Tuesday 14th July 2020

LTW is ONE. #LifeThisWeek. 35/52. 2017.105.

LTW is ONE. #LifeThisWeek. 35/52. 2017.105.

A Little Bit of History.

Kirsty from My Home Truths had a wonderful and friendly link-up called “I Must Confess”. It was fun and popular with readers and bloggers. But somewhere along the road in 2016 Kirsty decided to finish her link up because she was getting fully into her research, writing and presentations  for her passion, Kids with Autism. Sad as it was to see Kirsty “retire the link-up”, I, along with many added their fond farewells to her. I wondered though, in an email to her, what she thought about me doing a Monday link-up after she finished.

Generous soul she is, she said “go for it, and I will tell people about your link-up as mine finishes”. That was exactly what happened 12 months ago. Kirsty and I have known each other for over 5 years and friends from blogging care for and about each other. I decided to name my link up Life This Week as I already wrote in that category each Monday and it was a general enough name for anyone to join in. And just in case anyone wanted some ideas for posting, like Kirsty had done, I added optional prompts. We were good to go on Monday 12 September 2016.

The First Link Up.

I was hoping there would be some bloggers link up for the first week where the prompt was Beginnings. In fact, to my delight 24 bloggers linked up. That is almost a record number. What a thrill it was to see the blogs added and have the people commenting. Great start.

I made it my practice to reply to everyone’s comments on my post first during the day Monday if possible and then, either that evening or the next day, go to the linkers’ posts to comment. Commenting is my currency in blogging and why I blog. I love my blogging connections and value each and every one.

We were off!

How It Has Proceeded.

The numbers of linkers has remained between high teens, into the low twenties with a few low teen numbers. It is the consistency and those who have made it a regular event for them to blog and link that I love. It’s like I get to wake up each Monday and think “oh I wonder who will be there today to have a chat with?”

Each 9 weeks I posted the next 9 optional prompts. The 9th week one is always “Taking Stock”. I have also endeavoured to make the prompts date or time of year specific …more for my brain actually..and bloggers have liked some of these ideas. I guess as bloggers, anything which kick starts a post on some days is a win.

The highest number of blogs which linked up was this year on the week of Valentine’s Day with the prompt “Love.” Some of the lower number to link up appeared closer to holiday times which is understandable.

Where Will The Link Up Go Now?

Right now, I am finding it stimulating to determine what the prompts will be and have already got as many done as there are weeks left in this year! I leave them in draft form for a while and review them before announcing them. They are already on the Home Page and are listed in my post for IBOT tomorrow. I know some bloggers link up without the prompts and this is fine. The only real rules (despite my list!) is one link and it be family friendly. I added this because, ahem, someone added a link one time which was not!

The Link Up will go on into 2018 and I look forward to more connections on-line. I truly love the community of bloggers and those who link up here are extra special because we are getting to know each other. During my recent cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery it was overwhelmingly apparent to me that I have people who care for and about me and I am truly humbled. Thank you all.

Without any more words…really! Here’s to the First Year of #LifeThisWeek.

 

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Denyse. 

I link up on Mondays here with Alicia for Open Slather and here with Kell for Mummy Monday. Join in there too!


 

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My First Car/Bike. #LifeThisWeek 34/52. 2017.103.

My First Car/Bike. #LifeThisWeek 34/52. 2017.103.

I made this prompt My First Bike/Car with an initial thought to write about my first car. Here’s the backstory.

However, I seriously could not find a photo of my first car probably because I did not have it for long. Towards the end of my first year of teaching, newly in love with the man who is my husband, I turned 21. My parents, back in Sydney, were not “quite up to speed” with how quickly our relationship had progressed and when I flew back to Sydney for a family 21st lunch and party with Sydney friends (no B with me!) I was surprised by a 21st gift of a second hand Blue Datsun 1000. OKayyyyyy. It was a part gift and part, ‘you can pay this off back to us’ present and I was delighted to have four wheels to call my own and to drive back to the country. But life, for us, took quite a different turn with our marriage early the next year and living in the bush (real bush!) meant my little car was not exactly road-worthy there nor was my now husband’s so we did a very practical thing and got a bigger car, a Ford Falcon. Not enough space to tell you the stories of us and cars. And I waited for another 10 years, when we were finally city-based for me to get a new car to call my own.

So much for not mentioning the car.

Not even a first bike story…it’s a tricycle.

When I was a little kid, around the age of 6 I was given a BLUE tricycle (not even a bike!) because…well just because I was six and it was cool. My brother could even sit on the back part of the bike and I could give him a ride. I am sure he loved that. Not. At the time this photo of me was taken there was an school fete on and a decorated bike competition. I remember Mum putting fresh flowers in the basket and I can see there are streamers in the spokes. I also notice I only have ONE black patent shoe on. That, my friends, is because earlier in that week barefoot me had trodden on a kid’s garden rake that had been left outside (shall I say, probably by my brother, because I was a perfect child) and I landed on it and the prongs when into my heel. Cue blood and crying but in the end OK but very sore.

I do not know if I won a prize with my bike but I sure do recall being very proud of it. I got my first BIcycle aged 11 once we had moved to Sydney. It was brand new and brown (who picks a brown bike? My parents I guess) and it was cool for 2 years and I rode it up and down the many hills in our Sydney harbourside suburb and then I sold it to my brother for 10 shillings. I was off to High School and a bike was not part of my needs. I also have no idea how long my brother kept the girl’s bike for as I cannot imagine HE pedalled to school on it.

And an ending as a little tribute to Dad. Father’s Day was yesterday. I did send a card and talk to him. Due to my cancer I have not been down to see him in  Sydney for over 4 months but I am feeling well enough to do this next Monday. Looking forward to it.

Here we are: about 66 years difference in the shots. Thanks for being my dad…even if you and I have clashed over the years I am very grateful for your love and care and support.

I look forward to reading your stories about bikes and cars too if you have gone along with the prompt.

Denyse.

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

 

NEXT WEEK: This link up is ONE.  I have made that the prompt for the week and I will be posting about the community that we have grown here and how it’s been a constant in my life and has helped me very much. If you link up and like the idea of this special prompt use your post to tell us how it’s been for you in this 12 month period to link up. And, of course, THANK you for doing so!


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Creativity Soothes Me. 2017.102.

Creativity Soothes Me. 2017.102.

It’s been a while!

I used to post more about my creativity way back when I was blogging more frequently so I decided today was ideal for a creativity catch-up.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that since 2013 art, in one shape or another, has helped me bridge some of life’s changes and given me a great ‘head space’ in which to become more mindful. I wrote about mindfulness here yesterday.

I am visually dominant then my next sense as a preference is kinaesthetic with aural (hearing and listening) third. I wrote about that here. It makes great sense to me then to enjoy art and using a myriad of different resources. From 2013 when I joined a group called DaisyYellowArt here, I have learned so much about media and then what I prefer to use. It has also meant I have, ahem, spent quite a lot of money over the years investing in artist-quality materials as student ones just do not ‘cut it.’

Making patterns on the page which may be large, small or somewhere in between gives me a creative freedom which I love. Although I do like to share on social media what I have made, the value for me is in the process. 

That is when I am at my most mindful and that is so good for my emotional health. When I went to hospital I took some art materials and an A4 book with some mandala outlines on quite a few pages and once I was in the ward (and not so knocked out from the huge surgery) I could lose myself in art each evening. I was a happy patient for sure and I did show some to the nurses as a way to connect.

Here’s a few I’ve made recently in my creative times. I will often say throughout the day, “I’m off to the art room” and it is a most pleasant and soothing place to be. I listen to some CDs often by some of my favourite teachers including Brene Brown, Pema Chodron and Tara Brach. It does soothe me for sure! I will sometimes draw mandalas and colour them in bed or sitting watching TV. I have a book with art materials that moves from room to room with me!!

What do you do to become more mindful?

Have you tried something new creatively recently?

Do you know what learning style is your preferred one? (hint: post link has place where you can check it!)

Denyse.

Linking here with Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesday link up and here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life link on Thursdays.

 

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Mindfulness. #LifeThisWeek 33/52. 2017.101.

Mindfulness. #LifeThisWeek 33/52. 2017.101.

This prompt, along with my daily meditation via Headspace, was developed for ME to become even more mindful than I am.

I thought that it might help me become more focussed as I know I need to be more present-based in my thoughts rather than past oriented or future centred. 

Having the knowledge of what mindfulness is I need to be more practised in it.

Here’s a few knowledgable people’s quotes about what mindfulness is:

  • “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose,
 in the present moment, and 
non-judgmentally.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
  • “Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” (Marlatt & Kristeller)
  • “Awareness of present experience with acceptance.” (Germer, Segal, Fulton)
  • “Mindfulness is a state of being in the present moment openly, flexibility and with curiosity” – (B.J. Whelan)

So, why be mindful?

The present moment, as it is said by Erkhardt Tolle, is actually the NOW and it is the only time we experience. The past has happened and the future is yet to happen.

So, what am I doing to be more mindful?

  • When I am driving I ensure I pay attention to the road…and the conditions of course, but I also sense the wheel in my hands, listen to the music I am playing and sense the fresh air coming through the vents
  • When I am making something creative, I have my materials to keep me centred as I decided what colours, media and designs to make
  • When I am sitting without distraction, in my chair, or looking at a view, I take it all in through the five senses if that is possible
  • I recognise that if I become too past oriented or future centred, I do not notice or take in the present moment and I may indeed miss something of value such as a bird singing outside or the sun moving behind the clouds
  • It also helps me when I am anxious or worried to take some strategies I have learned about being present: see 5 things and name them to myself, hear 4 things and name them, touch 3 things and name them, smell 2 things and name them and finally, if appropriate taste one thing and name it. Once  I have mindfully done this I will often find the anxiety/worry has moved on!

I found this here and it is a great list for the ‘why’ of being mindful.

The Benefits of Mindfulness
Practising mindfulness helps you:
* to be fully present, here and now
* to experience unpleasant thoughts and feelings safely
* to become aware of what you’re avoiding
* to become more connected to yourself, to others and to the world around you
* to become less judgmental
* to increase self-awareness
* to become less disturbed by and less reactive to unpleasant experiences
* to learn the distinction between you and your thoughts
* to have more direct contact with the world, rather than living through your thoughts
* to learn that everything changes; that thoughts and feelings come and go like the weather
* to have more balance, less emotional volatility
* to experience more calm and peacefulness
* to develop self-acceptance and self-compassion

How are you at being mindful?

Do you sometimes find yourself wondering what just happened as you have not been paying attention to whatever you have been doing?

Can you suggest some strategies you use for being more mindful?

Denyse.

Linking with friends Alicia here and Kell here who also blog on Mondays!

Thank you for joining in the link-up this week.


 

 

 

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Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

So a few weeks back I wrote here about ‘reality biting’ from the emotional health perspective as it started to over shadow my physical recovery. It is true that as I said back then our feelings can take longer to catch up with us. In some ways a more gentle and regular pattern of life has taken place since then and life is pretty good!

However, there have been some more moments and events where reality has bitten and I outline them here:

  • I am finding it  a challenge most days to ‘like’ the face…i.e. the mouth I see which is shrunken and ‘old lady with no teeth in’ look. Oh wait. That IS me. Old(ish!) lady with no teeth ..at the top. However, I saw myself in a photo and it’s not pretty. I am vain! I guess we all like to think we present a reasonable face to anyone. It will happen! You know it will…just going to be a few months yet.
  • I am feeling luckier as time goes on that my cancer does appear to have been isolated in that one place in my mouth but IF I let my imaginative thoughts take over I anticipate more cancer in my future. Note to self: remember mindfulness and living for today
  • I am hungry and wanting to eat from a nutrition and enjoyable perspective but I am very limited by foods which require virtually no chewing and can be swallowed with no chance of choking. Oops: I remember this well when I ‘try’ to eat some small pieces of cooked chicken within a soup I have blended and I manage not to choke but to remember that I cannot chew. Note well…OK? Sigh.
  • I have a great desire to have the rest of this year on fast forward to the days when I can eat well and without much restriction but that’s not going to happen. I was reminded of this limitation again when I did my first mini supermarket shop last week and had to say to myself: can’t have chips, can’t have meat, can’t have ANY thing that is hard, crunchy or needs chewing. In 2018 this will be different. Be patient ..LOL.

I posted this photo recently and had so many positive comments about my appearance. For a while though I wondered why I felt defensive about my loss of weight because it has not been intentional. I feel I have to justify my weight loss (over 3+years) because it did come at a ‘cost’ thanks to anxiety and IBS. But..I reflected on this too because for the many years I was very overweight I was using food as a comfort. My slow and gradual weight loss has made me realise that in many ways it has also helped me to feel more content at this size and I am certainly more physically comfortable and I think my recovery was assisted by me being this size.

But you know what I do actually say to myself now?

  • I am so fortunate to have recovered well from a MOST major and complex surgery where part of my leg was made to fit into my upper part of my mouth to give me, over time, teeth and gums and a S M I L E to be proud of.
  • I have the best support person in the world…who is also incredibly patient with this ex-patient…and that of course is my husband who I paid tribute to here.
  • I have my 100% independence back now. I can look after myself in terms of hygiene…oh I do need some help with covering my leg to have a shower…and dressing. I still need the nurses to visit to dress my leg wounds but they are going well too. I can walk well with no boot and I can drive. This has all come about in the past week to 10 days.
  • I am, as they say, #blessed!

Some photos showing my progress. This post is published just under 7 weeks since my surgery on 6 July 2017.

This will be the last of the posts about my cancer diagnosis and surgery for a while. As I recover more over the next few months I will be back into other topics and those of interest each week. I appreciate that the number of commenters and the amount of support I have had since I announced I had cancer has buoyed me through much of this time. Big thanks to you all.

How have you managed when being ill or post surgery?

Are you someone who has little patience or are you someone who can wait?

Have you ever cared for someone post-surgery or who has a major illness?

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Leanne here for her Linky called Lovin’ Life on Thursdays.

 

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Selfie Time.#LifeThisWeek 32/52. 2017.99.

Selfie Time.#LifeThisWeek 32/52. 2017.99.

When I was younger I resisted being in most photographs and I used the excuse “I am the photographer”.

And I realised that by doing this I was avoiding my appearance flaws (in my head and in reality) of my size.

I read something which made me change my mind…not matter what I looked like and that was….

how will your family remember you as their mum, mother-in-law, grandmother if you are not in any of the photos?

It then clicked with me that I needed to be willing to be part of the picture!

I am glad I did because there are records of me playing, having fun and being with the kids.

But what is it about ‘selfies?’

Since the advent of the mobile phone and reversing camera inside, it is easy to take a photo of yourself and I admit I have become more interested in taking selfies as a way to measure new experiences, where we live now and…most recently, my cancer diagnosis and surgery.

So: here are but a few of my selfies.

I sometimes can talk my husband and my dad into being in a selfie and my grandson (down further) is selfie- savvy and is very tall!

Most of the  following selfies were all taken once I knew I had cancer in my gums and the ones in the latter stages are following surgery.

Do you take selfies?

Do your record your life in photographs?

Happy Monday.

Denyse.

 

Added: On Sunday 20 August I drove myself to the Beach as I wanted to see the effects of the high tides and the windy conditions..it was an independent activity I handled really well. In fact I came home and said to B “that was the most normal I have felt” since before surgery. To let you see the effects of the wind..I present 2 selfies!!

 

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

Link up here for Life This Week!

Here are the rules:

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! Next Week: Mindfulness.


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I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1.Part 3. 2017.98.

I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1. Part 3. 2017.98.

For those of you who have been following my story of having cancer, the surgery for cancer and the recovery, this post is bringing you up to date with my first month at home.

Going home! Are there any better words when you have been in hospital? I do not think so! I spent the whole of the journey back home being very grateful for my discharge from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and being entrusted into my loving husband’s care. I think I talked all the way home as it had been some time (ok, 10 days!) since I had been outside the walls of the hospital.

The following photos will tell part of my story of gratitude.

However, throughout all of this ‘cancer journey’ the one person I am most grateful to is my husband:

the yin to my yang, the calm to my panic, the voice of reason to the voice of worry, the patient man for the patient who is often less than patient….I dedicate this post to him.

And even though he dislikes the attention, I have told him often enough that without his care, love, compassion, practical skills and commonsense my time becoming accustomed to have cancer and facing the serious surgery would have been much, much harder.

I am very grateful to B:

 

Here I am …within one month even I can see the differences and I know I feel different inside and much more ‘like me’ so I am incredibly grateful for healing time, a good body, great medical and surgical support and my outlook!

Taken on 12 August 2017, 4 weeks after my arrival home from hospital.

I am most grateful for YOUR support and care via your comments, your Facebook updates and those on Instagram. Thank you all!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesdays and Leanne for her link up called Lovin Life on Thursdays.

The gratitude post in photos!

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Reality Bites. Part One. 2017.96.

Reality Bites.Part One. 2017.96.

Today, 6 August 2017, as I write, it is exactly ONE month since my cancer surgery on 6 July 2017.

I am calling this post ‘Reality Bites’ as the consequences of the diagnosis of cancer, the pre-op visits and treatments and then the ultimate ‘reality’…. the complex and major surgery in my mouth and on my right leg have truly ‘bitten’.

I am writing it out so I can honestly tell you, my readers, that I am NOT doing so well in that emotional sphere at the moment.

This is despite my previous posts where I appeared to be going so well. I was/am in a physical sense.

Readers who want to read more about what this surgery was about can go here:

my diagnosis….my updatesmy grateful post #1my grateful post #2.

Reality has bitten in the form of a heightened emotional response (and IBS frequency) to what has happened to me…my feelings are catching up with what I have been through – from date of diagnosis 17.5.17 till now. (less than 3 months!)

Here is how it is for me NOW as I recall memories that are not great and are affecting me somewhat even though I know things will get better over time.

  • Wow, it’s been one month since the huge operation which I  knew was going to (hopefully) take all of the cancer out of my mouth and leave me with a reconstructed mouth using tissue and bone from my right leg.
  • I recall my feelings of being totally overwhelmed when the surgeons began to describe how they would ‘fix’ this cancer in my mouth only one day after I found out I HAVE cancer.
  • I got through the drive home after that with my hub on my least favourite road (M1) as I tried to wrestle the past 24-48 hours into some sort of sense for me. It was surreal.
  • At home I ‘tried’ to go on with ‘normal life’ but that is impossible when the word C A N C E R shone like a red light in my mind constantly.

“last smiles” were/are treasured but under those false teeth it’s cancer

  • I made  plans and prepared for hospital,  making meals for later,  and making sure I had sufficient clothes and activities ready to take to the hospital but it was surreal. I was doing this BECAUSE I have cancer. It still did not make sense to me.
  • I know that I saw my GP and psychologist about the surgery and what is meant to have cancer and yes, I cried sometimes but other times I was just numb. THIS could not be happening to me!?
  • My mouth and its discomfort and smell were the source of the cancer and I began to ‘hate’ it.
  • I also knew this surgery was going to take away 3 things that were and are precious to me: smiling, communicating and eating. Made me sad and quite stressed.
  • I was resigned to what the operation was but I truly had no idea of how it would impact me because it was like I was somewhat detached.
  • I knew that the surgery would be within 4-6 weeks of our consultation with the surgeons but oh how those weeks dragged on as I wanted to surgery to be over…but I also did not want to have it. So horrible. It  ended up being 7 weeks after diagnosis.
  • It took me weeks to finally get out the hospital forms and complete them. I just couldn’t before. I had to make myself do them. Filling them out meant, of course, I HAVE cancer and HAVE to do something about it. 
  • I made a decision to stay in a ‘cheap place’ the night before surgery and I so regret this as we were uncomfortable and I spent some of the time ‘feeling guilty and responsible’ because I have cancer. 
  • On the day of surgery, at 6.00 a.m. we  presented yourselves at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and then once ‘checked in’  I undressed and got into the paper gown which meant THIS is about to happen. O.M.G. 
  • I said goodbye to my husband and was off….the journey into the unknown…the operating theatre.

I’ve written two posts (see above) which described how things went for me in hospital so I will not outline any more here today.

The next post will outline what happened emotionally in hospital and then my homecoming. I have chosen to write about it all from an emotional perspective as life as a cancer patient post-surgery is affecting me and writing it out is to help me.

At home in my first weeks.

Have you had cancer?

Do you have an experience of having a life-changing event for you where things caught up with you later on?

I appreciate your comments and support. I am not looking to ‘get advice’ as I think that in recognising what is happening to me and letting it happen is probably the healthiest way I know how.

Thank you for your support!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays and here with Leanne and friends on Thursday for Lovin’ Life linky.

 

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