Wednesday 17th July 2019

Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

This week we meet Leanne who is 57. I first ‘met’ Leanne via blogging and we clicked for a few reasons. One being we both worked in remote parts of our respective states when young and two being we are happily married grandparents! Here’s Leanne telling her story of courage.

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

I feel like a bit of a fraud answering these questions because I’ve never faced a life threatening illness or event. Maybe the closest reference to living bravely for me would be in the area of our finances.

We’ve been married for 37 years and for a lot of that time we’ve had a pretty basic income. My husband tends to enjoy a more flexible work style than your standard 9-5 and that has entailed a lot of times when we have lived on a part-time income. He has worked for himself freelancing with the resultant ups and downs, and also returned to study for 3 years to change professions in his 50’s.

When you’re a planner and an orderly person, having an uncertain and fluctuating (or non-existent) income when you’re raising a family, paying a mortgage, covering bills, buying food etc can be very stressful. It puts strain on your marriage, it puts pressure on the person who pays those bills, and it means that you have to step up and do more than you might have chosen to in different circumstances. For me it meant returning to work earlier than I planned to after having both our children – but managing to juggle time so that we never needed to use childcare (something I’m very proud of as that was a real priority for me).

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Having an uncertain income has changed me in a lot of ways. My visions of being married to a career driven person and staying home and being a housewife when my kids were younger got tossed out the window fairly early in our marriage. I had to come to terms with the fact that the husband isn’t always the primary breadwinner – sometimes it’s a shared responsibility. I’ve needed to step up and share the workload and income earning for all our married life, but the plus side is that in the process we’ve also shared the child raising, school parenting, housekeeping etc roles too. It meant that I kept my skills current and didn’t ever have problems finding a job or taking on the challenge of learning a new position due to being away from the workforce for any length of time.

I’ve also needed to change my way of looking at what is truly needed for a happy and satisfying life. We’ve learned to manage our finances over the years and live frugally (but not in an impoverished way), to prioritize paying the mortgage and other bills first and making sure we had savings to fall back on when the leaner times arrived. Money is certainly not as important as I thought it would be – you can get by on a lot less than you imagine if you’re prepared to make compromises and be a little bit creative in how you view the essentials of life.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I’ve learned that our society focuses too much on material wealth and the idea that you can’t live a fulfilled and happy life unless you have it all. What my experience has proved is that you can live well by living within your means. If you haven’t got the money then you don’t buy it on credit – you wait until you have the money before you spend it, you don’t aspire to keep up with the Joneses, and you don’t spend randomly and thoughtlessly. Finding a second-hand bargain, or buying when something is on sale can be more rewarding than instant gratification.

Often when finances are precarious it’s easy to panic, but if you’re willing to make compromises – both of you going out to work, or both working part-time, or doing a job you might not normally consider (I sold Tupperware for a year when our kids were too little for me to have a 9-5 type job) you can always make ends meet. You might not have a brand new car, or an overseas trip, meals in expensive restaurants, or the most expensive clothes and shoes, but you will have plenty of food to eat, the bills paid, a roof over your head, and a sense of pride in what you’ve achieved.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I’m definitely less worried about what life will throw at me these days. I’ve seen our marriage weather the storms of financial strain (many marriages fail when money gets tight). We’ve learned to pull together and to adjust to each other’s differences. My husband has learned to be careful with money (he was more of a spender in his pre-marriage days) and I’ve learned to be more flexible in my expectations of who the breadwinner should be and how much money you need to be “well off”.

I’ve also seen what you can achieve with discipline and care – we were debt free by the time we reached our 50’s. We own our home, two cars, enjoy modest holidays, have plenty in our savings, and are in line for a fairly comfortable retirement. I used to joke that we’d be living under a bridge eating catfood when we reached 65, but that’s far from the case (thank goodness!) In fact, having managed things as well as we have means that I’ve actually had the courage to leave my toxic workplace and not feel the pressure to find another job – all that hard work has paid off!

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

As I said at the beginning, I can’t imagine giving advice to people who are facing cancer or the death of a loved one, or any other life changing event. All I can say is that life has no guarantees, we aren’t automatically dealt a hand of cards that gives us health, wealth and happiness. Instead, we take what life gives us and work with that to the best of our ability. We put ourselves out there and work hard, we don’t look for handouts, we don’t throw our hands in the air and give up, we don’t look to be rescued – we just get on with it and push through the barriers.

Life is truly wonderful, we are so blessed to live in a country that is safe and where we have a standard of living (and health care) that other countries envy. We need to appreciate all that we’ve been given and make the most of it. Tough times are guaranteed – there’s no free ride for the majority of us – and it’s having the courage to look for a way through and then getting on with it that ultimately makes all the difference.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your story Leanne. I am always appreciative of your blog, the opportunity to be a guest poster and to join the link up you have (see below) each Wednesday with Sue called MidLife Share The Love. This post, in fact, will be on that link up!

Denyse.

Social Media :

Blog/Website: https://www.crestingthehill.com.au

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/crestingthehill/

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest
FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest

Comments

  1. Hey Leanne (waving). I think society places way too much emphasis on material wealth & it’s so easy to get sucked into that. We’ve always earned roughly the same – sometimes my husband earned more, sometimes me. We’ve also always shared all household and childcare responsibilities – although we do only have one child. These days I’m the only income earner and he’s retired and I still get asked whether I resent that and why doesn’t he feel guilty. I don’t and I hope he doesn’t, yet society still expects that will be the case.

    • Society puts such huge expectations on us Jo – the need to be seen to “have it all” and to have it as soon as possible can ruin people and ruin marriages. When you look past that you find that we can live comfortably on much less than we’ve been led to believe – and in the process we take the pressure off ourselves and our marriage and still have a very pleasant life. (It’s funny that my husband never felt guilty about being more random in his work style – whereas I still feel twinges of guilt for not working atm!)

    • Thanks Jo, for your insights and commonly held beliefs which are not, for many of us, correct!

      Denyse x

  2. Hi Denyse – thanks so much for having me here today – it’s been lovely to be a part of this series and I hope my little story encourages others who may be struggling with an issue in their life/marriage that may not be huge, but can still be making life tricky xx

    • Thanks Leanne, I imagine there will be some who will indeed find some commonality with those issues you raised.

      I am pleased to have you here as a guest poster…in the way of sharing your story.

      Denyse x

  3. A very interesting post. Thanks to Leanne and Denyse.

  4. Thanks Denyse and Leanne for sharing this insight into life. It takes all sorts of bravery to survive and Leanne you have shown a deep well of resilience to get to where you are now. Great to see you featured here in Denyse’s Women of Courage series. Sharing for #mlstl

  5. Hi Denyse lovely to see my BBB, Leanne as one of your Women of Courage. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts and linking up at #MLSTL. xx

  6. Lydia – from Where the Wild Things Are – shared a post after attending something recently about finances and stress / mental health and I think (from experience) that the constant worry is something that can become overwhelming and debilitating. It’s hard to have a positive outlook when that happens, but I really like that Leanne’s considered her priorities and remember that the material stuff isn’t always the most important.

    • Thanks for your memories of how another blogger has raised this as something that can be a worry. Whilst we ‘never’ really struggled because I was working full-time and my husband was on a medical pension, there were some days I would be quite stressed at the load I was carrying.

      Denyse x

    • When you’re in the middle of scarcity it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by it Deb. It also flows over onto all the other parts of life (and you can’t afford treats to numb the pain!) I think the secret is to not fall into the credit trap to shore up the weak spots, but rather cut back and be frugal until better times come.

  7. Lovely to see you here as part of Denyse’s series, Leanne. You’re not a fraud at all. To live is to have courage I think. No-one gets through life without challenges. Facing financial challenges is something I can relate to. I remember when we were on one wage when the kids were babies/toddlers we barely had enough to scrape through each day. I then had to return to work way earlier than I wanted to and even then it was disheartening with all the childcare costs. I then worked and juggled kids, school, work, the house for many, many years. It was not easy! It certainly is courageous to support your husband as you have done and to let go of your dreams of being a stay at home mum. I can very much relate to those feelings. #TeamLovinLife

    • I think Leanne’s initial thoughts she ‘was a fraud’ to be contributing here are so not true either Min. Sometimes it is the day in, day out stuff that takes the most courage. Most days have such levels of fatigue and responsibility added to them it is very hard to continue and be well. Your comment confirms how it was for you too.

      Thank you so much for your candid remarks.

      Denyse x

    • Min here’s another thing we have in common! Isn’t it amazing the similarities that come up when we start sharing our lives? It definitely makes life tough when you’re constantly stretching the dollars out, or compromising on how you’d like to live so that you can pay the bills. We both got through it and we’re both reaping the benefits now – so there was a silver lining or light at the end of the tunnel xx

  8. Interesting read, thank you for sharing. You’d think with how fast work and life and social expectations have changed people wouldn’t be shocked at a female breadwinner but I do still come across that.

  9. Hi, Leanne – You are an awesome choice for this ‘Women of Courage’ series. Your incredibly open, honest and candid writing is what attracted me to your blog in the first place. That definitely takes courage — and has my complete admiration.

    Thank you, Denyse, for including Leanne here. Great series!

    • Yes indeed, you have hit the nail on the head with Leanne’s story. I am so glad she agreed to be a part of the series too.

      Denyse x

    • Oh Donna what a lovely thing to say – thank you xx I feel like blogging has been my way of sharing my story and hopefully encouraging others along the way. So many of us don’t have the shiny life that social media sells and it’s nice to know that we can encourage each other to believe that we have more than we need and we’re worthy of living our best lives x

  10. Thank you for this uplifting series, Denyse. Thanks, Leanne, for sharing your story, even though you were hesitant at first. Releasing our preconceived notions of what life should be like and pursuing a new path is courageous. Leaving a steady paying job that is toxic for you is also courageous. I admire that you were able to find a balance between earning a living that felt comfortable to you and spending quality time with your family. Thanks again for sharing your experience. #MLSTL

    • It is a really uplifting series I agree and I am grateful to have many women contribute. Sometimes the most ‘ordinary’ of circumstances takes more courage to continue going when we are ‘bogged down’ in life!

      Thank you Christie.

      Denyse x

    • Those preconceived notions were pretty ingrained Christie, but the journey taught me that you can make things work if you’re prepared to adapt and juggle a bit. I’m so grateful that by pushing through, I managed to end up with a life that allowed me to walk away from the horrible job at the end!

  11. I think we all underestimate our own strength and importance when we judge ourselves by external standards. I love Leanne’s story because she so clearly demonstrates that a good life is about flexibility and common sense. We can’t predict the future so real strength is in how we react to changes and challenges. It looks to me like Leanne has totally nailed that. Thanks Denyse for sharing another inspiring story. Pinning this

    • Hi Jan – thanks so much for understanding and for your kind comments. You’re right about not being able to predict our future (I didn’t look very clearly at my husband-to-be’s financials – I was more impressed with his looks, charm and character!) but you can conquer anything if you want to badly enough – and we pulled through much better than I expected at the time 🙂

    • Thanks so much Jan, I am pleased that Leanne could see she did indeed have a story to share.

      Denyse x

  12. Leanne, it takes courage to choose love over the expectation of financial security. And, it takes courage to stick with it through thick and thin. I watched my parents do just that as they struggled financially while raising four children. There were tense times, and we never had a lot of things, but our home was filled with love. Money can make your life easier, but love makes you rich. That is a lesson I have appreciated my entire life. I am sure your children learned from your struggles as well.

    • That is such a heartfelt and lovely comment to Leanne, Suzanne, thank you.

      Denyse x

    • Suzanne I loved your comment about “Money can make your life easier, but love makes you rich.” because it’s perfectly sums up that stage of my life. If we let the desire for wealth rule our hearts then we’re missing out on so much. And yes, both our children have become very responsible adults and I’m sure that not being handed everything on a plate was part of that maturing process xx

  13. I can relate to this right now. I am not into keeping up with the ‘Jones” and believe that you can live on not much and be perfectly comfortable and happy, as long as you live within your means. #openslather

    • I see you doing that very well indeed with your growing and cooking what you’ve grown and the handmade items too.

      I say ‘more power to you’ for all you do so well.

      The girls’ scarves looked awesome.

      Denyse x

    • You said it well Alicia – if we’re not envying others and we’re not trying to measure our worth by the dollars we earn, then we can be very happy. It took me many years to leave that mindset (from my childhood) behind and to truly appreciate all I had in life – and I don’t think we missed out on much at all really 🙂

  14. Hi Leanne I really enjoyed reading your guest post and agree with you about most of your points. When I found myself heading for divorce in my 50s I realised my attitude to money and stuff would have to change. When I was married money was never a problem. I rarely give it a thought, also I discovered on the Camino that I need very little to be happy. Ever since deciding to live a life of having and needing less I’ve noticed that consumerism is very close to being obscene in our society.

    • Sounds like quite the ‘lightbulb’ moment for you at a crossroads in your life Jennifer. Thanks for sharing.

      Denyse x

    • You’re so right Jennifer – consumerism and greed and envy seem to be everywhere (it’s why SM thrives isn’t it?) There were times when I felt the scarcity but that was more from what society was putting on me rather than from any real need. I love that I’ve learned to live with less – it takes the pressure off and certainly makes this stage of life a lot more enjoyable x

  15. I enjoyed reading your story and your advice. Excellent post!

    I was giggling a little when you talked about living frugally and being a bit creative. Our Walmart is undergoing a major renovation and they’re constantly putting items on clearance. Going into month 3 of it already! Since I’m in there M-F for 1-2 hours servicing the Hallmark cards, I see what’s come up new. I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping – and all of it with $1-$3 purchases! (SHHHH! Don’t spill the beans to those on my gift list!)

    Sharing for MLSTL

Denyse values & reads every comment written, thank you. There is always a reply.

*