Friday 22nd March 2019

My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

I have written about the value of mindfulness and meditation several times here and here since 2015 and I have decided to update my readers and in doing so, join in with Min of who is launching her ZenTipsTuesday link up today!

Join the #ZTT train by linking up your post about any kind of lifestyle choice, activity, or holiday that helped bring you a feeling of ZEN – peace, or enhanced feeling of balance (mind, body and spirit).

Congratulations to Min. I hope this Tuesday link-up is a great one.

In the past year, these are some of what I practise to achieve mindfulness:

mindfulness: rather than me explain it: this one page article has three ways in which to describe mindfulness and I suggest a read because…it is ‘not all about being in this moment’. Nor is it all about meditation and clearing out your mind. That as I know is impossible and no meditation teacher ever expects that to occur.

 

When I notice my body (and soul I suppose!) not being as in sync as I now know they can be, I try to find s part of nature that soothes me and helps me add the world around me to filling me up again.

A place called Porters Creek – part of Wyong River – is a favourite place to walk alongside and stop and take in what surrounds me.

 

Of course, I have written before about Mindfulness and Mandalas and that is here. However after quite a gap between making mandalas due to busy-ness of making bookmarks from my art, I felt called back to this most mindful of art I do. I love the creative process and then carefully deciding after the pattern has been completed, just how I will colour it.

 

An A3 size mandala created by me and eventually coloured with some of these fabulous markers which has a brush end and a pointed end.

 

Recently I could not settle myself. That happens at times when there is more on my mind than I may admit to: possibly related to cancer recovery. So on this occasion again I took myself out in the car and found a place at Tacoma beside the Wyong River and sat. And looked and noticed: what I held in my hand. Check out the tiny mandala shape in nature!

Sometimes it is the change of view that helps and I get out of my house. This find told me that if I look carefully I will find something of interest. I did.

 

I have learned the lesson over and over again that there is no one right time. Take a risk, give something a go and be kind to yourself as you do so. That is living in the now!

 

Calm is my preferred meditation app now and I have life membership – it was surprisingly cheap and there are many options on the app that it is for me better than my previous Headspace app.

 

If my mind is whirling and worrying sometimes a more complex but different kind of drawing challenge helps me focus on “just one thing”. This is an example of a previously “too hard” mandala in its final stages of drawing.

Taking my time, reading the instructions (!) and doing this was such a good thing for me at the time.

 

I have been learning about Self-Compassion for over 3 years now but am always learning something new about it and myself. I am far less likely to speak to myself harshly these days and I remember to practise self-compassion when I do not have a great day. Completing the Mindful Self Compassion Workbook by Dr Kirstin Neff and Dr Chris Germer is helping cement my practices.

Do you practise self-care? In 2019 each 7th week, for LifeThisWeek I am asking bloggers to share their self-care and self-kindness stories.

 

A favourite way of re-connecting with myself in a pleasant environment is this place. I found it before I knew I had cancer in 2017 and visited it once I found out. I like to walk here and take time to gather my thoughts and at the same time immerse myself in the bigger world beyond my mind!

The walking bridge at Budgie is a favourite.

 

It is no secret to those who follow me on Instagram that the beach is a winner hands-down for me as a mood-buster and a ‘time to give thanks’ spot.

I knew last week this is where I HAD to come at 6 p.m. and it cheered me no end. Especially dipping in the water and facing the challenge of crashing waves!

 

And so, that IS my mindful practices’ update. I hope you are finding this thing we are in called LIFE going well for you. If you are not so, and that happens, maybe some of mine could be ones to help you too.

Denyse.

Joining in with Min from Write of the Middle for Zen Tips Tuesday for the first link up!

On Wednesdays I link here for Midlife Share the Love. Thank you Sue and Leanne.

This Thursday I link up here as part of Lovin’ Life linky  with Leanne and friends.

 

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Share Your Snaps #1. 5/51. #LifeThisWeek 12/2019.

Share Your Snaps #1. 5/51. #LifeThisWeek 12/2019.

Welcome to the fifth optional prompt for #LifeThisWeek:

Share Your Snaps

Every 5th week is is photo-centred post. Not wordless for me, however, because….just because!

Let’s meander down January’s memories:

Oh MY goodness it is great to eat real food again. This took a LOT longer to eat than before I had cancer but it was wonderful.

 

My 6th grandchild & 4th granddaughter at ‘her’ dressing table which was mine as a teen, then stayed at home for Mum to use till 2007 and then given to my daughter’s family. It “still” has the Sydney Uni transfer on mirror I put there in 1969. because that was where my boyfriend at the time went.

 

And Pennant Hills Road Sydney…I missed you (not)…on my way to M2 to get to Westmead for a January mouth check.

 

Blogger, Author and Appearance Activist Carly Findlay’s book is here. Launches are occurring all around Australia. I first heard and met Carly at the Inaugural Aussie Bloggers’ Conference in 2011. My copy, on pre-order, is being read by me now. An excellent memoir.

 

On our way to see the family for our grandson’s 18th we drove through roads and streets not seen before: with buildings and shops and houses and apartments and this: a new school! Wow we thought.

 

And a week later we got some pleasing news. Our daughter, teacher-librarian, has been appointed to this brand new school and her youngest has started there too now. Here is the library (only one part!).

 

What an amazing courtyard, and space! It’s a brand new Public School at North Kellyville. We once lived in Kellyville and the land on which the school is built was grazing and acre blocks. So much has happened development-wise since we left north-west Sydney 4 years ago.

 

I miss the white/ pale pink frangipanis we had at the previous rental house but am definitely attracted to the colourful ones these days so when I saw these on a drive through The Entrance I HAD to stop and capture their beauty.

 

This map of Australia caught my attention and that of many when it was re-published by me on Australia Day. Each coloured section represents a country for the original custodians of the land. The Aboriginal people we lived with and taught helped us to learn far more than we might have any other way.

 

Toothless again. It was temporary and of course, on a break from the prosthodontist chair I took a selfie. Just goes to show how much upper teeth make my smile.

 

An unusual spot for me on this trip to Sydney for our grandson’s 18th Birthday lunch. I am in the passenger seat and got to film crossing the Hawkesbury River bridge. It is a marker of sorts for me of leaving the coast and heading to the big smoke.

 

Dad: I came to share some food goodies and meals for his freezer just a few days after his 95th birthday. He is on his balcony pointing to the BIG complex that Dee Why RSL is building on the border of the Independent Retirement Complex where he has lived contentedly for almost 8 years.

 

After buying Dad’s house in 2011 we knew the architect owners would eventually renovate it. It still has come to a shock to all of the family how different it looks already. That is progress of course. Dad is not keen on seeing the updates.

 

Early January I had an unexpected visit to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (image of the late Prof here) to have some extra skin growth check by my Professor. It is all OK but that day was a wake-up to reality for me. Anytime something “is” different it will be checked to see if it is “cancer”.

Today, Monday 4 February 2019, is World Cancer Day.

Catch up on more here. 

I hope that if  you or anyone you know  does have a cancer diagnosis you would be aware of the many more successful treatments and prognoses these days. It does, of course, depend on the type and stage of cancer when diagnosed. It doesn’t detract from the seriousness of course but to someone who has been through my recent cancer experiences I have found out more than I ever thought possible about a cancer diagnosis.

Best wishes to you all this coming month.

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: 6/51. My Worst Purchase. 11/2/19.


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Telling My Story. Chapter Nine. 1978-1979.11/2019.

Telling My Story. Chapter Nine. 1978-1979. 11/2019.

Telling My Story

For the past two years I have been writing my memoir which is a mix of my life as a daughter, wife, mother and educator. Written now with no personal details to protect others, I am moving onto the first two significant years of our life back ‘in the big smoke’ a.k.a Sydney. The years are 1978-1979. The chapters already written are found here.

1978.

Living in Sydney as a family.

We arrived back in Sydney and my parents’ house would be our place of abode for the next 3 or so months. Our furniture was transported back to a storage facility in Sydney and we had a holiday – at Mum and Dad’s. Almost by the beach and of course our daughter was the much-welcomed presence. My husband had a new appointment in a north-shore K-6 school as a Deputy Master and I was appointed to what was then a brand new school in the leafy glades near Pennant Hills. Our daughter was to go to school with me. It would be quite a drive across Sydney so we made the decision to get a second car. This was radical and maybe not a great financial move, but we were young! Oh, and the small matter of somewhere to live permanently meant our first mortgage and a house search.

Finding a house.

No longer able to be ‘near that water of the northern beaches’ due to affordability it also made sense for us to go ‘west’ …north-west in fact, as both of us could access our schools with greater ease AND the house and land package was, for us, affordable once the mortgage came through: $44,600.

We were stoked and then I had some health news. About my women’s issues. Just before going to our new schools I had a consultation with my Mum’s ob/gyn specialist who believed the source of my pain on the side was from my ovary. He also heard the full story from me about the NO pregnancy news from others who’d treated me in the previous years.

His plan was to operate on me and remove whatever was causing me issues, and then we might see about the possibilities of a second child.

So proud to call this our first home…that we were not renting.

Schools.

I was already at my school but with no class. In those days the Department of Education appointed teachers when they saw the numbers of students were likely to increase. I was not a happy teacher as I was experienced but I had to comply. Our daughter had settled in too. With the news of this surgery which could be done asap and my recovery period would be around 3 weeks, I decided to go for that then. Mum was there for our daughter’s practical care as was my husband but he was also working in a completely new and busy environment learning about managing large student populations and staff. He took our daughter, Miss Flexible it seems, with him to his school for the weeks involved in my surgery and recovery.

My surgery.

The findings once the abdominal surgery was done, were that I had multiple issues inside for both ovaries which were covered in cysts and ovulation was impossible. I also had some benign growths on fallopian tubes and both of these were causes for my infertility. Not fat. Thanks Dr who told me that. My now ob/gyn, Dr O, said “I have cut tiny sections in your ovaries and that should assist with egg release.”

Home to Mum’s then more news. And We Are In!

I recovered with the best of care and then came the time just before our house would be ready to move into and I returned to school. The news was this: a transfer had arrived at the school where I had no class and I was to report to this new-to-me school asap AND it was much closer to our new house. Thanks to the deities. We moved into the new house with help (and yes it was the wettest 17th March ever) and over time we made it home. I began very soon after at the school where I would be for the next 5 years and it became our daughter’s primary school until she was ready for high school.

New School. New Routines. And NEWS.

The schools in NSW had a different way of enrolling Kinder students then and my class, one of 8, was to receive each of the June and July birthday kids until the end of Term One. Every Monday over a few weeks a new set of scared, sad, happy, nervous young kids began with me in K. In a demountable. No fans or air-con people. Our daughter meanwhile who had a rocky start to the BIG school of 8 classes per grade, finally found her place and flourished. Phew. Meanwhile my husband, who was feeling effects of the neck pain and back pain along with managing his school roles, did it pretty tough. But he is tough.

Can I Be? Really?

We found ourselves a fantastic GP team of a husband and wife who were our medicos from 1978 to 2012 or thereabouts. They were family-oriented and even our kids as adults went to them and then their kids. But I am getting ahead of myself. I was feeling different. It had only been two months since my surgery but I was pretty sure I could be pregnant. No peeing on sticks then but a blood test and wait for results. Oh. My. Goodness. The nurse who did my test was a parent in my class! So much for privacy because she actually knew my story (I must have shared) and she rang me to tell me, yes I was pregnant. She kept quiet but I was always grateful to hear what I had not ever expected to hear again. The news was not accepted as excitedly by my husband right then because I have to add, we were “up to our eyeballs” in loans for cars, house and so on. But I could see we would be OK. And over time, he did too of course!

What Happened Next?

I decided to return to my Dr O who I trusted for my care and birth and even though he was not 100% impressed in my ahem, rapidity, in becoming pregnant took me on and this meant a monthly Friday afternoon trip to the Northern beaches to see him, with my daughter in tow, and then have tea with my parents and trek back. I was well. Mind you, I was tired but teaching was a joy and there were two other teachers also pregnant on Kinder and even before it was recess, the lovely canteen ladies would send us cheese crusts! Yum.

So Much Better This Time Around.

I was almost 8 years older than the first time I was pregnant. I was more educated on childbirth and breastfeeding. I did not know the sex of our child and we chose names for both. I enjoyed preparing a nursery from scratch (remember, we had given all the baby items away except for a special baby basket). My weight remained stable and there was no pre-eclampsia. However, the toll of teaching Kinders in Summer in a hot demountable classroom saw my GP recommend finishing earlier than the mandated 6 weeks and I did that willingly.

With regular visits to my parents’ house where my Dad had finally added an in-ground pool, I was treated pretty darned well. My teacher mates gave me a great baby shower, and one of my friends was now at home with her baby and my other colleague was due after me. The due date was mid January and by then I was “over it”. A slight rise in BP meant I took up the locum Ob/Gyn offer to admit me the following Sunday for induction. My Dr was still sailing in the Sydney to Hobart I was told.

Birth day Time

After a leisurely float around the pool, we changed and went our way across Sydney to North Sydney saying good bye to our daughter then 7 knowing she would be a sister next time we saw her. I had then-practice of pre-induction enema and I was given a private room as I had hoped to ‘room-in’ with my baby after having such a different experience in 1971. The night was slow even though I had some pain. My husband went to Mum and Dad’s and I saw him the next morning when I was taken to labour and delivery. If only. Induction was s for slow and I had p for pain. I was adamant no pain relief or epidural. Until I could not bear it any longer – 8 hours of so of pain every 10 mins going nowhere broke me. It appeared, I had another posterior lie baby. I had the epidural and it worked. On one side. S for sheeeet.

I got tired. I was over it. And of course, that meant I was ready to give birth. But I had forgotten that. This time with as gentle coaching husband, a calm Dr, oh and a million or so nurses who rocked up to count my birthing as one of theirs for registration, I pushed out….the watermelon. I was OVER it. In fact, the baby boy was passed to my husband for care, the Dr started his stitching and they chatted. About whether this new boy would play cricket for Australia. Seriously. I was done. In fact the hospital was crazy busy with births and we got some time-out together in a side ward until I (we!) was taken to my private room.

It was a painful but glorious end to our quest to have a second child and he was just a much-wanted child. Not much more to add. His sister was proud, we thought he was great and on the date of our wedding anniversary we took him home – firstly to my parents and then back across Sydney home. Even in those days, car safety for babies was slack and he was in a basket, protected with a net and a safety belt around that.

The family baby basket. This is his sister in it. Later, over the years, our grandchildren slept in it when we cared for them.

Parenting Two.

It really was not a big issue. His sister was 7.5 years older than him and doted on him. We also made sure her routines continued and I would bring the baby with me. One thing I remember doing as a member of the local Australian Breastfeeding Association was take him to the local pre-school and show the kids how he was fed and cared for. However, I was still not as happy about being at home. My friend had her child now and occasionally we would meet up for baby weighing days. But we needed me to be back at school and I did too. There was only one choice in 1979 – full-time or stay on leave.

Of course, it was always going to be about the family day care options. I was given some places to see and I was disappointed on first impression. Then I remembered one of the parents from the K class had told me about Aunty Y who cared for her two and she highly recommended her. I visited with my son and the house was messy but it was kid-messy and a more grandmotherly person I was yet to meet. She agreed to care for him 5 days a week and her house was on my way to school. Win.

I had continued to breast feed with success and at 18 weeks our son happily went to his family daycare home with some bottles of expressed breast milk and was cared for with love. I, on the other hand, found it trickier being a breast-feeding teacher and when I thought about it, my milk would ‘come in’. I found over time though the my milk regulated and with the energy expended by me with teaching Year 1 , playground duty and so on, I had enough to feed him once we were home, and then express for the next day. Over time he added milk in a bottle and some food as babies do but I was proud of “us” lasting around 8 months.

We were grateful to have a very independent and resourceful daughter, a pretty good baby and a hands-on husband who was also in full-time work and we made it happen. It was hard. I know we got some nights where sleep was patchy because of the baby but we all know we can power on…thanks to coffee! My parents offered on some occasions to cook a meal at our house and that was readily accepted. We were new residents of a growing suburb in north-west Sydney and though very busy, our life was going well.

Teaching and Ambition.

I returned to a Year One class in May 1979 and was immediately struck by the teamwork and professionalism in this particular section of the school. I admit, I saw teachers who were applying for promotion via what was then called The List system and it made me say to myself “I can do that.” So, from then onwards, I took on a few more responsibilities within the school. It was a very large school in a newly populated area. 8 classes per grade: 24 classes K-2! We only tended to meet with our grade as the time was hectic. We were in temporary lodgings as a new school to take some of the kids was being built further along the road. By 1981 that would occur and we would be all on the same site.

Family Life.

What would occur in our family life in 1980 is part of the next chapter. It was huge, and significant and continues to affect us in some ways today.

Next Chapter: 1980 onwards. 

This will incorporate more of my teaching career as it was the beginning of promotions and new roles for me. NOT something I had planned but it happened for quite a few reasons.

Denyse.

Joining here on Thursday with Leanne and crew at Lovin’ Life.

 

 

 

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On Learning About Eating. Part One.10/2019.

On Learning About Eating.  Part One. 10/2019.

I have been eating my way through life for over 69 years now. As anyone does.

Yes, I “am” the baby. I also know my grandmother (left) and Dad struggled with weight issues too.

But, I still do not understand much about eating ….unless it is:

  • diet-based (fail)
  • managing to eat enough for nourishment after cancer surgery in my mouth (pass/fail/maybe)
  • how to moderate my choices for more than a day or so ( pass or is it fail?)

Why I am I writing about this topic?

It has puzzled me (and I am thinking many who read this) why I ate. Because I know it was often not based on sound nutritional practices and in fact was in some way disordered. I do not have an eating disorder but I do/did eat like this:

  • some secretive ways – late at night or when no-one was around
  • using stashes of chocolate to soothe me
  • having take-away food in the car

I have written a long post here about my “weight” and how I played “possum” about it. No-one could (or dared) mention it yet I was/still can be ashamed of my behaviour.

Since my cancer surgeries where I lost more weight through not being ABLE to eat much, I did enjoy the unexpected outcome of buying lovely clothes to fit me and to show my newly acquired physique…thanks to oral cancer…

And that was lovely and I will always appreciate that time in my life from October 2017 to around the same time in 2018.

Some examples of my pre-upper prosthesis meals. Mind you I cannot face any of these as a meal now I am post-teeth.

Then I began to eat more food from late August 2018 on. Because I could. Oh and it tasted so good, the senses were in over-drive and the fact that I could now BITE, CRUNCH and CHEW was amazing. This happened because “I got my upper prosthesis”. Yay.

And my weight has crept up. What did I do? I was glad I could eat from a wider (pardon the pun) range of foods but I sensed my retreat into anxiety about my appearance and that it would become noticeable to others. Early in 2019 my husband could see my emotional state had become less content since my early months of “having teeth” euphoria and we had a very frank discussion where I confessed I was worried I had not learned anything new about eating despite the privations of 14 months with no upper teeth. Because of cancer. If you want to read about my cancer, here is the page with the posts.

Organised and planner me took over for a while and this is what I came up with since that chat:

  • weigh-in once a month
  • focus when I go out on coffee part not the add-on of a food such as donuts, date loaf or muffin
  • eat more regularly: make specific time ranges for three meals a day. Add snacks.
  • plan groceries around my meals (my husband and I eat a shared meal a few times only in a week)
  • resist late-night snacking in bed by allowing hunger to be felt
  • speaking kindly towards myself in any times of difficulty (this is such a different me to old, punitive me)
  • look at the facts about my appearance rather than the perceptions aka mind-based ones
  • move more each day – it has been very hot so it has been better to stay home than to get outside BUT I can walk more when I go to a coffee place in a shopping centre

Then I heard about Mindful Eating. As someone who has practised mindfulness as part of my cancer recovery time along with when I am faced with anxious and scary times, I was very interested. So I bought the two books AND am now listening via CD to this program.

I KNEW I ate for more reasons than stomach hunger! The author who knows from experience of both an early eating issue, is a doctor and a mindfulness practitioner has opened my mind! I am doing some of the exercises and I now know I (we) eat to satisfy:

  • eye hunger
  • nose hunger
  • stomach hunger
  • mouth hunger
  • heart hunger
  • mind hunger
  • cellular hunger

The tracks on the CD are listed here. I am a work-in-progress of course.

Here’s what I am learning so far:

  • I eat visually: eyes it seems come first BUT
  • I also eat by the stomach so I recognise the feelings of fullness
  • I KNEW I ate from mouth hunger but had no idea why. It explains how much I (we) miss chewing, crunching, savouring and tasting….as I did in my 14 months after cancer surgeries.
  • I need to care for and about myself around this issue of eating. Not say anything negative about what I am doing. The inner critic needs to be back in her place. Doing well so far.
  • I need to eat at regular intervals but to also feel the stomach hunger too. I am very much into the early stages of making things around eating work for me but am proud now that I:
  • meal plan – and include some protein at each main meal
  • snacks are well & truly covered and are linked to helping my meet my mouth hunger, visual hunger and heart hunger
  • can look at my image in the mirror or photo and be proud of the body that has helped me overcome cancer 
  • am learning lessons about eating I wish I had known a long time ago

29 Jan 19 : Writing this post after going out for coffee and groceries.

Part Two will be an update. This is most definitely a project in health and head and neck cancer recovery worth taking my time over.

Is eating something you struggle with?

How do you make eating choices?

I would love to know more in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining with Sue here and Leanne for the Wednesday link up MidLife Share The Love.

 

 

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What Is Hope? 4/52. #LifeThisWeek. 9/2019.

What Is Hope? 4/52. #LifeThisWeek. 9/2019.

This year I hope to be well and continue to progress as successfully as I am in terms of my health

I am hoping that my next visit to my Head & Neck Cancer surgeon will bring only good news.

It is hoped that all the children who are born into this world today will have health, shelter and love in their lives.

What is hope?

I really cannot qualify it. My statements of hope above are a mix of “good wishes and good luck”.

I went to quotations sites and here are ones about hope that had meaning for me.

 

Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Theocritus (c.270 BC)

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

Desmond Tutu

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.

Thich Nhat Hanh

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Thomas Norton & Thomas Sackville (1536-1608)

Hope is a beautiful thing. It gives us peace and strength, and keeps us going when all seems lost. Accepting what you cannot change doesn’t mean you have given up on hope. It just means you have to focus your hope on more humanly tangible and attainable goals.

Julie Donner Andersen

Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.

Barbara Kingsolver

You’ve gotta have hope. Without hope life is meaningless. Without hope life is meaning less and less.

Author Unknown

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.

Anne Lamott

Then I gathered some photos from my collection which are messages I see as hope.

What is hope?

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: 5/51. Share Your Snaps. 4/2/19.


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My Daily A-Z Challenge On Instagram. 8/2019.

My Daily A-Z Challenge on Instagram. 8/2019.

By the end of January 2019 I admit this had started to be ‘over- challenging’ me in some ways, so I have admitted I want to do my instagram photos with greater flexibility and that perhaps I am now less likely to need a challenge! Go figure. I continue to do a daily post with what I am wearing because I enjoy this and will add other photos to my collages. Thanks for your interest! Denyse 

I like to have a daily photo of me taken as it helps me remember why I started to #dresswithpurpose in 2017. See here for more.

I do tend to get a bit bored after a while with myself AND what I post on Instagram (then to Facebook and Twitter) so in 2019 I came up with this idea for the first half of the year. Goodness knows whether I will continue it after that but there IS a way to go.

For me, Instagram is photo-centred and I am visually- oriented. It is a quick way for me to connect each day. BUT, the snag for me is this. I cannot connect universally as my account is private. For the very good reason : hacked in May 2017. Ask for follow: @denysewhelan

Each week, starting on Tuesday: because 1 January was a Tuesday, post a photo with the letter of the alphabet and its word I have listed loosely themed around the collage I post. Here is one example from each of the first weeks. 

 

1 Jan: Week One: Appreciation

8 Jan: Week Two: Beauty

15 Jan: Week Three: Connection

22 Jan: Week Four: Details

 

29 Jan: Week Five: Exciting

5 Feb: Week Six: Flourish

12 Feb: Week Seven: Gratitude

19 Feb: Week Eight: Hope

26 Feb: Week Nine: Inquisitive

5 Mar: Week Ten: Joyful

12 Mar: Week Eleven:  Kindness

19 Mar: Week Twelve: Love

26 Mar: Week Thirteen: Mindfulness

2 Apr: Week Fourteen: Noting

9 Apr: Week Fifteen: Optimism

16 Apr: Week Sixteen: Pleasure

23 Apr: Week Seventeen: Questioning

30 Apr: Week Eighteen: Read

7 May: Week Nineteen: Scenic

14 May: Week Twenty: Teach

21 May: Week Twenty-One: Understand

28 May: Week Twenty-Two: Voice

4 Jun: Week Twenty-Three: Wonder

11 Jun: Week Twenty-Four: eXtra

18 Jun: Week Twenty-Five: Yay

25 Jun: Week Twenty-Six: Zest

So, how about it? You sure do not have to post every day. That is just me. But should you choose to, use this hashtag (I hope to remember it!)

#denysewhelanAtoZchallenge2019

I look forward to sharing more of these – as my creative brain can find examples – over the next 6 months. Gosh, almost the end of January….the next five months!

Denyse.

Joining the lovely Leanne for Lovin’ Life on Thursdays here.

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Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

The best gift ever has given me food for thought.

I have had some great gifts in my life including these:

  • parents who gave me life, shelter, education, care and loveand who were wed for over 60 years.
  • a man I met and married within 3 months who has loved me for over 48 years now as I have him. This is on our wedding day, 23 January 1971.

  • the first gift of a child: our daughter (story is here) and then much later, our son (story soon!) and even though we did not know much about parenting, both are doing well in their adult lives.
  • a career in K-6 education in New South Wales schools which took me from probationary teacher to school principal thanks to the gifts of others who saw the potential in me, degree courses I completed with loving support from my family, and the children, teachers and parents of the many schools. Latterly I enjoyed teaching and supervising pre-service Masters’ students at University. On many occasions I was glad I could help these people and share what had been shared to me as gifts in my career.
  • the gift of meeting people and socialising is one I enjoy and to this end am doing it in a new area and loving making new connections socially: on-line and in real life, as they say!
  • I love the gift I have been given as someone who notices nature, enjoys solitude from time to time, and has learned so much about herself during some times of turbulence in recent years.
  • The gift I have been given of enjoying art and especially making mandalas has also seen me make 100s of bookmarks to help a charity called The Big Hug Box.
  • How good is it to give back! My story was also in a book that was published. What a gift that was.

But what about cancer? Is THAT a gift? 

I cannot finish this post without mentioning my fairly recent brush with the big C and what a gift that has been.

  • Life is a matter of how it’s viewed by the individual.
  • I do not like having had cancer because of many of the ramifications in my life, yet I know its presence has been a present. Let me explain more!
  • I was in a major life transition which had, in its own way, strangled my confidence and demeanour because of the grief involved. Yet I had some ideas of how to help myself.
  • That series of ideas was supplemented by the gift of amazing professional support, amazing and unending personal support and many hours of time to both learn and absorb.
  • When it was found that I had cancer, up from within me, emerged what had been hidden for almost 3 years and over time, my personal qualities of determination, belief in my surgical and oral health teams and in my capacity to heal and that I could share my story with others as I have and do.

The Best Gift is:

  • A return to “Denyse”. She had been long gone and I am so glad she is back.
  • This is my best gift: I am back. It does not matter I am ageing – that’s a privilege, nor that I have some physical scars I cannot overcome – they’re part of my history now and I am so glad to be here and look at my image in the mirror to say:

Hello, looking OK for someone who’s been through so much.

Well-done, you!

 

What is your best gift?

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: 4/51. What Is Hope? 28/1/19.


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No (ONE) Word Of The Year For Me. 6/2019.

No (ONE) Word Of The Year For Me. 6/2019.

Dear Readers,

In my earlier post here, I gave a rundown on my success/lack thereof with recent “words of the year”. I said I would be back with what I have in 2019.

Here I am.

I have no (ONE) word of the year at all. I have many and I need to share the story more.

Thank you,

Denyse.

If you have ever wondered why it is hard to come to a decision about something? I have been like this with the notion of a word/intention for 2019.

I have asked myself MANY times why and the response is usually because I want to cover all I need for me in 2019.

This is impractical so I will share the range of words here in this post.

Last year as I went through two surgeries for re-construction and re-modelling inside my mouth after my oral cancer diagnosis in May 2017. In doing that I had a significant need to remember to be B.O.L.D. that is: Be Brave Optimistic Loving & Learning Determined Denyse. It was (and still is engraved on a small bracelet chain I wear day and night. I could ‘touch it’ or read it to remind me of how I wanted to be even in the hardest of situations. Some of these included being told a 4th surgery was necessary and would be a much longer time for me to wear a stent inside my mouth to allow the space to stay open.

I kept my practice going of wearing an outfit, having a photo taken, going out for a coffee and sharing what I got up on Instagram and the on-line support was a boost I always appreciated.

Of course, I did not only rely on the bracelet and already had so much knowledge and experience from the even more emotionally hard days well before my cancer diagnosis. Even though I did not seem to be able to live as I would have liked then I was sowing the seeds within. Many of these titles were listened to in the car and in my then art room as I made patterns and mandalas (another coping mechanism for my anxiety pre-cancer) and meditate along with some of these mindfulness teachers.

I believed I was going well in many aspects as I could face the hard things which I wrote about here and here. I also had greater understanding of what it is to be human! We are not alone at all. My meditation practices helped. Not always. But anything which slowed down my critical voice and over-active mind was a good thing!

In August 2018 the event I had waited over 14 months for occurred. I had the new upper prosthesis of teeth screwed into my new jaw and gums. At last, I could eat more again! So exciting. It was (and still is) and work-in-progress as the mouth I use to eat is so very different to one that has natural teeth attached to a natural jaw.

3 months difference! I like to recognise special days

But I loved trying new foods. Until in the last few months my weight changed. Up. I am continually torn between eating for fun/enjoyment and for nourishment. Sigh. So, not being disrespectful to my professional team at all, I need to take personal responsibility for my eating. I am not 100% confident with that yet (again!) as I have had issues with being very overweight (related to using food for needs other than hunger) and I confessed all that here.

I value honesty and truth-telling and I know some people who read here tell me that they think I am being brave. Well, that maybe the case but I cannot hide. I tried that a long time ago and it does not work. So I must accept my truth is that I am vulnerable and sometimes look to food to be a salve for what I cannot fix. I actually do not want to be like this anymore. I am needing to find the words to help me through and they seem to be based in:

  • self-care
  • self-kindness
  • self-compassion

But even before I can do this well, I have to accept what my ageing body is doing (70 this year) and normalising that is hard! I thought managing cancer was all I had to do. Nope.

  • I have to manage my IBS symptoms when and if they appear,
  • I need to be aware of my regular skin checks, eye sight (I had a wee scare late December which turned out to be floaters),
  • my feet cannot embrace many shoes so I need to care for them better
  • manage my weight. Oh I was so hoping I would not HAVE to go there
  • acknowledge that some foods add weight & were what I used to calm me then I need(ed) to be able to embrace those emotions that are stress/anxiety/worry based …
  • and, in owning up to them, let them arrive, and let them go of their own accord.

This is what I have also learned in my mindfulness, meditation, podcasts and more.

So many wonderful people speaking on these CDs and each has helped (and continue to help) me.

Calm is my latest and the each 10 minutes has something of value to me to shift my attitude and be more at one with myself.

A word popped into my head two weeks back as I considered this topic (where were we….ah, Word or Intention!) and INTEGRATE stayed. I now have this word on a second bracelet and it may look a teensy bit over-done but as a visual and sensory reminder, with the tiny heart bracelet in between I reckon they will help me return to calm(er) waters.

The bracelets don’t stay like this of course but each faces me so I can see them and remember!

What now?

I continue to face what I need to do to live honestly and to embrace the emotions I dislike.

  • To this end, and because I had been learning lots about self-compassion, I have just started on the Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kirstin Neff PhD & Christopher Germer PhD. I shall share progress on this in future blog posts.
  • I remain committed to something creative each day and am exploring different ways of using my small and medium art journal and finding that excellent. I am returning to mandala making. I have, to a greater extent, ruled out Tarot cards. I just am not in a headspace for that right now.
  • I think too, that I have been pretty distracted since Tuesday 8 January 2019 where I had an unexpected mouth check as more skin was growing and it came as a shock that it was done in case it was cancer. THAT in itself is another post. I had pushed cancer to the back and I was jolted back to reality when my surgeon said “I’m a cancer doctor”. Oh.
  • He also mentioned the possibility of further and extensive in-mouth surgery if the lip continues to have reduced room between it and the teeth and when he outlined what they might involve, I was pretty shocked. HOWEVER, nothing is decided yet but it’s there, hovering.

Every 7th week now on my Monday link-up the optional prompt will be Self-Care and I have added this for me and for anyone else who wants to share their self-care. 

I have written a lot and still there is no conclusive one word or an intention  but this is how it is for me in January 2019.

Thanks for reading!

I hope it’s been of interest to you.

It has helped to write it out.

Denyse.

Linking up with Sue here and Leanne on Wednesdays for Midlife Share The Love link up.

On Thursdays I link with Leanne and the crew at Lovin’ Life here.

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