Saturday 20th April 2019

November Notes #4. 2018.122.

November Notes #4. 2018.122.

At the beginning of 2018 I decided to make myself accountable on-line.

To ME!

Accountable by sharing on Instagram and then via Facebook and Twitter three daily posts.

Every.Single.Day.

I did!

Well, I did until the reason stopped having meaning for me.

Routine.

Despite being retired and recovering from what was then “only” two surgeries on January 1, I committed to posting:

  • A Daily Outfit post: #outfitoftheday #dresswithpurpose
  • A Daily Creative post: #creating #process #product
  • A Daily Nature post: #gettingoutside #noticingnature

I remain committed in many areas of my life: career, partnership and more and so this was going to be keeping me:

  • accountable to ME for 3 different reasons
  • every day had 3 opportunities to share on line and enjoy interactions
  • help with a daily structure
  • less likely to sit around doing little
  • to keep my mood steady and somewhat elevated as I had interactions outside the house…and via connections on-line
  • managing my life with cancer by having 3 separate interests and reasons to connect with others
  • finding new people on-line, including groups of people with Head and Neck cancer
  • using my eye for noticing …and my creative brain for making…and helping my recovery by dressing each day for a photo

Here’s how it went, via a few examples from each category, until it stopped…on 30 October 2018.

Why Did I Stop?

I had had enough. Once something serves its purpose it IS time to move on. But there was also another landmark I had passed and I think it also had something to do with the decision.

On 30th October I had posted a “photo of me” every day for the previous 365 days (maybe a couple of exceptions) and I know how much I was both encouraged and buoyed when I first started doing this as I had only had cancer (and just one surgery!) for a few months. It fed my need to be ‘seen’ even with my face and body taking some blows and then recovering after surgeries 2, 3 and 4. BUT, I was knew things had changed for me.

From 31 October, I decided to post ONE instagram/facebook/twitter snap a day based on Daily Gratitude.

I still show me in whatever I wore that day, but on the side of the collage I group 4 similar reasons for gratitude for me.

I am finding this something meaningful as I wind down till the end of the year.

I will still, on occasion, post other pics but no longer via the need to do 3 a day for 365 days!! I cleared out a lot of my Instagram feed too now, keeping mostly the images of me as they help me see my progress.

So, that’s it.

This is the second last November Notes and I have decided not to do a Thursday post in December unless there is a need. I did enjoy the challenges of thinking more for my creative space…

Just for July, Appreciation in August, September Stories, Observations in October & November Notes.

When the reason has changed, change what we do. Do you?

Love to know what you think about habits that keep on going on and maybe they are no longer needed.

Denyse.

Joining the bloggers who link here with Leanne for Lovin Life on Thursdays. (I will still link up a post, even if it is not a newly published one!)

 

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Look Good Feel Better Workshop. 2018.115.

Look Good Feel Better Workshop. 2018.105.

Look Good Feel Better workshops are open to anyone undergoing treatment for any sort of cancer.

https://lgfb.org.au/workshop/

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a Look Good Feel Better Workshop in my local area.

It was held in a private room within a community church. It is free and available, on application, to any person with cancer. It started at 10 and ran till 12.30. There was no break nor any refreshments other than water.

There were three women from “Look Good Feel Better” waiting for me and the other people who arrived. Each of us chatted briefly and then we sat around a well-organised table with individual places, products, a bag and mirror. There was help from the ladies as we were given tips on how to make up our faces and things were done in a clean and hygenic manner.

The co-ordinator, Cindy, pictured here with me, ran the event aided by a volunteer and her volunteer co-ordinator Kate.

Cindy, the Co-ordinator with Me…after-shot!

Interested in Being a Volunteer? 

The Look Good Feel Better program relies heavily on our team of 1,300 dedicated and passionate individuals who volunteer their time, knowledge and expertise to help deliver our workshops across Australia.

We ask that our volunteers are over 18 years of age and can commit to a minimum of FOUR workshops per calendar year (where available in your region) to ensure we have sufficient volunteer support for our workshops to run.

The first section (around an hour) was very helpful and I did pick up some tips for my poor ravaged skin on this face that has undergone four surgeries! We learned about the sun protection levels and the fact that those undergoing treatments may be even more damaged by the sun so to take good care. We found out about facial tricks – to hide or minimize ‘flaws’ and I learned more about using the concealing ‘green’ stick on red places.

I seemed to be the only one there who was not affected by hair loss or potential hair loss but not everyone shared what their cancer was so I am surmising.

The second section was not relevant to me and I did think about leaving before it started but to support the lady next to me, I stayed. This section was about losing hair, head coverings, tricks and tips and wigs. I am glad I was there for this lady and I do hope now she has started her chemo she is a little more prepared.

 

Look Good Feel Better is a national free, non-medical, brand-neutral program dedicated to helping you face your cancer with confidence. 

While most changes in your appearance are temporary, we believe that taking control of your appearance is one of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your self-esteem and confidence while going through treatment.

Can’t get to a workshop?

Home-delivered Confidence-Kits are a supplementary service developed to assist cancer patients who are unable to attend a Look Good Feel Better workshop for health, travel or personal reasons.

I came away feeling a bit flat which may have been because “my cancer” is not well-known. The second session in particular geared to those, who through cancer treatments have had hair loss  including eye lashes and eyebrows. I fully understand that more women need this kind of help and support through treatment as do others who have chemo.

There was little to no interest in knowing more or even hearing about my head and neck cancer, but those of us head and neck patients find this is a general response. Now you know why I try to educate and help others as I was ignorant too about head and neck cancers till my diagnosis!!

I would however like to thank those who shared their morning with me, particularly the fellow cancer patients. Some were incredibly kind and generous with their tips to others, like the lady next to me who was scared pre-chemo, and one lady had us all ‘fooled’ when her beautiful head of hair proved to be a wig.

Thanks to those who volunteer with the organisation, Look Good Feel Better, and those who work hard to see it happens. From the time I got my initial email, to the time of attendance the communication was excellent. In fact, I was able to change the day of mine to “when I would have my teeth” and they were happy to do that.

We all got the new products that were on our placemat at our table and each is now in my bathroom and I am using the eye brown pencil, the blusher, the big brush, the mineral foundation and the tinted moisturiser.

Have you attended a workshop?

Do you know someone who might benefit?

Put them in touch via the website and they will be looked after.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and with Sue & Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love on Wednesdays.

 

 

 

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November Notes.#1. 2018.113.

November Notes.#1. 2018.113.

November notes are related to health and mindfulness and in November in Australia we see the jacarandas in bloom. This reminds us of….for some exams are just around the corner, it’s almost the end of the academic year and it’s closer to Christmas than we think.

A year ago, on 30 October to be exact, I began a practice that was going to be for 32 days in length. It was to ‘dare to post’ a photo of myself every day from then until I turned 68 on 30 November 2017.

As regular readers know 2017 brought a significant and blindsiding diagnosis of cancer: head and neck cancer located in my upper gums and under the top lip. If that doesn’t give anyone a shake-up then I don’t know what might.

I have always enjoyed sharing my life via photos on social media, instagram for preference, and as someone who had also, in that ‘life-altering year’, lost even more weight, new clothes and an appreciation of a more physically comfortable body gave me an idea. It was not my original idea as others before me were already snapping themselves with hashtags:

#everydaystyle

#dresswithpurpose

#outfitoftheday

#over60sstyle

and more….and I thought, maybe I could challenge myself to do this. I decided a little matter of not being able to open my mouth to smile would not stop me, so off I went. I wrote about it here in 2017.

Until I was 68. Then it changed. Again. I liked doing this so much I continued. Here are some of the shots back then.

In 2017 I used collages. It was a good chance for me to show the world how my ‘mouth’ was going – post July and then November 2017 ops

 

And, my husband made me smile (most times) for the pics. Finding some backgrounds was interesting.

My ‘telling it as it is” shot. I was in pain in my face from surgery, but we went to the beach to distract me…I also went bare-legged (right leg) to show my surgical scars.

Once I established this great routine, I added another, once I could be sure I could do it. Out for a coffee. Every day.

 

And as the weather warmed, it was clear I needed to shop for new items.

 

Once I was less fatigued, I found shopping for some new clothes (only ever ones on special) was a big distraction from cancer and the surgeries’ effects.

Another significant day: We attended our granddaughter’s 21st in Sydney where I saw family who had not seen me since surgeries and I got another dress for the occasion.

Deciding to go on after my birthday! Christmas Day shot with 3 of our grandkids.

And then into 2018.

 

I like a challenge, so a self-determined one, was that every day the clothes would be different. I kept as accurate a record as I could and it was also, ahem, great getting my shopping gene back. My mum liked to shop for clothes and shoes. As I can not find pretty shoes because of awful feet, I went for the clothes. The ladies in the local Rockmans, Millers and Suzanne Grae got to know me well and bargains were had.

It was a great thing for my mental health as there were days when, like all of us, I just would think, “I cannot be bothered”. They were the days, I recognised were the ones when I need to be bothered the most. So, as someone who keeps to her word, I went on.

I believe that this helped my recovery and in a future post or two in November Notes, I will share more.

  • Do you take part in any daily Instagram challenges?
  • Would you post photos of yourself on social media?
  • If the answer is yes, yay for you! If no, what is stopping you?
  • Can you consider that this is something that may be good for your health too?

Enough from me!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne here for Lovin Life link up on Thursdays.

 

 

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Observations in October #3. 2018.107.

Observations in October #3. 2018.107.

Regular readers will recall I love mandalas.

I liked making patterns and designs too, but somewhere in mid 2016 mandalas caught my attention, and I was onto them. Firstly I bought a book which helped me design my first few (and I remembered geometry taught in primary school!) and then I took off.

I made a promise to myself to make 100. I exceeded it. Mandalas made by me have gone to others to use as decorations or just to enjoy. I truly love sharing them.

Our dining table, when visitors are here,  is adorned with versions made with laminating tbat have become coasters, table places and mats. My Dad has quite a few in frames at his place.

This week I did something I have been looking forward to for a while. I began teaching a class of adults about the mindfulness of colouring and using mandalas as my examples.

By the time this is posted, it will have happened. I shall report back!

Reporting back! On Tuesday 8 people joined the class and that was awesome. Each told me they came for learning, to have a new thing to do and to chat with others. It went so well they are returning next week!

What I am hoping is that you, my readers, also begin to appreciate and see mandalas where you go.

I noticed these walking down one street in Wyong on Sunday.

Three of my grandchildren were delighted to see that I had left parts of a new mandala for them to colour (using my best markers!) and they did a super job.

From The Mandala Workbook – A Creative Guide for self-exploration, balance & well-being. by Susanne F. Fincher. P1.

What Are Mandalas?

 Mandala is Sanskrit for “magic circle” and in the most basic sense, a mandala is simply a circle. Since ancient times in many cultures the mandala has had a powerful role in depicting, containing and expressing the sacred.

 Mandalas can come in many forms, from stone carvings, to domed cathedrals, ritual dances and calendar cycles.

 No matter their form, mandalas often us a profound way to examine our inner reality, to integrate that understanding with our physical selves and to feel connected to the greater universes. 

 “The circle has been universally accepted as a religious image of perfection, a shape of total symmetry, hermetically closed off from its surroundings. It is the most general shape, possessing the fewest individual features but serving at the same time as the matrix of all possible shapes” Rudolf Arnheim.

 

Mandalas are everywhere and here in each ceiling at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is one:

I see them in nature. Everywhere I look.

 

Will you look too now?

Denyse.

Joining my friend Leanne and others who link up here for Lovin’ Life each Thursday.

 

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But It IS Still About Cancer. 2018.103.

But It IS Still About Cancer. 2018.103.

Since spending much of last Tuesday, 2nd October, at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (my cancer hospital) in Sydney, I have been affected by the fact that the reason I am in need of regular visits is because I have cancer. Specifically a Head and Neck cancer that was removed from my maxilla and upper lip named:

“Hybrid squamous cell carcinoma showing features of both verrucous squamous cell carcinoma & conventional squamous cell carcinoma”

On Tuesday I got a copy of the Histopathology report from 6 July 2017 surgery. It was ‘less confronting’ to read from this distance of time but it did have words in it I found hard to read.

With no risks per se, other than age, it seems my cancer took hold. I reckon it was there for many months before it was discovered after having my bridge/teeth removed when the gums were so sore and growing over the teeth (my request to do so in January 2017 was not heeded until April 2017). Diagnosis came in mid May 2017.

Why am I writing this now?

Because after all the surgeries (4 in less than one year), and many, many visits back to Westmead for my prosthodontist to make my mouth ready to accept the upper prosthesis of teeth, I thought I was almost done.

I am not.

Cancer is and will always ‘be there’ and in fact, my Professor and lovely Cate, reminded me “It IS about cancer” and that is why I come back for check ups and need to be vigilant myself about any changes.

My day of catching up, meeting people and doing my trip to Sydney independently was wonderful and I am so grateful that all of these people care about me and helping others with cancer. But it came home, forcefully, and is affecting me today with some sadness;

Cancer is always there. I had let it hide for a while behind everything else I was doing. I appreciate you reading this far! It is important, always, once I have something impact me as this has, that I share.

My husband is a wonderful person I can chat with always and I saw my GP to update him as a de-brief.

But before I go on, I had a TREMENDOUS day on Tuesday, noteworthy too because it was the first time I had driven myself to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Asking Others For Their Thoughts.

I asked around  facebook friends who I know are through the active stage of treatments for their thoughts and some kindly replied with these words.

From S.:

“I’m past the ‘active’ part of my treatment, I’ve had surgery and radiation. Now I take a once a day tablet to prevent recurrence and I got 12 months all clear. But some days I feel just awful with fatigue and other side effects. I spend whole afternoons sleeping on the couch. I don’t feel like myself and it’s really hard when people say ‘oh you must be back to normal now’. I’m not back to normal and I don’t know if I ever will be. The weight of expectation (my own and others) feels so heavy and overwhelming sometimes. Depression, anxiety and feeling down even though you survived cancer feels inevitable and like I am lacking gratitude for my recovery. I’m not, it’s just hard”

From V.:

For me post cancer treatment is a mixed bag. I’m so grateful for my recovery but the fear and uncertainty for the future is still there. It’s a monkey on your back forever and you have to find a way to live with that monkey. The monkey is very loud and cheeky at times. Other times I give my monkey a time out and she sulks in the corner. At my recent follow up appointment I sat in a waiting room full of women ( I had early stage breast cancer).   They all had that haunted ‘how in the hell did I end up here’ look on their face and you just bravely smile at each other without any need for words.

From S.:

It’s my cancerversary on Tuesday so I’ll be blogging about it too! I don’t think the cancer shadow ever goes away but I try not to let the worry of it steal my joy of today.

From M:

 The elation of hearing the words “all clear” faded more quickly than I imagined and in its place was anxiety. Having been so closely under the microscope for so long,  I felt anxious that the cancer might return and it wouldn’t be spotted. Over time, this does ease and I look forward to my six-monthly check ups for continued reassurance that all is ok.

From M in N.Z.:

It’s normal to have a slump in mood after treatment ends. I availed myself of the Cancer Society psychologists who are trained to help us deal with the transition from treatment to the new normal.

I also went to the NSW Cancer Council website and found this article about ‘after the cancer treatment stage’.

Can cancer be a positive experience?

  • Many people find there are positive aspects to having cancer. Some even refer to the disease as a life-changing experience.
  • Cancer may cause you to re-examine your life choices, and may motivate you to travel, take up new activities or make lifestyle changes (e.g. starting exercise or quitting smoking). This shift is often gradual, as even positive change can take getting used to.
  • After treatment, some people want to help improve the cancer experience for others through advocacy or volunteer work.

Read more at https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/15289/b1000/living-well-after-cancer-45/living-well-after-cancer-back-to-normal/#sUFxCMjbDj1ZGQz4.99

New friend to me, and known to many is journalist and M.C.  Julie McCrossin, who is now 5 years down the track from her Head and Neck cancer diagnosis and she sent me here, to her podcasts for the Cancer Council, and this one of fear I listened to again.

Liverpool Hospital Head and Neck Patient Support Group listening to Dr Ben Smith, Ingham Institute on cancer recurrence anxiety. Learn more about managing anxiety. Listen to The Thing About Cancer Managing Fear podcast cancercouncil.com.au/podcasts/episo… @beyondfiveorg @CCNewSouthWales http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:314217701/sounds.rss

Julie said “I find the fear catches me unawares, like on my recent birthday”

Thank you friends for sharing.

So, I am not unique.

Always good to know.

And I can share my worries and fears with others who ‘get it’.

Having cancer never really ends, but I am always grateful for the friendships and new experiences I am having as a result of cancer.

Thank you one and all.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog on Tuesdays here and with Sue and Leanne here on Wednesdays.

 

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Mindfulness, Mandalas & Self-Care!* 2018.97.

Mindfulness,Mandalas & Self-Care!* 2018.97.

This post will eventually make sense…please read on. If you too value self-care.

Things have been pretty serious around this blog lately so with yesterday’s light-hearted post about my last purchase. See what I did and why here, if you want a bit of a laugh at me and my laminator woes.

And as if to give me a reason to relax more was necessary I had a somewhat disconcerting couple of days where my gut rumbled and I refused to listen (as I can do) until, some IBS** (also written about a lot here and here) decided to remind me about:

*WHY I NEED TO PRACTISE BETTER SELF-CARE.

From way back I have been an achiever.

I like to do and see the reward in the finished product or event or whatever it is.

I like to plan and see things through to their end.

In other words, I DO (not the marriage one) almost all of the time and until something stops me** I keep on keeping on.

Self-care of and for me is MY responsibility and coming out of a major life event as having cancer you’d think I would have it sorted. Things like this would be taken into consideration:

  • physical ability to carry out what I am choosing to do
  • physical ability and stamina to keep going with such activities
  • knowing when to take a rest and stop for a while
  • understanding that my ageing body is not quite at all like it used to be as it has also fought cancer
  • remembering that I “am retired” and much of my day is for me to choose how to spend it

And generally I do, until I don’t and that is what happened last week**…

Yes, I am getting to the mandalas & mindfulness soon!

It was not much at first, but for a day or two, I could feel my breathing being more about “sighing” as in things were an effort. I also found myself jumping from one self-determined task to another with a view to getting them done.

 No-one else had set me any tasks but me. At times, I am loving the busy-ness and the physicality of getting out and about, making the bookmarks for The Big Hug Box, getting the shopping done, making some meals for us both and blogging responsibilities along with deciding to learn how to do hand-lettering via a couple of on-line courses.

I loved driving an hour to catch up with a friend for morning tea on Tuesday and driving to the beach on Monday to walk down many steps to the rock platform. I was BUSY. I genuinely loved doing it too.

And by Friday my gut grumbled and sent me to the loo more and more until Saturday morning when it said “ENOUGH” and let me know it with some IBS.

OH. I know why, I silently said and did not get angry but instead I got grateful. For my body’s reminder when my mind would not listen.

I stopped. I calmed me with better breathing techniques. I sat with NO iphone near me and read two papers. I rested. I coloured a magical and big mandala and then I knew what to do …MUCH more mindfully engage with what I love.

One of these is making mandalas and the other is remembering to be mindful more.

I was brought into the present moment (the only one we experience!) and sat and contemplated this design started a week or so ago and how I would colour it. I spent some magical moments here doing so and then selecting the colours to do so.

My breathing returned to normal pace, my gut is quiet, my husband is pleased I have done this of my own volition, and I am chastened by it and know that yes, I can be the saboteur of my own self-care. I sat outside admiring the pansies and was uplifted by their beauty in my mindful state.

What about you?

What do you get as a sign you need to stop and do/be differently?

Since Saturday I have a social media & iphone free hour from 12.30 to 1.30. It’s going well.

Tell me more in the comments.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Sue and Leanne for Midlife Share The Love Link here on Wednesdays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Is The Hard* Thing? Part Two. 2018.94.

What Is The Hard* Thing? Part Two. 2018.94.

Last week I began this topic here and had a number of commenters who added their own hard things to the discussion.

What was common to many was the fact that even though they did not want to really do “their hard thing” they were prepared to give it a go and in most cases were pleased to have done so.

That mirrors my own experiences.

Thank you for sharing, everyone.

I found a couple of websites here for those who want to learn more, here and here.

Remember this is not an advice post, merely my story. Wikipedia has also provided a quote.

Exposure therapy is a technique in behaviour therapy thought to help treat anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy involves exposing the target patient to the anxiety source or its context without the intention to cause any danger. Doing so is thought to help them overcome their anxiety or distress.

About (My) Exposure Therapy.

I am not a trained psychologist nor therapist but I am someone who has been taught what exposure therapy is and whilst I did not like its title (I called it my challenges!) I can outline how it was explained for me.

My psychologist brought up exposure therapy as part of her helping me learn what I had to do next after getting myself more confident about some social things I had previously resisted. These included driving to Sydney and going to the Dentist. However, I was resistant to learning how it could help me conquer my fear about IBS and getting ‘caught’ short.

She outlined a list of 1 -10 and then asked me to tell her hardest (the 10 end) and easiest (the 1 end) activities I would be prepared to try and then to do them before the next session and report back. Exposure therapy continued to be resisted by me even though I had the knowledge, and a counselling-trained husband encouraging me. What to do? Nothing was improving, so I did some of the challenges at the easier end:

  • go out in the car about 15 minutes and not go to the toilet just to check I am ok,
  • go out again and not take an immodium in my bag just in case
  • go out for a longer time and not race home because it is too hard not to be sure about my IBS.

And then I HAD to face my worst fear and do a trip to Sydney to Lifehouse, see surgeons about my newly (24 hours previously) diagnosed cancer and be a passenger in the car. Three things! My G.P. said “take the valium, take the immodium” and my husband stopped at any loo along the way. I DID it all. Yes, with some drug help but no IBS.

That changed things a LOT. It did not happen just from that ONE experience…I had many more drives like that to face and surgeries but it was the beginning of getting better acquainted with of what I COULD manage by my thinking and doing.

In fact by early March 2018 I decided I could now drive myself to Sydney for the many treatments at Westmead Hospital. Yes, I still do get some IBS in the days leading up but I manage it. No, I do not scold myself any more nor cry about it. I get on with it. It will never be easy-peasy but I will continue to have my mind “do the hard things” and not be beaten by the anxiety of having IBS. By the way, this photo below is me having finished my 23rd session of measuring, treating and fitting at Westmead Oral Sciences. I drove myself to 18 of these!

Monday 10 September with my prosthodontist and nurse. No more visits for 4 weeks!

My Added Story.

Way before cancer and me learning about exposure therapy but when IBS was robbing me of experiences such as visitign the family in Sydney or going there for a social reason, I used to push myself to do some to these as it was “too hard” not to do them if that makes sense. One was (and still is) a family-duty visit to see my elderly father. I say duty because I really do not enjoy these visits much yet I also want to ensure he is OK and leave some meals and snacks I make for him. A long time ago, he tried to understand my IBS and made adjustments to my visits so we just stay in his apartment and talk. The times he insisted on going out for a meal or snack…well, they ended badly for me so he compromised.

With Dad – early 2018.

When I drove back home up to the Central Coast from the Northern Beaches  in the years preceding my cancer diagnosis I always stopped here. Sometimes I still do. In this space of nature, just off the busy and noisy M1, I get a sense of calm and success at having met that challenge of the journey and the reason. When I was there last week, I made this little video.

That’s not quite it from me in terms of the hard things.

What I have realised since even thinking about this post, is how much I do need to continue to encourage myself to take part in life’s changes. You see, I thought getting my teeth would be awesome and it is, but it added another layer of thinking to my concerns…so, if I can eat what I want to eat after so long, what will it be like if I become very overweight again and cannot fit into the clothes I bought in the last 12 months? I tells ya, it never goes away does it…this hard thing!

Comfort Zones.

No such thing really. Well, in my opinion, sitting or staying in your comfort zone helps you stay stuck.  was in mine for a while when I would go nowhere but when I think more of it is was a DIScomfort zone. I did not like the me that could not get herself motivated* to go again.

*I have not been diagnosed with clinical depression nor anxiety. I have been affected by reactive depression (sadness and tears) but that often resolves within a day. My ‘anxiety’ is more of a worry thing and has been part of me since I was a teen. My doctors and psychologists believe I am managing well. The very low dose, old fashioned anti-depressant I am on each evening is to help me sleep and it s l o w s  down my inner gut workings. If you have been diagnosed with either or both: depression and anxiety, then you should speak to your health professional about the types of things related to exposure therapy.

Moving On. My Next Challenge!! 

I am going to be OK as long as I eat well and mindfully because when I was very overweight I ate mindlessly most of the time and to stuff down feelings. See here, if you have not read my story. So, I AM different to the Denyse I was then and I have new and better skills to manage my emotions and life since cancer.

Wish me luck!

Hope you are all doing well too.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love link up.

 

 

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What Is The Hard* Thing? Part One. 2018.91.

What Is The Hard* Thing? Part One. 2018.91.

Hard* as in challenging. scary, not easy, fearful, anxiety-making…but ultimately will or does help with personal growth, wisdom, satisfaction and sense of accomplishment …no matter how big or small.

The ‘hard thing’ is something I have had to accept and do if I want to move on or forward in my life.

There are times when the hard thing can feel too hard or even unacceptable for me to try to do or be.

Noticing nature helps me focus on “just one thing”

Here’s an example.

Last week I had an elevated feeling of anxiety/worry about my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) ramping up to let ME know what my thinking self was not aware of. That is, as I understand the mind vs the gut thing, that my IBS was ramping up because it sensed a fear situation happening.

If you have read here for a while, you will recall that I have really had to work via exposure therapy based messages and activities to make changes to be able to do ordinary, every day activities. This is the first part of the story and here is the second one.

I had ticked a pretty major (for me) life experience challenge box when I drove to Sydney on Monday especially to meet a friend for coffee and a catch up. Awesome and planned by me and I was so glad to be doing it. However, my gut rumbled and let me know:

 “ah ha you are about to get in the car and go down the M1. This is something that you have been scared to do because of IBS”

I refused to play the old IBS, crying, fearful game and instead, took some preventative action and had a successful drive, a wonderful catch up and came home with no ill-effects.

Go me. Right? Right! Until this…

The next day. I had found I was pretty tired from the physical and emotional effects of yesterday’s much wanted success and when I had my IBS back again AND needed to leave the house to go to the hairdresser, I did similarly to the day before, and gave myself the meds, the talk and set off. I was OK. Mind you, I remained somewhat on high alert and that bothered me because:

In the past, I would have had  the haircut, gone to the loo (again, to see I was OK) then driven straight back home. The place of security and comfort.

But something stopped me. These words:

Do The Hard Thing

Why did I listen? Well, based on my past experiences, I have often regretted being beaten  by the fear once I am home. On this occasion this was the conversation in my head:

Do you want to go straight home and then regret not going for a coffee which is your daily treat?

No, I don’t

Then stay, and sit down for the coffee and do something in your art journal so your mind & body  know who is in charge.

And that was how I did the first hard thing that day.

Next one was this. As I usually drive home from The Entrance, I stop somewhere close to the water and take photos as I notice nature for that day. Instead, I told myself to do another hard thing. I drove in a different direction, to Long Jetty, got out of the car, walked and took photos and a little vid without rushing at all.

This is now my locked screen saver.

These two instances might sound small to some readers but I know that I valued myself more highly for doing something that was out of my comfort zone on two different days as I know how much that helps my inner confidence and ways in which I manage IBS.

It is not the end.

It is never the end.

As long as there are things within me that are scary (to me) and may heighten my gut’s reactions, I am going to need to continue to do the hard things.

For too long, I have avoided hard things and that made me even sicker emotionally than ever. I do not want to go back to that space again.

Next week will be about the why of this strategy and how important it is not only to me, but those readers who let me know about their hard things in the comments.

What is the hard thing for you?

Is there more than one?

Do share in the comments.

Thank you.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love.

 

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