Monday 9th December 2019

My Gratitude Month of November.118/2019.

My Gratitude Month of November. 118/2019.

For my seventieth birthday month, I decided to do something different via instagram photos and post about:

G R A T I T U D E

My November Instagram Challenge:

On Being & Feeling Grateful.

For my Birthday month: 70 on 30 November 🎂

I want to share & celebrate #gratitude #givingthanks #reflectingonlife #celebratinglife

Do join me! 😊

Today is 1/30.

With each photograph I added all the reasons for my gratitude. I took some time to collate the collages in October and then filed them in an album ready to publish. I used various backgrounds for the bottom section and words of gratitude too as well as making sure I had the date (and day of 30) added.

About Gratitude.

I was not someone who came easily to the adoption of having a grateful outlook and to show appreciation for what ‘is’ and what I ‘have’ and ‘feel’. I was taught by my husband that I needed to see gratitude more and adopt an attitude of gratitude as they say. Well, I started small. I could change some of my thoughts and feelings around by adopting gratitude and I sensed the difference it made in me.

 

I listened to Gratitude Works!: a 21 Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity by Dr Robert Emmons and, even though there was a religious thread through it, it did not detract from the messages of thanksgiving and gratitude for me.

In the newest little book of his I have, The Little Book of Gratitude, he explains much better than I, the power, value and essence of gratitude:

A 2015 article in the popular journal Scientific American reported that, out of 24 strengths, including powerhouses as love, hope, kindness and creativity, the single best predictor of good relationships and emotional well-being was gratitude.

Gratitude is not just good medicine, though, a nice sentiment, a warm fuzzy feeling, or a strategy or tactic for being happier or healthier.

It is also the truest approach to life.

We did not fashion or create ourselves, and we did not get to where we are in life by ourselves.

So living in gratitude is living in truth.

It is the most accurate and honest approach to life.

 

                          “GRATITUDE is, first and foremost a way of seeing that alters our gaze”

Rounding off the Month of Gratitude. 

 

We are at the dawn of a global gratitude renaissance. Unprecedented interest in the science and practice of gratitude is so welcome because this is what gives us the strength of character to make life better not only for ourselves but also for others.

From Robert Emmons’  The Little Book of Gratitude’ I follow him on twitter: @Dr_RobertEmmons

What are you grateful for today…and every day?

Denyse.

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

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

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

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Five Years Ago.116/2019.

Five Years Ago.116/2019.

In late 2014 so much happened to me: as an individual, a partner, mother and grandmother.

It’s timely to remember it and note parts of it.

You see, dear reader, I am an emotional person but also a very practical and organised one too. So when we decided mid 2014 that it was time for me to be able to quit all paid work as I was stressed and weary, and to finish up grandchild caring (we had been doing this lovingly since 2008) and that meant:

selling the house

paying out the mortgage

finding a place to rent on the Central Coast

buy a new vehicle each (the two we had were very much on their last legs so to speak)

and “then all would be better”.

True from one perspective: the practical but not from the emotional one for me and as regular readers know things did not go well for me. For quite some time.

Posts about the years 2015-early 2017 and how my life was affected may be found here (2015) and here (2016) and here (early 2017)

 

To give me some perspective now and to provide a photographic account of “this time 5 years ago” I offer:

 

House went on market & we accepted best offer on same day. Waiting for this sign to go up took a bit longer.

 

In the meantime, it was summer and as Papa tended the pool these grandkids made the most of what would no longer be ours in a few weeks.

 

We found a house to rent (unsuitable as we found later!) before Christmas that worked in with our settlement of mid Jan 2015 so we enlisted the family and up we travelled with some of our ‘stuff’. We had removalists on the day though.

 

 

The ‘last’ NSW Dept of Education School Spec for us (at the Entertainment Centre) made more special by our Yr 12 Drama Ensemble Member and Granddaughter playing the Nurse in a re-enactment based on the commemoration of WW1 A.N.Z.A.C. Centenary. I was in the audience watching with 2 of her siblings and her cousin.

 

And here she is, our dear GD, who was awarded top 10% in Drama for the HSC and is now, 5 years down the track, a graduate in Film Making from Australian Film Television and Radio School. She has her own film-making biz, so ask me if you want to know more!

 

 

 

I cannot leave this one out of my memories. Australian cricketer lost his life in a game when a ball hit him as he batted. In a tribute to Philip Hughes, we “put out our bats”. This is my husband’s from the 1960s. At the School Spectacular 2014 above, there was a segment added about his death as he was a public high school graduate and there was not a dry eye in the house as we sang “Come on Aussie Come on” in tribute to Philip.

 

 

I took a break from packing to drive to Mona Vale one evening and hear the funny and modest William McInnes talk about his (then) latest book Holidays. It was a joy to meet him and he is a very laidback and generous author. I used to listen to his A Man’s Got To Have a Hobby as a ‘comfort’ listen when I was stressed in those years. Lovely man with great family life stories to share.

 

It was hard, but I did it. Christmas decorating for the last time WITH the grandchildren. Practical me did not put a tree up nor did we do much inside the house but for the last time at Glenwood, the wooden decorations were up and some lights. Knowing it was last was hard but like I have said, I am still practical. This advent calendar was always filled with little chocolates for visiting grandchildren. We also had a tradition of “grandkids” only helping me do the tree sometime near the end of November. The older ones tell me they remember it well, so that makes me happy!

 

Then I was 65. Our daughter and her kids hosted us for a little afternoon tea with our son and his family. It was special of course and we took some pics to remember the occasion. We had Christmas Day together with both our kids and their kids for the last time hosted by our daughter and that was a little tinged with sadness but also knowing what was ahead was for us now.

That’s it for me.

Except for this: This photo (from instagram yesterday)  representing ‘then’ and ‘now’ of me visually but more words which helped make sense for the long and hard transition this has been for me. As transitions often are: getting married, moving from home,  becoming parents, starting new jobs, and so on. Mine happened to have three pretty big items: retirement, leaving Sydney, and moving from our family and all that was known.

 

What was life like for you 5 years ago?

Denyse.

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

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

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

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Zero Birthdays. 47/51 #LifeThisWeek. 115/2019.

Zero Birthdays. 47/51 #LifeThisWeek. 115/2019.

I am pretty sure I made this prompt waaaaay before my zero birthday was due.

In fact, I often use a date as in inspiration for my prompts for Life This Week.

So, yes, later this week I will be “this many”

70

that is seventy….which means…. going into my 8th decade of life. 

I look(ed) like this two weeks before said birthday.

Decked out in my fave colours….which happen to also represent Beyond Five. Off on my morning tea date with my dear husband…who is already 70.

About Zero Birthdays.

I guess, like some (or many) I would prefer not to make too much of a fuss of me on any of my birthdays…BUT….not to forget it either! I have been better at organising and hosting birthday celebrations of the zero kind for my parents. They also did this themselves. Whilst Mum and Dad grew up in the Depression years where birthdays (let alone parties) were quietly noted, Dad especially has enjoyed marking the occasions. Mum not so much but she was the best BIRTHDAY cake maker. From scratch and sometimes even doing designs from the Womens Weekly Birthday Cake book for her grandchildren. In fact, for our daughter’s 10th (zero!) birthday I recall it was the Tennis Racquet cake.

We don’t seem to place much emphasis at all on zero birthdays until our 30th. Is that because we might think we are getting old(er). Interesting.

My 30th.

There are no photos from 40 years ago but i remember what we did. My best friend from teaching and her husband and son had their second child around the same time we had ours..with a similar gap of nearly 7 years so we did a Maccas birthday party. Just a meal at Maccas but it felt right and fun – I don’t think there were party rooms then. In fact, it’s the Maccas where I stop for a coffee and loo break on my way to Westmead!

My 40th.

Nothing to recall. However, I do remember my husband having a lovely cake made by a lady whose son came to him for tutoring and we had a family dinner.

My 50th.

It was at the end of the first year as a principal. We’d also become grandparents for the second time. My ‘wish’ was for my mum to cook a baked lamb dinner for my birthday which she did and our daughter hosted the evening. It was very pleasant and Mum even made me the cake. At that birthday I was given the same present my husband got for his 50th. Personalised number plates for the upcoming Sydney Olympics! 20 years ago next year everyone!! Those plates are still on our cars.

Mum’s 80th.

Mum had some sayings. Like this one: “don’t wait till a funeral to tell  people what you liked about them”…words to that effect anyway. She HAD a point. It may be just our family but I reckon people are very circumspect in tell others of their kindness, memories and how that person has played a part in their life. So, Mum..we listened and for your 80th you got it in spades!

Actually very glad we did as poor Mum was not well for the next two years (no-one really knew exactly what except it could have been partly neurological) and died a few months after her 82nd birthday.

What did we do?

It was family meal at our place and attended by my parents, brother, his wife and grown children. Our children.  along with three grandchildren, were present in late 2004. I did the main entertaining space up with photos and words on pages from Mum’s life – a timeline – which later became a memory book. There were streamers and balloons (der!) as I am a party-kid and of course the grandkids who were around 7, 5 and 3 loved that too. Before the party evening (everyone contributed to catering, and I think we had a cake made) each person who wanted to, wrote a tribute to Mum or what memories they had of her. Before the meal, we all shared those words with Mum and it was wonderful. I recall photos and maybe a mini  movie. Goodness knows where that ended up. Technology has changed in so many ways in 15 years.

My 60th.

Turned out I really was keen to mark this occasion. I turned 60 at the end of the year that was my FINAL one as a teacher (principal era finished 6 years before) and wanted a celebration. My family and friends (all female) were guests at a High Tea at a local Hotel at Bella Vista. The guests were my youngest granddaughter of only a few months (and her Mum!) , my older granddaughters, my daughter, friends from teaching and it was lovely. The following day my husband, kids and partners (and said 3 month old baby) along with my Dad had lunch at a restaurant in Castle Hill and ON the actual day, in the afternoon, the littlest grandkids threw me a little at home party. My cup of appreciation, love and celebration was FULL!

My husband’s 70th.

Definitely not one for celebrating loudly …at all but of course, some recognition for his birthdays have been acceptable especially where grandkids and cake are involved. It was his choice this year to be low-key. There was going to be a family lunch here but he was unwell that weekend, so we caught up much later. On the actual day “we” celebrated with a card – and I am guessing, from his expression some kind and loving (maybe funny too) words.

 

Dad’s 90th.

At the beginning of 2014, Dad turned 90. He had been a resident (very happily and independently) in a lovely retirement unit complex at Dee Why for almost 3 years. He had been widowed for 7. He was keen to celebrate new friendships (from the place at Dee Why) and be joined by old friends (Golf) as well as us, his family, which was then my brother & his wife, and me, our  respective kids and everyone’s partners. My husband was not well enough to attend so he recorded a message for Dad. There were 7 great grandchildren and four grandchildren present.

Dad thought he had it all organised and under control and he did from a physical sense: room at Dee Why RSL booked and paid for, a special menu, family to decorate the room, photographs organised and a plan for celebration and commemoration of the occasion with speeches and, of course, a powerpoint. Our daughter made all the labels, I did place settings with thank yous and the day progressed well.

Until after everyone had spoken and Dad had seen (and heard) the “this is your life” I made via powerpoint…and he could not speak without breaking down.

It truly overwhelmed him and he even forgot to thank us. He talked about and reflected on that occasion for the next…um..year!

So, that IS it for zero birthdays for now… Dad is 96 in early January 2020 and he is reasonably well. It still feels weird for me to be turning 70 and having my Dad around. I can’t feel OLD while he is still alive, right??

 

How do you celebrate zero birthdays?

I want to pay tribute to Lydia from here for her words which encouraged me to celebrate my 70th! Thank you. Looking forward to my birthday  as a result: with a small morning tea on Thursday and a family lunch on the actual day, Saturday…and seeing my Dad and brother the following week.

Denyse.

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Women Of Courage Series. #25. Anonymous. 112/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #25. Anonymous. 112/2019.

Trigger warning: Domestic Violence, Family Violence, Mental Illness.

 

 

Woman of Courage #25  has chosen to be anonymous.

There will be no replies from this poster.

She will, however, be reading and I will be responding as I always do to readers’ comments.

Thank you for your understanding.

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

I do know the person who has chosen to be anonymous.

I am in awe of her courage and was honoured when she decided to share this in this on-line space.

 

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

In the recent past, I was a victim of family violence. (Not of the intimate partner variety, but of the extended family variety – I’ve learnt a lot since it happened, and one of the things that I’ve learnt is that if you’re related in any way, it’s still classified as family violence.)

It was a single terrifying incident, although with the benefit of hindsight I can see the years of conditioning and gaslighting that preceded it. There were two perpetrators, and my children and I were the targets. I had to be courageous in the moment, even as my mind refused to believe what was happening. And I have had to be courageous since, making decisions to protect us and taking actions that I knew might lose us other family members and friends who refused to hear about what happened.

 

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

In the moment, I learnt that the fight, flight or freeze response isn’t an either/or scenario. My initial response was to freeze. My mind could not accept what my eyes, ears and skin were telling me. A scream from my children flicked the switch to fight (though not of a physical variety – I instead said what I thought the perpetrators wanted to hear) until I could create a path to my children and then onwards with them to flight.

In terms of diagnoses, this incident changed me by bringing the terms anxiety, adjustment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into my life. It also brought imposter syndrome back into my life. In the past, it had usually been related to career success; this time, it was feeling that my one little incident wasn’t ‘worthy’ of PTSD. How dare I compare myself and my itty-bitty incident to a returned soldier’s experiences of combat?

In terms of practicalities, well… I’m still working through it all. I went through the stages of grief, which is to be expected. But I spent so long in denial that I did not accept the truth and depth of the incident and its effect on me for months. It took me a long time to accept my experience as traumatic. It took me longer still to recognise and accept that there was no shame in the experience, and no shame in the label of traumatic.

The incident broke my trust. With the perpetrators, of course, but also with others. With everyone, at first. I’d been conditioned to doubt myself around the perpetrators, and that continued. My brain constantly told me everyone was on their side, everyone thought I was overreacting, everyone was going to set up another ambush, everyone was against me, and wasn’t that fair enough? Wasn’t I overreacting? Did I really remember everything correctly? I had to rebuild my trust in people who had never done anything to deserve losing it in the first place.

Other changes? Fundamental beliefs and truths I held – such as my belief in the inherent goodness in all people – were shattered. (I’m working toward believing it again one day. I’m just not there yet.) Meanwhile, my belief that everyone has a right to freedom and safety has been strengthened. It might be truer to say it was created: I had simply taken it for granted previously.

 

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

The things I’ve learnt are not fun, so I apologise to anyone not ready to hear these things. But here are the main things I’ve learnt (or things I knew that are now cemented):

  • ‘Family’ is not an excuse for violent behaviour. (In fact, it should be a promise for good.)
  • You don’t owe violent people anything. Your time, your regrets, mediation, compromise, placation, forgiveness. Anything.
  • There is no such thing as neutrality in violence. If someone says they want to remain neutral, or don’t want to get involved or pick sides, it’s too late. Whether consciously or not, they’ve already picked a side. And it’s not the victim’s.
  • You can’t control what people think about you. If people want to believe the worst of you without even speaking to you, based on nothing more than the lies of the perpetrators, that’s on them, not you. It still hurts, but you’re better off without such people in your life.
  • Anyone who expects you to compromise your safety for them isn’t worth it.
  • There is no excuse for violence.

These don’t sound like tips for courage, but knowing these things – not just logically knowing these things, but truly believing these things deep in my bones – are what eventually gave me the courage to take legal action.

One other thing I’ve learnt: lean on your support network. (You might have to wait until you’ve relearnt to trust your support network.) Many see the development of courage as a solo endeavour, but in my case it was a team sport. With my wonderful husband as captain and coach.

 

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

I don’t think it’s a case of being more courageous. It’s a case of knowing what otherwise dormant courage I already have, knowing what I will and won’t stand for, and recognising it sooner. Violence toward or in front of me and my children grants you an instant dismissal from our lives, do not pass GO, do not collect $200. And when I say violence, I now mean violence in all of its forms, including manipulative, controlling and coercive behaviour.

I do think I’d have the courage to take legal action sooner if something like this happened again. Courage borne from knowing that seeing the perpetrators in court a few times is preferable to not knowing if they’ll pop up anytime, anywhere and constantly living with the fear of that happening.

 

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

Courage isn’t a steely resolve. Courage isn’t determination or steadfastness. Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

I felt the fear. I felt the anxiety, the panic attacks, the self-doubt. And, eventually, with great support and understanding from the people I love and had relearnt to trust, I did it anyway.

And if I ever have to, I’ll do it again.

 

 

I so appreciate the thought and decision that went into this post from Anonymous.

Thank you for sharing this.

Please note: these numbers:

https://www.respect.gov.au/services/ Emergency: 000 or 1800 RESPECT

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

 

Denyse.

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

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

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

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Women Of Courage Series. #24. Grace Titioka.110/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #24. Grace Titioka. 110/2019.

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

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

I am so pleased to introduce Grace Titioka who is 47. We first met in 2011 as members of the early Australian blogging community and hit it off. Grace also helped me through some blog changes and social media when I was first starting to ‘get myself’ more media and on-line ready. Grace and I may not see each other as much now I have moved from Sydney but we connect on-line. Grace has a pretty powerful life story and she touches on aspects of it here. Here’s to G from D. With Love and Gratitude. 

 

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

I don’t think there’s been one particular life event where I was consciously being courageous.

People have said that setting up a life in Japan completely on my own for almost a decade was a brave act. Others tell me that having a high risk twin pregnancy would’ve surely seen me at my most courageous.

But to be honest, I don’t think there’s been one particular life event where I was consciously being courageous. In fact, lately I’ve discovered that it’s our vulnerabilities and the ability to openly express them- as raw and real as possible, no matter how uncomfortable or undignified it makes us feel, that’s where courage truly shines.

 

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

Maybe growing up as a migrant child, there was always a shield, protecting myself and my family from racism and being treated unfairly by Australian society. This led to anger and frustration, even causing me to leave Australia but it never truly resolved my issues. Only allowed me to run away from them.

Over time, especially since being married to a patient, caring husband,  I’ve learned that a tough exterior can only hurt the ones who love you unconditionally and truly help you.

He always says, he’d rather see me at my most vulnerable instead of just being grumpy and silent.

And when we’ve had a disagreement, there’s always two words he’s more than happy to hear from the stubborn me: “I’m sorry”

 

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

To have courage is to believe in yourself and surrounding yourself with those you can trust implicitly.  We all have very different sides to our complex characters – some traits we’re proud of, others not so much. But if we work to claiming all these components and seeing them for what they with a non-judgmental, gentle approach, we can find comfort, contentment and our own version of courage.

 

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

I like to think so but we never know what curve ball life throws at us. I just know now that I will allow myself to feel all those raw feelings, observe them but not let them define me. A situation is only as bad as how we react to it.

 

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

Be gentle with yourself. Being courageous doesn’t mean you have to deal with life with heavy force and resistance. More often than not, courage is the exact opposite.

 

I like the way you did explore some of the aspects of your life where you have been and continue to be courageous. Thank you for sharing and for being a caring friend, especially through my early days as a cancer patient. Always nice to know who is there for me.
Denyse.

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

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

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

 

 

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Women Of Courage Series. #21. Deb Morton.102/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #21. Deb Morton.102/2019.

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

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

I got to know Deb Morton via her son Rick’s social media. Rick Morton (see a post here) and I first chatted back in 2011 at the first ever Aussie Bloggers Conference. I knew he was someone who not only would go far but he also had a big story to tell. He has done that in his book (see below). However, that’s how I learned about the pivotal and most important person in his young life. His Mum. Deb. After seeing Rick at the same writer’s festival where I got the idea for these posts, I asked Deb to be my facebook friend too and we chatted from then on. I was chuffed when she agree to respond to “what is courage” and here is her story…in her words. Thanks so much Deb (and Rick for the friendship which saw me get to know your Mum).

 

Courage: The ability to meet difficulties and danger firmly or without fear.

Source: unknown – supplied by Deb.

 

Well I did have fear on September Fathers Day 1994, the date I will never forget! My 9 year old son had a serious farm accident, the Flying Doctors were called and airlifted my son, myself and my 3 week old baby girl to the Burns Unit at Royal Brisbane. As a mother I was distraught that I could not take the 7 year old son with me as well, he stayed behind to what ended up being a major catastrophe in our lives!

Our stay in the Burns Unit had many sleepless nights, skin grafts, infections and being away from home for just over 6 weeks. I knew before I arrived home all was not well on the home front, call it your gut instincts, trust them!

My marriage , my home  and lifestyle had dissolved in one full swoop.

During this time I had to find somewhere to live, still take the son to his appointments at the Burns Unit and find a school for the boys , as they were previously educated on Distance Education. I had anger, fear , loneliness and trying to pay bills as well. Make sure you have a network of support people in your life, luckily for me my Mum, sister , brothers were there for me.

A few years later I was to lose Mum and my sister within a year of each other.

I am a better person for what I have gone through , I am so lucky that my little daughter saved me , the fact that she needed me , helped, I thank God every day she came into my life and I know that I have passed on to her the ability to deal with whatever life throws at her, she is a hardworking and capable person that I can be proud of!

I think of the simple things in life, sitting in my garden, watching birds, enjoying the flowers blossoming . Always be grateful for what you have , there is always someone worse off than you and we do live in the best country!

Thank you Deb. When I read about this in Rick’s book that was hard enough to take in. You lived it, as did the children. Reminding us of gratitude and looking around us for the good makes me understand that we humans can go through more than we ever imagine.

Denyse.

My catch up with Rick Morton. A little plug for him is he is now senior reported for The Saturday Paper. In other news, he and his sister have given their Mum Deb a brand new bathroom. Amazing gift! Just what she needed…and asked for! His twitter handle is @squigglyrick and his work for social justice needs to be followed.

Recently Rick and his sister  Lauryn appeared on SBS Insight program: Estrangement in Families. A powerful show and equally powerful responses from two of Deb’ s children. Here is the link.

Next week a Women of Courage story will not appear. I will be sharing stories about Women of Courage. The next one to be published will be on Wednesday 23 October. Thank you all for your interest and comments. Denyse.

 

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

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

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

 

 

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Women Of Courage Series. #20. Tracey Fletcher King.100/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #20. Tracey Fletcher King. 100/2019.

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

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

Welcoming friend and artist, Tracey Fletcher King, aged 51, to this series. Tracey and I have ‘known’ each other via the world of art and creating and a few years back, she had some wonderful on-line classes called Delicious Paint. They were delicious because it was about learning to paint fruit and vegetables. I amazed myself when I saw the shapes and colours in a few I managed to do under her guidance.

I learned so much about ‘patience’ in waiting for  a page to dry because it would not help me get the result if it was a teensy wet. Maybe, without me knowing it, Tracey was using her experience as a cancer patient to then help me (again) as a newbie cancer patient back in 2017. Here’s more about Tracey in her words. A little different in presentation this week, is the use of two other images (I asked Tracey to supply them) about her Art Exhibition. Go, if you can. I know some Queensland blogging friends did last year.

 

Blog/Website: www.traceyfletcherking.com

Instagram: traceyfletcherking

 

 

 

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

Six and a bit years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nothing too special about that as 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosed with it, and despite mine having spread to some lymph nodes and a gruelling year of treatment I had good results and for a glorious couple of years I was cancer free. In April 2016 I went for my routine check to hear that my cancer had returned and had metastasised to my liver, and suddenly everything changed.

The courage, bravery and strength I thought I had acquired thanks to my first run around was blown away from that moment on as suddenly I was dealing with incurable. Those words and the new path I was then on was devastating. I had to tell my daughter, my family, and face the five million tests to determine treatment options etc while holding it together. I still have no clue how I got through that week but I think it was one of my strongest weeks just to get up and face it.

 

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

This new reality has changed me in profound ways. We all have a use by date, but mine is monitored and discussed constantly and while some weeks it feels like we may have years left and others the end feels scarily close, it is always there at the back of your brain. It is part of my everyday and the only way to cope for me is to be pragmatic. I had a stage of not wanting to know what was going on, and I tried like crazy to pretend it was all going to be fine and that a miracle cure was around the corner and every other thought that screamed avoidance. It didn’t make things easier, in fact it made it harder and those months were pretty miserable as I tried to shove the cancer bunny back in its hole but during a round of chemo my oncologist explained having cancer is like trying to hold sand, eventually it will run through my fingers and there will be none left, but his job and mine is to keep shoving as much sand back in as we can.

That was a revelation to me.

I can only hold that sand if I acknowledge that I need it and that it is running through my fingers which that can only happen if I am dealing with it so that’s what I do. If I try to pretend and have no say in my care or face how I am doing then how can I hold that sand? It takes tears and a good old boot up my own butt somedays, and other days I feel like I am piling that sand in there left right and centre, but I face it. I don’t try and hide from it or cling to false hope. I am just going to do the best I can with what I have and for as long as I can and as long as I stick with that I can face almost anything. This is so much easier to deal with and makes courage an everyday habit rather than something to call on in dire circumstances.

 

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

The idea that if you pretend it’s not there it isn’t happening is one of the toughest mindsets to cope with. It’s weirdly easier to just face it, grieve, yell, stomp around the house, cry, try new things, change your mind a million times and be angry at what’s been dealt to you, than trying to pretend it’s not there. The sooner you face it the sooner you can live with it. The fantasies you have in your head of how bad things are going to be are always worse than the reality in my experience so just face up so you can stop wasting time and get back to the good stuff and there is a lot of good stuff. My days are filled with lots of great stuff, they are also filled with a litany of side effects from ongoing and endless rounds of chemo but life is actually pretty good now I let it be what it is and go along with it.

 

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

I know I am more courageous now. I don’t have time to warm up to things or to run endless pro and con lists before I do something I just do it. I don’t want to regret time taken making decisions and torturing myself with what ifs… I just jump in most of the time now. Well not so much jump as a bit of a lurch but I just get on with things. I am better at saying no to things and I spend a lot less time on social media. If people find my work and want to buy it etc then that’s great but I’m not into marketing my art or anything else. I got rid of a heap of online platforms and my days are much better for it. It takes so much pressure off to not be faced with a barrage of notifications and emails. I have stepped back and enjoy the quiet a lot more. I meditate daily, exercise most days and face chemo with a welcome attitude instead of dreading it. It is all about going with the flow rather than fighting things and that gives me the time and energy to be courageous when I need it.

 

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

The thought of what may happen is always worse than living with the reality so face it as soon as you feel able to, and then go with the flow because some days you just have more than you do on other days. For example I ask myself how strong am I feeling and then tell the oncologist at the beginning of the session, I’m having a strong day today so hit me with it, or I’m not feeling on top of things so just tell me what I need to know. Courage is a habit and some days you will do it better than others so make the most of it when you are feeling strong and be kind to yourself on the days when you aren’t feeling so strong.

 

 

That is one BIG story of courage. I know that others who read this are also undergoing treatment for cancer which decided to add its ugly presences elsewhere. I do hope as I am sure readers will too, that your art exhibition is a great success, and that your treatments give you the strength to attend. You are in my thoughts often. Your kindness, checking on me during my early days of learning about my cancer, will never be forgotten. Thank you Tracey.

Before this post went live, I was assured from Tracey that all fingers (and toes!) were crossed that she was well enough for her treatment regime and that she would be able to attend this much anticipated event:

Therefore I am adding this for you, dear readers as Tracey and I have discussed:

“Tracey will be delighted to see your kind words I am sure, but as she is conserving her energies (post chemo treatments is always a challenge) for this Art Exhibition “Still Blue and White” coming up on Saturday – see the brochure- I know she will read but may not be up to commenting right now.’

Denyse.

 

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

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

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

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Women Of Courage Series. #19. Jan Wild. 98/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #19. Jan Wild. 98/2019.

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

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

Today I welcome Jan to the series. Jan and I connected via blogging and, I admit, to us both being in our retirement years. Jan at 65 is an amazing role model to many, including me, in her ‘get up and go’ attitude to what life brings. Jan is currently on a wonderful holiday overseas and is staying in touch via social media. I hope the vacation is going splendidly!  

 

 

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

As Denyse says we tend to downplay our own courage and I admit that in answering this question I didn’t feel very entitled to the description of courageous. So I had a look at some definitions and liked this one for courage; “strength in the face of pain or grief”.

I realised then that I had been courageous in my life on more than one occasion. No not big saving someone’s life courage, more personal decisions related to my own life.

The thing that comes most to mind is leaving my job and taking 12 months time out to improve my health. This was due to my having suffered two grand mal epileptic fits. I don’t know about courage, I felt I had no choice than to address my health as my top priority. But of course it was courageous as I was not in a relationship where I could depend on someone else bringing in income and I needed to sell a property and dip into my savings to fund my living expenses for the year.

 

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

Making that decision really did cause me to rest on my own resources and my resilience. I moved to Hawks Nest in NSW and ate simple healthy food, walked on the beach, swam in warm weather and spent plenty of time resting. I also took up hand painting ceramics, something I had not done previously, it was a great creative outlet.

 

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

I learned that taking a risk doesn’t have to be a disaster. Health wise there really was no choice, financially it was challenging. But I took the time to readjust my expectations and indeed my expenditure. I would shop to a tight budget and there would only be a treat if there was money left over. There were no new clothes or overseas trips but I knew my health was improving (and I have not had any further fits).

I learned to really enjoy my own company and to move in accordance with my own rhythm of life. I recommend anyone who can to try that for themselves (and I know it isn’t always possible).

 

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

I’m not sure that it has made me more courageous, on reflection I have made several decisions which others may consider courageous. But I have no desire to do any extreme sports and I am very cautious in many parts of my life so I think my answer is no. Although I do know that I am resilient and able to cope well in many situations (not all though).

 

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

Yes, if possible, consider the alternatives, do your homework and make a well-considered and well-planned  decision. Ask yourself  ‘What is the worst thing that could happen?” For me (other than deteriorating health), that was running out of money, and I realised that in the worst case scenario I could land on a family member or take a less taxing job than the one I had left (or both of those things).

 

I like reading the ways in which “we” can find ourselves going down the ‘worst case scenario’ route may not even happen. I so need to remember this too!

Thank you Jan.

Denyse.

 

 

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

Twitter: @RetiringNotShy

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

Instagram: retiring_not_shy

 

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

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

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

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