Wednesday 23rd January 2019

Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

The best gift ever has given me food for thought.

I have had some great gifts in my life including these:

  • parents who gave me life, shelter, education, care and loveand who were wed for over 60 years.
  • a man I met and married within 3 months who has loved me for over 48 years now as I have him. This is on our wedding day, 23 January 1971.

  • the first gift of a child: our daughter (story is here) and then much later, our son (story soon!) and even though we did not know much about parenting, both are doing well in their adult lives.
  • a career in K-6 education in New South Wales schools which took me from probationary teacher to school principal thanks to the gifts of others who saw the potential in me, degree courses I completed with loving support from my family, and the children, teachers and parents of the many schools. Latterly I enjoyed teaching and supervising pre-service Masters’ students at University. On many occasions I was glad I could help these people and share what had been shared to me as gifts in my career.
  • the gift of meeting people and socialising is one I enjoy and to this end am doing it in a new area and loving making new connections socially: on-line and in real life, as they say!
  • I love the gift I have been given as someone who notices nature, enjoys solitude from time to time, and has learned so much about herself during some times of turbulence in recent years.
  • The gift I have been given of enjoying art and especially making mandalas has also seen me make 100s of bookmarks to help a charity called The Big Hug Box.
  • How good is it to give back! My story was also in a book that was published. What a gift that was.

But what about cancer? Is THAT a gift? 

I cannot finish this post without mentioning my fairly recent brush with the big C and what a gift that has been.

  • Life is a matter of how it’s viewed by the individual.
  • I do not like having had cancer because of many of the ramifications in my life, yet I know its presence has been a present. Let me explain more!
  • I was in a major life transition which had, in its own way, strangled my confidence and demeanour because of the grief involved. Yet I had some ideas of how to help myself.
  • That series of ideas was supplemented by the gift of amazing professional support, amazing and unending personal support and many hours of time to both learn and absorb.
  • When it was found that I had cancer, up from within me, emerged what had been hidden for almost 3 years and over time, my personal qualities of determination, belief in my surgical and oral health teams and in my capacity to heal and that I could share my story with others as I have and do.

The Best Gift is:

  • A return to “Denyse”. She had been long gone and I am so glad she is back.
  • This is my best gift: I am back. It does not matter I am ageing – that’s a privilege, nor that I have some physical scars I cannot overcome – they’re part of my history now and I am so glad to be here and look at my image in the mirror to say:

Hello, looking OK for someone who’s been through so much.

Well-done, you!

 

What is your best gift?

Denyse.

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

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 4/51. What Is Hope? 28/1/19.


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Not A Smooth Recovery Path For Me: Head & Neck Cancer. 2018.133.

Not A Smooth Recovery Path For Me: Head & Neck Cancer. 2018.133.

Update One: Monday 24 December, is that whilst it is always disappointing to have changes like this in recovery, I am actually able to manage the issue of pain, when it arises and am feeling better in general.

Update Two: Monday 14 January, the pain comes and goes but the news from my Head & Neck surgeon is that he was looking for cancer when I saw him on 8 January. This made me quite concerned. Whilst there was not cancer there as he could see, I do now know there could be another surgery this year. Sigh.

It’s Friday 21 December 2018 and not a normal blogging day for me at all.

But, head and neck cancer recovery is not ‘normal’ I guess!

My blog has been a great source of comfort to me as I can write down what is happening to me, and often receive support in return.

That is lovely.

Today I just need to share this story.

Since my last blog post here, I have continued to be back and forth to the great team I have at Westmead: my prosthodontist and nurse. Each visit since October – when I last saw my Head and Neck cancer surgeon and nurse – has been about:

  • checking the health of the skin which was added to my upper lip (under it) last May
  • checking I am keeping the metal abutments clean where they are attached to the upper teeth prosthesis
  • and fitting me for a partial lower denture to add to my remaining 8 teeth

Showing my mouth’s flexibility – reduced now.

I have had some pain. It is like a sharp nerve pain and each time I mentioned it I was told it is part of ‘re-modelling’ and I have taken that to mean, this will go on as my new mouth and lip settle into their space. I am pretty good at managing pain but earlier this week I needed to share what had been noted by me after seeing my G.P.

  • the pain, which initially we/I thought was from some abrasion of the new tender inner side of the lip against the prosthesis was not likely to have been only from there…because
  • when I tried to use my small micro brush to clean in between the gaps left at the top of the screwed in prosthesis there was  no gap 
  • where the gap had been was skin, resting and immoveable, onto the top of the acrylic prosthesis

After my G.P. saw it, I sent these photos to my Professor and the Prosthodontist. The prosthodontist rang to say, stop using the microbrushes and use the water pik only to clean. The professor emailed to say “come and see me early January for a closer look”.

Yay to having responsive professionals. Very grateful.

Not so happy for the pain it is causing, the lip tightening even more and the disappointment that things are not going as I had hoped. Probably as my team had hoped too!

On the positive side, I have overcome setbacks before AND I trust my professional team BUT this is not a situation I imagined.

Skin does its thing it seems. My post here is about how the stent being taken out too soon prevented the full healing and I needed a 4th surgery and then over 3 months with a new stent.

I seem to think….more surgery may be on the cards.

Sigh.

I am taking pain medication as advised by my G.P. I am doing all I can to treat myself more gently. I am looking forward to seeing the family on Christmas Day here but my eating may be even more compromised by then. Who knows?

Many I know in the Head and Neck cancer support groups are in quite different stages of healing, acceptance of many aspects of their recovery and managing things well. I am buoyed by them, and already support for me and my update has helped. I also know as an Ambassador for Beyond Five, that those of us with Head and Neck cancers are affected by treatments long after the five years.

I am just over 19 months since diagnosis. I am also less patient than some! I am, always very grateful for my cancer treatments and follow-ups in an Australian setting here:

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

The late Prof Chris O’Brien. In the hospital named after him.

Westmead Oral Restorative Sciences

Thank you for your support, friends from blogging land and readers!

Denyse.

 

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Taking Stock 49/52 #LifeThisWeek. 2018.127.

Thank you dear bloggers who link up! At this time of year, it gets a bit much for some who are busy elsewhere to blog and link up. Keeping this in mind, there are three more optional prompts for Life This Week in 2018.

50/52.  Share Your Snaps 10. 10/12/18.

51/52. Christmas. 17/12/18.

52/52. Free Choice! We Made It! 24/12/18.

Then there will be a blogging break here to return on Monday 7 January 2019 with these optional prompts.

1/51. Hello Again. 7/1/19.

2/51. “Word/Intention/Nothing” 2019.. 14/1/19.

Meanwhile, I will come up with some more optional prompts over the breaks and publish them on the home page. I do hope, as I wish, that you will be back to link up in 2019 because you are in a community-space here and I love our connections! That IS why I blog! Denyse xx

 

Taking Stock 49/52 #LifeThisWeek. 2018.127.

This is (or till today!) an every 9 weeks’ optional prompt for Life This Week and the last one for 2018. I thank the originator Pip Lincoln who blogs here for her words and sharing. I will continue using Taking Stock in 2019.

I always respond to the words with no reference to previous updates as I like to make it “as it is now for me”. I do know, for me, my changes in outlook and health (both for the good) are seen in my years’ of posts called Taking Stock.

Here we go for today!

Making: time to write a post in the days before has helped me feel more in control of my blogging schedule.

Cooking: more meals than I have for quite some time as I now have teeth up top and below.

Drinking: water as much as I remember which is why I tend to have a water bottle in a few places in the house and with me in my bag – bad day recently though when said water-bottle leaked everywhere on my way to Westmead.

Reading: bios/memoirs almost exclusively and it is Mike Carlton’s ‘On Air ‘I am really enjoying as he is only a couple of years older than me so charts a time I remember well growing up before leaving Sydney to teach in the bush.

Wanting: not much..if I leave out the indulgence that was a desire for an iWatch which I could never justify. A house of our own but I am sick of myself on that score…so not much it is! A sign of contentment I believe.

Looking: outside a lot with the kind of weather we have had but lately it is dark when I look outside…to check the solar Christmas lights are on.

Playing: audible books in my car on the way to Sydney for the reasons related, usually, to post-cancer treatments and the like

Wasting: my time mentioning iWatch. Seriously cannot ever justify it. Will cease and desist asking.

Sewing: it is time for me to delete this one from my list of Taking Stock but I sure know why Pip has it because she is a clever seamstress.

Wishing: politicians were well-behaved and provide a good example to their constituents. And the children of the world.

Enjoying: moments walking on the grass outside. It literally is grounding in my barefeet and I enjoy it so.

Waiting: not for much at all these days and that is good!

Liking: that it is now an established routine for my husband and I to enjoy morning tea out once a week.

Wondering: why we waited so long. Oh. I know. Cancer made it hard for me for a while.

Loving: the man I fell in love with over 48 years ago…even more each day. Yes, old people can stay in love!!


Hoping: that said husband continues to remain well after a somewhat ‘average’ winter/spring.

Marvelling: (but not in a good way) that the horrendous fires in Queensland as I write can be seen from outer space.

Needing: rain which we had here in parts of N.S.W. to move quickly north to where it is needed..oh, & to the west as well where it is still a drought.

Smelling: the sea air these days when I arrive at the beach for a look/walk. It takes me back to family holidays with our kids and after leaving our western Sydney home to arrive at the ocean, we would get out of the car and breathe that salty air!

Wearing: tops, bottoms and sandals more these days, even though I have a few dresses, I am still most comfy in the others.

Following: the sagas on-line of…politicians and propriety, bankers and theirs..oh well. They all need lessons on how to use a moral compass I believe.

Noticing: little dots of colour from the growth of weeds on the edge of the road. They make me smile when I drive along and see them. You just can’t keep nature away from growth.

Knowing: that next year will be a slightly different one blogging-wise with the end of an era called I Blog On Tuesdays.

Thinking: that my post for the last I Blog On Tuesdays tomorrow will be about I.B.O.T!

Feeling: nostalgic about the good old days of blogging but very glad there are many more who join in now and we have a great community here in Australia and overseas.

Bookmarking: pages in Lori Deschene’s little book called ‘Tiny Buddha.’ Lots of lessons there.

Opening: my recipe book as I can enjoy more crunchy and chewy foods again and I just might make an old favourite again soon. But not saying, in case I do not!

Giggling: at the cutest little baby at the shops who was prepared to give me a smile. Gosh how I miss that age!

Feeling: grateful beyond belief for an amazing year, with some surgeries, some recoveries, a setback, then some awesome treatments getting me back some teeth for eating and smiling.

What’s been happening in your part of the world?

Denyse.

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

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 50/52 Share Your Snaps 10. 10/12/18.


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November Notes #5. 2018.125.

November Notes #5. 2018.125.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then more:

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

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

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

This resonates with me:

Types of personal growth

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

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

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

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

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

Please share!

Denyse.

Joining in with Leanne for Lovin Life linky here.

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Summer Means This. 48/52 #LifeThisWeek. 2018.123.

Summer Means This. 48/52 #LifeThisWeek. 2018.123.

In Australia it is officially Summer from 1 December until 28/29 February. But the weather-maker does not always get the memo.

The weather that I am most familiar with in Summer is HOT, HOT, HOT with some patches of COOLER….and of course that old curse; humidity!

Summer means:

  • sticky feeling wearing some clothes
  • dripping perspiration
  • crossing the street from what place of shade to another
  • Christmas
  • school break-up times
  • shopping
  • watching sport – on T.V.
  • lazy days
  • mosquitoes buzzing at night
  • flies. Oh the flies.
  • the smell of barbecues cooking around the neighbourhood
  • kids playing outside till after dark: it IS the school hols
  • packing the car for the longed-for beach holiday
  • the city centre being closed for a few days and streets are pleasant to walk around.
  • parks, gardens, the zoo, beaches, council pools and more attracting visitors
  • air-conditioning. Seriously cannot deal with summer unless I have air-con.

There are probably many more on this list but I have also included a visual list of Summer for Me.

As we enter our southern hemisphere Summer this Saturday 1 December, what does Summer mean for you?

Denyse.

P.S. Our 2019 Life This Week continues once the New Year Arrives! I will have the prompts up soon and will add them to a blog post. I know it may sound crazy but with this 48/52 telling me there are 4 weeks left till the end of 2018 it is timely! Thanks for all who continue to link up and a special greeting to those who often, sometimes or always use the optional prompts! You all rock!

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

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 49/52. TAKING STOCK. 3/12/18.


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Observations in October #4. 2018.110.

Observations in October #4. 2018.110.

     Honouring Teachers – World Teachers’ Day – 26 October 2018.

In October, usually around the beginning of the month, it is World Teachers’ Day. This event is celebrated  annually world wide and came as a result of a United Nations declaration. Because we in Australia are often on a school holiday break when the rest of the world celebrates, the last Friday in October is set aside for honouring, appreciating and celebrating teachers.

Teachers may be those working in classrooms, they maybe those helping others become teachers at University, some may still be at school themselves but know they want to be a teacher. There are those in leadership roles at schools, within the systems of education and at the training level.

Each person would be honoured if the community in general, not only parents and kids in schools, celebrated and appreciated teachers!

 

World Teachers’ Day in Australia Date in the current year: October 26, 2018

All Australian teachers have a special holiday, that is known as World Teachers’ Day. It’s celebrated on the last Friday in October and it doesn’t coincide with actual World Teachers’ Day.

International holiday of World Teacher’s Day was established by UNESCO on October 5, 1994 and since then it’s annually celebrated on this day in many countries around the world. However, many countries also have their National Teachers’ Days or move World Day to another day, as it was made in Australia. The thing is that Australian schools go on a holiday at this time in October, that’s why the holiday is celebrated on the last Friday in October. If it coincides with Halloween, the festive events may be postponed to November.

Every year the NeiTA Foundation (National Excellence in Teaching Awards) and ASG (Australian Scholarships Group) announce the national teaching recipients of the ASG Community Merit Awards on this day. All teachers and members of school government are encouraged to participate in the events, that are organized across Australia. All willing participants have to register and wait for confirmation and official invitation.

https://anydayguide.com/calendar/3115

I want to thank teachers who helped guide me (and inspire me to become a teacher) in classrooms from Gwynneville P.S. to Balgowlah Heights P.S. and onto Manly Girls High School. Thanks especially to Mr Parker from G.P.S.(in this photo) and Mr Duffy (Yr 5 at B.H.P.S.) and those who recognised my strengths at M.G.H.S. Miss Lyon is one stand out.

Then, as regular readers know, I went on to train and become a K-6 teacher, ending up as a school principal and there is more about that here and here.

And when I retired ‘the first time’ as I had to resign, I literally had to fight for my service medal via a series of letters. My career should not have finished that way but it did. Thanks to staff shortage and my work overload. In the end, I got my medallion of service….and it has the wrong date on it. Sigh. I KNOW the right one though! I would always recommend teachers join the Union. It helped me in many ways when my employer and superannuation fund did not.

My list of schools where I taught is here:

 

  1. Barraba Central School. 1970
  2. Fairfax Public School. 1971-1972.
  3. Hillston Central School. 1973-1975.
  4. Weilmoringle Public School. 1976-1977.
  5. Cherrybrook Public School. Term 1 1978.
  6. Jasper Road Public School. Term 2 1978 – part 1982.
  7. Acting Promotion to: Seven Hills West Public School. Part 1982. (Assistant Principal – teaching)
  8. Promotion to: Walters Road Public School. 1983-1984. (Executive Teacher – teaching)
  9. Promotion to: Seven Hills West Public School. 1985-1987. (Assistant Principal – teaching)
  10. Promotion to: Shalvey Public School. 1988-1998.  (Deputy Principal – non-teaching) (Acting Principal): part 1994
  11. Acting Promotion to: Rooty Hill Public School. Terms 3 & 4 1998. (Principal – non-teaching)
  12. Promotion to: Richmond Public School. (Principal) *first retirement: 2003.
  13. Kellyville Ridge Public School. Part-time teacher: Release From Face to Face & English as a Second Language. 2004-2006.
  14. Hebersham Public School. Part-time teacher. English as a Second Language. Terms 1 & 2. 2007
  15. Kellyville Ridge Public School. Part-time teacher. English as a Second Language. Terms 3 & 4 2007 until end 2009. *retirement from schools 2010 although I continued working in them as a University  Advisor/Tutor until end 2014.

I want to thank all of those teachers who have taught my children and grandchildren. Several come to mind who had lasting good influences on them. I also want to thank my colleagues, some of whom are no longer with us, but I know that all of my work and social life in schools has been enhanced by so many great and caring staff members. I remain a connected person in education: I follow colleagues on twitter, have been part of #teachmeets, and get updates from my membership of the Retired Primary Principals Association of N.S.W.

Finally, of course, I want to pay tribute to the thousands of children who passed through the classrooms and playgrounds where I worked. Some of course are old enough to be grandparents!

Have you thanked any teachers lately?

Are you a teacher who feels you are appreciated in your community?

Tell me more about how it is for you!

Denyse.

Joining in with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky here. Happy Thursday everyone.

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Reading Books Rocks. 2018.106.

Reading Books Rocks. 2018.106.

Recently I re-discovered reading…books!

I have always wanted to read and books were a firm favourite. I recall my mum, who was not a book-reader, saying to me in my early teen years that I could not borrow books from the library if I was going to spend all my time reading. I have the feeling she wanted me to be a bit more active helping her around the house!

I continued to read, long after “lights out”, as my room was on another floor to my parents’ bedroom so I continued my habit of reading. Fiction. School stories based on English lives, and many others. Loved them.

I had already been the library prefect at primary school so books were part of me!

But what happened to me over the past decade or so?

I suspect busy-ness caring for others, the introduction of the iphone, ipad and quick grabs of reading along with finding little to interest me in the preferred fiction  areas. Oh, I read Maeve Binchy, Joanna Trollope and Rosamund Pilcher in my 40s but by the time I got to my late 50s and 60s I found not a lot that was in my interest in fiction.

I switched to non-fiction and biographies and memoirs mostly.

Then in the last 4 years I have struggled to read a book because of:

  • lack of ability to concentrate
  • being drawn to the quick fix of social media more
  • the newspaper being enough of a read
  • nothing that held my interest and attention like I found in my earlier years

I joined the local libraries and borrowed some books, which mostly were returned unread. I trawled internet book sites and did make purchases but they are all in the:

  1. self-help
  2. learning about mindfulness
  3. understanding anxiety and depression
  4. life as per: Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, Brene Brown, Anne Lamott

These were ‘lifelines’ as I tried to understand and accept my life as it had changed 2015-mid 2017.

What was missing?

Escapism. Yet, I could not concentrate. I needed to move around and move on to something else especially as cancer entered my life.

Then in the past months as my cancer surgeries and treatments have been completed or are finishing, my mind is less on high alert and I am able to take time to sit and read.

I still, on occasion, feel the pull of checking my iphone,  but I am improving.

I may not yet be reading for long stretches or much fiction, but I am reading…B O O K S.

Lately I have been buying because some new release books were on my list of “MUST READ”.

Here they are:

I liked to call the lovely time after lunch when I was teaching: D rop E verything A nd R ead time so now I am giving myself that time-out too.

Do you recall that time for reading at school?

Maybe it was when your kids went to school. I hear some schools have continued the tradition and that makes this old teacher very happy!

What books do you enjoy reading?

Do you buy or borrow?

Denyse.

Joining Kylie here for I Blog on Tuesdays and Sue and Leanne’s link on Wednesdays called Midlife Share The Love here.

 

 

 

 

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Best Friend Stories. 41/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.102.

Best Friend Stories. 41/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.102.

I have always envied those who can keep a long-time friendship going, claiming best friends from school days and more.

I reviewed some photos of mine before writing and i can see, in my case, why this is not so.

I would not like to think I am a bad friend but I do agree that over time friendships change and move on.

In the most recent years I let a friendship slide – we had moved away from Sydney – as my anxiety grew and I knew I was not able to travel back to see this friend. Nevertheless, I did make contact after a year, and she happily caught me up and I felt a sort of re-connection. Then I got cancer. She is not on social media and to be honest, maintaining friendships was not high on my priority in recovery and beyond. Nevertheless, knowing I was risking being rejected I wrote her an email, letting her know of my health status and that, for the present, I could probably meet up in Sydney again for a coffee. We met up for coffee over many years. No response. Nothing. I suspect, I did leave it too late but I also know I did something to offer the hand of friendship again.

Chronological Order of Best Friends. 

Early 1950s.

Dad tells me I had imaginary friends at this age. I think one was called Pinky. I do not remember but I believe him. I am off to the Dapto Show with my Aunty. Didn’t I dress well then?

Late 1950s

I am in second row from the bottom, 2nd in from the right. I am next to my best friend at Gwynneville P.S. in Wollongong: Helen. We played outside school hours and went to each other’s houses. She and I competed, along with Warwick, in front row, second in from left, for first, second and third place in class. Check the class numbers people!

We stayed in touch via letters and some visits when we had moved to Sydney at the end of this year. I do know, amongst the trivia in my head, that her birthday is 27 September.

Early 1960s

It would be untruthful to say anyone here was a BEST friend but some were indeed friends. I am 3rd from left in front, and my friend, who also came to the same high school as me in 1962, is first on the left front row. We were passing acquaintances once we chose our subjects for the ‘new H.S.C.’ and saw each other (and sang together) on the school bus from Balgowlah Hts to Brookvale where our High School was.

I went my way to teachers’ college and teaching as she went her way to Uni and became an architect. Our parents still lived in the same suburb and saw each other as ‘waving’ aquaintances I guess. Then, with the era of Facebook, we found each other in the past 5 years…and guess what, we had been living relatively close to each other in the Hills District of Sydney for decades! We met up before we left Sydney and I love her memory about all things where I lived because she was there from birth. It’s a great connection and I know her birthday too. She is 1 month and 5 days older than me. Ann.

Late 1960s

Last year of High School – 1967. I am far right. We were ‘besties’ in the senior years of High School. It became apparent though, that I was the one who needed to buckle down and study in that final year as I really wanted to a tertiary education to become a teacher. My friends had boyfriends then that each married. About 2-3 years out of school, and they trained in secretarial work. We went to each other’s weddings (I think!) and they came to ours. From time to time, when we returned to Sydney for school holidays we had a catch up but I could already see my social world as a country-side teacher was not in keeping with theirs. Many years later, via a social media forum I think, we did have a reunion of sorts and even more recently my Dad saw Julie (on the left) being a personal home carer to someone in his retirement place. She said “Are you Mr Simpson, Denyse’s Dad?” That is one good memory. No, we have not met up. Julie, Sue, Pauline.

From then to now.

As teachers, much of our social life is connected where we are teaching. We had friends in each of the country towns and when we moved back to Sydney, we continued seeing people once a year. I had female friendships groups at school and always enjoyed the connections. Once I became a Deputy Principal then Principal, I moved into more work-related social networks. However, after my health breakdown as a principal, I eventually went to teach in a friend’s school and had a kind and lovely relationship with two of the administration ladies. These ladies stayed in touch when we left Sydney and after my cancer diagnosis and surgeries arranged to come and visit. This is just lovely. We still do keep in touch via social media due to distance. Luisa and Marg.

But the one person who keeps top status as my best friend is this man. The one I married. Just for something different, a photo of me with him in late 2016 before cancer.

So, what are your best friend stories?

Denyse.

Today I link with Alicia here: for Open Slather and Kel here for Mummy Mondays. Do visit them too and link up!

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Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 42/52. What I Have Learned Lately. 15/10/18.


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