Rocking. Holding my knees. The world spinning. Loud voices yelling. Pain everywhere, my body a series of scars you can see, my brain a series of scars you can’t see. A child hurt. A child hunted. I survived to become an adult so numb the only time I ever felt alive was at the point of dying whether driving on the edge of crashing, riding to the point of losing control and oblivion. Acting out living. Smiling on cue. Empty, simply marking time until I could die.1970. February 8th a child is born to a woman who does not want this girl. A woman who would repeat “If I hadn’t had you, I could have had a life.” Her father is happy – she is told. Yet she is left in the nursing home for three weeks and her name gifted to her by the nurses. Just Kate. Plain Kate.
Just plain Kate born into an African bush war that nobody wishes to remember accurately. This was a war born of evil white supremacy and equally horrendous communist funded tyrants who would strip what remained of my birth land until it was a dust bowl of starvation and corruption. Never ending terror, a constant childhood friend. Brutal deaths. Tires burn, filled with gas around the charcoal necks of those caught in the crosshairs of a bloodbath that would see no victors. I was as terrified of my own parents as I was of the man holding the machete trying to remove my head. I learnt that no living adult is safe. All adults are dangerous was an unassailable truth learnt at the knees of war.
My memories are like a deck of cards thrown into a storm. I can catch one or two but to piece together a coherent narrative from start to finish is impossible without the help of those I have been lucky enough to meet who shared that nightmare. In fact for most of my life I have had complete amnesia from birth to about 22, certainly nothing was available before I was 15 years old. It was locked in the labyrinths of my injured brain. Through treatment and dedication towards healing I have regained much of those memories, they are for the most part ghoulish companions but within them was a secret I had never guessed at.
I was loved. Within those memories were precious moments of love shown towards a small child who otherwise was terrified and alone. Each of those that loved and protected me is dead. I shake my head at the Hollywood view of death, I am always drawn to first responders, nurses, combat veterans because they know the truth. We don’t die quietly, peacefully, sighing our last. Death is brutal, painful and the smell fills my nostrils as I type.
I attended an Irish convent from 1980 to 1987. A serene happy place, filled with love and safety. Questions asked and always answered, gently and with kindness. I am eternally grateful to those nuns who saw in me something worth caring for, protecting and nurturing.
1988 London I fell into my career as an Investment Banker by chance and a brazen disregard for the order of things. I spent the next thirteen years bumping around the world. I moved through the international money markets and finance, I lent political gamers weapons of monetary mass destruction few can fathom, less can understand. Until in 2001, I retired from that world my final job was in Tokyo as Vice President for a Swiss Bank.
2005 was a game changer. My first daughter was born in Singapore. Beautiful, bright little sprite. My second daughter was born 10 weeks early in 2007. These two beautiful souls required me to heal and move forward with my life. In 2009 I moved the three of us to Canada. We have lived on a horse farm in Langley, BC which allowed me the space I needed to breath freely and come to terms with the monumental task of facing my past. In 2013 we moved to Tsawwassen a small beach community that was a little like walking into a little Rhodesia, quite the most horrendously white only community with all that goes with that. In 2015 we tried to find our niche in Ontario but then something incredible happened in August 2016. I met the love of my life who wouldn’t you fricking know it, lived in BC.
I am going to get a tattoo that says “done traveling”.
My family is the most important part of my life, Brian is a Bosnia and Afghanistan combat veteran who works for the rights of all veterans and will one day, I hope, take a more public role as his is a voice of reason and experience that can change the world for the better. My two daughters are rapidly growing into amazing young women and I am blessed to have two stepsons who are gifted, amazing young men with enormous hearts.
I am lucky to be able to teach in my children’s school, using art history & art to provide a framework of emotional health and awareness amongst all ages. I try to encourage others to find in art a language and skill set that will provide a life-long mental health regimen that saved my life in so many ways. Art speaks truths that words can’t: it opens doorways into our souls and minds that are invaluable gifts. The ability to reach down through the ages and across all cultures and pull their wisdoms, their experiences into the classroom is priceless. A journey that is as unending as it is rewarding.
I love nothing better than to get a commission and work with another person to find their “truth”. To produce a piece that they love and will look at for the rest of their lives is a gift I will never take for granted. I lose myself in the canvas, exploring the concept and idea in intricate brush or pencil strokes; giving abstract thought form.
Finally a series of the life of just plain Kate. Fact is truly stranger than fiction when I look back at this life of mine. In addition I enjoy writing blogs on art, writing, teaching and the philosophy that drives me. One of the few deeply conservative artists in the world, I see things very differently and infuriatingly so for many of my friends who struggle to understand the often quixotic layered upon the frighteningly pragmatic views I express all too often.
To be a friend, to walk by another’s side, asking nothing in return but simply to be there. To have friends who are my reason and emotional balance when the world disappears and only pain remains. With the Traumatic Brain Injuries I have endured and PTSD from early childhood comes a heavy toll on my sequencing abilities, I am almost entirely right brained and an emotional thinker. I surround myself with friends who are my litmus test, who hold divergent views and thoughts so that I can ground myself and figure out when my head is so far up my ass my nose is my tummy button.
I will always advocate and fight for those with PTSD regardless of how the injury was earned. PTSDChat is now gloriously independent of me but still very much part of my life and world. I support the team now running it as much as I can and will always do so.
I often wonder if people lucky enough to be born in either America or Canada ever stop to consider what that means. What that birthright means. I see the likes of Trudeau claiming to be a “global citizen” and chuckle. I am a global citizen. It’s not that much fun – to be without a country of my own? The only reason a man like Trudeau can trip daintily into the utopian ideals of globalization is because he was lucky enough to be born in Canada where freedoms are rights, not wishes. Both of these countries is quite miraculous in their own way and I will never cease to marvel at them.
And finally? Who knows. It’s been a heck of a ride so far, who knows what’s next but I doubt it will be boring.