Monday 9th December 2019

My Gratitude Month of November.118/2019.

My Gratitude Month of November. 118/2019.

For my seventieth birthday month, I decided to do something different via instagram photos and post about:

G R A T I T U D E

My November Instagram Challenge:

On Being & Feeling Grateful.

For my Birthday month: 70 on 30 November 🎂

I want to share & celebrate #gratitude #givingthanks #reflectingonlife #celebratinglife

Do join me! 😊

Today is 1/30.

With each photograph I added all the reasons for my gratitude. I took some time to collate the collages in October and then filed them in an album ready to publish. I used various backgrounds for the bottom section and words of gratitude too as well as making sure I had the date (and day of 30) added.

About Gratitude.

I was not someone who came easily to the adoption of having a grateful outlook and to show appreciation for what ‘is’ and what I ‘have’ and ‘feel’. I was taught by my husband that I needed to see gratitude more and adopt an attitude of gratitude as they say. Well, I started small. I could change some of my thoughts and feelings around by adopting gratitude and I sensed the difference it made in me.

 

I listened to Gratitude Works!: a 21 Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity by Dr Robert Emmons and, even though there was a religious thread through it, it did not detract from the messages of thanksgiving and gratitude for me.

In the newest little book of his I have, The Little Book of Gratitude, he explains much better than I, the power, value and essence of gratitude:

A 2015 article in the popular journal Scientific American reported that, out of 24 strengths, including powerhouses as love, hope, kindness and creativity, the single best predictor of good relationships and emotional well-being was gratitude.

Gratitude is not just good medicine, though, a nice sentiment, a warm fuzzy feeling, or a strategy or tactic for being happier or healthier.

It is also the truest approach to life.

We did not fashion or create ourselves, and we did not get to where we are in life by ourselves.

So living in gratitude is living in truth.

It is the most accurate and honest approach to life.

 

                          “GRATITUDE is, first and foremost a way of seeing that alters our gaze”

Rounding off the Month of Gratitude. 

 

We are at the dawn of a global gratitude renaissance. Unprecedented interest in the science and practice of gratitude is so welcome because this is what gives us the strength of character to make life better not only for ourselves but also for others.

From Robert Emmons’  The Little Book of Gratitude’ I follow him on twitter: @Dr_RobertEmmons

What are you grateful for today…and every day?

Denyse.

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

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

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Share Your Snaps #9. 45/51.#LifeThisWeek. 111/2019.

Share Your Snaps #9. 45/51. #LifeThisWeek. 111/2019.

It’s that time again. Every 5 weeks here where the ‘snaps’ are shared. I know I share lots of my photos in posts but am determined, to make this post less wordy and more pictorial! 

Here goes. In line with last week’s post on colours…love them…

I am going to post photos which highlight colours…AND guess who does this best? Nature.

RED

BLUE

ORANGE

PURPLE

GREEN

 

PINK

YELLOW

BLACK & WHITE.

ON ANOTHER TOPIC! Women of Courage. 

I am looking for new Women of Courage to highlight in 2020. The current series finishes next week at #25. Then the series will be on a break (as they say in media-land) returning in early February 2020 on Wednesdays.

I would LOVE you (if you have not already!) to send me a message here: denyse@ozemail.com.au that you’d like to be part of it. It involves answering just 5 questions. And adding an image of yourself.

As you may know already from reading the series (here for those who want a refresh) “courage” comes in many forms. Sometimes getting up in the morning is an act of courage as is travelling solo around the globe.

Please consider this. I am so very proud of all who have submitted their stories and of those who have been published, I think there’s been a great deal of excellent feedback to know how much it was appreciated.

Will you be in it?

 

And that folks, is the second last Share Your Snaps for 2019.

Can you believe how fast this year is flying to the finish line?

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 46/51 Gift Idea For Teachers 18/11/19

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Share Your Snaps.#8. 40/51.#LifeThisWeek.101/2019.

Share Your Snaps.#8. 40/51.#LifeThisWeek.101/2019.

 

Today’s post is dedicated to a good friend “I never met IRL”. Pam was a friend first from the art community on-line about 5 years ago, particularly the one called Daisy Yellow Art. I soon found over the past few years that Pam and I connected over quite a bit of shared history. She was an Aussie, living in the N.S.W. Central West. But she grew up near where I went to Teacher’s College in Balmain in the late 1960s. Pam was just a few years older than me but succumbed last week to a combination of serious conditions. She always cared for me and my health during cancer and I was able to share some of my art with her when she became more unwell. Her daughter shared the recent, sad news in a very small facebook group formed to support Pam through what was to be her last illness. I have her permission to share Pam’s image. Her funeral will be held later this week, and too far for me to attend, I will spend sometime by the water we both loved, reflecting on gratitude and friendship. Sending my love to her family and friends.

 

 

Mandalas for Pam.

 

 

The rest of the past month or so has been recorded on a few occasions.

 

North Kellyville P.S. Foundation Year Book Week. Proud Mum post.

 

When I need a time-out and want to feel closer to nature, it’s here I go.

 

 

The message for us all, is to live today as best we can. I know that Pam would want that for us all too.
Sending all my love to her family right now. These are very tough times.

Love is all we need. Take care, everyone.

Remembering Pam. Tiger Mother.

 

 

Have you shared your snaps this week?

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 41/51 “Your Choice of Prompt” 14/10/19

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Gratitude. 31/51. #LifeThisWeek. 83/2019.

Gratitude. 31/51. #LifeThisWeek. 83/2019.

If you’ve read here for a while, then you will know I have posted about gratitude a few times, there are two here and here.

I truly have to remember gratitude more…especially at times which begin to ensnare themselves into my default negative. So, without further ado is more….

in photos and some words about:

 

G R A T I T U D E. 

  1. spaces in nature to go for contemplation
  2. family: our daughter  & her 3 adult kids
  3. us with our daughter (HB to her for tomorrow)
  4. my health professionals keeping me well after head and neck cancer
  5. double shot latte, small: daily treat (and need!)
  6. wed since Jan 1971. love is all we need.
  7. mandalas & my creative arts
  8. family: our son’s 4 kids.
  9. the ocean. always.

 

More about gratitude:

Family. Nothing better. Daughter’s youngest in this one!

 

Two years of amazing, though challenging, recovery from head and neck cancer.

 

 

I know when I need to go here more…and that starts this week!

 

 

Recently I found this small book at Big W and it has bite-sized very useful sections to read and consider. This from ‘gratitude’

I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened. Mark Twain.

The mind is like a torch, shining on either the sorrows or the joys, the problems or solutions in our life. Fortunately we hold the  torch and get to choose where to shine it. Gratitude is not just a state of being. It’s a habit. And like any habit, it requires training. When we train our mind to dwell in gratitude regularly we will also dwell in peace.

 

I do need to express gratitude more regularly but this was a start last week.

 

 

This is my home screen locked. I may not remember to write 3 things I am grateful for but it is a reminder to be grateful.

 

 

Message on the sand from me to me and others who pass by.

 

 

28 women have shared or are yet to share their stories! How grateful I am for them. Thank you all.

 

Many of us who are bloggers and on social media are always up for a catch-up in real life when possible and on the weekend I was delighted to do this for the third time with the amazing and friendly Sanch who blogs here. Thank you for a great morning!

 

Do you practise gratitude?

How do you do this?

Share in comments if you are up for it!

Denyse.

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s link up: 32/51 What Makes You Laugh? 12/8/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now where was I?

Zen in the garden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you find zen in the garden?

Denyse.

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

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Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Update: This post is being shared to a new link up called: Zen Tips Tuesday here on Write of the Middle’s blog.

My post is about how I overcame. and continue to overcome my anxious thoughts and physical experiences, that are NOT wonderful, in order to live the best life I can as a post-Head and Neck Cancer diagnosis patient.

 

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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My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

I have written about the value of mindfulness and meditation several times here and here since 2015 and I have decided to update my readers and in doing so, join in with Min of who is launching her ZenTipsTuesday link up today!

Join the #ZTT train by linking up your post about any kind of lifestyle choice, activity, or holiday that helped bring you a feeling of ZEN – peace, or enhanced feeling of balance (mind, body and spirit).

Congratulations to Min. I hope this Tuesday link-up is a great one.

In the past year, these are some of what I practise to achieve mindfulness:

mindfulness: rather than me explain it: this one page article has three ways in which to describe mindfulness and I suggest a read because…it is ‘not all about being in this moment’. Nor is it all about meditation and clearing out your mind. That as I know is impossible and no meditation teacher ever expects that to occur.

 

When I notice my body (and soul I suppose!) not being as in sync as I now know they can be, I try to find s part of nature that soothes me and helps me add the world around me to filling me up again.

A place called Porters Creek – part of Wyong River – is a favourite place to walk alongside and stop and take in what surrounds me.

 

Of course, I have written before about Mindfulness and Mandalas and that is here. However after quite a gap between making mandalas due to busy-ness of making bookmarks from my art, I felt called back to this most mindful of art I do. I love the creative process and then carefully deciding after the pattern has been completed, just how I will colour it.

 

An A3 size mandala created by me and eventually coloured with some of these fabulous markers which has a brush end and a pointed end.

 

Recently I could not settle myself. That happens at times when there is more on my mind than I may admit to: possibly related to cancer recovery. So on this occasion again I took myself out in the car and found a place at Tacoma beside the Wyong River and sat. And looked and noticed: what I held in my hand. Check out the tiny mandala shape in nature!

Sometimes it is the change of view that helps and I get out of my house. This find told me that if I look carefully I will find something of interest. I did.

 

I have learned the lesson over and over again that there is no one right time. Take a risk, give something a go and be kind to yourself as you do so. That is living in the now!

 

Calm is my preferred meditation app now and I have life membership – it was surprisingly cheap and there are many options on the app that it is for me better than my previous Headspace app.

 

If my mind is whirling and worrying sometimes a more complex but different kind of drawing challenge helps me focus on “just one thing”. This is an example of a previously “too hard” mandala in its final stages of drawing.

Taking my time, reading the instructions (!) and doing this was such a good thing for me at the time.

 

I have been learning about Self-Compassion for over 3 years now but am always learning something new about it and myself. I am far less likely to speak to myself harshly these days and I remember to practise self-compassion when I do not have a great day. Completing the Mindful Self Compassion Workbook by Dr Kirstin Neff and Dr Chris Germer is helping cement my practices.

Do you practise self-care? In 2019 each 7th week, for LifeThisWeek I am asking bloggers to share their self-care and self-kindness stories.

 

A favourite way of re-connecting with myself in a pleasant environment is this place. I found it before I knew I had cancer in 2017 and visited it once I found out. I like to walk here and take time to gather my thoughts and at the same time immerse myself in the bigger world beyond my mind!

The walking bridge at Budgie is a favourite.

 

It is no secret to those who follow me on Instagram that the beach is a winner hands-down for me as a mood-buster and a ‘time to give thanks’ spot.

I knew last week this is where I HAD to come at 6 p.m. and it cheered me no end. Especially dipping in the water and facing the challenge of crashing waves!

 

And so, that IS my mindful practices’ update. I hope you are finding this thing we are in called LIFE going well for you. If you are not so, and that happens, maybe some of mine could be ones to help you too.

Denyse.

Joining in with Min from Write of the Middle for Zen Tips Tuesday for the first link up!

On Wednesdays I link here for Midlife Share the Love. Thank you Sue and Leanne.

This Thursday I link up here as part of Lovin’ Life linky  with Leanne and friends.

 

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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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