Tuesday 18th December 2018

Summer Means This. 48/52 #LifeThisWeek. 2018.123.

Summer Means This. 48/52 #LifeThisWeek. 2018.123.

In Australia it is officially Summer from 1 December until 28/29 February. But the weather-maker does not always get the memo.

The weather that I am most familiar with in Summer is HOT, HOT, HOT with some patches of COOLER….and of course that old curse; humidity!

Summer means:

  • sticky feeling wearing some clothes
  • dripping perspiration
  • crossing the street from what place of shade to another
  • Christmas
  • school break-up times
  • shopping
  • watching sport – on T.V.
  • lazy days
  • mosquitoes buzzing at night
  • flies. Oh the flies.
  • the smell of barbecues cooking around the neighbourhood
  • kids playing outside till after dark: it IS the school hols
  • packing the car for the longed-for beach holiday
  • the city centre being closed for a few days and streets are pleasant to walk around.
  • parks, gardens, the zoo, beaches, council pools and more attracting visitors
  • air-conditioning. Seriously cannot deal with summer unless I have air-con.

There are probably many more on this list but I have also included a visual list of Summer for Me.

As we enter our southern hemisphere Summer this Saturday 1 December, what does Summer mean for you?

Denyse.

P.S. Our 2019 Life This Week continues once the New Year Arrives! I will have the prompts up soon and will add them to a blog post. I know it may sound crazy but with this 48/52 telling me there are 4 weeks left till the end of 2018 it is timely! Thanks for all who continue to link up and a special greeting to those who often, sometimes or always use the optional prompts! You all rock!

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!

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 49/52. TAKING STOCK. 3/12/18.


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November Notes #4. 2018.122.

November Notes #4. 2018.122.

At the beginning of 2018 I decided to make myself accountable on-line.

To ME!

Accountable by sharing on Instagram and then via Facebook and Twitter three daily posts.

Every.Single.Day.

I did!

Well, I did until the reason stopped having meaning for me.

Routine.

Despite being retired and recovering from what was then “only” two surgeries on January 1, I committed to posting:

  • A Daily Outfit post: #outfitoftheday #dresswithpurpose
  • A Daily Creative post: #creating #process #product
  • A Daily Nature post: #gettingoutside #noticingnature

I remain committed in many areas of my life: career, partnership and more and so this was going to be keeping me:

  • accountable to ME for 3 different reasons
  • every day had 3 opportunities to share on line and enjoy interactions
  • help with a daily structure
  • less likely to sit around doing little
  • to keep my mood steady and somewhat elevated as I had interactions outside the house…and via connections on-line
  • managing my life with cancer by having 3 separate interests and reasons to connect with others
  • finding new people on-line, including groups of people with Head and Neck cancer
  • using my eye for noticing …and my creative brain for making…and helping my recovery by dressing each day for a photo

Here’s how it went, via a few examples from each category, until it stopped…on 30 October 2018.

Why Did I Stop?

I had had enough. Once something serves its purpose it IS time to move on. But there was also another landmark I had passed and I think it also had something to do with the decision.

On 30th October I had posted a “photo of me” every day for the previous 365 days (maybe a couple of exceptions) and I know how much I was both encouraged and buoyed when I first started doing this as I had only had cancer (and just one surgery!) for a few months. It fed my need to be ‘seen’ even with my face and body taking some blows and then recovering after surgeries 2, 3 and 4. BUT, I was knew things had changed for me.

From 31 October, I decided to post ONE instagram/facebook/twitter snap a day based on Daily Gratitude.

I still show me in whatever I wore that day, but on the side of the collage I group 4 similar reasons for gratitude for me.

I am finding this something meaningful as I wind down till the end of the year.

I will still, on occasion, post other pics but no longer via the need to do 3 a day for 365 days!! I cleared out a lot of my Instagram feed too now, keeping mostly the images of me as they help me see my progress.

So, that’s it.

This is the second last November Notes and I have decided not to do a Thursday post in December unless there is a need. I did enjoy the challenges of thinking more for my creative space…

Just for July, Appreciation in August, September Stories, Observations in October & November Notes.

When the reason has changed, change what we do. Do you?

Love to know what you think about habits that keep on going on and maybe they are no longer needed.

Denyse.

Joining the bloggers who link here with Leanne for Lovin Life on Thursdays. (I will still link up a post, even if it is not a newly published one!)

 

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My Bookmarks & The Big Hug Box. 2018.121.

My Bookmarks & The Big Hug Box. 2018.121.

Regular readers would know I have a ‘thing’ for creating with paint, markers, crayons and pencils. In fact, this creative side of mine has bloomed in the past few years. I made a pact this year to create daily and I did until about a month ago. Here’s the post about my creations which focussed mostly about mandalas. I will come to the bookmarks soon!

I am someone who has learned to enjoy the process of creating as well as the product. Many of my mandalas have been given away or made into coasters and placemats after laminating.

Before mandalas became a thing for me, I created patterns in grids, patterns in free form and more. I just get/got a lot of relaxation and meditative experiences through taking my time, letting my mind flow and enjoying the sensations of adding colour to blank pages.

Then: I still am a product-person too! I began to make bookmarks using strips of the patterns for friends and family. I laminated them and it was pleasing to see them being used and appreciated by others.

But: I ran out of people to give them to…

Until: I heard of the Big Hug Box. Lisa Greissl, a cancer patient herself 3 years ago, wanted to help ‘give back’ and to raise funds for cancer research. I followed Lisa via the Big Hug Box and could see how special her “boxes of hugs via gifts and more” were. I wanted to help by contributing and asked Lisa would my bookmarks work in her gift boxes.

Her response was as joyful and positive as she is. YES. Emphatically YES. A bright, hand-made bookmark would be a great addition.

I loved my skills being helpful to others with cancer. In fact, I was stoked to see an Instagram photo from a friend I met via blogging…who sadly has cancer…but had a Big Hug Box given to her and one of MY bookmarks was in there. I felt like I had contributed to her HUG.

Above is a selection of my most recent delivery to Lisa: 200 bookmarks. I have probably donated well over 100 before this!  I admit I now streamline my making.

  • Firstly, the art is cut into suitable size,
  • I have sheets of coloured card which I cut to match The Big Hug Box’s dimensions. I need, in future, to make slightly smaller ones for the Random Hugs of Kindness Boxes.
  • I paste my patterned paper on one side of the card
  • On the other side I add a now-signature Owl stamp at the top of the bookmark and a little quote that is on the bottom
  • Somewhere along this side of the bookmark I write an individual “My Bookmark”, later I embellish that side with some dots of paint.
  • On the front, where the pattern is, I often add a star, or heart symbol sticker and then as Lisa suggested, a little message from me on a sticker: Hand Made For You By Denyse Whelan Who Blogs Here: denysewhelan.com.au
  • Then I place 4 or 5 into an A4 laminate sheet and start the slow but careful job of feeding them in.
  • Lastly, over time again, I trim each card and the group becomes  individual bookmarks.

I do take a few days to a week to make a group of bookmarks. I recently made 60 on top of these at the request of the Central Coast Cancer Centre Head & Neck/Lung Nurse who is part of the group I meet with once a month. She will be adding them to new patient packs.

One reason I continue to make these is that I can share my love and care for another person affected by cancer as I was. I do make a definite and  conscious decision as I create each one to send loving kindness.

Update!

A little while back, Lisa, who lives only 5o minutes away was planning a “packing of Big Hug Boxes and Random Acts of Kindness Boxes” morning at her place and I accepted her invitation to attend. There were a few of us connected to Lisa via friendship and/or cancer. I even got to meet the creator of Colour Me Well who asked me to supply some of my mandalas for cards she was selling to patients.

It was a heart-warming morning, and at the completion, we had some photos taken. Lisa then went to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse on Monday 12 November to deliver 40 boxes, ready for gifting to cancer patients, and donated by various groups and individuals. I was thrilled to play a small role.

There is much to be said from helping our fellow humans and connecting and for those of us with cancer even moreso. Do check out Lisa’s wonderful work on The Big Hug box and she is now partnered by Cancer Aid app (another start-up from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse). Do share the information about the Big Hug Box widely…it helps all of us.

Lisa’s story on Channel Tenhttps://tendaily.com.au/news/good-news/a180530vxb/cancer-survivor-gives-back-with-the-big-hug-box-20180530

Thank you Lisa for your initiative and hard work. I know it’s for the love of it too but with a young family and working, it is a lot that you do for many!

Denyse.

Joining Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and Sue & Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love linky on Wednesdays.

 

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Best Cake I Have Eaten. 47/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.120.

Best Cake I Have Eaten. 47/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.120.

There is no best cake I have eaten.

This is because there are M A N Y best cakes I have eaten.

Probably none more delicious than this one I ate with a teaspoon as one of my first post-surgery snacks in July 2017. I remember saying to the dietitian “I will be able to eat cake” and she confirmed that, adding that if I put custard and icecream with it would help it go down AND add nourishment.

Lemon cake with icecream & custard

Now I shall list those great cake eating experiences according to occasion and memories!

My mum made the best cakes. They were always ‘from scratch’ as they say and Mum, not a cake or sweet lover herself was always happy to oblige.

This would have been the first cake I ate. My 1st birthday cake from almost 68 years ago.

My First Birthday. 30 Nov.

Mum would make ‘little cakes’ as she called them. She made them in gem irons. Solid metal trays where cake mix was added and then as it cooked, it became a sphere. Mum would ice these too. The most delicious ones were when she made them into lamingtons with mock cream in the centre. Oh how I loved getting these as a treat to take home when I was a young married mum.

When it came to birthdays Mum made our kids cakes from the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids Birthday Cookbook – I particularly recall the ’10’ cake for our daughter made as a tennis racquet. She made a race track one for our son’s 6th birthday cake.

And even into her ageing years Mum would rustle up a Rainbow Cake for Dad. A layer cake: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry with cream in between the layers. My request was for her Orange cake with orange icing and orange zest on top. Yummmmo.

Of course there are no photos of these cakes because..there was nothing like the photo-taking these days.

The most treasured ingredient in all of these cakes was LOVE. Mum loved to do this for us and we loved her for it!

But wait there is more!

I prefer to make cupcakes these days as they are portion-controlled and I do make some for my husband which get frozen and he brings one out a day. I make mine (and those I gift to others) with icing because “yum” and it helps get the cake down.

Before I went to hospital last July I made a batch of lemon syrup cake and these went down very well warmed through as well as with additions as above. I made cakes for my granddaughter’s 21st and what joy that was for me. Her mum (who takes after my mum in her cake cooking prowess) made the main birthday cake. I have also had delicious cakes made for me by my daughter and they include orange cakes and the famous lemon walnut cake (was a recipe of Mum’s originally) that Sammie has here on her blog.

I found that lovely Kyla at Cakes by Kyla made superb cupcakes which I could freeze and eke out for eating. Then I had a WIN. $250 worth of cupcakes and over the last 6 months these have been purchased, frozen and also given away. Yummo.

So, about my best cake eaten…well, I guess if I had the chance, it would be one (or more!) of Mum’s little lamingtons with mock cream inside.

How about you?

What is the best cake you have eaten?

Tell me more in the comments.

Denyse.

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!

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 48/52. Summer Means This. 26/11/18.

 


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November Notes #3. 2018.119.

November Notes #3. 2018.119.

I have reflected and decided that…..my daily “outfit” photos will continue.

Initially I was going to stop at the 12 month mark, i.e. end of October 2018.

And then I thought, go to the end of the year.

A blogging friend said “stop doing it if it has served its purpose.”

This was good advice and then I considered what my purpose was and is.

  • initially it was to get a more confident me to have a photo taken and put it on social media. (Y)
  • then it became enjoying finding new items of clothing that fit and were ‘on special. (Y)
  • as it continued into the beginning of 2018, I set a challenge of “no repeating an outfit. (Y)
  • the above petered out as I began dressing for the situation each day and so needed to be mindful of the weather and where I was going. This has continued (Y)
  • to be noticed as someone who is/was prepared to be photographed during face altering cancer surgeries(Y)
  • sharing my images on line with many hashtags became tedious and I have a private account so #hashtags are not even seen and I stopped (Y)

What now?

I keep on. I do agree with my fellow Head and Neck cancer patient friends on-line and in real life that each of us needs a purpose each day and one of mine that is 99% non-negotiable is to:

  • dress with purpose
  • have a photograph taken
  • go out for a coffee alone, with my husband or meet up with a friend.

The following collages are from around March 2018 until October 2018.

Scroll through to some fun and other images…including one or two of the Instagram Photographer Husband.

Here’s a few more reasons why this will continue…for some laughs and to remind ME how far I have come despite a cancer which took away half of the inside of my mouth.

Thank you most of all the my partner in life for care, encouragement, saying “smile” to me, and loving me!
The feeling is mutual. This photo was before one of our Morning Tea ‘dates’ recently.

What do you do with purpose each day?

Have you been sharing what you wear on social media?

Tell us more!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne (who is doing outfit shots and looks amazing!) here for Lovin’ Life linky on Thursdays.

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We Won An Award! 2018.118.

We Won An Award! 2018.118.

We did.

My husband and I were nominated by our Real Estate Property Management for one of their five awards for tenants.

This was the “gratitude” award. Others were: “best exterior” “best interior” “loyalty” and “tenant of the year”.

We have been renting houses since selling ours in Sydney and moving to the Central Coast, New South Wales in early 2015.

The first place we rented was not suitable for us even though we hoped it might be. Too long a story really but I can say we were treated well by our then property manager and got the famous bond back with ease. However, this house made me in particular unwell. It’s layout, the ill-fitting of our furniture, no ducted air (some air but useless really), and stairs. A spiral staircase. I was emotionally ill. The house, memories of the losses of our ties with Sydney, family and more took its toll. So much so, that we chose to leave early once we found a better house, much more affordable and one that ticked so many of the boxes for us.

The view was to the water but the house was not lovely

The second place we rented was just right. We were fortunate that once I found it, and had an inspection we were able to secure it after our application went in. Even the prospect of paying double rent till the other place’s lease expired could not contain our enthusiasm to be: back in a house on one level, had ducted air, a garage with internal access and more.

We wanted to stay there indefinitely as it was a place of shelter and security for me in the worst time of my life: cancer diagnosis. We enjoyed the quiet neighbourhood and there was a friendly element with the neighbours. It was at the northern end of the Central Coast that we both felt we had made the right move.

Loved tending to the flowers in pots as part of my daily routine.

The people who owned the house however decided to call a halt to our enjoyment by wanting it to move into by August 2018. I admit, I did not know how I would go moving somewhere else as so much was familiar here. But…

This is the way of being tenants. We had great advice from our newer property manager who suggested once the lease expired 6 months before the owners wanted to move in, we go week-by-week and in the meantime look for a suitable property.

I looked, we looked and we wanted to stay in the northern end, and as local to where we were because of our health connections, familiarity with shopping and so on. The real estate agency gave us two properties to fit our bill but one was a stand out. Our high priorities are ducted air conditioning and one level house. We viewed it, put the application in with the people who knew us well, and secured the house we are living in now. Phew.

Still enjoying the flowers in pots outside

So, about the awards. The principal of the agency decided in 2017 to give tenants awards because they are the over-looked group in real estate. He told us on the night of the awards their group has 1600 houses tenanted! The nominations for  awards for tenants were made by the groups of property managers. Our name came up because, in the words of the senior property manager who has been ‘watching over us’ said “we are the gold standard tenants”. That is nice to know. She also said we tell the other property managers that we never want to lose you and that your emails of appreciation and care for us are valued.

The awards night was held at the local club and each of us (there were 8 people for each of the awards) was welcomed by the staff of the real estate agency and led to a beautifully decorated table with buffet type food and drinks on offer.

The first award was the “gratitude” award and I was there without my husband but it was a real thrill to have our names on display and for me to receive the award from the senior property manager who said very kind words.

What a lovely surprise! The evening continued with all the awards presented, photos taken and after 2 hours we were about to leave when we were told, no wait, there is a take-home gift. It was a very heavy….half leg of ham! Amazing.

In a time when gratitude is needed more than ever, it was gratifying to know we were considered that way.

Have you been an award winner at any time?

What do you think of this idea?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Sue & Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love on Wednesdays.

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I Remember. 46/52. #LifeThisWeek 2018.117.

I Remember. 46/52. #LifeThisWeek 2018.117.

This post, originally written last week for Share Your Snaps was not sitting right for that prompt and then I saw this one.

I Remember.

 

I have noticed in the years past that I get tense, twitchy and tetchy in November. I used to think it was because I was tired and the end of the school year is nigh. I no longer have that reason. I now think and feel it is related to my birthday on the last day of November.

My birthday approaching brings a mixed bag of feelings:

  • sad (older)
  • contentment (glad to be here post cancer)
  • regret (not appreciating some of the people in my life more)
  • resentment (because some of those people, hello my parents, raised me in a way that I felt special BUT I perceived that was the case only if I was/am thin, achieving, managing financially)
  • anticipation of both negative and positive aspects of the day which celebrates me.

I know this might sound grouchy and somewhat mean-spirited but instead of pretending and pushing my November feelings and thoughts away, I have admitted them…and along with these pictures, may help heal me  for future Novembers.

November is:

  • my parents’ wedding anniversary
  • armistice day – this year 100 years since 11.11.1918
  • anniversary of my aunt’s early death
  • getting ready for Christmas
  • remembering my teaching/principal roles at this time of the year
  • my birthday

 

Do you have memories of any times which leave you somewhat like my birthday month does?
I am deliberately choosing to post about gratitude this November and so far these are the images.

Share your photos and your stories anytime here!

Denyse.

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!

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 47/52. Best Cake I Have Eaten. 19/11/18.


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November Notes #2. 2018.116.

November Notes #2. 2018.116.

This month, 5 years ago, a unique and amazing event occurred.

I did not know how much this event would affect me 18 months ago.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse: Comprehensive Cancer Hospital opened in November 2013.

I am incredibly grateful for the vision of both the late Professor Chris O’Brien OAM and his lovely wife Gail, AO.

Chris, who was to die from brain cancer in 2009 before the hospital started, had a vision based on his experience as a Head and Neck surgeon and then a patient with cancer. That there needed to be a place like a ‘one stop shop’ for cancer patients and families as there was so much to manage when someone is diagnosed with cancer without more added to the stress such as visiting as number of different places for treatment.

For Gail, on receipt of her AO said however, the award is a reflection of the community of which she feels lucky to be a part. “I could not be more proud of our independent, benevolent hospital and the care we give our patients,” she says.

Her words are a tremendous reminder to all of us of the importance of Chris O’Brien’s mission. With this award we are encouraged to strive for the best at all times, and to continue to turn your support into a positive force in the fight against cancer.

A chance meeting here I had longed for. I met the late Prof Chris O’Brien, Gail.

Even though I cannot be there for this week of Open Days and Celebration, I am there in spirit.

From my first, scared and very tense visit of over 2.5 hours on Thursday 18 May 2017, through to major surgery on 6 July 2017 and my excellent recovery in ICU and on the wards, through to check-ups and tests and then for more day surgeries on 15 November 2017, 6 February 2018 and 16 May 2018 it is always a rich and inclusive experience to be at Lifehouse. Of course, I have been back for follow-ups and to chat with people I would now call friends. Who knew that would be how I would interact with a hospital and having cancer! Not I!

This one session, held on Monday 5 November when I have to be at Westmead  to see the prosthodontist, features my Head and Neck Surgeon, Professor Jonathan Clark who was trained by Professor Chris O’Brien. How fortunate am I!

Jonathan said ‘he was stoked’ about how my teeth/mouth worked out.

Eventbrite for Organizers's photo.

NOV5

Innovation and technology in cancer surgery

Public

More here about the week of celebration, innovation, care and sharing from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
My little collage and tribute to wish Chris O’Brien Lifehouse congratulations on 5 years of helping patients like me!

Do you know of the great work done by the late Professor Chris O’Brien? He became, as his family remembers, the unexpected ‘star’ of the long-running T.V. documentary called R.P.A. That’s short for Royal Prince Alfred – the hospital opposite Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Thank you to you all at Lifehouse!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne who also  knows a lot about the work at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, here for Lovin Life linky.

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