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Last year was one of the most difficult and the most eye-opening i had. It had nothing to do with anything financial or material but something much more important: losing people dear to me and facing my own mortality. I know very well we won’t live forever but last year i was taken so near to death i felt its breath on my face. And when you go to such extreme, you realize that you will never be the same old you again. Such experience changes you in so many ways that every little thing that matter before, every situation that bothered you, every person who ruined your day with some childish remark – they become so trivial, they won’t matter to you anymore. Because you know they are only useless disruptions taking away from your precious time that you have left around here with your loved ones. Once you realize that, your priorities will shift dramatically and you will actually see what is really important.

For me it all started when i discovered i had a tumor on one of my ovaries and my test for ovarian cancer came back positive. It was not something definitive but if you never went through such experience, you can’t possibly understand the struggle. From a person that visited the hospital quite rarely, i became the person that was there on a regular basis for tests and screenings. The scariest one was perhaps my MRI which became a bit more difficult after some complications.

I was supposed to undergo surgery but contrary to three doctors’ advice i decided to follow a medication based treatment. After six months of treatment, unfortunately, i saw no results and the second test for cancer came back positive with even higher values. At this point, i wanted to rush the surgery but the waiting time was about six months. I was blaming myself for my decision not to listen to the doctors and i did actually prepare for the worst.

Just few months after i got my first results, one of my family members died unexpectedly. I remember just talking to him about his next trip to Canary Islands and some bread i liked at the grocery store. He collapsed the same evening after a massive heart attack and he never woke up again. It was such a big shock, i still haven’t recovered from it even today. I still think i hear him sometimes yelling after the family’s dog and i dream that he is still alive. The trip we had to Canary Islands few years ago is one of the thing that makes me really happy we never postponed.

The other family member, grandpa, died after being four months in the hospital and struggling with a medical system that let him down. I went to see him all these four months and i still wonder to this very day how i managed to resist without a therapist or medication. Watching a dear person withering away and dying is one of the most painful experiences one can endure. The last time we saw him, he didn’t recognize us anymore.

I struggled for about a year in an uncertain situation not knowing exactly what was wrong with me. But in my case, things arranged themselves quite well even if i was finally diagnosed with a chronic disease.  I managed to get it under control even if the treatment is just a temporary solution and some days i need to just slow down and take it at a low pace so i can manage through the day. I’m also aware that i have to face the ugly truth: i’m more predisposed to ovarian cancer than other people and my treatment has side-effects like heart attack, blood clots, cancer and liver failure. But for the moment i’m a highly functional human being and i enjoy every minute of it.

The last year, taught me how fragile we are and how fast we can lose our dear ones. I did decide not to postpone things anymore and if i really want something in life to just do it. Spend more time with the ones you love, travel more and do the job that you love. Enjoy every moment of it because tomorrow it might be too late. Live trivial situations and people behind because they are a waste of time. Cherish what matters and what makes you happy because in end, the only things we take with us will be the happy moments.

The only thing i regret now is that it took me so long and i had to go through such experiences to realize what is important in life: people who matter and seeing and experiencing as much of the world as possible. The rest has really no importance.

*For more lecture and help on how to focus on what is important read these two books:

Mark Manson – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Sarah Knight – The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck

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Having endometriosis is hard. Having to deal with prejudiced and clueless people is harder. I’m firmly of the belief that if you don’t have a disease, you cannot possibly understand somebody who has it. And that has been proven to me so many times. Most people talk about how mental illness is not understood. I will gladly inform them that having an ignored chronic physical illness is the same. People not only will ignore, belittle, stigmatize you but they will insult you straight to your face. And without realizing it. I will leave apart doctors from this discussion as that is completely another subject. You imagine how seriously my pains were taken if it took 19 years to get a diagnosis.

First don’t expect that people will actually believe you are sick. I was told many times i’m pretending, exaggerating and looking for attention. Meanwhile, i was stuffing myself with codeine painkillers, vomiting, crawling up in pain or walking hunchbacked. And using two packs of the thickest absorbants because of too much bleeding.

You will be judged because you take painkillers…but they are not good, they will ruin your health, you will become a junkie. Look, endometriosis pains are not just period pains. Those period pains can last for months on end. Every day. In order to have a “normal” life and function “normally” because you need to go to work to get a paycheck, you will need painkillers and strong ones. That’s how i functioned half a year by popping painkillers like candies. I had not choice.

After sleepless nights because if pains, you will often hear: but you look well. This is driving me insane because it implies that i cannot be in so much pain if i don’t look like a victim caught in a car accident. This is coming to my first point, that people are not taking you seriously. Please educate yourself and stop saying that immediately if somebody says that they haven’t been well.

Being told to stop the treatment or take a break from it because it has side effects and anyway you feel better now. Everything has side effects. Basically every medicine you take. I was also judged countless of time from people i know to complete strangers because i take the pill which (the latest one) has “miraculously” put me back on my feet and allowed me to enjoy life, a thing i thought next to impossible one year ago.

On an article about the birth control pill on the FB page of Tiede a woman states that she’d rather get cancer instead of having the side effects of birth control pills and she says that they should be banned. I’ll put her comment here and i don’t care about her identity because these people really should be ashamed of themselves. I did reply to her that nobody forced her to take the pill and for some of us this is a treatment who is life improving.

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Later on she implied that i am hysterical screaming at her which led me to the conclusion that she is one of the aforementioned people who doesn’t suffer from this disease and has no idea what she is talking about. (If you suffer from endometriosis, there’s no way you would want a treatment banned, trust me, you would eat shit from a golden plate just to get rid of the pain). I don’t scream to people but i did point out her illogical way of thinking: if this has side effects, it should be banned. As i mentioned, all medicine has side effects but nobody forces you to take them. And if birth control pills are life enhancing for so many women, then why would you like them banned? Because they are an inconvenience to your beliefs? There are many things i don’t agree with or i don’t like but i don’t want them banned.

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And as about she’d rather get cancer, i would strongly advise her to be careful what she wishes for. Before finding out i had endometriosis i tested twice positive for ovarian cancer. I never wish the way i felt at those moments on anybody.

If there was one medicine that put you back on your feet and gave your life back after one year in pains would you just stop using it because of the possible side effects? The possible side effects are horrible but the disease these pills manage is incurable. What would you do? Besides these pills the only options are opioids and surgery. Opioids have also side effects, they cause addiction and surgery, needless to say has its own risks and the recovery is quite long, even if it is laparoscopy.

Unfortunately, as i saw from the comments, there are many people who think like this woman and i’m not surprised at all giving the fact that even doctors belittle women’s pain when it comes to endometriosis and it takes an average to 7-9 years until the disease is discovered. What is worse for most of women is that they do struggle to have children and the more the diagnosis is delayed the more fertility is affected.

Also the pills do not help only with endometriosis but they are used in a wider area of gynecological and dermatological conditions. Saying you want them banned is, how to put it, ignorant and immature.

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Hedonism = living and behaving in ways that mean you get as much pleasure out of life as possible, according to the belief that the most important thing in life is to enjoy yourself. 

There are certain choices in life that will inevitably make people label you as a hedonist. If you are one of those types who makes decisions based on their true wishes and follows their true self, live their lives how they wish and not how others dictate – you will surely be a hedonist in others’ eyes. But it is only your choice if you care about others say.

The hedonist label is meant to be a negative label but i’ve never seen it that way. For me a person who stays true to themselves and lives a life based on their true desires is a very sincere person. You do not live a lie hiding behind others’ wishes and expectations. That’s the worst kind of life.

The fact that i try as much as i can to stay true to myself and do what i enjoy the most in life comes from the fact that i am very well aware of the fact that we have just one life. Which is very short and we will never know when it ends. So why not make the most of it because you won’t be given a second chance. When i look at past years, i get really scared to see how time just flies by, years just rush by and you approach the end of the road. And there are so many things to do in this life (especially i feel i want to do so many things) that one does not have time for everything. And choosing is very difficult sometimes.

I’ve never seen hedonism as a negative thing. Because i don’t see the pursuit of happiness as something negative and obtaining pleasure from life, i could argue, it’s not hedonism. The things you do in order to get more pleasure from life are not necessarily pleasurable and to reach the pleasure you are looking for you might needs to do sacrifices. But most of people don’t usually think of that. They might see your life as walking of roses, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The amount of work and unpleasant moments put behind that pleasure could be tremendous.

Certain lifestyles and choices are very unpopular that only putting up with the amount of judgement from other people sometimes is very tiring and frustrating. Not to mention when others become verbally abusive even though the way you live will never affect them personally. And besides there is no such thing as living a life full of pleasure. Life it’s in itself difficult, you will have to go over obstacles, you will have to do less pleasurable things, you will get sick, you will lose dear people. I’ve never met one single person whose life was dancing on roses. We all come with a baggage, more or less pleasant and life will constantly throw shit at you whether you like it or not or despite how much you try to avoid it.

I recently watched a documentary called Expedition Happiness about a couple and their dog travelling the world in a bus. There are many people who consider this type of nomadic life meaningless and hedonistic. Travelling on one of the few things in life that can enrich you, teach you and make you discover yourself in a unique way that no other thing can. You can’t compare it with anything. And is very far away from hedonism because travelling is not without problems. Yes, it is enjoyable but it poses lots of challenges. Following the journey of this couple and their obstacles it was enough to put me off from such an idea. From technical to health problems, you must have a character of steel and huge motivation to take on such a journey. It’s not for the weak. But in the end, you need to have a very deep introspection of what you really want and go for it. But one must remember that no matter how much something brings happiness, it also comes with a fair share of grief. You are the one who judges if it’s worth or not.

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A while ago, when i was still studying for my first MA, i was applying for all kinds of summer jobs to support my studies. Strawberry picking being one of these summer jobs. I applied two summers in a row and unfortunately, i was never chosen. I didn’t even hear from the employer. The second year, i called to see if there would be any chance of me getting a place there for a month and a half. I was told kind of coldly that the jobs were already filled. Weird enough vacancies were advertised through the whole summer but i was told they had no jobs. Weird enough but okay.

Later on i read an article (i think it was HS) where the owner of a strawberry farm was complaining that Finns are not interested (to be read too lazy) in strawberry picking jobs). I got really pissed because my experience proved otherwise and even people i knew went through the same. Not surprisingly, i also read the comments and people confirmed what i already experienced. We were all in the same boat and here we were, this guy calling us not interested (lazy).

I am anything but lazy because i grew up at a farm and all my summer holidays as a kid, I’ve spent them helping my grandparents with farm work. And it was a lot of hard work! My first though was, if so many of us wanted these jobs but we weren’t chosen what was the problem? Anyway, i soon found out that it wasn’t our lack of interest, laziness or language skills (in my case). No, it was the wages. People do demand a fair wage because the living expenses here are quite high. One needs to live with the money they earn.

Media here has made a tradition is writing articles most of the times siding with berry farm owners and scapegoating the locals (preferably unemployed) or young people that they are too comfortable or lazy. And now it’s that time of the year when media starts complaining again for the lack of workforce within berry picking. In the article one can find why people here are not actually picked for these jobs. Usually, in Finland they managed to bring people from Thailand to pick berries because the farm owners can pay them much less than they would pay a local. But this year not so many of them made their appearance because authorities from Thailand warned their citizens not to go to Finland for work because they won’t get a contract. Which is worrisome if we are to think Finland prides itself of being fair country.

Not too long ago, there were also problems with a berry farm owner accused of human trafficking. These workers were basically lied about the conditions and the wages they receive upon coming here. And then the most important question: if you fuck up with people like that, then how do you expect to get workforce? First, you push away local workforce because they demand a fair wage, then you bring people from Thailand and abuse them because keeping them in horrible conditions and paying them almost nothing is abuse, let’s say it straight – slavery.

I wish media would stop siding with these strawberry farm owners because it’s hurting both us and the people who are brought here for tiny wages. Although i’m not surprised at all given the lies that usually media spreads about unemployed people in general in order to manipulate the general public into hating them and then using politics to kick these people who are already on the ground.

If you can’t find workers, first look at yourself because most likely the fault is in your company. Are the wages decent? Can the workers survive on them? Strawberry picking is not a difficult job intellectually but physically is quite challenging .The wages don’t have to be very high, i knew i would not make a fortune from strawberry picking but i still wanted to work because money is money and it would have helped me a lot during the school year. Then consider the conditions, for example, lunch break, facilities (kitchen, toilets) and transportation. Strawberry farms are also not situated in the city and it might be difficult for younger workers who do not have a driver’s licence or a car to get to work.

 

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There is one thing that my parents taught me is extremely low: stealing. As a child i was never encouraged to steal fruits as many would do because “come on they are just kids” and i actually knew what would follow at home if i did that.

But to my unpleasant surprise, i did witness some very stupid reactions towards some persons who managed to secure their property against thieves and even have the courage to mention that on social media. I will talk here about trespassing and stealing from another’s property. I did witness that a lot and unfortunately i was also a victim of it. Mostly kids were stealing fruits but also adults managed to cause lots of damage to two of our apple trees and a quince tree. My grandparents and parents put lots of effort into growing those trees and yes, they were on our land so therefore our property.

The arguments i saw on social media defending children stealing are completely irrational and damaging. People were just invoking that kids are kids how can one be so evil? First, kids or not, trespassing on private property and getting stuff that it’s not your is still stealing, no matter the age. I don’t blame the kids, i do blame though the ones not teaching them. I was told very straight by my parents that such behavior is unacceptable and if i wanted cherries from our neighbor i should ask her. Which i did. And guess what? I got cherries! Second, the one defending their own property is not evil, it’s theirs, they worked for it and they have all the right to take measures to stop the thieves. These irrational reactions from people happened in Romania which does not surprise me at all. In other places people would call cops on you. And then people wonder why they have so bad reputation abroad as thieves. Well…it starts young and with these attitudes.

Two unfortunate events i did witness were some brats ripping of almost half the branches of one of the apple trees that my great-grandfather planted. I caught one of them inside our garden ripping of the apples and throwing them to the other two who were near the road on the other side of the fence. When i told him to get off our property he started swearing and threatening me. I went to get our German Shepard who was trained to attack any stranger who would trespass on our property. They did vanish and my grandpa made an official complaint to the local police which of course, didn’t do anything.

The second one was when several young men from our village stole quince from our tree. Me and my sister were in the garden and told them to go away but they started ripping off the quince and throw them at us, swearing and calling us names. My sister was badly hit by one. Grandpa went to the police and made them pay for the damage just to hear that later one one of them threatened to beat the shit out of me and my sister when they catch us.

Remember: the apple and quince tree were OUR PRIVATE PROPERTY ON OUR LAND and still they had the audacity to steal and threaten us when we called them out. But by no way, defend kids stealing instead of teaching them to ask if they want any fruit. Encouraging this behavior will make it even worse as demonstrated with the group of guys who not only stole our quince but they also attacked us. On our property. I really doubt somebody would say no, i wouldn’t have said if those asked for apples or quince.

But they didn’t because unfortunately, where i grew up, there is a complete lack of disrespect for others’ property and many consider stealing very normal especially when a kid does it. Because it’s just a kid. But tomorrow it will be an adult and it will continue to do that…

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I remember reading a while ago an article about sanitary pads tax and how that should be lowered (from 24% to 12%), including tampons, absorbants and incontinence pads. In Finland, a pack of average absorbants (14 pack, normal size) is between 2.30-3.50 euros and here i don’t count in cheap brands which are an absolute disaster because of their low quality. Don’t ask me about tampon prices as i don’t use tampons (i did when i used to have periods but only when i was swimming and they were extremely uncomfortable). And before judging me why i don’t use a menstrual cup – i tried but it was a disaster and i guess because of endometriosis which suspicion was later confirmed by a specialist.

But, i’m writing this because it amused and somehow disgusted me the comments left by men who demanded that they should also get tax-free razors. Look, you just don’t compare sanitary pads with razors because if you take both genders into consideration, women also use razors. And quite a lot if you take into account that some of us are quite hairy. Add to that wax, hair removal creams, hair removal devices or hair bleaching. Because society sees us as disgusting monkeys if we dare to expose the smallest amount of hair in the places deemed by the almighty society not fit to show hair on. And to add to that razors for women are more expensive than men’s. I saw that with my own eyes in the grocery store one day when i compared the prices out of pure curiosity. As a guy you can go around with an unshaven face but dare to go out with hairy armpits as a woman (search for death threats that some women got because they dared to show their bushy armpits in public).

So both of us we need razors but only us need sanitary pads because well, damn biology. You can stop your period but then again you need money for the meds to stop it. And now i’m talking about lots of women who struggle with money and for whom 2.30 euros is a lot of money (not to mention women who have heavy or extended periods and they might need 3+ packs of absorbants per month). In this case about 10 euros per month is lots of money. Nobody said about giving sanitary pads for free although it might be a very good idea for the ones who live in poverty. But lowering the tax would be of great help. And whoever can stand a menstrual cup, i do advise them to buy it because even if it is a bit pricey, it will save a lot in the long run. I would use one if i could as most of sanitary pads are also manufactured from synthetic products which are not healthy for the body or environment. There are better sanitary pads namely cotton and organic pads but they are a bit more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

In Finland the brand Vuokkoset sells organic bio-degradable and cotton absorbants and pads.

 

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Do you know when you just take your trash out, throw it into the bin and forget about it? Yes, i know because most of my life i did exactly that. I never had to take care of my own trash, i just sorted it and threw it away. Out of sight out of mind. But for me,  it was not out of mind because i thought many times where does my trash go, how is it processed, is it totally recycled, then how it is recycled?

Well, this last weekend i found out, at least a part of it. Since my other home is in the countryside, we needed to buy a compostor because the place where we took the organic trash was full. Another option was to order a trash bin from the city but i think the costs would have gotten higher since you have to pay monthly for the trash bin and trash delivery services.

So, before i had to do research what kind of compostors are on the market, how do they work and how one uses them. Then we headed to the grocery store, at the department where they sold compostors and ordered one as they didn’t have them in stock at that very moment. In one week the compostor was delivered at the local shop and we had to pick it up together with  three sacks of woodchips to throw over the organic leftovers so they can turn into soil. It took a while to arrange the spot where the compostor would be placed and then another while to assemble it. I started reading the instructions including what you can and cannot throw, possible problems, compost temperature and maintenance.

It took almost a whole day working on assembling and informing myself about how to use a compostor. And things are not ending here. You do have to maintain the compostor and when it is filled, you need to take the soil out and assure that it functions properly.

If somebody is curious and interested, the compostor we bought it from Biolan, 220eco model suitable for a household of 1-6 persons and it costed 469 euros. The composter was also registered and there are some more accessories that are needed especially for winter and for mixing the compost. I would have loved to write my own experience with composting but for the moment i just threw organic trash only two times. Let’s see what happens in about 5 months.

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