Wednesday 18th July 2018

Six Month Check-Up…With Myself! 2018.56.

Six Month Check-Up…With Myself! 2018.56.

What is this six month check-up about?

It is about my assessment of my physical and emotional health for the first 6 months of 2018.

Subjective? Yes.

Tougher on myself than most? I hope not. But I can be more self-critical than I probably need to be! I suspect we are all like that.

It’s no secret that when you have a cancer diagnosis that check-ups are both regular and scary. Regular ones are like this protocol for my head and neck cancer:

for the first 2 years: every 3 months. I have completed one year and really only had ONE formal check up because…I have been for surgery with my Professor 3 times post initial big surgery.

for the next 3 years: every six months. This assumes no symptoms in between checks. My cancer was a very slow growing one which was contained in one area. All fingers crossed that stays like that.

Let’s get started:

January  –  June 2018.

My Contribution to Our “2 Person Retired” Household.

  • cooking my meals which can be eaten with little chewing and are nurtitious and tasty
  • cooking and freezing meals that are adapted for me and suit my husband as well e.g. spag bol
  • cooking some add-ons for my husband’s meals e.g. my fried rice
  • making cakes. Lots of little cakes. Since discovering I “can” eat cake – with a teaspoon – this household always has freezer space for “little cakes”. I like ones with lots of icing – helps get the cake down, my husband likes no icing
  • cleaning the floors that require vacuuming each fortnight
  • cleaning my en-suite bathroom and all surfaces of shelves, sets of drawers etc in the house
  • ensuring the plants outside are watered and cared for – watering, moving them around as need be and pruning
  • grocery shopping that is specifically for me and some catch-up items as my husband does the main & bigger shop

My Self-Care Routine.

  • I would like to think I have this down pat. I do not. I sometimes do too much and wonder why I am tired or tetchy.
  • Balance of some kind is ideal. I am still learning and I can imagine many of us are too in our retirement years.
  • As someone who loved her busy-ness in work and then when caring for our grandkids and part-time teaching…but also had it affect her emotionally I KNOW this is something I need to do better.
  • What is self-care anyway….for me it is this: enough to ‘do’ each day for nothing to feel stressful and enough to ‘be’ each day to feel calm and in control of my emotions
  • I could improve my ‘going to sleep’ times and am already listening to some ‘sleep stories’ via my Calm meditation app which is helping somewhat
  • I need to remember I am not in a race for self-care or self-improvement
  • I am aware I need to think ‘marathon’ rather than ‘sprint.’

My Care For Others.

  • I am getting better at this one!
  • When I was recovering from cancer surgery in those months from July to November 2017 my physical restrictions and mental tiredness meant I could not do much at all
  • However, I now know the value of caring for and about others (without trying to be the FIXER or the PEOPLE PLEASER) and this, my readers, is a BIG step for me
  • I continue to learn about this – am I doing or saying this to ‘fix’ this person or something that can be fixed or am I doing this to show my love and support for the person as he or she fixes things themselves. A BIG one for sure.
  • And in saying that, I know my people pleasing has taken a back seat…even in the ‘boot’ of ‘my car’ as I continue to know the value of pleasing myself (not indulgently) by setting BOUNDARIES.
  • Who knew? Boundaries for me and noticing that may be my interactions with others are not exactly as I might have anticipated because of THEIR boundaries! Great learning this one!

My Physical Appearance Each Day.

  • If you have followed by blog since late last year and into 2018 you will know that, over time my physical appearance has taken on a new dimension
  • Before late October 2017 I was in survival mode as well as under life stressors including IBS and anxiety and a cancer diagnosis. This meant I cared less for my outward appearance as I was concentrating on trying to figure out how to help myself inwardly.
  • This, as it turned out, was not helpful.
  • Instead, I took a challenge to dress well each day quite seriously. It was a self-created challenge. I am not going to stop it as I know it helps me each day.

Summary.

  • I am happy with many aspects of my ‘progress’ as I know I feel better emotionally and physically.
  • I also know there are more challenges to me on the horizon but I have learned that I can and do meet challenges much better than I did.
  • All in all, I am going well.

I believe I have allowed myself, even writing this, to be vulnerable. I know I take more brave steps these days than ever before.  And yes, I have read and listened to all of Brene Brown’s work. She tells it as it is. Bravely. Words matching actions.

Have you ever considered a ‘check-up’ of this nature?

I thought it was a good way for me to review how things are really instead of giving myself a hard time about not making progress because that is clearly a bit of a fib.

I will be interested in your comments! Not about me, per se, but about the notion of a self-check.

Denyse.

On Tuesday this posts links with Kylie here

On Wednesday this post links with Sue and Leanne here

 

 

 

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Life Lessons. #1.2018.52.

Life Lessons. #1. 2018.52.

This may be a theme for one or more posts. Let’s see where the Life Lessons journey takes us!

The catalyst for this post was something that happened to me a few weeks ago. The story of that was this:

I have been a long-time sufferer (and yes, that IS what it is…suffering!) of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diarrhoea mostly) for years. It became quite a debilitating condition for me, restricting work-related tasks and social events for some of 2014 and into the years following our move from Sydney to the Central Coast in 2015. I railed against it, I did courses to help me, I took meds, I had tests and in the end, I guess I had to admit it was MIND-GUT connected and my own stressors did seem to be behind it all. This actually did not help me, in fact I probably became more determined to beat it. Not sure how, as will-power had not worked.

So, my now GP first gave me some meds which helped and through the awful times of post cancer surgeries and other stressors in 2017 I know that my gut reacted and no immodium in the world could work against a gut which had not been ‘fed’ for ages. I learned that sometimes the reaction in my gut was normal and over time I accepted that. Kind of. I also made sure that any future anti-biotics were of the type my gut did not react to. Fingers crossed, that has worked so far.

Life Lesson.

Out of the so called blue on the recent long weekend, I had an episode of IBS. I could not ‘think’ of a reason why. In fact, that made me even more cranky with ‘it’. I got sad and had to stay home…close to the ‘loo because of it. Eventually, after immodium it did settle and I was able to drive to Westmead 2 days later to have a much-needed appointment with my prosthodontist.

In the meantime, I had to admit a truth to myself, and herein lieth the Life Lesson.

My week ahead, on the weekend I got an episode of IBS, was actually filled with a couple of items relating to my health that were NOT cancer- recovery related. I had decided two weeks ago that it was TIME I got myself together and did some regular testing that comes ‘at our age’  and my GP agreed. I did not know how much the anticipation of this and some other things I had planned would impact upon me emotionally until:

MY GUT TOLD ME WHAT I DID NOT PAY ATTENTION TO.

You see, I am a bit of an over-achiever…and my GP says I am ‘goal driven’ and I have to agree so I made a ‘rule’ that by now, a year post-cancer diagnosis, that I needed to be back in tune with normal activities. 

I.B.S. told me that I was not ready and in fact, reminded me brilliantly once I accepted it that I had made a promise to work on one thing at a time and that was to continue to recover from cancer.

Yep. I needed that and with  a chat to my GP, after my husband totally agreeing to what this life lesson had told me, I accepted it, cancelled the other things….and guess what, life settled again for me ….and I have learned my lesson.

I have photo on the left as my locked phone screen saver to remind me of my lesson!

What Others Say.

I asked for any Life Lessons via my social media and here are some responses.

Run your own race. It’s a cliche but it’s so important to know yourself, then do what you want to do and not to be swayed by others. The opinions of others are given way too much headspace. Make your own opinion the loudest. When I asked for any background to this conclusion here was the response: Life! Look around – who is happier? The person running after other people’s approval or the person who approves of themselves. “A.H”

Even on the darkest days and the most difficult of times you can always find something to be grateful for. It can be tiny, but there is always something. “D.C.”

Listen to your gut instinct. Other people may have opinions on what you should do within your life or your children’s but your gut instinct actually knows. Listen to it don’t ignore it just because someone else thinks they know best. Gut instinct is usually 100% right. “LofC”

Thank you to those people.

Last week Natalie from BeKind2You.com wrote a timely post which she has been happy for me to share. Thank you!

What Life Lesson(s) have you been taught?

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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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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My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 1. 2018.44.

My Head & Neck Cancer 1st Anniversary. Pt 1. 2018.44.

Writing this post I feel a surge of gratitude for my cancer diagnosis.

Weird?

Well, for me, BEFORE I knew that there was a nasty cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma in my upper front gums, I was anxious, fearful and this had been building up for the 3 years since just before we left Sydney to come and live on the Central Coast. My life was reduced to managing a sense of fear any time I needed to leave the house. Whilst it was not quite crippling, because I have a very determined edge to my nature, it was not how I liked feeling. AT. ALL. Blog posts here and here tell more:

In early May 2017 after a series of medical and dental examinations, CT scans, X-rays, a biopsy for gums that were not only NOT healing after the teeth and bridge had been removed  but were growing ….the news came through about WHY. The posts about my cancer can be found here.

Words are few but pictures tell much of my story. Away we go. Oh, and I AM someone who takes lots of pics and am grateful to have this record.

Part One.

In the lead up to the first Anniversary of my diagnosis I had thought this post could be a ‘thank you’ one.

I did not realised until late March that I would need a 4th surgery. However, I accept that the mouth still needs more work ….and I am trying not to whinge too much about the fact I will be having the ‘mouthguard/stent’ in for much longer AND another skin graft….because whingeing is not cool. This post is going live AFTER my 4th surgery on 16 May 2018.

I have accepted that there is no real END time with cancer.

I will be having checks until mid 2022. Then, as with most head and neck cancer patients, there is more to come, such as management of my implants over time. See this wonderful Australian-based  support site: BeyondFive here.

So, no “thank you and farewell post” for Part Two. Just more gratitude and let me show you who those people are and why I am grateful!

Part Two is scheduled to go live on Tuesday 29 May 2018.

Denyse.

In many ways I hope, that as I am a teacher AND a learner, anyone who knows someone with Head and Neck Cancer might find my posts helpful. It is one of the reasons I blog: to share, to learn and to connect! My page above has my other posts relating to my cancer story.

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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My Biggest Fear. 21/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.43.

My Biggest Fear. 21/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.43.

It took me a while to decided WHAT it was that was my biggest fear.

I ran through a list in my head.

I talked to my husband about it too.

I decided that it was not having enough money:

then I remembered I wrote a post called: What is Enough? I recalled that ‘what is enough money’ is different things to different people and that in actual fact we most likely DID have enough …as long as I reined in my clothes’ shopping. OK.

Of course, health came next…and I talked about the fear of becoming very ill. Say, with cancer. Oh yes, I have cancer. I am going OK with that too. So not that. Mmmmm.

I decided that I could not fear homelessness, nor being abandoned by my husband and I could, at this stage, not fear getting too old I cannot do things for myself.

What, then do I fear most?

Not being in control.

Simple, right?

Not really.

We humans like to think we are IN control. But are we?

So, what I know now, as I always have but was not prepared to admit it.

I can only control me.

  • My actions.
  • My responses.
  • My decisions.

Of course, as I need to get  along with others, I must remember that not everyone has this insight.

I found this link and quote from the source. What an applicable read it was!

Courage requires practising this golden mean between being too afraid and not afraid enough.

For it is only through such practice that you can acquire a habit of moderating your fear, which is exactly what being courage is.  There is no algorithm for calculating this golden mean but there is rational judgment grounded in evidence.
So to overcome you fear of losing control, you can,

  • push yourself to act on the evidence, without demanding certainty, or in spite of your fear of the uncertainty;
  • make a habit of this-not always and perfectly, but for the most part;
  • resign yourself to live by probabilities, not by guarantees.
  • accept yourself as an imperfect being who is inherently subject to making mistakes about the future; and
  • stop worrying and ruminating now, not later.

These things really are in your control!

Look how the journey led me to here as I blogged!

I am doing a mindfulness practice with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield each day now, as well as my Headspace meditation with Andy Puddicombe each night.

Add in my art time, some time outside in nature and I am s l o w l y learning about acceptance and taking things ONE at a time.

So, what is your biggest fear?

Oh. Of course DEATH is one. Enough said. Seriously I am trying to be light-hearted in this post …

But if you or another person is feeling sad, depressed and could possibly be suicidal, please give them the Lifeline Number here or ring it as you need to. 13 11 14.  

Thank you for sharing.

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: 22/52. How Did Your Blog Start? 28/5/18. 


 

 

 

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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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School Holiday Memories. #LifeThisWeek 17/52. 2018.35.

School Holiday Memories. #LifeThisWeek 17/52. 2018.35.

As a teacher from 1970 onwards I remember many school holidays because they:

  • meant a break from the regular work of teaching
  • were often a holiday to my parents’ in Sydney or elsewhere when we lived in the ‘bush.’ See here for more!
  • provided some ‘breathing space’ to read books again, go to the shops for more than the necessary items
  • having time with our children to do family activities such as going to the city for the day or to a local shopping centre for ice-skating.

As a teacher and assistant principal back in the day I should have been able to remember when New South Wales Schools moved from 3 school holidays at the end of 3 school terms, but I cannot.

Maybe one of my younger and more clever readers will recall!

The Difference Made by Moving to 4 Terms and 4 School Holidays.

  • less teacher and student fatigue. In 3 terms a year, sometimes the terms were between 13 and 15 weeks long. Yes. They. Were.
  • greater flexibility for families to take vacations in other states of Australia as the holiday periods are/were different.
  • even though the number of days in which public schools must be open did not change significantly – around 201 per annum –  it seems easier with the 4 term year.
  • instead of a long post Summer holidays term one, ending in May (Autumn) term one would be finished generally by April.
  • then, instead of a long Autumn into Winter 2nd Term, ending in late August, a winter 2 week break with the 4 term year was welcomed.
  • of course, each term is a challenge within itself but a school holiday break every 10-11 weeks helps people – children AND staff. Parents of course, may argue, not because of child care out of school  but that is different argument not for this post.

This building will ALWAYS be the Dept of Education. However, it is now being converted to a hotel. The Dept of Ed is moving to Parramatta.

My School Holiday Memories as a Kid.

I started school in 1954 and left school in 1967.

  • sometimes school holidays, particularly the August/September ones, meant a vacation with my parents and brother. We travelled by car to the North Coast of NSW for a couple of them. In a Holden FJ. Took a few days! I remember the beaches of Yamba and Coolangatta.
  • other times, we were left to our own devices. Back then we might explore the neighbourhood. I wrote about that here too.
  • as I got to teenage years it was MUCH cooler to be hanging out with friends and this meant catching the bus to Manly and going to the beach. Sometimes I would catch the ferry to the city to see a movie or visit Dad’s office…because I also had a school holiday job there too.
  • and by age 17 I was working in a jewellery shop at the end of The Corso (beach end) in Manly for my school (and teachers’ college hols).

A last swim at Manly some years back. Far West Home in the background along with the familiar Norfolk Pines.

My School Holiday Memories as a Teacher, Principal & Parent & Uni Student.

The reasons I have almost all good memories of school holidays are these:

  • it was always great to finish work days, even though it meant bringing work home to do in the school holidays.
  • at times too, there would be days to go into school (no kids there!) and get some classroom prep done or office work too. This was before on-line anything!
  • I liked the idea (theory) of being uncontactable as a principal but it was not to be, as Dept of Education staff were NOT on school holidays so they might ring re staffing matters, the school being broken into (again) and so on. 24/7 role, really!
  • that I was on holidays at the same time as my children meant I could organise appointments at the dentist (fun, not!), and for clothing purchases along with some days out to ice-skating at Macquarie Centre ( I got coffee, they skated!) and to have friends over for catch-ups.
  • as a family we would use part of the January holidays to go away – usually to a beachside location – for a week’s holiday. It was how we became interested in the place we now call home, The Central Coast
  • as a part-time Uni Student (for 7 years) and raising a family AND holding a school executive role, some school holidays which did not match Uni breaks were a time for essay writing and in two instances, attendance at Residential School for my B.Ed and my M.Ed.

Taken recently at The Entrance NSW. We stayed for 6 January holiday breaks in the 1990s in the white unit block with balconies overlooking the pool.

As a fully retired educator, parent and grandparent, I see that school holidays hold opportunties for families if they can take them up. To re-connect. To go away. To have a variation of routine. These school holidays we have had two visits from our families who live in Sydney. I know people who do not work with child-friendly days off etc it can be a challenge in school holiday times. Some schools have Vacation Care and of course family can help out.

I would hate to think of any change to school holidays as I believe the adults AND the children all benefit for the breaks.

What about you?

What school holiday memories do you have?

Denyse.

I hope you link up a post, old or new, on or off prompt for #LifeThisWeek 17/52.

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: 18/52. Taking Stock 2. 30/4/18


 

 

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Learning To Deal With Uncertainty Via Cancer. 2018.28.

Learning to Deal With Uncertainty Via Cancer . 2018.28.

In the past four years I have been on such a long and hard learning experience.

Perhaps I am short-changing that time frame.

Possibly it has been since 2003 when I had to resign, for medical reasons, from my substantive role as a K-6 Principal.

However, in May 2004  I was deemed well enough to return to teaching duties only and that was fine by me because I actually missed schools!

In my working life in N.S.W. public schools from 1970 until 2010 I liked the certainty:

  • of the school day,
  • the rhythm of schools
  • and the fact that my work life was timetabled
  • and I could work knowing I had familiarity and knowledge.

I now modify the above by adding: no school day was ever the same and of course there were many uncertain times and experiences but they were all familiar and I understood them well.

In the years following my retirement from teaching in 2010 up to 2014 I decided that helping families learn more about transitioning to school would be good and set up a solo education consultancy. There was some certainty in this once I found a group of early childhood centres who were not only interested in my work, but would pay me a fee too. Win!

In 2013 I was fortunate to meet then Prime Minister Julia Gillard who thanked me for my work in education.

What changed for me and how did I HAVE to learn to deal with uncertainty?

Three major triggers during 2014 and into 2015.

  1. Deciding to sell our Sydney home of over 18 years, pay off the mortgage and other debts and move to rent a place on the Central Coast.
  2. Resign or down-grading my employment status in education: teaching at Uni, having my business and remaining as an observer for (then) NSW Teachers’ Institute.
  3. Leaving the families of our adult children and their children with whom we have loved and connected from 1996 to the present including daily child-care before they started school.

I have written about them before, but the memories of those times appear in my ‘on this day’ in Facebook and in ‘time hop’ so I see and recall them usually with a sickening thud to my gut. But then because it is NOW in 2018 and I am learning much more about how to manage uncertainty I am able to counter it!

Sign Above Where I Blog. B.Be Brave O.Optimistic L.Learning & Loving. D. Determined Denyse.

Where were we?

The rational and thinking brain does not  know why because it was logical back in 2014 and KNEW the decisions we were making to commence what felt like a proper retirement for us both were right. We needed to have no more debt. We wanted to live away from Sydney. We had been told my our family that childcare was no longer required.

The thing is, I found out in many hard ways that I had created a situation (or actually more than one) where my inner soul and feelings were in conflict with my brain choices. I spent all of 2015 trying to make sense of it and until a psychologist told me: Denyse, feelings take a lot longer to catch up with decisions and change, I felt I was doing it all wrong!

And in some ways I was.

I was ignorant of so much. I finally accepted the sadness and grief that enveloped me for that year. I actually thought things would improve for me when we moved house at the end of 2015 but it was short-lived. My brain was now on super alert setting and affected my decisions and my life. I tried medications (no, none helped) and meditation (a little bit helped) and walking and art too.

But it was not until I started learning more about the Buddhist way of living in the now, as it is all the certainty we know from teachers Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, and Anne Lamott  more that I clicked:

OH. I cannot control anything really.

At all. I can control my responses.

A big gap was closing in my learning. My husband had been doing his level best to enlighten me but I was not ready. Or, I was obstinate and wanted proof!

So for all of 2016 I continued to ‘try’ to accept things but then I would revert to the default in my brain and work on all the ways “I” could control life. This did not make a happy Denyse even though I felt I needed to look like I had things under control. Ha! My Irritable Bowel Syndrome told me in its very special way “no you do not!”.

Into 2017 we (my brain and my feelings) went… and matters worsened. And I hated how reclusive I became. I rejected ideas of trying exposure therapy because ….no control!  It was a to and fro between head and heart (with the gut in the chorus) until matters changed dramatically.

Late March – early April 2017.

I HAD to follow through with using graded exposure therapy to get my awfully sore gums and teeth sorted. I did.

It felt a bit better and when my new local GP met me and suggested a small dose of an evening anti-depressant from the ‘old school’ which would help ‘firm up’ my IBS issues, I trusted him and gave things a go.

THEN. May 2017.

I had a biopsy, I thought something serious was wrong in my mouth post teeth/bridge extraction and I was right. Squamous Cell Carcinoma in my upper gums and away I went on the cancer journey.

WHAT DOES HAVING CANCER HAVE TO DO WITH UNCERTAINTY?

Everything for me. I had to change so much in terms of my ill-founded beliefs that I could control my life.

Nope. That was a BIG lesson.

What I did learn, and have  learned every.single.day. since May 2017 is that I need to trust those who care for me and provide their services as they know more about this cancer of mine than I ever will.

This does not mean I surrender because no-one does that without thinking. What I learned about myself is that I can get through some very tough times (I did and have) because I can let time pass, let my body heal in its way and take the advice of those who are experts in the field where I am not.

Of course I ask questions! In fact, I sent off about 20 before my huge initial surgery in July 2017 but I had a much greater sense of security in having met the Professor and Associate Professor, the Prosthodontist and the Practice Manager. No-one seemed to mind my questions and it was clear to me, that by asking I was helping myself be better prepared for not only cancer surgery but for the relative uncertainty in the life ahead.

On Thursday last…waiting for the next part of the treatment. Selfies rule, right?

And now, into almost the fourth month of 2018 I am now driving myself to the prosthodontist appointments in Westmead and managing my physical and emotional health whilst doing so…and in between visits and surgeries I am doing the best I can to stay well and do as is required for my continued health.

I am letting uncertainty into my life as a gift for what it teaches me:

patience

courage

confidence

trust

I have said, more than a few times, that this cancer diagnosis (and subsequent surgeries and treatments) has helped me get back a Denyse I really like being and a person who is more out-going (as I used to be many years ago) and one who is more loving and giving to others.

What lesson(s) in life have you learned about yourself?

Do you have any issues with surrendering control?

Tell me more in the comments if you are prepared to share!

Denyse.

Joining with three generous and sharing bloggers who host link ups:

Kylie Purtell here for the I Blog On Tuesdays link up.

Sue L and Leanne L  here who host the Midlife Share the Love Linky Party on Wednesdays.

Leanne who is the sweetest hostess here on Thursdays for Lovin’ Life.

 

 

 

 

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