Every year I set myself a new annual theme. That means, I still have my basic set of themes to live by, but I’m trying to put a special emphasis on this one for one year. If it works well, I incorporate it into my basic set of themes. If not, it just falls away again. In 2019 my annual theme was:
Nature has been a very important part in my life for several years now. The topic of climate change has been present in my reality years before every news channel has started talking about it on a daily basis. However, so far I’ve always talked about living in harmony with nature. About making our economy circular, rather than linear. About preventing unnecessary waste and trying our best to preserve this beautiful planet we live on.
It wasn’t until the end of 2018 that I started understanding more that humans are nature too. Our bodies and our psyche are nature. Humans treat themselves as if they were something separate from the rest of the planet. And in the process we all became addicted to sugar. We torture our bodies with short but way too intense, unnatural workouts in gyms. We sit with 90° knees most of the day. We eat food that comes from fields with soil which has lost all nutrition due to our way of working it. Everybody is running after the latest fad in dieting and working out. A big chunk of us barely ever sees a forest. And most of us don’t understand what nature is and how it works at all.
We are nature. And while I still believe that it is of the highest importance to protect the environment we live in, I also started understanding, that we humans have stopped protecting ourselves. Instead of seeing ourselves as an active part of nature, we believe we have to treat ourselves in unnatural ways, separate from the rest. In micro doses I already started learning this when I stopped using any kind of hair products about 6 years ago. But I was always lacking the bigger picture.
Understanding this, made me see that it’s not about harmony with nature. It’s ONLY about nature. For we are nature. Therefore I changed my theme to ‘Symbiosis with Nature’. And boy, did I learn about that.
In my pursuit to eat more nutritiously, my boyfriend and I started learning about herbs and edible plants from the forests surrounding Vienna. I began understanding soon that this is evergreen knowledge. No matter what times we live in, knowing about what to eat from nature gives us better nourishment in our current daily life, but it could also keep us alive in a zombie apocalypse.
Furthermore I started understanding the huge value in medicinal herbs. I never believed, plants could have a big impact on our bodies, before. Now, that I actually tried using this ancient knowledge, I saw immediate effects. If my boyfriend can’t fall asleep for three hours and is really frustrated already, I make him a cup of sweet woodruff tea and it will knock him out within five minutes. Whenever my throat gets all phlegmy, I make myself some tea of ground ivy and the flowers of the purple dead-nettle. And whenever I have a dry cough, I smoke a bit of coltsfoot (also known as coughwort!) and it immediately covers the sore spots with an alleviating layer of oils. When I first read about smoking something against a dry cough, I laughed and thought the author was crazy. Until I tried it and it blew my mind. There were nights where we couldn’t sleep because my cough wouldn’t stop. When I finally smoked that magic stuff the cough was gone for the rest of the night!
Learning about these herbs had more positive side effects on me. I don’t think there was a time in my adult life where I went out into the forest so regularly. Getting fresh air and seeing nature had a huge impact on my psyche and my body. It’s been proven that forest air works your immune system to even prevent cancer. It’s also been proven that seeing plants and bodies of water increases mental wellbeing. I felt all of that.
Besides that, I was doing the most natural exercise Homo Sapiens could do: I went on very long walks and hikes (this I did before, but usually in an urban setting). Walking and running is what kept our species alive for hundreds of thousands of years. We are born hunters and gatherers. Homo Sapiens existed for about 300,000 years. Only about 12,000 years ago we started settling with the agricultural revolution. In the eyes of many this is where humans fncked themselves over. At the very least when it comes to health: We began doing very unnatural movements out in the field, all leading up to today where most of us sit all day, and over-training their bodies for one hour a day in the gym.
I also started understanding how nature works and where our species fits into this picture. I don’t like buying commercially grown herbs because they usually don’t come from the forests. Europe was covered in forests before humans cut them down. Patches of grassland where highly unusual. And even that grassland didn’t consist of only one crop. We are actively ruining our soil by depleting it of the necessary biodiversity. This soil erosion also leads to the floods we are experiencing more and more off. It depletes the food we get from fields. This is why I want to get my herbs mainly from forest areas that have been as untouched by humans as possible (there are barely any that have not been): The soil is rich in nutrients and minerals.
Earth is Life. Even the bible knows that (and I’m by no means religious): Adam derives from the Hebrew word ‘Adamah’ for ‘Earth’. And Eve, who comes from Adam’s rib? Her name means ‘Life’! Earth leads to life. And we are killing our soil.
How come, everybody is talking about all the CO2 in the air and barely anybody mentions the soil, that all this CO2 actually belongs into?
I’m rambling. But I feel it’s necessary to help you understand where this last year has lead me and where I want to go with my next year. So after all this excursion into nature, let’s talk about some other parts of my 2019:
In 2017 we moved into a flatshare close to the city center. It was right next to Volksoper (the second biggest opera stage of Vienna), which was the reason why I started acting there.
However, at the latest at the end of 2018 it became blatantly obvious how toxic the environment in this flat was and that we needed to find something new.
And boy, did we find something new! It took me several months of searching, but by May 2019 we knew we would move into our own place, which we would also turn into our own flatshare. I found us a place that overlooked the Vienna city center as well as the forests in the South West of the city. It was very important to me to have as much daylight as possible in our new home – especially in the Winter. Not having another house across the street made that possible. Our flat is a spectacle of light most days of the year. Not to mention the inspiring view which has proven particularly useful for New Year’s Fireworks, passing over into 2020.
Currently we only take short term renters for the two bed rooms. On one hand that makes up for less travelling, because we get to meet new people from all over the world on a regular basis. On the other hand we always get a fresh start with a new person if things don’t work well with a flatmate. I have grown a lot in the way I deal with people because I couldn’t fall into one of those downward spirals with the same person for a long time.
I filled the place with plants and beautifully queer art. It’s become a place of expression and socialising rather than just a shell we live in. We use only renewable electricity and we use a worm box to compost our kitchen scraps into nutrition for all the plants I have given up on counting. Yet another example of symbiosis with nature: We turn our kitchen scraps back into life, rather than having them burned.
Summing up, moving into this new place might have prolonged my way to the opera by 20 minutes, but it has been one of the best decisions of the past years. I had forgotten what it feels like to live in a healthy environment, rather than with people who try to put you down at any chance they get. And we are saving a bit of money in the process.
Right after we got notice that we will actually get our new dream flat, we also got notice about something we applied for months earlier and had already given up on: A vegetable garden right outside the city. That would have been all nice and good in the place where we lived before. But now we were moving to the other side of the city and it would take us about one hour, just to get to our garden.
We took it anyway.
It was quite convenient, ignoring the trip. For a shockingly small amount of money we got 70 square metres of a field. We didn’t even have to plant the veggies ourselves. And the field would be plowed for us upfront as well. All we had to do was water it (we automated this due to the long trip), weed it out and harvest.
Now, I already mentioned how we mistreat our soil. And while the organisation running these gardens was very focussed on organic growing methods, it soon became very clear to me, that plowing the soil and keeping it like a normal garden, was still not the permaculture principles I wanted to garden by ever since I got into gardening for the first time. The whole process of weeding out once a week and having to water daily, felt like we were working against nature. It was a constant fight that we simply couldn’t keep up with. So it was no surprise that our garden was one of the least productive on the field of gardeners who lived nearby.
And yet, we got so much harvest, we barely knew what to do with it anymore!
So I learned how to vacuum seal tomato sauce into jars and how to store and process foods most efficiently. It’s January now and we still have jars of tomato sauce, dried pepperonis and Winter-cooled beetroots to feed on.
Still, we were constantly looking for people to take all this food from us. It felt like this whole garden concept didn’t work really well with the things I had learned about nature: We had too much to eat and the soil the food came from had too little. And we always stressed over maintaining the garden and having to waste at least two hours a week just to get there and home again. Never mind carrying all that produce through the entire city!
Still, I am very grateful for the rich harvest. Better low nutrition fruits than any from the supermarkets. It continues to feed us, even now in the Winter and I have learned a great amount of new things.
As the growing season ended, the father of my best friend became very sick and left us at Halloween. Knowing that he would inherit his father’s house and garden, my best friend told me to not prolong our garden on the field for next year. We were invited to grow vegetables for ourselves and for his household on 300 square metres of his new property (about 30 minutes away from where we live). Mind blown. Magic in progress.
As mentioned above I act at the second biggest opera stage of Vienna. I am an extra there. So I don’t get paid much. I wouldn’t want to play major characters. I can tell how much time and energy goes into my very small characters already. Being a Multipotentialite, investing as much time into a single play as opera singers do for their main parts, I would likely lose interest in acting all together. I need regular change.
However, being an extra includes not only the small characters I love so much, but also very static or hidden parts: Either I move backdrops or I am the backdrop.
In Autumn of 2019 I got to be part of “The Canterville Ghost”. In fact, I got three parts in it. Parts that required acting. And I got to work with a bunch of amazing people who didn’t treat me like “just an extra”. In fact, this was the time when suddenly two lead actors and the director’s assistant approached me, congratulated me and asked me if I had gone through acting education (which I hadn’t). The house-intern choreographer called me a secret weapon – which feels odd, as dancing has really never been my strength.
All of this feels amazing to this day and I am very grateful I got to be part of such a positively enforcing team.
All the more it hit me in the face when the show time of this play was over and all the very static roles came right back into my life. It made me become even more aware that I love standing on stage. But not for the sake of earning the little money I make or for the sake of being on stage. I love being on stage for the acting. When I’m acting, my daily life zones out. Even body functions like pain or having to go to the toilet just disappear. It’s like meditation.
It was the end of this year when I started calling myself an actor. I am well aware that there is still a lot to learn for me out there. But being on stage with professionals feels like a way better education than any university could offer me.
I had already started fantasising about approaching other theatres. But when Vienna State Opera sent me a casting call in the beginning of 2020, I realised that this was my ticket out of the static characters.
I went to my manager and told her about my thoughts. I told her, I’m there because I have fun acting, not for the money. I told her about going to other theatre’s castings. And I told her, I don’t want to do the static ‘characters’ anymore. I even asked her for the rather absurd favour to write me a recommendation letter. I bet she never had to do that before. Whenever extras go elsewhere, they don’t tell her upfront.
This was really scary. But what happened blew my mind. She started to search meticulously for acting parts that I would enjoy doing. Why? Because she knows that I will have to say no to her in the future, once show dates of other theatres start clashing with the ones of Volksoper: She wanted my time before the others got it! At the same time she shows me every kind of support I could have hoped for, when it comes to getting arrangements in other houses.
And this is when I realised that I had turned from one of the many extras to the guy who acts for the small characters. I would never say that this elevates me next to my colleagues. I’m just reducing the things in my life, that I don’t enjoy. And it does – inevitably – me feel special: In comparison to who I used to be three years ago. I’m not only getting less of what I didn’t wanna do anymore: I’m actively perceived as what I want to be! And what I want to be, in turn, will put me in front of more eyes that might appreciate my acting.
But I’m not gonna dream too far. I’m going to start applying for other theatres and I will only take the parts that fulfil me from now on. Because it seems like I can afford doing that. And that makes me very proud and very grateful. I’m not acting because I want to become famous or rich. I’m acting because I enjoy acting. And now I took the next step of my fun-carreer: I eliminated the parts that I don’t enjoy. Whatever this leads to, it will lead to. I’ll stay here in the present and take the most enjoyment I can get out of it. I’ve learned that’s the best way of living a content life.
Especially the end of 2019 brought a lot of understanding about myself.
One realisation is very personal and involves other people who are dear to me, so I don’t want to go into detail. Let’s just say, this realisation TNTed a huge blockage out of my life, that has been torturing me and holding me back my entire life. That realisation is, that acknowledgement and appreciation do not equal love. I will never be able to give some people who they want me to be. And some people will never believe in me and in who I am, no matter how much I try to show them that I am worthy of being loved for exactly who I am. Why? Because these things have nothing to do with each other.
My successes and my failures may define me as a person, but they will never determine, how worthy of love I am or how worthy others are of my love.
This was a biggie for me and it turned my reality upside down.
The second revelation came shortly after New Year’s Eve and it’s connected to that first one above.
One evening I suddenly started crying while watching a random video. I turned it off and evaluated what had happened. During the unrelated video, my mind has started to wander. And it has led me down a path I hadn’t expected.
I had realised that in the past two years I had grown so much when it comes to self love, like I haven’t in my entire life. I realised that all these good things that were happening in my life came mainly from one source: I had stopped trying to specialise in one field like the world has made me believe I had to. Instead I had embraced my multipotentialite personality. All the scattered interests and projects and failures I had all over my life, are starting to come together and make sense. None of it happened without a good purpose. But the only reason I could start seeing this, was because I fully allow myself to be this scattered person with a trillion ideas and a million interests.
Almost any day of the year I can look into the mirror and I find myself attractive. It used to be the opposite. And I don’t care about the looks in particular now. I believe this – just like all the beautiful developments in my life (like the acting part above) – are side effects of one simple thing: I have not only learned to accept myself. I have actively learned to love myself and embrace all and everything I am. I have learned that I don’t depend on the love of others and even more importantly, I don’t have to change in order for others to love me. I knew a lot of these things in theory already. It sounds like cheesy self-help talk. Only now that I have actively started living them in practice, without making any compromises in who I am, I have started to truly understand what it means.
My life has changed a 100% for the better because I have learned how to love myself.
Good things are just happening to me, because I have learned to how to love myself.
This is why I cried that day. And this is why I cry as I’m writing this. I am crying because I suddenly see what I am worth to myself now and that nobody can take that away from me, ever. I cry because I understood how incredibly proud I can be of myself. I cry because I have come from a place of self-dread and self-harm to a place of self-love. I have done within two years, what most other people don’t manage to do within a lifetime.
I cry tears of happiness because I love myself. And this I couldn’t be any more grateful for.
What an amazing ending for a decade!
There have been years when I didn’t know what theme to live by next. For example when I finally decided to go with “Magic over Drabness” in 2016. That never worked out. I forgot about it right away. Ironically, via herbalism, neuroscience and philosophy, it was 2019 that brought me back to witchcraft. I mean: I heal with plants, communicate with forest spirits and nature and change my own reality with the power of my thoughts. If I’m not a witch in disguise, what am I? 😉
This year it was very easy to find my theme for 2020. It’s a rehearsal of 2017’s theme (I just moved to the bed, writing this. After days of fog, the sun just poked out and gives us that lovely light and shadow spectacle by the bed, that I mentioned earlier).
Over the course of this year I watched people flood the streets in protest of how governments treat our planet. I watched Greta Thunberg accuse world leaders of stealing our future. I’ve watched people paralysed by the news of one half of the planet in flames, the other half under water.
And it is very true. More and more forests burn (and while it’s way too much, atm, people also need to understand, that forest fires are very natural and important for the forest!) and more and more cities drown in floods.
I don’t think there’s ever been so much attention on how badly we treat our planet. And this is – to a great deal -thanks to Greta and all these protesting people. I just see one big problem with this.
These methods of making people aware of our environmental (as well as social) issues don’t spread inspiration to do something about them. They spread fear. And fear, as I’ve observed, is the root of all evil. And so we see the cancer grow: Protesters start putting the entire responsibility on governments and companies. Many of them go so far to say that capitalism is the root cause of the destruction of our planet.
All these believe systems are built upon one thing: Fear.
Fear of being too weak to make a difference as an individual. Fear of the greed of others. Fear of death.
And most importantly:
This fear divides us. It creates ‘us’ and ‘them’ around a problem that we can really only fix by working together as one.
I’m not a fan of the capitalism as we practice it today. It’s very flawed and it will surely have to change a lot soon. But it won’t go anywhere.
If all these fearful people would stop using their energy in order to spread fear and instead use this energy to inspire themselves and others – if all these people would come together to work on solutions creatively, solutions that work hand in hand with governments and capitalism – the biggest threat humanity has ever had to face, would be solved within a few months. I honestly believe this.
And this is why my theme of 2020 will be:
In 2017 it was ‘Purpose over Fear’.
But it’s not about purpose. It’s about inspiration. About experiencing inspiration. About sharing inspiration. And about spreading inspiration.
Fear is a powerful tool. But in the long run it has always lead our species into war, destruction and death.
It was inspiration that lead to the lightbulb. It was inspiration that lead to the internet. It was inspiration that lead to human rights. It was inspiration that lead to opera. It was inspiration that lead to wealth. It was inspiration that lead to happiness. It was inspiration that got this species as working together so closely as it is now. Never have we been so connected. Never have we been so empowered to spread a message. The most powerful emotions to spread being fear and inspiration.
Let it be inspiration. Because fear is what got us into this mess to begin with.
In the holiday season of 2019 I sat down to watch a documentary with my man and my cousins. It was similar to one that’s very dear to me (Watch HOME after reading this text!). A documentary about our planet and how we treat it.
I started noticing a pattern in these movies:
“This is how earth came to be. Isn’t is beautiful. Then these things evolved. Even better! Then humans came along. We are a fascinating species. And then we fnck it all up. The end. Bye, have a nice evening!”
Most documentaries that deal with nature and our impact on it are beautiful but they give you very little idea of what’s already happening for us to become symbiotic with nature again. They don’t give you much knowledge of what you can do to make a difference. They leave you sad and feeling powerless – and they leave you full of fear.
That made me angry. And it gave me an epiphany. I’ve had enough. I was done watching people making each other frightened. I was done watching people blaming each other. I was done watching humans destroy this beautiful habitat we call earth. I was done only reducing my own plastic waste, using green energy and collecting herb for myself. I was done being passive about this.
If everybody else is busy spreading fear, I will be one of the few spreading inspiration.
Luckily, my best friend is very inspired by my permaculture approach to gardening. He allows for me to live my wildes fantasies on these 300 square metres:
I have already started growing my first food forest in my friend’s garden. We are currently turning the bare veggie garden ground into forest ground by covering it in fallen leaves and wood. These leaves will decompose over time to build nutrient rich soil.
We are using the principles nature uses to grow a new forest. But instead of oaks and maple trees (let alone pine trees…), we will plant fruit trees and perennial (as well as annual) vegetable plants.
Rather than fighting weeds, we plant the ones that we want abundantly: edible and medicinal herbs.
We will work WITH nature, rather than against it. Nature wants to grow forests. So let it have forests.
In fact, so far, this work didn’t feel like work at all. We are doing the opposite of what every other gardener would do. We don’t remove the fallen leaves, we encourage them, building a healthy mulch. And three hours of ‘work’ feel like one hour of playing with nature.
I have big ideas:
First, I want to start documenting my learnings about herbalism, nature and food forests and put that knowledge out there – Inspiring all those who want to find a closer relationship with mother nature and live a healthier life themselves.
And secondly, I have the idea of growing a huge amount of food forests all over the world. Commercially or as public parks. I want to prove that capitalism and nature are not enemies. These food forests will bring money to their investors, truly healthy food to people, jobs to the surrounding areas, nutrients into the soil and photosynthesis to clean our air of CO2.
I am SICK of watching people scaring each other. I AM inspired. And I will inspire others.
What will you do?