Monday 27th May 2019

Women of Courage Series. Sam. 55/2019.

Woman of Courage: Sam. 55/2019. 

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

Let’s meet Sam who is 48 (nearly!)

 

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

I find myself mustering some courage in a lot of everyday situations because I’m a born worrier/scaredy cat.  However, some major health issues, both mine and of those nearest and dearest to me really had me digging deep into my courage reserves.

Just before and just after I turned 40 I received cancer diagnoses (two in the same year!) and that required not just courage but resilience. I was very fortunate in that I had a great medical team behind me who cared for my physical and mental health. In many ways, I found my treatment (surgery followed by radioactive iodine treatment) relatively easy (if inconvenient and a little bit ouchy) to deal with. I definitely needed some courage to jump through all those cancer hoops – endless appointments, surgeries, treatment, special diets, drugs and although my prognosis was excellent – facing off with my own mortality. I wanted to be strong and support my loved ones because in many ways my diagnosis was hardest on them.

Having a loved one with a serious medical diagnosis is heartbreaking because all you want do is make it better but you can’t. I learned this the hard way in 2014 when my husband had a minor stroke. I think being the carer was so much harder than being the patient. I had to reframe all my negative thoughts into positive ones and focus my energy on being positive.

 

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

I sometimes think being courageous is like a muscle, the more you use it, the better you get at it. I think courage leads to resilience and that’s one of greatest life’s tools. These days, I’m a lot more resilient. When I face tough situations, I always think to myself, “well if you got through X or Y, then you can get through this.” Just like muscle memory, I think I have courage memory!

 

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

I’ve learned that I can’t control what happens to me but I can control how I deal with it. Bad stuff happens but the way I think about and act upon it can really make the experience a positive or a negative one.

 

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

I know I can deal with difficult things, everything I need is inside. I also know that if I can’t deal with something on my own, that it’s OK to ask for help either from my friends and family or from a mental health professional.

 

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

Think positive! I really do think that the body achieves what the mind believes. Some of us are able to draw on our own courage and some of us draw on the courage of others so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes asking for help is the courageous thing to do!

Thank you for sharing your story, Sam!

Find Sam here:

Blog/Website: https://www.theannoyedthyroid.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/annoyed_thyroid

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theannoyedthyroid/

 

If you would like to share your story of being a woman of courage* please let me know in the comments and I will email you. That would be great! *There are no men included as I  think we women do not talk or not write about our stories which is why I’ve  called the series: Women of Courage.

Denyse.

My story was last week and is found here.

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Megan Blandford. 

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 Begins. Denyse. 52/2019.

Women Of Courage Series Begins. Denyse. 52/2019.

Recently I wrote about the story behind Women of Courage series to begin here and this is that post.

It got me thinking that “I” should tell one of my stories first.

This is my story of courage. And, surprisingly as it was to my husband when I mentioned the topic, it is NOT about getting cancer.

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

I have faced quite a few challenges in my almost seventy years of living! One was a cancer diagnosis but I have written about that many times. I will continue to write about it, as time goes on. This one is when I chose courage over comfort and decided to apply for K-6 Principal roles back in 1998. I know we are talking a LONG time ago, but my memories are very clear.

  • I loved my role as a non-teaching Deputy Principal as it meant the best of both parts of my experience was used: supporting teachers in the classroom and being able to assist families in relation to their children. Being ‘on class’ as I had been as an Assistant Principal in previous years made that other part of what I did well much more difficult. So, from 1988 until ‘decision time’ in mid 1998 I was employed and happy to be so, even though the school and its community was in a low socio-economic area of Sydney, we knew as teachers we made a difference. That is why I taught.
  • However, the school population started to fall. That happens in high-growth areas when initial movements into a suburb settle. I was told that my role as a non-teaching D.P. was being taken from the school’s staffing entitlement. That meant, go on class or move to another school. I did stay and go on class and that was a special time because a young student in my class had cancer and within the first six months he died. I was honoured to speak about him at his funeral. Mid-year I got an offer to become a relieving Principal in the wider area where this current school was located.
  • Torn but confident of my decision, I left my school of almost 10 years, and went to the newer one as their relieving Principal. Now, that DID take some courage. I admit, it was such a change of role, even though I had held a relieving Principal role back at my other school, that I wondered at times “what have I done?”
  • But over the two terms, I could sense that my confidence (and courage!) to continue in the ultimate school leadership role was there. But wait, what about after 1998? It seems like destiny or something like that moved me to seek a substantive Principal’s role starting in 1999 because…caught where I was, I had been appointed the next D.P. at the school where I was already relieving Principal and it began to feel like a demotion….so I garnered all my courage and….
  • Applied for substantive Principal roles via merit selection.

 

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

  • Doing this did change me because I “had” to make the decision to move forward not to stay still or even go backwards. I had those people who worried about me a little bit (hello Dad) stepping up but ultimately I KNEW it was this or….The other was not an option.
  • I admit, it was hard work, leading a school of over 600 students till the end of that year, AND preparing for applications to new schools as their principal. I ‘got through’ to I think four interviews and was unsuccessful. I was not discouraged, which surprised me.
  • I did (and do) have more courage than I thought.

 

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

  • What I learned is to keep on going.
  • The roles I missed out on I took recommendations and feedback from the panel convenors who then could have been my future bosses as they were District Superintendents.
  • Then, I got one very helpful feedback session over the phone and as I knew an interview was happening, I used more ‘tricks’ that were legal of course…and I have recommended these to many since.
  • One was to look at the application and the school’s list of qualities wanted in the successful applicant and write up some likely questions and have your answers written when you go to pre-interview 10 minutes with the questions.
  • Take that with you into the interview, use it to glance at as it is an aid for memory. Of course, make eye-contact with the panel and in particular the person asking the questions but don’t be afraid to add to your responses later.
  • The most important part I learned from this experience was that I was:
  1. brave enough
  2. good enough
  3. knew what I was doing
  4. had a range of skills, knowledge and experience that helped guide others
  5. human
  6. unable to sustain my emotional health during the fourth year as principal (I have written about that here, here, here AND here)
  7. and was COURAGEOUS enough to recognise my health came before my job.

 

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

  • Yes I do, from this position of some 16 years later. But I still faced many life challenges where I needed to be reminded I HAD courage and needed to use it more. I know, once I managed to get over the shame of leaving the role I loved, I was much more able to see I WAS courageous. I gave it all my best shot and shame is not a helpful emotion. It did take some years of counselling and reading to achieve that level of confidence and courage.
  • When I KNEW I had some of my courage return, I then applied for and taught in schools, part-time and English as a Second Language, for six years and that was part of my healing.

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

You have more within than you realise it. Don’t listen to the naysayers or the negative voice in your head. Take the first step towards whatever your goal is. Sometimes the first step is the hardest…but then, there is no turning back! Onward!

This leads to the next weeks and months ahead where I have quite a few Women of Courage to share their stories.

If you too would like to share your story, please tell me in the comments and I will forward you what to complete to be a part!

Looking forward to each Wednesday!

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Wednesday’s Midlife Share The Love linky,

With Leanne on Thursday for Lovin Life link up here AND with Alicia on Fridays for Open Slather here.

Thank you all for your link ups.

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

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