Monday 18th January 2021

Scenes From Nighttime. #SundayStills. 6/2021.

Scenes From Nighttime. #SundayStills. 6/2021.

After the warm welcome I received to the #sundaystills blogging community I am back! Last week I posted here.

Every 5 weeks on my blog, I offer the optional prompt to #shareyoursnaps for the Monday link up called #LifeThisWeek and that is why I have also included my image from there.

When I saw this prompt for week commencing 10 January 2021 from here: 

These are remaining prompts for January.

NB: these are from the Northern Hemisphere, I will need to be imaginative here in the Southern Hemisphere in Summer.

And yes, I changed the spelling in two words. My computer told me to!

Jan 17 Colour Challenge: Glacier Blue
Jan 24 Fog and Clouds
Jan 31 Your Favourite Landscape

I was not sure I had any photos to fit as I do not typically take photos at night nor at night time…but then I remembered these!

In early March 2020 before COVID restrictions began, I was the guest speaker at an evening function at Avoca N.S.W. Australia to help raise funds for a head and neck cancer charity where I am a volunteer Ambassador. I shared some of my story with the audience. It was just on dusk in daylight saving time and the beach looked so tranquil as did the view. I remember stopping on my way up the stairs to take this photo.

And here’s what I did and the audience reaction to my story, along with the host (in white) a young doctor and a member of the board, a radiation specialist.

The very next week saw me, at night, out on a balcony of an apartment we stayed in post-cataract surgery, taking photos of evening-time arriving in Parramatta!

So good seeing familiar places from when we used to live in Sydney from a different perspective.

Looking west, across Parramatta Park, the western suburbs to the Blue Mountains.

 

Urban Parramatta at night. Old hospital to the right, and police precinct in the middle.

In 2020 I sure did get some time in medical and surgical facilities….Gosford Private Hospital twice! This is from the first stint. Four night stay. Night time really is the ‘worst’ time in hospital.

Not in chronological order but in May, it was the COVID night time 21st Birthday of our second granddaughter. Only her nearest & dearest allowed at her home. Still have restrictions now unfortunately.

Birthday girl is 3rd from left. A Butterfly balloon seen here is because she has always been known as “our beautiful butterfly” from birth!

So I found images and used my imagination too.
Great combination for a blogger I reckon.

Please follow this blog via Bloglovin  see my home page for link in which to add your email address.

You may prefer to follow the updates from here on my Facebook page for the blog.

I am on twitter as @denysewhelan1

My instagram account is private: ask for follow @denysewhelan_blogs

Each Monday I hosted a link up called Life This Week. There are optional prompts. They can be found on the home page too.

Have a great weekend and week ahead everyone,
Denyse.

Linking up here for Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Catch Up this week.

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My Stories About Ageing: My New Blogging Category Is Here! 5/2021.

My Stories About Ageing: My New Blogging Category Is Here! 5/2021.

This image of me: Left: Jan 2006. Right: July 2020. Same person loving the elements. But ageing is definitely showing!

Why this?

Why Now?

It’s time.

I have been considering writing stories about ageing from my perspective and experience for a while.

Back Story.

I am now 71. I still find that hard to believe! It could be because my Dad, at 97 is still well and I am ‘still his daughter’. But…no, it cannot be that I am a kid and he is the adult. He, my friends, is elderly, I am ageing. Oh, who am I kidding!

The catalyst may have been this: a photo of us aged 21 on our Wedding Day in 1971 and a re-creation image in 2015 when we were 65 (me) and 66 (B)….as we ready ourselves aged 71 to share our Golden Wedding Anniversary (50 years of marriage) on 23 January 2021.

Or, it may have been this past year because events took hold of me health-wise in a big and somewhat confronting (for me) way:

  1. I found I had to dig deep into my emotional capacity, and remember how I managed my inner emotional health recovering from head and neck cancer, to do this.
  2. I also found the ‘reasons’ for my rectal prolapse surgery very hard to accept and share.
  3. I now know, of course, I am better without the physical problem and that whilst I waited a long time to admit to needing the surgery, it was a lack of shared knowledge from other women that was part of my resistance.

 

Onto the reasons why I will post about Ageing and Stories About It from Me.

From my perspective: Denyse at 71!

On my 71st Birthday, 30 November last year, I posted this collage of me at 68,69,70 & 71,  and in fun, a ‘this is 71’ photo was taken by my husband (at my request) too.

Groups. People On and Off Social Media. For Me? Not For Me?

  • I love to be social on-line. It is easier for me to be on-line and meet up virtually with a range of people than it is to go out and find a group.

 

  • Before I go on. I did have a social group of sorts when I was in education.However, these were often work-based and even though friendships stayed firm at work, they tend to peter out at retirement time and when moving schools.

 

  • When I first retired I became a volunteer and was engaged in some interesting but mundane work and felt my skills could be better used in a leadership role.

 

  • I found one of those easily and was welcomed with open arms. It was not, however, long lasting as the intent of the volunteer group clashed with my educator’s values.

 

  • I started a small group for colouring mindfully. There was a lot of interest initially until it came time to attend. Very few did. It stopped. Sad to say, the same thing happened just 3 years ago too.

 

  • I am not a sport player nor hobby-mad really and do what I can at home to get my creative ‘fix’ now. I joined a group learning crochet but left as no-one had any idea how to teach an ambidextrous person how to crochet.

 

  • I even joined, not for long sadly, a local community group for women only. It spoke of meeting for coffee and brunches. I liked that idea. I went, I joined in but alas the ages were not close to mine, and again, sadly, the cohort was almost all local to the area whereas we are ‘newish’ here.

My Observations as an Over 70s Person.

Getting older is, for many of us, a privilege we do not always appreciate.

I admit having a cancer diagnosis out of the blue in mid 2017 sure was a wake-up call to thinking “we are immortal” but I whilst never thought I was dying it gave me a new appreciation for health and recovery from cancer.

I know that I am very grateful now to receive a part-aged pension income, which added to my husband’s pensions gives us a reasonable life here as a couple who are renting.

I don’t mind even feeling somewhat invisible as an over 70s woman because it gives me a chance to be an observer and I like that!

What I notice, particularly now, is that on social media: groups on Facebook, communities and twitter and instagram, that I do not see (nor hear of ) people who are close to my age.

Even the groups geared to seniors, older Australians, retirees, generally cater for those from age 50 to say 65.

And, as I found out in COVID 19 times, now that my husband and I are 0ver 70 we are classed as:

  • elderly
  • vulnerable

Why Blog About It?

I feel somewhat left out!

  • By groups even for seniors and older people.
  • The starting age is now 21 years younger than I am.
  • I want to have a voice that matters to others who might want to hear/read stories of ageing….
  • ones that keep ageing  reality-checked to counter balance with the “promises of using certain products to stave off….”

I will continue to write more here.

  • I want to be included but I sense that in my particular social media setting I am definitely older or the oldest of a group’s cohort.
  • In fact many people I love to chat with and catch up with are indeed closer to my daughter’s age and she is turning 50 this year.

But, that is good for me too as I am flexible in how I interact….

Yet, I want to be the voice (here) of reality in ageing as I wish I had known more!

What Do You Think?

Have I gone too far?

Do you every imagine yourself actually ageing with significance?

Every decade I see people bemoaning the zero coming up.

Really?

OK, for some I imagine it is scary.

The unknown perhaps but since the internet is here, maybe “I” can be a better heard voice of wisdom, failures and experiences for turning:

40

50

60

70.

Am I opening up too much?

Would you like to know more about my experience of ageing?

How could my story help you, perhaps?

Maybe you might share your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you.

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne and friends here for Lovin’ Life Linky.

 

 

 

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Announcement. 2/51. #LifeThisWeek. 4/2021.

Announcement. 2/51. #LifeThisWeek. 4/2021.

Life This Week post for me is a series of announcements. 

  • Today is Monday 11 January and my father, here with me on my 71st Birthday, is 97. He has no idea why he is still around. But he is reasonably well, independent and now been a widower for almost 14 years. Interestingly he is a child of the Great Depression…around 6 when it started and he has known very tough times but his longevity is amazing. Mind you, given some of his limitations I have told him I hope I do not follow trend this myself! I am now visiting him today, under the COVID19 restrictions for Greater Sydney.

The two of us.

And about 69 years earlier…look “no smile”.

I Looked Back at My Previous Years’ Word of The Year And Thought…..

  • I really knew what I wanted to do and say for each of the years and set out with great intent but really, until I got to 2018 I felt like I just could not apply what it was I meant to do and be. In saying that, I did OK really but was not great in terms of my emotional health. I mentioned that in this post last week.

2015:  Acceptance

2016:  FEARless

2017:  Kindness

2018:  B.O.L.D. Be Brave Optimistic Loving Learning Determined Denyse

2019: Integrate: Head & Neck Cancer & Me

2020: Gratitude. For Life

2021: Smile

The Posts Where I Announced These.

2015 & 2016 posts are  now gone. I remember thinking those words would be ‘easy’. Nah. Not a chance.

Here is 2017. Kindness.

Then after that was, in my first full year as a person with head and neck cancer,

2018: B.O.L.D. Be Brave Optimistic Loving Learning Determined Denyse

My “message to me” bracelet.

2019. Integrate. This word emerged as I made efforts to see myself as whole person, not “just a patient with head and neck cancer”.

However I was not quite sure of what I wanted and as usual I wrote about this and here’s what emerged  this post. 

Last year’s word needed on many days, LOVE in between, and this year’s word. All where I could see them and be reminded. It really helps me.

What Did Having These Words ‘on my arm’ Do For Me?

  • I knew I liked something to distract me a bit when I was waiting for something to happen, say in an appointment or that I could touch and ‘play with’ in times of boredom, stress or a combination of the two.
  • Those little words on bracelets did so much more for me in 2018 and 2019.
  • They were talismen I carried on me at all times. OK, not into surgeries of course, but 24/7 when I could.
  • When I felt less than confident, less than brave and perhaps in need of a reminder in tougher times that I COULD put up with this, do this and so on, these tiny and relatively inconspicuous bracelets with their words did that.
  • I had to spend a lot of time…up to 4 hours in a dentist chair at the prosthodonist in 2018, less in 2019 and along with my ear buds in use with a story or music, I could when feeling more ‘over it’ reach down to my right wrist and touch the metal. It was (and still can be) soothing and a reminder that I CAN do hard things!!
  • 2018 memories…before my upper prosthesis was finally fitted, I had many, painstaking (but not painful) appointments here to get my mouth right!

And then in 2020 I chose Gratitude and I am announcing it’s coming into 2021 with me! 

Revisit the gratitude word from last year’s first post and know that I lead into the year with a whole month of gratitude leading up to my 70th Birthday at the end of November 2019. My bracelet about gratitude has on the back “for life” and that resonates. So, I am now wearing it on my left hand. I still need and will always, I believe, to remind myself of gratitude daily.

This post about my smile: very important for my self-esteem and progress with oral cancer recovery.

These are pretty average shots of my bracelet…it’s too awkward for my husband to undo and I sure cannot. Ooops.

I wear it above my Apple Watch which is on the right hand. I am a leftie so that suits me best. The other side marks ’50’ years of marriage in 2021 using “L” and then there is the Tree of Life representing us and our family.

 

As for my word in 2021, SMILE, I have this to say:

  • I like to smile but I won’t smile without feeling it….(small exception if it helps me through something that needs a smile more than a frown)
  • I won’t be told by anyone to “smile” unless it’s in good humour!
  • No-one can force us to smile, I think.
  • Smiles are universal
  • A gentle smile can start a kind conversation
  • A broad smile might get back another broad smile, especially in close and friendly/familiar situations
  • There is often something to smile about if we look with care
  • Smiling is from the heart

What about you?

What makes you smile?

So happy with my new avatar

 

Another Announcement! The Last One.

For the last few months I have wondered about continuing to post more than once a week.

Yes, I know many are reducing their blogging days.

Here’s a small statistic from my history of blogging: 2015 and into 2016:

1 Nov 2016 I stopped Blogging every day

At 671 posts from beginning of 2015

Those who have followed for a long time will remember we had a link up on Mondays, Tuesdays, sometimes on Wednesdays and Thursdays and one for the Weekend on Fridays. Many people have stopped blogging we know that, and some who ran link ups let them go over time.

I remain committed to mine each Monday for all of 2021.

But….one thing I am considering is adding a topic for posts for me.

  • You see, I believe I am one of the older bloggers in terms of age and years of blogging.
  • I have begun to feel alone within the various facebook groups and pages I follow.
  • Why? I am, from what I see, the one who is at least 5-10 years older than the groups’ cohorts.

So, I am thinking it’s time “I” contributed posts which may be of interest to others here about the realities, good news and not so about  the inevitability of  ageing.

Do you think there might be any interest?

I am going to do this anyway, because it’s time I had a voice that is heard in this area: Stories About Ageing. 

I will post something this coming week and link up and see how it is received.

And a footnote, I blogged last weekend and joined in the #sundaystills community. It was fun and I loved it. Looks like I am blogging more!!

Cheers,

Denyse.

Link Up 222.

Life This Week. Link Up #222

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 Optional Prompt: 3/51 Back To. 18 Jan.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


 

 

 

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Retrospective In Photos: Our Life in 2020. #SundayStills. 3/2021.

Retrospective In Photos: Our Life In  2020. #SundayStills. 3/2021.

Nothing like a new year to try new ideas.

Deb from Deb’s World here, shares her #SundayStills via this blog which I am now following, a photography challenge hosted by Terri  and I am giving it a go. Here is her wrap up for quite the year of 2020.

As we in Australia say, “you never know till you give it a go”.

The prompts for January 2021, should you wish to follow as I am are:

Jan 3   Your 2020 Retrospective (share your year in images)
Jan 10 Night
Jan 17 Color Challenge: Glacier Blue
Jan 24 Fog and Clouds
Jan 31 Your Favourite Landscape

I think for me, I will be kind of a week behind…but let’s just see!

Looking Back: Moving Forward!

2020. Here We GO!

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Great way to recount the “year that was” and surprisingly to me, the positives have far outweighed any negatives!

  • Gratitude being ‘my word’ for 2020 helped me see life from a different lens from time to time.
  • We felt safe here even in COVID times
  • I had successful surgeries – to my eyes and for rectal prolapse and even with a wound debridement later and longer recovery I feel well and glad it has all worked out for me.
  • I got the news that my head and neck cancer surgeon did not want me to return for a check for a year. Unbelievable.
  • We may not have seen as much of our extended family as we wished but so many are also restricted so the few catch ups we had made us even more grateful.
  • Both of us have been well supported by our local GPs and their crew even in telehealth times
  • The roof we have over our heads in this rental house is very strong and we enjoy living here.,
  • I got to visit my Dad a few times and he has remained well. I will be seeing him on Mon 11 January for his 97th birthday.

We are about to celebrate our fiftieth, Golden Wedding Anniversary and despite, COVID limitations, we are hopeful some of our family can visit.

 

Please follow this blog via Bloglovin  see my home page for link in which to add your email address.

You may prefer to follow the updates from here on my Facebook page for the blog.

I am on twitter as @denysewhelan1

My instagram account is private: ask for follow @denysewhelan_blogs

Each Monday I hosted a link up called Life This Week. There are optional prompts. They can be found on the home page too.

 

Here’s to 2021.

Denyse.

 

 

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Calm Days And Calm Nights. 2/2021.

Calm Days And Calm Nights. 2/2021.

Yes I now have these: days and nights of calm.

I have found the secret to inner peace…forever and ever.

Actually that is so not true …..do read on!

Waaaay back in 2015 I was in transition. From my former to life to the life we had chosen. From work, family near by, security of home (until end of 2014) to retirement, no family nearby and no home other than a house to rent. It was not great YET it was the life we chose to have after turning 65.

 

My husband, above, who is of a much different disposition to me, was fine. In fact, he LOVED the change, except for the awful house we selected to rent, and was busy studying counselling on-line, doing volunteer work with Lifeline and building projects at his brother’s.

Me? I missed company, some work,  friends, going out for coffee and yet…..I knew that I could not get my old life back.

We HAD moved on.

When I get to write Chapter  Twenty One of Telling My Story for 2015 there will be much more revealed but right now, I am leading up to what started to make a difference for me….

Meditation.

I first found it in person, at a Buddhist Centre, in the first months of 2015, and then via an app called Headspace. This helped me from 2015 until into 2018 when I changed my meditation app to Calm. Now I am a life time subscriber and what a difference it makes for me:

EVERY

SINGLE

DAY

& NIGHT.

In 2019 I shared more about Calm and its help for me over here.

These thoughts and views are formed by me, over time, as I changed and grew to understand what I was doing….I was practising meditation. I was practising being still and I was/am continuing to do this every day and each night. It’s called Meditation Practice for a good reason.

What Meditation Is Not.

  • a clearing out of your thoughts
  • a way to get to inner peace easily
  • a place & way of being seated to best meditate
  • perfection found
  • silence

What Meditation Is.

  • a regular 10-12 minutes in my morning, and then in my evening which is just for this.
  • lying in my bed…yes, not sitting nor kneeling, because I can still concentrate, relax and take in what I need to being comfortable on my back with my hands by my sides.
  • a gift to my inner health
  • a space & time which I value that is MINE
  • something I can come back to over and over again
  • being curious about myself
  • learning something a new and refreshing my previous learnings.

How Did I Get Here?

Even before 2015 I was seeking help and information on how to help me calm myself inside and accept more readily what “life” is about. As a teacher and always a lifetime learner I sought much information, learning and help and got it via CDs, courses on-line and podcasts. I have added some images of some of my kept resources.

The first real introduction I had to becoming mindful and helping with the sadness I was feeling, even though I was not clinically depressed was this book and I still listen to it from time to time. These two men, Mark Williams and Danny Penman, are pioneers (after Jon Kabat-Zinn) of Mindfulness for Wellness and Using Mindful Practices for Stress Release.

Some were purchased on-line directly from Sounds True, others via my (then) favourite book selling site, Book Depository. Others I found directly on-line or at my local books sellers.

Some of the authors who helped me “get me” are:- are found here and in my messy but lovely photos of my books and CDs. On display for easy reading….for you, the reader.

Pema Chodron  Tara Brach    Jack Kornfield    Brene Brown  Sharon Salzberg  Clare Bowditch     

Elizabeth Gilbert   Andy Puddicombe  John O’Donohue   Jeff Foster  Judson Brewer

Megan Devine    Martin Seligman     Steve Peters    Andrew Fuller   Kristin Neff    Glennon Doyle

Rick Hanson   Christopher Germer    Lori Deschene    Paul Gilbert  Claire Weekes  Anne Lamott 

Yes, that IS a list and yet, not the end of it. The reason each of these people helped ME and form part of many meditation practices that I know of is that they mention common ideas:

there is only one moment: now

that we can only control one person, us

that we forget the above two often so we need to practise

AND, that it’s human to be like this.

This image is my iphone locked screen.

Calm Days And Calm Nights. What Is This About?

Regular readers of this blog know I was diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer back in 2017. Full series of blog posts here. I learned so much about myself then, about what I could cope with, about how I could, with support and practise, learn to deal with hard things. I wrote a post or two about exposure therapy as I learned I HAD to do after seeing a psychologist back in 2016.

Changing from Headspace Meditation to Calm Meditation for me was about just that…change. It did turn out to go well for me in 2018 I was offered a great price for a lifetime subscription and being on a pretty fixed and low income that helps a lot.

I liked and still do the ways in which I can pick and choose the meditation for a particular reason*, for example, if  I sense I am being overly self-critical I will choose to do the series on that to learn and learn again (practise remember) the various ways in which I can pull myself up in terms of self-talk and gently guide myself forward.

Each day now, at the time of waking…and in retirement days this can vary from 8.00 am to 9.00 am and I LOVE that luxury, I open the Calm App and settle back in bed (loo stop first) for my morning Daily Calm. Following it, I reflect via the suggestions and may choose to keep and share the quote and image of the day. Then I get on with my day.

Oh, I do not write about Calm because I was asked to or I was paid to do so. I just like to share what works for me.

At the end of the day, again in bed, when I am ready to settle for the night, I select a meditation via need*. It does not matter if I have done this one before, there is always something new to learn and focus on.

If by the end of this one, I am still wide awake – not often – I may choose a Sleep Story. They are awesome and have great narrators and stories to share. It’s much better for me than music.

As we know and admit, we are all “works in progress” and I decided to share my thoughts in this first week of blogging 2021 with you and in joining a couple of link ups.

  • May you find peace.
  • May you be content.
  • May you be well.

When I am here…I am the most mindful I can be outside of practising meditation!

And may you never stop learning!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne and friends here for link up called Lovin Life.

Now on the weekend I am joining here with Natalie and friends for a Coffee Catch Up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

W  E  L  C  O  M     E    V   E   R   Y   O   N  E    2   0   2   1

Welcome to Life This Week in 2021. I am so glad you are joining us. Every Monday for 51 weeks this is the place to connect, to share, to add, to comment and to meet-up virtually with many! Love this community. Thank you for being one very important part. If you are new here, extra big welcome. The optional prompts for the weeks ahead are found on the home page. Denyse.

 

For the past three years I set a word of the year for me to live by. I admit I found this both a blessing and a curse. Ha! It was more the former than the latter. I did say to myself in November:I think I will leave trying to live with a word of the year in 2021′

Then on 30th November for my 71st Birthday my dear husband wrote this to me on the card’s envelope:

There it was. A word to live with and by, and as many who read here know I do love having my smile. So now you know!

 

Why “SMILE”?

  • A smile is a valuable form of communication and connection.
  • I know for some people smiles can be hard to manage depending on the time and circumstances and not everyone is a ‘smiler’. That is what makes the world go round, we are all different.
  • I too do not like being told “smile!!”. Umm. No, unless I have the emotions that warrant a smile, I may be able to slightly fake it but truly I prefer the genuine smile.
  • I know there are many more muscles used in the face to frown and far fewer to smile and that can be a suggestion as a mood lifter.
  • In fact, the old adage of ‘fake it till you make it’ can work as a psychological tool at times. Try it.

Some Thoughts on Smiling.

“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.”

– Dalai Lama

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

– Dr. Seuss

“The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back.” – Bryant H. McGill

“https://www.keepinspiring.me/quotes-about-smiling/ecause of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”

My Friends Shared Here About Smiles and Smiling After This Request From Me.

  • Reading random acts of kindness
  • My dog Lucky makes me smile all the time
  • You make me smile. Especially now with your beautiful new smile x
  • At this moment in time, seeing (and hearing) the delight as my 2 year old granddaughter experiences the beach. It starts as we prepare, then as she sees the water in the distance and then peaks as she plays in the water. Her pure happiness and joy at life in general makes me smile.
  • My adult kids, watching them live their lives makes me smile x
  • Snowflakes Music Ice cream Love Energy
  • Babies laughing
  • My garden

 

The Story of My Smile.

It’s said we often don’t know how much we appreciate something until it’s gone. I agree.

Regular readers here will know that I was diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer in the top area of my mouth and this page tells the whole story.

The loss of what I counted on as something unique to me and special, oh so special, my smile was something that I came to terms with over time. I had to.

However, the length of time it took for me to get my smile back was fourteen long, arduous, surgery and treatment filled months.

The day I got to see what  my new  smile would look like nearly brought me to tears. It was like being reunited with an old but changed new friend.

Under each of the photos here I have added some commentary connecting the word S M I L E to:

  • why I smile(d)
  • the story behind the smile
  • what can make me smile
  • appreciation for my team who gave me back my smile

 

That’s the story of my smile and why I chose the word for 2021. Actually I now think the word chose me. In a way, it was from my husband’s compliment and then this. I found a letter he never sent but he sure did proudly share with me and I have permission to share now here.

From B about my smile: written in 2018.

ABC Recording Studio, William St., SYDNEY.

I would dearly love to record a song for my wife of 48 years. I first encountered her at the Tamworth RSL Club where we were attending a Teacher’s Conference. Seated at the same table that evening, I was immediately struck by her smile. Since then, we have combined to produce two great children and eight adorable grandchildren.

Two years ago that smile was seriously threatened by a most unusually rare squamous cell cancer in her mouth. However, thanks to the brilliant intervention of an unusually rare surgeon at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown, Prof Jonathan Clark, she now has a new palate hewn from leg flesh and bone. Now that unusually rare smile has returned even more vibrant than before.

So, the song I would like, with your wonderful help, to dedicate to her is the Carpenters’ “Sweet Sweet Smile”!

 

Of course, smiling is contagious and I do this as much as I can when I am out and about to show my appreciation for others.

It is made harder by the addition of the mask thanks (no thanks) to COVID19 but I will still smile with my eyes and use words of appreciation where I can.

I hope your year has begun well.

Do you choose a word for the year?

I will review the word I had for 2020 in a future post.

Thanks for being here!

Denyse.

Link Up 221.

Life This Week. Link Up #221

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.

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* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt is Announcement. 11/1/2021

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Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt.3/3. 103/2020.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt.3/3. 103/2020.

Well over a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at...Chapter Twenty Five*. Part Three of Three.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members.

To read the earlier two parts of this Chapter go here for Part One (January, February, March & April) and here for Part Two (May, June, July & August).

 

WHAT A YEAR! 

Let’s get on with the final part of Telling My Story….2020.

SEPTEMBER.

But first, here’s to the Dads in my life:

Father’s Day Collage

I did not expect to be continuing to be recovering from surgery but yes, that is so. I was treated at home for 3 weeks by a Wound Nurse who took care of checking the wound, changing the VAC machine that helped heal me and then, as I did so well, signed off so I could visit my GP’s Nurse three times a week. Gosh people. Life is good…hey!

I could not drive (again) because of the machine and its attachment to me, so my dear husband (yet again!) drove me to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for my 6 month head and neck cancer check with my surgeon.

It was the first time my husband had been back with me here since early 2018. Certainly COVID had made some differences in protocol but not to the great ambience we both felt with my head and neck surgeon Jonathan and his surgical assistant, Cate.

Here’s the story of that visit!

It’s always good to see my team. I love them! And the best part of that visit was when Jonathan said “See you in a year!” WHAT? Blown away. I am doing well!!

Mind you they had some fun at my expense with the VAC system I was carrying! Thanks to social media Cate knew about my surgeries. I was advised that my CT scan of chest and neck was fine and to go see my prosthodontist when I could. I did.

 

With My Prosthodontist: I was back in a few days with mouth pain, but with some anti-biotic treatment it went away!

SPRING WEATHER & MEMORIES!

OCTOBER.
What a special month!

October is special because we have a grandson’s birthday and my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our meeting each October. Just sneaking into October, I was able to say “bye bye” to all wound care. On 6th October I was F R E E. The body, the doctors and  nurses, the VAC system and I had healed me. Hallelujah!

We had a school holiday trip to our son’s place on the outskirts of Sydney to celebrate an early birthday with H and listen to the stories and share much with R, E and M. We loved it.

OUR HOLIDAY!

On 17th October 2020 we celebrated our fiftieth anniversary of meeting. Now, for the first time in over 5 years we planned a short trip to the north western city of Tamworth where we met. We set off on the Monday, venturing into the country roads we remembered so well and with shared driving the trip was most enjoyable.

The next day we went to the top of Oxley Lookout to take in the view of Tamworth and then drove the hour or so to my first school at Barraba. We had morning tea and did a small tour of the spots important to me. They were the house where I lived in 1970 and to the school where I taught.

The town itself was less active and we could understand that. Both of us were worn out too by some of the emotional memories that flooded back.

One was of where I gave birth to our daughter in 1971 and we realised that we had seen and done enough of the memory lane and came back to our most comfy house. Glad to have done this trip.

And back into our retired lives here on the Central Coast of NSW.

PHOTOS, FLOWERS, RIVER & MORE.

OCTOBER into NOVEMBER. 

My improved physical health, fewer restrictions in NSW thanks to good COVID numbers meant I could be out and about more and enjoying what IS retirement now, post my head and neck cancer surgeries and treatments. But first, Beyond Five changed their name to Head and Neck Cancer Australia. Congratulations to them and I remain a very committed volunteer Ambassador into 2021.

 

I was also delighted to have these kind words written about me by Nadia Rosin CEO of Head and Neck Cancer Australia on the occasion of my great outcome at my September visit to my surgeon, Professor Jonathan Clark AM who is the Chair of Head and Neck Cancer Australia.

SNIPPETS & MEMORIES

Time To Renew My Photo Collage for the Blog and On Facebook.

NOVEMBER

  • I remembered my parents’ wedding anniversary: they last celebrated together in 2006 for their Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary
  • It got me thinking about “our” up coming Golden (50th) Wedding Anniversary in January 2021.
  • So, then my thinking got me…interested in lots of Etsy, convincing my husband to go along with my plans (he said yes!) and then lots of in-person visits to so-called cheap shops – buying up golden type decorations as there was a bit about for Christmas…
  • And finding places on Etsy which made amazing posters. I am going to save sharing these till the actual anniversary but let me tell you, there are clever people out there and how well they can make items for display for a special occasion
  • My husband and I had fun too ‘getting the info’ we wanted to share: how many places we had lived in, how many cars…and the like.
  • I also started getting more memories out that could prove useful for my version of the day when we celebrate.
  • We settled on a family lunch here because the actual date IS  Saturday 23rd January and we will welcome our two adult kids, their kids and one partner of a grandchild. We will be a lunch party of 13. Our daughter is making the cake (to her dad’s likes) and we will put on a pretty easy cold lunch.
  • Dad lent me the Golden Wedding Anniversary Scrapbook I made for him and Mum for 1996 to read over too. And the 60th one as well.
  • After seeing Dad one time this month, I visited Uberkate Jewels and left my precious Ubercircles chain to have a very small circle added. I have it now and it is very special.
  • Our 2 eldest granddaughters visited for a photo shoot of us for our 50th. What fun we had.
  • I recalled the lovely day a year ago when I met my blogging friends to celebrate my 70th.
  • On my birthday this year, my husband drove us both to see my Dad as he had not done so for a while, and we had a lovely morning tea for me. I brought it but that is fine!

The two of us.

Sometimes something surprising happens when you look outside. This was that! From our glass kitchen splashback one morning.

 

DECEMBER

Could we believe that we might be able to celebrate Christmas “with” COVID still hanging around? Yes, we could.#perhaps not. See below.

Along with:

  • remembering social distancing: 1.5 metres between people
  • limits of numbers at gatherings (mind you, this keeps shifting like the proverbial goal posts!)
  • use of masks where social distancing cannot be practised…except basically no-one but a handful at my local shops are doing this..and that includes me.

However….that said, Australia is grateful to be an island surrounded by sea as is our next-door neighbour New Zealand as it’s because of that, and the closing of our respective countries’ borders early that we have done reasonably well. But even that sounds crass and not empathetic and many people lost their lives in COVID times, with the state of Victoria having the most. I truly send my condolences to all here and around the world where you have been personally affected.

At the time of writing, the first vaccines are being administered in the hardest hit country (to date, my thinking) U.S.A.

It is also the place where the current President whose names rhymes with rump will not accept he lost the November 2020 election to Joe Biden. Mr Biden will be sworn in on 20 January 2021.

FAMILY. 

When I was at Dad’s place on 30 November, I did a walk around the walls where he has many of the family photos and some of them are large collages made by me for him to have memories on his walls. It was interesting for me to re-visit them to regain a renewed sense of gratitude for my life, the lives of those who went before me and to my parents. In fact my very first post for Telling My Story is this one: About Mum (Noreen) and Dad (Andrew).

L:Mum’s parents. Dad & Mum. 1946. R: Dad’s parents.

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES & MORE.

As I write it is mid December with just under 10 days till Christmas Day. This year we are driving to Sydney to enjoy Christmas lunch with our daughter and son and some of our grandchildren. Back in our days living closer we often entertained on Christmas Day and I was pleased to do so. Before I took over the reins for our side of the family Mum and Dad hosted. This is how it works for us. Not doing too much (although I used to..of course) and it really IS about getting together.

UPDATE: Covid…..

If anything was going to change our year, it was “this” quiet and unseen danger.

 

The trouble with COVID19 is that it is:

#invisible

#most places

#highly contagious

#can be asymptomatic

In the time I want to  publish this on Wednesday 23 December, 2020, it could be that life with COVID in Australia, particularly NSW where I live, could have changed what our plans might be…again.

I also got to see some of the family who live in Sydney when I visited my prosthodontist for a sore mouth check on 22 December. My mouth’s skin is sometimes irritated by a tooth of the prosthesis but I can see why more and know, as he said my management inside my mouth is great. Phew.

What I will do, however is UPDATE this post over the days till the end of 2020 if needed.

I do wish you all the very best time ahead. It IS meant to be fun, festive and family and friends time and I hope that works out for you too.

And be kind…..to yourselves first.

Denyse.

To my twitter friends: this was lovely to make. The first circle apparently people I tweet with most and so on to the outer circle. I love my twitter friends.

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt.2/3. 51/51. #LifeThisWeek.102/2020.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt.2/3. 51/51. #LifeThisWeek.102/2020.

Well over a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at...Chapter Twenty Five*. Part Two of Three.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members.

 

*Rightio…how DID I jump from my last chapter..Telling My Story which was Chapter Twenty to here?

No, I did not secretly write the posts and then not publish them.

But I did have a brainwave…do 2020’s chapter while it is fresh in my mind.

So, here I am with the second four months of “THAT” year we won’t forget in a hurry: 2020. Last Wednesday I published the first four months here.

This is the last post of #LifeThisWeek I will publish the final one of Telling My Story 2020 on Wednesday 23rd December.

Then, over time in the first months of 2021 I will write:

Chapter Twenty One (2015),

Chapter Twenty Two (2016- mid May 2017),

Chapter Twenty Three (later in May 2017 – 2018),

Chapter Twenty Four (2019)

In this, the last post for Life This Week, I want to thank each of you who has linked up, read and commented this year. You are very much valued as a part of this community. I am posting again this Wednesday to conclude this series (the Chapter for 2020 I mean!) and will be back on board for:

MONDAY 4 January 2021. 1/51 Word of The Year. Optional Prompt.

 

Part Two of Three. Chapter 25. 2020.

Now, on with the months of May, June, July and August of 2020.

I have to warn you whilst there are no gory photos there may be some details of the ailments I had that are not pleasant to read. Nor, of course, were they pleasant to have!

MAY 2020.

Family.

Our second granddaughter turned 21 in the early days of May. On the same weekend when the Premier of NSW announced, during a COVID update,  that families could visit each other in their houses, S had her ‘lockdown ISO’ party which she shared with us,  around 2 hours away, via facetime. Her Mum, boyfriend and siblings made it a special night and I am told, she got the cake cooked by her mum as was requested! Congratulations, S!

We actually saw her and the family the very next weekend as it was Mother’s Day and my daughter invited us to her house for Morning Tea. That was the first time we had ventured to Sydney since March. It felt strange being on the M1 and it was not too crowded. Delighted of course to see our family. It was lovely.

On the Tuesday afterwards I drove back down again, in a different direction, to see my Dad on the northern beaches. I had not seen him for at least 3 months as we were being very cautious in making contact with such an older person in an independent retirement place. I took all precautions and they had strict protocols for me and paperwork. I admit, I did give Dad a few hugs. He had missed human  contact other than generally on the phone.

 

My Self Care In May.

My emotional health took a bit of a battering as COVID struck with all its limitations, rules, changes and moving of goal posts. I am not great with change but do accept it’s needed and so I offer myself more kindness, easier inner talk and times out (if possible) by myself in the car and to possibly enjoy a coffee. I was delighted to find a takeaway stall on one of my Sunday drives, and then over time, with limitations some of my fave coffee places which had stayed open, could have a small number of people sit for coffee.

I kept up my art and craft practices and set myself small goals and got immersed in fulfilling those. With the Index Card a Day Challenge starting in June I was ready for that. I did some treat cooking for me and for my local GP practice as the doctors and front office staff went through a LOT in terms of dealing with the regulations and patients!

I continued with drives over to the water once COVID regulations about exercise meant you could walk where you went. I did. Sort of. To take photos. Noticing things in nature always helps me and I really needed it because I had health matters to deal with that were significant.

I also acknowledged that it was 3 years on 17 May 2020 since my oral cancer diagnosis. Important to remember, reflect and be grateful.

Health Matters. May, June, July and August.

I will do my best to use short and helpful sentences..and as my husband suggested: dot points.

MAY:

  • I needed to finally, and actually rather urgently see my female G.P. about the bothersome rectal issues. When I saw her, it was “do this, go here, see him” and “YOU have your whole life ahead of you” Get this sorted. She “IS” that kind of doctor and I love her for it but that day I got a bit scared.
  • She sent me to the Colo Rectal Surgeon and to my embarrassment (not his) I was very reluctant to go through with what he suggested first. A colonoscopy. Why? Rectal bleeding and obvious (he saw, not me, I just knew) rectal prolapse.
  • THIS was a condition I had lived with, tried to anyway for well over 2+ years, and I KNEW it was not good. I blamed IBS for my sometimes incontinence and ageing..but as I have found out no, it was the rectum being very lax and ‘falling out’. Sorry to write that.
  • Off home with the news, and the Colonoscopy pack. It was mid COVID restrictions at private hospitals and I opted for mine at the place 5 minutes up the road. No can do. Till June.
  • Waaahh. That is me who does not like to wait.

JUNE:

  • OK, people, with me it was nerves and more that put me off the colonoscopy but I also knew that without doing that nothing would change.
  • Facing up to it, hating the preparation and the aftermath at home, my dear husband took me to the private hospital up the road and left me.
  • The nurses were kind, the prep sure had done its work and….
  • The outcome, as told to me by the surgeon, was no cancer..but a pretty awful rectal prolapse which he strongly suggested needed repair and to come see him very soon.
  • We did, it was very helpful to have my husband there. The surgeon explained how he would perform an abdominal rectopexi. He would go in via my very old hysterectomy scar, pull up the rectum and sew it onto bone low on my spine near the coccyx.
  • Recovery would be in hospital for at least 4 nights and he predicted success. I was ready to trust him.

JULY:

This post tells something of what was to come for me.

  • Testing, testing. Bloods needing for the major abdominal surgery coming up.
  • Then to the private hospital in COVID times for booking in. In actual fact, it was a phone pre-op consultation but I needed to attend the hospital some 45 minutes away for ECG and pick up pre-operation info and prep. No not the awful prep. Phew.
  • I admit the nerves did play up a bit but I have dealt with 4 cancer surgeries AND I trusted this doctor and his goal for me and my GP too.
  • On a freezing late July morning my husband drove me – bag packed with nighties, all I needed for entertainment i.e. phone & ipad, and loose pants – because coming home my abdomen would be swollen & tender.
  • I was literally dropped off because of COVID.
  • Interestingly the prep I had to take at home before surgery was a drink of electrolytes and I had to have an all over shower body wash with their particular sterilising skin liquid.
  • The worst part for me …is always the waiting before going into theatre but this time was made worse as my surgeon insisted on a series of enemas. OMG. Not happy, in fact I got teary with the kindly nurse. She understood but the back and forth in a gown to the loo…made little better by being on a bed close to it. Sigh.
  • Anaesthetist was very thorough with his questions and also had to give me a spinal. Not impressed by the anaesthetic nurse who was very stressed about my veins. Shout out to him: not good to show frustration in front of patient who is already nervous.
  • Then I was GONE. Out like the proverbial.
  • Recovery: very aware of the pressure boots keeping my legs active, the fact that I could not feel from my waist down, catheter in and to be honest, felt well because “it’s over”.
  • Hiccup in communication between staff in recovery – it was busy – COVID restrictions were easing for capacity – meant I stayed in recovery about 2 hours longer than needed…grrr. Could have been in my room.
  • Something unexpected as my surgeon told me the morning after: he did the horizontal cut as planned but when opening me up, there was a hernia which would need repairing. It required a vertical cut to access it, from the first cut to my bellybutton. All stitching was internal with tape holding the outside wounds. I literally had an upside down T wound area.
  • Fast forwarding: I had an OK time recovering but not comfortable at all. My eating was hampered by my mouth and whilst I could have anything to eat, I was worried about …diarrheoa. Trust me, it didn’t happen but I needed reassurance and my surgeon was prepared to let me go home a day early even before bowel movement because I was needing home. He was lovely. Still is!
  • Saw him at a check up about a week or so later and he told me I was a star patient. Oh, I needed to hear that.
  • No driving, but that was OK. I was just so relieved that all was well  and miracle of miracles, no incontinence. Yay. Unreal.

AUGUST:

  • But. It was not to continue as a star recovery.
  • Around 2 to 3 weeks post-recovery, and I was still not able to drive, there was some redness appearing on the surface near my bellybutton. Husband took me to GP who advised ‘could be a ‘haematoma’ …we’ll keep an eye on it. I did, with photos. BUT….the area of the upside down T was needing greater cleaning by me. At shower time. Sigh. OK.
  • Whilst I am not great with complications, I also understand they occur. Even with ‘me’ doing everything right. I wrote here about what happened.
  • Then I wrote in detail here of the timeline, the circumstances and why it took me till October 2020 to be fully recovered!

 

What a Four Months That Was! 

But wait, there is MORE.

Daily Life with COVID19.

No, we did not have it..phew and all that. But we had to, like everyone, live around its restrictions and rules, and to be safe. For us, who are pretty conservative and intelligent people in their every day lives, it was fine. Really. You see, due to our health matters and not much income, it was never on our agenda to have overseas holidays, or even interstate ones so, unlike many, being home-bound in some ways did not bother us.

I made it work for me, the person who enjoyed her daily outings, by varying what I did at home and combined with my cooking/baking mojo returning, I found I could enjoy a coffee and treat at home some days. I also re-discovered reading the women’s mags. I did! Some got ditched soon after buying, but I have been reasonably surprised by the quality reading in the Australian Women’s Weekly so I buy that now. We gave up our physical paper delivery ages ago and get the Sydney Morning Herald as a digital subscription. All the local newspapers, which I used to love, are gone to digital land…except for one free community paper each week. I still enjoy something physical to read.

I continue my audible subscription each month and listen to some books in the car, and others at night in bed. I have taken to reading along in some cases with the physical book when accents become too hard for me to fathom which character is who!

My art is always here for me. I have, as many know, a dedicated area near my computer for all things creative. Making designs and mindful mandalas is the g0-to for me when I need to ‘concentrate’ or be mindful on just one thing!

Cooking now has a rhythm for a meals each week and we tend to use our batch-cooked meals a couple of times a week, and eat meals made from scratch on others. My dad is the recipient of some of the frozen home cooked meals.

Head and Neck Cancer Awareness and Support.

In the weirdest year ever…. COVID …to date…all things meeting-wise and catch ups were off the table. Therefore the organisation for which I volunteer had to re-think what it did to get messages and support out there for patients, families, carers and professionals.

The June Patient forum at which I was to speak was cancelled and morphed into an on-line program over many days and weeks. My part, on line as recorded by me here, was to respond to my psychological reactions to and management of having head and neck cancer.

The usual fundraising event for Beyond Five was Soup for the Soul and the physical events were not happening, nor were there any of our local Central Coast meet ups. Nevertheless, we worked on getting messages out there via You Tube, and of course, Zoom Meetings. I was not great at zoom so not that involved but as mentioned last time, my interview was on line about nutrition.

More from COVID Year 2020 for Me To Remember!

Apart from hospital homecomings… THIS was a big day and much needed..our son and his four kids came for lunch. Ahhh that’s better!

Grateful for Family Visits.

Thank you for reading..if you got this far. I am incredibly grateful to my readers and commenters.

Denyse.

Link Up 220

Life This Week. Link Up #220

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! Have a great break from now till the New Year. May You Be Well! 
The next link up will be Monday 4th January 2021. Optional Prompt: Word of The Year.

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