Monday 24th September 2018

Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

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

The Big Hug Box

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

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

https://thebighugbox.com/

Colour Me Well

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

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

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

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

 

Fight Cancer Water Bottle

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

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

 

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

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

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

Little Blue Wren

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

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

Find her products on Instagram.

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

 

Reading This. Listening to This Book.

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Mindfulness and Meditation.

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

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

Beyond Five.

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

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

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

My Dressing With Purpose, Art Journalling and Coffee.

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

 

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

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

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

Who or what are you appreciating today?

Denyse.

Joining here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky.

 

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Telling My Story: Chapter 4. 2018. 79.


Telling My Story: Chapter 4. 2018.79.

One year post major cancer surgeries.

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

Then what happened?

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

On turning 21. 

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

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

Teaching Nearer To Each Other.

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

Wedding Bells.

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

This

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

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

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

Married Life Begins! 

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

 

Family shots in collage of our Wedding Day.

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

Teaching and Schools Then.

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

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

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

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

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

Home Life for Us.

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

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

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

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

What comes next…

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

I hope you found this chapter of interest.

Denyse.

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

 

 

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter 2. 2018.54.

Telling My Story. Chapter 2. 2018.54.

Deciding to begin my story!

Well over as year ago I finally set upon the journey, after much encouragement I might add, of telling my life’s story via blog posts. My friend Rebecca Bowyer  who writes here recommended this way and it has worked so far. I admit though, that the May 2017 post where I started got waylaid by the most inconvenient fact of my cancer diagnosis in the same month. Moving along into 2018 I got back to this…and wrote my first chapter here in March 2018.

Being a truth-teller and someone who likes to be updating photos and knowledge, I wondered if I might add a new photo which is based on the me now. Here it is.

One year post major cancer surgery.

The Social Aspects of My Teens 1962-1967.

I am really delving into the memory bank now and what I come up with may not be in chronological order!

Music, The Radio and More.

When I was 13 I was lucky, oh so lucky, to become the owner of a portable transistor radio. It was light blue plastic, covered with  brown leather protection. It ran on batteries. It had a shoulder strap so I could carry it. I cannot recall if it had a power cord. BUT, I was in teen heaven with it. My Dad really understood my love of all things teen music (he was enamoured with the jazz musicians and big bands of the 1930s and 40s. Mum was never into music even though she was an awesome dancer. I wonder if her hearing loss after giving  birth twice made her less than keen on music. She was, however, a BIG fan of something I never was…talk back radio (told you I would get ahead of myself) and for Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary in 2006 broadcaster Alan Jones wished Mum and Dad all the best. Gosh. I can’t believe I wrote that.

Mum and Dad – 60 years wed. 2.11.2006. Sadly Mum became very ill and passed away in March 2007.

When I was this age I had already begun babysitting for our neighbours and I know it went well because I got weekly gigs and paid well. It helped with pocket money for the canteen at school. And for purchasing records – 45s at the local music shop. My first record was the Beatles Love Me Do and when I was 14 I was incredibly lucky to be in the audience of the screaming thousands to listen (ha!) and see (almost ha!) The Beatles live in Sydney in 1964. Again I credit Dad with that!

We had a two storey house and the main living was upstairs – hilly block. Mum would be cooking dinner and I was, supposedly downstairs studying. I have no idea where my younger brother was. But as I ahem studied I had my radio tuned to 2SM, the Good Guys (Mike Walsh was a good guy) where on the very rare occasion I would ring and win a prize of a movie pass. We had a phone downstairs!!

On a sloping block Mum and Dad’s house had entry at street level and then it went downstairs to another level.

Around the age of 16 my friend Sue and I managed to get to be winners of a competition to be part of Ward ‘Pally’ Austin’s program on a Saturday afternoon. We liked his panel operator, Warrick more than Ward. But we both got to chat and I chose a record list for the afternoon. Ward drove both of us across the Harbour Bridge in his top down E-type white jag and then dropped as at North Sydney to get our bus home. O.M.G. famous. OK, there are people who will have different memories of Ward but he was fine with us and we enjoyed our 30 minutes of fame.

The playlist from my appearance on 2UW

History I Remember.

It might not be social but I recall very significant events which were now, for the main part, televised after we had heard about them on the radio. The assassination of John F Kennedy was a landmark. Then later on his brother and Martin Luther Kind Jr. We felt glad to be ‘isolated’ in Australia. Of course, I have to mention the Prime Minister Harold Holt who went into the surf one Sunday on Victoria’s Cheviot Beach and he never returned. So many theories still abound. We watched the Vietnam War on our news stations, particularly Channel Two and This Day Tonight with Bill Peach. So many now retired journos made their start on this show and because of the Vietnam war and Mike Carlton was but one.

Of course everything was telecast in black and white and we only had 3 commercial channels and the ABC. I wrote about that here.

What I Did On The Weekends & Holidays.

In my early teens I continued in the guiding movement being part of Manly’s groups in the hall in the park above Manly Oval. I would set off via the bus with my friend who lived nearby at dusk on a Friday and we might pop over to the Wharf and watch the donuts being made and buy one. The walk to the oval was not far and we took part in the meetings. Although my parents were stalwarts of the Scouting and Cub movements in their youth and my brother followed there, I was not enamoured.

I am so NOT a camping out person, even though I did ONCE and it was a long way from home and the site at Marshall Mount became flooded. My dear Papa, who knew the area well and lived at Dapto, got a taxi out there to see if I was OK. I was…but what a sweet man he was. We returned to Sydney on the train on a dismal June afternoon and caught a ferry at peak hour back to Manly, on a very rocky ferry…we screamed a bit. I was not to know it, till Mum picked us up, that Dad too was on that ferry! I think they stopped the ferries that night according to the news as they showed what happened on our trip!

So not into guiding.

I learned ten pin bowling at Balgowlah Ten Pin. This is now where Stockland Mall is. I liked it a lot there and, you guessed it, found a boy that I liked. Sigh. Young love. I played netball with some enthusiasm as I got older and mostly because I was in a team with a group from school and we might meet up with some of the boys…I was at a girls’ school…from the high school who came to see their friends. I also found it great once I had my licence so I could get there driving Mum’s car.

We did family holidays once a year, by car, and usually to the North Coast in the (then) September holidays. We also went to Canberra once a year as Mum’s aunt lived there and we enjoyed seeing snow for the first time after going down to Cooma and I developed my love for and appreciation of Australia’s capital city.

Going to the beach was easy because the bus took me to Manly and then I could walk down the Corso and go to my favourite beach hang – North Steyne. I was not there to ogle the blonde surfer boys. I was there to meet friends and to surf. Body surf, not on a board.

On the left: me at North Steyne. On the right: me at North Steyne on the way to Fellowship. BF chopped out. For a reason.

The movies were great. Sometimes we went into the city to George Street where there were cinemas on both sides. I saw many movies there with family and friends. There were always 2 features so the main movie was after interval. You also had to stand at the end to listen to the National Anthem – God Save the Queen.

Fellowship was a youth group that met at Manly Presbyterian Church. Before I go on. Mum and Dad married in the Presbyterian church and I was christened there. I went to Sunday School. When we moved to Balgowlah Heights there was a new Congregational Church a few streets away and I began attending there because I wanted to join a choir and I started teaching Sunday School. Peak time for me was singing a solo at Christmas and my nerves were such the voice did not do justice to the carol.

I taught little kids at Sunday School. For a while.

Back to fellowship. A great way to meet people. OK, I admit it, boys. See? This is what it was like. Fellowship at St Andrew’s Manly meant something to eat, join in a discussion probably related to the scriptures and then at leaving time, join your mates at the Balgowlah Coffee Shop. And met one boyfriend there…and another where the relationship lasted 3 years: 1967-1970.

The Teen Years of 18, 19 and turning 20. 1968-1969.

Turning 17 meant: Licence gained. H.S.C. completed, birthday parties and celebrations attended, training in typing (Dad insisted I did a course at Manly Evening College in Wentworth St, above the old Library) and I admit it helps me to this day to know how to almost-touch type. He also made me do shorthand in the January before I got my teacher’s college scholarship and I hated that. Off to be a teacher instead. Yay. More about that next chapter.

Very proud of this…and on first go!

In 5th Form (Yr 11) in a Gilbert & Sullivan Show with the Boys’ HS. Look who has her mouth open. Unsurprising.

Turning 18 and onto 19 and 20: at teacher’s college, doing 5 pracs over 2 years, attending Winter and Summer balls at both Sydney Uni and NSW Uni thanks to boyfriend being a Syd Uni student, parties most weekends for someone’s 21st as he was one year older than me, enjoying LIFE, loving independence even though I still lived at home, going on bush-based holidays and beach ones too thanks to the boyfriend’s family.

Wesley College Ball at Sydney Uni (left) and Bacchus Ball #3 for me, Uni NSW right.

So proud of “me now” posting pic of “me then”. Terrigal Beach 1968

Life took a more serious but exciting turn for me at the beginning of 1970 and that is where Chapter Three will go.

I hope that this trip down my memory lane is of interest.

I have been quite amazed at how some memories come back easily. I am also pleased I made some sort of memorabilia after carting around boxes of ‘stuff’ for years as we moved house as  young married teachers…but that is for another time.

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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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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What Is Kindness? #LifeThisWeek 4/52. 2018.7.

What Is Kindness? #LifeThisWeek 4/52. 2018.7.

I wrote about kindness in January last year and I have to say, seeing the word above where I write via my computer reminded me many times over to BE KIND…both to others and myself. I did not know then of course, that the pain in my mouth would be diagnosed in May at cancer and that my life as I knew it till that time was O.V.E.R. Yet, I also did not know back in January and through until that awful day in May 2017 how much my life would be impacted by:

                                  I                 E       S

From the news I shared on-line and via friends and family I was the humble recipient of so much kindness! It blew me away. I wondered why and that was my own inner voice of inadequacy and lack of worthiness ruling my thoughts then. When I let that voice retreat to the back of my mind I was calmer and then more understanding of how many people wanted to, and did, express their kindness towards me.

That kindness came in many forms: phone calls, texts, private messages, comments on my blog and FB pages, letters, gifts, flowers and visitors. Why did it take me some time to absorb this?

I guess, like most, I am more comfortable with GIVING kindness than RECEIVING it.

It became something I needed to learn, and quickly too, as if I was to continue to take part in my cancer treatments, mostly surgeries, I would need to be a FRIEND to MYSELF and speak both GENTLY and KINDLY to me.

Self-c0mpassion and adjusting my self-talk has become a lesson I have learned, and am still learning in my life as I move into this year’s cancer surgery and more.

Recently I asked this question on Facebook “what is kindness?” and received a great list of responses. Each person’s initial is next to their response. I was blown away with the readiness of people to do this and that each answer had a varient of sorts.

It’s a mixture of generosity and consideration, wrapped in friendliness and delivered with an open heart. A.W.A.

The selfless elevation of the needs of others above your own, an extension of empathy, generosity and care. B.K.

Thoughtfulness, unselfishness, empathy. A.S.

It’s not wanting anything in return. K.L.

Listening without needing to have or provide the answers. Empathy without necessarily intellectually understanding. J.W. 

Thinking of others and how you can make them smile. S.C.

Performing an act of selfless generosity, anonymously. M.W.

Kindness is doing something to brighten someone else’s day – unasked and without expectation of reciprocation. It’s about thinking of what you can do for others, rather than what others can do for you. R.B.

Tolerance, respect, generosity. A.O’B.

Helping others in time of need. K.M.

Kindness to me is noticing. B.M.

Kindness is the gift of someone’s time. It’s being listened to, cared about or just simply being made feel of importance. It’s about being ‘seen’. It’s a selfless act with no expectation of anything in return. M.G. 

A friendly, open person who treats others with respect, consideration & empathy. P.D. 

Kindness is strength. It’s often mistaken for weakness, but it is far from that. True kindness has boundaries, AND compassion. A.H. 

In short supply. L.Mcl.

My image and words:

 

I went to find quotes from others too. It would seem kindness is not only very important but necessary today as always. I will finish with the words from these people too. I trust that you have found the topic of KINDNESS as interesting and as universal as I have!

 

No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop

Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless. ~ Mother Teresa

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.

~ Amelia Earhart

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?

~ Jean Jacques Rousseau

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
~ Dalai Lama

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do. ~ Helen Keller

When words are both true and kind, they can change the world. ~ Buddha

source: http://www.spreadkindness.org/kindness-quotes

My image and words:

What will you do today to be kind?

How has someone’s kindness affected you?

Tell us more in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia here for her Open Slather link up.

Join in here today for #LifeThisWeek 4/52.

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 is the FIRST ‘PHOTO PROMPT’: 5/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS  29/1/18.


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Best Birthday Ever. #LifeThisWeek 46/52. 2017.127.

Best Birthday Ever. #LifeThisWeek 46/52. 2017.127.

I chose this prompt in one of the ways I select prompts…via the calendar.

This coming Thursday, 30 November is my 68th birthday. I look at those numbers….and remember how ‘concerned’ I was about turning:

40

50

60

and look what’s ahead…all things staying well. This:

70

So I shall re-group. Ahem. I am very grateful to have been born and that I continue to have birthdays, memorable or not. Because that is the way of life these days. Some great memories of birthdays is how I am interpreting this prompt. But there was ONE birthday which stands out: When I turned ONE. My dad tells me that the best and worst year of his life was 1950. I was born in late 1949. He was sent by his company (alone) to do work and training in Melbourne while Mum and I (young baby) stayed in our Wollongong home. Mum had great next door neighbours for love and support but it was not the same as having Dad home. He made a vow to be home for my first birthday and to never travel away like that again. And he kept his word. In fact he left that company and joined a new one…and he did travel again but never for as long a time as that first year of my life. I wrote about this here last year. I wish I had more photos to share of birthdays but it turns out, like many of us, I was the photographer at family events…and as contrary as it may seem, I may not have wanted my birthday to be a great celebration with me at the centre…but if I was forgotten then I was upset. But I do recall a few of the more memorable birthdays and here they are:

  • turning 4. A family and friends from the neighbourhood party.
  • my 16th. Mum and Dad organised some of my friends to surprise me at home and that was fun. My present from them was the LP Album of The Sound of Music.
  • my 21st. I have written about THAT extravaganza that went for days here.
  • my 30th was a bit of fun as we had a young child not yet 1 and a daughter who was 8 and teacher friends with a similar age gap between their kids so we had a celebration at Maccas. I know, cool! It was 1979!!
  • my 50th was interesting! I was in my first year as principal at RPS and unbelievably one of my executive team shared exactly the same birthDATE. She and I had a double celebration with a cake each from the staff.
  • in 2015 I went back to see the family for my birthday and caught up with my Dad and brother here.
  • last year I was determined not to focus on how sad I was away from our family (our second year of living on the coast) so I made myself ‘dress well’ and my husband and I celebrated afternoon tea (with cupcakes I made!) when he got home from Lifeline work.

My 66th Birthday.

My 67th Birthday.

My mouth is still very sore from recent surgery (eating is a challenge anyway since the first surgery) that my birthday treat this coming Thursday will be a coffee and cupcake shared with my husband for morning tea.

Do you find birthdays (your own) somewhat less than wonderful yet you celebrate those of others?

No? Just me then.

Yes? Do share!

Denyse. Joining with blogging friends who also have Monday Link Ups: Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays. 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: My View From Here…. it’s a busy time of year, so make this a visual prompt with few words! Practising for next year’s Share Your Snaps!

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About November 2017. 2017.126.

About November 2017. 2017.126.

Some of my activities in November 2017 in words and pics. A snapshot I guess!

It’s about sharing the dignity which is now an Australia-wide program helping women who have been made suddenly homeless or who are already in a refuge. Women of all ages. I collected some items from here and then bought a lot more and added them to a practical carry-on type bag in good condition.

As I wrote last week here, I made a change to become more interested in my personal appearance and to have some photos taken each day to mark what I have worn. I was quite reluctant initially because I thought “too old” and “no-one is interested” but then I said to myself “YOU are doing this for you!” And once I adopted that stance, I have really begun to enjoy it…and, here’s the thing I am buying new clothes. Well, ones on special as much as possible and the variety in my wardrobe now means I have clothes which fit this much smaller body and look good too.

Realising that art continues to play a part in my healing AND it is a great mindful activity I have been filling both an A4 blank book and an A3 blank book with patterns, mandalas and words. Sometimes in paint, other times in markers and also in black pen. I often listen to music and I have decided it’s close enough to Christmas to get out those CDs and join in! I love singing Christmas songs and I so miss doing it with the kids at school and my grandkids in the car. But nothing is going to stop me doing it for me either!

I love my grandchildren. I miss them very much but I also accept their lives are now caught up with University, work, school and pre-school. We used to mind some of our grandchildren every week at our house and it was such a pleasure to have this experience in our lives. Because I am mindful of privacy for them and their parents I do not have any photos on my Facebook or Instagram unless the older grandchildren have agreed. So, recently I wanted to show just how proud I am of them…and let this second photo into a post. In the background is display with a photograph of the 8 grandchildren as wee babies. One is about to turn 21 and the youngest is under 3. Being Grandma is the BEST! And of course, my husband loves being Papa and when the grandchildren come to visit us here it is a joy.

I admit I wanted to share a photo of me taken almost a year ago with my darling husband ….because I have teeth!! OK..I probably also had cancer starting in the gums but I wasn’t to know that for another 5 months. I like this loving photo of us taken by a granddaughter.

Proud Grandparents of 8. Six girls and two boys. This pic is almost a year old. Sigh. I have teeth.

The little house in the background with the pics and I wear my Uberkate circles proudly with the largest having each grandchild’s initials and the year of their birth on the back.

Back to my happy place is back to the beach. In the last week it finally became warm enough for me to contemplate going for my first beach walk of the season. As I knew I was going to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for my second surgery last Wednesday, I chose the Tuesday afternoon to walk along the sand and take in the sights, the smells and the sounds. Bliss! I also went on Sunday and the water was even warmer. Love my beach walks and I am beginning to use my fitbit again but not obsessing about it or letting it give me reminders to move! That is TOO bossy!

This post is being published on Tuesday 21 November and I will have already been back to Sydney on Monday 20 November to see my surgeon, the Prof, for a post-op check up. I intended to blog about last Wednesday for this post but realised it would be better to wait until I hear more about what is next and how things went. In terms of recovery on the day I went very well and Emily Hawker confirmed I can say I am a ‘good recoverer’ because that is a word! Recoverer! Love it.

Surprise Arrival at Our House the Day After My Surgery!

It was lovely to receive the flowers above last Thursday after my surgery. Sent by a wonderful friend I am yet to meet. I have lots of friends ‘in the computer’ as people say. I am so very fortunate that I do as they make my day many a time in our on-line and blogging conversations!

Last but oh so not least:

There is one very special blogging friend who has the Thursday link up I add to each week and she has been an amazing supporter of my blog too. This is Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit. On Thursday of this week her step-daughter who is far too young to have anything wrong with her…but she does…is having major surgery this week. I send all my healing wishes to her and am thinking of her family, including a little girl, her daughter.

 

How has your November 2017 been so far?

Anything special happening?

Tell me more in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining Kylie for I Blog on Tuesdays here and Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky here on Thursday.

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Letter to 20 year old Me. #LifeThisWeek. 40/52. 2017.115.

Letter to 20 year old Me. #LifeThisWeek. 40/52. 2017.115.

Prefacing my letter with this photograph. My eldest granddaughter is the age I am writing about. In fact she will be 21 before year’s end as I was too around this time of year. Thanks J for the inspiration and the LOVE you share with me and many. In fact, by co-incidence, J has posted her Sunday night vid on You Tube about her at 20! Neither of us knew what the other was up to. Love this.

 

Dear Denyse,

I remember you being 20 so well. It was the last year of teachers’ college. You were acing the pracs at the schools you were sent to and in fact those schools were great but you had something else on your mind. You were ready to flee Sydney weren’t you as your boyfriend of almost 3 years was going to a regional area for his first job after graduating Uni?  No longer a Northern Beaches girl like your friends from school, you were about to go BUSH…in fact to Barraba NSW that January 1970 but wait. There is a little more to remember before you became loaded with class teaching responsibilities and being ‘dropped’ by the long-term boyfriend….and not being sure of what was ahead after that.

Graduation as a teacher aged 20. End of 1969.

Social life aged 20. Uni balls were the best!

Teacher’s College mates and yes, pigtails on me.

So, in 1970 you had some highs and lows. However, you also had one of the best times socially as in the country back then teachers tended to group together and have dinners and parties and it was good. On October 17 1970 something VERY important to you then and now happened. You met the man who would become your life’s partner. He was a young 21 year old in his 3rd year of teaching in a small school beyond the mountains where you were teaching. But once the love grew and GREW, you no longer wanted to be apart. In fact, after becoming engaged just before your 21st birthday something else grew. A wee baby was on her way – we did not know that yet – and even though that was a surprise, we both knew…we are together for life!!

Wedding Day 1971. Dad, Mum, Bro, Gran, B & Me, Poppy, Papa

It was not an ideal beginning to our marriage but you know what, Miss 20, you chose well as did your B. Despite some criticism from your parents, in particular your mother, you shone. Marriage is a hard road and you learned that early. B was and is always a great life partner and you know what? In all the ups and downs, health scares, financial matters, relationship changes with our kids, welcoming grandkids into our lives, having to retire early, and more, we have shown that OUR decision to be together for the rest of our lives was the BEST. Coming up to 47 years since we met this very week!!

So, a little bit of what was ahead for you in some snapshots. Gosh look at you. You have always been self-conscious of your weight. Do you remember in teachers’ college PE class you rated yourself fat? I know, a bit of something wrong there. I think though, that you also thought you were NOT a fashion plate like your Mum and that you actually enjoyed learning and education whereas your mum was the true home-maker mum who never worked once she had kids. Your dad supported you there but both parents often made you feel a little less than OK by veiled and actual comments about your weight. Yep. Always there and even now, as you have been diagnosed with cancer and lost a lot of weight I can tell that you ‘worry’ about putting it back on. Many women, in case you did not know, have similar battles in their hearts and minds, so take comfort and be kind. As your B would say “treat yourself like a friend”. I didn’t know how to do that properly until I was 67 so sorry, Miss 20 and beyond, you have had a rather torrid time with self-talk.

Let’s go with the show!

I would love to add some photos of our children, Miss 20,  but for privacy reasons I cannot.  We had two children in the end. Ironically after falling pregnant with our daughter it took another 7.5 years for our son to come along. I had a lot of medical and then surgical intervention for that to occur. I would add too, that as a young mother about to turn 30 you had another significant challenge in life occur when the severe and chronic illness of your B meant he was medically retired from teaching. The next 4 years, until he steered himself towards better health and recovery, were exhausting and busy to say the least. In fact, your parents stepped in to help out in  ways which supported  you so you are grateful for those times even though it is still hard to let the ‘judgy’ times heal and let go. But this time saw you embark upon more self-education and career path moves and you completed two degrees, B.Ed and M.Ed, along with raising two kids (by now B was at home helping majorly both in a physical sense as he managed the house and started a tutoring business) and going for a 3 work promotions where you eventually became a school principal.

Then came retirement for you. I know. In this day and age retirement is nothing like you saw for your dad. In fact, you retired a few times. Once in 2003 after having a health breakdown at work and not being allowed by your doctor to return, second when you had gone to a teaching role in 2004 and then by age 60 in 2010 had decided enough was enough…and thirdly in 2015 when you surrendered your part-time roles at University teaching pre-service students, closed your business as an education consultant and ceased working for NSW  BOSTES.

I know that at 20 I would have had no idea of what a blog might be or of course social media. But what I did know, into my late 50s is that I am an early adopter. I like technologies that work for me and do not need too much technical prowess from me. I also know that at 20 I loved photography but not nearly as much as I do now.

So, this next and current life stage Miss 20, is getting a little bit easier but also a little bit scarier as I approach 70. OK, not for 2 more years but hey, it happens. Life. And of course, death. You’ve experienced the deaths of 4 of the people who loved you from the photo at your wedding. Dad remains well and in fact praises you now. Yes. He has written you some healing letters and often shows his appreciation for you as his daughter and is proud of you. He tells you that! So, remember it. And in terms of new life…Miss 20 GD above might have been first, but since then you have become Grandma (Miss 20, I love that name!) to 8 children. 6 girls and 2 boys.

Of course, no-one ever wants to get sick, Miss 20 do they? You have always been fearful of that. The past few years saw your anxiety levels skyrocket as you made 3 major life transitions and your well-known IBS decided to return. It all helped you lose weight but that was not the point. Then, knowing your teeth were always trouble some you had gum problems. These were found to be cancer and you had major surgery. I am delighted to say it is highly likely the cancer has gone. But you will continue to need check ups just as you need more surgeries soon.

It is hard to decide where to end this letter so for now, it will be open-ended. I am hopeful that my recollections can soothe my 67 year old self as I recount some of the stand-outs told to my 20 year old self…and that you remember you are LOVED by many so it’s time to add you to that list too.

All my love,

Denyse xx

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

Thank you for joining this week’s link up 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!


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