Saturday 21st October 2017

Cancer and Me Four Months On. 2017.108.

Cancer and Me Four Months On. 2017.108.

Really? It’s been four months since I found out that cancer was in my mouth….and by this Thursday coming, 11 weeks since it was removed. Oh. Then that has  gone both fast and slow!

I did say I wasn’t going to have cancer at the centre of my blogging but I cannot deny that it’s there/here/everywhere around us. My community nurse who visits each week to change and check on my leg wounds’ dressings has cancer. Hers is breast cancer. I know of on-line friends recently diagnosed too and one, very sadly, who has passed away. And the country was saddened to see the recent death to cancer of Connie Johnson from LoveYourSister.

CANCER.

I don’t use the ‘f’ word in front of it though. Many do with the #f…cancer. It’s just not me.

Today though  I am actually wanting to share the lessons having cancer has taught me. I am not going too ‘woo woo’ or having had a new experience from beyond. But it’s true.

Having cancer has taught me these 10 lessons:

  • I am not alone in getting a rare cancer and a most unusual one like mine …even if I did  know that someone else has had it might make a difference. The point I am making is I am not special”.
  • The surgeons know more about how to fix me than I do so I am better leaving things in their capable hands rather than trying to control where my cancer is taking me.
  • About kindness. Of strangers. Of friends. Of people I may only see a few times. So. Many. Kind. Words & Deeds. I am forever grateful.
  • When I need to be, I can be patient and wait. This is a huge life lesson for the previously still  impatient moi!
  • I have more inner strength and resilience than I have previously given myself credit for. It has made a psychological shift in me that has been noticed by those closest to me and the professionals I see more frequently such as my GP and psychologist. I am going well in so many ways, I can see & feel that now. 
  • To appreciate the little things in life. Sunshine on a day where I can go outside and soak up some vitamin D. A warm bed after an early shower (my husband still needs to help by sealing my right leg in a plastic bag. Time to talk. To my husband and to friends who call.
  • My creativity and independence give me great strength each day as I endeavour to feed myself for healing, wellness and enjoyment. It IS a challenge but now I am on my own two feet and fit to cook, I enjoy making meals for someone (moi!)  who has 8 teeth on the bottom jaw and a strong tongue. The rest…is attitude and being aware of how I can eat safely.
  • I can be calm about what is ahead because I am fortunate enough to be able to know (within a small likelihood) that my cancer is unlikely to metastasise.
  • What I face in the next 6-12 months is to get my mouth ‘fixed’ from the inside. I do trust my surgical and dental team 100% that their goal is for me to be cancer free (check!) and back to eating as I might have in the past (on the way) and to have my full smile back (it is half at the moment).
  • Every day is a gift and I need to be more in the present than I have ever been in my whole life. I am a work-in-progress in this as I often spent times in the past (regrets, sadness) and projecting into the future. I know that the only moment we have is NOW. 

What About You?

None of us have to have cancer to consider making life changes. Some of the last 2 years I had been on my way using daily meditation, creative arts and reading & doing on-line courses to better understand the various life transitions that were mine. Retirement. Ageing. Leaving Family. Selling Our House.

What do you do to help yourself?

Thank you to my readers here who have continued to be wonderful supporters and friends of mine as I continue to journey. I am buoyed by your care and words on-line whenever we connect!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell (who is cruising along right now!) for I Blog on Tuesdays here and with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

 

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Creativity Soothes Me. 2017.102.

Creativity Soothes Me. 2017.102.

It’s been a while!

I used to post more about my creativity way back when I was blogging more frequently so I decided today was ideal for a creativity catch-up.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that since 2013 art, in one shape or another, has helped me bridge some of life’s changes and given me a great ‘head space’ in which to become more mindful. I wrote about mindfulness here yesterday.

I am visually dominant then my next sense as a preference is kinaesthetic with aural (hearing and listening) third. I wrote about that here. It makes great sense to me then to enjoy art and using a myriad of different resources. From 2013 when I joined a group called DaisyYellowArt here, I have learned so much about media and then what I prefer to use. It has also meant I have, ahem, spent quite a lot of money over the years investing in artist-quality materials as student ones just do not ‘cut it.’

Making patterns on the page which may be large, small or somewhere in between gives me a creative freedom which I love. Although I do like to share on social media what I have made, the value for me is in the process. 

That is when I am at my most mindful and that is so good for my emotional health. When I went to hospital I took some art materials and an A4 book with some mandala outlines on quite a few pages and once I was in the ward (and not so knocked out from the huge surgery) I could lose myself in art each evening. I was a happy patient for sure and I did show some to the nurses as a way to connect.

Here’s a few I’ve made recently in my creative times. I will often say throughout the day, “I’m off to the art room” and it is a most pleasant and soothing place to be. I listen to some CDs often by some of my favourite teachers including Brene Brown, Pema Chodron and Tara Brach. It does soothe me for sure! I will sometimes draw mandalas and colour them in bed or sitting watching TV. I have a book with art materials that moves from room to room with me!!

What do you do to become more mindful?

Have you tried something new creatively recently?

Do you know what learning style is your preferred one? (hint: post link has place where you can check it!)

Denyse.

Linking here with Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesday link up and here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life link on Thursdays.

 

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Mindfulness. #LifeThisWeek 33/52. 2017.101.

Mindfulness. #LifeThisWeek 33/52. 2017.101.

This prompt, along with my daily meditation via Headspace, was developed for ME to become even more mindful than I am.

I thought that it might help me become more focussed as I know I need to be more present-based in my thoughts rather than past oriented or future centred. 

Having the knowledge of what mindfulness is I need to be more practised in it.

Here’s a few knowledgable people’s quotes about what mindfulness is:

  • “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose,
 in the present moment, and 
non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
  • “Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” (Marlatt & Kristeller)
  • “Awareness of present experience with acceptance.” (Germer, Segal, Fulton)
  • “Mindfulness is a state of being in the present moment openly, flexibility and with curiosity” – (B.J. Whelan)

So, why be mindful?

The present moment, as it is said by Erkhardt Tolle, is actually the NOW and it is the only time we experience. The past has happened and the future is yet to happen.

So, what am I doing to be more mindful?

  • When I am driving I ensure I pay attention to the road…and the conditions of course, but I also sense the wheel in my hands, listen to the music I am playing and sense the fresh air coming through the vents
  • When I am making something creative, I have my materials to keep me centred as I decided what colours, media and designs to make
  • When I am sitting without distraction, in my chair, or looking at a view, I take it all in through the five senses if that is possible
  • I recognise that if I become too past oriented or future centred, I do not notice or take in the present moment and I may indeed miss something of value such as a bird singing outside or the sun moving behind the clouds
  • It also helps me when I am anxious or worried to take some strategies I have learned about being present: see 5 things and name them to myself, hear 4 things and name them, touch 3 things and name them, smell 2 things and name them and finally, if appropriate taste one thing and name it. Once  I have mindfully done this I will often find the anxiety/worry has moved on!

I found this here and it is a great list for the ‘why’ of being mindful.

The Benefits of Mindfulness
Practising mindfulness helps you:
* to be fully present, here and now
* to experience unpleasant thoughts and feelings safely
* to become aware of what you’re avoiding
* to become more connected to yourself, to others and to the world around you
* to become less judgmental
* to increase self-awareness
* to become less disturbed by and less reactive to unpleasant experiences
* to learn the distinction between you and your thoughts
* to have more direct contact with the world, rather than living through your thoughts
* to learn that everything changes; that thoughts and feelings come and go like the weather
* to have more balance, less emotional volatility
* to experience more calm and peacefulness
* to develop self-acceptance and self-compassion

How are you at being mindful?

Do you sometimes find yourself wondering what just happened as you have not been paying attention to whatever you have been doing?

Can you suggest some strategies you use for being more mindful?

Denyse.

Linking with friends Alicia here and Kell here who also blog on Mondays!

Thank you for joining in the link-up this week.


 

 

 

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Creative Art & Listening. 2017.83.

Creative Art & Listening. 2017.83.

I’ve been following art groups and becoming more creative in my retirement years. I am lucky to have a range of materials to work  play with and have had some lessons in their use. Now I get to have fun and create. I was doing this as part of my transitioning to retirement anyway but since I received my cancer diagnosis it has become a very important element in keeping me mindful and creating to heal.

For each of the photos I have written something about the process and you can see the products.

The accompaniment for me is always a CD where I am learning or reinforcing learning about life, our spirits, our behaviours and more. I have a range of CDs by Brene Brown, Pema Chodron, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Anne Lamott, and Rick Hanson among other. The one I am listening to right now (for the 3rd time!) is about offering ourselves self-compassion. I have been a late arrival to the need to show myself self-kindness and compassion and it is through the works of Kirsten Neff and Christopher Germer that I am undoing the practice of old (criticism and self-judgement) and integrating the practice of: self-compassion.

I hope you enjoy what you see here.

Denyse.

This is my post for the LAST EVER weekend linky called The Ultimate Rabbit Hole here with Sammie and Friends. I thought it was time for another post on creativity! Congratulations to all who made The Ultimate Rabbit Hole great and THANK you for sharing the love.

Large Page, Meditative Patterns & Repetitive Colouring.

 

Accuracy and pattern making in paint to the ROYGBIV colours…of the Rainbow!

 

The flower pattern started. So meditative and gentle I saw frangipanis arise.

 

Adding painted background close to leaf colour made for good concentration and distraction.

 

From the middle is the famous yellow of most if not all frangipanis. Letting the paint dry before next stage is a measure of my patience these days!

 

Taking the idea further, there have been many pink frangipanis on our tree as well as while ones, so I added a highlight colour in paint.

 

Almost there but not quite. Adding different shades of pink within the same tones from my gouache paints. Very slowly adding where I thought it was needed.

 

A3 size, the finished product is now on display. I loved doing this so much I have started another!

 

This one is different but still floral in focus. Listening to this book on CD reminds me of self-compassion and my need to be as kind to me as to another.

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Week 11 Intention. Recognise ‘It’s In Me’. 2017.40.

Week 11 Intention. Recognise It’s In Me’. 2017.40.

Every time I turn around to look for an answer to what life is dishing up to me now I see that it’s up to me how I address it and how I react/respond.

Until recently I thought that meant “ME” alone. However, with good advice and a cooler head helping me, I realise it means that I can see and seek how to act and solve issues for with tools at my disposal.

These might be professionals. taking my own advice and getting outside, reading an article, doing an on-line course and the like.

I just need to remember to find them and ask for the help from others where it’s useful.

But what I know is that it is all within me.

The poem from Mary Oliver captures the essence of what it is for me. Thanks for my husband (my wonderful confidante, friend and life guide) for this.

Last week, and continuing on, the Gratitude Journal app is having entries almost daily. That’s a win!

My Week 11 Intention.

To recognise that all I need is in me. I need to take into account the ‘in-built guide of my mind’ and the tools I have external to me that can also help me as need be.

I wish you a wonderful week ahead too. It will likely have bumps and scrapes but will have YOU to guide you too.

Denyse.

 

Linking here with Leanne on Thursdays for Lovin Life. Hello everyone!

 

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Week 10 Intention: Gratitude. 2017.36.

Week 10 Intention: Gratitude. 2017.36.

I’ve blogged before about writing in my gratitude journal on a  regular basis. Then, as if by ‘magic’ the habit gets waylaid. I know that when I made entries in it I could focus on the big and small things that I am grateful for.

I have an app and it gives me a reminder. I am back! It’s a paid app called Gratitude Journal – The Life-changing App. I like it because I can add photos as well as text. There are many others out there too

However, I also practise gratitude more these days without always recording it.

Gratitude has taken some criticism of late in some circles, as does the notion of whether meditation helps us if we cannot shut out our thoughts – by the way, you can’t and that’s OK too!…So I go along with what works for ME!

Here’s some information gleaned about gratitude from a great website worth subscribing to..it’s free. Source:

The Greater Good. 

Physical
• Stronger immune systems

• Less bothered by aches and pains

• Lower blood pressure

• Exercise more and take better care of their health

• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological

• Higher levels of positive emotions

• More alert, alive, and awake

• More joy and pleasure

• More optimism and happiness

Social

• More helpful, generous, and compassionate

• More forgiving

• More outgoing

• Feel less lonely and isolated.

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.

Thank you to my lovely commenters relating to my ‘go gently’ intention. It “was” a tough week (I am getting somewhat familiar with those!) but I did treat myself more gently and now am ready to accept that some weeks/months/years ARE indeed tough as that is LIFE.

My Week 10 Intention.

To practise gratitude each day, and continue onwards after this week, by noting what I am grateful for and by recording a summary each evening in the journal.

What do you do to practise gratitude?

Denyse.

Joining the lovely Leanne’s linky called Lovin’ Life on Thursdays.

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Little Fishies. 2017.35.

Little Fishies. 2017.35.

On Monday I drove to The Entrance for a haircut. Beforehand I did my favourite thing which was to take a look at The Entrance waterway and see what was happening. Not many people were there as school is back and holidays are over for most. However, the water was freshly running and just under the surface SCHOOL was in for Little Fishies!

Here’s what I saw.

After the haircut I drove back over the bridge in the photo and stopped off at Pelican Wharf where I took these pics standing on a little jetty. Look at the camouflage!

Do you ever just stop and notice nature like this?

It was a very mindful experience for me during a pretty stressful time. Life is like that for me right now.

Denyse.

Joining photography friends here:

Trish: Jen: Sue: Steph.

On the weekends I link with the Ultimate Rabbit Hole here with Sammie and friends.

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Meditations for Back to School. 2017.22.

Meditations for Back to School. 2017.22.

I wonder what you thought when you saw this title?

In fact it IS about meditation and it IS for kids…yes!

From my experience of the past two years, meditation is helpful. I use it for helping me stay in the moment more and for being mindful. I’ve written about it here.

More and more though, it is found that a few minutes of meditation, slowing down to focus on the ‘here and now’ and the breath is an excellent strategy for us all. It is not about clearing the mind nor about going to sleep.

Smiling Mind is an Australian-based company producing apps and meditations on-line. The app is free. I have used this app a few times. I like the Australian accent too. Here’s the link to Smiling Mind to find out more.

What caught my eye recently from the ABC in Australia is this:

Meditations for Back to School.*

There are meditations for kids and teachers. I tried the kid one and that’s why I am sharing it here. I would suggest having a go with your children.

I would also try it with a class if I was still teaching!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-TnQWp8VBwqQ/UePpQ7YiMWI/AAAAAAAAArw/StA8xwN1J7A/s1600/meditation+for+children.jpg

 

Here from ABC and Smiling Mind. From their website:

Our vision is to see mindfulness meditation on the Australian National Curriculum by 2020.

This hopeful statement from the Dalai Lama provides food for thought.

*Not a sponsored post..I just like to share what I think is helpful for families and education.

Have you tried meditation?

Do your children meditate?

Tell me more!

Denyse.

 

 

 

 

 

It is I Blog On Tuesday time I. B. O.T! Joining Kylie Purtell and the crew who blog on Tuesdays here.

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