On Burnout, Self-Care, Social Media And What I’ve Been Up To Lately

So, I realised it’s been aaaages since I’ve written a blog about where I’m at and what I’m up to, so thought I’d grab a few minutes now and do just that.

If I had to sum up my entire life in the last while, it would be with this one word: burnout.

Which is essentially why I’ve not written much, or been here much, or been on social media much of late – have needed to step back and catch my breath and get some perspective.

The biggest thing I’ve learned in the last while, is this: we are no less seasonal than nature.

It is imperative for us to surrender to our need for rest, stillness, non-productivity, recuperation, dormancy; essentially, we must allow ourselves a season of winter in order to grow and produce fruit in the spring.

I had a wonderfully busy six month period of poetry and performances and travelling and harvesting the many hours of unseen work that comes with being a spoken word performer; all the while continuing to write articles for 10 Daily, SA Life Magazine and other various platforms, writing flat out in February for #poemadayfeb, and trying to keep up with other life stuff, including the full-time job of raising four children.

Immediately after that busy period had finished, I wrote down my next set of goals and went about achieving them with barely a breath in between. Only to find I was struggling: with motivation, with enthusiasm, with creative energy, with feeling blocked and frustrated. I pushed through. Kept pushing. Got nowhere. Pushed harder. Struggled even more. Spent too much time on social media seeing everyone else kicking goals which spiralled me into a mindset of inadequacy and failure; eventually defeat. I was totally, totally ready to quit the writing thing and get a mindless 9-5’er where I would never have to look at a blank page again as long as I lived.

But then I read a couple of perfectly-timed articles, A New Way To Recover From Creative Burnout and You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything, both validating the importance of rest and recovery as a creative artist.

With that validation came permission to first accept I was suffering burnout, and secondly, surrender to it. For me, that has looked like much self-care: less writing and more reading, putting boundaries in place to protect my time and energy levels, early nights, staying off social media, good food and fresh air and sunshine and exercise , which is easy to do when you live in a place like this:

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I feel like social media especially places a huge amount of expectation for us to be seen to be achieving; to prove ourselves worthy occupants of our online place in the world. The pressure to produce regular content to grow our platforms is, I feel, one of the greatest blockers of creative energy. For writers especially, so much of our work is unseen and unmeasurable; the hours we spend planning and thinking and researching and dreaming and the fact that it literally took me ninety minutes to come up with one metaphor this week.

We are always achieving, we just don’t often have anything to show for that. So we find ourselves freaking out that we haven’t posted anything on Instagram for a few weeks and how many readers will lose interest and how many publishers will feel we aren’t engaged enough and HOW CAN I CALL MYSELF A WRITER WHEN I HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR BEING A WRITER??!!

Anyway. Rant for another day. The point of this was to talk about what I’m currently up to.

So, my one major goal this year was to compete in the Australian Poetry Slam competition (preferably without woefully bombing out in the heats like I did last year), which I knew was going to be tough to write new material given my current state of burnout. In previous years, competitors have been able to use the one same poem throughout the entire competition – heats, state final, national final. So despite having such little creative energy, I knew I’d probably be able to pull off one good piece.

BUT THEN THEY CHANGED THE GODDAMN RULES.

Three poems are now required; a new one for each level of the competition. I don’t know how many of you have written slam poetry, but it’s hard. It’s fucking hard. So I read this, and cried. Literally sobbed. And threw some dramatics around just because that’s what we creative temperaments do. Sometimes. Often. Most days.

I seriously could not see for the life of me how on earth I could get three pieces written. Three winning pieces, at that, knowing how fierce the competition is. Again, I gave up. And then fell into the most depressed funk ever. Because sure, I might not get past the first heat anyway. I might mess it up like I did last year. I might never know what it feels like to win. But I sure as hell know what it feels like to give up. And the only thing worse than not winning, is not trying.

So, for the next couple of months, I’ll be around less. I’ll be writing more than ever, but will have little to show for that. I’ll be self-caring the hell out of myself to recover from burnout while I work hard to achieve the one goal that matters most to me. And I’ll be here as much as possible, soaking up winter sun and salty air.

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In the meantime, as I get busy writing new pieces, here’s one from a while ago I recorded and never got around to uploading, on abusive relationships and the way we can struggle to feel anything in the wake of their destruction.

Much love,
K.

 

I Don’t Stand on Stage Because I Know How to be Brave, But Because I Got Tired of Being Afraid

There are these moments on stage where I have to close my eyes for a second and summon the courage to keep going.

Being vulnerable isn’t something that comes easily to me; sharing so much of myself with a room full of people I have just met.

Offering the things I am sometimes still scared of: my brokenness, my failures, my ugliness, my fragility, the messiest versions of who I have been and often still am.

It can be daunting, and terrifying, and sometimes more than I feel able to do.

I don’t stand on stage to perform; but to tell stories.

To share of blood shed on the battlefields of my healing and knees still scraped from the crawl and how I am made of wounds but still standing and how every scar etched on my skin reminds me what a goddamn warrior I am to have made it this far.

I don’t stand on stage to be set apart by a mic, but to be drawn together because of it.

To practice courage, knowing when I do, it offers that same courage to others. It gives permission. It creates space. It allows authenticity. It brings belonging and intimacy to a world overfed on information yet starved of connection.

I don’t stand on stage because I know how to be brave, but because I got tired of being afraid.

Our stories are our history. Our legacy. Our humanity. Our connection.

They matter.

Sharing them requires the courage to be vulnerable.

But what makes us most vulnerable is where we become most beautiful.

“The speaking will get easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realised you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers and realise you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” – Audre Lorde

Photo credit: Brendan Bonsack

New Spoken Word Poem Uploaded!

So, February has been crazy busy and part of that for me has been revamping my YouTube channel and recording some new spoken word poems as well as re-recording a few older ones in my swanky new studio setup, thanks to my firstborn, William Parker – Youtube – who, with over 100k views on one of his YouTube tutorial videos, is far more savvy than I’ll ever be.

Today I wanted to share my most recent poem, performed for the first time this weekend at the Paroxysm Press Showcase Series. It’s a reflection on the journey I have been on recently; the struggle to dismantle the strongholds of our survival and understand that allowing ourselves to become soft doesn’t mean we become weak; yet how tightly we cling to what we have always known.

For those of you who are new to my channel make sure you check out the other videos while you’re there – I’ll be putting some more up in the next while but for now I’m also many days behind in #poemadayfeb so have some catching up to do there first!

Much love x

For My Fellow Survivors ❤️

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For my fellow survivors ❤️
 
It says on pill bottles as a disclaimer, do not operate heavy machinery. The irony in all of this, is trauma is heavy fucking machinery, which is to say, I’m not giving you permission. But if you ever decided it was too much and you wanted to rip yourself from the soil of this world, I would understand”
 
Sometimes, I feel like my heart is doing okay. And then, without warning, something wrenches it open and I come undone. I listened to this spoken word poem today and came completely and utterly undone. Because as people who have survived trauma, this is the kind of validation we need. We need to know it’s okay to feel what we feel, no matter how dark, no matter how terrifying, no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. Rarely do I allow myself that validation. Instead I tell myself I’m fine. I tell everyone else I’m fine. So goddamn fine. Except, some days I’m not fine.
 
Today I’m not fine.
 
There are days I still wake up so damn tired; beaten before the day has even begun. Beaten by the memories and the flashbacks and the triggers and the demons and the shame and the anxieties and the fears and the way these things seem to find me in the night while the rest of the world sleeps and leave me feeling like a small girl in a big world; so very alone and afraid. I woke up today like this; the graveyard of my heart dug open in the night and me, too weary to fight against it. To outrun it. To stay above it. To shovel the dirt upon it once more.
 
“You will feel broken. It is okay to feel broken. Broken is where the healing begins. This is where we begin. This is where we begin again, and again, and again.”
 
Healing doesn’t come in straight lines and even spaces. It is a wayward journey that brings us back to the places we need to be broken once again; that after the breaking, eventually, we will know the rising.
 
But for today, I am reminded it’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to begin again. Today, I am reminded I am not alone in this.
 
“You, survivor, are still here.”
 
I am still here. You are still here.
 
And by god, the world will see us bloom.