Sunday, 25 May 2014

Erich Fromm (where's 'e from?) has blown my mind

I was having one of those amazing conversations yesterday - the kind where you leave and your whole body is buzzing and your imagination is alive. Incredible.

Anyway during that conversation I was introduced to Erich Fromm, and a concept from a book he wrote, called "The Art of Loving".

Fromm paints this picture of love, and the person doing the loving as an artist - cultivating the craft (or the art) of loving. From the Wiki page - "Fromm presents love as a skill that can be taught and developed. He rejects the idea of loving as something magical and mysterious that cannot be analyzed and explained..."

"Fromm observes that real love "is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone." It is only through developing one's total personality to the capacity of loving one's neighbor with "true humility, courage, faith and discipline" that one attains the capacity to experience real love. This should be considered a rare achievement..."


My mind is sufficiently blown.

I love that.

It resonated deeply with me. Loving, an art, crafted, cultivated, nurtured, developed - and loving all people to love. To truly love.

It's less about another external person and more about the internal action of love. Somehow it takes the pressure off everything and is more accepting. More real.

I gotta get me this book.

Erich Fromm, where's 'e from? 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Possibly the craziest week of my entire life

Have you ever had one of those days where everything that could possibly happen happens?

So for the last week or so that has been my day, every day. In fact since returning from my trip to Japan my days have been steadily increasing in hectic-and-craziness.

It's been an everything time. I've had welcome and unwelcome news. I've had metaphoric bushfires to extinguish (oh so many work debacles/emergencies and plenty of personal challenges too). I've had people I've desperately wanted to see and catch up with talk to and cuddle and love but I've been low on spare time and there has just been so much work to fit in. Adequate sleep has been tricky and eating has been an infrequent event. 

I've wanted to write words but until today there were no spare minutes to entertain idle thoughts.

Don't mistake this as me complaining, here. I've been craving for life to ramp up in a number of areas and now it has - I'm possibly just adjusting. Most of the craziness has been incredible, although things have perhaps moved faster than I had anticipated.

But it has been stupidly busy (frantic) and somewhat overwhelming.

A friend of mine helpfully suggested I prioritise. Anything you can put off, put off for now! Yes! But yesterday, I was prioritising between emergencies. Which emergency is more urgent...? How do I decide between doing X or doing Y? Nope, no choice, must do both.

I've not even really had a chance to just let myself fall in a heap and wail like a banchee (cry). Something I'm fond of doing when I feel quite overwhelmed. Although some of that did leak out a few days ago for a brief moment...

Anyway, there always seems to be a silver lining with me, no exceptions here. One of the loveliest things about the craziest week/fortnight/time (possibly of my life) has been people.

Thoroughout all if this hecticness I've been blown away (repeatedly) by the amazingly sweet things people have been doing for me. And all of those peeps have had their own stuff going on in their own crazy worlds. 

How do I adequately convey my thanks for these things?

Thank you?



I'm back to wondering how it is possible to fit more love in this already brimming heart of mine and there it is. Room for more.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Mended broken bones and brains

Okay so. Brave post coming up.

Know that I am nervous about posting this, but sometimes it's good to make brave admissions. During my times of struggle there were times where only hearing people's stories got me through. Some were told by loved ones (see my logs post, one of the best and most helpful stories for me of all time), and some by complete strangers, usually online in spaces like this one. The people who had the courage to open up about their own stuff helped me more than words can express.

So I'm paying it forward. Telling my stories and digging around for my courage to tell the big ones too.

I've been on Effexor (it's an SSRI, helpful for peeps with GAD) for around a year.

I'd been on it before and gotten off it (which I previously posted about). But I had to go on it again for reasons that aren't important. Loads of therapy too. Therapy is amazing by the way.

Anyway last night I saw my meds doctor. My doc who has been there with me for yeeeears, since the beginning of all of this. Last time I saw him we talked about me stepping down in May. Like, this month. Now.

As part of the process to decide if stepping down was still a good idea, I caught him up on the events of the last few months, since the time I last saw him. Spilled my guts on all sorts of emotions that popped up during that time. I wanted to share the responsibility in the decision to come off them.

Last time I ignored his advice and came off too soon. So this time around I had told him I'd just trust whatever he thought and give myself a bit of space and time to recover properly. Totes took the pressure right off and just didn't set myself any sort of deadline.

"So, doc, how's it looking, am I ready?" I asked.

He grinned and said, "more than ready", and then some other nice things. They're just for me though.

I squealed with delight. I was never 100% comfortable having to take them (side effects, dependency, etc), although I do understand they were necessary for me for a time and I'm no longer ashamed about needing to be on them. (Yeah, that one took quite some time.)

So, today is day 1 of reduction in SSRI meds.

I feel nervous, but also excited. Both, in equal measure.

Stupid side effects be gone! Yay!

I wonder how I'll go without them! Hmm. *ponders

Only one way to find out.

As I was leaving the doc's office, I remembered something my Mum told me years ago. At the time it was super helpful and last night it was helpful again.

She said, "you know Mary, after a broken bone mends, that part of the bone is stronger than the rest of the bone".

Thinking about that sort of floored me. Really?! Wow, that's so cool.

For a while my brain was a bit broken.

We put a plaster cast on it for a while, and wrapped it in (lots of) cotton wool.

Now the cast is off and it's all exposed and a little scary, but I can 'walk' again on my own now without crutches and without a cast.

'Am hoping Mum was right about the broken bones thing too - and its applicability to brains.

If nothing else, it's nice to wriggle my toes.

My brain's toes. I'm being metaphorical but I'm sure you get that. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Dear Mr Abbott, I am dissatisfied with your response

You may recall a couple of months ago I wrote to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in relation to the UDHR and people seeking asylum in Australia. See here for a copy of the original letter.

Tony responded to me personally. See his response here.

Here is my response to him. The original will follow by post. 

7 May 2013

The Hon Tony Abbott MP
Prime Minister of Australia
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Mr Abbott,
Re:         Your ref C14/20782
                Asylum seekers – dissatisfied with your response
Thank you for your response dated 24 April 2014, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
In your correspondence you’ve said:
1.       Illegal boats put lives at risk…[and that] The Government believes in a strong migration programme and won’t sacrifice that under a guise of “false compassion”  that, in turn, encourages more illegal arrivals on unsafe boats”.
With respect, the Government’s current immigration policies are also putting lives and people at risk. It seems (among other things) you’ve missed a larger issue I’ve raised: how people seeking refugee status received by Australia are being treated, which is (by all accounts) very, very badly. Aside from the death of Reza Berati, I have heard eye witness accounts of, and read countless reports on, the terrible conditions at Manus and Nauru, Mr Abbott. Disease and mental illness in the processing centres is prevalent and on the increase.

2.       [Paraphrased] “the policies are rebuilding Australia’s confidence in the immigration policies”’. How can you say that with a straight face? I enclose an article (marked "1"), published today in the Guardian. I don’t know any Australian who has any sort of confidence in the Government’s current immigration policies. If anything, confidence is dropping.

3.       The number of “illegal arrivals” has dropped since the Government tightened its policies.
Why would this impress me, or any Australian?
This concerns me. UNHCR statistics show more and more people are being forced to leave their war torn, poverty stricken countries. The fact they’re no longer coming to Australia is not something to brag about. Your assertion is superficial and in my view takes us further from the principals under the UDHR. And I’m dumbfounded you admit to thinking this is a productive measure of success.
Also, are the number of boats really dropping, Mr Abbott, really? Almost every day there is bad publicity for Australia on the disastrous outcomes relating to your asylum seeker policies. I believe you use manipulated statistics to justify your reasons for these policies. I enclose an additional article (marked“2”, source UNHCR) and note these are the statistics I choose to rely on, Mr Abbott, not yours, and they do not make Australia look good.
This is what the Australian people are seeing, Mr Abbott.
Further your referring to these people as “illegal arrivals” demonstrates your complete lack of compassion. To me it demonstrates a total disconnect between you and the issues. They’re people, Mr Abbott, humans: who, in the face of adversity, are willing to risk their lives in leaky boats. How bad must it be on their end for them to do that, to justify such an enormous risk?
You may as well wave a big flag in the air that says “I have no empathy for humans!” I’m aware you’re a busy man, Mr Abbott. I’ll make you the flag and post it to you by separate correspondence.
You and I, Mr Abbott, we’re lucky: the luckiest. We were born into a fantastic set of circumstances where even the lower middle classes are comparatively affluent by world standards. Lucky us.
But what if that changed, Mr Abbott, and we needed assistance and compassion from a neighbouring country? What if these people seeking asylum were our parents, our spouses, or our children?
How would you want to handle those people, Mr Abbott? How would you expect that we be treated if we needed assistance and compassion? Would we expect or hope that we would be processed legitimately? Would we expect or hope that we would be treated with respect and treated well during the time that processing takes place?
I would.
You claim Australia’s successful resettlement programmes are “among the top refugee resettlement countries”. The truth of this is highly dubious, but even if it were true – I do not believe we are a country that treats people seeking asylum with dignity and respect.
Do not make the mistake of believing that people born into more difficult circumstances do not have incredible value, Mr Abbott. They do.
Before you dismiss what I’m writing, consider this: if you want to keep your election promises, keep them. I vehemently disagree with them but I didn’t vote you in.
Whatever your promises, you have no right to mislead the public. You have no right to mistreat humans.
At the very absolute, bottom-line minimum:
1.       Make sure the people seeking asylum are actually processed, on a genuine case by case basis.
Surely you must be aware of the whistleblowers coming out of the processing centres who’ve indicated people seeking asylum are not actually being processed.

2.       Make sure people seeking asylum are treated adequately during the time they are processed.
By all reports they’re currently under appalling conditions. You need to ask yourself if you would ever want to be an asylum seeker under your own Government.

3.       Stop lying.
The response you gave me in your letter was superficial and flimsy. It lacked any real conviction and made it abundantly clear to me that you should not be running a country. I am seeing more and more Australians agreeing with me on this, Mr Abbott.
And it’ll cost you votes.
And honestly, I am astounded [emphasis added] that you’re able to sleep at night.

Response from Prime Minister Tony Abbott

You may recall a couple of months ago I wrote to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in relation to the UHDR and people seeking asylum in Australia. See here for a copy of the letter.

Tony responded, here is a copy of his letter.

I have replied to his letter as well, which I will post in a separate post, see here

Friday, 2 May 2014

Last night in Japan

Tonight is my last night in Japan.

I spent the last few days in Kyoto (it was sooo not enough I could easily have spent another 2 weeks there), and arrived back in Tokyo today. Ready for my flight home tomorrow.


This trip has been amazing.

I couldn't decide how to spend my last night in Japan. I was briefly tempted to just hang out in my hotel room - having stayed in hostels the entire trip, being completely on my own for the first time in two weeks was very tempting - but I ventured out to get some last minute exploring done.

I love exploring this country. I love speaking (or maybe trying to speak) Japanese. I love eating the food. Listening to all the sounds. The sounds here are mostly just so cute.

Anyway tonight became about just wandering around getting thoroughly lost down the streets of I have no idea where. I just walked towards the lights and the bustle and it didn't take long to be in the thick of somewhere incredible.

Then I decided to fill my belly with all my favourite Japanese foods. Gyoza. Tuna sushimi. That's as far as I got before dessert because I have a pitifully small stomach.

There was no English menu so I had to look up the Kanji for Tuna. Success.

And it was 10 little nuggets of delicious.

Usually when I go overseas by the time the trip is over I'm ready to go home.

Both times I've been to Japan I've wanted to stay longer, see more, taste more, speak more Japanese.

Ahh Japan, old friend.

Ittekimasu xx