Birthday Blog Blues: 47 Reasons to be Cheerful

Robin Williams death taught me that the depression I have come to accept as part of my normal conditioning will probably be with me for the rest of my life. And that’s okay. I’ve got it covered! It taught me that there’s no real cure for depression only antidotes, temporary reprieves and Tunnocks Teacakes. And, as a small whiny child, my black dog (let’s call her Ethel) will also constantly need distractions.

Black Dog with a Dummy

Ethel

Happily, I find amusement for my whiny child in the guise of uplifting music (Vivaldi, Nutini or Parton), coffee & cake, climbing hills, swimming, (soon to be) sailing, dancing, singing (my neighbours hate me), art, comedy, talking to my friends (sometimes it’s just my own reflection to be honest, but I put on an accent which helps), writing, meditation and yoga.

But, mainly, coffee & cake!

photo (3)KEARA’S NO MUG, actually!

Sometimes one of these remedies actually works.

On the day Robin Williams died I was stunned, shaken, angry, bereft, crushed and devastated – like millions of others.  I didn’t cry though. I didn’t actually know him after all. I felt I didn’t have the right to cry. But even as I was rationalising that to myself the tears were bubbling away within me from my feelings of sadness and grief for a man that I had never actually met.

Later that day, I did some yoga and half way through Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose) the release of tension brought with it a flood of tears which floored me into Savasana (Corpse Pose).  As I lay there on my mat, sobbing quietly, images of Williams fluttered through my mind. I saw the Black Dog that had plagued him; that comedy genius mind of his, never silent; the gift of laughter he gave to others; his devastated family; the A.A. meetings he had attended; the strength of will that had kept him sober for 20 years; the treadmill of constant work that kept him going and the despair of the ceaseless end to that work which drove him back into alcoholism at a time when he should have been at peace with himself and lightening up on the workload.

I thought of him and his life and his comedy and his death and the things – however distant – that linked him to me.

Robin Williams as Mork

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” Robin Williams

I cannot imagine ever taking my own life, it has never even crossed my mind – even in my darkest days. I guess I’ve just never been that low. And I have always held fast to my dreams and have great optimism for the future, no matter how down I get. But as the fuller facts of Williams’ life and death emerged I began to understand why he felt there was no option other than to end it all – in much the same way as I can understand why someone would jump from a burning building. He had an alcohol problem, was facing illness, bankrupsy and was on a treadmill of constant work from which there seemed to be no end. After a lifetime of constant hard graft, he was unable to retire. It seemed really unfair.

Williams’ state seemed all too familiar to me as my own father had suffered alcohol, health and financial problems throughout his life and he too was unable to retire in his 60s.  My father lived a long and varied life filled with many great joys, wonderful adventures, peak experiences, true happiness and an abundance of love. He had a first-rate public school education, intelligence, wit, an adventurous spirit, doting parents, a loving sister, a beautiful loyal and loving wife, eight amazing children – who adored him – amazing friends and so, so much more. And he worked hard all his life.

Six days before he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 66, he said to me, “I cannot see an end to it all! I just cannot see an end to it.” It seemed really unfair.

Although I was devastated at the loss of my father, I was also so relieved for him as he was finally at peace. And I also took comfort in the fact that he died in Portugal on holiday, so his last days were spent golfing, hill-walking and swimming in the glorious sunshine.

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Leo Linus Patrick Aloysius Murphy

When B.S.K. Iyengar (Yogacharya Sri Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar) died last week there was not much of a delay between me hearing the news and breaking down emotionally. I felt like my (sort of) Granddad had died. Here was another man I felt closely connected to but had never actually met. Iyengar changed my life. I practice yoga most days and have his books always close to hand. I’ve tried other methods of yoga, but his, in my view, was the best.

Yoga is first for individual growth but through this individual growth, society and community develop.”
B.S.K Iyengar

Unlike Williams, Iyengar’s death was not sad, he was 96 after all.  And, although he had suffered great tragedy and ill health as a youngster, he  had a long, peaceful and healthy life as an adult. But similar to Williams, Iyengar left a massive legacy which can only be described as inspiring, enriching and uplifting. One man gave through yoga; the other through comedy.

Mind you, Iyengar’s uncanny physical resemblance to Yoda – and the fact that that signifier is one letter away from the name of the science, philosophy and art to which he so passionately dedicated his life – did give me some comedy reprieve through a friend’s comment on my facebook thread.  And, so, even as my tears for him dripped off my chin, I was also laughing.

Comedy can do that in the middle of a tragedy. Comedy counteracts tragedy. We laugh because it makes the pain bearable. Laughter releases feel-good endorphins in the brain which offsets depression (I read it here The Science Bit).

Yoda

“When forty seven* years old you reach, look as good you will not.” Yoda (*I’m paraphrasing) 

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is always part of my birthday celebrations. This year my birthday fell on the first day after the last day of The Fringe. And to add insult to grumble, it was a bloody Tuesday.

The end of The Fringe is always a depressing time for many artists and especially for us artists who live in this town. We are the ones who see the posters coming down in the rain and those annoying little bits of stapled-on reviews stubbornly sticking to the half-dismantled hardboard of the pop-up venues and the infinite faded flyers fluttering forward fleetingly into the oncoming winds of autumn and finally flitting forth across the Forth to Fife (purely for the alliteration) where Fringe flyers go to meet their maker (yes, that dodgy cheap printers in Kircaldy).

It’s depressing. And on top of that my showbiz ‘friends’ are too busy cleaning their rented flats, gathering up their props and attending end-of-Fringe parties to even notice that someone has a birthday!!!

I didn’t do the Fringe this year, because my favourite character, Mistress MacKenzie, has kept me busily writing her new show!

PLUG OPPORTUNITY!!!

I will be recording Mistress MacKenzie and Friends in early September, for transmission on the 4th October at 12.30pm – so you bloody well better tune in!

All I can give you is the gift of laughter. And scones, I bake a good scone.

Along with laughter, yoga is a good antidote to depression. It may not give you happiness, but it will help you towards inner peace – and, hopefully, fitting into those skinny jeans.

Comedy, depression and yoga sit side by side by side inside my soul. They argue constantly. Sometimes one of them pulls rank and profoundly colours my day.  So this year, on my birthday, I decided yoga would win out.

I forced myself onto my mat before I was fully awake. I also decided to remove myself totally from the disheartening end of The Fringe and reclaim my special day as a day where I will find 47 reasons to be truly grateful for each of the 47 years I have subsisted in this blessed earthly realm.

Happily, I found them.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the list.

Now get on with clearing up those posters, people, for tomorrow it’s, em, Thursday, I think.

Nanoo & Namaste!

photo (4)

Some reasons to be cheerful

Here’s another 9 reasons to be cheerful…

photo (5)9 of the 47

Advice for Young Comics in the Last Week of The Fringe

1. No you didn’t.

2. Never leave the house without a sandwich in your handbag.

3. If it cost one pound in ASDAs it shouldn’t still be in your fridge.

4. Seriously, dude! No. You. Didn’t!

5. Leave the dog alone.

retro-twat2

Crrrrrrrrrrrringe Central!!! – Fringe advice for new acts…

Auntie Keara’s TOP FIVE TIPS for New Acts Performing at The Edinburgh Fringe for the Very First Time…

Do not…

1. Tell me how many gigs you’ve done. Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn!!!! I don’t care. Just do them. Record yourself. Listen back to it. Be hard on yourself. And get advice from someone who knows. Discard the tape and do it again. And Again. And again. And again. And again. Forever. And ever. And E-V-E-R! Again.

If you MUST count something, make it the LPMs (If you don’t know what that is, find the fuck out).

Male comedian being pelted with food

Clip Art © Ron Leishman

2. Selfie-Pap yourself with a celeb comic – especially in a VIP bar – it makes you look amateur and performers come to those bars to get away from that stuff. Crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrringe!!! Why don’t you ask them for some tips instead? Old hands love to pass down their experience. And it’s a far better use of their time. And you might actually learn something. :-)

3. Stop saying it’s the “Fringe-Festival” – it’s not.  - Unless you are doing ‘The Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival’ it’s actually called The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – or The Fringe – ie; on the Fringe of the Festival – yes, we know we’ve taken over! Result!!  But know your history: Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Female comedian starting out

Clip Art © Ron Leishman

4. Don’t perform drunk. You’re slurring your words and we cannot hear what you are saying. That’s why the joke didn’t work. Well, that’s one reason, anyway. Drink strangles your performance, it does not enhance it. Do some yoga for your nerves and maybe some affirmations. Or just ten long slow deep breaths. Meditation. Hug a bear. Drink water. And more water. No ice. Eat vegetables and fish and bananas. These things produce far better results than the demon drink. Get shitfaced after the show if you must (bearing in mind you have to do it all again tomorrow and are making it harder for yourself every day by the endless, compounded hangovers – still, it’s your funeral).

But, NEVER drink before a gig! Okay?

5. A Fringe audience is an International audience. Don’t blame them for not knowing your colloquialism. Adapt. If you cannot adapt your act to a wider audience, give up. Go join a band or something. Or take up hill-walking. The mountain people don’t listen to you anyway.

If you can perform to an EdFringe audience (of any size) and make them laugh, you can perform anywhere. I know, because I have done it. I have made all of these mistakes myself.  I have performed, ran shows and hosted stand up all over the world for over 15 years. I have done ten one-women shows at The Edinburgh Fringe and a range of other festivals. I have done two compilation shows over and above that, ran multiple-act bills for professionals and some for new acts, and have done many, many other guest spots all over the shop  - no, I NEVER counted how many!!!  But let me count the shows: 12 Fringes in a billed show – 15 as a performer.

I am not in a show this year because I am writing my first character-based sketch show for for BBC Radio Scotland, Mistress MacKenzie and Friends, which will be on the airwaves later this year. These characters all started their lives in makeshift rooms at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I would not now be doing my own radio show without first having done those tough shows at The Fringe.

So remember, when the going gets tough, think of the wider picture. Present pain for future gain, etc.

And if you need a wee cheerie up – which you WILL need – please come and say hello to Mistress MacKenzie before she is too famous to respond.  You can ask her anything, using the hashtag #AskMistress

- She’s THE ONE: Meet Mistress MacKenzie

See you amid the madness, children, and you can ask ME anything in person. And I will even let you have a wee pic with me (As long as the light is low and I have reapplied my lippy and there is nice furniture involved). What do you mean you don’t want your picture with me?!!! The cheek!!!

Enjoy!

;-) X

Keara’s Sunday Service

His Smileyness, The Dalai Lama, says, “There is a disparity between the way things appear and the way things actually are.”

His Smileyness

His Smileyness

Today’s lesson: Don’t believe everything you see on facebook.

Let’s face it, if people put the whole truth up, the stories would be far more interesting:

“Oh, look at me in a cocktail bar with a lovely French Martini smiling in a nice frock.
I just spent the last five minutes crying in the toilet because my date never turned up.
This is my fourteenth French Martini!
That barman looks hot! I’m so going to try and… whoah, some big hot hunk has just swept me off my feet…. Wooohoooo… he’s got muscles…
Oh, hang on it’s the bounce…r…aaaaaaaarh…
SPLAT!”

“Oh, look at us! Off we go on holiday with the family.
It’s going to be utter, utter hell!
I’ve packed my Prozac.
And my taser!”

“Wow! Look at me! On top of the Himalayas!
Alone. Because I have no friends.
NO ‘Like’s’?
That kinda Sucks
I’m jumping off now.
Does anyone care?
Anyone?”

“Here’s a picture of my delicious dinner!
Because no-one in this damn house appreciates the hours I put into it.
So, I need some ‘like’s to stop me from opening another bottle of gin.
Thanks.”

“Aw, look at me! Here I am still in the garden after our big party, drinking Prosecco by the Chiminea.
Because I’ve just had a blazing row with my husband – which started over a burnt sausage and ended in threats of divorce…

This truly is the happiest I have felt all day.” :-)

I close the lesson today with a quote from my favourite philosopher,
“Not everything with a pretty face is a nice person.”
Judge Judy Sheindlin

judge judy
If you want to find peace and happiness in your life, you will definitely find it here Edinburgh’s Secret Vaudeville

If You Must Celebrate V.D. My Funny Valentines…

If You Must Celebrate V.D. My Funny Valentines….

If You Must Celebrate V.D. My Funny Valentines…

Originally posted on KEARA MURPHY:

Ah, I have so many wonderful memories of V.D. down the years…

Picasso LoversPicasso – The Lovers

My favourite Valentine’s Day was in Hungary, where I lived with my lovely fiancé, who was a very romantic man, but afraid of heights.  He took me out to this wonderful place on the Great Hungarian Plains then standing in a field of weeds, pointed to a row of couples leading up to a large wicker basket and said, “You are going up in a hot air balloon for your Valentine’s!”

- Yes, he did say YOU and not WE!

As I floated up into the sky, a singleton in a cloud of couples, my darling fiancé waved at me from the ground like my Granddad.  I remember thinking, One day!  - One. Fine. Day! - this romance thing will kick-in like it does in the movies…


My first Valentine’s Card
came through the post.  It…

View original 358 more words

Love Poems by Pablo Neruda

Love Sonnet: XVII
I Don’t Love You As If You Were A Rose

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
Or arrow of carnations that propagate the fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
Secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
The light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
And thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
From the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems, or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way
to love,
Except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
So close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
So close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Pablo Neruda

Lovers Pablo Neruda and Matilde-Urrutia


The Potter

Your whole body holds
A wineglass of gentle sweetness destined for me.
When I let my hand climb,
In each place I find a dove
That was looking for me, as if,
My love, they had made you our of clay
For my very own potters hands.

Your knees, your breasts,
Your waist
Are missing in me like in the hollow
Of a thirsting earth
Where they relinquished
A form,
And together
We are complete like one single river,
Like one single grain of sand.

Pablo Neruda

Pablo_Neruda_Ricardo_Reyes (1)

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