Eating Poetry for Breakfast

Daily rituals and habits have always fascinated me. You barely notice your own rituals and habits until you either don’t/can’t do them for some reason or if someone points them out to you.

What are your daily creative rituals? What kickstarts your day?

I am not a morning person. Partly because as an insomniac I often only manage to finally get to sleep in the early hours around dawn. Partly because waking to me is a form of cruelty because I always feel like I am being cheated from getting a proper rest.

“We all have morning rituals that give us the comfort of familiarity even if our days are unknowns.”
― Maria Alexandra Vettese, A Year of Mornings: 3191 Miles Apart

Mornings are one of the times of day when most of us enact certain rituals to kick start our day. We have a certain ritualistic schedule of mundane tasks that ready us for whatever the day may bring.
From waking up and having a mug of coffee – although sometimes I feel like an intravenous injection is needed – to having a shower, to choosing your outfit for the day and making yourself presentable and finally to eating breakfast.
The order you do these things in may be different and you may not be a morning breakfast type of person.

““When you wake up in the morning, Pooh”, said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for Breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing” he said.”
– Winnie The Pooh

But you do eat breakfast. It doesn’t matter whether you do it in the morning after waking up or later on in the day. That first meal, that first refueling of your body, is your wake up moment.

A few years ago I read “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. It resonated with me in so many ways. But one of the most important tools I learnt through that was the Morning Pages.

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.
*There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow. ~ Julia Cameron

Until recently I was only doing the morning pages when I was stuck creatively and feeling uninspired. This wasn’t happening every day. I found I was journaling more at the end of my day rather than the start.
But recently this has started changing. My “morning pages” have changed. They have turned into “Morning Motivation” – little pep talks I write to myself to begin – but even more recently I have added another “morning” ritual to my day.

Just as my body needs a breakfast to break the fast of the night, I felt like my mind needed a creative breakfast to awaken my brain cells. For me, the initial morning pages and then followed by the motivation pages just weren’t cutting it. For some reason it wasn’t unlocking my creativity in my sluggish morning-insomniac-induced-hungover brain.

But things have been changing and all because I am now getting the right creative break-fast for my brain.

A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. ~ Salman Rushdie

I have started eating poetry for breakfast.

I am making it a habit to start the day with poetry. First, I write down a poem or two. (I always “write” my poetry. I need that cathartic, physical process of putting pen to paper.) Then I put aside those raw pieces of poetry and spend some time reading others’ poetry. Often this state of reading will have me putting pen to paper in some more poetry of my own. Before long, my brain’s creative side zings into wakefulness and suddenly I am not feeling so sluggish.

The courage of the poet is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness. ― Christopher Morley

For me poetry is the purest form of art. Poetry is the one that truly moves me to feel those down-deep emotions we all feel: the emotions that don’t have a name. Poetry is also the most creative form of art for me. I love playing with images, words, moods, sounds, the surreal and emotions; poetry is the one space I get to do all this.

Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers. – Yevgeny Yevtushenko

So starting my day with a daily ritual of “eating” poetry for break-fast allows me to enter that creative space immediately. It is a key to that fearless place in me. I need to get into that fearless space each day because then I can face my prose without doubt and filled up with the fearlessness that is poetry for me.

What is your break-fast ritual to kick start your creativity?
Have you tried morning pages or your own version?
Do you refuel with any other art – mine is poetry, yours might be; music, dance, sketching, painting, pottery, sculpture – every morning?
What’s your “poetry” to break-the-creativity-fast
?

The Naked Writer…Exposing My Bell Jar #iiwk14 #invisibleillness

*Personal Post – Writer getting real – Longreads*

Battleground
© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

The soldiers are unseen
Camouflaged in skin
Their weapons are lethal
They are elements of torture
They have captured me
Stretched out on a rack
Every muscle screams in protest
Every muscle held in a vice-like grip of agony
My jaw is locked shut
My eyes are blinded as the blades enter
My mouth is slack with pain
My fists tied down, tightly clenched
The torture has only just begun
My body fights to find an inner strength
The needles pierce the back of my neck
I am held in place, too weak to struggle
I try to call out for mercy
I am ready to confess anything
The needles enter my skull
There are hundreds of them
The prison is too bright for me to see
Shadowy figures surround my body
Slowly I feel the needles draining my veins
I try to release the bindings on my limbs
They use my body as a pincushion
I have no more strength to fight
I can feel the weakness take over
My mind tries to fight, to shout
I open my eyes
I stare into blinding white light
The needles in my skull blind me
Bile rises up from my empty insides
I search for the unseen enemy
These faceless soldiers dealing in torment
I open my eyes and see a figure before me
It looks familiar, a faint echo of disbelief
The reflection is myself
My very flesh the rack of agony
I lose hope, I lose the battle against my skin and bone
My body is my battleground, my flesh the enemy torturing me

This is my invisible reality. This is the Bell Jar that hangs suspended over my life. My Bell Jar is: Chronic Migraine. A genetic neurological disorder.

This is not something I speak about often. Partially because it is a fairly invisible illness. Partially because so many people don’t understand what the difference is between headache, migraine and then chronic migraine is. Partially because I do not like admitting vulnerability. Partially because of the inherent shame and guilt I have in having an invisible illness.IMG_3971-0.JPG

But no more shame and no more guilt. No more “invisible” illness. Living life is about embracing all of life, the good and the bad, the strengths and the vulnerabilities. This monster that turns my body into a torture chamber has been my constant companion for the last 18 years and counting. For the last 6 years this companion has become a jealous and possessive monster determined to isolate me from those who truly love me. This monster does not live under my bed or in the cupboard like the Bogey Man. This monster has taken permanent and unwelcome residence in my exploding head.

Migraine is so much more than a bad headache.

Continue reading

Last Words | Who Are You?

Image shared courtesy of The Dead Game by Susanne Leist

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This gravestone brings up so many thoughts:

Who was this woman?
Who chose her inscription?
Was it a last act of revenge from a spurned lover/spouse?
Were they the last words she wanted to be remembered by?

What comes to your mind when you look at it?
What would you like to be put on your gravestone when you die?

This gravestone had me contemplating what I would want inscribed to mark my place in this world.
Death is inevitable for every one of us but something that few of us like to contemplate. We are mortal beings but we fear our mortality. We focus on living in the here and now. But I wonder sometimes if we focused on how people would remember us after we die, if that would impact our choices and decisions.

How would you like to be remembered?

If I could choose one mantra to be remembered by it would be:

She lived and loved fearlessly.

The poem I would have as my last words would be:

~ the uncaged bird is set free ~

I can no more cage this poeme`
to trap my soul in earthly realms hollows my flesh
Poeme` is life fleshed into my Bones
A place where the intangible is material
A window through which the tears of God
break open the unseen cracks in a heart
A Love divine and Light surreal
is my heart free, my soul uncaged
the Bird of Poeme` soaring into the heavenly realms.

– Excerpted from my poem “Soul Wings”
© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning.

The Darker Side of Blogging: A Spooky Roundup, Part One

Walk on the dark side…Wordpress in all the shades of strange and horrific…Part 1

The WordPress.com Blog

All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Samhain, and the Day of the Dead are nearly upon us. What better time to take a look at the darker side of WordPress.com?

Our bloggers cover the spooky spectrum, from horror film reviewers to Wiccans to Halloween crafters to bioarchaeologists (they study bones!). This weekend we’re bringing you a double dose of the heebie-jeebies, with Halloween and witchcraft bloggers today, and other offbeat spooky topics tomorrow.

If you’re a fan of fright or just want to explore something new, get ready for the creepiest holiday season with these eerie entries:

Halloween Howlers

Are costumes and crafts more your speed than monsters and mayhem? There’s no shortage of inspiration on WordPress.com, with tons of bloggers dedicated to getting you and your little ones ready for an epic night of trick or treating.

DIY Halloween

The bloggers behind D.I.Y. Halloween take October 31st very seriously:

Every year…

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The Darker Side of Blogging: A Spooky Roundup, Part Two

Walk on the Dark Side this October…a spooktacular offering of dark blogging…Part 2

The WordPress.com Blog

We started getting into the Halloween spirit yesterday, with Halloween craft and costume blogs and a look at some of the real-life witches on WordPress.com.

Today we continue the Halloween Spooktacular with some less Halloween-y but no less creepy content: horror film buffs, zombie aficionados, and cemetery guides, oh my!

Frightening film and fiction

If you prefer that ghouls stay safely in movies and books, there are plenty of WordPress.com authors ready to guide you to the scariest of scary movies, like the team of eleven bloggers behind Mutant Reviewers.

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Led by Head Mutant Justin, the Mutant Reviewers team is dedicated to cult classics, watching the worst so you don’t have to. Visitors looking for recommendations can check out their movie of the week, helpfully highlighted with an image widget in the left sidebar. This week’s offering is 1979’s The Prophecy.  (Conclusion: “Simply, if you are looking…

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Summer-Spiration & Showing Up

The Winter of discontent is over and Summer-Spiration has officially begun…at least in my corner of the world.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a Winter person. Winter constipates and depresses me mentally, emotionally and creatively. I need the warmth and vibrancy that summer brings to feel truly in tune. This winter has definitely been a winter of discontent and hibernation. On Sunday morning our clocks changed to Daylights Savings and my Creativity Savings kicked into high gear.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

A few weeks ago I shared a post about this discontent and my creative constipation. I am usually not one to whine, complain or moan. Quite the opposite I tend to always forge through and look for the sunshine behind the cloud. But this winter things fell in on top of me and I swallowed my pride and told you all about it. You see it wasn’t that my well had run dry or the ideas had abandoned me. Rather I curled up in a fetal ball and hid from the dreck, muck & mire of my real life. As soon as I posted this messy confession, I was twisted into a contradiction cook-sister. *another analogy would be pretzel* One part of me felt “damn Kim you scraped off your protective tough outer layer and let them see the fragile messy parts.”… But once the comments and the emails started rolling in from all who read the post, there was a cathartic healing; that feeling that I was not alone in my discontent. These were some of the comments/responses that helped me uncurl myself from that fetal position to a sitting position…

I read this post and felt a deep recognition: I could have written this…I’ve been so stuck this year, and every time I un-stick… bam: another storm to weather, another day to survive. It is making me realize I need other sources of stability beyond just my writing. Putting so much pressure on my writing to be The One Thing that Makes Sense and Always Helps is putting too much strain on my creativity. As much as this year has been difficult, it is one that is teaching me how to Be. It will be worth it – for both of us…

I feel like not writing is a form of self abuse…

Well said, darlin’. It’s been that kind of year for me, too, and I’m only just starting to get out from under it. Write on…

I have been here, Kim. I have been shut up behind the dam. The put it bluntly, it f-ing sucks. You pound and pound and pound and yet nothing will come out. Nothing did for me, anyway, until I took the advice of a friend and started writing a journal about writing. It helped a lot. Perhaps give it a try. It is where I found my honesty with myself when it came to dealing with the stuff that was preventing me from actually getting my work done. Sometimes I still do it, though I am no longer dammed. I hope you find the fissure through which to burst…

Write whatever you need to. They don’t have to see the light of day but may help you, both in getting through the difficult time and getting back in touch with the writer in you

Honey, I’m with you. I make you look perfectly normal. If writers struggle to get past the “why isn’t this sounding like I’d envisioned it” stage, it’s because they’re still amateur. When a writer hits this point, however–like you and me–it’s a show that we’ve hit another level of knowledge between life and writing. Because dealing with difficult emotional memories in life is the coloured picture, and writing it into a fictional story is the black sheet with little peepholes the writer carves out so the reader can glimpse into what’s being told…

When your dam breaks, I’m sure beauty will spring forth. If a little on the dark side…

The fact is, writer’s block is not funny.

When the words elude me, I start to feel desperate. I have a harder time dealing with the crap in my real life because there is no escape. The absent words haunt me, and wound me. I feel this vague sense of constant irritation, an emptiness where words used to be.

Right now, I’m making myself write. Every day. Even if it’s only one word. It seems to be helping, though I may be 90 by the time this ms gets finished…

Just get up everyday and keep going. You will prevail over this. Go for a long walk and just keep being you. We all sadly have something that tries to beat us down. Keep going please…

You are fighting your demons, but you are also dancing with them. This takes the greatest courage of all…

I loved your quote : “Life should not be about surviving. It should be about LIVING.” I’ve been avoiding an essay I started about a childhood trauma and you have inspired me to get back to it.

Thank you so much for sharing your struggle…

Wow! Talk about “Knowing it, Feeling it, Living it.” These comments were my inspiration that uncurled me into a sitting position again. That post was written a month ago. That was the first step into a sitting position. September was all about uncurling myself from a sitting position into a standing position. Now I stand here in the “standing position” and I am ready to put one foot in front of the other into a walking position. Because life is now about “not, not getting knocked down or not, not getting knocked back, but it is about getting knocked down or knocked back and standing up again. Once you start moving, walking forward you start taking a step to dancing with your dreams, your goals, your aims, your aspirations, your joys.

So to each and every person who inspired me to uncurl myself into that sitting position…

So this Summer is all about getting from that “Standing” position to the “Walking Forward” position. I am really excited about what I have in store writing-wise.

  • I am in the middle of writing “The Tattooist – Liquid Ink” *more about this WIP here*
  • I am working on a short story that will be included in an exciting anthology *watch this space for more* with some awesome authors later this year.
  • I am also working on a six-book *so far* series of stand-alone novellas that will be published next year. Series working name: The Red Gates Secrets *The series is paranormal horror and one I have been itching to write for a while now-Based on fact*
Life should not be about surviving. It should be about LIVING and that means the dark shades are as important to colour in as the light shades are. Perhaps the darkest shades are the ones we need the most because if there is no dark there need be no light. I am ready to un-dam those waters and let the dark words out so the spark of a match will lead me back to my creativity and back to my place of sanity: writing. I have to remind myself  that even the rubbish words are still words. As scary as it is, it is time to un-dam the words. Otherwise I may as well just give up now. I am too stubborn to give up yet. 

I’ll leave you with my new favourite motivation song…

Pink says it best > “Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die

You’ve gotta get up and try try try!

What gets You up to Try-Try-Try? 
What do you desire enough to take a Risk of getting burned?

 

Call me Writer 007 ~ I take my Coffee Shaken or Stirred with Words on the side

An image came up on my Facebook feed this week and sparked the idea for this blog post…

Coffee and Writers go together like Petroleum and Grand Prix.

Coffee and I began our love affair lustful addiction in a town on the southern coast of Greece, 50kms from Athens. I was 21 and on my first overseas trip to visit my BFF in Greece. I left South Africa innocent of the vice that was soon to have me addicted, enthralled and enticed. In Greece my two drink options were Coffee or Ouzo. With that first sip of dark viscous liquid (I am speaking about the small cups of Greek coffee not Ouzo. 😉 Ouzo is a post for another day. ) that looked like a cross between mud and volcanic ooze I was hypnotized and Coffee became my favourite vice. From there it was a short fall to sipping the sweet, strong, rich goodness of a Greek Frappé. (I am not talking about the Westernised Frappucino that tastes more like a milkshake than any cousin of the original Frappé.) The lustful addiction had entrapped me and I was lost to the rich, decadent embrace of caffeine.

Writers drink coffee. Writers love coffee-shops or cafes. There is an ambience to writing in a coffee shop that is akin to a GP racing car driver at a race track. Just like the aromas of petroleum and exhaust fuel excite a professional GP driver so do the aromas of caffeine and the inexhaustible supply of dialogue inspiration and quirky characters at a coffee shop excite the writer. This is especially true for the writer who writes full time. Writing is a lonely job at the best of times but when you are tucked away in your writing cave – just you and the voices of your characters – it can be very lonely. This is when a visit to the coffee shop offers fresh inspiration. You order your favourite order of coffee, tuck yourself in at a corner table, open up the laptop/macbook/pen&paper and start writing. I like to choose a corner table with a view of the baristas & coffee machines and a view of the comings and goings of the coffee shop patrons. At this spot, I can keep an eye on what is happening around me but also make sure that nobody sneaks up behind me: very important since my pages/screen tend to be filled with ghostly hauntings, chilling killers stalking my main characters and dark places.

Luckily great coffee is never difficult for me to find since I live on the northern coast of Auckland-New Zealand, rated by Conde Nast traveller as one of the 9 BEST places in the WORLD to have a Coffee.

Every time I drink a cup of coffee I am transported to the places I have enjoyed great coffee…from the coast of Greece to the souks of Dubai to the alleys of Melbourne to the many cafes of Auckland…coffee is a passport not only to creativity but to the memory of the places I have been.

There are still a few places I want to travel to enjoy coffee in…Rome, Vienna, Barcelona, New York but the top of this list would have to be…

My Coffee-Passport Bucket List

Paris, France

I would love to walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre in Paris, another of the 9 best coffee places in the world. Every writer should travel to Paris and soak up the literary ambience. I shall save that for the Bucket List.

In the meantime, excuse me while I brew myself an Espresso Macchiato and open up the next page in my WIP. Mmm I can smell the rich smell of that decadent nectar now and it is sparking some fresh words in the WIP.

Do you have a love affair with coffee? What are your favourite coffee orders?

Do you write in coffee shops? 

Where in the world is your favourite place to enjoy coffee? What place is on your coffee-passport bucket list?

Below are some of my favourite coffee-writer quotes and some of my favourite coffee orders.

Oropos, Greece – where Coffee & I first met

Image credits: Apostolos J. Doulias @ http://www.panoramio.com/photo/49551457

Image credits: Apostolos J. Doulias @ http://www.panoramio.com/photo/49551457

“Coffee. Creative lighter fluid.”
–Floyd Maxwell

My favourite ways to drink the decadent dark nectar

Greek Frappé in Santorini, Greece

Make your own Greek Frappé

This recipe makes enough for one serving.

  • 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee (Nescafe Original red label is the most popular brand) 
  • (Greek Nescafe is super strong so for all other Nescafe use 3-4 tsp coffee)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Sugar
  • Milk
  • Ice cubes

In a shaker or blender mix together 5 Tbs water, coffee and sugar to taste.

Shake contents for about 30 seconds or blend for about 10 seconds. The result should be simply foam.

Pour into tall glass and add the ice cubes. Add remaining water and milk to taste. Put in a straw. Milk and sugar are according to taste. It is not obligatory to add them.

 – Recipe courtesy of http://www.ineedcoffee.com

Espresso Macchiato

1 shot of espresso top with foamed milk

“Coffee falls into the stomach … ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop … the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similies arise, the paper is covered with ink …” -Honoré de Balzac

Espresso Con Panna

A double shot of espresso top with whipped cream 

 “The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 

Cappuccino

A double shot espresso + 2.5oz frothed milk + 2.5oz steamed milk 

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” –T. S. Elliot

Ernest Hemingway wrote, “It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.”