Tuesday 23rd July 2019

Women of Courage Series. #9. Min. 78/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #9. Min. 78/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Min’s story.  She is 55. I have connected with Min via blogging and on social media. Min has been a long-time supporter of this blog and I thank her for that! Here’s her story.

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

I think there are many people who have faced far more challenging adversities in their lives than me but there have been a few occasions during my life where I have had to be courageous.  The most courageous I have ever had to be though was with the recent loss of my father and so that is what comes to mind straight away when asked on this occasion when I’ve had to be courageous.

I was with him at 1:15am on 2 December 2017 when he passed from this life to wherever it is that we go to next.  He was hospitalised for six weeks before he passed away.  In the beginning there was lots of hope that he would improve and get home again.  Then there was hope for him to stabilise and be transferred to a care facility.  Then there was the realisation that his time on earth was coming to an end and so with that came the need for me to brace and prepare myself for when that time came.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I had to face one of my lifelong fears – the death of a parent.  It has changed me immensely.  I’ve learnt how the flip side to love feels – incredibly deep and raw pain, a huge hole of loss.  I’ve felt the depth and breadth of the love I have for my Dad, and he is worth every bit of the corresponding depth and breadth of pain I feel now.  It’s brought home the fact that none of us are immune.  All of us have to face this loss one day, and none of us get out of here alive.  We all will die one day.  It’s intensified my understanding of how precious our time is and how we should be spending our lives exactly how we want to and in a way that makes us happy.  It’s highlighted what’s important in life and what is not.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I’ve learned that we are capable of more than we think we are.  I’ve always feared the loss of a parent and I never thought I would be able to cope with it or even survive it.  However, here I am – coping and surviving.  There is something within us that protects us and helps us through.  You still cry and grieve and hurt, but there is some kind of primal preservation ability within us that comes out to help us when we need it.  I can’t explain it but I can say that it surprised me, it’s real, and I welcomed it.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

To be honest, I’m not sure.  I think each situation that calls for courage is a new one, with different components, and therefore a completely new experience. The difference now is that I know that there is this primal preservation ability (PPA) within us that will help us when we need it and that does provide some reassurance.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

I guess I would firstly like to wrap my arms around them and let them know that I care and I wish them strength and love and support.  Then I’d like to remind them that though it might seem impossible to believe at first, and very little comfort, the truth of life is that from adversity strength is born and lessons are learned, so these hard times are in fact a part of our growth as humans, and life’s learning process.  I’d also say – just do it your way, not how you think it ‘should’ be done, and trust that you will be helped along by that PPA within you that I’ve spoken of.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I think it’s important to realise that some things that happen to us are with us for life. I lost my Dad. I don’t think I will ever ‘recover’ from that, nor will my grief ‘end’.  These things will be a part of me for the rest of my life, but as I’ve heard and read from others that have been through this, I believe that with time they will soften, becoming less of the deep wrenching pain.

I believe the most courageous thing we can do in the face of adversity (and after) is to look after ourselves.  After losing my Dad, in addition to grieving, I was actually suffering ‘shock’ and displayed many of those symptoms, particularly weakness, fatigue, and concentration & memory issues.  It’s important to realise that we’ve been through a trauma and to take care of ourselves.

“True courage is being able to smile in the face of adversity while embracing one’s own vulnerability.” ~ author unknown

 

Thank you Min for sharing your story and one that will resonate with many. Denyse.

Social Media: Follow Min here:

Blog/Website:  https://www.writeofthemiddle.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/riteofthemiddle

 Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/writeofthemiddle/

 Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/writeofthemiddle/

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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Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #8 Leanne. 76/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

This week we meet Leanne who is 57. I first ‘met’ Leanne via blogging and we clicked for a few reasons. One being we both worked in remote parts of our respective states when young and two being we are happily married grandparents! Here’s Leanne telling her story of courage.

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

I feel like a bit of a fraud answering these questions because I’ve never faced a life threatening illness or event. Maybe the closest reference to living bravely for me would be in the area of our finances.

We’ve been married for 37 years and for a lot of that time we’ve had a pretty basic income. My husband tends to enjoy a more flexible work style than your standard 9-5 and that has entailed a lot of times when we have lived on a part-time income. He has worked for himself freelancing with the resultant ups and downs, and also returned to study for 3 years to change professions in his 50’s.

When you’re a planner and an orderly person, having an uncertain and fluctuating (or non-existent) income when you’re raising a family, paying a mortgage, covering bills, buying food etc can be very stressful. It puts strain on your marriage, it puts pressure on the person who pays those bills, and it means that you have to step up and do more than you might have chosen to in different circumstances. For me it meant returning to work earlier than I planned to after having both our children – but managing to juggle time so that we never needed to use childcare (something I’m very proud of as that was a real priority for me).

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Having an uncertain income has changed me in a lot of ways. My visions of being married to a career driven person and staying home and being a housewife when my kids were younger got tossed out the window fairly early in our marriage. I had to come to terms with the fact that the husband isn’t always the primary breadwinner – sometimes it’s a shared responsibility. I’ve needed to step up and share the workload and income earning for all our married life, but the plus side is that in the process we’ve also shared the child raising, school parenting, housekeeping etc roles too. It meant that I kept my skills current and didn’t ever have problems finding a job or taking on the challenge of learning a new position due to being away from the workforce for any length of time.

I’ve also needed to change my way of looking at what is truly needed for a happy and satisfying life. We’ve learned to manage our finances over the years and live frugally (but not in an impoverished way), to prioritize paying the mortgage and other bills first and making sure we had savings to fall back on when the leaner times arrived. Money is certainly not as important as I thought it would be – you can get by on a lot less than you imagine if you’re prepared to make compromises and be a little bit creative in how you view the essentials of life.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I’ve learned that our society focuses too much on material wealth and the idea that you can’t live a fulfilled and happy life unless you have it all. What my experience has proved is that you can live well by living within your means. If you haven’t got the money then you don’t buy it on credit – you wait until you have the money before you spend it, you don’t aspire to keep up with the Joneses, and you don’t spend randomly and thoughtlessly. Finding a second-hand bargain, or buying when something is on sale can be more rewarding than instant gratification.

Often when finances are precarious it’s easy to panic, but if you’re willing to make compromises – both of you going out to work, or both working part-time, or doing a job you might not normally consider (I sold Tupperware for a year when our kids were too little for me to have a 9-5 type job) you can always make ends meet. You might not have a brand new car, or an overseas trip, meals in expensive restaurants, or the most expensive clothes and shoes, but you will have plenty of food to eat, the bills paid, a roof over your head, and a sense of pride in what you’ve achieved.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I’m definitely less worried about what life will throw at me these days. I’ve seen our marriage weather the storms of financial strain (many marriages fail when money gets tight). We’ve learned to pull together and to adjust to each other’s differences. My husband has learned to be careful with money (he was more of a spender in his pre-marriage days) and I’ve learned to be more flexible in my expectations of who the breadwinner should be and how much money you need to be “well off”.

I’ve also seen what you can achieve with discipline and care – we were debt free by the time we reached our 50’s. We own our home, two cars, enjoy modest holidays, have plenty in our savings, and are in line for a fairly comfortable retirement. I used to joke that we’d be living under a bridge eating catfood when we reached 65, but that’s far from the case (thank goodness!) In fact, having managed things as well as we have means that I’ve actually had the courage to leave my toxic workplace and not feel the pressure to find another job – all that hard work has paid off!

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

As I said at the beginning, I can’t imagine giving advice to people who are facing cancer or the death of a loved one, or any other life changing event. All I can say is that life has no guarantees, we aren’t automatically dealt a hand of cards that gives us health, wealth and happiness. Instead, we take what life gives us and work with that to the best of our ability. We put ourselves out there and work hard, we don’t look for handouts, we don’t throw our hands in the air and give up, we don’t look to be rescued – we just get on with it and push through the barriers.

Life is truly wonderful, we are so blessed to live in a country that is safe and where we have a standard of living (and health care) that other countries envy. We need to appreciate all that we’ve been given and make the most of it. Tough times are guaranteed – there’s no free ride for the majority of us – and it’s having the courage to look for a way through and then getting on with it that ultimately makes all the difference.

 

Thank you so much for sharing your story Leanne. I am always appreciative of your blog, the opportunity to be a guest poster and to join the link up you have (see below) each Wednesday with Sue called MidLife Share The Love. This post, in fact, will be on that link up!

Denyse.

Social Media :

Blog/Website: https://www.crestingthehill.com.au

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/crestingthehill/

 

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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Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Grief, Family.

 

 

Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Dorothy’s story.  She is 67. In 2016 I was ‘introduced’ on-line by a fellow art lover to Dorothy who has a Mandalas For A Season Group on Facebook and in that time, we have followed each other’s stories as women of a ‘certain age and stage’ and similar careers. Dorothy’s image is her mandala for Jarrod.

 

This is the icon mandala for Jarrod I created in the week before he suicided.

Dorothy shares her story here:

I am into my 5th year of creating mandalas (from October 2014).

In my retirement from being a Primary School Principal, I began with Kathryn Costa’s 100Mandala Challenge, having dabbled in Zentangle previously. I found as I immersed myself in creating mandalas, the greatest inner peace I have ever known.

Little was I to know that I would be launched into a devastating grief experience in January 2016 when my 36 year old son suicided after 18.5 years of battling multiple complex mental health issues.

My mandalas provided me with solace and comfort and continue to do so.

In the first month I created a mandala for every year of his life, and then on the 20th of each month in the year after he died I created a mandala to honour his life.

I was moved to create a mandala community on Facebook after Kathryn Costa took her 100Mandala Sharing Circle off Facebook.

Because of the value I have found at various seasons of my life, I called the community Mandalas for a Season.

Apart from engaging fully in the mandala journey, the nurturing of this community for each member has deepened and grown, and I have developed wonderful friendships through this community.

I am not a professional mandala artist – for me it’s deeply personal, and an amazing healing and encouraging experience.

 

I have learned that the grief journey is messy, non-linear, and has no end.

It’s not a matter of getting through it. It’s a matter of continuing to breathe.

I never knew that in grief love grows.

I never knew that I would miss my son more as the days pass.

I thought that in the immediate aftermath, life would go on and the pain would dull.

I am a member of several support groups for the “bereaved from suicide”. I gain perspective from other people’s sharing and it’s been reassuring that my aches and pains, days of lethargy, a feeling of the cloud hanging low, are not unusual.

I have learned that each member of the immediate family experiences the grief differently. For one stoicism is the pattern; for another distancing oneself is needed at times, for another detaching is the way.

I have learnt not to expect that anyone else can meet my needs – that the courage to go on comes from within me, and through my mandalas.

 

Dorothy, I am honoured that you have chosen to share your story about your son and the journey with mandalas.

Thank you for your heart-felt words and telling us how it is and has been.

I am including Lifeline’s 13 11 14 here.

Denyse.

 

Follow Dorothy on Social Media:

Instagram: dorothy_heartfulmandalas

 

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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Women Of Courage Series. #6. Annette. 72/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #6. Annette. 72/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Annette’s story.  She is 51. I have connected with Annette via her blog and on social media thanks to our mutual interest in art and creativity.  

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

When I think of times I’ve needed courage in my life, two things spring to mind.

The first is that as an adoptee, it has taken me many small steps of courage, over many years, to come to a place of peace and self-acceptance. Adoption promises happy endings to all involved. The reality is that adoption begins with loss and creates trauma. Working through how I feel about being adopted has been the most courageous internal work I’ve done in my life, so far.

The second thing that I’ve experienced that required courage was being diagnosed with heart failure. It took courage to accept my diagnosis and then make changes to my lifestyle.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Adoption has impacted everything about who I am, but it isn’t who I am.

I used to believe that I was broken or defective in some way. Why wouldn’t you think that when all you’ve been told as an adoptee is that your mother gave you away; that love equals abandonment. That’s a messed-up message, and in many cases was not in any way the truth of the circumstances around adoptions in this country.

As for my health issues, that changed everything for me, from what I eat, to how much I can drink every day, to realising that no, actually we’re not immortal. It’s been a good life lesson.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Courage is not waking up one day with the confidence of a superhero.

Courage is incremental.

Courage manifests itself in tears, in trembling, and in the smallest actions. Often those actions begin in the mind, where we have to decide if we are going to act or hide.

Courage is accessible to all, though many of us don’t believe it.

Courage is believing you can act to change the circumstances, then following through.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Yes, I’m practised in courage, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy or automatic.

The deeper the fear, the harder it is to draw on the courage you need. But it’s there. It’s there in all of us.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Believe in yourself, and have COMPASSION on yourself.

Courage takes time to stir up. It can be an emotionally trying process. It can make you want to run away more than you’ve ever wanted to.

The tiniest, almost invisible to the naked eye steps you take towards courage count. Everything counts, not just what is seen or celebrated as courageous.

Courage isn’t about big things, it is about meaningful things. Learning to say no, being willing to say yes, making peace with yourself, loving the person you are, believing in your completely unearned worthiness; these are acts of courage.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I believe in people’s ability to grow. I believe it because I’ve seen it in others, over and over again, and because I live it.

 

Thank you Annette. My life is richer from getting to know you too. I enjoy our conversations on-line about art and more.

Denyse.

Connect with Annette here on Social Media

Blog/Website:     www.igiveyoutheverbs.com

 

Twitter:    www.twitter.com/theverbsblog

 

Facebook Page :  www.facebook.com/IGiveYouTheVerbs

 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/igiveyoutheverbs

 

 

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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Women Of Courage Series. #5. Kirsty Russell. 70/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #5. Kirsty Russell. 70/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Kirsty Russell who is 43. I am delighted to share her story as we have been blogging friends since 2012! 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

There have been many times in my life when I’ve had to be courageous and, to be honest, it takes courage every day to keep going. There have been three main challenges I’ve faced in my life where I’ve needed to draw on every ounce of courage I possess:

  • My kids’ diagnoses (albinism, autism, anxiety, sensory processing disorder) and my ongoing fight to support them in every possible way
  • A stress induced health scare five years ago (I thought I was having a stroke) which made me question everything in my life
  • The death of my parents (my Dad in 2015 and my Mum in 2018)

Each challenge forced me to rebuild my life, reevaluate my priorities and face my fears.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Following my kids’ diagnoses, I had to change the way I think and adapt how I live to meet their needs. I had to learn to advocate for them, which was hard for someone who avoids confrontation. I had to learn to think differently, to try to understand their behaviours, their anxieties and their challenges. I had to cultivate more patience (still working on that one!) and I had to open my mind to new ideas. Since my eldest son was born 15 years ago, I’ve been undergoing a transformation. It’s challenged my beliefs and hasn’t always been easy but I know I’m a better version of myself now, having gone through everything in that time.

Following my health scare, I had to re-evaluate my life, my priorities and my career in order to put my health first. I was working in a job I loved but could no longer juggle the stress of managing contracts and leading staff in part time hours while also being there for my kids. I’d drop the kids off at school, drive 30 minutes to the office, work for 5 hours with no break, then drive 30 minutes back to pick up the kids and take them to therapies and appointments. There was no time for me, let alone to breathe or think. While I left with sadness, 5 years on I know it was the best decision I could have made. Although I wish it hadn’t taken a near death experience to urge me to take some action…

Most recently, I had to dig deep to support both my parents through their separate cancer diagnoses and help them find peace, while trying to adjust to a new normal without them. Having to take the reins of their lives, while watching them fade away is something that has forever changed me. There’s nothing that can prepare you for that. You just have to be strong because there’s no alternative. Also, I never expected to be parent-less so young – there’s a burden of responsibility which sits on top of the weight of loneliness. I’m the eldest and I know I’m not alone but it feels like I am. Not having them here to celebrate the highs and to support me with the lows will never be okay but I have to find the strength to be at peace with it. To be honest, I’m still working on that.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

You need to believe in yourself and in your ability to adapt and meet each challenge. Most things in life are thrust upon us but in rising to these challenges, it proves that we can rise to others of our own making. Life is too short to live in fear – that’s something that each of these experiences have taught me. Choose to look for the positives and make the best of each situation because none of us know what’s around the corner.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I’m about to take a huge leap of courage and launch a new business to help fellow parents and educators to find connection and work together to achieve better outcomes for students. I would never have considered taking this leap a few years back – I’ve been ruled by fear for most of my life. But the challenges I’ve been forced to face in the last few years have shown me I’m strong enough and brave enough – I just need to take a chance and start.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Lean into the situation. Don’t run from it. Face things head on. If you make the decision to face your fears and make the best of the situation you have a better chance of overcoming whatever life throws at you. That’s the only way I’ve been able to deal with all the challenges of my life and I hope it’s enough to see me through whatever comes next!

Thank you Kirsty for sharing your words. I am impressed with how much you do to advocate for many. I always enjoy our catch-ups too!

Denyse.

Follow Kirsty here on social media:

Blog/Website: https://positivespecialneedsparenting.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PosSNParenting

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://facebook.com/PositiveSpecialNeedsParenting

Instagram: https://instagram.com/PositiveSpecialNeedsParenting

Kirsty just added this…at my insistence!
I’m about to embark on the biggest opportunity of my life, presenting 2 sessions and being part of a parent discussion panel at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference in Singapore from June 20-22. I’ll be sharing what we’ve learned advocating for our son at school and providing information for professionals on how to more positively engage with parents of kids with autism. I’m equal parts proud, nervous, terrified and excited but I’m grateful to have the chance to hopefully make a difference.
Here is the link and I am sending her my congratulations and best wishes for this event! I do not believe this will be her ‘last’ appearance!

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Annette.

Annette is a blogger too but we have only met ‘virtually’.

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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Women of Courage Series. #4. Debbie Harris. 67/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #4. Debbie Harris. 66/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

 

Welcome to  Debbie Harris, aged 58 who is sharing her story today. 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

Despite what some people may think, my life is far from perfect and I have faced some truly terrible moments along the way. Some I didn’t know about at the time but required me to be ‘courageous’ to continue on – as a baby I contracted pneumonia, was hospitalised and then it went to double pneumonia with the added complication of Golden Staph infection – this resulted in having to have some of my left lung removed. I now have an amazing scar running down my left side! It’s horrific enough now that I’m fully grown but how must it have looked on a tiny baby??

I was involved in a tragic accident while on a school excursion in Noumea, New Caledonia at age 17 where the bus we were in rolled off the steep winding road on a wet night, rolling several times into the river below, drowning 2 students and a civilian and leaving many others severely injured.

I received a Brave Conduct Award from the Queen for my efforts, along with several other students who were involved.

From my blog post May 2018:

It was 40 years ago in May 1978 that I set off on a dream trip with my friends, my French teachers, and other French students from my school, all of us armed with a real sense of adventure. We headed off to New Caledonia ready to practice our French language skills and immerse ourselves in the culture of the French island.

I was 17 and in Year 12, my final year of school, at Bomaderry High School, a public high school on the NSW South Coast (Australia).

Little did we know that within a few days we would be heading home after surviving a tragic accident which took the lives of 3 people, two of whom were young students in the prime of their lives.

I was one of the oldest students on the trip with two of my best friends. But sadly only two of us returned home alive.

At 1.00am on Thursday 11 May 1978 we were returning in two buses to our hotel Chez Maitre Pierre at Hienghene, after spending the evening at a disco at a nearby resort, with a group of students from a Wagga school.

It was raining heavily, and I was on the first bus which left with 13 people on board – 4 adults and 9 students plus the bus driver.  I remember the road was winding, narrow and slippery.  The bus slid from the road and overturned, rolling four or five times down a forty-metre embankment, ending up submerged in the river, La Hienghene, with only a small part of the bus showing above the water.

I was thrown from the bus as it rolled down the embankment and sustained concussion, shock, cuts, glass embedded throughout my body and other minor injuries, but somehow, I had survived.

In total darkness, and with no sign of panic, those of us who had managed to escape from the bus immediately set about the task of rescuing the injured, resuscitating those who had drowned and caring for them until rescuers arrived, more than two hours later.

But for their actions the loss of life would have been far greater.

It was tragic – 3 of the 13 people aboard, died on that bus.

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

As I was only 17 at the time, I hadn’t really suffered any great losses.  This accident made me aware of how fragile life was and to live a good life wherever possible.  I didn’t get any counselling or support from professionals at the time, this would be very different scenario today!  I remember just having to continue on and so I did with help from family and my then boyfriend (now husband).  I think it gave me some resilience.

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

We all need to be brave in our own way and make the most of what life throws at us.  It’s funny that anyone who gets a bravery award says they didn’t feel brave they just did what they had to do at the time.  Those were my exact words when I was given the award.

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Yes, I now tackle things head on.  Due to the accident I have a fear of heights, but I didn’t let it stop me from walking in the Himalayas in Nepal, tackling the infamous Kokoda Track, skiing in the Italian Alps.  I could have been put off from travelling and to be honest it took me 14 years before I travelled overseas again after the accident but now, I’m a fearless traveller, with my husband, family and even solo trips to Europe.  I grasp opportunities with both hands.

In late 2016 I was made redundant from my rewarding 22 year career of Managing Education programs and working with inmates in a correctional centre.  The government decided to outsource education provision (it was a cheaper option) and they decided they didn’t need qualified teachers in their system any longer.  I was 55 turning 56 at the time and this forced change to my lifestyle nearly brought me undone.  I needed all my courage to join with my Teachers Federation colleagues to fight this abominable decision.  I fought hard, rallied troops, spoke to the media and put myself out there- it was very scary.  But I had the courage of my convictions and I stuck with it.  Unfortunately, the changes went ahead as planned and I was suddenly a very young retiree.  I grieved for months but have bounced back with optimism and enthusiasm, created a new lifestyle and I am happy to say life is good!

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

I know it seems to be a cliché but really you just have to hang on. Try to take the positives out of a situation and get help if you need to.  My family keep me pretty grounded and don’t let me carry on too much!  Everyone sees courage differently and we need to respect these differences.

There is no one way to be brave, sometimes we just need to know it’s inside us all and hope that we will find it when it’s needed.

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I hate roller coaster rides (I think due to my accident) but have learnt that if I close my eyes and count slowly they only last a few minutes at the most.  I don’t enjoy them but remind myself that ‘this too will pass’ – life’s a bit like that in many ways.

Many thanks to Debbie for her story of courage. I first ‘met’ Debbie on-line and as teachers who left their roles in circumstances beyond our control I ‘get’ her part in this post very much.

Denyse.

Follow Debbie here:

https://debs-world.com/2018/04/08/what-ive-learnt-from-surviving-a-school-trip-that-went-terribly-wrong/

Blog/Website: https://www.debs-world.com

Twitter: @wonderwomandebz

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://www.facebook.com/worldaccordingtoDebbie

Instagram: https://Instagram.com/debs__world

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Kirsty Russell. 

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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Women Of Courage Series. #3. Katherine. 63/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #3. Katherine. 63/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Let’s meet Katherine who is 35 or 36..

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

This is the second time I’ve been asked this question in four days. So I’ve had a bit of time to think about it. I don’t know if I could claim being courageous, but I’ve probably done my best impression of it a few times now. All the way back in 2008, I decided to quit my (then) stable job at a suburban newspaper to move to London. Up until then I’d only ever lived at home with my parents, so it was a bit of a leap to believing that I could function as an adult and look after myself in another country.

I returned from London a couple of years later and my mother was diagnosed with a single cell carcinoma around her stomach months later. I was working in Perth at the time and my family was in Sydney. I decided to take time off work and go home to help care for her over her last few months. That turned into a few years of living at home with dad after she passed away.

Then in 2015 it was time for a new beginning, so I packed up my stuff (ok, some of my stuff) and headed over to San Francisco for work, all on my lonesome. It was one of those decisions that changed the course of my life really. I’m about to marry (or depending on the timing of this post, have married) a Californian named Mike who I met at work here. Ed: this post is going live before “the wedding”

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Moving to another country (or state) always reminds me that I can be self-sufficient and as independent as I feel like. I’ve become slightly more outgoing since moving away and having to build new friendships. It has made me much more organised, and more likely to say ‘yes’ to things that I was 98 per cent sure I wasn’t capable of. Because there’s always that 2 per cent chance that you’re selling yourself short.

My mother’s death changed me in many ways, that aren’t as fun to share. It made me feel directionless, alone even though I was surrounded by family, and hopeless. Like nothing would ever be the same and nothing I did would put my life back on a track that I could feel happy with. It seems trite to say that it made me realise everything I was going to miss without mum, and everything she was going to miss not being with us. It also changed me in the sense that I couldn’t stand the thought of falling in love, getting married, and dealing with the death of a partner. It took a long time to get over that.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I’ve written and erased this paragraph three times now. Everything sounds so trite and ‘more easily said than done’. I honestly don’t think there was anything I could tell someone going through the death of a loved one, because the experience really is different for everyone and it hits you in different ways. Saying that the raw pain will pass feels like diminishing that special person’s meaning to you. So I would say that therapy helped me process some of the guilt and anguish I was feeling. Distance yourself from those who are uncomfortable around you or creating drama at a time when you don’t need it. Focus on yourself and your family.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I am much more of the ‘go with the flow’ mindset now that I ever was before. If things work out the way I want them to, or had envisioned them, then I’m stoked. But if they don’t it’s just about adjusting my expectations, finding a new way of doing things, or accepting a new reality. There are lots of things looming in my future expat life that could definitely derail our plans – visa applications, work permits, superannuation and 401K accounts etc. But I’m not too worried about it all. If I’ve learned anything it’s that panicking is not going to solve a problem.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

You’re a lot stronger than you think you are, you can handle situations far outside the scope of what you think you’re capable of. Break the situation down into smaller chunks so that you can process it all better and consider your reactions a little better.

 

Thank you for sharing your story, Katherine and Happy Wedding Day wishes sent yours and Mike’s way.

Denyse.

Here’s where to find Katherine on-line.

Blog/Website: https://www.brightlightsofamerica.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/krasf  

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://www.facebook.com/expatsintheusa/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anaussieinsf

If you would like to share your story of being a woman of courage* please let me know in the comments and I will email you. That would be great! *There are no men included as I  think we women do not talk or not write about our stories which is why I’ve  called the series: Women of Courage.

My story was here, then Sam’s is here and Megan’s is here.

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Debbie Harris. 

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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Women Of Courage Series. #2. Megan Blandford. 60/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #2. Megan Blandford. 60/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome Megan Blandford who is in her late 30s.

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

Asking for help has been the most courageous thing I’ve done. That doesn’t sound very hard, but when you’re going through a real challenge reaching out can feel like the toughest thing in the world. It took me years of going through depression to really understand that I didn’t have to do it all alone, and that asking for help wasn’t a sign of weakness – it was actually a sign of strength.

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

Asking for help – from my husband, family and friends, as well as professional help – meant that I could start to live a happy life again. It helped me learn to be kinder to myself and drop the expectation of being ‘strong’ all the time.

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

The most incredible thing is that, when you let people know you need them, they almost always step up for you.

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Absolutely. I think that once the mask is down and you’ve shown that you needed help once, it’s easier to say it again. That’s not to say it’s suddenly easy! But it’s a bit easier each time, in each different circumstance.

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

If you need help with something – whether it’s a big thing like a mental health challenge, or something small in your life – it’s worth knowing that if the help you reach out for doesn’t work out, there are always other options. Keep asking until you find the help that’s right for you.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Find Megan here via these links.

Facebook Page : www.facebook.com/meganblandford1

Instagram: @MeganBlandford

Megan is the author of this book, recently released. I have a copy and it is a great and honest read.

Thanks Megan for sharing and for being a Woman of Courage.

 

 

 

 

If you would like to share your story of being a woman of courage* please let me know in the comments and I will email you. That would be great! *There are no men included as I  think we women do not talk or not write about our stories which is why I’ve  called the series: Women of Courage.

 

Denyse.

My story is here and last week’s about Sam is here.

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Katherine.

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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