be kind, and brave

This week my old boss left the organisation.

When asked what would be his advice to young starters who have just joined the org, his answer was:

“Be nice to people, and walk towards the gunfire.”

I am still thinking about this. Not because I am not nice to people, on the contrary, but because I know I am consciously staying away from where the rub is, hiding behind my work, my job, my duties.

Being an environmentalist* in Australia makes you fair game in the eyes of many. When I came out here twenty years ago, I soon spiralled into deep depression because I could no longer speak my mind, as I would get shouted down.

But now, two decades on, it is probably time to crawl out of that hole and find the smoke stack I need to chain myself on to…

I’ll come back to this one…


(*probs have to add here that back then I didn’t even know I am one… talking about nature, recycling or saving water was just a normal thing to do where I came from… but here it was met with deep suspicion and quite advanced closed-mindeness, was told that I am ‘one of them’, that I want to take away people’s lives or standards and that I’m woke and not realistic and other bullshit…)

ecology > grief

Recently I got caught up in a commentary to a tweet of mine where I expressed concerns over people leaving stuff behind in National Parks, like the locks people put on railings. The argument put forward was that people do that because they grieve, and then they can’t think of someone else’s concerns, and also if something is man-made anyone can attach something to it.

I disagreed, saying by that definition anyone can put anything anywhere at any time. The discussion stopped, days later I found myself blocked by that account.

While it is unpleasant to be excluded by someone at random, I still stand by my conviction that if we don’t take the care for our surroundings more serious at all times, none of the protection that we’re hoping to give to our natural world will work.

So does grief out-rule ecology? No, it does not.

Instead it could be used for its safeguard, not against it. One way to connect loss to a memorable element in nature is to plant a tree, or donate towards upgrading the National Park that was visited. There are plenty of ways to create a memory that is in sync with the aim of protecting our natural environment.

Loveliveson.com/memorial-trees-australia
Plantatreeforme.org.au

be a lady they said

My mate

The mate I live with for the past 20 odd years is of Aboriginal appearance. Or so it seems, according to the many times he was stopped on the streets by police or similar agencies when we lived in Kings Cross and that area.

The even more mind-boggling part to that story is though that, whenever I appeared in the picture (blond white female) (eg. me coming out of a shop where he was waiting outside, or he parked waiting for me, etc.) they would instantly let go of him. Or, and just as instantly, when he opened his mouth and started talking, with his uncanny European accent, being German born yet descendant of a mix of European cultures.

What that taught us early on, when coming to Australia to live here, is how fucked you are when your skin is not as bright shiny white as my cancer ridden freckled shell is…

We have since tried our best to support all Indigenous projects and initiatives we could get involved with. And frankly so should you too, and everyone. There’s just no other way than unconditional support to close this unbelievable societal gap that is so tangible and somehow latently accepted everywhere in Australia.

Sonderwords

23 words for emotions you have had but could not express…

1. Sonder

The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

2. Opia

The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

3. Monachopsis

The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

4. Enouement

The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.

5. Vellichor

The strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

6. Rubatosis

The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

7. Kenopsia

The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.

8. Mauerbauertraurigkeit

The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.

9. Jouska

A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

10. Chrysalism

The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.

11. Vemodalen

The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.

12. Anecdoche

A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.

13. Ellipsism

A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.

14. Kuebiko

A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.

15. Lachesism

The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.

16. Exulansis

The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

17. Adronitis

Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.

18. Ruckkehrunruhe

The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.

19. Nodus Tollens

The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.

20. Onism

The frustration of being stuck in just one body that inhabits only one place at a time.

21. Liberosis

The desire to care less about things.

22. Altschmerz

Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.

23. Occhiolism

The awareness of the smallness of your perspective. 

#radioniris

I am writing this down, on the off-chance that I can help another woman (or man, husband, friend, son, father) to be less panicky about breast cancer and the treatments involved, such as radiation therapy.

I had a DCIS* found in Dec 2018 (*explained below). I got operated right away, had all three high grade nodules completely removed. I healed during Jan/Feb. During Mar/April I have to go to hospital every weekday and receive 25 sessions of radiation treatment to my right upper chest. It started on the last day of Feb, and the wait towards it was the most stressful thing I can remember. I only ever had 3 panic attacks in my life, one was over a decade ago, the other two I had in February, waiting towards these sessions. I would wake up at night, sweat drenched, suffocating. My nerves were on edge, ready to jump anyone who dropped as much as a feather around me.

Now I am into my third week, I have received 7 treatments so far. My panic has subsided, and gave way to surrender. I stopped thinking about the side effects that were so meticulously repeated to me: scarring to the lung, brittling of the ribs, other cancers, the skin will come off, pain increasing and worsening after end of treatments, etc etc… I arranged for work to be part-time, go to work in the morning and get the sessions at St George late afternoon on my way home.

I come to the same machine, every day, and the same bunch of cheery nurses who tend to me during the ~15 minutes a session takes. There’s laughter and banter. What takes the most time is the set-up: I have to lay in the exact position, every single time. On day 0 they prepared a ‘cast mould’, and that is where I lie down in. Next is laser measuring with fancy green lights that cross where they must, and the nurses actually do a numberwang ; -D they call out numbers to each other (confirming the correct alignment). Then they leave the room, and the actual zapping takes ~ 3 x 10 seconds, from different angles.

The whole thing is doable, but now a 4th of the way in I can feel my skin giving up and the internal bruising increasing. I will see how see much more the effect will impact. I will come back next or so and write more about it. I use an (allowed) moisturiser from the pharmacy (Dermaveen, 100ml) to keep the skin from breaking up.

Update 21-03: I’m now halfway through the sessions. Today is day 15/25. I am still doing ok, but now the skin is sore, like a hefty allergy, and the bruising no longer ignoreable. I will continue to go to work, but will stop if I can’t. I get random pain in the area, like deep cuts, but not more than maybe ten times a day. But moving around I have to do slower than usual, so not to upset the whole thing. Two more weeks and then I’m done. I’ll report back next week or so…

Last update 06-04: It’s done, I had my last radiation treatment yesterday. I am quite sore, my skin is about as purple as the colour of the waiting room sign below, and very angry, inflamed, blisters and open sores, but altogether I am in good spirits, also because of the good care I received throughout the entire treatment. Plus the nurses were fantastic, lovely and caring and also funny, there was always giggles and good wishes. So next is now healing, which I was told will take a while. I’ll come back here and report how that went in a week or so.

But main fazit: Don’t be scared ladies, there’s good care out there xx

Final update 12-04: It’s now a full week without treatment, and my skin has recovered a lot. Not right away, the first few days (and nights) after the last session where the most ‘taxing’ (pain, heat, strong itch), but then the healing kicked in almost instantly. I add two photos just to give an idea of how I look now (not shown for obvs reasons are nipple & scar from the operation, which are the most angry & inflamed parts). I post this in the hope it takes the worry of someone’s mind, because from all that I had read before treatment started I had actually feared much worse than this, but could not find any depiction of what the effects might at least roughly be. (plus also posted in the hope not to scare anyone!). The inside is still sore and extremely pressure sensitive, and will take much longer to recover, but I could already go for a long walk, carry bags home etc. Life’s good again : -)

PS – Next steps: Follow up with clinic prof in 6 weeks (cells need ~28 days to rebuild). Then comes follow up with surgeon in July (6 mths after op). Then a full mammogram in Dec (1 yr after op). Surgeon & mammogram repeat 6-mthly for 5 years.

(the two lambs are just saying Hello and not to worry too much ;D xx)

Be fearless

The Stoics, much like Buddhist philosophy, thought humanity’s main problem was attachment. The more attached to external things – jobs, wealth, even loved ones – the more we suffer if we lose those them. Instead, they suggest we only be concerned with what we can control: our own personal virtue. For Stoics, we aren’t vulnerable because the only thing that matters can’t be taken away from us: our virtue & our values.

Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant had similar thoughts. He believed the only thing that mattered for ethics was that we act with a good will. Whatever happened to us or around us, so long as we act with the intention of fulfilling our duties, we’re be in the clear, ethically speaking. It’s our rational nature – our ability to think – that defines us ethically. And thinking is completely within our control.

I go through life and see & value people through their actions, and their intend. What they say is “Schall und Rauch” to me. I strive to live fearless and without baggage. There is no other way if you want to be able to help others and yourself. Angst eats soul and makes your heart small. I have to thanks to my Ethics peeps for all their good food for thought <3.