Wednesday 12th December 2018

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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Observations in October #1. 2018.101.

Observations in October #1. 2018.101.

Observations on Going Back and Memories.

I realised one day recently when I had finished at the prosthodontist that I was ready to go back to re-visit the houses where we had lived in Sydney from 1978 until 2015.

This may not seem much for many readers but for me, I was not able to face doing this for some time.

I was still attached in some ways to the good (and not so good) memories held within those areas where we lived and the three houses which we called “home”.

First One: 1978-1993.

The one we cobbled together as much money as two teachers could, to purchase our first house in Sydney. It was home to three until our son was born the following year. We added rooms, converted the garage to an office and made an oasis out the back with a lovely in-ground pool.

Our daughter had her family 21st birthday there, and left home (the first time) there. I did two degrees via distance in that house from 1985 – 1992, on a typewriter until we got our first computer!

Our son started school from this house and his Dad was medically retired at a too-young age.

We had great friends and neighbours and the reason we sold, we were advised, is that to do more to it we would be over-capitalising.

Second One: 1994-1998.

Oh the way in which banks lent money was too easy. I am not saying they were wrong but it was ‘easy’ for us to borrow given my job and by now my husband has built a sole business in education coaching and cabinet-making. On paper, all good.

Our son was in his teens and we all thought some more space for us all was a winner. We engaged a builder my husband did work for, and with a block of land selected built this architect-designed home.

It was, and still is, a one-off. It was not built out at the back as it overlooked the Village Green and the street was a cul-de-sac of sorts.

Our daughter was married from this home. Our first grandchild was brought here by her parents. Our son left school and worked with his Dad some of the time. I stayed home for some part-time leave and cared for our granddaughter here whilst her mum returned to teaching.

But all was not well and sole business can be a hard way to earn a living and when ill-health struck my husband and we needed the business to cease, then we also needed to take a deep breath and work out what was next…for the following year.

We sold the house to pay out the various loans and it had always been a house more than a home. It looks amazing here but we also remember it held not great time for us and there were 23 steps from the ground level to our bedroom at the top.

Third One: 1998-2015.

In some ways I was not ready to start again but it meant a house for us, and something more affordable and on one level. With a deposit that was not substantial, we managed to afford a house and land package in an area I agree was not where I saw myself living then but it was where we could afford.

This for me, was made better, with distractions of a huge kind like getting my first (and only!) role as a principal and helping with our growing family – grandchildren 2 and 3 joined number 1.

We did put in a pool eventually and we celebrated our son’s 21st here. Our life had changed for the better in many ways but I admit I took some time to adapt.

My husband returned to some teaching roles and unfortunately it was here in 2002 that my career went pear-shaped (which I wrote about here). Families change and grow and ours did too. We made family Christmas memories here and celebrated birthdays too.  The grandchildren, our son’s kids this time, continued to be cared for by us before they started school. All of the grandchildren (then 7) had special pillows, blankies and more for them all “at Grandma’s and Papa’s house”. It was awesome.

I returned to teaching part-time from this place, however, I admit, in 2013-2014 my health took a downturn with a restlessness, and an anxiety-growing over the need to keep working as this house had a mortgage. I was turning 65 and had tired of the relentlessness of working in an environment that I felt  was changing.

We made the joint decision to sell in 2014, but had been leading up to it as my husband was slowly renovating the house inside and out over the years.

The family wanted us to have no more worries about a mortgage as we did too. Our grandkids were sad when we left and have told us since how much that house meant to them. Beautiful kids they are!

We moved on.

As I drove around these three areas I felt quite claustrophobic with the growth of the housing, the trees and the addition  of the NorWest Rail link and even more cars on the road.

Here on the N.S.W. Central Coast, and we are renting. We do not know where or when we will buy but we both know, we need to be within around 2 hours travel back to Sydney, but never to live there again.

Have you moved or moved on and found it challenging, or the best thing you ever did…or something in between?

Tell us more.

Denyse.

Joining my friends here for Leanne’s linky called Lovin Life.

 

 

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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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Telling My Story: Chapter Four. 2018. 79.


Telling My Story: Chapter Four. 2018.79.

One year post major cancer surgeries.

I am back with my memoir: Telling My Story, which began here, then had a long break…re-commenced here to the next post here and then to last time I wrote a chapter. My plan is one chapter every 4 weeks from now. I am glad readers and bloggers are finding the story interesting. Thank you for your gracious and kind words.

Then what happened?

I met the love of my life (and he is still that indeed!) when I completed chapter 3 and now to tell more.

On turning 21. 

Late in 1970 was my 21st Birthday. My parents had met the young man who I knew I would marry but they did not know ALL of the story. Later! Mum and Dad kindly put on a family and friends 21st celebration for me back in Sydney. I flew down from Tamworth, farewelling my love at the airport and it was supposed to be that I came back by car. My parents were generous, no doubt about it, and I was given a start with a second-hand car for my birthday. That is what I drove back to Barraba in. On the Monday evening after, Mum and Dad hosted a dinner at a Tamworth Club for me and all of the school staff was invited. Kind of over the top for sure and my now husband wondered about the extravagance. We knew more about what was also happening. That we were going to be married in the coming school holidays. So we could be with each other forever.

Family Birthday & Mum is obviously who I inherited my smile from!

Teaching Nearer To Each Other.

We knew we wanted to be married and teach in schools close to where we would live. Easy peasy? Not but in one way yes. I was teaching in a town with a central school (K-12) and my husband-to-be was literally over the mountain teaching in his one-teacher school. Normally the NSW Department of Education requires a teacher to stay at least 3 years in a school before a transfer can occur. In my case, in 1970, my D.P. put the situation to the Area Director at the time, and he came up with the plan, if agreeable to the other teacher, to do a ‘swap’ of positions. The teacher in the small 2 teacher school was moved to my position and I to hers as it was a school close-ish to my soon-to-be husband’s school and to where we might live on a country property.

Wedding Bells.

So, we became engaged just before Christmas and my fiance spent his Christmas in the NSW countryside with his family as I did with mine in Sydney. We had mentioned our forthcoming engagement and desire to be wed in January to both families. His was concerned about religious difference and they had not yet met me, mine was concerned similarly even though they had met him. A few times by now. WE knew more but as long as a wedding was locked in and planned for late January we were fine. Until….

This

We knew I was pregnant by the school holidays when we had arrived at my parents’ place to stay until the wedding. However, given the times we lived in (1970), the already raised concerns about religion (he was catholic I came from protestant stock) and from a parent’s perspective I guess, our short time in knowing each other we were not letting THIS news out.

But it did come out and it is not something to detail here, suffice to say, but there were a few “convos”!

The thing all through the weeks of the above was we KNEW all would be well. We KNEW we love(d) each other. We were CERTAIN and I add now, that doubt has never crossed our minds in 47 plus years.

Married Life Begins! 

The day of our wedding was a typical Sydney January one: rainy in the morning, warm and then incredibly humid in the afternoon (our wedding was held then) and stifling hot when we departed the church. In those days the wedding photographer did black and white shots. Fortunately some family members took some coloured ones. We really enjoyed the party that was the wedding. After all that had gone on before it was a celebration of family and love. The next day, we returned to my parents’ place, had breakfast with the assembled wedding party that woke up, and left with our one car laden with presents, our clothing and to begin our honeymoon travelling slowly up the Pacific Highway to end at Ballina.

 

Family shots in collage of our Wedding Day.

My husband grew up near there and it was/is a favourite place. We had fun, went fishing, swimming and ate out. I remember being tired (never gave preganancy a thought really) and eventually return to school made us wend our way west. Meanwhile, NSW experienced some major flooding in January 1971 and yes, we did keep an eye on the TV and soon found that despite our wishes, the road into our new married home ( a track of sorts) would not be passable and we were kindly given space at one of the local families’ farmhouse. We began the next stage of our married life…in single beds…and with parents and kids from my husband’s school. Eventually we did get in and tried as best as we could to prepare for ONE of us to return to teaching.

Teaching and Schools Then.

The one of us was me. Yes, the two-teacher school where I had received the swap was, in Department of Education-speak on the eastern side of the imaginary line in N.S.W. This line, still exists, and schools west of it, have an extra week’s holidays at summer time because of the climate differences. Let me tell you, my husband’s school was a 20 minute drive away on dirt road from my school and HE got to stay home for another week.

I love teaching and the class consisted of around 20 kids who were in K to Year 2. I am organised and it did not take me long to timetable the work each day to enable me to spend parts of the lessons with the youngest children. In the meantime, my husband did eventually go back to his school of K-6 with around 20 children.

On my husband’s trip back to where we taught and lived he visited this school – two classrooms – this is the one where I taught K-2. No air con back then!

Teaching in the N.S.W. country regions of the North West was good. Schools were populated by children of land-holders, and of those who worked for them. Parents were helpful in terms of some fundraising and on Sports’ Days and for the Christmas concerts. Some of the roles my husband did in his one-teacher school included: cleaner – inside the classroom and outside…in the toilets. Where brown snakes might gather and be of danger to the children…and shoosh. Do not tell but he literally had to kill a snake as it was in the girls’ toilet. Mind you, I had a more flash set up at the bigger two-teacher school (flushing toilet) but alas when the green frogs were part of the sistern this non-country girl did not like!

This is the one-teacher school where my husband taught for 3 years. It’s me out the front. We visited some decades later and this was gone and a crop was growiing there.

Home Life for Us.

Life went on, he played cricket on Saturday afternoons, we had meals at our friends’ place (he was my boss, she was a friend) and I grew our daughter. In the May school holidays we drove to my parents’ house in Sydney and I recall Mum taking me to buy some maternity clothes to wear to school. No slacks or pants of any kind then – the sexist boss once told me I could not wear pants as he liked to look at women’s legs. Gah!

By the time the middle of the year came and my pregnancy was evident, the parents of both my school and that of my husband knew and were kind and understanding when they found I would be replaced for the latter part of the year. I have to say, I was pretty ignorant of my pregnant body and how birth would occur  and was given some great help by one parent who was a physiotherapist.

At 22, my husband’s age and 21, mine…. we were about to become parents. There is quite a story attached to this life-changing experience and that will be in Chapter 5.

In 2017 my husband did a ‘trip back to where we lived’ and this is the sign to the property where we lived. No evidence of a house anywhere and the road you see was dirt back then.

What comes next…

In keeping with non-identification and privacy matters within our family and relating to our places of living and working, the next chapters will not disclose them directly. I did give a lot of thought to whether I would continue once the family grew and hope this will work out. If it does not, then I will dis-continue writing it on the blog. Fingers crossed!

I hope you found this chapter of interest.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays
And with Sue and Leanne here for Mid-life Share the Love linky.

 

 

 

 

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My Home Country. 28/52. #LifeThisWeek 2018.58.

My Home Country. 28/52. #LifeThisWeek 2018.58.

I do ask myself when a particular prompt comes up ” why did I choose this?”

I have no real answer except I thought it may be interesting to see what others write.

In my case I was stumped! Then I delved a bit deeper to realise that even though my home country is Australia there are more countries than this one in my history.

Let’s get started!

I was born in Wollongong, New South Wales (N.S.W. for short), Australia to a father who had also been born there and a mother who was born in Dapto N.S.W., Australia.

An oldie: Mum and Dad with me: 1999 becomes 2000

 

Easy? Not quite.

I did some history searching after knowing some of parents’ heritage and found this out.

Aboriginal Australia.

My mum’s family was a rural one from various places in southern N.S.W. and I could see her heritage was from generations born in Australia too. What is not noted but has long been suspected is that there is Aboriginal heritage from Mum’s side of the family and that includes me. In the 1800s not all births were registered and if there had been a liaison with a ‘white’ Australian for example, with a person of Aboriginal descent, then it was unlikely to be recorded.

I feel proud to know this may be some of my heritage and it makes sense to me over the years why. Teaching and living in remote and Western Sydney communities I have felt an affinity with the original Australians.

The symbolic meaning of the flag colours (as stated by Harold Thomas) is: Black – represents theAboriginal people of Australia. Yellow circle – represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector. Red – represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual relation to the land. source: Wikipedia

English Heritage.

My Dad’s mother was English-born and came to Australia to marry her Aussie groom following World War I. My grandmother and her mother (she followed her daughter to buy the family a house and live in it with them till her death in 1957) remained “very English”. Gran always talked about going “home” and I am sad to say it never happened. She was a sad lady because she missed her home country and the marriage was a hard one as she ended up as a mother to four in the Depression of the 1930s. In fact, her sadness turned to anger when her husband was killed in a workplace accident and she raised those children alone. Not quite, but she held a grudge about her life’s lot till she died in 1985.

All that aside, I loved seeing places on television where Gran may have been and I know my parents got to visit her home town, Warminster, on one of their trips. I feel an affinity to much of the areas I see from her part of England. I also follow and love the Royal Family which is another part of England I like. I think watching Downton Abbey helped fuel my interest as did a special on the landscapes of England made by Capability Brown.

St George’s cross. England’s flag.

The flag of England is derived from St George’s Cross (heraldic blazon: Argent, a cross gules). The association of the red cross as an emblem of England can be traced back to the Middle Ages, and it was used as a component in the design of the Union Flag in 1606. source: Wikipedia

Scottish Heritage.

So the Aussie soldier who fell in love with the English rose was actually Scottish by birth and his family migrated from Scotland to Wollongong. He fought for “the King and Country” under the Australian flag in World War I. I never met him as he died when my Dad was 11.

However, again, I feel a great deal of affinity with all things and places Scottish. Two years ago I went to a Highland Games held locally and I was stoked. I got to see my family’s tartan and learn much more about the Clans. Of course, I see a documentary about Scotland and I want to visit! Yes I do. I once learned highland dancing as a little girl and it was fun. Not sure why it did not continue. Suspect not made to be a dancer.

I love the Scottish flag as it is based on St Andrew’s cross and what is my Dad’s and his Dad’s name? Andrew. I was actually born on 30 November, St Andrew’s Day.

St Andrew’s cross & the Scottish Flag

What does this mean about my home country?

It is that like most of us, other than the original Australians, we are all here in Australia but there is another country or countries’ heritage on our past!

About our current Australian flag…I like it but would like it to have something representative of the Aboriginal people on it too.

The present Australian flag can be considered to consist of three main elements:

  • The Union Jack in the upper hoist quadrant or first quarter (also know as the Canton), denoting Australia’s historical links with Great Britain. The Union Jack itself is composed of red and white intersecting and overlayed vertical and diagonal crosses on a blue background,
  • The Southern Cross in the second quarter (also known as the top or head) and fourth quarter. Consists of five stars in a more or less kite-like pattern – Alpha Crucis (7-point), Beta Crucis (7-point), Gamma Crucis (7-point), Delta Crucis (7-point) and the smaller Epsilon Crucis (5-point). The outer diameter of each of the 4 major stars is 1/7 the width of the fly and the inner diameter is 4/9 outer diameter; the diameter of Epsilon Crucisis 1/12 the width of the fly and the inner diameter is 4/9 the outer diameter. The constellation of the Southern Cross is a significant navigational feature of the southern hemisphere, strongly places Australia geographically and has been associated with the continent since its earliest days,
  • The Commonwealth Star or Star of Federation, central in the third quarter or lower hoist, has seven points to denote the six states and the combined territories of the Commonwealth. The seventh point was added in 1909. The outer diameter is 3/5 the width of the Union Jack (3/10 the width of the fly) and the inner diameter is 4/9 the outer diameter. source: http://www.anbg.gov.au/oz/flag.html

https://www.countryflags.com/en/australia-flag-image.html

That seems to be a post on flags..not really…but they are symbols of the countries and people I identify with most, so that was how I decided to address this prompt! These are some historical buildings in Sydney which relate to our colonial past.

What is your Home Country?

Or is your answer a bit complicated too?

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather.

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

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 29/52. What Is Courage? 16/7/18.

#LifeThisWeek 28/52 What Is Your Home Country?


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My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 2. 2018.46.

My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 2. 2018.46.

I recently wrote Part One of the Anniversary of my cancer diagnosis here.

The second part is actually a bit harder to write.

I am grateful of course for my cancer being taken via surgery but I seriously had no idea that to recover and be implant-ready would be up to and well over a 12 month period. This is because, as I understand it, bodies heal in different ways and react like that too. I also know that this mouth reconstruction of mine necessitates a lot of work by the multi-disciplinary team of medical, allied health and dental experts.

I am ever-grateful for this team.

With Prof Clark & Cate Froggat, Clinical Nurse Consultant & Surgical Assistant

I know that my Professor Jonathan Clark  leads the Head & Neck team and he is also working with the training of other doctors just as he learned as a resident with the late Professor Chris O’Brien at Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital. From the Westmead Oral Sciences comes  my Prosthodonist, Dr Suhas Deshpande and his colleagues including Dr David LeinkramDr Matthew McLachlan. Dr Deshpande’s Nurse, Ofelia has seen me through some emotional times and is a very kind person. Norma at the reception desk at Westmead Oral Sciences always has a smile for me and a welcome that’s bright.

Associate Professor Ardalan Ebrahimi was the first person I saw on May 18 2017 and who examined me and put together, along with Professor Clark what would be my BIG surgery in July 2017. A/Prof Ebrahimi was kind enough to respond to my 2 detailed emails pre-surgery and saw me post-surgery in 2017 along with  Justine Oates Head and Neck  Nurse Practitioner who re-dressed my wounds and ensured continuity of care once we were back home on the Central Coast.

In my 10 days post Surgery #1, I was cared for by a number of professional nursing staff firstly in ICU with Dr Tim  then on Level 9 North of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse where Jason was the NUM. I will single out registered nurse Roan as he cared for me most early mornings and made sure I got out of bed to get some sunrise shots!

From the Head and Neck team who were part of my first surgery was a team of doctors including Dr Laura Wang & Dr Rahaul Jayaram who saw me most days in hospital.  Allied professional staff  at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse were physiotherapist Leah ensured I could walk post July surgery after fitting my right leg with the boot, dietitian Jacqueline gave me lots of guidance for eating post mouth surgery and the speech therapist Emma made me drink a cup of water (ahh!) and speak ( not a hard task given my propensity to talking!) to ensure I was going well before leaving Chris O’Brien Lifehouse last July.

I thank the wonderful anaesthetists and anaesthetic nurses who ensured not only that I went to sleep  but that I woke up with no dramas. One was Dr Murray Stoken and another is Dr Paul Goonan. On 16 May I was cared for by Dr Stephanie McInnes. 

Of course I have the excellent and fabulous Cate Froggat, my Clinical Nurse Consultant & Surgical Assistant who is the gentle and smiling person looking out for me in the operating theatre and in post-op consultations.

How could I not mention Julie and Priscilla…a hug and smile each time I see them, those who keep all of us seeing Professor Clark organised with compassion and care.

Once I was home, as I have outlined before, I was also in the care of the Central Coast Public Health Community Nursing Team for around 2 months and Eileen was amazing with her knowledge and advice.

My dentist Dr Alistair Brown saw me for a mouth check last October and to clean the remaining ((and oh so important to me) 8 bottom teeth. He was the person who initially referred me to Dr Stef Calladine, oral surgeon,  who did the biopsy last May and broke the news to me over the phone that I had squamous cell carcinoma. I will always be grateful for her caring manner and more importantly for referring me to a place I had heard of called Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and to a specialist I had not, Prof Clark.

My GP. Dr Owen Greene. What a caring and understanding man he is. I saw him sometimes up to 4 times in a week when I was recovering from BIG surgery #1. He reassured, he checked on me and he continues to do so, letting me know you are doing really well. His office staff and pathology people ask how I am going tooIf I pop into the chemist next door, Tim the pharmacist is always asking how I am going too.

There are those that I cannot mention all by name but have been integral to my diagnosis, surgeries and recovery times:

  • staff at the various Imaging places in Sydney and on the Central Coast
  • staff at the Admissions Desk and Pre-Surgery Desk at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
  • the nursing staff pre- and post-op in the recovery areas
  • my psychologist from the READ clinic in Erina saw me a couple of times and was most kind in her assertion that I was doing well without any more need for her services.
  • the social media account for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse @chris_obrien_lifehouse & the art programs at COBLH @arterieatlifehouse (Instagram)
  • those lovely people who welcome me to their coffee shops like Randa at Fibonacci Wyong  and ask after me, along with my fabulous hairdresser Tiffany, our great podiatrist Sean who came to the house to treat me when it was easier for me, and our Property Manager, Naomi, who was delighted to see me recently. Kyla who makes the most delicious cupcakes always asks how I am going when we catch up. In fact, I won a generous voucher recently and as cupcakes are something I CAN eat, this is just the best!
  • the Beyond Five Organisation: Nadia for her reaching out for me to help with publication of my story written by Kirsty. Check my photos here to see the fundraising ribbons. World Head and Neck Cancer Day in July 27. I wear my ribbon and blog about Head and Neck cancer because not many people know about this cancer. I do now!

Then definitely NOT last nor least are my friends and family. Those who connect on-line too. My blogging friends, my instagram friends and those from Facebook and Twitter. I love connecting!  To know of so much love, concern and care being out there for me after the diagnosis and through recovery in the year it’s been is marvellous. Thank you for reading my posts, checking out my Instagram pics and ‘liking’ the blog Facebook page.

Each day in 2018 I made a commitment to myself to do at least these three each day:

  • get dressed in an #outfitoftheday and go out – for a coffee, a browse, a shop or just to look at a view
  • go into nature or observe nature and then capture this in a photo
  • make something creative, be it a mandala or a pattern or just so art fun.

I cannot single any one person out from family and friends….other than this person:

My husband. There for everything for me. Always. Love IS what keeps us together…and has done for over 47 years.

Sending everyone my love and gratitude.

Denyse.

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

On Thursday this post links with Leanne here.

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How Did My Blog Start? 22/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.45.

How Did My Blog Start? 22/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.45.

In late 2010 I started a blog called Memories By Denyse.

The purpose, back then, was two-fold. It was to chart the story of the life of my husband as his memory became affected by what we were told was early dementia. It was also to showcase my photos because I take photos for memories.

Great start! Yes AND No.

  • getting a website and domain name was easy through my internet providor and they hosted (still do) the blog.
  • I found someone on line to set up the blog and then I had NO IDEA of what to do to change anything. And it really meant me paying others!
  • I’d like to say here is that first post but no. In fact almost all of my posts from 2010-2014 are now either in draft or gone to bloggy heaven.

So, what happened?

  • never one to do things simply, I decided after the first ever Aussie Blogging conference in March 2011 that I needed to write about more.
  • of course I did. So I added education. After all I was a retired principal. I also thought I could help both parents and teachers.
  • in fact in 2012 I was a guest blogger speaker at the Digital Parents Conference in Melbourne telling ‘my story’. Oh. It’s still on YouTube somewhere and I cringe because…
  • it was found that sometime that year that my husband’s so-called medical condition was the FAULT of every darned medication two specialists served up to him based on mis-diagnoses.

Hold on, I am going too fast! 

  • when I decided to go down the three blogs route because I could write about them, I complicated my on-life with: Memories By Denyse, Ready.Set.School. and Ready.Set.Teach. Yes. I even copyrighted my names and intellectual property.
  • Hold ON!
  • OK. I am stopping to explain that I started again (still had the domain name and could add as many blogs as I liked) WITH the most patient man ever. MY computer techie guy as I call him.
  • I met him in a local cafe and with the help of MY hand drawn examples, he came up with the way to make all three blogs work for me on-line. And after all this time, if I run into a blog issue I can call him. He’s the best and most generous person and does my work pro-bono! He did HAVE to give me lessons though. The main one was: Keep the number of plugins small & reduce the file size of your photos (yes, Craig, I have!)
  • They were all wordpress models using my own hosting.
  • But I over-did it. By spreading things too thin.
  • I used my skills and talents outside blogging with parent groups and pre-service teachers and a person blog for me. I used to tell stories about our family (not naming names) and with permission I used pics of the grandkids.
  • I was also teaching at Uni, caring for grandkids on some days of the week, and spreading the word on school readiness via my education consultancy business
  • I blogged up to 4-5 times a week and linked up. Back then there was a link up for each week day and on weekends it was Weekend Rewind.

What made me stop and think?

  • Blogging certainly brought me many new friends via commenting, blog link ups and social media. That was great. I continue to be grateful for that once I had fully retired from teaching at all levels and grandchild care.
  • Blogging for money was the goal at one stage for many bloggers and not wanting to be left out, I did some sponsored posts for a company who gave me a grant to attend a conference in Melbourne. (remember the My Family Stickers??)
  • I started to consider the ramifications of advice I was giving on the two education-based blogs and as I had to take out personal indemnity insurance for my education consultancy (costly, over $1000 annually) and blogging was taking OFF ….when I read about Blogging and The Law.
  • School Principal me considered a lot that was being disseminated and over the time of 2014 two of  my three blogs shut down at my request.
  • I did not keep many posts at all. It also helped me with costs at the hosting end to delete a lot of the blogging posts and photos and I do not regret that.
  • The posts relating to the family were all deleted and trashed (sounds terrible) at the hosting end even though there were no identifiers but I felt better as time past that there would be no digital footprints as any searches sent people to 404 error message.
  • It felt a bit sad when it came time to renew the hosting and the domain names but I let them go to focus on:

Denyse Whelan Blogs.

  • I needed something familiar and connecting me to others when we moved away from all I knew. Family, Sydney and Work.
  • I made a commitment from 1 January 2015 to blog EACH and EVERY day.
  • Yes, I did that until sometime in 2016 when I eased back but for sometime I blogged via topics which I continue to use as a guide today. I had a friend I met when I was making a logo to attend a conference who helped me greatly with these graphics in 2016. Thank you Tanya!
  • By 2017 and into 2018 this blog posts on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the topics vary. See above!
  • I linked up to the link ups that I knew were still around back then, but slowly they shrivelled up too.
  • Blogging was not something everyone continued. Many focussed on jobs once kids were at school. Some became dissillusioned with the blogging promise. 
  • By 2014 there was no more Digital Parents and some groups emerged on Facebook. Problogger conferences were/are the only ones that are around. I went to one in Melbourne in 2012.
  • In 2016 I got the opportunity to host my own link up and chose Mondays as Kirsty had retired her link up. Alicia has a link up too on Mondays as does Kell.
  • In 2017 Leanne made a Thursday link up as did Sue and Leanne each Wednesday
  • Kylie hosts I Blog on Tuesdays after Jess retired her blog.
  • There are far fewer bloggers linking up these days and my view is that people are busy with life, are not blogging much and to commit to a link up would mean commenting more and some just do not have the time.

Why Are Link Ups Important?

  • On a personal level I know that I get more people reading and commenting than if I just posted.
  • I deliberately do not have an email sign up because I did and I had few people sign up.
  • I know rely on my Bloglovin’ follow on my blog and me adding my posts to facebook.
  • But I love link ups because I get to meet new bloggers and that is the joy of blogging,

Connecting is Why I Blog.

  • When I returned to full-time blogging in 2015 my blog’s name is Denyse Whelan Blogs (then I added) To Connect.
  • Humans thrive on connection and on-line is one of my daily ways to do so.
  • Moving to a new area and three house moves in that time means that many of my connections are as they say in the computer.
  • I will continue to blog as long as I enjoy it and I have people reading and adding their comments. The conversations are the best!
  • Last year my cancer diagnosis was one very big example of the connections and care in the blogging community and I am always grateful for that.

Tell Me, How Did Your Blog Start?

I know not all of my readers are bloggers but I am really looking forward to reading everyone’s stories if they have decided to follow the optional prompt.

Denyse.

On Mondays I link up with Alicia here.

Life This Week 22/52.

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

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 23/52. What I Will Never See Again. 4/6/18. 


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Taking Stock 2. 18/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.37.

Taking Stock 2. 18/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.37.

When I do a Taking Stock post (with thanks to Pip Lincoln who made the original list here) I do not review what I wrote last time.

The post is literally my views/beliefs/thoughts at the time of writing.

Things may change between now (Thu 26 April 2018) and post publishing time on Mon 30 April 2018 but as it is a snapshot of the ‘now’ it will remain thus.

I do enjoy writing these and the inward reflections.

If you too do a Taking Stock post, I hope you share it.

Each nine weeks on the blog for #lifethisweek is a Taking Stock optional prompt.

Denyse.

Making: time for conversations with my husband each evening as we share the TV viewing on Rugby League 360 on Fox Sports.

Cooking: in the oven in the new rental house – talk about getting to know a new appliance! Took a while, made a simple packet brownie mix. The best part is that I CAN eat it in tiny pieces.

Drinking: my favourite coffee out most days: changing from time to time from a piccolo latte to a small latte with double shot.

Reading: The Way Back by Australian Author and friend, Kylie Ladd. This is the fifth book of Kylie’s I have read and she writes cleverly of modern Australia and family life.

Wanting: time to pass. Oh. This again. I am getting better at waiting because I aint got no skills in how to time travel.

Looking: out the back at the lovely lawn my husband has just mown. What a sight and smell. Freshly cut grass.

Playing: a game on the Ipad called Four Plus

Wasting: not much actually – time nor goods

Sewing: zero, zilch, nada.

Wishing: that my Dad will be able to move back to his independent retirement unit from rehab hospital where he is now because he will be more mobile after a nasty time with vertigo

Enjoying: Autumn. Enough said.

Waiting: for next Tuesday 1 May 2018.

Liking: the lovely people who I get to meet here on the blog and on FB pages.

Wondering: how long Facebook will continue without charging us for its so-called services.

Loving: my family: husband, adult children, 3 adult grandchildren, 3 school age grandchildren AND 2 pre-school aged grandchildren. 

Hoping: that our health continues to be well-monitored by our wonderful, caring G.P.

Marvelling: at the human body and its capacity for regeneration. In my mouth’s case: too much….see next prompt:

Needing: a 4th surgery on my top gums/mouth to replicate the one in February which should have been the final one because the skin has grown too much and tightly.

Smelling: the lawn

Wearing: summer clothes right now but yesterday I was back in long pants, and a cardi. That IS Autumn.

Following: the news about the Royal Family. I admit it. Monarchy-tragic. Looking forward to The Wedding on 19 May.

Noticing: that I look old in the mirror. Ha! That IS what 68 years looks like for me.

Knowing: that I have the best and most competent medical & dental team caring for me and my health.

Thinking: I remember how it felt a year ago when my mouth hurt so much and the dentist was on holidays and I had to wait another 2 weeks to see him….and

Feeling: grateful that cancer was finally diagnosed after some days because at least it was an answer!

Bookmarking: actual books! Making a project of mine to try to settle to read each day for around 20 minutes.

Opening: the front door of the new rental house to our families when they came to see us in the school holidays

Giggling: at the sweet way Princess Charlotte turned and waved to the assembled journalists when she was off to meet her new baby brother in the hospital.

Feeling: a bit anxious about the next visit on Tuesday 1 May to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and what I will hear from my Professor about the condition of my mouth and then what he has planned for surgery 2 weeks later. It is actually the recovery period at home I dread the most.

 

Join #LifeThisWeek 18/52 here:

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

 

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 19/52. The A-L of Me. 7/5/18


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