Kathryn Koromilas is a writer, educator, lifestyle philosopher, and motivator. Born in Sydney, she’s lived in Greece and currently lives and works in Scotland.
Her work has appeared in many different countries on topics ranging from philosophy to food.
As a passionate and inspiring educator, she has worked in USA and Australian universities and conducted education workshops with businesses as far away as Beijing, creating simple yet extraordinary learning experiences which transform participants into confident, logical, creative and powerful individuals and team members.
What have you been reading?
I’ve been reading all sorts of things from crime fiction to philosophy to memoir. And now, I’ve started working my way through Seneca’s moral letters. This is a collection of around 100 letters the Stoic philosopher wrote to his friend Lucilius almost 2,000 years ago. But they’re so modern. He talks about all sorts of things that concern me today and provides some wise (and quite audacious at times) solutions to things like dealing with anxiety, trusting friends, dealing with depression, committing to things, dealing with emotions, and coming to terms with death. I’m actually reading these with members of a Stoic group I lead online and we’re recording the letters and creating a YouTube playlist. It’s loads of fun. Everyone can join in here at The Stoic Writer https://thestoicwriter.com/.
What are you watching?
I’m actually watching Peter Maneas’ My Greek Odyssey! It just appeared on Amazon Prime and my husband and I are obsessed. Thank the gods for algorithms! Peter is such a unique and refreshing voice in the travel doco genre, isn’t he?
What music are you listening to?
Mostly nothing, but if I’m writing or reading or cleaning, I might put on Feardog’s Lo-fi playlist on YouTube. On my daily 5K walk/run, it’s always Muse in my headphones. When I walk with Henrietta (my German Shepherd dog), I’ve lately been playing the audiobook version of Anthony McGowan’s “How to teach philosophy to your dog.” It adds a nice contemplative tone to our walks, I feel, but Henrietta finds it distracts me from throwing balls and sticks for her to fetch.
What are you cooking?
I’ve baked some bread. The other day, I added Kombucha on a whim. I don’t like to fuss about in the kitchen. I’m mostly vegan again now and I just love chopping up a whole lot of veges and pulses and fruits and throwing them into a bowl with apple cider vinegar, turmeric, and ginger dressing. I’ll do some baked sweet potato and the whole family, including Henrietta, shares that. I do some amazing no-bake vegan protein balls. We’ve been known to throw some mean meat-free sausages on the barbie. And there’s always a frozen vegan pizza and vegan ice cream in the fridge.
What is keeping you sane at the moment?
This is such an important question. Mental health is going to be the big thing to address on the path back to recovery post-pandemic. I’ve just recently signed up as a Mental Health Volunteer with Volunteer Scotland and completed some initial learning via Open University for this.
Two things that have kept me sane: (a) taking a break from social media and (b) refusing the global push to be productive during the pandemic lockdown (23 March here in Scotland). Everyone was saying: Now’s your chance to write that novel! Make lockdown mean something – learn something new! Do a course! Get a degree! There are whole waves of enthusiasm on social media, but there’s no interrogation. I mean, Why? Why do I have to write that novel now? Why do I have to learn how to draw a tiger? Why? So, I just went, nah. It’s amazing what happens when you say ‘nah’ and then you have all this time and even time to feel bored. Reclaiming my time and leaving it blank and open so that I just sit around being bored is one of the sanest things I’ve done since I was a teenager. And the most creative!
What is work like for you now?
My work life hasn’t changed much. I’ve been working online for a long, long time – teaching and writing. I did take up a few face-to-face classes here – it’s always nice to dress up and go out – but I teach those online now, with Zoom.
Meeting online via Zoom and similar applications is remarkably intimate, much more so than meeting in a classroom or conference room. You get to see everyone in their home, in their comfy chair, their favourite posters or artwork just behind them. You see them at the kitchen table with their kids leaning into the webcam.
What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since COVID-19 entered our lives?
I don’t think you need an experience like COVID-19 to witness human kindness. I’ve always seen it. But to note something specific to COVID-19: I’m currently living in a small town in Southwest Scotland and I was struck by the response of those with small businesses that had to shut down. While the rest of the world was “pivoting” online, they focused on the community needs. You know, going shopping for their elderly neighbours, that sort of thing. The business can wait, they said. Loved that.
What have you learned about yourself during COVID-19?
I’ve learnt that I can make bread using Kombucha! Seriously, though, I’ve learnt that I still have a lot to learn. It’s odd how mysterious we are to ourselves. The Delphic maxim “Know Thyself” is probably the most urgent call for action today. What seems to be productivity, learning, pivoting, experiencing, and succeeding is oftentimes just noise and distraction, building barriers and obstacles between us. What would life be like if I just took my time and focused it on really getting to know myself? It sounds solipsistic but you really have to start with yourself and then I think everything, all our concerns today, political and personal, will just make so much more sense. The more you see yourself as you are, the more you’ll see yourself as just another human being, like all the other human beings in the world. You’ll see that your dreams and fears are just like everyone else’s dreams and fears. You’ll see that we all have the same nature and that we have, quite simply, been born to work together.
READ MORE: My Greek Odyssey Series 3 kicks off
Where’s the first place you’d like to visit in Greece once travel is allowed?
Ah, despite Peter Maneas’ enticing showcasing of the islands, I still want to go back to Athens. I always want to go to Athens. Athens fills my heart and soul. It’s hard to explain because it’s so personal, but it’s my favourite place in the world. And, more so, I am my favourite person when I’m there. And I want to do the exact same thing I did on my last visit in October 2019. I want to stay at the very same room I had at the Coco-mat in Kolonaki, buy a bag of roasted chestnuts on Ermou and an old-school Frappe and walk and walk and walk, and then end up at Taki 13 to sit at the same table on the street, dip my bread into a salad, and listen to Spiros and Dimitris sing the Rembetika.