Sunday 24th March 2019

Observations in October #2. 2018.104.

Observations in October #2. 2018.104.

Are we humans ever truly content with ourselves?

I am asking the hard questions today as I know personally, I find this tricky.

My husband/guru tells me “life it about living in the present”. OK. Not just him, but everyone who preaches mindfulness seems to have this view.

I can do this on some occasions now. I can bring my thoughts back to where I am (not so good ones too) and let them go of their own accord.

What made me observe this today?

My appearance. My weight. My changes.

For many decades I used food for calming and soothing and hid from much of my emotions this way. I often ate secretly. I have written about it here. I was performing well academically and professionally but not within my care of myself. The only, easy way was eating what soothed me. 

Back to the present.

I’ve had four years of over-arching anxiety related to life changes and transitions which actually resulted in not only Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diarrhoea) but a reduced appetite and a simple meal regime. I did not go out much at all. I was ‘at home’ in 2016-mid 2017 because of the increased symptoms.

I lost weight. It had started slowly in the year before we left Sydney but continued gradually until I found out I had cancer in May 2017. WOAH. Here is the page with the cancer stories if you are a first time reader.

From the time I was diagnosed with cancer in my gums until I came home from hospital it was inevitable I lost weight. I did. I was focussed on getting past the surgery stage for more than 7 weeks and if that is not an appetite suppressant, I do not have any other ideas. I wore clothes that were baggy but were not my fattest clothes as almost all of them were consigned to charity bins in the previous year. I did not think I would wear them again yet I was very reluctant to buy clothes which fitted me well.

I managed to convince myself to get some nighties and other items of a smaller size for hospital and recovering at home but it held no joy in me to need to do this. Cancer was my upper most thought. Then, once surgery was over, and I was able to finally sip water, and try a clear fluids diet in the 2 days before I came home, the dietitian visited me.

I was bombarded   given the message over and over that I needed to EAT what and when I could and that it needed to be foods of full-fat, high protein and smooth enough for a mouth with only a few teeth to get down. I had never, in all my life, been told NOT to lose any more weight.

I was weighed in hospital and then once I was home, because of the addition of an anti-biotic that played havoc with my gut I did LOSE weight. I got to the lowest I can remember. Ever. And it did not feel good. I knew I was not well.

Once the diarrheoa disappeared and my GP said ‘eat what you like and what you can keep in’ rather than the high protein/milky drinks on offer via the dietitian, I got back to a weight where i felt comfortable and well.

This lasted for a very long time.

Sharing My Image with The On-Line World.

Just under a year ago, my wellness was a great feeling. I began to think about going out by myself for a coffee. It took me until November to do that, and I decided to account for my day by entering a photo each day on Instagram under the various hashtags including:

#everydaystyle

#dresswithpurpose

#outfitoftheday

Many of my on-line friends, family and friends found my daily posts and supported my photos with ‘likes’ and comments’. I found a love of shopping for bargains again. It was fun and I was rewarded by the feeling and knowledge that I was doing this for myself and finally I seemed to understand it was good to feel great on the outside.

Cancer meant more surgeries, and more messing about in my mouth. Food intake became protein items such as mince based meals which I could easily eat with a few teeth and a tongue and treats became staples: little cakes, small donuts, icecream. Each day had something like that in it. I did not gain weight much at all over the time from October until my last surgery in May 2018.

Photos of the day became something others with cancer discovered and they liked the idea of dressing with prpose. With head and neck cancer, because our cancer is usually visible to others, eating and drinking out is seldom done even just going out. So, I was flattered to be followed and asked more about it.

Then, a day came I had longed for…and it had been delayed so it was even more special.

I had the upper prosthesis of teeth added to my mouth. It was in late August. It felt very strange and initially I could not eat much at all. Over time, I could as I became confident of my ability to bite and chew and now…..

I began to gain weight.

Boo. It is not much at all, and I really need to put it in context. 

I have gone from very restricted eating and feeling deprived but I knew I had an end in sight. 

What has been interesting to observe in me is my behaviour changes.

  • I am not hiding my eating like I did.
  • I am limiting my treat food.
  • I am realising that I cannot use food to deal with emotions any more.
  • I am also needing to come to terms with what life is like for me now.
  • I am considering no longer doing the “outfits of the day” posts because they are almost a year old.
  • I may replace them with a “self-care” theme.
  • I am having a small internal battle but less so as I chat with my husband about it, and also follow a mindfulness eating guide.
  • I am wearing my fitbit and aim to move more than 6K steps in a day. I am a work-in-progress!

I thought getting teeth would be the best and it is…but I can eat a very wide range of foods again…but I no longer want to end up very wide again!

It has helped me to share this so thank you for reading! I hope you made it this far.

Back to where I started. Are we ever really content with ourselves?

Denyse.

Joining the lovely Leanne and friends here for Lovin Life Linky and for the record, I am here with Leanne when we finally caught up for a coffee…and something to eat recently!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I Create Daily. 2018.65.

Why I Create Daily. 2018.65.

The answer to this could be…”to keep me well” or it might be….”to keep me busy” or maybe even….”because I love it”.

I reckon all are appropriate in their own way but the last nails it.

I do love it.

At times I get a bit stuck on ‘what will I create now’ but more often than not, some reflection time spent at my desk helps.

Since 2013 when I embraced the practice of creating an “Index Card a Day” via daisyyellow.com I can rarely have a day spent without something happening for me such as:

  • creating original mandalas
  • pattern making – within defined shapes e.g. square, rectangle, free form
  • painting – freehand or colouring-in my own designs – with watercolours or gouache.
  • cutting and pasting to make cards – thank you cards, best wishes, birthdays and more
  • stamping and printing on home-made cards – to personalise them

A range I did recently.

  • using my art-journalS. Yes plural. I have two sizes on the go. I have one in my bag at all times.
  • A3 books to play and create in – there have been 2 filled since I came home from hospital just over a year ago
  • A4 to do the same – at least 3 filled since hospital last year
  • and now, A5 where I am making 100 mandalas by the end of 2018
  • many of my larger-sized patterns and mandalas are laminated or framed. Member of my family have some in their houses. Others I have made into placemats for our table.

IF I feel slightly blue, a little anxious or a lot worried..it is NOT helpful to ruminate nor over-think. I used to do this a LOT until I found the power of ….the markers, the pencils, the paper and more.

In fact, just last week when I was a wee bit concerned at the drive ahead to Sydney and then a few hours of stillness in the dental prosthetist’s chair….I sat for 15 minutes and created. Instant mindfulness and anxiety dialled down enough to face the day ahead with courage and confidence.

In the past few months where my health has improved to the point of me seeking to do more I have created these for a purpose  and I have  a proposal. This is something I will outline another time, but I have approached my local library to teach a Mindful Colouring and Mandalas class. They are keen and getting back to me soon.

Many of you know how much I enjoy my beach walks and occasionally I bring home some pebbles and shells. I love playing with their textures and shapes and have made a cairn and used them in some flower pots. I also like to decorate them. My grandkids have done this too. It is COOOOOL Grandma! And when there was some greenery around and flowers at our old house, they made a great mandala.

Lastly, and this helps me set the scene sometimes. I am fortunate enough to have made a ‘creative space of my own’. At the last house we rented I had my computer in the shared living room where it was next to my husband’s desk. My art ‘stuff’ was shared in a room where we had two bunk beds for visiting grandkids. In this house, we have not made up a grandkids room in a bedroom, preferring to leave it as storage, and…my second wardrobe.

This space, in an open plan area is where I am located now for both computer and creative activities. Luckily we have lots of portable-type storage, and some on wheels and I have adapted to this space well. It might not have a great view outside as my other one did, but it is good to have everything in one place.

My retirement and then my cancer diagnosis was very much helped by my daily creating. I no longer am concerned about product as I was. I love the process. I did make a commitment as 2018 began to “create daily” and for me this is any kind of venture where I am doing something mindfully for the fun of it.

Do you create anything?
What are your areas of creativity?

Blogging is creative that is for sure!

Denyse.

Joining Kylie for I Blog on Tuesdays here.

Joining Sue and Leanne for MidLife Share The Love Linky here.

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Everyone IS Creative. 2018.22.

Everyone IS Creative. 2018.22.

Recently I heard Brene Brown say on the CD of her latest book Braving The Wilderness two things that stuck with me about creativity.

One: she was THAT kid told by her teacher that she couldn’t do art. Her art sucked. As a result, Brene never ever tried again. Until this:

Two: her findings were that the best way to embed the learning in her courses was to integrate them with creativity.

Mind.Blown.

I have taken some of her on-line courses over the past two years and each has a component of journal writing, decorating a page of photos, adding some pictures that inspire and so on. In other words, the head learning becomes embedded with the heart learning.

Source: Brene Brown

My Back Story.

I cannot recall doing anything creative at home like drawing or colouring but I recall coveting the brand new Textas (so colourful) around the time I was in Year 6. I loved the geometry lessons which taught me how to make a flower with a set of compasses. That learning comes back to me every time I make a mandala. I went to High School and would have loved to do Art as a subject but I was advised to follow an academic pathway. Never mind. I had fun decorating diaries, school books bags and so on. I could not draw well but I loved patterns. Still do.

My mum was a colourful and stylish dresser and I am pretty sure I learned that from my observations and my innate creativity. Mum was not educated past age 15 but she was a wizz at cooking and baking. Loads of people were delighted to receive her goodies. I saw creativity in the way my parents’ made their gardens and how Mum arranged flowers.

Into my teaching years, particularly with the children under 8, I loved creating colourful and stimulating classroom environments with my ideas and their art. I found teaching in a space like that was great. However, over the years, I learned that some children do not need a lot of visual stimulation to act out so I amended how I did this.

Over The Years.

Teaching probably kept me as creative as I needed to be until it was time to have a break. I was non-teaching for over 20 years so I went to scrapbooking classes, learned how to make Christmas decorations and went to a term of learning how to observe doing drawing with pencil. I did buy a lot of products over the years and my grandchildren who came to us for care each week got their share of use with my paints, paper, scissors, playdoh and so on.

It actually surprised me not long ago to find that after my visual preference as a learner comes kinaesthetic so I guess I got a lot of that with the cutting, placing and pasting I was doing.

Of course, I also cooked and decorated cakes with icing (still do!) but it really wasn’t until I was permanently retired that I saw that my creativity extended to art-type activities, photography, blogging and making memory books. Then as my outer world shrank as I no longer worked nor cared for our grandchildren something needed to happen.

I needed more. I needed something. As it turned out, I needed to make, to practise, to try and to have some fun.

Every.Single.Day.

Some famous people said this about creativity:

I asked my friends on Facebook about creativity and was delighted that not one person who responded said “I am not creative…” well, a few may have said “I don’t see myself as creative but I do….”

Here’s the list from those people.

  • Blogging
  • Creative writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Doing colouring-in and dot to dots for adults
  • Making my garden
  • Dressing each day and adding accessories to suit
  • Sewing
  • Cooking and Baking
  • Scrapbooking
  • Photography
  • Making Photobooks
  • Journalling
  • Art
  • Drawing
  • Ceramics
  • Planning Family Outings and Events
  • Making costumes for dancers
  • Creating websites
  • Talking on radio
  • Dancing
  • Making Slime
  • Card Making
  • Singing
  • what about you?
  • what are your creative pursuits?
  • there are more than I have here I am sure! 

 

Thank you all who contributed. Here’s a few pics of my versions of creativity.

So, how are you creative?

And  sorry but “I am not creative” is NOT a reasonable answer!!

Thanks for joining in.

Denyse.

 

Taking part in Tuesday’s Link of the Day called: I Blog on Tuesdays with Kylie Purtell here.

And on Wednesdays I link with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love Party.

Then comes Thursday: Thanks to Leanne we have a beaut linky called Lovin’ Life here.

 

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Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Introduction.

In 2013 I was looking for something to give me some level of contentment. It was a pretty stressful time in my life and it was a shout-out from Deb Dane who blogs here that changed my life for the better.

That IS a big call, I know!

A R T was it. But back then I was both curious and shy. I had ALWAYS enjoyed creating colourful and crafty classrooms for kids, and then as grandchildren came along I joined the scrapbooking phenomenon of the 1990s and beyond. I also did a college class on sketching when I first retired.

But A R T for ‘arts-sake’ was surely for more talented people than I am. 

Finding My Place as an Artist.

Oh seriously it took some time to apply this term to me but as one of my art gurus said ‘what are the rules for this?’. Rule-maker and keeper me realised I was the one limiting myself. Deb suggested I join the group on Facebook called DaisyYellow and take part in their Index-Card-A-Day challenge from June to July every year. In 2013 I joined, became a devotee, even signing on as a moderator in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 I did the challenge until it was time for my cancer surgery in early July.

This post explains more about it. I thank Tammy Garcia, the founder, for much of her encouragement of my art. Some examples here of my interpretation of the daily prompts in 2016. These are all created on (old speak) 6inch x 4 inch index cards.

What’s An Art Kit?

I credit learning more about art from being a member of this on-line group as above. It’s a free website and there are minimal costs for certain activities. However, as in all things in life, it was time for me to decide what I wanted in an art kit and what would be its purpose.

You know when you are caught waiting in a room for an appointment or sitting in the car waiting for someone and whilst you could look at your phone or read an old magazine there is this idea! An Art Kit.

I always had small one in my bag when we lived in Sydney and then somehow when we moved and I was mainly being at home, I got out of the habit of keeping one. It was when I had to go to hospital last July I thought I needed to take some art materials for when I was recovering AND cognisant. I was right! In 2017 I was obsessed with mandalas! I was designing and drawing them, making patterns to colour later. They were (and still are) a very MINDFUL activity for me. I made a large version of an art kit with my A4 book with pre-drawn circles and some lines on many pages, added in some Unipin pens, some colouring pens and I was set. I did not watch TV at night in hospital, I drew mandalas and they helped in my mood and physical recovery as I relaxed!

Now I am getting dress with purpose every day, one thing I do is go out for a solo coffee. I have been doing that for more than 2 months now and I am loving it. I get to people watch, sip a favourite coffee, sometimes try to eat something nice, and play with ART. Here I am last Friday at a local cafe. By the way, it took me about two goes not to feel self-conscious so now it’s second nature!

Next post I will add more details about:

  • materials I use that might be expensive initially but ‘pay for themselves’ in terms of lasting and quality
  • some ways in which art has helped my emotional health improve
  • how all of us can make art in a way that is meaningful to us and how to shut up the critic’s voice
  • ideas for colouring-in those lovely patterns and pictures in books and freebies on-line
  • and anything you might choose to ask me questions about in the comments!!

I hope this has been helpful.

I wrote this post as a response to Vanessa Smith’s comment recently and she blogs here. Another blogging friend, also named Vanessa and blogs here  is now colouring mindfully and this post may be of interest but the next one will be more so I think.

Happy Art-ing everyone!

Denyse.

 

Joining Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and on Thursdays I join in the Lovin’ Life Linky with Leanne here.

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For Courage. 2017.80.

For Courage. 2017.80.

I’ve been taking my time since I retired from work to seek answers to life’s twists and turns. I’ve attended church and Sunday School as a child and an adult. I am not sure if or what I believe in these days. But I know I need  to connect with my deeper inside me and I am pretty sure that I also need to connect with others. That is what human beings need. Love and belonging and connection.

Interestingly I have found myself less resilient and even more surprising to me less confident in the past 3 years. I believe it may be connected to the ageing process but it still does not sit too well withe me, so I search for answers and ideas from others. I love the words and lessons from Pema Chodron. Another source is the works of John O’Donoue and in his book  To Bless The Space Between Us  I found this.

 

For Courage.

When the light around you lessen and your thoughts darken until

Your body feels fear turn as cold as a stone inside,

When you find yourself bereft of any belief in yourself

And all you knowingly leaned on has fallen,

When one voice commands your whole heart

And it is raven dark,

Steady yourself and see that it is your now thinking

That darkens your world,

Search and you will find a diamond-thought of light,

Know that you are not alone and that this darkness has purpose;

Gradually it will school your eyes

To find the one gift your life requires hidden within this night-corner.

Invoke the learning of every suffering you have suffered.

Close your eyes.

Gather all the kindling about your heart to create one spark.

That is all you need.

To nourish the flame that will cleanse the dark of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive to urge you toward higher ground

Where your imagination will learn to engage difficulty

As its most rewarding threshold!

p. 107. States of the Heart section.

What kind of attributes help us be more courageous?

I’d love to hear from you about how you deal with fear.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here and the bloggers who blog on Tuesdays!

On Thursdays I join then Lovin’ Life Linky here with Leanne and friends.

 

 

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