Pressing pause on life

Q – Thanks for chatting with us. You came with a glowing UNICORN recommendation so we’re excited we get to chat with you. Can you start with a quick intro for our readers as to who you are and what you do?

A: It’s a pleasure to be chatting with you! So, I’m Kat and I’m a queer, disabled photographer and writer, and I live with my Almost-Wife Fi and our three cats in a plant filled bungalow in Cambridgeshire, UK.

Online I talk a lot about planning and journaling, as well as radical self care and about living a life that looks a little different from the ‘norm’. My approach to things is rooted in gentle,

realistic self-development and creating a life with plenty of flex.

As well as my Instagram, Books of Notes, I write workbooks, host workshops and will be branching out into running online courses in the near future.

Q –  When and how did you decide to start doing Books of Notes?

A: Around five years ago, I had to leave my job in arts development because I was going through a pretty rough period with my mental illness. I started my Instagram originally under a different name to find connections in the chronic illness and disability communities, because being housebound can be pretty lonely! 

At the same time, I’d begun to use planning and a bullet journal to manage my life and my health and found that

sharing it online sparked some brilliant conversations.

Gradually I shared more and more and then, around 3 years ago, I switched the focus of my account and Books of Notes came into being.

Q – You state on your insta that you help creative minds find space to breathe, can you tell us a bit more about that?

A: There is a heck of a lot of pressure, especially in the creative and entrepreneur spaces, to constantly be productive, to be making and doing all the time.

Books of Notes fully celebrates doing things differently

– a lot of what I share is to help those creative minds build a life that doesn’t revolve around #hustle culture, that has plenty of space for pause and that allows you to exist without all that unnecessary pressure. 

I suppose the main ethos behind everything I write, shoot and make is that each person’s individual life is theirs to create, and that there are myriad ways to do that – there is no one right way to do this!

Q – What’s your top wellness tips for those who are now having to work from home because of the pandemic?

A:  First – remember that we’re going through a global crisis. This isn’t ‘working from home’, really – it’s more like ‘working during one of the biggest crises to hit humanity, while also in your home’. 

It’s okay if you’re not working in the same way you were before, at the same pace or to the same standard.

Give yourself some grace – everything is unknown here.

More practically, though – build some structure into your day, however loose you need it to be. Get up around the same time, have a gentle morning routine, still get dressed for work. Wear shoes (for some reason this makes a huge difference for me!). 

If you can, have moments to pause and connect in your schedule – maybe have a cuppa with a housemate, or join a remote co-working session online. I’m also pretty well-known online for (gently) yelling at my audience to drink water so – hydrate that damn bod!

Q – The theme of our 3rd issue is ‘Wellness’. We can tell that you’re already a fan of this with the type of work you do. What’s your top tips for people to keep their wellness healthy during these weird isolation times? 

A: So, I need to be really clear about what I mean here. ‘Wellness’ typically means being in a state of good health – and I personally, being disabled and chronically ill, am not that, by usual standards anyway. 

When I talk about this kind of stuff, it’s important to note that I’m not talking about it in the same way other people might – I’m more about acceptance, living a good life where you are and with what you have, and the pursuit of our own personal version of what ‘well’ looks like.

That being said, five years of being pretty much a full-time house-cat means I have a few tidbits of advice for being isolated! 

First, remember that this isn’t ‘free time’ in the way a lot of people are making it seem. Sure, you have some odd stretches of time without anything happening now, but you’re not obligated to suddenly become super productive in that time.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic, being forced to remain at home. All of this is weird.

You probably have some weird emotions whirling around right now.

It’s okay if your way of dealing with that is to watch an entire series on Netflix and eat M&M’s. Be gentle on yourself.

Otherwise: find ways to connect (video calls with a friend; hugs with a housemate; pet a cat), find ways to mark time (the days can start rolling into one pretty quickly, so give your brain something to hold on to – have a tea break at the same time each day, or schedule a weekly co-working session) and give yourself some space where you can. Above all, be gentle on yourself.

Q – Since Covid19 have you found more people reaching out to you? 

A: I’ve found that what I talk about has a wider appeal now, meaning I’ve had different kinds of people find their way into the community which has been so lovely! 

All of a sudden

people are turning to the internet for connection

and I think (I hope) that what Books of Notes offers is a kind, gentle way to begin figuring out how to handle these strange times – both practically and emotionally.

Q – Final question before we let you go. If you had some advice for yourself pre Covid19 times what would it be and why? 

A: Honestly, when lockdown began, all that changed for me (and a lot of other disabled humans) was that I discovered that my day to day life was also known as ‘quarantine’!.

I’d already had that adjustment period, the weird grieving process for the way things were (and it is a kind of grieving, let yourself have that one) and then the slow progress of finding my way as a housebound human. 

But for others experiencing this for the first time, I suppose I would say: remember that a life lived at home is no less of a life. It is still vibrant and wonderful and full of love, and you will find that some of the most brilliant, resilient humans have already been forging a path through the world from within their own homes. Turn to them, listen to them – they’re the pros at this.

Kat Cuthbert

She / Her / They / Them | Cambridgeshire, UK | Planner, photographer, writer, cat enthusiast

Instagram | Website

Kat is a queer, disabled photographer and writer who lives with her Almost-Wife Fi and three cats in a plant filled bungalow.

Kat was interviewed by Lucy Everett

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