Monday 27th May 2019

Archives for April 2019

Updated: What Art Has Taught Me. 45/2019.

Update: What Art Has Taught Me. 45/2019.

The words below, after the photos, are from my blog post of 2017. Before I had a cancer diagnosis. When I “knew” something was going awry with me, but no-one knew specifically. I knew I needed some mindfulness in my life back in 2013. I sure did find it via Art. So much learning for me and I love(d) it. I now know this:

  • art of about the process not the product
  • art in many forms is soothing to my sometime unsure and worried self
  • art is a place and space for me
  • when I visit my art-space, I immediately focus on ONE thing!
  • this one thing, which helps me feel much more relaxed and mindful, may be about what media I will use, what I will make, or what I need to keep on doing
  • it does not matter, the thing is “I become mindful” and settle to create “art”

In 2013 I was searching for more in my life to help me through the bumps and trials.

A friend suggested an art-based group in U.S. where there was an annual challenge.

I’ve written about this a few times on the blog.

Today I am listing what Art has taught me from that mid-point in 2013 until the present.

And it’s not always about Art!!

  • I can be patient
  • I can see the world from different perspectives
  • I can select what I want to do with my art materials with confidence
  • I now know the process is more important to me than the product
  • I find that I prefer to share my art, imperfect as it is, with many and am happy to give it away when people express an interest in it
  • I find it interesting that others see different things in my artistic pursuits than I do at times
  • I enjoy the way in which I became at one with the now when I’m engaged in a creative process be it writing, photography, art or gardening

In general, Art has taught me to allow my mindfulness to be part of who I am. I am no longer striving as much nor wanting to do the next thing. It is teaching me to slow down. 

This is a good lesson to be learned!

Have you learned lessons from life?

I believe it’s a good fit for Min’s link up too. Zen Tips Tuesday found here.

On Wednesday, sharing this post with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love.

Denyse.

 

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New Normal For Me With Head & Neck Cancer. 43/2019.

New Normal For Me With Head & Neck Cancer. 43/2019.

It’s occurred to me that I’ve been writing posts about how it was for me BEFORE a cancer diagnosis hereand there are the series of posts about my surgeries and progress found here….but I have not done any updates of NOW.

Now as they say in cancer circles, is the new normalwhich is described here:

Finding a ‘new normal’

Many survivors* say that cancer changes them. After treatment, they may feel different, even though they look the same. With time, survivors often find a new way of living. Many call this a “˜new normal’. It may take months or years to find a “˜new normal’.

Misconceptions about treatment  ending

  • I should be celebrating.
  • I should feel well.
  • I should be the person I was before cancer.
  • I should not need support.
  • I should feel grateful.

Read more at https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/15289/b1000/living-well-after-cancer-45/living-well-after-cancer-back-to-normal/#xc5f7pBq7VeQ7Oeq.99

Fellow Head and Neck Cancer Survivor, Julie McCrossin AM, the inaugural Beyond Five Ambassador hosts a series of podcasts here called About Cancer.

About the word: survivor. My personal choice is this one. However, it is not always looked upon well by some. I have no word to replace it for me. I personally do not like warrior nor does thriver work for me as it does for some. It’s just me. I tend to use patient maybe because I am still getting cancer checks. To each their own, right?

Now, back to MY version of New Normal.

I have really been considering this in 2019 as it ‘felt like’ and ‘looked like’ I was back to Denyse. But which version of Denyse? I am ageing too and I wonder if some of my thoughts are also linked to being in my 70th year.

When I was in pre-cancer times, I was so ‘caught up’ with managing my stress and emotional load at having moved from Sydney and all that entailed in getting used to a new normal for that situation. Suddenly, new normal meant:

  • no longer living in a house we were paying off
  • no more employment for me
  • no more regular contact and care for our grandkids
  • being a more stressed-out person than I liked
  • trying hard (so hard) to be better able to manage the life I had then: 2015-mid 2017

Then cancer entered my life.

Very suddenly I took on a new way of looking at life, and learning what was ahead.

OK. I was stressed but in some ways I knew what was coming and even though there were unknowns, I do know NOW, I have made it through

  • diagnosis,
  • 4 surgeries,
  • recovery times,
  • many prosthodontist visits and treatments,
  • adjusting to life with less ‘in my mouth’ to help me eat,
  • then getting more in my mouth to help me eat…
  • and bingo, the smile is back so…
  • back to normal, right?

OH no, so not true. For me at all.

Partly it was my belief I could be back to eating what I used to eat.

I even bought these foods after not buying anything crunchy for well over a year and they disappointed me greatly. Perhaps, for the chips, a good thing.

However, some of this is true but more is not.

I can only crunch and chew for so long.

It is almost a year since the last surgery inside my mouth to add more skin to the inside of my upper lip and around the top ‘jaw’ abutments. I got my upper prosthesis screwed in on 21 August 2018 and it has been removed only once for adjustment by the prosthodontist. I do upkeep: two routines daily, involving 4 steps using this:

In being totally honest with myself, I can say I need to remember more than anyone that I have changed because of cancer in my mouth.

Head and Neck cancer never really leaves us. This is the reason for Beyond Five where I am now an Ambassador. This site helps patients, carers, families and friends with ‘the years after cancer’s 5 year checks are up’.

Announcement of My Ambassador Role.

It’s stays as it affects our inside and outside areas of the neck, head and inside the mouth, cheeks, sinuses and down into the throat and more. In my case, it is all in the mouth. I was told pre-big surgery, no-one would know you have had cancer or surgery once this is all done, and that is true. In some ways, that is a reason why it is up to ME to manage my new ways of eating rather than expect, as I look normal, others will be able to guess what I need.

This comes home to me even as I can still struggle to eat a meal I have prepared. It takes a long time to eat and sometimes, I just divide it into 2 meals as it tires my new mouth and makes it sore.

This is what I know is my new normal.

  • I get myself up each day between 8 and 8.30 a.m. to eat a nutritious breakfast or weetbix or cereal with fruit/yoghurt and milk
  • I take time to eat as it takes time and as I am retired, I get to enjoy reading the morning paper that’s been home-delivered
  • I will do any minor household chores which are shared with my also-retired husband e.g. a load of washing is put on the line
  • I check my emails, my blog (I have a blog which posts a new post 3 days a week) and any social media
  • Time to get dressed for the day. In October 2017, following the first major surgery I had lost a lot of weight and enjoyed the fact that I needed to buy new clothes. As a previously very overweight person, this was F U N
  • However, I found this to be a new normal for me called #dresswithpurpose and I joined in #everydaystyle for around a year and what a great community of support surrounded me post-cancer. I had no top teeth but as my husband said “I smiled with my eyes”.

Dress With Purpose photos: 2017 into 2018.

  • Each day, after a photo taken by my husband, I venture out for a coffee (and now more often, a treat to eat) somewhere local or more distant. I love this part of my new normal.
  • I have my coffee, I take out my mini journal kit, and draw/write and I people watch.
  • Sometimes I browse if I am at the shops, other times I may be out in nature and enjoy that too.
  • I have my own car which helps me be independent and drive myself to all of my Sydney appointments.
  • After this it is closer to the middle of the day and I come home when I am ready and get my very crunchy lunch ready. It is a joy to crunch.
  • More reading after lunch and sometimes more work/play via the computer.
  • Some outside chores including nurturing the plants that gives me further purpose in cancer recovery
  • Then it is meal preparation or simply getting small frozen version of an earlier meal from the freezer. Batch cooking is the way I go: meat meals made with mince, lamb shanks, beef slow cooked and of course teensy cakes for treats. I love them too.

Now I know this about my new normal.

I need to appreciate this new normal and the state of health I am in. So far, almost 2 years since diagnosis, there has been no return of cancer. I have the best health professionals looking after me and I am grateful eternally for them, their skills and their care.

I will continue to learn more about myself as I both age, and get used to ‘what’s inside my mouth’. I do know that pain comes and goes. I also am reassured that my mouth continues to be healthy inside and I am caring for it well.

I do not have any mobility problems with my right leg even though the fibula was removed for my new jaw. Thanks too for the skin and flesh, right leg!

I am loved and cared for by many as I do of them. This is a very good way to live.

In my 70th year I continue to enjoy creating with art, meeting up with friends for coffee rather than a meal, travelling to other cities by car for events and entertaining our family, along with continuing my engagement with school education, and promoting more about the awareness of this rare, but not nice, cancer called Head and Neck Cancer.

My new normal is awesome.

Denyse.

This post is being shared on link ups here, on Wednesday and  here on Thursday.

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My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part Two. 42/2019.

My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part Two. 42/2019.

Recently I wrote about how I find having a garden is good for my mental (and physical!) health.

However, I must now add, that looking at flowers en masse, individually and observing their colours and textures takes me on an artist’s journey.

I see:

  • patterns
  • tones
  • colours
  • shapes
  • textures

I have tried to replicate some via my drawings and mandalas but nothing quite tops Mother Nature.

I am glad to recognise the peaceful, relaxing and health-filled responses I have when I visit not only my meagre garden but in parks and others’ gardens.

Here’s my collection of favourites. Some were grown where we live now and in pots, others were at the last house. The sweet peas at the bottom were from the last time I grew them. Two years ago. I love sweet peas so I have given them another go this year. Fingers crossed!

Do you find going into the garden relaxing?

Do you notice your breathing slows when you are immersed in nature?

I believe that nature is a healing space and place and I love that!

It cetainly is a place I can re-capture my ‘zen’.

Thanks to Min for her Tuesday link up #zentipstuesday here.

Denyse.

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Easter Means This. 16/51 #LifeThisWeek. 41/2019.

Easter Means This. 16/51 #LifeThisWeek. 41/2019.

Easter means nothing religious to me these days.

Although I was brought up to eat fish on Good Friday and Easter Eggs left by the Bunny were only consumed on Easter Sunday.

Oh, yes and Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday breakfast.

Protestant upbringing, in the 1950s-1060s.

Some traditions die hard and I “still” make my Dad and daughter what was Mum’s speciality: the Fish Dish. Haddock in a curry-flavoured white sauce.

As parents we enjoyed the fun of leaving an Easter Bunny (Elegant Rabbit from K Mart I recall)  and eggs around the house. Sometimes there’d be a dozen hidden and an empty egg box with clues left for the child to find the egg. I know we had fun making up the clues and seeing the results the next day.

As grandparents we might have an Easter Egg hunt and in what was to be our last Easter celebrating in Sydney with all the grandkids there, this was amazing fun! Much laughter and guesses when Papa would ask the grandkids questions so they could choose their prizes. Don’t ask me the details, it was five years ago!

 

EGGStravagant Easter Egg Hunt for the final time in Sydney: for all the grandkids.

 

My less-EGGstravagent Eggs for Grandkids in 2017.

I love the Royal Easter Show in Sydney and have done since I was a kid and it was held at the old Showgrounds – now the Entertainment Quarter I think. It was good when the show came to Homebush for travelling as we could catch the bus in and entry was included. I often took the grandkids and this was my last time, in 2014. I loved whatever was happening in the main arena – time for a snack and a sit down too. This time it was motor cross and motor bikes on show. I also loved getting to the Woodchopping arena. Fantastic to see the country coming to the city.

Royal Easter Show: Sydney. Last visit for me: 2014. Loved the Show!

At the Show: with a motorbike fan grandson next to me.

Nostalgia is playing a part in this post! Bear with me. Back in my Infants teaching days and as an Assistant Principal in the 1980s an Easter Hat Parade was mandatory. Well, encouraged by the community and we teachers did have some fun too. Whilst the kiddies paraded in their home-made hats and bonnets, the “Easter Bunny” aka the parent committee, visited empty classrooms and left an egg for all the children. Much excitement!

At one school, we used this song, on video here, over and over as the parade progressed. Nothing about paying copyright and fees back then either. I cannot hear this (and I like it) without remembering: melting chocolate coming off hats where the eggs were part of the decoration….and how much trouble some parents went to in making Easter hats. It was never a competition at schools back then. Thank goodness.

This video is from the US and the Northern Hemisphere is into Spring and all that brings for Easter. Enjoy if nostalgia is your thing too! The video that was here has been deleted. I did not. However, “we never know” do we with the internet. I am the only one with access to this blog.

maskedman46Published on 29 Mar 2013

Never saw you look quite so pretty before

Never saw you dress quite so handsome

What’s more?

I could hardly wait to keep our date

This lovely Easter morning

And my heart beat fast as I came through the door

For…

In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it

You’ll be the grandest fella’ in the Easter parade

I’ll be all in clover and when they look us over

We’ll be the proudest couple in the Easter parade.

On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us

And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure

Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet

And of the guy, I’m taking to the Easter parade.

On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us

And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure

Judy Garland…Fred Astaire…Ann Miller in Easter Parade Musical 1948

 

Hope your Easter holidays are/were safe, happy and eggs-cellent!
Denyse.

Linking here on Mondays with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s optional prompt: 17/51 One Third of 2019 Is Over! 29/4/19

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Newcastle Writers Festival. 40/2019.

Newcastle Writers Festival. 40/2019.

When I lived in Sydney I went to a few Sydney Writers Festivals when they were still located at The Wharves down by the Harbour. It was often on a warm May Saturday I attended and soaked up sunshine, wisps of words from those who chatted along with their companions and took my seat in the theatre or section to listen to authors. I saw quite a few and even got some selfies back then as well.

Now, I live closer to Newcastle than Sydney so it made sense to consider attending the ‘Newy’ festival and even better when I saw who I could book a seat to listen to and ‘get a selfie’ with.

On Sunday 7th April it was a beautifully warm day in Newcastle and I took the chance to learn more about the city as I found the parking situation better this time.

I met my friend first. She had already had a coffee so that would wait for me. We hadn’t seen each other for years and had quite a bit to catch up on. Lisa is one of the ‘old school bloggers’ I first met in 2011!

 

Session One.

Rick Morton. OK. He too is someone I have known since 2011 (the first Bloggers’ Conference) and I have followed his career as a journo and writer since. In fact, he interviewed me for a story in the Australian about “Grandparents Caring for Grandkids”. That was in 2014. Now, he has written a best-seller.

His story.

Wow. The tales he tells are true. His talk sure was impactful. His book is One Hundred Years of Dirt. It has been re-printed over and over. Now I can listen to him narrate his story on Audible. Thanks Rick for our extra long chat and connecting me to your Mum Deb. Do read Rick’s book!

Intermission.

There were no sessions I wanted to attend until after lunch. So, this meant I got time to meet this man, Trent Dalton. The author who, on Instagram, convinced me to continue listening to Boy Swallows Universe when I found it a bit unsavoury. He said: “Denyse, stick with it, it IS a love story, I promise you will love it.”.

He was right. It is. I did. I had to tell him! I lined up, not with a book to sign (it was at home) but to introduce myself. He was chuffed to meet me and so self-effacing. A lovely man. Please, if you have not, read or listen to Boy Swallows Universe.

Then Lisa and I caught up again over: lunch for her, morning tea for me.

Session Two.

After Lisa left, I walked around the Civic area and park trying to stay cool as the day’s temperature rose to over 30. Once I had a bit of a rest under a 100 year old tree, I made my way back to the Main Civic Hall where my friend Jane Caro was interviewed about Accidental Feminists. Her latest book. I took notes. I learned a lot about myself (because I am a bit older than Jane) via her life experiences. Interesting alright! Do buy or borrow the book.

Jane was so kind in between sessions when she agreed to a quick photo telling me “You look amazing”. Jane is a FB friend and knew about the oral cancer.

Summing Up.

It was a big day out for me. A first really since way before cancer but it was so good for  me to do this. I loved it and will certainly be going in 2020 if some of my fave authors are part of the program.

Do you go to Writers festivals?

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Wednesday’s Midlife Share The Love linky,

With Leanne on Thursday for Lovin Life link up here

AND with Alicia on Fridays for Open Slather here.

Thank you all for your link ups.

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Learning To Be Calm. 39/2019.

Learning To Be Calm. 39/2019.

Over 4 years ago, when I first began understanding that I needed to care for myself INSIDE and out, I began meditation. I went to a retreat at the local Buddhist place and learned that I liked being calm and centred. Of course I could not stop thoughts coming and going and I thought then that made me a failure at meditation.

No.

It made me someone who understood that thoughts come and go no matter what but the trick is not to engage in them. Ha. Easier said than done!

Then.

Now, I have been doing some kind of mindfulness each day AND adding around 10 minutes or so of formal meditation via an app, I KNOW I can stop some of the previous ways in which my mind would race, my gut would churn and I would go down the slippery slope (my husband’s name for it) of rumination, regret and future thinking.

I am much better now at stopping the thoughts by not buying into them and distracting myself with going outside, doing some art, driving and listening to an audible book.

Here’s what I have used in the past: Headspace. I paid for it and used it most days for almost 3 years. What happened for me is boredom set in.

I moved to another app called Calm after doing the free trial.

A for Amazing. I love its variations, I love the refreshing of the meditations, I love that I can re-do ones I get a lot out of and I love that I can explore new sessions.

Sleep Stories is a winner too. I now tend to do my meditation at bedtime (I used to be a mid-morning meditator) and then, I might also listen to a sleep story. It is just the best.

This is the link to the website and you can see there is a free trial. I did that, then paid for an annual fee and after that was offered LIFETIME membership at not much more than the annual fee. I grabbed that bargain! I am not being paid ( I don’t do sponsored posts) but I like to recommend.

I hope you find some calm in your every day in any way that works well for you!

Denyse.

Joining with Min for her Zen Tips Tuesday link up here.

 

 

 

 

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Share Your Snaps 3. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. 38/2019.

Share Your Snaps 3. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. 38/2019.

Manly: New South Wales. Australia.

When we moved to live in Sydney in 1959, we were pleased, in retrospect, that Mum and Dad chose to live on the Northern Beaches where Manly was the nearest beach, shopping centre, and starting place for the Manly Ferry to take us to the city. However, this “is” meant to be a sharing the snaps post, so here are many of mine….and I hope you enjoy the selection.

The family home. Not looking like this any more

Manly lies on the land of the Guringai people, the traditional owners of the land. It was given its name by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788 when he travelled north of Botany Bay after finding it ‘unsuitable for settlement’.

He initially named the area to the north of the harbor Manly Cove after spotting a group of Aborigines in the area, about who he stated, “their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place”.

The men he encountered were from the Kay-ye-my clan – of the Guringai people. As he scouted for fresh water in the area, Phillip met members of this clan and, following a misunderstanding, he was speared in the shoulder. He ordered his men not to retaliate preventing further bloodshed.

People gradually began settling in the Manly area around 1820 and by the 1850s Henry Gilbert Smith, the founder and developer of Manly, had the vision of Manly as a seaside resort.

https://www.coveredsummer.com.au/history-of-manly

This information is of interest in terms of Manly’s place in the white settlement of Australia. Always remembering the Aboriginal people who own this land.

Some smaller versions of these pavilions remain at the South Steyne end of Manly Beach.

 

One of the ferries on its way back from Manly

There was a ditty a long time ago, “7 miles from Sydney and 100 1000 miles from Care” or words to that effect, about a ferry trip to Manly!

Manly itself is a suburb of Sydney and the beach’s long stretch is made up of South Steyne – southern end and on the walkway to Shelly Beach and Fairy Bower, North Steyne is in the middle (where I used to go as a teen) and Queenscliff is at the northern end and where a certain ex Australian prime minister appears in his budgie smugglers far too often for my liking!!

Recently I re-visited Manly itself after being to see my 95 year old Dad in his unit at Dee Why. When I went the next time to Dad’s I showed him the photos and he lingered over them. He told me “in retirement, any morning I was not at golf, I’d come down here. Walk in the surf and the sand from South Steyne to Queenscliff and back. Some days it would be around to Fairy Bower”. I know he would always finish with a coffee!

I will always have a place for Manly in my heart. I now know, of course, how fortunate I was to live near here aged 10 to 20. We had access to it all as day visitors and holiday makers staying at my parents’ house as did our children. Many great memories of Manly.

 

Have you been to Manly?

I loved sharing these snaps here this week.

Denyse.

Linking here on Mondays with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s optional prompt: 16/51 Easter Time Means This. 22/4/19.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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