Saturday 4th April 2020

Women Of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

 

Rebecca Bowyer and I have never met ‘in real life’ but we have connected via our blogs way back as part of “I Blog on Tuesdays” a regular link up for a very long time that many Australian bloggers would remember with affection. Rebecca who is 39, offered me some advice way back in 2016 when I first had the idea it was time to document my life story. Initially feeling daunted by the notion of writing a whole book (with me at the centre of it) Rebecca offered me this piece of wisdom. “Write a chapter at a time as if it is a blog post”. She mentioned our friend Mrs Woog did that for her book “Primary School Confidential” and then it all seems do-able. So, I am always grateful for this advice….and to know this woman, a determined and published author! Congratulations on your book.

 

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

I published my first novel, Maternal Instinct, in 2019. The lead up to this single event comprised dozens of smaller moments of courage. If my courage had failed at any of these moments, I would not be a published author now.

First, I had to give myself permission to be creative. Finding the sustained creativity required to write an 80,000-word novel meant stepping aside from family responsibilities for periods of time over the course of more than a year. It meant taking a chance on a project that might amount to absolutely nothing but hours of ‘wasted time’ if it didn’t find a publisher.

Next, I had to find the courage to send my completed manuscript out into the world. I was very fortunate to find a literary agent all the way across the world in New York. I then held my breath and kept going through more than a year of rejections and a couple of almost-acceptances from publishers.

By early 2019 I wanted to sweep the whole thing under the floor and forget I’d ever tried to be an author. My agent was still positive about finding a publishing home for the manuscript, but I’d decided to draw a line under this chapter of my life. First, however, I decided to publish the novel myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of all those ‘wasted hours’ if I just let it go.

So, I took another deep breath – more courage required!

You need capital to publish a book. I had none, so I raised the funds via a Kickstarter campaign. Most start-ups have investors, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier to go out, cap in hand, and ask people to believe in my project enough to back it financially.

After the funds were raised, the book was professionally edited, designed and printed, and I sent it to reviewers. This was the point at which I nearly fainted dead away from fright. But a book needs reviews and recommendations to succeed, so out it went.

I was relieved and very excited when comments came back such as “Amazing debut” (Emily-Jane Clark, best-selling author of Sleep Is For The Weak) and “Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale will be instantly hooked” (Virginia Franken, author of Life After Coffee).

On 7 October 2019 Maternal Instinct was published in Australia, the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. For a natural introvert like me, book promotion is a rather horrifying prospect. I spoke at the book launch, did podcast and written interviews, spoke on three panels at Conflux 15 in Canberra and did book signings at festivals such as Bendi-Con and Mornington Peninsula & Frankston Writers & Book Festival.

Before every single event I had to make a deliberate decision to either show up or hide under my desk. I’m pleased to say that I managed to show up, though I was exhausted by the end of it all.

 

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

I feel much more confident about carving out time for creativity, without feeling the need to justify it by making money or becoming the next Margaret Atwood. The best thing about writing and publishing a book is the community of writers and readers. It’s such an incredible exchange of creativity, ideas and stories and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.

 

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

The most important thing I learned about courage is that it’s not a finite resource. A series of small courageous acts can give you the confidence to try for bigger courageous acts.

The second thing is learned was to focus on the positives but also embrace the negatives enough that I can sit comfortably with them.

My successes and my failures have taught me so much. Over the past few years I’ve felt like a failure because my book didn’t find a traditional publisher; because I didn’t sell a million copies; because it’s not available in bricks and mortar bookshops. All of those things still sting a little, but I’m comfortable with owning them now.

I’m comfortable because I’m learning not to focus on the failures, even though it goes against all of those niggling anti-courage voices in my head. (“Don’t be so arrogant, why should you publish a book? See? You sold less than a million copies. You failed. I told you so. You should have just stayed home and folded washing.”). The main thing is that I wrote and published a novel. That’s huge! That’s a very brave thing to do. (Take that anti-courage voices.)

 

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

Writing and publishing my first novel has given me the confidence to write and publish more stories. In 2020 I’ve got a short story, ‘Practice Child’, coming out in Deadset Press’s Stories of Hope anthology to raise money for bushfire charities. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my second novel and am itching to start writing my third.

I’ve faced all my fears about putting my creative writing out there – rejection, ridicule, failure – and I’ve lived to tell the tale.

Publishing a novel has helped me understand why I want to keep writing. It’s got nothing to do with ‘success’ or ‘achievement’, or even fame or fortune.

I love to write, and there are readers out there who love to read what I write. All the bits in between – finding an agent, finding a publisher (or publishing it myself) and book promotion – are simply the journey I have to go on to get the story from my head to readers’ heads.

 

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

Finding courage can be hard. Something which helped me was careful planning and risk assessment. I wanted to make sure that, if I failed, my failure wouldn’t cause the rest of my life to implode. I didn’t quit my day job and I didn’t go into massive debt.

In the end, what I was really risking was my creative self-esteem and hundreds of hours of my time.

If you’re still finding it hard to press the ‘Go’ button, even after you’ve put in the hard work and planning, try channelling Drew Barrymore and her glorious silver wings from Ever After: “Just breathe.”

Heartiest of congratulations to you. Check out Rebecca’s social media links too.

Thank you for sharing.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media: 

Blog/Website: www.storyaddict.com.au

Twitter: @RebeccaBowyerAu

Facebook Page : www.facebook.com/rebeccabowyerwriter

Instagram: @RebeccaBowyerWriter

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

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Women of Courage Series. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

In the world of blogs and social media we often think how good it would be to “meet I.R.L.” ….meet up in real life. I have been following Sanch as a blogger for some time, and one day, we DID just that. We met up. We did that a few more times too. Coffee and a treat..and chatted away for ages. You see, I was fortunate that Sanch came to live for a while in the area where we live so meet ups could happen. Now, even though she has moved back to “the big city” we know well, I am sure it won’t stop us getting together again soon. Sanch is a 36 year old with a vibrant smile and energy to bottle. She loves time at the beach I know that too.

 

 

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

It’s interesting, there have been so many situations in my life that people have defined as being courageous but I never thought of it that way especially while going through it. But I think when I look back in hindsight, it certainly was the case. Coming to Australia as a 21-year-old with no family or friends here was a big deal but it was something I wanted so again, I didn’t see it as being brave even though it’s what everyone told me.

 

I think though, one of the bravest things for me was leaving a couple of long-term relationships; one in 2012 and the other in 2017. The 2012 in particular required a lot of courage not because of anything to do with my partner necessarily but because I was unhappy and not fulfilled but probably stayed because it was more comfortable than the unknown. We’d been together for a long time and I was genuinely scared what it would be like without him. It was similar in 2017 – a shorter relationship – but I also had an added bout of depression for 18 months which made me stay longer than I should have. For most people, this might not seem like something brave or courageous but for me, when in those long-term relationships, it was the only ‘family’ I had here and therefore leaving it meant being alone.

In 2012, I also only had about 4 friends from uni, three of whom were in long-term relationships themselves. It was one of the scariest things to do – to leave the comfort of something stable albeit unhappy.

 

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

The first break up in 2012 taught me a lot about myself. It pushed me to decide to get out of my comfort zone, to change my life. I started by losing weight and getting healthier physically, and slowly and steadily, decided I needed to expand my friendship group. In that relationship, we’d both been socially anxious and in hindsight, I think my social anxiety was maintained by his. If you know me now, you’d never believe I was someone who was anxious in social situations and even now I wonder how much of it was just contagion as opposed to it being me.

I decided after the break-up, I had two choices – to sit at home alone on the weekends or to push myself and meet new people. I still don’t know how, but I chose the latter. I still remember how nervous I was when I went to my first hiking Meetup – a group of 20-odd people and I knew no one. I can still remember the anxiety, the fear of meeting people, the fear of being judged, of not knowing what to say. And then, I surprised myself. I kept doing this weekend after weekend and today, 6 years later, I do have a good group of friends I’ve made from those hiking days.

It has also made me much more social and when I moved up to the Central Coast two years ago, I made the effort to meet new people and build networks. I also find that now, I’m more open to new experiences and doing things on my own or with others. I can push myself out of my comfort zone a lot more easily. It’s not that I don’t feel nervous – it’s that I’ll do things despite the nerves. And that in itself, is courage.

 

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

I learnt I am a lot more capable than I realised. Back in that long-term relationship, I always thought of myself as socially anxious and boring {quite obviously, it wasn’t helping me grow!} but once I left, once I faced fears, it made me realise maybe I’m not who I thought I was. More than that, I also realised that in order to courageous, one doesn’t have to not feel afraid. Courage is doing something even when you are scared. It’s making a choice to do something regardless of the outcome. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway. In fact, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ has become a mantra of sorts for me.

 

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

Oh definitely! I think now, every time I’m faced with something new, something unknown and I feel scared, I remind myself of all the times I’ve done things before and survived. Of course, sometimes things haven’t always worked out, but I have still learnt from experiences, still grown in ways and yes, survived. So, if I could do it before, I can definitely do it again.

 

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

I can’t stress enough that courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It is embracing the discomfort and doing what needs to be done. I think if you remember that, you are more likely to allow yourself to be okay with the uncomfortable feelings and unhelpful thoughts and still give things a go. The fact is, when we are anxious about something, it is human nature to avoid it. But by being courageous, we learn either one of two things: we learn that things are either not as bad as they seem or that we are so much stronger and capable than we realised even if things are as bad as we imagined. By avoiding, we never really learn our true capabilities.

Thank you so much Sanch. Wisdom gleaned from experience as well as learning is so good as it often  remains embedded in us.

Denyse.

 

 

 

Blog/Website: http://www.sanchwrites.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sanchwrites

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://www.facebook.com/sanchwrites

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

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #32. Sue Loncaric. 23/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #32. Sue Loncaric. 23/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

I have never met Sue Loncaric who is a 62 year old woman now living in Queensland. That does not matter of course when we are bloggers…because fellow bloggers always feel like we have known people from their sharing on the blog, facebook and other social media. I do know Sue is a kind-hearted and helpful person who wants to ensure to care of others in her life. I also know how devoted she is to her family. More than that, I got to experience Sue’s care first hand when she sent me a beautiful journal with inspirational cards when I was first diagnosed with head and neck cancer. I will now send you to read on to see why I asked Sue to consider sharing her story as a Woman of Courage.

 

 

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

Denyse has asked me several times to contribute to her Women of Courage series and I’ve declined each time.  I don’t believe I’ve been courageous in life at all, especially compared to other Women who have featured in her series.

Yet I underestimated Denyse’s inability to accept ‘No’ for an answer.

Denyse’s persistence made me actually stop and look back at my life and revisit times when I had to dig deep for strength.  My courage has been coping with the loss of loved ones, walking way from a marriage, supporting and loving my husband and his parents and later in life pushing myself to achieve my goals.

 

  • I suppose the first time I really needed courage was to face the idea of losing my Mum.  At the age of 53 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and back in the 70s research was still in its infancy so we had no idea what to expect.  I was 18 at the time and I couldn’t imagine a life without my Mum.  Neither could Mum!  She battled on for 10 years, showing courage, determination and never complaining.  Losing my Mum was devastating as she was the most beautiful soul I had ever known and she certainly left a huge gap in my life.

 

  • The next test was losing my Dad when I was 24.  He had just retired and was looking forward to spending time and caring for Mum and her cancer battle.  However, 6 months later he was gone.  Bowel cancer had claimed him.  My strength was tested this time because he died a month before my first child was born.  I remember him wanting to see the baby but he was in so much pain I told him not to hold on and he died that night.

 

  • Walking away from a marriage wasn’t easy but I found the strength to do this.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault but I still feel guilty although I know the decision was right.  This was a time when I also walked away from family and friends so again experienced loss.  Fortunately, I was able to reconnect many years later and cherish those close to me.

 

  • My courage and strength were tested again in 2000 when my husband had a heart attack resulting in emergency triple by-pass surgery.  The doctor had advised me to go to work as they wouldn’t be operating for a few days.  However, a few hours later I was called back as a clot was blocking his artery and a nurse actually told me to ‘prepare myself’. You certainly take for granted that loved ones are always going to be there and fortunately 19 years later my darling is still with me.

 

  • Losing my brother 3 years ago to cancer at the age of 65 was a time that taught me it is never too late to make amends. For some reason we had not spoken for over 30 years and he lived in another country.  I am so grateful that his daughter arranged for us to speak before he died.

 

  • I’ve supported my darling husband through his PTSD issues and likewise he has been my biggest cheerleader.  Together we put our lives on hold to care for his parents.  What was supposed to be short term, became our lives for 11 years. We now have our lives back but I wonder sometimes if there is enough time to do all we want to do together.

 

  • In recent times I’ve needed the courage to achieve my personal goals – running two full marathons at 55 and 61, starting my blog when I retired almost 5 years ago (who would really want to read what I had to say), continuing to try to motivate and aspire others to achieve their goals when I’m not feeling great myself some days.

It can be so easy to give up when the ‘going gets tough’ but pushing through brings satisfaction.  Being a driven person can sometimes be a curse as well as a good quality to have.

 

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

I think that going through all of these experiences has given me resilience to cope with what life throws my way.  I still don’t feel that I’ve done anything more than others would have done in similar situations but perhaps we sometimes downplay the situation.

 

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

We all have an inner strength that we don’t know exists until we are tested. The other learning is that there are always people willing to support you if you are open to accepting their help.

 

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

Yes, I believe I am more courageous mainly because I am older and have experienced many different situations in my life.  Once you prove to yourself you have the strength then you really can cope with anything.

At the time of writing this I am at the crossroads again and need to make some difficult decisions on my future direction.  This will take courage and strength to actually do what I tell others to do and that is letting go of what I don’t want in my life and moving forward without guilt or regret.

 

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

I wondered how to answer this question and then thought about What does it mean to be courageous? I found this quote which I think sums it up perfectly.

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

 

What a story Sue has shared. I was right in pursuing Sue to contribute was I not? Thank you Sue. For sharing and for helping others along the way. I am also grateful to you and fellow blogger Leanne at Cresting the Hill for having a Wednesday weekly Link Up for Midlife Share The Love Bloggers. Today, this post will be shared there by me.

Denyse.

 

Social Media

Your Blog: https://www.sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au

Your facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sizzlingtowards60/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sizzling60

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sizzlingtowards60andbeyond/

 

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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Women of Courage Series. #31. Cathy. 21/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #31. Cathy. 21/2020.

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

 

Like other women who chose to take part in this series after I sent through a request, Cathy is someone I know “virtually”. She’s been a blogger, on social media and a writer. We have one common bond too. I was born in the city where she now lives. Cathy, I thank you for deciding to be able to share your story here and honour the way in which you drew on courage to do so. Here is Cathy, aged 48, answering the now familiar questions as part of the response to being a Woman of Courage.

 

image by: https://www.instagram.com/jam.on.your.collar.photography/

 

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

When my grandparents died. It was a sudden and traumatic time in everyone’s lives. We got that phone call at about 1am to tell my mum that her parents had died in a tragic car accident. I was 18. My parents at the time were running their own business and at 1am in the morning in the early 90s there were no mobile phones and no way of contacting anyone else to run the shop. They had a newsagency and at the time there was a legal requirement that every day that a newspaper was printed the newsagency had to be open. So this meant that I along with my brother had to stay at home and run the shop until we could locate someone to do it for us. The hardest thing I have ever had to do is put my parents in a car and say goodbye to them knowing my grand parents had died in a car accident. At the time we didn’t know when we would see mum & dad again. We joined them on the Saturday.

 

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

This forever changed me. I found a strength that I didn’t know I had. I knew that if I could do that I could face anything in the future and that as it turns out was a courage I would need time and again throughout the next few years and beyond.

 

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

Ask for help. Put your hand up and tell people what you are going through and that you need your friends. Anyone can face anything if you have people you love alongside you. It is part of the human condition to want to be there for others but as is the nature of our lives today we are both more connected (through the socials) yet more disconnected than ever before. So people will stand back and wait to be asked when I believe a generation ago they would have just arrived on the doorstep.

 

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

Absolutely. I have had to more times than I would like since then be courageous and each time it gets a little bit easier. I know that I survived the last time so I know I can get through this next time. I have learned to be much better at asking for help too. Asking is not a sign of weakness it is a recognition that with others around you it is easier to get through.

 

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

That you absolutely do not have to do it along. You will be surprised at how much love and support you have around you. We all think we are Robinson Crusoe and doing it alone but we simply don’t have to be. People want to be there for you but as is part of life today they will stand back and wait until you ask or invite them in. Don’t leave it so long that it is awkward or has become too hard to ask.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I live by sharing my story because I have learnt that the more we share the less alone we feel. So share your story. As I say “don’t be afraid of your story, it will inspire others.”

 

Thank you. What great words to end this story…I too agree with Cathy about sharing our stories.

Denyse

 

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website: lifethroughthehaze.com

Twitter: @lifehazey

Facebook Page : facebook.com/lifethroughthehaze

Instagram: instagram.com/lifethroughthehaze

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #30. Jayde.19/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #30. Jayde. 19/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

Jayde, now 40 (she will probably hate me for that as she was 39 when she completed her information) is The Jayde Universe from Little Paper Lane I love that we have met in real life….how much fun is it catching up with someone you know on-line. However, we did not really connect even on-line until 2018 when Jayde too had done what we did in 2015, move from Sydney to the Central Coast. I knew of Little Paper Lane shop at Mona Vale and visited once from memory. Sadly, Jayde had to leave the shop and does what she can selling on-line AND amusing (or is it educating?) many of her Instagram followers. Jayde’s social media info is below. Here is more from her. Pink-haired, kindness personified and all round awesome human: Jayde.

 

 

 

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

Actually now I am presented with this question it’s quite a fair bit. As of recent, it’s probably been the closing of my shop and moving up the coast with my 2 kids and animals and going online with the business only. I have separated from my husband and we moved from our home to a completely new area. So it’s only been the last year and it’s fresh and new, but honestly with mental health issues for like 22 years and chronic pain, every day’s a party in my Universe hehe

 

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

I think I have had to learn to be an adult. That sounds funny as a 39  40 year old woman with 2 kids and 7 animals, that I haven’t been an adult my whole adult life, but when you have a partner to help with life, it’s very confronting to have to take it all on alone when you already have a bunch of other issues with your brain and body. I think the support of my family, friends and online community and talking it out always has been the thing that helped. It’s so simple, but I have been saved by the humans in my life. And normally kids would make you more intense with your feelings, but my kids seem to be a safety net for my brain. Even though it’s exhausting doing everything alone because their dad lives quire far from them and he is 100% away the entire winter, I don’t get time off, but my kids don’t make it harder for me. The work around the house is hard, but the kids themselves really help me physically and more importantly mentally without even knowing it. It’s just their happy energy that uplifts me always. For someone with social anxiety it’s super weird that people are the ones that help me so much. Well MY people do.  

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

I think just that you CAN. Even when you feel like its the end of the earth and you are hitting the bottom of the ocean, you can tread water, or you can swim?! It’s heavy in that water, its better to swim and lift yourself up on that boat and if someone has a hand to help you, take it. There is absolutely no shame in being supported. You can help them up on their boats too then you all get to have an awesome boat party together and it’s so much more fun when you are supporting and boat partying with each other. 

 

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

Absolutely. We all have to. If you don’t take leaps sometimes and be brave, you just stay still and never move.  I am right in this low at the minute where my anxiety took over in a gripping way, and the only way to fix it was to fix it. So I chatted to my dr and I changed meds, and then the withdrawal from the first antidepressant was HELL FIRE for my body and mind, and because I have been down the dark deep holes before, I knew that to help myself I had to reach out to the places of light, like my family and online community and friends, and its helping me through in HUGE ways. If I did this alone I would be a mess more than I am. So I make sure I follow my my ‘c’s. Community, chatting, courage, coca-cola and cheese. Always 😉

 

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

Sometimes courage is just breathing through each day. I think everyone mistakes courage for climbing huge mountains. It doesn’t have to be some Everest act.  Sometimes getting out of bed for me is like climbing Everest but I chose to be proud of myself for doing the hard things. They may not seem ‘hard’ to others but thats not what courage means. It’s about you and your own depths of bravery. No matter the level courage it is. Courage is Courage.

 

Thank you lovely Jayde. I know I was a bit cheeky about changing your age, but heck, we November babies can do that, right?

Denyse

 

Blog/Website: www.littlepaperlane.com.au

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LittlePaperLane

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

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

 

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #29. Lorna Gordon.17/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #29. Lorna Gordon.17/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

Lorna Gordon, aged 47, and I met in a cafe that probably does not even exist now in Sydney’s Dee Why. Her services as a blog newsletter writer and more had been recommended by a mutual friend. We hit it off from the start and back in those days my blog DID have a regular newsletter that I eventually could put together. We remain friends more on-line these days but we know similar areas of Sydney’s west, where she and her husband and children now live. This year is a big one for Lorna. Her ‘baby’ started big school. Let’s get on to find out more of this woman’s story.

 

 

 

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

I moved from Scotland to Sydney in 2005 with my husband, knowing no-one and having nothing but the suitcases we could carry. That was a huge adventure and we never went back.

Publishing my first book took a lot of courage because you are exposing yourself in a very personal way, and once it’s out there you have no control over it. My next book is out this month (September 2019) and while I’m nervous, I’m really happy with it so I’m glad it will be out in the world for people to hopefully enjoy.

I think my most courageous thing was having my daughter. I had undiagnosed PTSD and PND from the birth of my son and I fell pregnant when he was only 9 months old. The fear I faced with that pregnancy was extreme, but I was lucky that the hospital recognized my mental health was an issue, and I was referred to an excellent facility who helped my through my distress.

I went on to give birth on my own, as the hospital didn’t tell my husband I was in labour when they contacted him, so he brought our son with him! What had begun as a thing that scared the life out of me, turned into a very empowering, healing moment.

 

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

The birth of my son left physical and mental scars, both of which are healing. People may try to dismiss how you feel, but your feelings are valid, even if they don’t agree with them. Over six years on I still have triggers, but I cope much better these days.

 

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

Find others who have gone through the same experience as you. If you have had an illness, or difficult experience, speak to others who have had it too, while everyone is different, shared experiences can normalise it for you.

 

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

I don’t let anything hold me back, I’m quite fearless! I’m not sure if that is my age or just me, but if I want to do something I go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? You fail at a project? Someone says no? If it doesn’t work you pick yourself up and try again.

 

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

If it’s a project or job then go for it, what’s the worst that could happen? If you are facing an illness or health problem, get external support. Your energy is best channeled into getting better or coping with treatment.

Adding: Lorna recommends seeing your G.P., Hospital Midwife and Community Health Nurse for any issues you may have post-birth and when pregnant if there are any questions or when something is not going as it might. I agree and thank you so much for your sharing this too.

Thank you my friend. I hope the year 2020 treats you well.

Denyse.

Social Media:

Blog/Website: www.legordonwriter.com

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/legordonwriter

Instagram: @legordonwriter

 

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 .

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #28. Beth Macdonald. 14/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #28 Beth Macdonald. 14/2020.

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

 

Introducing Beth Macdonald age 41 is such a joy and a privilege. I met Beth so many years ago via blogging and when I “think” her middle girl, was not even at school…and certainly her Baby (not the first one, the blog is named after) Maggie took many of us down paths of wonder and love when we saw her arrival and years that followed. Now, Miss Maggie is at school! Go figure. But, Beth, a most generous and “heart on her sleeve: gal took time out of her BIZ she has with her sister, the millions of other things she does including a podcast about the Royals too…and shares the best of her recipes (and good reality checks too) on her blog! Welcome Beth!

 

 

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

Leaving a long term relationship/engagement

Having children

Being online and in social media every day – putting yourself out there, pitching work to clients etc

Starting my own business

 

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

The growth and learning (both good and bad) can only help you grow and change as a person, each new step and challenge in life starts a new layer of armour and sheds an old layer of who we used to be

 

 

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

Only to ever listen to your gut and instinct: it knows ALL, you already know ALL your mind will try and trick you into thinking otherwise, but deep down you already know the answer – try to be quiet and listen to it

 

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

Age, wisdom and experience helps. Learning from your mistakes and knowing if you even get it wrong it will be OK. Being courageous is about having the belief in yourself to get it done, backing yourself and like anything, the more you flex this muscle, the stronger it gets!

 

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

Just to dig deep, trust yourself and don’t compare yourself or your experience to anyone else. You’ve got this, you REALLY do.

 

You do too Beth!

Thank you so much for sharing.

Denyse.

 

Blog/Website: www.baby-mac.com

Twitter: @BabyMacBeth

Facebook Page: BabyMacBeth

Instagram: BabyMacBeth

This is the on-line business mentioned in the introduction by me. I can highly recommend their attention to customer service and details. And the website itself is so pretty…and interesting..oh look for yourself; it’s HERE! Add To Cart. 

 

 

 

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 .

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #27. Sandra Kelly.12/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #27. Sandra Kelly.12/2020.

Trigger warning: content: as advised by Sandra.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

 

 

 

 

Image credit: https://m.facebook.com/RhondaLockerPhotography/

If there is one place where I know I can find some care and support on-line it’s with Sandra Kelly who is 53. No, we have never met, but you can bet that if we did, there would be an instant rapport and a LOT of chatting together. This lady, known to me first via her blog, and now as a facebook friend has QUITE a story and it was she who asked for a trigger warning. I am in awe of Sandra and here she is, with her dear husband, with a photo taken as a memory of where they lived for quite some time before moving for family and medical reasons. What a great idea to capture the familiar for the future.

 

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

First of all I’ll let you in on a little secret… I don’t see myself as courageous at all (no disrespect intended to those who do).

Whether I’ve been tackling my fear of heights to absorb a breathtaking view, or staring boggle eyed at a bloody big needle about to be shoved into my boob, I’ve felt nothing but fear, anxiety, doubt, sometimes terror and many times hot stinging tears – but I have certainly not felt like a woman of courage.

You might say I fit the mould quite snuggly of Denyse’s musings that gave birth to this series – “We women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives”.

Yep, that’s me alright!

I guess I haven’t seen myself as a courageous person throughout our many years of adversity as a family because life in the face of adversity becomes… well… just life!  You get out of bed in the morning and get on with it because ‘it just is’.

It’s not always done with a smile or without a tear or fear, you just do ‘your normal’ that can appear so ‘abnormal’ to those on the outside looking in.

I’ve been married to the most courageous man for the past 32 years.  When I think of any courage I may have needed to tap into over time, it pales in comparison to the courage he displays each and every day.

My husband has severe Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis, among other ailments, and has been in a wheelchair as a result for about 25 years now.  Infections, joint replacements, pneumonia’s, heart failure, countless hospital admissions and so much more has been our everyday life… our normal.

I’ve had to battle my own shyness and demons to best support and advocate for him and my family over the years.  It hasn’t been easy but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else.

I’m right where I’m meant to be right now, doing exactly what I’m meant to be doing.

 

On the days where it feels all-consuming, for us both, I trust in that little mantra and its undeniable truths.

Around 15 years ago our niece came to live with us permanently (she and her two brothers would come to stay every holiday since they were very young).  Around 12 months later the two boys joined us permanently as well.  They were aged eight, twelve and fourteen at the time.

We had a fourteen year old of our own, granny up the end of the verandah, hurricane Nikki the Labrador, Bing the allergy ridden Shih Tzu itchy dog, two cats, one bird and welcomed the boys two pet rats into the swelling family as well (yes, you read that correctly, two rats).

We certainly were packed to the rafters.  A full house but with much room in our hearts.

I’m in awe of the courage and intestinal fortitude my family showed during those early months and years of adjustment as all our lives changed shape. So much vulnerability at its best and its worst has woven a safety net of respect, love and connectedness that cradles us with its indestructible strength.  It is a privilege to call them all my family.

In early 2013 I was diagnosed with triple negative invasive breast cancer and under went surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  It was cruel.  Not only for me but for everyone around me.

Treatment wiped me out – physically and mentally.  I was a mess. In and out of hospital with infections and zero immune system fighting capabilities took its toll.

By September of that year I was a shell of my former self weighing in at only 38 kilos and not a logical thought colliding anywhere in my brain.  I was done.

I still shake my head and marvel at how I found the strength to crawl out of that hole and head space.  I think I used up a huge chunk of everyone else’s courage because mine was missing in action.

In 2015 I had a piece of my right lung removed because of suspected breast cancer spread.  Thankfully the lesion was not cancerous.

These few years were horrendous. My depression and anxiety were off the scale. I’m not ashamed to admit that I suffered two breakdowns in a three year period.

Thanks to the unconditional love and support of family and friends I survived it all.  Every cell of my being could not hold one ounce more of appreciation, gratitude and love for those very special people I have in my life.  Even that sentence falls way short in describing their dedication.  They fought for my existence in this world when I no longer had the will.

Recently we called on all our reserves of strength to sell our beloved home in a beautiful country town in Gippsland Victoria to move closer to health services and family.

We miss our lovely little community and our gorgeous mountain views and wildlife terribly but being closer to support services in ‘rural suburbia’ has been necessary and so worth it.

Being closer to family has brought us much pleasure as well and has enriched our lives for the better.

 

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

My life experiences have changed me in many ways.  Some for the better and some for the worse.

If I was needing to shine a light on just one of those ways it would that I am definitely a much more patient person than I was in the earlier years of navigating all this ‘stuff’.

People need the gift of time and empathy to heal wounds and find their way, without judgement. I’m much better at gifting myself that same time and empathy now… well, most days.

I desire to live a slower quiet life.  Sure there are things I’d like to tick off my bucket list but I won’t be regretful on my death bed if they are left unchecked. I love the sense of safety that my home, friends and family bring me and I’m quite okay with pottering around home spending time with them.

 

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

Do the best you can and be okay with that. Try hard not to lament over how you think you should  be doing life in the face of your challenges.

Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself is a sure way to smother your courage and chip away at your spirit. I’m living proof of that.  Be kind to yourself, okay?!

Laugh at the absurdity of it all, cry your eyes out, go for a walk, pull the doona over your head for a day. What I’m trying to say is, the courage to get through your every moment comes in many different forms to every different person and requires acknowledgment of your individual needs to feed your internal resources.

Do what you need to build your resilience stores in your own way.

Do ‘you’ without shame.

Having said that I also need to say this:

 

“We are all angels with one wing, the only way to fly, therefore, is to embrace one another”.

There are a few versions of this Luciano De Crescenzo quote floating around and it’s been a long time favourite of mine. We are nothing without those who will quietly wrap their wings around us as we sit in the dark and still hold tight as we take flight towards the light.

Gather your angels… courage ought not be a solitary practise.

 

And finally, nurture your mental and emotional health.  At two in the morning when it’s just you and your thoughts you’ll be wanting to turn up the volume on your voice of reason to drown out that persistent fear monster and his incessant mouth flapping.  Explore ways that will work for you.

 

 

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

I believe I’m less fearful in dealing with situations now that require me to find my voice and advocate for my loved ones, or indeed myself.  Being fundamentally shy I have to draw deep on my strength for this to happen.

I found that not speaking my truth was far more crippling and detrimental than the actual fear of doing so – even if my voice trembled.  Experiencing the fragility of life through various filters, like feeling the loss of your own power and control over what’s happening, feeds a need to be heard and understood.

 

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

I wish I had some profound, concise statement that I could wrap up in a nugget of gold for you to take away… but I don’t.

I’m still stumbling through life grasping hold of people to break my fall and trying to do my best for myself and those around me on any given day.

However, I do believe it’s very important to remind ourselves that courage is not defined by a puffed-out chest and an almighty roar striding head on with sure footed fearless steps in the face of fear or pain.  Thank you Hollywood for those illusions.

It’s more often than not a tentative negotiation of the stepping stones of life trying not to fall off and get stuck in the mud at the bottom… and that’s okay.

 

In the words of the amazing Kelly Exeter “Wobbly courage is still courage”.

 

Wobbly courage sits well with me. I identify with it and it speaks my language.

It just may work for you too.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”  Alfred D. Souza

Please don’t wait for life to begin on the other side of crappy times like I have done in the past.  These obstacles are your life at the moment – look for the splashes of joy in each day and live the now with as much purpose and meaning as your circumstances may afford you, in whatever shape that takes and serves you best.

I wish the gift of love and strength for you all.

 

What a heart-felt and wonderful story you shared so courageously Sandra. Thank you so much.

Denyse.

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  www.sandrakelly.me

Instagram:  @sandrakellywhatlieswithin

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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