Monday 25th May 2020

Women Of Courage Series. #40 Anonymous. 41/2020.

Women of Courage Series.

How did it start? Read here!

Who was the first Woman of Courage to share her story? It was Sam.

Thank you all…today might be an anonymous post, as have several others been, to protect the identities of those whose stories form part of the post.

ONE YEAR ON…here we are…..in May 2020 with the fortieth person to share her story.

2020 Image For the Series.

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.

 

Trigger warning: Family Breakdown, Grief, Terminal Illness.

 

Women Of Courage Series. #40 Anonymous. 41/2020.

“THEY SAY WE WALKED AWAY”

When Denyse asked me to join this incredible group of women in her Women of Courage series I wondered where to focus.

How do I do my spot on your screen justice?

How should I make this worth your while?

 

Today I am going to hold my husband’s hand and tell you about the day we had to find more courage than we ever thought we’d have to find in our lifetime.

Today I’m going to talk about the day we chose to walk away.

 

The Back Story

Once upon a time two people met and fell in love. They got married with his young daughter standing beside them.

His daughter was ingrained in their marriage and became the much-loved big sister to the children born from their union.

Fast forward to when his daughter got married, fell pregnant and moved interstate.

The daughter and her husband needed financial assistance to buy a home which the two people offered as guarantors.

Then the daughter got cancer.

Her husband walked out of the family home leaving her, their child, the cancer and the debt.

The two people don’t know why he did this.

They never asked.

Instead, the two people and the extended village supported the daughter as best they could and fell deeply in love with their grandchild.

Over the next five years the daughter cried often. As she fought the cancer she was also fighting for custody of her child.

She gratefully won the second battle.  She could not beat the first.

 

The cancer was aggressive.  The husband returned.

All money, court cases and his hurtful emails were forgotten as a united front was created for peace in her final year.

The daughter passed away surrounded by love.

 

The two people reached out to the husband offering meals, cleaning, baby sitting and support for the mini-me born from their daughter’s womb.

Then one day the husband declared the two people were no longer grandparent worthy.

Despite their best efforts in trying to understand his aggression, access to their daughter’s mini-me was taken from them via a text message.

Just like her mamma who’d passed away 6 months prior, they would not see their grandchild again.

 

The Pursuit For Peace

The above story is a very quick and overly simplified look at the twenty-five years I personally had the pleasure of being a stepmother and the 6 years I got to be a step-grandmother.

Of course, we didn’t just walk away then and there.

We chose to seek peace.

This was a very weird turn of events given the unity and open-door policy we’d extended.

We waited.

 

Then we gently texted, called and visited the house of the husband awaiting the day it would be business as usual.

We assumed he was going through a phase that required distance and fewer interactions in his life.

Alas, he ignored all contact and rejected all visits.

As a peace-loving family, we’ve never been involved in this sort of animosity.

My husband and I have backgrounds which are in synch.

We don’t do drama.

Our families don’t do war.

As an extended bunch, we choose to accept people for who they are and focus on strengths.

We choose peace and we choose happiness.

We don’t know why he rejected us so firmly and completely.

The people around us suggest it was his own guilt driving the decisions rather than anything we had personally done.

Counsellors advised likewise.

 

My husband – father and maternal grandfather – he knew.

He knew the day his daughter passed away it was only a matter of time he’d lose his granddaughter.

He knew the husband well enough to predict the future. He was just waiting for whatever excuse the husband would use to “justify” it.

 

When it became clear the husband was serious about taking our grandchild away, we sought the advice of lawyers and organized mediation.

 

We sat and listened to all the things he hated about us.  I personally spent the entire session in tears. I so badly wanted to explode. I so badly wanted to speak my truth.  I so badly just wanted to remind him of his cowardly departure from our daughter five years prior. His cowardly departure from her cancer and the $500,000 mortgage he left us with in a town where industry has disappeared, and houses have halved in value.

 

Do you know how hard it was to welcome someone into our home after wiping away our daughter’s chemo tainted tears caused by her husband’s emails, texts and profanities from the other end of a phone? Words I can’t utter because they are too disgusting to repeat.

 

Do you know how hard it was to watch him spend his newly found wealth gained from her death?

But my husband and I didn’t shout.  We didn’t say the things we wanted to say.  Why? Because we choose peace.

That afternoon the husband told us if ever our granddaughter asked to see us, he would consider it.

Then he said, “but quite frankly, she’s never mentioned your names”.

Then he walked out the door.

 

When you love someone, truly love someone, all you want for them is peace.

So, for the sake of our daughter’s memory and the sake of our granddaughter, we made the ultimate decision when he left that mediation session.

As I pressed my face into my husband’s tear soaked suit, we both agreed to walk away in the belief that when she’s old enough and no longer under the influence of her father, our granddaughter will come looking for her Mamma’s other family.

 

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

In all honesty, I would never wish this heartbreak on anyone.

The feeling is so overwhelming it’s unfathomable.

Since that day in the mediator’s office we’ve had to dig deep just to go about our daily activities.

But there is always a lesson worth sharing:

 

  1. When you love something, set it free: The greatest courage comes from being selfless. To continue fighting may have put our granddaughter under stress.  While our hearts will be broken forever, her heart will mend.
  2. Nobody can take away our true selves, unless we let them: I am still a stepmother. I am still a grandmother.  I can’t see either of our girls anymore, but they are still in my heart, in my head and in my soul.  They remain ingrained in who I am as a person, who we are as a couple and who we are as a family.  I continue to talk to our daughter every day, and I write letters to our granddaughter which I keep in a box for the day she comes back to us.  Plus, I have her mother’s voice recordings to give her when she’s of age and a book her mamma half wrote for her in her final days.  I will finish that book and put it in her box of “we love you”.  Nobody can take away the person I became when I married into that father/daughter dynamic.
  3. Behind every challenge is an opportunity: Walking away that day with our hearts heavy and our souls severely damaged, gave us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and try new things. I had given myself to be available as a caregiver for several years.  I was offered long-term contracts but never took them so I could be available for our daughter and then our granddaughter.  Finding myself in a new career has been an amazing up-side. And yes, there is an upside. Nothing will replace what we had, but without it we can still thrive.  Lie in a heap in a corner or get up and bloody well get on with life.  That’s the decision we must make in these situations.

 

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

Absolutely. In this uncertain world filled with bushfires, hailstorms, floods and pandemics, my resilience is high.

My courage is at an all time high.

We have gone through stuff and experienced such loss and not only survived it but walked away from it hand in hand.

The most courageous thing we ever had to do was turn and walk away.  Everything else is a piece of cake to be honest.

 

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

Believe.

  • Believe in your ability to get through the challenges
  • Believe that while ever you are being the best version of yourself, your courage will far outshine the rubbish that surrounds you.
  • Believe in the fact this too shall pass.
  • Believe that with each new situation you are faced you will come out wiser, stronger, braver and more resilient.
  • Believe in who you are and the value you add to this world.

 

Was it hard to tell this story?

Yes, it’s hard.  It’s hard because by putting it out there I am opening the wounds.  I am also potentially opening a door for more explosive behaviour from the husband and his extended village.  But you know what? This series is about courage.  For years I tip toed around being the diplomatic corps for the sake of my stepdaughter.  Always the insurer of peace in the blended family dynamic.  My post today … these words you are reading … are coming from a place of courage.

 

Any final words?

If anybody reads my story and feels lost in a similar situation, please do reach out to Denyse.  I am a strong believer that the power within us, extends beyond us.  I am lucky that I have a hand to hold.  Not everybody has that.  I can be that hand for you if you need it.

A powerful story and one of which some has been shared with me personally. I thank this person for her literal courage to share.

While the author of this post would like to reveal herself, for the sake of her daughter’s memory and her grandchild’s privacy she has chosen to remain anonymous. 

There will be no replies from this poster.

She will, however, be reading and I will be responding to readers’ comments.

Thank you for your understanding.

Denyse.

 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

  • Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details
  • Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/
  • Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

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Women of Courage Series.#39 Natalie. 39/2020.

Women of Courage Series.#39 Natalie. 39/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

I welcome Natalie to share her story here this week. Natalie is a regular and very keen blogger who joins up on my Monday Link Up called Life This Week. Her presence is valued for her continued support of the world of blogging both here and elsewhere in this world of ours. Over to you Natalie.

 

 

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

I’m sharing three of my life experiences where I have had to be courageous:

  • My first experience with courage came when I was in elementary school. Two students who were older and bigger than me had been bullying my younger sister. One day I caught them doing it in the playground. I felt scared but stood up for my sister and told them to stop. I didn’t know what the outcomes would be but felt I had to say something right at that moment. Fortunately, whatever I said worked and those students never bothered us again.

 

  • I had a near death health-related experience when I was about nine years old. I was misdiagnosed at first. By the time I was taken to the hospital, I was at a critical stage. I remember the sensation of life leaving my body when I was in the emergency room. I ended up in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with complications that required an operation, a lengthy hospital stay, a second surgery, and follow-up rehab. I had to be brave to survive the entire ordeal as I was very sick and in a lot of pain.

 

  • On a more positive note, I’ve travelled solo to many foreign countries where I don’t know the language. The first solo trip took more courage than subsequent trips. However, every trip is unique so even now, I still feel some butterflies when I go on my own.

 

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

  • From the first experience, I learned to be assertive. Like Maggie Kuhn once said: “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”

 

  • From the second experience, I learned life is fragile and one health emergency can quickly end it. I learned to always take good care of my health and to enjoy life as much as I can.

 

  • From the third experience, I learned a lot about world cultures, adapting to changes, and opening myself to new human connections. I’m grateful to have made a few long lasting friendships through my travels.

 

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

  • I think we all have courage within ourselves and just need to dig deep when we need it

 

  • What’s important is for the person to choose an action for a better future or to accomplish something personal.

 

  • Inaction or inertia would lead to regrets.

 

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

  • Yes, I think my life experiences and resilience will help me overcome any new crisis.

 

  • Once I survived a near death experience and thrive, everything else seems less critical.

 

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

  • Do self-care and practice positive thinking every day so you feel strong mentally and physically.

 

  • Follow your heart and use your head to get you there.

 

  • Ask for help as needed.

 

Thank you Natalie  for taking the opportunity to share your story of courage, containing three and incredible examples from your life. I sure can understand that you are living a life now that is full and rich based on your experiences and that in itself is testament to your courage.

Denyse.

Social Media: 

Blog/Website:  https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Special Anniversaries.19/51.#LifeThisWeek. 38/2020.

Special Anniversaries.19/51.#LifeThisWeek. 38/2020.

May is a month of memories for me and that is the theme for my ‘special anniversaries’.

In my life, and my family, I have tended to be the one who remembers. Dates, places, weather, occasions and more. Sometimes not perfectly well. I give my age as an excuse now, but I tend to be pretty much sensitive to time of year, weather and place. So, this is my reason for picking May….because:

May, in my instagram feed, is a time I am using memories of people, occasions and time for mark the occasion. For example, without giving years away, 3 women who are very special in my life have their birthdays in May. My 2nd granddaughter on 6th, my niece on the 22nd and my late and cherished Aunty, on 31st. It was in May 2006 we celebrated what we did not know was my mother’s last Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day was an occasion for her but as the years have passed, we (the family) do not make a fuss…because, I found it was a bit of a pressure to be honest..on me! So, that my friends is how I feel. Further on I explain more.

More about May. THIS is probably the reason I chose May for this as my post. It was in early May 2017 that the investigations began in earnest for ‘what the heck was happening in my mouth’….and yes, this has been recorded here in detail. However, just before I made the news of my cancer diagnosis public, I was honoured to have my story published in Celebrating Women. It was a great distraction too. I blogged about it here.

And then I knew what was under those teeth and the bridge that covered them…squamous cell carcinoma AND it had spread to under my top lip too. That knowledge –  shocking that it was cancer but not surprising either – given how long I had been putting up such pain, aggravation and limited ways to eat for over a year!  And I got this news via the phone call from the oral surgeon, at home, alone on Wednesday 17 May. Read more here if you would like to.

The biggest challenge though for scared me (of IBS and travelling not cancer!) was that I would have to be driven by my husband to Sydney’s Chris OBrien Lifehouse on Thursday 18 May 2017 where I would have my first (very long as it turned out) consultation re my head and neck cancer and what would happen to eradicate it. All, we hoped! I have written about the courage it took for me to test my exposure therapy is a big, big way in other place, here for example. And, we set off and became better informed – BIG time – about what was next.

What on earth did I do then? Oh, I was OK…after some time to gather myself emotionally, and my husband and I drove the long drive home in the dark with a feeling of confidence that where I was to be treated and by whom meant the confidence of knowing it was right for my cancer. Both of the head and neck cancer surgeons – the A/Prof Ebrahimi and then Prof Clark ‘felt’ then after the pretty rigorous examination that surgery only would be required but until that time, and lymph nodes’ samples etc were taken for pathology they could hope for no radiation.

But wait, there is more. Always more it seemed to test me that May!

24 May and 30 May were “back to Sydney” appointments but this time to Westmead in Sydney’s west. We knew this area well as we had lived in the region for many years. It was, however, the first visit to Oral Sciences…aka the dental hospital where I/we would meet the man and his assistant we got to know very, very well over the ensuing years. I admit I needed my husband there with me and the tears on that first visit came pretty frequently as I did not compute/understand well as all what would be happening but when chatting with my husband he was very confident of the prosthodontist’s role and skill in the area where I was to have surgery. He also accompanied us to radiography to get exacting scans done and to test blood flow in my legs. It was later that I found as I had better blood flow in my right leg, then that would be where the fibula and flesh/skin would be harvested not the left as originally planned.

Other May Memories!

In my recollections of May, I found Mother’s Day to be more of a day of obligation rather than a day to celebrate mothers. My mother in particular. I have often thought it a sad thing though because it is my father’s voice of judgement I hear re mother’s day not Mum’s. Ever.

It’s a complicated thing this life and traditions isn’t it! He (Dad, now 96) was brought up in a single parent childhood following his Dad’s untimely death in 1935 and Dad’s mother grieved her whole life after that and I am pretty sure nothing that was ever said nor done for her was appreciated wholly.

For whatever reason, then Dad made sure “we” celebrated our Mum. I have memories of breakfast in bed for her.,…and she did not enjoy that! I do recall her appreciation of cards and flowers. We, as then grown up children, might try to combine a mother’s day morning or lunch or even dinner.

To me, also a mother, it felt like “I” missed out. And I dislike that I even thought that.

So, despite my now-knowledge of where all this probably emanated…I still thought similarly in ‘shoulds’ around Mother’s day. So, I often got disappointed…and I am embarrassed about that. I vowed sometime back never to do ‘that’ to my adult kids so celebrated without any fanfare at all nor expectation until we left Sydney.

The first year I heard from no-one.

Yes, I was sad…and on subsequent Mother’s Day I may have had a card or a phone call or both from one or either of our adult offspring. In 2017 not knowing of my cancer investigations I had a visit to our place. Nice. We put on lunch. See photo above.

Then in 2019 I met my daughter and we had morning tea out together. No kids. Just us.

This year, as this is posted, we will have had our first visit in COVID-19 back to her house for a mother’s day morning tea.

Making New May Memories. 

  • Mum taught me quite a bit about cooking and often have her in my mind as I try to replicate her recipes. To that end, as I am visiting Dad this week I have made Mum’s recipe of lemon butter just for him. Food is such a powerful memory!
  • Mum also advised me about colours and planting of colourful flowers and I use this knowledge in picking and placing plants.
  • Mum’s smile was one I inherited….and a liking for brightly coloured clothes.
  • I make May a time for reminiscing but also for celebrating…..how far I have come, post head and neck cancer!

ONE Year ago in May I got my “end of two years” of cancer surgeries and treatment Apple Watch and it is worn with pride every day and continues to motivate me to move more!

My reward for 2 years post cancer: apple watch

TWO Years ago in May I became more resilient than I knew I could be as I faced a 4th (the last, I hope) reconstuctive surgery because my mouth and skin had not recovered well enough for the upper prosthesis to be fitted.

Post surgery #4 was a shock!

THREE Years ago in May I found how many people in my life cared for and about me and it was humbling. Many of those are reading this post now. Thank you all so much for being who you are.

That’s my special anniversary….May!

What special anniversaries are part of your life?

Did you celebrate Mother’s Day yesterday?

Thanks also for your kind words last week AND 100% of bloggers who linked up, commented on my post.

That IS a win/win!

Denyse.

Link Up #188.

Life This Week. Link Up #188.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* 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: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 20/51 Share Your Snaps #4 18.5.2020

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Women of Courage Series. #38 Tara Flannery. 37/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #38 Tara Flannery. 37/2020.

Trigger warning: domestic abuse, cancer, psychological help.

 

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

Tara Flannery, aged 48, and I have never met but we have much in common. Firstly we are teachers. Secondly we share a similar team caring for us as head and neck cancer patients. Thirdly, we want to help others  and this is why I was delighted with Tara agreed to share her story as a Woman of Courage. We are planning to meet for a coffee and a chat as soon as we can post-COVID-19. It will be a long and much needed catch up for us both. Welcome to the blog Tara and thank you again!

 

 

 

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

I have had a couple of moments where I have had to dig deep.

Becoming a single mum with a 18 months old and finding studying full-time, no home, no family support

Discovering I had cancer and the treatment that followed.

 

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

I learnt I could do anything I set my heart too.

I learnt that that there are a lot of generous people out there.

I learnt that there are a lot of judgmental people out there.

I learnt that it is not easy to walk away from domestic abuse. It is easy to tell someone to get out but to actually do it is another thing completely.

I learnt that the love I have with my husband is unconditional.

I learnt that others take on your cancer as their problem and can turn against you.

I learnt that I have amazing friends who still loved me even though my anxiety turned me a tad neurotic.

I learnt having a cancer diagnosis will not make family who have turned their backs come back.

I learnt that not many people have the ability to empathise or self-reflect and that is OK.

That is their personality not mine.

I learnt to appreciate every moment I have with my friends, husband and children.

 

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

Don’t let other peoples perception of your reality be yours.

You don’t need to be strong – if you need to cry, scream, throw something. Do it!!! Of course without hurting others 😉

Go talk to a psychologist. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You need a safe place to vent and sort through your emotions.

I didn’t realise how deeply I was depressed and filled with anxiety until I had a year of therapy.

If you are prescribed medication to keep you calm. Take it. Again – nothing to be ashamed of.

Your mind will be racing – you need sleep and rest. These medications are not forever. I took valium and antidepressants for 18 months.

I am off the valium (except for procedures where I need to be awake) and am on minimal dose of antidepressants for most likely the rest of my life.

I suffer Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Trust your medical team. They have helped numerous people before and will continue helping people like you.

Trust their judgment and advice.

Don’t make major decisions – you may come to regret it later.

Eat well – try to evaluate your nutrition. Fresh whole foods.

Try alternative therapies – it can’t hurt (research them thoroughly before you do – there are a lot of con artists out there!)

Learn about self-reflecting. Try to be aware of how you are acting.

Try not to take other peoples behaviours personally.

 

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

I think I would probably handle it the same way I did.

I consider myself a resilient person. But having a cancer diagnosis is traumatic and I don’t think I would be calm if diagnosed again.

If I had to go through a divorce again. I would be mentally prepared and I know I could support myself and get through it.

 

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

Try to choose a reason why you need to be here – or set a goal.

My goal is to be a Grandma. My girls are only 21 and 15 but setting that goal and having that as my focus helped.

I also had a family holiday booked that I was keen to participate in.

I worked hard at rehab and was assured by my medical team I could do it.

Do not set unrealistic goals.

Accept help. Any help. Try not to be a martyr.

 

What an amazing and heart-felt story of courage from Tara. So grateful we ‘found’ each other on-line and thanks for sharing the ups & downs of head and neck cancer surgeries and mouth prostheses so I know I am not alone either!

Denyse.

 

 

For readers of this blog post: 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details

Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/

Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

Cancer Council Australia https://www.cancer.org.au/

Beyond Five. Head and Neck Cancer Organisation. https://beyondfive.org.au

 

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series.#37 Kathy. 35/2020.

Women Of Courage Series.#37 Kathy. 35/2020.

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

As bloggers Kathy and I have connected on-line but  have not met, and I do know the part of the world in New South Wales where Kathy and her husband have made home in retirement. As a child I remember one lovely family  vacation in that very town. Kathy, who is 62,  recounts some of her day via great photos taken on her walks. Thank goodness, even in COVID-19 restrictions,  walking for exercise is allowed! I hope you enjoy learning more about  Kathy as I did when she shares her story now as a Woman of Courage.

 

 

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

6 years ago my husband came home from work one day and asked me the question “would I be prepared to toss in my job and travel around Australia in a caravan for a year?” At that time in my life I had only commenced my blog, was working as a part-time bookkeeper and had recently become an empty nester. I must admit I was in a big rut and I wasn’t happy with my life.

Particularly since I lost friendships because of my blog (which is another story entirely).

Although I immediately said yes, I started having doubts about this lifestyle change as it meant giving up so much. I did have to be courageous and take it head on. Spending a year away from my family and friends was going to be challenging. I also wasn’t certain of whether I’d get a job when I returned after 12 months. There were many issues to consider.

 

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

Being away from home changed me dramatically. I learnt to enjoy my own company and reconnected with my husband.

Plus I discovered the new hobby of photography as I captured the beauty of Australia as we travelled around. It impacted on what I wrote on my blog that slowly transformed into a journal of our travels.

I became a much more content person and no longer sought approval from friends or the need to compete.

Being removed from the life I once had made me realise that I wasn’t being true to myself. I rediscovered my true self as she had been lost a long time ago.

 

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

I learnt that the simple things in life are definitely better.

Being out amongst nature I was surrounded by quietness and stillness and I found it to be very therapeutic.

Prior to taking this trip I was seeing a Counsellor who was helping me through a difficult period of my life, but escaping like this was the best therapy ever.

I would recommend that changing your life situation can help alleviate many of your problems.

Even small changes can make a difference, like changing jobs, moving house, finding a new hobby or interest, or removing yourself from toxic friendships.

 

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

I’m a hell of a lot more courageous and strong as a consequence.

I don’t feel that I need the approval of other people and that I can be my own person.

I actually enjoy my own company and now see the shallowness in constantly trying to keep up with other peoples’ expectations.

 

 

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

Just be yourself.

You’re the only one that knows yourself best.

Go with your gut instinct and remain focused on making changes that will improve your life and wellbeing.

Don’t listen to the naysayers! If you really want something go out there and get it!

 

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

I while ago I wrote this blog about “Making The Most Of Your Life in Your 50s”. It’s very relevant to this interview. https://www.50shadesofage.com/2016/09/07/making-the-most-of-your-life-in-your-fifties/

 

Thank you so much Kathy for sharing that very important and life-changing story in response to the questions here. Your social media pages below are added for readers and bloggers who would like to know more and follow you too.

Denyse.

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  https://www.50shadesofage.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/50shadesofage

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/50shadesofagecom/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/50shadesofage/

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #36. Anonymous. 33/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #36. Anonymous. 33/2020.

Trigger warning: Marital Breakdown, Psychological Harm, Mental Illness.

Woman of Courage #36  has chosen to be anonymous.

There will be no replies from this poster.

She will, however, be reading and I will be responding as I always do to readers’ comments.

Thank you for your understanding.

 

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.

I do know the person who has chosen to be anonymous. She is in her early 40s.

I am in awe of her courage and was honoured when she decided to share this in this on-line space. Thank you. 

 

 

 

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

Late one night, when I was lying in bed beside my husband, I asked him if everything was okay.

He’d been acting strangely for a couple of days and I was becoming worried about him.

He sat up in bed and told me that no, everything was not okay.

He told me he didn’t love me and that he was having an affair.

Within 15 minutes of blindsiding me with this news, he left and never came back.

I spent the rest of that night vomiting and shaking from shock.

My parents were overseas and I didn’t want to wake my siblings.

I honestly did not know how I was going to make it through the night, act normal for the kids in the morning and drop them to school.

There had been no, I repeat, no indication that my husband was unhappy in our marriage.

All aspects of our marriage were normal.

We rarely fought.

I loved him with every inch of my being and from the words he’d told me and the cards he’d written me (even up to three months prior) made me believe he felt the same way.

We’d been together almost 20 years and I had thought we were the best of mates.

In those early days, I wouldn’t say I was courageous at all.

When I wasn’t catatonic, I was in survival mode.

I was simply going through the motions with the kids and trying to make sense of why and how my life was suddenly tipped upside down.

I leaned on my family and friends.

I sought professional help, got a lawyer and prepared to fight against someone, I realised that I didn’t even know.

Even though my husband was the one who had the affair and didn’t want to work on repairing our marriage, I was made out to be the ‘bad guy’.

It became clear that I was dealing with a narcissist and I was continually getting mentally beaten down.

My self-esteem was non-existent and I was torn apart, and still am, seeing my kids suffering.

In those moments when you feel like you just can’t go on anymore, you need to find courage.

You need to dig deep, otherwise hurt and pain and suffering will swallow you whole.

 

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

The breakdown of my marriage crushed me. I very nearly lost myself, but I have been clawing my way back.

I have become stronger than I ever thought possible – mentally and physically.

Sadly, I know my ‘fight’ is not yet over and my ex and I will have ongoing issues.

I am stronger than I was at the start though and can now stand up for myself and do what it takes to support my children.

I am more relaxed now with the kids.

As a (virtually) full-time single mother with a full-time job, I need to be kind to myself.

Who cares if they skip a shower or we have Uber Eats more than we probably should?

I’m doing what I can to get by.

I’m finding real moments of happiness again now and know that there’s more to life than my ex-husband.

 

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

Sometimes you need to find courage from others.

Find your support network and lean on them.

Let them carry you for a little while until you are strong enough.

I also found journaling incredibly helpful and I sought professional help from a psychologist.

 

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

Yes, I do feel that I’m able to be more courageous now.

I’m determined to live my life to the full and ensure my kids grow up in a happy and stable home.

I’ll be damned if I let anything get in the way of that.

 

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

Again, lean on those around you. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Let people in and let them help you.

 

 

I so appreciate the thought and decision that went into this post from Anonymous.

Thank you for sharing this.

Denyse.

 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

  • Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details
  • Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/
  • Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

 

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Women Of Courage Series. #35. Jennifer Jones. 31/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #35. Jennifer Jones. 31/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

Whilst Jennifer Jones and I have not met, we share some common interests. We are bloggers and we are women from the group over the age of 60 who continue to stretch ourselves by our internet connections. Jennifer is someone I admire for all she has continued to do and be in her life right now. Thank you, Jennifer..on with your story.

 

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

On 2nd November 1995, my life was changed when my eighteen year old son Craig, was killed in a car accident. In the car with him, was his friend Fiona, who at only fifteen years old, also lost her life. Craig was the middle child of three, with the eldest being 20, and the youngest 15 years old.

When Craig died, my daughter, Lisa, the youngest, was an exchange student in Japan. With just two months until she was due to return home, we had to make a quick decision, about whether she should come home for the funeral or not. I decided that she must come home for the funeral,for her future acceptance of her brother’s death, but that she must return to complete her year in Japan. I didn’t want her brother’s death to cause her any incompletion issues, in her future. Lisa came home for one week. It was a weird week. We were so sad, and yet, so happy to have Lisa at home.

It proved very difficult to get her home, and would have been easier to have her stay in Japan. On the day of the accident, she had moved to a new host family, and we were concerned about her getting the news from somebody she hadn’t yet had the chance to build a relationship with. Because we hadn’t as yet been given her new contact details, it took quite a few stressful hours to track her down. This was in the days before social media. It was also Melbourne Cup Weekend and getting a flight into Melbourne was almost impossible. Luckily, Rotary made sure that Lisa was well supported in Japan, and that she had a flight home.

I’m not sure that I was courageous at the time. When I think back, I was just doing what had to be done. But I have no doubt at all, that I have been very courageous in the face of the death of my son, in the years since.

 

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

Everything about me changed after this happened. This was the worst thing that had ever happened in my life. Up until then, I had lived a fairly pampered and incident free life. Immediately, I felt that I had  to handle the reactions, of the people around me. After Craig’s funeral, for some reason, my family, including his father, decided to never mention his name again.

At first I found this difficult to accept, and was constantly upset about it, until I decided that it was up to me how I was to live my life from now on. I didn’t want the death of Craig to define who I was. I was more than just the mother of a child who had died. As huge a part of me that it was, I was determined to live a life of happiness and fulfilment, going forward. But I came to realise very quickly that to do that, I would have to rely on myself.

These days, in my family, it is as if Craig never existed. This still hurts but it is one of the things I have had to forgive in order to live an exceptional life. To me, this is the best way that I can honour my son.

 

 

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

I learnt that I was stronger than I ever thought I could be, that if I could survive this tragedy, then nothing in life could ever faze me. I became less reliant on others, as I realised that this was something I had to cope with alone. Even though my family and friends were also mourning Craig, there was nobody at all in the family, who really understood what I was going through.

At least, that’s the way I felt and I still do feel like that today.

I’m still quite resentful of some family members, however my strength and resilience have allowed me to put that resentment aside. I also discovered that I could choose to be happy. In the early days after Craig’s death I suffered constantly with feelings of grief and sadness. I realised that living a good life was going to be difficult with these thoughts.

I made the decision that I could choose to be happy and that wasn’t being disrespectful to my son. It also didn’t mean that I had forgotten him. Craig is in my thoughts constantly, every day, but I can now choose to be happy without forgetting the sadness.

The advice I would give to someone else in the same position would be to do what you need to do for your own self care, and disregard the expectations of others. Put yourself first and don’t let others tell you what is good for you or what you should do.

 

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

I am a much more resilient person now, and I would definitely be more courageous now or in the future. Since 1995, when Craig died, I have had many challenges thrown at me, and I’m pleased that I seem to be able to find a way to solve them or do what needs to be done.  If a similar tragedy were to happen today, I would not rely on the people around me the pull me through. I would not rely on the advice of others. I would have confidence in my decisions,

Eleven years after my son died, I had to show courage once again, when my 34 year marriage broke down unexpectedly.

I had no warning of this, and I am very proud of how I was able to show the strength to move on, and start a new life in a city where I knew nobody.

Since then, I have been in a few situations where I’ve needed to show courage. I don’t doubt myself any more, in fact, I’m quite proud that I’m able to recognise the problem and then make whatever plans are necessary to deal with that problem.

The death of my son, is the worst thing that  I have ever had to face. I know that my experience in coping with that, and the strength and resilience I have gained since, stand me in good stead if I find myself in such a dreadful situation again.

 

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

All I would say to others facing a situation where courage is needed, is to be confident in yourself , and believe that you are capable of handling the situation. Also don’t put pressure on yourself to be a certain way, behave in a certain way or to think there is anything wrong with how you are feeling.

I do wish somebody had given me that advice.

The way I coped, was to spend time on the bike every day. Craig and I both had road bikes and we would sometimes go on training rides together. After he died, I felt the need to get on that bike everyday and ride my heart out. It may sound silly, but I can remember feeling that Craig was on my shoulder when I was riding. That was a hugely comforting feeling for me.

Try to find someone who truly understands what you are going through. People around you will think they understand, but they may not really understand your pain.

At the time of the accident I had never met the mother of the young girl who died with Craig. After a fearful first meeting, when each of us wasn’t sure how the other would react, we became close friends and still are to this day. We were able to support each other in the days following the accident, and we were there for each other in the days following the funeral when everyone went back to their lives. We don’t catch up often these days due to distance, but when we do, we pick up where we left off, and are able to have fun and laugh together and also talk about our children and cry on each others shoulder, whilst laughing about our fabulous memories of our beautiful children.

 

 

 

How anyone manages to come through life when challenges of unimagined tragedy occur as they did for Jennifer, tells me we have more inside us than we can ever imagine in which to learn, change and grow. Of course, NO person wants this example, ever but Jennifer has so eloquently and kindly shared what she has learned. I am in awe of her courage and appreciate her decision to write this story as a response to the questions.

Thank you Jennifer. For more about Jennifer and her reasons for blogging..please see the links below.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.jones.3532507

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennifer_Jones0

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/JenniferAlJones/

Links to my blogs:

https://nextphaseinfitness.com.au/

https://bestbookishblog.com/

https://jonesfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

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Women Of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

 

Rebecca Bowyer and I have never met ‘in real life’ but we have connected via our blogs way back as part of “I Blog on Tuesdays” a regular link up for a very long time that many Australian bloggers would remember with affection. Rebecca who is 39, offered me some advice way back in 2016 when I first had the idea it was time to document my life story. Initially feeling daunted by the notion of writing a whole book (with me at the centre of it) Rebecca offered me this piece of wisdom. “Write a chapter at a time as if it is a blog post”. She mentioned our friend Mrs Woog did that for her book “Primary School Confidential” and then it all seems do-able. So, I am always grateful for this advice….and to know this woman, a determined and published author! Congratulations on your book.

 

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

I published my first novel, Maternal Instinct, in 2019. The lead up to this single event comprised dozens of smaller moments of courage. If my courage had failed at any of these moments, I would not be a published author now.

First, I had to give myself permission to be creative. Finding the sustained creativity required to write an 80,000-word novel meant stepping aside from family responsibilities for periods of time over the course of more than a year. It meant taking a chance on a project that might amount to absolutely nothing but hours of ‘wasted time’ if it didn’t find a publisher.

Next, I had to find the courage to send my completed manuscript out into the world. I was very fortunate to find a literary agent all the way across the world in New York. I then held my breath and kept going through more than a year of rejections and a couple of almost-acceptances from publishers.

By early 2019 I wanted to sweep the whole thing under the floor and forget I’d ever tried to be an author. My agent was still positive about finding a publishing home for the manuscript, but I’d decided to draw a line under this chapter of my life. First, however, I decided to publish the novel myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of all those ‘wasted hours’ if I just let it go.

So, I took another deep breath – more courage required!

You need capital to publish a book. I had none, so I raised the funds via a Kickstarter campaign. Most start-ups have investors, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier to go out, cap in hand, and ask people to believe in my project enough to back it financially.

After the funds were raised, the book was professionally edited, designed and printed, and I sent it to reviewers. This was the point at which I nearly fainted dead away from fright. But a book needs reviews and recommendations to succeed, so out it went.

I was relieved and very excited when comments came back such as “Amazing debut” (Emily-Jane Clark, best-selling author of Sleep Is For The Weak) and “Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale will be instantly hooked” (Virginia Franken, author of Life After Coffee).

On 7 October 2019 Maternal Instinct was published in Australia, the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. For a natural introvert like me, book promotion is a rather horrifying prospect. I spoke at the book launch, did podcast and written interviews, spoke on three panels at Conflux 15 in Canberra and did book signings at festivals such as Bendi-Con and Mornington Peninsula & Frankston Writers & Book Festival.

Before every single event I had to make a deliberate decision to either show up or hide under my desk. I’m pleased to say that I managed to show up, though I was exhausted by the end of it all.

 

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

I feel much more confident about carving out time for creativity, without feeling the need to justify it by making money or becoming the next Margaret Atwood. The best thing about writing and publishing a book is the community of writers and readers. It’s such an incredible exchange of creativity, ideas and stories and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.

 

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

The most important thing I learned about courage is that it’s not a finite resource. A series of small courageous acts can give you the confidence to try for bigger courageous acts.

The second thing is learned was to focus on the positives but also embrace the negatives enough that I can sit comfortably with them.

My successes and my failures have taught me so much. Over the past few years I’ve felt like a failure because my book didn’t find a traditional publisher; because I didn’t sell a million copies; because it’s not available in bricks and mortar bookshops. All of those things still sting a little, but I’m comfortable with owning them now.

I’m comfortable because I’m learning not to focus on the failures, even though it goes against all of those niggling anti-courage voices in my head. (“Don’t be so arrogant, why should you publish a book? See? You sold less than a million copies. You failed. I told you so. You should have just stayed home and folded washing.”). The main thing is that I wrote and published a novel. That’s huge! That’s a very brave thing to do. (Take that anti-courage voices.)

 

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

Writing and publishing my first novel has given me the confidence to write and publish more stories. In 2020 I’ve got a short story, ‘Practice Child’, coming out in Deadset Press’s Stories of Hope anthology to raise money for bushfire charities. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my second novel and am itching to start writing my third.

I’ve faced all my fears about putting my creative writing out there – rejection, ridicule, failure – and I’ve lived to tell the tale.

Publishing a novel has helped me understand why I want to keep writing. It’s got nothing to do with ‘success’ or ‘achievement’, or even fame or fortune.

I love to write, and there are readers out there who love to read what I write. All the bits in between – finding an agent, finding a publisher (or publishing it myself) and book promotion – are simply the journey I have to go on to get the story from my head to readers’ heads.

 

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

Finding courage can be hard. Something which helped me was careful planning and risk assessment. I wanted to make sure that, if I failed, my failure wouldn’t cause the rest of my life to implode. I didn’t quit my day job and I didn’t go into massive debt.

In the end, what I was really risking was my creative self-esteem and hundreds of hours of my time.

If you’re still finding it hard to press the ‘Go’ button, even after you’ve put in the hard work and planning, try channelling Drew Barrymore and her glorious silver wings from Ever After: “Just breathe.”

Heartiest of congratulations to you. Check out Rebecca’s social media links too.

Thank you for sharing.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media: 

Blog/Website: www.storyaddict.com.au

Twitter: @RebeccaBowyerAu

Facebook Page : www.facebook.com/rebeccabowyerwriter

Instagram: @RebeccaBowyerWriter

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

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