Tuesday 18th December 2018

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

I went to a million (give or take) in-service courses as a teacher/principal.

I think they are called “professional learning” now and I also know they “count” towards accreditation each year.

I also devised and delivered many as both a teacher and University tutor and Adult Educator.

So what is this about in relation to my final November notes?

It’s how my personal development was & is enhanced by having cancer.

I am aware I have written at some length about the processes I have learned behaviour-wise and they are here, on the page “Denyse and Her Cancer Story”.

What I will do now is write about my changes in behaviour and attitude and how this can be linked to my cancer diagnosis. To make it easier and for me to see the changes, it will be in photos.

  • I gained independence
  • I became much less anxious and fearful following my diagnosis and subsequent BIG surgery
  • I tried new things with greater ease than ever before
  • I knew that to follow the processes and trust in the professionals, I would be OK.
  • I sometimes had to challenge the negative voice inside that wanted it all “done and now”
  • I found calm in more ways than I realised: particularly by going outside, into nature and doing art.

And then more:

  • As I already knew from the experiences of ‘exposure therapy’ the more I did the more I could do with increased confidence
  • Things do not occur linearly nor with ease and of course there were (still are at times) so tears that spill over and some worries
  • What is different now is how quickly I recover and re-group
  • It feels so much better for me to be a calmer person who is less afraid to travel, meet up with friends old and new and see greater times ahead
  • I can also put the “cancer voice” back in its box with relative ease by using my thinking strategies well.
  • I no longer try to ‘case manage’ anyone else’s behaviour.
  • I accept with great assurance that not only am I doing the best I can, so are most people
  • I am much more likely now to reach out a hand in friendship and care rather than recoil because of the anxiety and fear based on social engagements and effects of IBS.

And this is why and how having cancer helped me grow. It is a learning process of course. However, I am loving how my life is now and what I have gained back from this past 18 months living with a cancer diagnosis.

There is such a phenomenon called Post-Traumatic Growth. Article can be found here.

This resonates with me:

Types of personal growth

People may experience different types of change while coping with cancer, including:

  • Improved relations with others. Living with cancer may increase feelings of closeness or intimacy with family or friends. It may make it easier to connect with others who have had a traumatic event.
  • New life experiences. Having cancer may change your priorities, causing you to make different life choices. You may be motivated to make a career change, overcome a fear, or fulfil a life goal.
  • A greater appreciation for life. A cancer survivor may have an increased regard for life’s value or a new sense of vulnerability to death. This awareness may help you appreciate the world in new ways.
  • A sense of personal strength. Living with cancer can help you develop increased mental strength and a sense of empowerment. You can be proud of what you have accomplished.
  • Spiritual development. Some people living with cancer find they gain an increased interest in practicing religion or adding spiritual depth to their daily lives.

Having post-traumatic growth does not mean that you have completely overcome the stress and other feelings about having cancer. Growth and suffering can happen at the same time. In fact, most people who report post-traumatic growth also report having struggles. A person may grow in one area of their life and not another, or in a number of areas at different times.

I have been incredibly fortunate of course to have the surgeries and treatments and I never downplay cancer but as an educator I know what it has taught me and continues to teach me.

Have you had experiences that have changed part of your life and your outlook?

Please share!

Denyse.

Joining in with Leanne for Lovin Life linky here.

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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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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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November Notes.#1. 2018.113.

November Notes.#1. 2018.113.

November notes are related to health and mindfulness and in November in Australia we see the jacarandas in bloom. This reminds us of….for some exams are just around the corner, it’s almost the end of the academic year and it’s closer to Christmas than we think.

A year ago, on 30 October to be exact, I began a practice that was going to be for 32 days in length. It was to ‘dare to post’ a photo of myself every day from then until I turned 68 on 30 November 2017.

As regular readers know 2017 brought a significant and blindsiding diagnosis of cancer: head and neck cancer located in my upper gums and under the top lip. If that doesn’t give anyone a shake-up then I don’t know what might.

I have always enjoyed sharing my life via photos on social media, instagram for preference, and as someone who had also, in that ‘life-altering year’, lost even more weight, new clothes and an appreciation of a more physically comfortable body gave me an idea. It was not my original idea as others before me were already snapping themselves with hashtags:

#everydaystyle

#dresswithpurpose

#outfitoftheday

#over60sstyle

and more….and I thought, maybe I could challenge myself to do this. I decided a little matter of not being able to open my mouth to smile would not stop me, so off I went. I wrote about it here in 2017.

Until I was 68. Then it changed. Again. I liked doing this so much I continued. Here are some of the shots back then.

In 2017 I used collages. It was a good chance for me to show the world how my ‘mouth’ was going – post July and then November 2017 ops

 

And, my husband made me smile (most times) for the pics. Finding some backgrounds was interesting.

My ‘telling it as it is” shot. I was in pain in my face from surgery, but we went to the beach to distract me…I also went bare-legged (right leg) to show my surgical scars.

Once I established this great routine, I added another, once I could be sure I could do it. Out for a coffee. Every day.

 

And as the weather warmed, it was clear I needed to shop for new items.

 

Once I was less fatigued, I found shopping for some new clothes (only ever ones on special) was a big distraction from cancer and the surgeries’ effects.

Another significant day: We attended our granddaughter’s 21st in Sydney where I saw family who had not seen me since surgeries and I got another dress for the occasion.

Deciding to go on after my birthday! Christmas Day shot with 3 of our grandkids.

And then into 2018.

 

I like a challenge, so a self-determined one, was that every day the clothes would be different. I kept as accurate a record as I could and it was also, ahem, great getting my shopping gene back. My mum liked to shop for clothes and shoes. As I can not find pretty shoes because of awful feet, I went for the clothes. The ladies in the local Rockmans, Millers and Suzanne Grae got to know me well and bargains were had.

It was a great thing for my mental health as there were days when, like all of us, I just would think, “I cannot be bothered”. They were the days, I recognised were the ones when I need to be bothered the most. So, as someone who keeps to her word, I went on.

I believe that this helped my recovery and in a future post or two in November Notes, I will share more.

  • Do you take part in any daily Instagram challenges?
  • Would you post photos of yourself on social media?
  • If the answer is yes, yay for you! If no, what is stopping you?
  • Can you consider that this is something that may be good for your health too?

Enough from me!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne here for Lovin Life link up on Thursdays.

 

 

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What I Wore This Week. 4. 2018.86.

What I Wore This Week. 4. 2018.86.

I began this Saturday post 3 weeks ago, and will consider next week how I feel about continuing it.

Initially it was at the request of a facebook friend and I was flattered to know that she was interested in, and wanted to see more of what I wore.

I admit, I am coming into the 11th month of #dressingwithpurpose and wondered if people might be sick of seeing my image every.single.day.

Then I put another spin on this and decided, I am doing this for my mood, to get up and have somewhere to go and to record the photo. 

So it is a YES to continue and a MAYBE to posting here each week.

I would like to know what this post means to you as a reader/blogger too.

Denyse.

Family visiting for lunch. But first coffee in Wyong.

 

Off to Lake Haven for Coffee.

 

Check up at Westmead

 

To Lake Haven for…coffee with my hub. Dressed in RED because needing the boost

 

To Podiatrist at Budgewoi, then coffee (& carrot cake!)

 

Grocery shopping..then coffee at Charmhaven

 

Needing a boost in mood. Off to Erina to get art supplies and have a coffee out. Worked!

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Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Five weeks of Appreciation posts are concluding today with a list of people and businesses I wanted to share my appreciation for in my life and to spread the word to my readers and fellow bloggers. I have not been, as they say, sponsored nor paid for my post, I just tell things as they are. Enjoy!

The Big Hug Box

I first heard of the Big Hug Box and its founder, Lisa, via social media. Lisa tells her story on the website here and as a cancer survivor (from a rare cancer) she wanted to raise funds to give back to research. Lisa is a wife and an energetic Mum of 2 from Newcastle , who admired my hand-made book marks when she saw them.  I offered a suggestion of these as an inclusion in the gifts especially for those newly diagnosed with cancer & Lisa said “yes, please”. I love that my art can be made into bookmarks by me for others to use.

Thank you Lisa. I know we are yet to meet but I do know how kind and supportive you are. Lisa’s blog post about me recently.

https://thebighugbox.com/

Colour Me Well

Social media, specifically Instagram, was where I first saw the development of a colouring calendar from Sharon, at Colour Me Well. This is based on her experience as a cancer survivor where during her treatment she started making boxes on a page representing the treatment days, and colouring them to remind herself of how far she had come.

The calendar comes in a presentation box with a tin of quality pencils. Here’s my little story of becoming involved. Sharon was considering a new product, a greeting card/small gift with a message of kindness, connection and hope and she saw that a mandala would be an ideal mindful colouring pattern on the front.

I liked the idea, of course…mandalas..and set about designing specific once for Cards. Of the 6 designs available, four have been drawn by me. I have no payment for these. I did these out of love for helping others and again, of giving back!

https://www.colourmewell.com.au/

 

Fight Cancer Water Bottle

This is another venture by a cancer survivor who is Sharon too. As I watched the Instagram posts of @fightcancerwaterbottle I soon realised we lived in a similar area. When we met one day by “happy accident” this snap was taken and since then we have been out for a coffee. To read the story of this special water bottle and where the funds from one purchased ends up, it is all on the website.

https://www.fightcancerwaterbottle.com.au/

 

My Blogging Friend and C0-Owner of Skin Boss Australia is Kirsten.

Around the same time she and her husband started this unique business, I was in hospital recovering from my first BIG surgery. Via the kindness of many on a social networking group & this new business I was sent, among other items, Skin Boss Get Up and Glow and Skin Boss Sleep On It. (aren’t the names great?). To read more of the Skin Boss story…and to order some oils of your own as I have (the Body Oils were added recently ) go to the website. I did have to wait a while (some months actually) before I could regularly use the oils on my face as my skin was numb and tender. But now, it is a routine: day and night.

https://www.skinboss.com.au/

Little Blue Wren

I first heard of Jen (little blue wren) as she is a local Newcastle person helping develop products which help skin, specifically the lips. This product is part of the Big Hug Box. I also bought two of her lip balms and one sits on the desk where I am typing, the other on the desk where I create. They are lovely.

1 x Citrus and Peppermint Lip Balm – made locally here in Newcastle by Little Blue Wren. It’s blend of Citrus and Peppermint has been made with the highest quality “Young Living” Oils. (from The Big Hug Box site)

Find her products on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/little.blue.wren_/

 

Reading This. Listening to This Book.

I was drawn to this book by Megan Devine after following her Facebook page called Refuge in Grief. Her story as both a counsellor and someone who had the love of her life die in front of her is compelling.

I know that having a cancer diagnosis can feel like a death. Of the life that was an is no more. It is not something I dwell on much as I would rather not be consumed but I do know that listening to Megan read her book (I am a car listener) had me throwing out what were my beliefs about grief.

 

Kindness of “Strangers” ….the people in my Instagram Feed...you know what I mean!

I have followed a delightful and generous woman who I will call Linda…because THAT is her name! I really cannot recall exactly “when” we started to know each other via the usual social media channels but I do know I lucked in with her as a friend. She is one of my “cheerleaders” and I love her for this more. Recently after arriving home from yet another trip to Westmead a LARGE and somewhat weighty packed was on the kitchen bench. I smiled, when I saw the sender…and then I laughed and laugh/cried when I saw the contents. An amazing and beautifully hand crafted crocheted blanket that almost covers my king-size bed…in MY favourite combination of colours AND with a mandala in the middle. Swoon. It is the BEST. As is she!

 

 

Now, as you already know, if you have come this far, that my skin has been problematic for more than a year. My lips especially. I needed something very very dense and something well-known as a salve for skin.

Lanolips was it. I messaged them and told them of my situation and within a week or so, I got some mail! I was sent three types of their product and the bigger one is used just before I go to sleep. It really really helps.

Here is where to find them: http://lanolips.com They are a wholly Australia product. On Instagram: @lanolips

Mindfulness and Meditation.

I have had more than 3 years taking time each day (or night) for some specific meditation activities. For 3 years I paid for a Headspace subscription  and with a 30 days of Cancer program found that really helpful in my early months after diagnosis. Mid year, I changed tack and now have the Calm App as my meditation (and sleep stories) as a great find. Then just last week I became a founding member of Buddhify (they have a free app too) because I wanted to have more variation and one to listening to during the day.

I have found of course, just going outside and being in nature helps as does creating but if you are looking at apps for yourself, there are 0nes I have appreciated and enjoy.

Beyond Five.

I have known about Beyond Five since my cancer diagnosis in May 2017 but I was not really in a ‘space’ to take on much of its important information about Head and Neck Cancer until I was further into my understanding of “my cancer’. Squamous cell carcinoma. More about all of that here in my page.

Back to Beyond Five, which is a charity wanting to spread the message of early and timely diagnosis of all Head and Neck Cancers. From May this year until World Head and Neck Cancer Day on 27 July 2018 Beyond Five ran its first fundraising venture called; Soup for the Soul. I joined in with a Virtual Soup for the Soul event and over $400 was raised just by that. In total, $28,000 was raised. Most work and spreading of messages is via Head and Neck cancer support groups of which I am a member as well as on social media.

Some ways in which I appreciate the work is to tell more people of its purpose, including meeting my Federal MP to let her know more. Find Beyond Five here: 

My Dressing With Purpose, Art Journalling and Coffee.

Long time readers and followers know that I dress, with purpose, each day (and have done, with few exceptions) for almost 10 months now. Every. Single. Day. I generally go out by myself to have a coffee somewhere locally (I am up to 17 places now!) and I take time to reflect in my art journal. I find if I do not, for any reason, get to do this on one day, I am really, really ready for it the next day. The wonderful and sharing Styling You, Nikki Parkinson, has an amazing website and blog here, recently celebrating 10 years of helping women make the most of themselves….well, that has worked for me as I often share my daily photo on the facebook group and have won a weekly prize of Nikki’s book called Unlock Your Style.

 

The best is saved for last. This person. With me.

Words are inadequate for the depth of love and appreciation I have for the man, my husband, who had held me, comforted me and told me to use my skills in re-framing my thoughts and oh-so-much more…and who kind of forgives me for not measuring up to his cleaning standards…especially in the kitchen! 

This is the first photo of us…for a LONG while…where I can smile fully and it was taken by our 6 year old granddaughter on Sunday. Thank you Miss E.

Who or what are you appreciating today?

Denyse.

Joining here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky.

 

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What I Wore This Week. 3. 2018.81.

What I Wore This Week. 3. 2018.81.

Honestly and truly, who has been distracted today and totally forgotten to post:

What I Wore This Week?

Me, that’s who.

For a pretty good reason.

It was, in its own way, a LONG time coming and a busy week at that so the first thing to say is what I wore this week, the MOST was this:

My SMILE. Back after almost 14 months.

It sure was a long time coming, and I have documented that more here and here.

So, what else I wore is here:

Sunday

Monday

 

Tuesday: TEETH day: Before and After!

Edited: I have just heard from Styling You’s Facebook page that this pic about – before and after – has won me a copy of the Nikki’s book as winner of Outfit of the Week. Lovely!

Wednesday

 

Thursday

 

 

Friday

 

Saturday

What did you wear this week?

Denyse.

Linked up with two Aussie favourites: All Mum Said and One Mother Hen this Monday 27 August 2018.

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