Monday 6th April 2020

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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Women of Courage Series. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.

 

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.

In the world of blogs and social media we often think how good it would be to “meet I.R.L.” ….meet up in real life. I have been following Sanch as a blogger for some time, and one day, we DID just that. We met up. We did that a few more times too. Coffee and a treat..and chatted away for ages. You see, I was fortunate that Sanch came to live for a while in the area where we live so meet ups could happen. Now, even though she has moved back to “the big city” we know well, I am sure it won’t stop us getting together again soon. Sanch is a 36 year old with a vibrant smile and energy to bottle. She loves time at the beach I know that too.

 

 

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

It’s interesting, there have been so many situations in my life that people have defined as being courageous but I never thought of it that way especially while going through it. But I think when I look back in hindsight, it certainly was the case. Coming to Australia as a 21-year-old with no family or friends here was a big deal but it was something I wanted so again, I didn’t see it as being brave even though it’s what everyone told me.

 

I think though, one of the bravest things for me was leaving a couple of long-term relationships; one in 2012 and the other in 2017. The 2012 in particular required a lot of courage not because of anything to do with my partner necessarily but because I was unhappy and not fulfilled but probably stayed because it was more comfortable than the unknown. We’d been together for a long time and I was genuinely scared what it would be like without him. It was similar in 2017 – a shorter relationship – but I also had an added bout of depression for 18 months which made me stay longer than I should have. For most people, this might not seem like something brave or courageous but for me, when in those long-term relationships, it was the only ‘family’ I had here and therefore leaving it meant being alone.

In 2012, I also only had about 4 friends from uni, three of whom were in long-term relationships themselves. It was one of the scariest things to do – to leave the comfort of something stable albeit unhappy.

 

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

The first break up in 2012 taught me a lot about myself. It pushed me to decide to get out of my comfort zone, to change my life. I started by losing weight and getting healthier physically, and slowly and steadily, decided I needed to expand my friendship group. In that relationship, we’d both been socially anxious and in hindsight, I think my social anxiety was maintained by his. If you know me now, you’d never believe I was someone who was anxious in social situations and even now I wonder how much of it was just contagion as opposed to it being me.

I decided after the break-up, I had two choices – to sit at home alone on the weekends or to push myself and meet new people. I still don’t know how, but I chose the latter. I still remember how nervous I was when I went to my first hiking Meetup – a group of 20-odd people and I knew no one. I can still remember the anxiety, the fear of meeting people, the fear of being judged, of not knowing what to say. And then, I surprised myself. I kept doing this weekend after weekend and today, 6 years later, I do have a good group of friends I’ve made from those hiking days.

It has also made me much more social and when I moved up to the Central Coast two years ago, I made the effort to meet new people and build networks. I also find that now, I’m more open to new experiences and doing things on my own or with others. I can push myself out of my comfort zone a lot more easily. It’s not that I don’t feel nervous – it’s that I’ll do things despite the nerves. And that in itself, is courage.

 

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

I learnt I am a lot more capable than I realised. Back in that long-term relationship, I always thought of myself as socially anxious and boring {quite obviously, it wasn’t helping me grow!} but once I left, once I faced fears, it made me realise maybe I’m not who I thought I was. More than that, I also realised that in order to courageous, one doesn’t have to not feel afraid. Courage is doing something even when you are scared. It’s making a choice to do something regardless of the outcome. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway. In fact, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ has become a mantra of sorts for me.

 

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

Oh definitely! I think now, every time I’m faced with something new, something unknown and I feel scared, I remind myself of all the times I’ve done things before and survived. Of course, sometimes things haven’t always worked out, but I have still learnt from experiences, still grown in ways and yes, survived. So, if I could do it before, I can definitely do it again.

 

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

I can’t stress enough that courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It is embracing the discomfort and doing what needs to be done. I think if you remember that, you are more likely to allow yourself to be okay with the uncomfortable feelings and unhelpful thoughts and still give things a go. The fact is, when we are anxious about something, it is human nature to avoid it. But by being courageous, we learn either one of two things: we learn that things are either not as bad as they seem or that we are so much stronger and capable than we realised even if things are as bad as we imagined. By avoiding, we never really learn our true capabilities.

Thank you so much Sanch. Wisdom gleaned from experience as well as learning is so good as it often  remains embedded in us.

Denyse.

 

 

 

Blog/Website: http://www.sanchwrites.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sanchwrites

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

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

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. #32. Sue Loncaric. 23/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #32. Sue Loncaric. 23/2020.

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 have never met Sue Loncaric who is a 62 year old woman now living in Queensland. That does not matter of course when we are bloggers…because fellow bloggers always feel like we have known people from their sharing on the blog, facebook and other social media. I do know Sue is a kind-hearted and helpful person who wants to ensure to care of others in her life. I also know how devoted she is to her family. More than that, I got to experience Sue’s care first hand when she sent me a beautiful journal with inspirational cards when I was first diagnosed with head and neck cancer. I will now send you to read on to see why I asked Sue to consider sharing her story as a Woman of Courage.

 

 

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

Denyse has asked me several times to contribute to her Women of Courage series and I’ve declined each time.  I don’t believe I’ve been courageous in life at all, especially compared to other Women who have featured in her series.

Yet I underestimated Denyse’s inability to accept ‘No’ for an answer.

Denyse’s persistence made me actually stop and look back at my life and revisit times when I had to dig deep for strength.  My courage has been coping with the loss of loved ones, walking way from a marriage, supporting and loving my husband and his parents and later in life pushing myself to achieve my goals.

 

  • I suppose the first time I really needed courage was to face the idea of losing my Mum.  At the age of 53 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and back in the 70s research was still in its infancy so we had no idea what to expect.  I was 18 at the time and I couldn’t imagine a life without my Mum.  Neither could Mum!  She battled on for 10 years, showing courage, determination and never complaining.  Losing my Mum was devastating as she was the most beautiful soul I had ever known and she certainly left a huge gap in my life.

 

  • The next test was losing my Dad when I was 24.  He had just retired and was looking forward to spending time and caring for Mum and her cancer battle.  However, 6 months later he was gone.  Bowel cancer had claimed him.  My strength was tested this time because he died a month before my first child was born.  I remember him wanting to see the baby but he was in so much pain I told him not to hold on and he died that night.

 

  • Walking away from a marriage wasn’t easy but I found the strength to do this.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault but I still feel guilty although I know the decision was right.  This was a time when I also walked away from family and friends so again experienced loss.  Fortunately, I was able to reconnect many years later and cherish those close to me.

 

  • My courage and strength were tested again in 2000 when my husband had a heart attack resulting in emergency triple by-pass surgery.  The doctor had advised me to go to work as they wouldn’t be operating for a few days.  However, a few hours later I was called back as a clot was blocking his artery and a nurse actually told me to ‘prepare myself’. You certainly take for granted that loved ones are always going to be there and fortunately 19 years later my darling is still with me.

 

  • Losing my brother 3 years ago to cancer at the age of 65 was a time that taught me it is never too late to make amends. For some reason we had not spoken for over 30 years and he lived in another country.  I am so grateful that his daughter arranged for us to speak before he died.

 

  • I’ve supported my darling husband through his PTSD issues and likewise he has been my biggest cheerleader.  Together we put our lives on hold to care for his parents.  What was supposed to be short term, became our lives for 11 years. We now have our lives back but I wonder sometimes if there is enough time to do all we want to do together.

 

  • In recent times I’ve needed the courage to achieve my personal goals – running two full marathons at 55 and 61, starting my blog when I retired almost 5 years ago (who would really want to read what I had to say), continuing to try to motivate and aspire others to achieve their goals when I’m not feeling great myself some days.

It can be so easy to give up when the ‘going gets tough’ but pushing through brings satisfaction.  Being a driven person can sometimes be a curse as well as a good quality to have.

 

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

I think that going through all of these experiences has given me resilience to cope with what life throws my way.  I still don’t feel that I’ve done anything more than others would have done in similar situations but perhaps we sometimes downplay the situation.

 

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

We all have an inner strength that we don’t know exists until we are tested. The other learning is that there are always people willing to support you if you are open to accepting their help.

 

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

Yes, I believe I am more courageous mainly because I am older and have experienced many different situations in my life.  Once you prove to yourself you have the strength then you really can cope with anything.

At the time of writing this I am at the crossroads again and need to make some difficult decisions on my future direction.  This will take courage and strength to actually do what I tell others to do and that is letting go of what I don’t want in my life and moving forward without guilt or regret.

 

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

I wondered how to answer this question and then thought about What does it mean to be courageous? I found this quote which I think sums it up perfectly.

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room

 

What a story Sue has shared. I was right in pursuing Sue to contribute was I not? Thank you Sue. For sharing and for helping others along the way. I am also grateful to you and fellow blogger Leanne at Cresting the Hill for having a Wednesday weekly Link Up for Midlife Share The Love Bloggers. Today, this post will be shared there by me.

Denyse.

 

Social Media

Your Blog: https://www.sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au

Your facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sizzlingtowards60/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sizzling60

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sizzlingtowards60andbeyond/

 

 

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. #31. Cathy. 21/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #31. Cathy. 21/2020.

 

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.

 

Like other women who chose to take part in this series after I sent through a request, Cathy is someone I know “virtually”. She’s been a blogger, on social media and a writer. We have one common bond too. I was born in the city where she now lives. Cathy, I thank you for deciding to be able to share your story here and honour the way in which you drew on courage to do so. Here is Cathy, aged 48, answering the now familiar questions as part of the response to being a Woman of Courage.

 

image by: https://www.instagram.com/jam.on.your.collar.photography/

 

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

When my grandparents died. It was a sudden and traumatic time in everyone’s lives. We got that phone call at about 1am to tell my mum that her parents had died in a tragic car accident. I was 18. My parents at the time were running their own business and at 1am in the morning in the early 90s there were no mobile phones and no way of contacting anyone else to run the shop. They had a newsagency and at the time there was a legal requirement that every day that a newspaper was printed the newsagency had to be open. So this meant that I along with my brother had to stay at home and run the shop until we could locate someone to do it for us. The hardest thing I have ever had to do is put my parents in a car and say goodbye to them knowing my grand parents had died in a car accident. At the time we didn’t know when we would see mum & dad again. We joined them on the Saturday.

 

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

This forever changed me. I found a strength that I didn’t know I had. I knew that if I could do that I could face anything in the future and that as it turns out was a courage I would need time and again throughout the next few years and beyond.

 

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

Ask for help. Put your hand up and tell people what you are going through and that you need your friends. Anyone can face anything if you have people you love alongside you. It is part of the human condition to want to be there for others but as is the nature of our lives today we are both more connected (through the socials) yet more disconnected than ever before. So people will stand back and wait to be asked when I believe a generation ago they would have just arrived on the doorstep.

 

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

Absolutely. I have had to more times than I would like since then be courageous and each time it gets a little bit easier. I know that I survived the last time so I know I can get through this next time. I have learned to be much better at asking for help too. Asking is not a sign of weakness it is a recognition that with others around you it is easier to get through.

 

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

That you absolutely do not have to do it along. You will be surprised at how much love and support you have around you. We all think we are Robinson Crusoe and doing it alone but we simply don’t have to be. People want to be there for you but as is part of life today they will stand back and wait until you ask or invite them in. Don’t leave it so long that it is awkward or has become too hard to ask.

 

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

I live by sharing my story because I have learnt that the more we share the less alone we feel. So share your story. As I say “don’t be afraid of your story, it will inspire others.”

 

Thank you. What great words to end this story…I too agree with Cathy about sharing our stories.

Denyse

 

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website: lifethroughthehaze.com

Twitter: @lifehazey

Facebook Page : facebook.com/lifethroughthehaze

Instagram: instagram.com/lifethroughthehaze

 

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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