coffee and The Clash and Hygge. I wear red lipstick and often buy clothes because they remind me of The Bratpack. I daydream about living in Canada, Cork and Copenhagen. I worry about my grades and my family and my friends. I sing along to Radio Nova with my Dad in the car. I call handsome actors dishy just like my Mam does. I adopted a cat. I’ve had one tooth taken out. I have fallen in love with the simplicity of spending time by myself. I’ve fallen head over heels in love with John Hughes movies. I’ve sent a message in a bottle and heard back from the person that found it. I’ve fallen both in and out of love with my life. I’ve experienced euphoric highs and heartbreaking lows over the past twenty two years.

But most importantly, I am happier and stronger and wiser than the girl in those photographs from the past.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

12 Valuable Things My Mam Taught Me

My Mam hoovers the house three times a day. We argue about missing socks and my cluttered desk. We share a love of white wine and are both madly in love with Patrick Dempsey. I like to remind her that I’m just that little bit taller than her because I know it drives her mad. She’s taught me a lot over the past twenty two years that I will always treasure.

This blog post is for you Mam, thank you for teaching me so many wonderful things.

1: Be generous in whatever way you can. Helping the ones you love will always send good karma your way.

2: Always be wary when you’re considering giving somebody a second chance.

3: Never let people walk all over you. We may be small, but we are so strong.

4: Put white lemonade in a vase of flowers. It helps them bloom.

5: Never spend the money that somebody put in your purse for good luck.

6: Your heart will always know who your true friends are.

7: Strictly Come Dancing is always a lot more enjoyable after drinking a glass of wine.

8: Always buy your cards from Mr.Price or the Pound Shop.

9: The best time to go to town is on a Thursday evening.

10: Using the word ‘dishy’ when referring to a handsome man is the best.

11: Listen to Sunshine 106.8 on a Sunday afternoon.

12: Wipe away your tears, put your shoulders back and lift your head up high, especially during the hardest moments.

Mam, if you ever read this (even though you won’t because you have no idea how turn a computer on) thank you for everything. I may not know how to use the washing machine properly, but you’ve taught me how to be the best woman I could possibly be. Your strength is admirable and you have the kindest heart. I’m so glad that you’re still here for me to tell you that I love you every single day, even if I have to shout it over the noise of the hoover.

All my love,

Katy

 

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

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I wrote this short story over a year ago and decided to share it. I studied creative writing for a year and it’s one of my biggest passions. This piece is about letting go of the past and healing hearts.

I’m not sure what made me realise that today was the day. I knew it was time to let go. It was time to breathe again. All I knew was that I needed to get out and breathe. I needed to breathe in the crisp Spring air. Just breathe.

Today was the day, the special day. The day I washed the past away. I couldn’t wait to be standing on the cool sand at Flagstown Beach. Being cooked up in my navy blue Plymouth Valiant on a dull, dreary motorway was not what I needed. A wave of serenity washed over me as the wheels of my car turned off the harsh concrete of the motorway and onto the soft, dirt track towards Flagstown.

I parked in the car park of an old, abandoned chapel. As I walked through the church grounds I noticed small flowers growing along the walls; bursts of red, yellow and lilac popped out against the old, crumbling walls. I stepped on delicate daisies as I walked through the overgrown grass in my tattered burgundy boots. I smiled as I made my way to the gate. How sweet it is to know that those flowers still blossom and bloom even though their home stands alone and abandoned.

I left the chapel grounds and strolled down passed the red brick bungalows to the beach. It was the middle of the afternoon but there wasn’t a single soul in sight. There was an eerie yet calming feeling in the air. They say it’s the town where people come when they retire, a place where they come to live the rest of their days. They say it’s one of the most tranquil towns in the South and that’s why the elderly flock down here like birds that migrate to Africa before the winter chill takes over.

I felt my lungs fill up with fresh, soothing air as I stepped onto the pale sand. I untied the laces of my boots and placed them on a pile of rocks. I took the small glass bottle that I had been carrying around in my old navy rucksack for the past six months with me. A piece of faded white paper was rolled up inside the bottle; it’s edges were bent and battered. That piece of paper was the final piece of my past that I was ready to let go of. I poured my heart onto that piece of paper one late night in April of 2015; the year my heart was broken beyond repair. It holds so many memories, emotions, feelings and is stained with a tear or two. As I walked towards the waves I watched them ebb and flow. I watched the water dance slowly against the shore. I held the glass bottle in my hand, my message in a bottle. I was ready. It was time to let go. I stepped into the cool water and let it soak the ends of my jeans. I dropped the bottle out of my hand and into the sea. I watched the bottle float away taking my past and my heartache with it; slowly becoming smaller and smaller until I could see nothing but the grand, blue sea. I smiled out at the ocean; how big, how blue, how beautiful it was.

 

From Gloomy Mornings to Bright Mornings

I miss seeing the bright, blue sky in the morning whilst I wait for my toast to pop and for the kettle to boil. I hate the eerily cold feeling in my bedroom as I stumble about looking for my snuggly lilac sweater. I stand at the bus stop bundled up in my long grey coat and bright red scarf craving a warm, cup of coffee. January mornings are harsh, icy and bitter, but I’ve figured out a few little tips to help make these mornings a lot bubblier and brighter.

Music

I had a 9am class on Monday morning which meant I had to wake up just before 7am. Waking up so early was not easy, especially after the Christmas break where I spent most mornings snuggled up in bed until 11am. One thing that gave me a happiness boost was listening to my favourite songs. I’d highly suggest making a kick ass playlist that’ll have you dancing around the bathroom as you brush your teeth. Every morning I’ll be strutting down my road to I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan just like Bridget Jones.

Hot Drinks

These winter mornings are so cool and crisp which is the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a hot chocolate, a herbal tea or a cup of coffee from your local coffee shop. Leave your house a little bit early than usual so you can pick up a cup of your favourite hot drink to keep you all warm and snug at the bus stop.

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Do What You Love

Take some time each morning to focus on something you love whether that’s reading, writing, meditation or singing. Doing something you love in the morning will boost your mood and leave you feeling motivated and inspired. I try to take time to read either a chapter of a book or a few blog posts in the morning to get my brain working. It’s a short but effective way to set you up for the day ahead.

Here’s to feeling chirpy and content on these chilly, crisp mornings.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

2017 is the year of self care

Happy New Year! I am so glad that 2017 is finally here. I’ve made a tonne of goals for 2017, but my main mission for this year is to focus on self care which I’ve failed to do over the last few weeks.

When you’re feeling low it is important to acknowledge your feelings. I am currently suffering from seasonal affective disorder which is a certain type of depression that is related to the changes in seasons. Some of the symptoms include tiredness, lack of energy, weight gain and oversleeping. Personally, I tend to suffer from the disorder after the excitement and huge build up to Christmas dies down. I tend to wallow in self pity like a grumpy little gremlin and find it extremely difficult to make myself feel better. I let the disorder take over and mope about all day. However, I am determined to take better care of myself thanks to a video by Lucy Moon and Rosianna Halse Rojas where they discuss self care and share their tips on how to make yourself feel better during these darker times.

The video reminded me of how great I felt during last summer when I was really invested in looking after myself. One of the main things I did was taught myself to enjoy my own company. I think it’s extremely important to be comfortable with who you are and to feel content by yourself. Some of my happiest days were days I spent alone, for example my solo day trip to Galway or the day I spent in a local cafe reading. So I’ve set myself a few self care goals for the month of January and will continue to do so because 2017 is the year I take care of myself. It’s the year I put myself on a pedestal.

1: Go to the cinema by yourself

2: Get a haircut

3: Spend more time outdoors

4: Drink more water

5: Go on a solo day trip

Have you got any self care tips that you swear by? Share them in the comment section or tweet me @katkatkatt

Sincerely  Yours

Kat.

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

I couldn’t let this day go by without writing about the book that means everything to me; The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’ve always been a book worm. Back when I was in primary school I used to spend my evenings reading the Rainbow Magic series (which I still have on my bookshelf), during my pre-teen years Jacqueline Wilson was my hero and she still is, and then when I reached my moody teenage years I discovered the Twilight and The Hunger Games series. And thanks to my inspiring Leaving Cert English teacher I discovered the greats; Sylvia Plath, Emily Bronte, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I believe that the books we read shape who we are. I have learned so much from the stories, the characters and the worlds I’ve read about. I’ve found my true self. I’ve been inspired and influenced and motivated by these astonishingly talented authors and the stories they have created and shared with the world. Reading is one of the biggest parts of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There is one book in particular that has changed my life. I’ve read everything and anything; from Macbeth to Jurassic Park and from Mcfly’s biography to The Great Gatsby. However, this book has made such a drastic impact on me. The characters, the plot, the themes, the world; they all meant so much to me. The characters felt like friends. Their troubles were my troubles. Their home felt like my home. They made me smile and laugh and cry and taught me some of the most important life lessons.

I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky back when I was 17/18. I was hooked from chapter one, I just couldn’t put it down. I was so captivated by Charlie’s letters. I related to his character like no other, I finally found a fellow wallflower. This story gave me my own personal sense of belonging. It didn’t matter if the ‘popular girls’ thought I was weird or dorky, it didn’t matter if I only had a small numbers of friends, it didn’t matter if I was afraid to speak in class, because I wasn’t alone, I had Charlie, my fellow wallflower. It gave me hope, it made me feel wanted and accepted and showed me that even when things aren’t okay they soon will be; the bad days aren’t going to last forever.

It’s been four years since I read Perks and it is still my most treasured book. This story showed me that there’s nothing wrong with being a wallflower. I love being a wallflower! I’m shy, I’m an introvert, I’m not insanely popular or extremely confident, but I am me and I’ll never change who I am. Charlie opened my eyes and made me believe that we should stay true to ourselves. “If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am.” Charlie made me believe in myself, in friendship, in love and in infinite moments and I will always be grateful for that, especially during the bad days.

“Please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not they will be soon enough.”

Love Always,

Kat

Dear July

Last year I was inspired by Emily Diana Ruth’s ‘Letters To July’ series so much that I wrote my very own letter to July. It’s one of my favourite pieces of work and I couldn’t help but write another this year. So here is my second letter to July.

 

Dear July,

It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since we last spoke. At this moment in time I feel okay; not great, not good, but not bad either. I’ve said the phrase ‘I’m fine’ a lot this month, July. Unfortunately I’ve been having one too many bad brain days lately. I feel like I’ve taken a step back progress wise, but I am hopeful that I will get better. There’s something different about me this year, July. I am a lot stronger and a lot more determined. When we last spoke I was just discovering who I truly was, but now 365 days later I finally know who I am and what I want from life.

It hasn’t been all bad. I’ve had work published, I’ve traveled, I’ve made new friends, I got a part time job, I started volunteering, I’ve started studying at a new college and I’ve become a happier and braver person. I love who I am, I just wish my brain felt the same way. The bad brain days have gotten severe, so I’ve decided to start seeing a counselor- a terrifying, but wise decision.

One thing you’ve taught me, July, is that no matter what things will always improve, even if you struggle to see a light at the end of the tunnel. On the 31st I went to Galway for a solo adventure. When I was sitting on the train travelling back to Dublin I felt content for the first time in over three weeks. You showed me that there is so much hope and potential out there, July, but you need to get out to find it. I discovered that sitting at home alone is no use. Going out on a walk, catching up with an old school friend, volunteering at my local charity shop or hopping on a train to another county is what I need to do to get myself out of this rut.

I know I will get better and the happy days will come back, the bad brain days will decrease and my mind will be clear again. Thank you for reassuring me, July. We had our tough days where I cried and where my heart ached, but we also had our happy days full of content moments and Cheshire cat smiles.

Thank you for showing me that the best is yet to come, July. I’ll see you again next year.

 

With Love,

Kat.