Wednesday 22nd May 2019

I Am Grateful Series. 1-20. 54/2019.

I Am Grateful Series. 1-20. 54/2019.

I am grateful every day.

Since learning more about myself, from before, during and after my cancer diagnosis, I know that I am better emotionally when I express gratitude.

I do this in a number of ways.

I will silently think of 5 or 10 things (using my fingers!) that I have been grateful for that day before I go to sleep.

I always express my gratitude to the person who has served me and made me my coffee. There are very few exceptions to this and watching someone’s face light up means the gratitude bounces back I guess.

A few years back I wrote a post about gratitude and how I was keeping a journal then. I am re-posting here what was, and still is, an excellent source about the value of:

GRATITUDE

The social benefits are especially significant here because, after all, gratitude is a social emotion. I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.

Indeed, this cuts to very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.

The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

from here.

I have been going out each day since late October 2017, dressing with purpose and having a coffee. In my small journal I migth do some art or I might write to get my thoughts out. Recently, I gave myself the challenge (I like a challenge!) of coming up with 20 thins I was grateful for over 5 days, making a total of 100.

Over the next weeks, I will share those groups of 20.

1 to 20.

I am grateful: 

  1. for my life – even now
  2. to be married to the most caring, loving, sensible B.
  3. to be a Mum to a daughter and a son
  4. to have 8 amazing grandkids who love me
  5. for freedom of speech and where I go
  6. for my intelligence
  7. for the career I did really well in.
  8. for my love of teaching
  9. to have the company of little kids as learners
  10. to experience art in my life
  11. to have enough money for much of what I need
  12. for this retired life
  13. to live in a comfy, modern house to live in until at least April 2020
  14. for a regular aged part-pension payments from Centrelink
  15. my advanced and amazing health care
  16. to my team of health professionals I trust
  17. for my blog
  18. for the connections I make on-line
  19. for my memory
  20. To drink coffee: out each day.

Do you practise gratitude?
What are you grateful for today?

Denyse.

Joining with Min for Zen Tips Tuesday here.

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

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Updated: What Art Has Taught Me. 45/2019.

Update: What Art Has Taught Me. 45/2019.

The words below, after the photos, are from my blog post of 2017. Before I had a cancer diagnosis. When I “knew” something was going awry with me, but no-one knew specifically. I knew I needed some mindfulness in my life back in 2013. I sure did find it via Art. So much learning for me and I love(d) it. I now know this:

  • art of about the process not the product
  • art in many forms is soothing to my sometime unsure and worried self
  • art is a place and space for me
  • when I visit my art-space, I immediately focus on ONE thing!
  • this one thing, which helps me feel much more relaxed and mindful, may be about what media I will use, what I will make, or what I need to keep on doing
  • it does not matter, the thing is “I become mindful” and settle to create “art”

In 2013 I was searching for more in my life to help me through the bumps and trials.

A friend suggested an art-based group in U.S. where there was an annual challenge.

I’ve written about this a few times on the blog.

Today I am listing what Art has taught me from that mid-point in 2013 until the present.

And it’s not always about Art!!

  • I can be patient
  • I can see the world from different perspectives
  • I can select what I want to do with my art materials with confidence
  • I now know the process is more important to me than the product
  • I find that I prefer to share my art, imperfect as it is, with many and am happy to give it away when people express an interest in it
  • I find it interesting that others see different things in my artistic pursuits than I do at times
  • I enjoy the way in which I became at one with the now when I’m engaged in a creative process be it writing, photography, art or gardening

In general, Art has taught me to allow my mindfulness to be part of who I am. I am no longer striving as much nor wanting to do the next thing. It is teaching me to slow down. 

This is a good lesson to be learned!

Have you learned lessons from life?

I believe it’s a good fit for Min’s link up too. Zen Tips Tuesday found here.

On Wednesday, sharing this post with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love.

Denyse.

 

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My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part Two. 42/2019.

My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part Two. 42/2019.

Recently I wrote about how I find having a garden is good for my mental (and physical!) health.

However, I must now add, that looking at flowers en masse, individually and observing their colours and textures takes me on an artist’s journey.

I see:

  • patterns
  • tones
  • colours
  • shapes
  • textures

I have tried to replicate some via my drawings and mandalas but nothing quite tops Mother Nature.

I am glad to recognise the peaceful, relaxing and health-filled responses I have when I visit not only my meagre garden but in parks and others’ gardens.

Here’s my collection of favourites. Some were grown where we live now and in pots, others were at the last house. The sweet peas at the bottom were from the last time I grew them. Two years ago. I love sweet peas so I have given them another go this year. Fingers crossed!

Do you find going into the garden relaxing?

Do you notice your breathing slows when you are immersed in nature?

I believe that nature is a healing space and place and I love that!

It cetainly is a place I can re-capture my ‘zen’.

Thanks to Min for her Tuesday link up #zentipstuesday here.

Denyse.

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Learning To Be Calm. 39/2019.

Learning To Be Calm. 39/2019.

Over 4 years ago, when I first began understanding that I needed to care for myself INSIDE and out, I began meditation. I went to a retreat at the local Buddhist place and learned that I liked being calm and centred. Of course I could not stop thoughts coming and going and I thought then that made me a failure at meditation.

No.

It made me someone who understood that thoughts come and go no matter what but the trick is not to engage in them. Ha. Easier said than done!

Then.

Now, I have been doing some kind of mindfulness each day AND adding around 10 minutes or so of formal meditation via an app, I KNOW I can stop some of the previous ways in which my mind would race, my gut would churn and I would go down the slippery slope (my husband’s name for it) of rumination, regret and future thinking.

I am much better now at stopping the thoughts by not buying into them and distracting myself with going outside, doing some art, driving and listening to an audible book.

Here’s what I have used in the past: Headspace. I paid for it and used it most days for almost 3 years. What happened for me is boredom set in.

I moved to another app called Calm after doing the free trial.

A for Amazing. I love its variations, I love the refreshing of the meditations, I love that I can re-do ones I get a lot out of and I love that I can explore new sessions.

Sleep Stories is a winner too. I now tend to do my meditation at bedtime (I used to be a mid-morning meditator) and then, I might also listen to a sleep story. It is just the best.

This is the link to the website and you can see there is a free trial. I did that, then paid for an annual fee and after that was offered LIFETIME membership at not much more than the annual fee. I grabbed that bargain! I am not being paid ( I don’t do sponsored posts) but I like to recommend.

I hope you find some calm in your every day in any way that works well for you!

Denyse.

Joining with Min for her Zen Tips Tuesday link up here.

 

 

 

 

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My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part One. 37/2019.

My Zen Is Found In The Garden. Part One. 37/2019.

I really did not ever enjoy gardening. I think it was the labour of it and also I liked the ‘look’ of a garden but not so much the hard work. This changed for me once I was well and truly retired from all work.

We still lived in Sydney then and had a lovely pool area which incorporated garden beds around the perimeter. Over time, we (ok, my husband) laboured more intensively and made some delightful screening areas as well as adding plants and shrubs.

The pool area in its early stages, but the time the house was sold late 2014 it was more filled with greenery and colour.

I liked tending to some of the new plants, helped with cutting back the fast-growing vines and also put some plants in seasonally e.g. sweet peas. They went against the pool fence far left and it was something I enjoyed doing with my little grandkids who we cared for 3 days a week. Oh, and for anyone worried, the pool gates were always locked and an adult would accompany a child into the pool area at all times.  Very strict on that!

Then we sold our family home and moved to the Central Coast to rent. The first house we rented was a waterfront and, by the way, we would not choose waterfront again because the salty air does affect computers and other appliances. This place had some native trees but not much else.

After wanting to get away to an easier house to live in and be more comfortable, we chose an established home that had one owner and was in the northern area of the Central Coast N.S.W. And those people planted a LOT…..of palm trees, and tropical plants….and I sure got some frustrations out chopping them back. The HUGE frangipani in the back yard needed some cutting back but the beauty each Spring to Summer was worth the mess of the fallen petals!

Now where was I?

Zen in the garden.

As I really needed to become more mindful and calm down my  nervous system (IBS and anxiety) my plants and flowers helped me manage myself and emotions on some days. Mind you, I sometimes needed some digging help, but generally I could manage with potting mix, barrel-type planters and a range of colourful flowers in season.

These gave me joy as I tended them, photographed them and sometimes tried to capture their beauty by a sketch or a painting.

These colourful plants and flowers were a joy to tend, to water and to care for as they were almost all located on the back verandah and I could reach them easily. Over time, some would die back and others would take their place.

As I became more unwell into 2017 – before I knew I had cancer – being outside, in this garden was one place where I could:

  • meditate via my app then which was Headspace
  • take notice of the changing skies above
  • listen to the birdsong of the local native birds and those who are just nuisance value
  • water the flowers and clean up the frangipani debris
  • cut back the palms: they can be quite dangerous and these, according to those who know, should never have been planted. They were overwhelming in size but….the new owners (our landlords) did not give approval for culling…so we did it. And the local council took the big and fallen fronds away at green pick up times.

Next time, more about the ways in which being in a garden is good for my heart and soul!

Do you find zen in the garden?

Denyse.

Linking up with Min on Tuesdays for Zen Tips Tuesday here. 

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Self Care. Share Your Story.#2.14/51. #LifeThisWeek. 36/2019.

Self Care. Share Your Story.#2.14/51. #LifeThisWeek. 36/2019.

In the past seven weeks what has been my self care routine?

Pretty much the same each week.

I know though that I need to remember self care before I notice I NEED to do something.

It can be so easy to forget what helps me remain as well as I can emotionally because I can get caught up with achievements, busy-ness and striving.

  • Striving.
  • Achievements
  • Being Busy.

These are words I am deleting as part of my past vocabulary.

I have been a striver, an achiever and a busy person since… 1970!

Just noticing the difference in me has been interesting to say the least!

Here’s what I notice:

  • I am walking more slowly
  • I am noticing more around me
  • I am prepared to actually sit and just enjoy being relaxed
  • I give myself permission to go on social media for a while but to be careful to notice when social media changes me emotionally…then I get off
  • I can actually waste time. Some would be horrified at this but I now know I can!
  • I like to read books and articles I enjoy and sometimes learn more but I can also just ‘chill’ like this
  • I can go outside and notice what is happening in the garden

I am still enjoying my dress with purpose and having a photo taken.

I love going out for a solo coffee still

I do like catching up with people this way too.

 

What does your self care look like these days?

Are there changes you are making?

Tell us more!

Denyse.

Linking here on Mondays with Kell 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’s optional prompt: 15/51 Share Your Snaps. 15/4/19

 

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Click here to enter

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Your Moral Compass. 33/2019.

Your Moral Compass. 33/2019.

Wisdom Helps Develop a Moral Compass.

This post’s content is over 4 years old and was originally posted by me. In recent months, despite my zen-type practices and holding a greater sense of awareness of what I CAN do something about and what I cannot, I have become increasingly concerned about whether there is an understanding of what it is to have AND use your moral compass. What’s the way in which you live your life and go about each day?

For some people it’s a faith-based life.

In others, it’s an inner way of being, doing and living.

Then I ask you, dear reader, do you follow your moral compass?

Is the answer yes, or maybe or depends or no?

Let me offer my view.

Without my moral compass I would have made and continue to make decisions that have been destructive or illegal or just plain hurtful to myself and others.

I have no specific events or tales to tell here. But I do know I listen to and feel my ‘moral compass’ and let myself consider things all the time in this way.

However, if you are not ‘feeling’ or ‘knowing’ what your moral compass is for or about, then you may be finding that life is not working so well.

My advice in life is this:

Listen to your heart.

Feel things in your gut.

Ask yourself…’does this seem right’

BE TRUE TO YOU and YOU WILL BE OK!

Here’s what some others said about “a moral compass” as I updated this post for the “now” of 2019.

I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own. Michelle Obama. 

Sometimes, in order to follow our moral compass and/or our hearts, we have to make unpopular decisions or stand up for what we believe in. Tabatha Coffey.

Never jeopardise who you are for a role. Now, I’m not saying you should never change for a role, because the fun of being different characters is adapting different nuances and different parts of the character, but never jeopardise your moral compass or anything like that to have a role. Yara Shahidi.

Today we are engaged in a deadly global struggle for those who would intimidate, torture, and murder people for exercising the most basic freedoms. If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction. Barack Obama.

I try to have the right thing happen at the end of the case, try to have the case have a moral compass to it, try to do a little teaching while I’m at it because that’s the, you know, that’s the preacher in me. Judy Sheindlin.

You have to follow your moral compass: it’s a good guide of telling you what is right and wrong. Cailee Spaeny.

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=moral+compass

isolated-moral-compass-stock-illustrations__k7253460

Do you get the feeling not everyone uses or chooses to use their moral compass?

Have you come across someone whose moral compass seems to be very mis-aligned with your values and ethics?

I know I have from time to time and it makes/made me very uncomfortable. The “opposite” of zen!

Meanwhile, to get myself ‘back to balance’ I continue to do these:

*art of some kind every day

*get out in nature, either in my own backyard or by the beach or river

*see the ‘good’ in others……really look for it and you will see it too!

So, joining with Min today, as I can’t be letting this topic go….and her place on-line on Tuesdays is meant to be ‘zen’ tips. Maybe the one tip I could add, is “have YOU looked at your moral compass recently?”….to our leaders, politicians and all those who have the power to change…..

Denyse.

 

 

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On Being Human. 30/2019.

On Being Human. 30/2019.

It’s the strangest thing, this being human.

One day we think we have this dealing with life sorted….

Then….one thing or many may change that so-called certainty.

The book by Leigh Sales: Any Ordinary Day seeks to explain and find out more about this life of ours.

Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, and her many books and teachings are in my library now.

I had this book beside my bed and read one chapter a night before I knew I had cancer.

This excerpt is from chapter 14.

According to the Buddha, the lives of all beings are marked by three characteristics: impermanence, egolessness, and suffering or dissatisfaction. Recognising these qualities to be real and true in our own experience helps us to relax with things as they are.

The first mark is impermanence. That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and changing, is the first mark of existence. We don’t have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact.

It means life isn’t always going to go our way. It means there’s loss as well as gain. And we don’t like that.

We know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out. Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep-rooted aversion to it.

 

Are we ever certain of anything, really?

No, just the next breath in and then out we learn.

This has been attributed to the Dalai Lama…..

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

 

 

The time is NOW. This is all we have.

https://steemit.com/psychology/@keysa/the-power-of-now-the-book-from-eckhart-tolle-that-changed-my-life-a-talk-about-the-ego-of-man-the-future-destructive-thoughts

So many of us, and I put my hand up here, have thought we CAN control what is going on for us in life.

As those who are wisest say, the only thing that IS certain is uncertainty.

But in saying this, there is a kindness too. In this poem attributed to Rumi, I have found comfort in the words during my tougher times of stress, anxiety and of course, recovering from cancer.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jalaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks (The Essential Rumi)

Finally, something from a recent newspaper clipping. I sometimes do  not agree with Michal Leunig’s words, but this time, for me, he has nailed it.

On Being Human is what we can, be and do each day (and night) to remain well in body and mind. Whilst this can be tough, each of us probably already has some ideas and practices which work. These are those for me:

This is another post, written with self-care in mind and also to relate to the theme of bring mindfulness and more ‘zen’ into our lives.
I hope there is something helpful for you here too.

Tell me more about what your thoughts are “on being human”.

Denyse.

Linking with Min who blogs here for Zen Tips Tuesday. Her guest writers come from all over the world and provide unique and helpful perspectives.

 

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