Monday 24th September 2018

With $1000 I would…#LifeThisWeek 41/52. 2017.117.

With $1000 I would…#LifeThisWeek 41/52. 2017.117.

Donate the amount to finding a cure for Influenza.

I last had influenza in 1998 and determined to never be that unwell again.

My husband and I have had annual fluvax since then.

Yet this is what I might have and I won’t know until today or tomorrow if it is the flu or a bad virus. Whatever the outcome the treatment is the same: do nothing, rest, eat lightly and drink much.

Updated: NOT the flu. I did start to feel a bit better through the day yesterday and Dr’s office has confirmed throat sample: normal. 

Since the day of the photo I am adding I have felt: aches and pains beyond normal,  had temperatures go as high as 39.5, taken panadol, got the shivers and shakes and for the me, unfortunately the ‘runs’ and severe nausea. I have mild cough, am without energy, and just plain miserable. I am resting because I have no choice.

It’s not fair! I know that is something else I have been doing and kind of stopping. Whingeing. Getting over cancer has been a challenge but this puts me in a place of misery that I had left a while back.

So, away from that. Last Wednesday I did one of my beloved ‘challenges’ and arranged to meet my daughter and her two eldest at the end of the M1 at Hornsby for brunch. I wanted to see them of course, but more than that I wanted to celebrate my daughter’s amazing achievement reached by FINALLY (and she would say the same!) completing her planned 2 Year Part-Time Masters of Education in Teacher Education in her 4th year. Being a single mama, a part-time teacher/librarian in her school because of her family of 3 older kids and one pre-school one, added to her needing surgery x2 in the time, and both of these girls being hospitalised for serious and chronic illnesses in the past 12-16 months…she wondered how on earth she would ever do it. Of course, like any story there is more, but it is not for publication.

She took some LSL and with grim determination got it done. The ‘kids’ were all behind her and they will attend her graduation (of course, she WILL pass those two subjects, just don’t know yet) in Wagga in December. She is back to school this week and it was a pleasure (even though I was probably coming down with this awful thing then) to have met them  and chatted. I don’t usually specifically write  or put pics of the family here but these ladies are over 18 and have already given me permission to share on IG.

That’s it from me. I may or may not comment for a day or so. I will see how I feel.

Have you had this rotten flu/virus?

Do you regularly have the injections?

I hope you are well!

Denyse.

If you like please link up here with Alicia for Open Slather and here with Kell for Mummy Mondays. I will see how I feel.

Thanks for joining in Life This Week.

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!


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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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15 Years Ago & Now. 2017.104.

15 Years Ago & Now. 2017.104.

Fifteen Years Ago.

As I have written before, and is part of my bio, I was a K-6 School Principal in a N.S.W. Public School from 1999-2003. Before then I had been a relieving principal in two schools from 1994-1998. In 1999 I was appointed, by merit selection, to this school. The brief, once I was appointed, from my boss, the District Superintendent was “Denyse, I want you to bring this school into the 21st Century.” He was correct in that. It certainly was stuck back in probably an era two decades earlier. When I began in January 1999, replacing the former principal who died in the September school holidays earlier, I literally had to start the school’s organisation and planning from scratch. Why? Because the person I replaced trusted no-one and kept all leadership matters to himself,  and died with all the school passwords and information for getting things up and running. I took over a mess.

But I love a challenge and there were some good people who wanted to come along on this journey into the century we were on the cusp of entering. The school executive team was keen and wanted to learn more and  I could definitely help them with this and we formed a good group. Until the end of that first year. It really was a change that I could not stop and is part of what happens in school systems anyway but it made my job more challenging for sure. The school was unique in the area at that time with: mainstream classes, a special education unit of 3 classes, 2 O.C. (gifted and talented) classes and an Autism Satellite Class. Two of the people who were part of the executive team sought and got promotions elsewhere. Yes. I would encourage that of course. However, it left a hole for a bit which I was able to carry myself until I could get some new staff appointed.

Over the next 2 years however, this plan started to waiver. I had appointed a person to an executive role who was not up to the role. I take responsibility for that but it was a most unpleasant time as his continued absence from school due to ‘illness’ meant I had parents (and some teachers) calling for action. In the end, my district superintendent moved this person on and I could fill the role internally. I was relieved for a little while but then my best and most competent person in my team had to leave to have her first child. This was lovely for her and her husband and I wished her well. The remaining executive member who was my age decided to take Long Service Leave for the remainder of the year.

This meant I had NO fully qualified person holding an executive role in my very busy and varied school community.  But what did I do? I appointed people who were staff members who said they would like to learn more about the role and support the school  by taking on relieving roles for the remainder of 2002. This worked in some ways but I needed to take on more of their responsibilities myself or guide them step by step. It was as if I was doing multiple roles. I could sense how much I had taken on in June that year when I ended up writing a casual teacher’s class reports!

 

I did not know what this was doing to my mental health although I probably should have read the signs. I sought time out from the school to attend meetings and to meet with colleagues but at NO TIME did I actually tell my boss what it was like for me. In fact, I had said farewell to the District Superintendent who’d appointed me at his retirement and he was replaced by someone in an acting position. And, it still is the same now, a principal is meant to handle anything and everything that comes up. Well. Maybe in 2017 there might be greater awareness of principals’ mental health but not when I was becoming unwell. Even though I did not know it. I can look back now and see I was quick to anger and showed my displeasure when people did not comply because of their own incompetencies or my ‘view’ of how they should behave in the role. This led to….the following:

On a September evening in 2002 I received a telephone call at home from one of my relieving executive staff. She told me that there would be a delegation of staff coming to me the next day to make a complaint about my manner and behaviour. She said they had contacted our union and that person would be at the school. She also said that there was a rumour it was because of me that the school population was declining and that as that would mean at least one staff member would have to be transferred then I needed to step up. I could and did dispute this as the reason as schools’ populations change for a variety of reasons but instead I reacted personally.

This sure was a bolt out of the blue. But then again, I actually could see how my behaviour had changed and recognised that I was fast losing my grip on being a leader. Within moments of the conversation ending, and letting my husband know what had occurred I broke down. In tears and physical distress I knew I had to protect my health/self and I could NOT face such a meeting. I could not reach my boss and had to wait till the next day. I did not sleep and went to my G.P. as soon as I could that morning. It was very unlike me not to continue to be at work.

That day, 4th September 2002, she declared that I was suffering from anxiety and depression  due to work overload and that she would start the process of a work cover application.

I never went back to that school, that role or saw anyone other than my boss and the local district HR staff again. It was final and I NEVER  could have seen me, a competent and dedicated teacher, finishing my career JUST.LIKE.THAT.

Now.

So much time has passed and yet this time of 15 years ago remains very clear. It is imprinted upon my mind as ‘the time when I failed to do the job I was appointed for‘. Then again  as was  the culture of the time it meant I could not share how I was managing with anyone. Mental health management  in the workplace is hopefully becoming more recognised but there is still a huge stigma attached and shame as well. My shame is decreasing each time I tell my story. It did take courage for me to start to tell my story a few years ago because I did not want to admit my so-called ‘failings‘ as a school principal. I am the one who labelled these, no-0ne else.

The upshot of what happened to me impacts me still in some ways. I did have the claim for workcover met and was paid accordingly. However, as in all workcover matters many steps need to be followed as the recipient and these include ‘return to work’ plans. I simply could not do that. My GP was adamant that I NEVER return to that school nor to the role of principal. Interestingly when I was first on leave I could not even attend my grandchild’s school without a great deal of fear and anxiety.

I was treated by more than my GP. I had to attend meetings with my employer and work cover and to see a psychiatrist and psychologist but what they all wanted me to do I could not. I could not even drive on the road that would lead me to my old school. I was scared!

If I knew what I know now about myself I think I may have been prepared to expose myself to the experience of coming to work at the local district office instead of refusing (avoiding) because I felt such fear and shame. I also think with the knowledge I have now about my mental toughness and resilience that I could have stayed employed.

But no, as I found in early 2003, I HAD to resign my role and give up any rights so that I could, hopefully gain my superannuation lump sum. I was in a scheme which did not medically retire (sadly I had taken myself out of that scheme when we were first married) so the action was to leave under circumstances that were never envisaged by me. Then came an even tougher time when the Superannuation people interrogated me and tested me and declared I was fit and able to return to work. This was disputed by my medical team and it took the lawyers from my union (free for me) to gain my benefit.

For all of 2003 I took time out to explore my creative side, I volunteered at the Smith Family and I met with friends for coffee. I had many appointments to continue my self-styled rehabilitation after I declined to take part in any more of the WorkCover requirements. In early 2004 I needed more. I needed to be with people again and to teach!

There was much more that was good to happen to me from May 2004 onwards which I did for myself by returning to a teaching role in friend’s school and having no executive responsibilities. I was happily engaged in that work from 2004-2009 and had to be careful to not take on too much as I was only to work part-time. But I got my sense of being a teacher again.

So why tell this story?

The stories relating to stress, work overload and anxiety in the workplace need to be shared widely. I now know my personality  type and management style is that I need to be sure of things and want things to be done well and correctly. This was not happening in 2002 but I also held onto the notion that a principal deals with everything without telling the boss how it actually is. I have wondered how it may have worked if I had had the courage to tell someone. I did not even tell my husband.  I became unwell mentally and emotionally because I did not reach out to others and when I was finally diagnosed I was not to return to the workplace. I wonder now, if maybe things could have worked out better for me if I had the resilience I have today.

But we shall never know. I hope that by telling this story I could encourage others to speak up and share if the workload is too much. Tell someone. I know I should have.

Does anything here ring true for you or someone you know?

Denyse.

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

 

 

 

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What is #CelebratingWomen? 2017.76.

What is #CelebratingWomen? 2017.76.

I recently read about Celebrating Women when a friend’s profile was on social media and then I read more about how this project came about. Here is the information about the person who began Celebrating Women, Dr Kirstin Ferguson:

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is a leading businesswoman and company director, international authority in health and safety leadership and corporate governance, and sought after commentator on gender diversity. Dr Ferguson is also the creator of the widely acclaimed global #CelebratingWomen campaign.

An experienced company director and Chairman, Dr Ferguson has experience on ASX100 and ASX200 boards, private company, government-owned corporations and not-for-profit boards. She also sits on the Advisory Panel of a tech start-up incubator, and is the Chairman of the judging panel for a prestigious women’s leadership award.

Dr Ferguson began her career after joining the military aged 17 and went on to become the Dux of her Air Force graduating class at the Australian Defence Force Academy. After being posted to an F-111 Squadron, she studied law and spent almost a decade in leadership roles in a corporate law firm. Dr Ferguson then went on to become CEO of a global consulting organisation providing health and safety services in the mining and resources industry before commencing her professional company director career.

Dr Ferguson is one of the world’s foremost experts in safety governance and leadership having completed a PhD in the field for which she has received numerous awards. As well as a PhD in leadership and governance, Kirstin also has Honours degrees in both Law as well as History. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a graduate of both the Company Director Course and International Company Director Course. Dr Ferguson was also admitted as a solicitor in Queensland and New South Wales.

Dr Ferguson created the viral, global campaign called #CelebratingWomen in 2017. Using social media platforms to see more celebration and less denigration online, Dr Ferguson committed to celebrating two women, from all walks of life and from anywhere in the world, every single day in 2017. The response to the campaign was overwhelming with women from more than 25 countries around the world participating in the project. The #CelebratingWomen campaign has been widely recognised for demonstrating the positive power of social media while making visible women as role models who may not otherwise have been seen.

An advocate for gender diversity and equality in the workplace, Dr Ferguson is a member of national and international women’s organisations including Chief Executive Women, Women Corporate Directors and the Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia.

 

One day I thought I would investigate further and on a whim, found the site on-line and answered the prompts, added 4 photos of mine and almost forgot I had done this. After I saw some other women’s profiles I went down that path of self-doubt and not worthy. Anyone else know what I mean? But then I was told I had cancer. What a game changer that ended up being, in so many ways.

This week, after a few on-line convos with Kirstin we decided it was up to me to continue to be part of it and I decided ‘YES’ because my story WAS important and that I would add the newest info about me: cancer.

How about joining in and sharing your story with #CelebratingWomen.

Look for @celebratingwomen or @kirstinferguson to see how!

I highly recommend it. There are 4 questions and you supply 4 photos. 3 of these below were ones I sent in. Here’s what appeared via social media on Wednesday 31 May about me:

This is Denyse #CelebratingWomen (Profile 298)

Denyse is a retiree, who now blogs, and is learning to navigate life after 40 yrs in education. Denyse has been married for more than 46yrs, is a mother and grandmother but has recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Since the age of 11 Denyse knew she would be a kindergarten to year 2 teacher. Her career path in education let her to become a Primary School Principal.

Using three words to describe her life to date, Denyse says it has been challenging, interesting and successful.

Denyse hopes to inspire women to know there is a life to be made past the roles of working, caring and parenting. After her cancer diagnosis, Denyse says she is inspired by the love & best wishes for her recovery she has received online & in person.

Denyse Whelan Blogs.

Have a great First Day of Winter those readers who are in the Southern Hemisphere!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne here and friends who blog when it’s the link up called Lovin’ Life.

On the weekend I celebrate life with Sammie and blogging friends here for The Ultimate Rabbithole.

 

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Introducing Telling My Story. 2017.60.

Introducing Telling My Story. 2017.60.

In the past few years my life has changed in many ways.

I could say it has happened from the time I turned 60 I guess and at 67 now, it’s been for longer than I imagined.

I am naming this part of my life a transition yet it is more than that.

Like all humans I am living my life and maybe unlike all humans I am trying to understand myself and my life journey better.

Blogging is going to be one of the ways in which I recount aspects of what I have been learning:

I am a life-long learner.

My story is what it is.

My story.

However, it may help me in writing more about it instead of alluding to part of it or directing readers to past posts.

It is quite hard to confess to finding aspects of life as I knew it have left me and I am needing to become used to what is now.

I will write from time to time and it may be about some strategies and resources I have found helpful.

It maybe necessary to tell  the truth of what it has been like for me. And how that has affected my relationships, with myself included for the past few years.

Like I said, I am telling My Story.

Today makes it the introduction. I do not know when the next one will be.

This work, Stop, from Jeff Foster, in his book: ‘The Way of Rest’ Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love is about mindfulness, stopping, staying present.

I would have to add this is one of my biggest challenges. I wrote about ‘uncertainty’ here last week.

 

Whatever is happening in the circumstances of your life, stop. Just for a moment.

Bring your attention toward the here and now. Let the moment become fascinating. Gently begin to acknowledge what is actually happening where you are. Come out of your conclusions about life, your dreams about past and future, and being to notice the sensations, feelings, thoughts that are present, right here and right now.

Let your present experience – sights and sounds and smells – become the most curious dance in all the universe. You are seeing, tasting, touching, hearing the world as if for the first time. This is your Garden of Eden, your messy, intense, joyous, and heartbreaking Garden of Eden and you are awake to it at last.

Stop trying to figure everything out. Give in. Give up. Give all to the moment’s embrace.

Fall into not knowing…

 

I hope that you will find My Story of interest and that it will be something that speaks to you to help you in some way. I do not think we have spoken enough nor even considered what it means to become older, to stop work, to find yourself adrift in some ways where you thought there was security. I write to help me as I look back and move forward into whatever is to come.

Thank you for reading!

Denyse.

Posting for the first time for I Blog on Tuesdays with Kylie Purtell here.

Then joining with Leanne and bloggers on Thursday here for Lovin’ Life link up.

 

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Melbourne Cup Time! #ltw8 366/305.

Melbourne Cup Time! #ltw8  366/305.

When I chose the {optional} prompts for my new Link Up here I was both ‘date oriented and of interest’ in the telling of stories. I guess that IS what “Life This Week” link up is for.

The telling of our stories.

Here’s mine about Melbourne Cup Time!

  • I am from a family that had a social interest in the Melbourne Cup. In other words, not a gambling one as such but a genuine interest in the day and in the spirit of being an Aussie. Remember, I am a baby boomer if you need to label me!
  • In early November, the time of the Melbourne Cup, it meant exams were about to start (yes I did an HSC one on Melbourne Cup day back in 1967) and it would be close to my parents’ wedding anniversary (2nd November).
  • Sweeps are the part of Melbourne Cup Time throughout Australia and I loved them and remember so well the fun of them.
  • At school as a teacher it would be a day with a bit of added fun with welcome relief at a very stressful time of the year as reports were being written, end of year concerts and presentations being rehearsed and preparations for next year made.
  • Melbourne Cup (In NSW) gave us (at school) a chance for a special luncheon and sometimes we even did a bit of dress up. It was about collegiality more than anything.
  • Over the years I got to organise the sweeps and what fun that was!
  • The race itself was not even viewed at school because we did not have access to TV nor was it on-line so I think in my last years at school someone had to make sure they listened to it to know the result.
  • It was a bit of fun and just about everyone enjoyed the spirit of the day which was great.
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credit: www.flemington.com.au

I once went to a Melbourne Cup luncheon when I was on leave from teaching and as a non-drinker and so NOT a ‘lady who lunches’ I found it quite boring really! My mum had always gone to event such as these with her friends and I had to give it a go. Last year I watched the Melbourne Cup at home with my husband with little interest until the last few furlongs when a young female jockey Michelle Payne won. It was a special moment to witness.

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Screen shot from Channel 7.

There are opinions about gambling, the amount of money spent in this industry, the horses and much more I am sure that some may want to write about, but I have chose the simple memories of an Aussie tradition for me.

How about you?

What does Melbourne Cup time mean for you?

Denyse.

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Here are the rules for the link-up “Life This Week” is a link up that runs every Monday and remains live for until Thursday at 5 p.m.during that week.

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!
Respect and tolerance however, are the hallmarks of acceptable on-line social behaviour and as my blog is family-friendly I will reserve the right to delete comments that may be offensive to me or others.
Tweet with the hashtag #ltw (adding the numeral for prompt) if you like.
THANK you for linking up today! Do come back next week.

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Thanks to Alicia for her linky on Mondays here and to Kell at All Mum Said too.

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