Tuesday 18th December 2018

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

I went to a million (give or take) in-service courses as a teacher/principal.

I think they are called “professional learning” now and I also know they “count” towards accreditation each year.

I also devised and delivered many as both a teacher and University tutor and Adult Educator.

So what is this about in relation to my final November notes?

It’s how my personal development was & is enhanced by having cancer.

I am aware I have written at some length about the processes I have learned behaviour-wise and they are here, on the page “Denyse and Her Cancer Story”.

What I will do now is write about my changes in behaviour and attitude and how this can be linked to my cancer diagnosis. To make it easier and for me to see the changes, it will be in photos.

  • I gained independence
  • I became much less anxious and fearful following my diagnosis and subsequent BIG surgery
  • I tried new things with greater ease than ever before
  • I knew that to follow the processes and trust in the professionals, I would be OK.
  • I sometimes had to challenge the negative voice inside that wanted it all “done and now”
  • I found calm in more ways than I realised: particularly by going outside, into nature and doing art.

And then more:

  • As I already knew from the experiences of ‘exposure therapy’ the more I did the more I could do with increased confidence
  • Things do not occur linearly nor with ease and of course there were (still are at times) so tears that spill over and some worries
  • What is different now is how quickly I recover and re-group
  • It feels so much better for me to be a calmer person who is less afraid to travel, meet up with friends old and new and see greater times ahead
  • I can also put the “cancer voice” back in its box with relative ease by using my thinking strategies well.
  • I no longer try to ‘case manage’ anyone else’s behaviour.
  • I accept with great assurance that not only am I doing the best I can, so are most people
  • I am much more likely now to reach out a hand in friendship and care rather than recoil because of the anxiety and fear based on social engagements and effects of IBS.

And this is why and how having cancer helped me grow. It is a learning process of course. However, I am loving how my life is now and what I have gained back from this past 18 months living with a cancer diagnosis.

There is such a phenomenon called Post-Traumatic Growth. Article can be found here.

This resonates with me:

Types of personal growth

People may experience different types of change while coping with cancer, including:

  • Improved relations with others. Living with cancer may increase feelings of closeness or intimacy with family or friends. It may make it easier to connect with others who have had a traumatic event.
  • New life experiences. Having cancer may change your priorities, causing you to make different life choices. You may be motivated to make a career change, overcome a fear, or fulfil a life goal.
  • A greater appreciation for life. A cancer survivor may have an increased regard for life’s value or a new sense of vulnerability to death. This awareness may help you appreciate the world in new ways.
  • A sense of personal strength. Living with cancer can help you develop increased mental strength and a sense of empowerment. You can be proud of what you have accomplished.
  • Spiritual development. Some people living with cancer find they gain an increased interest in practicing religion or adding spiritual depth to their daily lives.

Having post-traumatic growth does not mean that you have completely overcome the stress and other feelings about having cancer. Growth and suffering can happen at the same time. In fact, most people who report post-traumatic growth also report having struggles. A person may grow in one area of their life and not another, or in a number of areas at different times.

I have been incredibly fortunate of course to have the surgeries and treatments and I never downplay cancer but as an educator I know what it has taught me and continues to teach me.

Have you had experiences that have changed part of your life and your outlook?

Please share!

Denyse.

Joining in with Leanne for Lovin Life linky here.

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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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Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Thanks to my readers and commenters I am continuing a more ‘on the spot’ post and perhaps adding to my stories of what I would like to share.

In line with this title: Appreciation.….Today I am thankful for:

Opportunities to share my story about my head and neck cancer diagnosis and what has followed since 17 May 2017

  • My blog has, of course, been the main way of sharing since then
  • This year a number of organisations have taken note of my blog’s purpose in keeping readers updated with my cancer treatment and progress and approached me to write a post for them or to engage a writer on my behalf.
  • Both versions occurred: Here with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.…and Here with Beyond Five and most recently here with  Cancer Aid App
  • The connections I have made on-line in groups on Facebook, for example this one and then meeting people from a local group continue to add to my knowledge of what others are doing in managing both the cancer diagnosis and treatments along with post-cancer life
  • I was approached by one newly made friend who is also a head and  neck survivor, to write about what I do each day to both be active and busy but to be mindful in my post-cancer surgery times and into the 14th month of recovery

I understand that each and every person, with a cancer diagnosis or not, will find ways in which to live their lives in semi or full retirement.

I am only one person…who has found the transition to retirement an anxious one. I have written about it here  

However, knowing it was up to ME to make things work better for me each day, I used my instincts and skills…and some creative thoughts to determine this:

The emotional impact of cancer cannot be under-stated but I have taken steps to ensure my physical and emotional health are priorities. I do this by:

  • Getting dressed each day with purpose, having a photo taken and posted on Instagram. This keeps me connected and within a routine I enjoy. Losing weight before the cancer was diagnosed and keeping it stable while recovering meant I could celebrate with buying new clothes

From 30 Oct, I did an Outfit of the Day post…now into my 10th month!

  • Taking notice of the world outside – the natural one in particular – by driving the the local beaches and walking or just taking in the scenes with all of my senses or just looking skywards and seeing the clouds and patterns. I also post a photo with #noticenaturedaily on Instagram

The week before #4 surgery

  • Creating art or designing mandalas and colouring them and making patterns to colour and decorating cards. Whatever I make I add to Instagram with #createdaily2018
  • Completed Mandala

  • Being a sociable person and meeting up with friends when I can and even if I go out alone (which I actually enjoy too) I engage in conversation with others as much as possible. I have learned long ago not to be self-conscious of ‘no teeth’ in my upper mouth.

Coffee & Morning Tea. Can only eat 1/3 of a scone out! Messy.

  • Staying interested and informed via reading newspapers, commenting on others’ blogs and generally taking an interest in the lives of those I may have met or am still to meet via social media.

I wear this to remember I AM!

That’s my Appreciation in August for this week! But before I go: on World Head and Neck Cancer Day 2018 last Friday I felt a great need to visit here and enjoy the space, sounds and more….but to also give thanks for all the beach has helped me through so much since we moved away from Sydney in 2015.

What are you thankful or grateful for this week?

Denyse.

Joining Leanne and friends here for Lovin’ Life Linky each Thursday.

My blogging friend from Ballarat is starting a first day of the month linky called Good Grateful. I think it’s always a great plan to reflect on gratitude! In fact, I AM grateful to her for rekindling old blogging friendships recently which spurred me on to making a Blog Roll on this blog!

Thanks so much Caz! Her blog is called Room For My Soul. I wish you well and will be there for sure! 

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Can’t Live Without. #LifeThisWeek. 28/52. 2017.92.

Can’t Live Without. #LifeThisWeek. 28/52. 2017.92.

Welcome back everyone to Life This Week!

I have missed you all. Thank you to those lovely bloggers who checked on how I was going when I was in hospital and since I have been home.

I can’t live without blogging and bloggers it seems too!

I’ve listed the revised prompts and their weeks here. They are also on the Home Page.

This post will be ‘short and photo-filled’ as a side-effect of the strong anti-biotics that my gut dislikes (and I do too!) is giving me less time to write….if you know what I mean…so without further ado here is just a few of what I can’t live without.

This man! Met on 17 Oct 1970 and can’t live without his love, care, commonsense and the yin to my yang. Love at first sight it is true (for us) the opposites attract.

 

B put my wedding ring on this finger on 23 Jan 1971 and recently re-sized down after weight loss, I was sad when after surgery and my hand swelled it became stuck. Some cream on my other hand helped shift it and when B came for next visit it went home in his wallet for safe keeping.

 

Nature and its colours, shapes and beauty. I see it everywhere and can’t live without in my life.

 

Art of some kind is always part of my creative life. I am a highly visual person and enjoy creating my own mandalas now. They are meditative for me. I took art materials to hospital and by the time I was out of ICU in my room I was ready to create. Not this one! This was done at home.

 

Photography. I have a phone or camera with me wherever I go. I cannot live without being able to capture something which may never appear again. I particularly enjoy living close to nature like this because it gives me so much joy to find scenes like these to remember. In fact, I showed some of the nurses these photos and they could not believe the beauty that abounds where we live now.

 

I know I cannot live without my iPhone for sure! This is me the day we set off for Sydney for pre-admission to hospital and I guess I knew it would be my ‘last toothy smile’ for a while. The other thing in that photo I cannot live without is my glasses! Readers and multis. Cannot see any details without them.

 

The beach. Wherever it is. I cannot live without seeing spaces of water and sand. I am missing them now as I am a bit house-bound but on our way home from Sydney I loved coming across the Hawkesbury River towards our ‘now home’ the Central Coast.

 

I also cannot live without capturing a sunrise or a sunset if I get the chance. I did each morning from my hospital room. It was so uplifting to be part of nature this way. And my ‘old home town’ of Sydney is here.. I do not miss her as much as I thought I did.

 

I cannot live without my car….well I do for now because my husband drives me where we need to go. Last week I ‘had’ to stand next to her (red car I love you!) after my visit to the GP. He, by the way, is friendly and amazing so I share cannot live without him. He has helped me so much in the short time he has been our GP. I will add him to the list!

 

Blue Sky. As we all know we cannot live without what is above us as it sustains us. I cannot live without the air, the clouds which bring rain and the blue sky which gives joy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this literal ‘snapshot’ of what I cannot live without.

Denyse.

Thank you for linking up here.  I link up on Mondays too with Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here 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: Winter


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