Wednesday 8th April 2020

Birth Stories. #1. An Occasional Series. 6/2020.

Birth Stories. #1. An Occasional Series. 6/2020.

Who doesn’t enjoy a birth story?

Oh, maybe that should read…would you enjoy reading some birth stories?

If YES… read on.

If NO…Thank you for reading so far. I will catch you back here soon I hope!!

Images of the most of the babies are photos from their first day/night of life. I have a framed photo collage of each of the 2 groups of 4 grandchildren. Very special memories.

The ‘last’ grandchild’s BIRTHday.

This (bad) photo taken at sunrise was when I drove to Sydney – around 90 minutes from our new place of residence on the Central Coast. I had been on “Grandma-standby” for a few days but with the birth now not expected till the following week, I got quite a shock/surprise to get the news that our son and his wife were on their way to the hospital and a neighbour was in the house while the siblings slept. That dear ‘breech’ baby wanted out of there and she was delivered naturally and both mother and baby were well. I waited at our son’s house with his sister (who had also been called to relieve the neighbour) till he arrived home with the news for us all…and with great relief, we left the family and went for a much-needed breakfast.

Here she is: 

Our daughter’s arrival. LONG time ago. 

So, this young, married, and pregnant teacher (me!) soon learned the hard way about being pregnant. I was going well. We lived outside a country town in north west N.S.W. in 1971. I saw the local G.P. for my check-ups and then… BOOM! “No, you won’t be having your baby here as you need specialist attention and that is urgent.”

Yikes. Way to scare a mother-to-be and the father too… yet he is not really scared of anything. So, chastened, worried (because I had gained a LOT of weight in a short space of time) we arrived at Tamworth, two hours from home,  to meet the Ob/Gyn. His examination ended up with me getting a diagnosis of then toxaemia, (pre-eclampsia) and taken straight to the hospital for bed rest and diuretics and keeping me and baby well. It was a LONG week I was there, confined and scared…because I knew nothing really. The treatment worked and my now Doctor let me home with the promise of returning in 2 weeks for induction AND (I never understood this, but obeyed) eat lots of lollies.

Dutifully, we returned one Wednesday evening and after admission, some induction strategies began. Pills and pessaries I think. Husband went home (2 hours away) as he had to teach at his one teacher school. No progress towards labour that night. All day Thursday still nothing much. Was transferred to labour ward that night and the Ob/Gyn visited and broke my waters. He was surprised to see some blood and explained it was likely to be a placenta previa partly covering the cervix that had been noted in a pelvic Xray (yes, of my baby and me)  but he showed no real concern. In this time nothing happened. Boring. Waiting. Boring but wait. It was Friday. Off to delivery suite. No idea why. BUT I did have some pains like periods. Nothing much given for pain other than some gas (mask). My husband called around 1 p.m. to be told “no she is not in labour don’t come down in this awful weather.”

Meanwhile, this pain which grew was in the back and more. A wonderful midwife was so kind. But still….I had no idea UNTIL around 4-4.30 I wanted to be sick (not like me ever) and I wanted to leave. Those who have given birth will know this is called transition. I did not but the pain escalated, as did my tightening of the poor midwife’s hand…and around 5-5.30 they called in the Ob/Gyn…he arrived in his whites. His squash gear! And by 6.35 p.m. I had delivered our little ray of sunshine. There were no pain meds. I was on a high. He even managed to stitch me and tell me 9/10. I thought it was my performance …later I found it was the baby’s APGAR.

The lovely Ob/Gyn then left the room but I could hear him on the phone “Mr Whelan you have a beautiful daughter”……and with that, my husband and his mate (my principal) got in the car and began the drive in the rotten winter night to meet his daughter.

But he could only see her through the glass. She was held to the glass for him to ‘meet’. Then he came to see me. “She has your fat cheeks and a dimple and my long fingers”. True. Back in those days no-one got to hold the baby except for the mother and nurses and it was not until we were discharged 6 days later that he got to hold his daughter and meet her properly.

Here she is in 1972 with “our bags” ready for me to go to school and her to daycare with my boss’ wife in the residence next door to school. So grateful for this!

Our first grandson’s arrival.

If you remember hot and stormy weather (oh yes, we have quite a bit of that lately!) then I can vouch for it early in the 2000s too. One very hot (up to 40s) Monday in mid January, our daughter was admitted to hospital for an induction for the birth of her 3rd child. She and her then husband were all for me being around  (this is the last Mum, so it’s fine if you want to be there). Once we knew that she was in her delivery suite, and the 2 siblings (then 4 and almost 2) were OK with my husband, Papa, I set off with camera(s) and ready to be there. But….I can now tell you truthfully, it was not the space for me.

Back then, despite thinking I could do this, my anxiety was quite high – because I was certainly not able to help in any way and it became confronting to be in the room where I was no help – my words. So, as my daughter laboured….and continued to resist epidural notion, I needed to be elsewhere…so went out for a walk around the wards. I passed an anaesthetist moving fast towards my daughter’s room as I had heard “get me the epidural” words….but alas, not to be. I then heard what was for me “loud noises” and tried to compose myself as I re-entered the room….and it turned out, that it was my grandson’s birth that had been the source of the sounds and there he was!!

He was so attentive I will never forget his engagement with me. The eyes! There was a bit of a kerfuffle I will call it though when her Ob/Gyn arrived, as the midwife had safely delivered B. He was asking why she hadn’t called him earlier. I remember her trying and it being constantly engaged. He was about 15 minutes drive from the hospital and it was school holidays. Before our grandson arrived and I heard the midwife trying to make these calls, we concluded it was probably not going through as back then only one phone line did the internet too. We reckoned it was his daughters!

Nevertheless the issue  settled.

But the weather did not that night. Around the time of B’s birth one of those raging southerlies arrived and with a hospital on top of a rise in Sydney’s north shore, we could feel its impact. When I left to drive home, around 8 p.m. everything outside the San at Wahroonga was dark. I wended my way through a tree-branch strewn carpark and drove slowly home via blacked out traffic lights and rain. We had tried calling my husband with the news but did not then know the phones were out too. My excited arrival home, in the dark, was chastened by “shush, I just got the girls to sleep, it’s been very scary”….and “oh” from me…then I told him of the news. I am afraid his tiredness meant a less enthusiastic response but the next day, we loaded up the brand new sisters and went to meet Mr Now Firelite DJ when he was one day old.

Here he is.

 

There are more stories to tell.

Like it says, this will be an occasional series.

I have deliberately kept all details as private as I can for those here.

Do you like to share stories like these?

I hope so but I do know that they do not appeal to all.

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 © 2020 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.

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 is: 48/51 Self Care Stories.  2/12/19

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Colours I Love. 44/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2019.

Colours I Love. 44/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2019.

So, dear readers, it would seem that “I LOVE a lot of COLOURS” and this is why my blog emblem/avatar looks as it does.

I even colour-coded my initial categories from the start of 2016.

Life      Education       Health        Stories       Photos        Creativity      More

and for this person, it really helps to have such a visual reminder.

Colours I Love.

The list is shorter if I write colours I don’t love. Brown & beige would be tops and some tones of green, orange and yellow. BUT Yellow is my friend now in art, gardening and clothes because I now understand it helps lift the colours it is near. 

I know that colour affects my mood and outlook. I learned over the past few years that making something creatively using colour was a huge game-changer for my recovery from anxiety, IBS and then head and neck cancer. In fact, only recently, I have learned to keep a large colourful sheet of art I am creating to access to I can embellish it with patterns or just add more colour as it centres my mind on just that one thing. Brilliant for a mood or feeling shift for me.

Wearing Colours.

No matter what size I have been (and there have been a few!) colours have always been part of my wardrobe. Back in the days of work and being very overweight black would often be part of my outfit, usually as pants and/or jacket. Since my body shape and weight changed after head and neck cancer it’s been fun to explore more colourful pants and shorts. I find I am more confident to do this now. It still took (and can take) time for me to adjust my thinking.

Surrounding My World With Colour.

Whilst we are renting we make do with the blank canvas we have as a house that needs to remain so, but we have added (my choice) two very colourful rugs and I display photos in colour as well as some of my art. Furnishings which are 0ne colour/dark (chairs etc) have cushions as brighteners too. My car is red. I make no apologies. I love it. No it doesn’t go faster but I sure feel confident driving it. Just need to be more careful not to hurt it again as I did in distracted moment last year.

Why Colours?

The last thing I am is science-oriented but I did feel it would be helpful to find some research and interesting facts about colour. Here we go. Yes, US spelling.

https://psych-neuro.com/2015/03/13/why-do-we-prefer-certain-colors/

Everyone has a difference preference for colors, which is interesting and unique. We choose colors when we choose clothes, a car, a notebook, and a water bottle; basically color is taken into consideration for almost everything we buy! We pick most things based on colors we like so why is this? There isn’t really a rational influence to our decisions other than the color evokes an emotional and physiological response in us. Ultimately we decide what colors we like because of what we associate them with and the meaning that accompanies them.

Interestingly for me, I actually store my pencils and markers into groups called Warm and Cool Colours! Yes there can be some overlap for instance a yellowy green or a pinky purple but the system works for me. NB: markers sorted into warm and cool. 

Planning the colours for one of the 100s of mandalas I have created

Warm Colors

Cool Colors

•Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow, and variations of those three colors.

•Red and yellow are both primary colors, with orange falling in the middle.

•Warm colors appear closer to the observer.

•Cool colors include green, blue, and purple, and variations of those three colors.

•Blue is the only primary color within the cool spectrum.

•Greens take on some of the attributes of yellow, and purple takes on some of the attributes of red.

•They are often more subdued than warm colors.

•Cool colors appear farther from the observer.

https://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/color-basics.html

https://www.colormatters.com/color-and-vision/how-the-eye-sees-color

One Favourite to Wear is:

Red is the color of extremes. It’s the color of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red’s symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past.

Red is also a magical and religious color. It symbolized super-human heroism to the Greeks and is the color of the Christian crucifixion. Red was almost as rare and as expensive as purple in ancient days – a fact that may explain its magic and power. Paradoxically, today’s intense red dyes come from crushed insects (the lac beetle and the cochineal).

https://www.colormatters.com/color-symbolism/the-meanings-of-colors

I love colours.

Simple as that.

Tell me what colours you love!

Denyse.

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

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 45/51 Share Your Snaps #9 11/11/19

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What Is Love? 37/51 #LifeThisWeek. 95/2019.

What Is Love? 37/51 #LifeThisWeek. 95/2019.

This is about love.

Not all lovey-dovey love.

But love when it matters, how it lasts and the constant re-calibrating a long, long relationship thanks to:

L O V E

Whilst I grew up in a family which went to church on occasion, and I heard this verse a few times at weddings, I am quoting it today from the bible as I have always felt an affinity to these words:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version)

Here’s what love is and looks like, in more recent times in our life together. 49 years in October since we met. Been together ever since!

Keeping our love for each other bright…is quite the journey.

Fortunately we enjoy very similar senses of humour, a love of kids, teaching and a zest for learning more. Always learning.

Whilst my husband endured more than anyone’s fair share of illness and medical conditions which saw him having to medically retire young, he got on with life. Changing his work, over time, to be a kitchen and cabinet maker as well as an educational tutor. In his latter years he too studied at tertiary level and used his qualifications to counsel others. Always a fantastic support to me during my career, his wisdom helped me through some challenging years.

We have parented two children: a girl and a boy. We are so blessed (yes we are) to have eight loving grandchildren, 6 girls and 2 boys. But more than anything…we have each other.

We are loving this post working, post child-rearing, post grandchild-caring life of ours very much. It will be more enhance with a house of our own again one day but for now, we love each other’ company but also do quite a bit separately based on our interests.

Here’s to love…and what it’s been more recently: Recently is from my cancer diagnosis in May 2017 (see here for first time readers)  until now. The amount of time he has given to take me to appointments in Sydney (I now do them alone and have since April 2018) and elsewhere, to ‘find’ a chocolate paddlepop if he could when I was first home from hospital, to be as patient as he could with ‘this patient’ and then to let me know (if I hadn’t already) it was time to get outside, go out and stop whingeing…. I do/did. Mostly. But he also understands I need to get the words out.

And here’s what some recent examples of love look like for us.

And I may not have photos for these but lastly:

  • He surprised me with my new apple watch to ‘celebrate’ two years since cancer
  • He got a new banjo. Just because. Not really, he loves playing his piano and guitars and regretted selling his old banjo, so now he has one!
  • He likes Bunnings. I don’t but I understand shopping!
  • I like arts and crafts. I kind of know how to spend a little less…even though he is very understanding
  • We have date morning tea once a week
  • We watch a session of recorded tv (The Block for now) each afternoon together. We have very different tastes in viewing. He is a Netflix fan, and a sports fan but I tend to just use social media.
  • We disagree. A lot. But we accept, generally, our differences.
  • We annoy each other. A bit. But we move on.
  • We are good for each other. I reckon ‘opposites’ attract. He is tall, I am not. He is ‘big picture’ I am ‘details’. He is…a bloke. I am not.

AND… one thing we always say we remember …even at our worst…is seeing each other for the first time on 17 October 1970, sitting at the opposite ends of a table, and we

S M I L E D…and that dear readers, was that!

I am grateful to have a long-lasting loving relationship.

Denyse.

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

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 38/51 Your Go-To Easy Meal. 23/9/19

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Remembering Mum’s Smile. 22/2019.

Remembering Mum’s Smile. 22/2019.

I admit it.

I inherited my Mum’s smile.

I did not always appreciate this until too late.

That was when I lost my smile to cancer.

Today it is 12 years since Mum died.

Wow.

The ‘last’ great smile photo taken by me at Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary lunch. 2006.

Mum was unwell for around 2 years before it was found in early 2007 that she had multiple brain tumours with no known primary source.

That was it. Mum said “no more tests” when there could have been further explorations based on what the Neurosurgeon saw in her MRI. When Mum said that, he said “that is what I would say for my Mum too.”

Dad and our close family agreed of course because Mum was not a fan of hospitals, doctors or illness and in some respects that was why diagnosis was delayed. BUT….we knew Mum. And she most of all knew herself. So, over the next 6 or so weeks, she gradually worsened. We had our chance to say goodbyes and over the final days, Dad stayed at her side in the private hospital going home at the nurse’s insistence as Mum would succumb soon. She did, once he left (that is the way with many isn’t it?) and then we knew that the love of Dad’s life, the mother of two, grandmother of four, great-grandmother of 3, mother-in-law and friend of many had died.

But, we celebrate Mum often. In the years that I have passed, I have called on her help with recipes I have forgotten some ingredients in -she was a self-taught home cook and great! And what I noticed, in more recent times, was how much my smile was like hers. Dad has this image above in his unit where he moved to 4 years after her death. He still has the various dried floral arrangement she loved to make or buy. I think I did get some of my creative loves from Mum but took a long while to acknowledge that.

Mum and I have never been considered alike in body, temperament and education background …I am my father’s daughter. But I am short like she was and I have definitely inherited her love of colourful clothing.

So, when I got cancer in my upper gum and under my top lip, I missed smiling more than eating. I truly did. It came as a surprise to me just how much it meant for me to smile.

Getting my smile back in August 2018 I did not stop beaming for quite some time.

Today then I pay tribute to Mum and her smile….with a few of mine she would love too!

Thanks Mum. Here’s some from me. Love, Denyse xx

How do you remember someone who has been part of your life and now gone?

Have you inherited any of your family’s traits?

It really can be something to consider!

Thanks for viewing and reading about my Mum today: 5 March 2019, 12 years after her death.

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love on Wednesday.

Here I am linking up with Leanne for Lovin’ Life linky on Thursday.

 

 

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Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

The best gift ever has given me food for thought.

I have had some great gifts in my life including these:

  • parents who gave me life, shelter, education, care and loveand who were wed for over 60 years.
  • a man I met and married within 3 months who has loved me for over 48 years now as I have him. This is on our wedding day, 23 January 1971.

  • the first gift of a child: our daughter (story is here) and then much later, our son (story soon!) and even though we did not know much about parenting, both are doing well in their adult lives.
  • a career in K-6 education in New South Wales schools which took me from probationary teacher to school principal thanks to the gifts of others who saw the potential in me, degree courses I completed with loving support from my family, and the children, teachers and parents of the many schools. Latterly I enjoyed teaching and supervising pre-service Masters’ students at University. On many occasions I was glad I could help these people and share what had been shared to me as gifts in my career.
  • the gift of meeting people and socialising is one I enjoy and to this end am doing it in a new area and loving making new connections socially: on-line and in real life, as they say!
  • I love the gift I have been given as someone who notices nature, enjoys solitude from time to time, and has learned so much about herself during some times of turbulence in recent years.
  • The gift I have been given of enjoying art and especially making mandalas has also seen me make 100s of bookmarks to help a charity called The Big Hug Box.
  • How good is it to give back! My story was also in a book that was published. What a gift that was.

But what about cancer? Is THAT a gift? 

I cannot finish this post without mentioning my fairly recent brush with the big C and what a gift that has been.

  • Life is a matter of how it’s viewed by the individual.
  • I do not like having had cancer because of many of the ramifications in my life, yet I know its presence has been a present. Let me explain more!
  • I was in a major life transition which had, in its own way, strangled my confidence and demeanour because of the grief involved. Yet I had some ideas of how to help myself.
  • That series of ideas was supplemented by the gift of amazing professional support, amazing and unending personal support and many hours of time to both learn and absorb.
  • When it was found that I had cancer, up from within me, emerged what had been hidden for almost 3 years and over time, my personal qualities of determination, belief in my surgical and oral health teams and in my capacity to heal and that I could share my story with others as I have and do.

The Best Gift is:

  • A return to “Denyse”. She had been long gone and I am so glad she is back.
  • This is my best gift: I am back. It does not matter I am ageing – that’s a privilege, nor that I have some physical scars I cannot overcome – they’re part of my history now and I am so glad to be here and look at my image in the mirror to say:

Hello, looking OK for someone who’s been through so much.

Well-done, you!

 

What is your best gift?

Denyse.

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

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 4/51. What Is Hope? 28/1/19.


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Observations in October #1. 2018.101.

Observations in October #1. 2018.101.

Observations on Going Back and Memories.

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

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

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

First One: 1978-1993.

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

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

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

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

Second One: 1994-1998.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third One: 1998-2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We moved on.

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

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

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

Tell us more.

Denyse.

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

 

 

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Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

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

The Big Hug Box

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

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

https://thebighugbox.com/

Colour Me Well

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

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

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

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

 

Fight Cancer Water Bottle

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

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

 

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

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

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

Little Blue Wren

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

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

Find her products on Instagram.

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

 

Reading This. Listening to This Book.

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Mindfulness and Meditation.

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

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

Beyond Five.

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

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

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

My Dressing With Purpose, Art Journalling and Coffee.

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

 

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

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

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

Who or what are you appreciating today?

Denyse.

Joining here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky.

 

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