The 5th instalment of the Human Interviews is with my big sister Kelly.
It’s safe to say that we clashed a little in the old days. Mostly because I was always hanging out trying to talk to her girlfriends (who never took me on) or sneaking into her room to play with her Spirograph. I also had a weird fascination with Kelly’s flower press. Dunno what it was, it’s just that everything in Kelly’s room had an aura of thrill and danger, because if she found you, the screaming and wailing that followed had you running for the hills!
Kelly is a very private person. Intelligent and extremely witty. Also hilariously clumsy. She is an empathetic bridge between humans, yet quirky, sometimes spiky, and can be infuriatingly introverted.
I love Kelly for all that she is. For her depth, her strength, her leadership and her own personal brand of love. I have always found her a steadying presence in my life.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did (we did it via messaging each other over the course of a week hence it jumps around a bit).
Take it away Kelly!
So Kel, Thank you for finally agreeing to do this interview. I can’t believe how hard I’ve had to work to get you to finally give me the time of day. You’re a hard person to get hold of…Your own brother- seriously.
Hahaha. Is that your first question?! Because if it is my answer is ‘I seriously can’t believe it’s taken you this long to interview me. I mean you interviewed Ant before me. What even?
Fair call. Soooooo. Where to begin?
Lets get a few answers from you on life
Is there a philosophy on life that you would say that you live by?
Yep – obviously over time people’s personal philosophies tend to evolve and mine are no different. The current major overriding philosophy in my life is ‘the world owes us nothing’.
I used to believe that if you worked hard and were a good person, then you deserved good things in life. I’ve come to realise that this a flawed way of thinking that leads to a sense of entitlement. We don’t ‘deserve’ anything. We’re not entitled to anything except the most basic of human rights: food, shelter, safety, connection. Everything beyond this that is good is a bonus. Everything that is bad just needs to be dealt with.
What has this philosophy done for me? It’s made me absurdly grateful for everything good in my life. We won the lottery in being born to educated, financially secure people who love each other as much as they love us. Our level of privilege is extreme and I think about it every day.
Humbling words Kel. So tell me. What is the happiest moment that you can remember from your childhood? (Apart from when Adam got sent for discipline to your year 6 classroom and you cried from embarrassment).
I never forgave Adam’s teacher for that. What the hell?!
Look – I’m not going to lie. I did not love growing up as the eldest of five kids. As an extreme introvert I needed space and quiet and the only time I can remember having that ever was that brief period where we lived in Parkwood and I had my own bedroom. So I think that is probably my favourite childhood memory (living in that house!) I also do, however, have lovely, if hazy, memories of weekend days at Granny’s house in Trinidad.
Oh yes – I do have hazy memories of Granny’s house as well. The guava tree, the cherries and all the sewing stuff springs to mind. I also remember hazily a Monopoly game that you were playing with some of the older kids once (I think maybe Dean was one of them) and you wouldn’t let me play. Are we on the right track here?
I remember everything except the Monopoly game! That might have been down the islands.
Holy crud. This conversation is sparking memories. I remember one time down the islands that Granddad told me that vampire bats came in through the window during the night, batted your toes with their wings, and then after your toes started bleeding, that they sucked your blood. Why the hell would you say something like that to a young child??!
Ahahaaa. Our family is the WORST!
So you won the Busselton Half Ironman once and I actually never knew about that. I mean I knew you won a race but always assumed that it was just some backyard amateur race. (After all, I used to melt you when we did races round the block in Ravenslea Drive without stretching and in bare feet.) Can you tell us where your head was in the last 20 or so minutes of that race?
Heh that’s funny because the last 20 minutes of that race were the least stressful of the 4hrs and 50 odd minutes I was out there!
Before the race I knew if I had a good day, then I was a good chance to win. I also knew it would likely be between myself and one other (Ebony Malone) and going on the other races we’d done over the course of the season I figured it was highly likely I’d be going into the run 8 minutes down on her. I was comfortable I could pull that time back in the run. I was even willing to give up as much as 10 minutes. As it turned out I came off the bike in around 8th spot and 12 minutes down on Ebony. Very much nowhere and the maths really wasn’t in my favour.
Strangely, I wasn’t phased. What could I do? Just run as fast as I could and see what happened! Anyway – fast forward to 20 minutes to go in the race and after holding things together for 10km of the 21km run, Ebony had tired, and tired fast. So, after looking like it was going to be second place for me, I rather anticlimactically caught her with around 4km left to run. And of course I immediately started looking over my shoulder thinking someone might now be running ME down! But there was no one there.
Still, those last 4km seemed to take FOREVER but with about 1km to go I saw two of my friends and they just let out the giantest WHOOP and that’s when I realised I was going to win. I floated through the last km with the biggest smile on my face and immediately burst into tears the second I crossed the finish line.
Before the race I knew it might be my only ever chance to win this very coveted title (WA State Long Course Champion). So I really wanted to win! I couldn’t believe I’d actually pulled it off. It was a really special moment for myself, my coach and my training partners who were all at the finish line to celebrate. It was definitely the best moment of my triathlon ‘career’.
So, you and I had a pretty heated conversation about the state of the world today (the end result being that you walked away in fury) – what do you think is the most important thing in making our world a better place? How do you and I contribute to that? What’s your ethos on that?
Err, yeah, sorry about that. Being with Anthony Exeter for 20 years has given me low tolerance for circular arguments and whenever I find myself involved in one these days I just want to stab myself and eventually I get to the point where I just have to walk away. But walking away is not cool. So apologies.
On to what is the most important thing to make our world a better place: I firmly, FIRMLY believe the biggest thing we can all do for the world is to raise kind, compassionate, confident and respectful children. And the only way to do this is to model this behaviour ourselves. Which means the world wins in two ways:
- By the adults of today being good people.
- By adults of the future being good people too.
Most of the bad stuff in the world comes from a lack of understanding of, and a lack of respect for, people who are different to us. Kindness and compassion can defuse most of the worst stuff out there. So the more of us who choose kindness, the better.
You know, kindness seems to be a key factor in how most people answer that question. So on that note, what’s the kindest thing you’ve ever seen anyone do or that you have ever experienced?
I would be struggling to name a ‘kindest thing I’ve ever seen’ but I think the most important of kindnesses is the kind that gets extended to people who generally feel invisible. So who feels invisible? Old people, homeless people, the guy on the checkout, that friend who is really struggling in themselves – there are invisible people everywhere. They’re people feel like no one really ‘sees’ them, like no one ever looks them in the eye.
All they want is for other people to look at them like they matter. So when I see someone look at someone else like they matter … I think that’s right up there with the kindest thing I ever see.
Did you have these answers planned?
What? How can I plan answers when I don’t have the questions?!
They are too perfect – I’m finally gonna get some post likes.
Hey this is stuff I think about in my head all the time. So that’s probably why the answers seem perfect 🙂
Do you think you’ll ever see Adam again?
I don’t think so. Not in an ‘I’ll see him in heaven kind of way’. But I also kind of feel like he’s not really gone. I feel him around us all the time. I see him in our kids. I see him in you. I see him in (our brother) Shane. I don’t really know how to explain it but I just feel like he is ‘there’ – for all of us, all the time.
I think we will. I believe that this world is created by our concious which is limited by the body and our 5 senses. When we die, we pass to another form of conciousness that’s more powerful – I’ll track him down then. Or more likely – he’ll come and find me.
Yeah I like that theory about consciousness – it kind of fits with what I think. I don’t really believe in a ‘heaven’ but I do believe in some kind of spiritual world. So maybe I do think I will see Adam again … in that spiritual realm.
Now lets talk about a very big part of Kelly Mouttet-Exeter: your blog ‘A life Less Frantic’
For those that don’t know you – can you tell us how that all came about?
Well, around five years ago I had a blog called I Love Pretty Things … and I’d also started something called The Smile Collective. And I was also running Swish Design. A PR person who was helping me get the word out about The Smile Collective mentioned it would be good if there was also a ‘Kelly Exeter’ website somewhere from which to build my personal brand and direct people to all my various ‘things’. She pointed me to Sarah Wilson’s site (which I was already reading and loving) as a good example of a lovely personal brand. So I created kellyexeter.com.au to try and build a Sarah Wilson-like personal brand!
Well history will show that since I’m not Sarah Wilson, I failed in that quest. But in blogging at kellyexeter.com.au I quickly came to realise that when I shared elements of my story (you know, having a breakdown, passing Swish over to Ant to run, getting on top of and then past a near-lethal dose of stress + anxiety + depression … etc) this really resonated with people.
In getting on top of life I also noticed that the major trigger for stress for me was rushing. I was always rushing from one place to another, always under pressure. It was from the elimination of rushing from my life that the name ‘A Life Less Frantic’ was born.
And ironically, even though the focus of A Life Less Frantic has been very much about sharing my thoughts around living a less frantic, more present life … it’s also been very good from the point of view of building my personal brand. (BTW I know a lot of people think the concept of ‘personal brand’ is very wanky, but the fact is, we all have one whether we call it that or not … and it’s nice to have at least a little bit of control over how people perceive you don’t you think?!)
Can you tell me what you think your best ever blog was. I’m sure the readers out there would like to read it.
I think this is definitely my favourite at the moment 🙂 And it seemed to be my readers’ favourite too:
Cool. So then. Is there anything that you are struggling with at the moment regarding your blog? For me it’s time and a little bit of lack of inspiration. But I know at some point – something will just come to me 🙂
Time vs perfectionism is the big one for me. I don’t struggle for ideas but in order to write a post that I feel really hits the mark, I need to be able to write it well in advance of publication so I have the ability to ponder it a bit more once written … and tweak and tweak to ensure I’m delivering big time on the promise I’m making to the reader via the headline (pressure much?!).
I get pretty frustrated when I press ‘publish’ on something that is not as great as I’d like it to be – and this happens probably 90% of the time. But I hold myself to a certain publication schedule (Wednesdays and Fridays) and have learned that consistency and holding oneself to a deadline force you to step up. I’ve also learned that just because something isn’t perfect in your own eyes – that doesn’t mean it won’t resonate with readers.
What is the best blog you have read this week?
Does this count? Because I absolutely loved it – Liz Gilbert is one of my favourite people at the moment.
What is your favourite blog at the moment (except for memoirsofthemind.com)
Hmmm – you’re asking me to take my life into my hands there. But if I had to nominate just one – it’d have to be smaggle.com. Carly has just been hitting it out of the park this year. But then so too has maxabellaloves.com.au. Both girls are just incredibly sensible … and I love the thoughts that come out of their heads.
OK. Who is your hero?
I don’t have heroes because to me, heroes should be infallible. And the thing is – all humans are very fallible. So having a hero is setting yourself up for disappointment (because one day you’ll discover they’re just like you.) I have people I hugely admire and aspire to be like Liz Gilbert and Annabel Crabb, but I wouldn’t do them the disservice of attaching the hero tag to them.
On being a mum
Describe to me your personal philosophy on what it takes to be a good mother.
- Not asking my kids to be something they’re not (for instance not asking my introverted little boy to be more extroverted and vice versa my extroverted little girl)
- Teaching my kids to be kind and open minded … and the only way to do this is to model that behaviour myself.
What is your greatest fear as a mother?
Definitely the thought of either Ant or myself dying and the kids growing up without one of us. And of course – the thought of losing either child. My first thought when Jaden was born was ‘oh my god, how am I going to keep you alive for the rest of my life?’
What is your biggest failing as a mother?
I’m not good at playing. I just don’t enjoy it. Ant will build train tracks for hours with Jaden but I just don’t enjoy that stuff. I comfort myself by reminding myself I am good at many other things.
What’s the funniest CLUMSY thing that you have done lately?
Not one hour ago Ant and I were in the kitchen at work cleaning up. I somehow managed to catch the edge of the tea towel on a knife and flick the knife straight at Ant’s head. He was really impressed
You are genuinely awesome Kel. You are the most hilarious clutz I know.
And a beautiful person.
Aw thank you 🙂
Where do you see yourself, and the world around you in 20 years time?
Wow that’s a big question. I can’t even begin to imagine what the world is going to be like in 20 years time given how fast technology is moving at the moment. I hope the world will be a more peaceful place and that the human race will be more aware of the effect we’re having on this planet … and doing something about reducing/negating that.
As for me, in 20 years time I’ll be 58 and I hope to be a successful writer sharing time between a house in Perth (Mia will only be 22, Jaden 26 so I assume they’ll still be at home!) and a house in the Yallingup bushland. It’d be nice if all the books I will have written in that time will be providing enough of an income that Ant and I can still be working, but doing work we really enjoy doing (which for me would be writing … for Ant … who knows!). Beyond that … who knows!
If there was one thing that you could change today about the world – What would it be?
I’d really like the world to be less angry. I feel there is so much outrage and anger everywhere I look and most of this outrage and anger is directed at things that Just. Don’t. Matter. I’d like to see us all saving outrage for things that are truly outrageous. Because right now, the world is so noisy about things that don’t matter, the things we really need to care about …. they’re just not getting airtime.
Can you give one or two examples of what you mean. As in – what’s getting air time and what should be?
What’s getting airtime? Stuff about celebrities. Why are we so obsessed with celebrities?
We should be obsessed with not being so busy. We should be obsessed about domestic violence and about the casual discrimination people are dealing with everyday. Sexism, homophobia, racism, able-ism. The list is long
Urrrg – yes. There are a lot of people worried about Kim Kardashians pant’s size than there are about real underlying world issues or philosophical and critical thinking. Honestly I think that the success of shows like Real Housewives and The Bachelor are a truly telling reflection of a world that doesn’t know, or simply doesn’t want to know about where we are heading as a collective. Just my opinion and no need to respond to that one!
OK so just for kicks!
Tell me what’s awesome about me because I’m not doing this all for your fame and fortune.
There are lots of things that are awesome about you:
- Your love for your family – the fact that you will do anything for the people you love
- Your loyalty (you’re probably too loyal)
- Your ability to take a talent (like design and soccer) and absolutely maximise that talent
- You’re a great writer (when you edit) 🙂
- You care so hard about all people
- You can have a massive fight with me … and then 20 minutes later we can be chatting normally again (you don’t hold grudges like Ant and Dad!)
- You have a genuine desire to make the world a better place
- You are generous to a fault (probably too generous)
- In all – you’re just a generally good guy and I am proud to be your sister.
Well it kind of has to end there because of your poor choice of footy teams unfortunately.
Be honest now. Have the Dockers got a shot this year?
I’d prefer to answer that question after the first game of the finals but my gut says no. I really hope my gut is wrong 🙂
What song would you put on if you were feeling down?
The song in this video … plus this video. Gives me goosebumps every time:
If you were an animal. What would it be?
Unicorn. Who wouldn’t want to be a unicorn?
If you were a country – what would you be?
Australia cos laid back and sporty 🙂
And not that humble either…
What is the funniest thing each of your children have done in the last week?
Maybe it was when I put Mia in the corner this week and she was really upset (duh) so what did Jaden do? He got her doona and his iPad and went and sat in the corner with her and they watched his iPad together!!!
What is the funniest thing you ever saw in a movie or tv show?
Hmm – I am not good with remembering things I saw in movies but it would definitely be something from Happy Gilmore or Zoolander
What cheers you up when you are feeling down?
Reading a book, going for a run, hanging out with the kids, a hug from Ant.
Who would win in a fight between Darth Vader and Freddy Kruger and why?
Darth Vader because Freddy Kruger exists only in dreams. Darth Vader is real. And also heaps cooler.
What was your favourite childhood movie?
The Neverending Story. Do you reckon I can remember much of it though? No. I think I need to watch it again!
OK Last question Kel 🙂 Describe all of your siblings in one word.
Rory – hyperactive
Adam – cool
Robyn – caring
Shane – chilled
Debbie – generous
Denise – spiritual
Roger – quiet
Richard – patient
One word is not enough for any of you. You’re are complex beings!
Ok well that wraps things up nicely. I just wanted to mention one last moment I remember from being a child. I remember as a little boy, we were coming home from Port of Spain or one of those long drives in Trinidad. We were both riding in the back of the station wagon because – Trinidad – and you were stroking my hair in a childish innocent show of comfort as I pretended to sleep. I couldn’t have been more than about 3 or 4. But it still remains and probably always will remain, one of my fondest and most comforting memories 🙂 It is a little hazy – Mum will probably tell me it never happened.
Thanks for doing the interview 🙂
Aww! Well I don’t remember that but I am glad I did something that nice.
Yeah what happened to you…