Monday 6th July 2020

Half Way. 2020. Year of Gratitude. 53.1/2020.

Half Way. 2020. Year of Gratitude. 53.1/2020.

Who knew how 2020 was going to be?

No-one I am guessing!!

However as someone who chose “Gratitude” as her word of the year, it is timely for a review.

In January, for the first post of the link up in 2020, I wrote this.

Over the past few years my husband’s words to me often included “what have you been grateful for today?” or “what went well for you today?”. Yes, I could answer him mostly in a positive way but until I had a shift in the form of my own revelations I guess I was paying lip service to gratitude. From time to time, I would think about what I was grateful for and write things down then I would leave it.

I need to add these words that are for me, similar to gratitude and will see me using them:

thankful

blessed (yes, not a joke)

content

grateful

fortunate

I have tied in my second instagram account to this blog, where it posts on the Facebook page for Denyse Whelan Blogs, here, each day of the year to date….using gratitude as my underlying theme. However, over time, I noted some newer ways in which I could be grateful:

noticing

wondering

sensing joy

and so on.

Why the review?

I was starting to feel jaded.

I guess the year itself, COVID as the particularly unwelcome visitor after the summer from hell, then flooding, did not help.

I have also needed to have some physical health matters investigated and that takes a toll. I know I do make the effort to see the good in every day, and to remember what is most important: my life, my partner in life, my family, friends and being safe and well….

Then I thought “is this true?” that I am finding it harder to be grateful?

Sometimes my mind will tell me lies!

Scrolling through this 3.36 minutes of all of the photos from the first 6 months tells me that I could search and find gratitude.

This was added to my YouTube channel via the One Second A Day App I use to collate and share my daily instagram photos.

I will, as they say, continue, my daily gratitude practice!

What are YOU grateful for today?

Denyse.

 

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Share Your Snaps #5. 25/51 #LifeThisWeek. 50/2020.

Share Your Snaps #5. 25/51 #LifeThisWeek. 50/2020.

Dear Bloggers and Readers,

We are, almost, at the half-way mark of this year. What a year…as they say.

2 0 2 0

Happy Summer to my Northern Hemisphere readers….and Happy Shortest Day(s) of The Year to those of us in the South.

In Australia, we thought we were being battered as the long, hot and awful Summer of fires continued…without a break.

Smoky skies – even away from the fires.

Then sometime in February we also had, from memory, flooding rains. Good ole Australia.

Mid week locally. Some roads were cut. Lake at Gorokan.

But then…

None of us, worldwide, were well-prepared with what came from March 2020 onward in many countries: (and is still around and will be…till there is a vaccine)

C O R O N A V I R U S: COVID-19.

Post COVID-19 test – negative.

It was and IS the virus that stopped the world as we knew it being and doing what we knew….and we became enmeshed in various ways by sanctions, lockdowns, quarantines, and much more. Stories in the news can tell us what we felt. However, during this time, as I posted last week, we also noticed kindness and were heartened by that.

 

Today, I am showcasing a range of experiences visually….and may not be back to comment for a bit. Off to have a (wait for it…..) colonoscopy later today and given what I recall of the last one 10 years ago, I will be, ahem, incapacitated temporarily.

 

Onward: to photos!

Always a good idea. I also needed a trip down memory lane…of what it was like, to W A I T (and W O R R Y) before my first head and neck cancer surgery in July 2017.

These images, are from the ‘distractions by me photo collection’ as I waited for the news that surgery could go ahead on 6 July 2017.

The memories of that time are helping me as I write this, pre-Monday’s procedure that I have done this kind of thing before…and emerged with lessons from life, learned.

What do you do to distract yourself?

I know I like to do some of this:

Before Monday, on the most magical winter day, I visited the lake near Toukley. My favourite look from nature is the reflections. Here’s a short video….

…because, hey, I am getting better at Youtube.

Are you getting out and about more these days?

Denyse.

Link Up #194.

Life This Week. Link Up #194.

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!

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* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt.26/51 Best Time Of Day. (my post not on prompt) is a new Chapter of Telling My Story.)  29.6.2020

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Kindness In Covid19 Times. 24/51. #LifeThisWeek. 48/2020.

Kindness In Covid19 Times. 24/51. #LifeThisWeek. 48/2020.

None of us can deny Covid19 – Coronavirus – has changed much in our lives since the news of it emerged and then, over time, it affected many (if not all) of us directly and indirectly.

In wanting to recount some of the better aspects of life in Covid19 times, I chose to use this week’s prompt Kindness to hunt out examples from people I know and some from me.

Kindness in Covid19 times as observed by me…and an example too!

  • In the early days of the virus’ grip and the newness of what the restrictions around it meant to us all here in Australia, I noted the smiles and kind words of those who waited as the supermarket entrance to welcome but also ensure we were well enough to enter and to have a clean basket or trolley at the ready. I admit too, that their smiles were returned and a kind word added from me because it has been reported they did not always have the best of times dealing with an often panicked member of the public.

 

  • Moving around the supermarket in those early weeks meant ‘get in and out fast’ but then there was the disappointment of some needed products not being available. When I saw this and others too, we often smiled wryly and then said a few words with resignation  and got on with trying to source something different. One supermarket chain even had needed items behind the counter, kindly asking at the checkout if we needed: toilet paper or paper towels.

 

  • Our pharmacist quickly ramped up their services and offerings to help during those awful early days and made it very easy to have a free delivery of our prescriptions. I did, however, note when I visited one day soon after that the staff were incredibly stressed as not every person they saw understood the need for restrictions so I made sure, where I could, to enquire after them when I was back there. I hope someone got a smile back as a result.

 

  • People out walking…when everyone was confined to home for work/school…were always up for a smile or a quick hello if we happened to be out the front. There was a shared spirit of connection and ‘we can do this.’

 

Later in the Covid19 times:

  • I started my return to coffee places for a takeaway and I was told how grateful they were I had returned and thanked me for my support. How kind!

 

  • Later, I got to return to actually sit for my coffee at one of my favourites and when I asked about a ‘special size’ salad to suit my eating ability and needs, it was no trouble. In fact, it was something the owner was happy to provide me with.

 

  • Taking time to chat and ask how they were faring was something I did at each cafe. I listened to the stories. Often they had operated at a loss in the hope keeping open they would continue to help customers. I returned to one of those places more as a result.

 

And When I Asked Facebook Friends About Kindness They Wrote:

  • When I was still working at the start of the pandemic, a kind person started a list of people who would be willing to pick up groceries and do other messages for the elderly to enable them to stay at home and out of danger. Immediately there was a long list and a roster was made up. This has become a huge success with new life friendships being made. J.J.

 

  • My neighbour drops a hot coffee at my door every so often as she knows I’m WFH. Another neighbour put a huge box of stationery downstairs for kids in the building to collect to make crafts. A girlfriend called my kids to make sure they had something organised for Mother’s Day as I’m a single mum. K.A.

 

  • A friend (through Rotary connections) lives in a town near my MIL and offered to go and see her during the restrictions as we were unable to travel. MIL is an independent 89 year old who lives alone, out of town without any transport options nearby and is used to being on her own, but being vulnerable she was unable to get into town to do her usual shopping. Our friend not only offered to visit her but ended up helping with shopping and doctors appointments and even made her a cake for her birthday. She has been so kind to my MIL and kept us in the loop during recent health issues and she expects nothing in return. We are in her debt! D.H.

 

  • My neighbours (a working couple in their 30’s) delivered a note offering to do shopping or other errands, together with a bottle of wine and the offer of a chat any time. We live in an apartment. I believe the note was dropped into all 32 letterboxes. We know these neighbours very well. It was touching to see such thoughtfulness and practicality! A.H.

 

  • Our neighbors down the hall from us are both ER doctors & just had a baby in February. While the mom stayed home with the baby, her husband worked tirelessly in the ER with COVID cases. During the worst of the pandemic here in NYC they baked cookies for everyone on our floor to cheer all of US up!!! Incredibly caring & kind family. P.D.

Kindness IS personal. I guess for me, the first person I need to be kind to (in words especially) is me. Dropping the inner critic’s voice to a whisper rather than a shout! I am getting better. How about you?

I have written about Kindness before on the blog: here and here.

And last week I changed my blogging links area on right hand side of the blog to show my appreciation for groups of bloggers who do link up for our community called Life This Week AND for those who come here to comment at other times. Do link up a post, old or new, any Monday and if your blog and name is not (yet) there..I will add it. Let me know in the comments I am very grateful for this blogging community!

 

I am aware that each reader and blogger here has experienced the restrictions and rules of COVID19 differently according to their place of living. However, I did want to bring something of an element or quality we can all share:

K     I     N    D    N    E    S    S

What do you recall, in COVID19 times, of kindness? Maybe something you did or had happen to you.

Denyse.

Link Up #193.

Life This Week. Link Up #193.

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!

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* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt. 25/51 Share Your Snaps #5 22.6.2020

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Life Stories #2. On Being a Grandmother Pt. 2. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 46/2020.

Life Stories #2. On Being a Grandmother Pt. 2. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 46/2020.

On Being a Grandmother. Part Two.

Recently in Australia, a book was published and both Debbie Harris from here and I were taken by its contents and messages about “being a grandmother”.

Debbie’s post is found here. 

Grandmothers: Essays by 21st-Century Grandmothers.

Helen Elliott

Debbie and I wrote posts on the topic of becoming a grandmother. The links are above. As readers “may” have guessed we do enjoy our roles and we knew we would want to add more to our stories.

Mine is a bit lot longer than hers (not a competition!) because I started at age 47 and celebrated our last granddaughter’s arrival when I was 65. Here I am cuddling Miss back then in 2015. She is our youngest grandchild and granddaughter. Miss M has had ‘less contact’ with me as we had already moved to the Central Coast at the time of her impending arrival, but of course, she is no less loved nor cared about! Her siblings (3) and her cousins (4)  just happened to get a lot more “Grandma and Papa” time whilst we lived close by…from 1996 to 2014.

 

More About Grandmothering.

As Life Moves on In Families. 

Tell the story of how your name was chosen, by whom, and has that ‘stuck?’

I wanted a traditional grandmother’s name and I chose Grandma. When we knew grandchild #1 was coming, in 1996, I spoke to my son-in-law’s Mum and she was happy to be Granny. Sorted! My name did change a bit over the years as the first G.D. started to speak. I have been known as: “Gummy” “Brandma” “Grandma” and “G-Ma”. All fine!

How many grandchildren do you have? 

We are very fortunate to have eight grandchildren. There are six girls and two boys. No idea how that kind of mix works out but in our daughter’s family she has 3 daughters and a son, and that is the same for our son.

Here they are:

our daughter’s family: 1 girl, J, 1996, 1 girl, S, 1999, 1 boy, B, 2001 and 1 girl, E, 2012.

our son’s family: 1 boy, H, 2007, 1 girl, R, 2009, 1 girl, E, 2013, 1 girl, M, 2015.

The Fam! All together. Back: S, J, B. Son & Daughter. Front: E, R, E, M & H with Grandma and Papa!

Did you share in any of the pre-birth care of siblings or afterwards to help the family. How did this occur?

Yes and there is much more to write!

The first 3 grandchildren. 1996-2007.

1996 our first grandchild, J, was born and we (I) cared for her at our house 3 days a week for her first 6 months and then she went to a wonderful family day care. We did mind her on some weekends and when her sibling, S, was coming even more. I went to her parents’ house as they left for the hospital in the middle of the night. Then in 1999 into 2001 when B came along, even though I was working full-time as a school principal, being Grandma was also very important and we had beds, cots, toys, blankies and much more at our house so the three grandchildren could have sleep-overs, a play afternoon and spend time with us in school holidays. We had one bedroom that was ‘theirs’ with double bunk, their own bedding and a cot. In fact, we took the grandchildren on holidays with us too from time to time. This was to help out their parents but we also enjoyed it….and we were much younger than we are now!!

Then there were more! 2007-2014.

In 2007 our son’s first was born. With a pretty big gap between our kids there was a similar gap between grandchildren. However, it all came back to me…the baby parts I mean. There was talk of caring for the baby once he (H) arrived, and by early 2008 we were doing that a few days each week. I was no longer working full-time and was a part-time teacher. However, the 3 days of care were very full-on because he was not with us in ‘school hours’ as our daughter’s children were but around 8-5pm. We adapted to him giving him a bath some nights and dressing him for bed so when he was picked up, all he needed was dinner, cuddles, stories and bed. We did, ahem, re-fit the house with MORE play and baby paraphanalia including car seats. Yes, we bought many car seats and boosters over the years. In fact, my car back then could, in theory, take most of the grandkids. I had strollers too. We often walked around the block each day…sleep, child, sleep!

From 2009 when R was born we then were able to help her parents out the next year and what fun we had for a few days each week with both. Beds and cots were ready and they too had the quilts, blankies, pillows and toys. In 2012, their cousin E, joined us for a day or so a week as her Mum had to return to teaching. She was not a happy child to leave her Mum and we did all we could to distract her to have her see the fun the others were having. She later went to a family day care that her Mum found the best for her. The other two (H &R) also attended some other care during those years.

And in 2013, E, joined H & R in her family and she came to us the next year up to 3 days a week. She was such a different child. She observed everything but resisted any of my offered bottles…even if they were Mummy’s milk. I admit I did buy a ‘play centre’ to put her in as I was caring for her alone once she was on the move. She started exploring eating and drinking from a cup and talked a lot once she could. She and I would go out for a drive and enjoy morning tea out some days.

I admit now, that I grew physically weary and was already a bit sad about how my work life in education needed to end and that, to make our lives work better for us in the future, we would need to sell the house..and say goodbye to these 7 grandchildren. As the ink dried on the contract to sell, we were told grandchild #8 was coming but that the family did not need us to care for this one. Whilst that seemed a bit sad it was, for us, the right choice too. I was now 65 and had been caring for little people since I was 47.

 

How different is your relationship with your grandchildren to that with your children?

It is more relaxed and loving without much of the hard work of being a parent.  This for me, is because in having and raising children, we do so much to help them be citizens of the world and find their ways and it can feel relentless at times. The old adage of “I get to send the grandchildren home” at the end of the day resonates with me.

I will add now though, with 3 adult grandchildren, I feel incredibly proud of them and know that they care for me and their grandfather. Their messages to us, hugs and chats when we do get to see them tells us we have made an ever-lasting bond with them.

 

How would you like your grandchildren to think of you/describe you, either now or in the future?

They would describe me are:

  • talkative
  • art & creativity -oriented
  • photo taking
  • cake making
  • iphone app collector of stories to get grandkids to sleep
  • books…oh so much reading encouraged by me
  • toy (and fad) buyer: Night Garden, Teletubbies, Bob the Builder, Fairies, Fisher Price Dolls House…..
  • video and DVD watcher
  • provider of fun
  • sharing of morning tea out somewhere
  • family-history sharer
  • sometimes (a bit)  cranky….toys away, please!!
  • a wonderful hugger
  • thoughtful gift giver
  • always sharing and caring of us
  • Christmas memory maker
  • Diarising and photographing our lives and handing them books and cards filled with memories

What words describe what being a grandmother means to you?

  • I am Grandma.
  • Simple title with enormous privileges of fun, love and sharing
  • Being lovingly connected to a generation one removed from me
  • An experience I have made my own, learned from others in my family who were grandparents and adapted for me
  • Day to day care was a big effort but so enjoyed and am glad I got to be part of their growing lives
  • That I leave with my grandchildren some memories of me, my time of life that they did not experience and a link to carry on

How do you think being a  grandmother has changed you, if at all?

Being a grandmother has changed me in the nicest possible ways. I could never have imagined how it would feel to first gaze upon a wee person, less than a day old, and think “you are from my heritage, and I am your grandmother.” Wow. Still blows my mind. I got to meet EVERY single one of my grandchildren within HOURS of their births.

One memory that stays is meeting B, aged a few minutes. It was after the hottest day in January in 2001 and the storm broke through and unleashed enormous damage outside the hospital as his mum laboured with no epidural as hoped because “too late”…I went for a brief walk along the hospital corridor and when I returned there he was. I got to hold him straight away after his dad passed him over and he engaged me with his eyes. It was amazing. Always remember this.

What, if anything, would you change about your grandmothering experiences?

Nothing at all…other than I would have liked to give Miss M, the ‘8th’ grandchild some one-on-one care as we did for all of the other grandchildren. I feel both we and she missed something special there but I can only say, we do what we can to continue to connect now and know she and her siblings talk of Grandma )(and Papa)

Why was it important to share about becoming and being a grandmother for you?

It was important for me to do this to ensure my family knows how much being a grandmother means to me. I hope, as I know my eldest granddaughter did, that some may choose to read my posts. I know I am more likely to be demonstrative of my love and care for them than I was with their parents.

Maybe that comes with a softening in ageing. I also am a writer who blogs and a sharer of stories and mine is one.

I did get permission for publishing from my family.

What three words describe you as a grandmother?

Loving,

Kind & Caring

Sentimental:

I wear a 3 Uberkate Circle necklace just about every day. You can see it in most of my photos. It has  our names in smallest circle, our kids’ next, and each of the 8 grandchildren’s initials in the largest circles. I also have next to my study two framed collages: one for each family with a photo of every grandchild of the day they were born. There is another place too, in a small house, where each of their individual ‘birth or close to birthday’ photos are displayed. I would show them here but they have identifiers so I won’t.

Thanks to my family for contributing to help me be the person I am, known as

G R A N D M A….one of the nicest words ever….

This was the BEST ever gift Grandma could have been given. For my 70th all of them took part in a great photo shoot. I was blown away by the book, the canvas and as one said “Grandma, you always made us photo books!”

Thanks for reading and do share your words about being a grandmother, a grandchild or what every comes to mind.

Denyse.

 

Debbie and I thought that supplying the questions we came up with  for the two posts might be useful should anyone else want to write about their experiences of grandmothering too. Do copy them and of course adapt as you wish.

Being a Grandmother. Part One.

The First Experience of Becoming a Grandmother.

  • 1.What do you remember about your grandmother(s)?
  • 2.What struck you initially about the news you were going to be a grandmother for the first time?
  • 3. Did you make any choices/decisions about being a grandmother when you found out this was going to happen?
  • 4. And, in your case, was the news from your son or your daughter?
  • 5.How did you find out?
  • 6. Were there any conditions/limitations set by the parents-to-be for you, the new grandmother in the making?
  • 7. Did/does the ‘role’ work its way out for all?
  • 8. About My Name.
  • 9. Are/were there hiccups?
  • 10.Share the highlights of the birth and after of your first grandchild.
  • 11. What, if any, were any ‘lowlights?’
  • 12. Special Memories of the First Weeks.

 

More About Grandmothering.

As Life Moves on In Families. Part Two.

  1. Tell the story of how your name was chosen, by whom, and has that ‘stuck?’
  2. How many grandchildren do you have? (Names used up to you , but initials are OK & year of birth (not date)
  3. Did you share in any of the pre-birth care of siblings or afterwards to help the family. How did this occur?
  4. How different is your relationship with your grandchildren to that with your children?
  5. How would you like your grandchildren to think of you/describe you, either now or in the future?
  6. What words describe what being a grandmother means to you?
  7. How do you think being a  grandmother has changed you, if at all?
  8. What, if anything, would you change about your grandmothering experiences?
  9. Why was it important to share about becoming and being a grandmother for you?
  10. What three words describe you as a grandmother?

Link Up #192.

Life This Week. Link Up #192.

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

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

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

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

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

* THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 24/51 Kindness 15.6.2020

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I Saw. 22/51. #LifeThisWeek. 44/2020.

I Saw. 22/51. #LifeThisWeek. 44/2020.

I was very wordy last week, so this week, as fewer words as possible as I describe ‘what I saw’.

Those of you who follow me on other social media may see a repeat or three…but here are some photos of what I saw: from late May as I compiled this  post.

Photo prepping for Beyond Five’s Soup for The Soul.

 

Wamberal lagoon, coffee in the car. Rain about.

 

Choc Chips and Flaked Almonds in a Biscuit. Local GPs Office & Dr LOVED them

 

Patterns: my neocolour crayons getting in practice before #ICAD2020

 

I can not resist a lonely flower which is perfect.

 

Slowing my mind to concentrate on “one thing as a time”. A 4000+ Group I am in, used this image for its banner for a few days.

 

Celebrating LOVE of coffee in a glass and sitting to enjoy it.

 

Glassy and still lake in the afternoon.

 

Large mindfulness drawing and colouring.

 

Looking west: The Entrance Bridge.

 

New (and expensive) coloured pencils.

 

Clouds and sky and reflections on water. Love this.

 

And the next day: flying seagulls over waves on the lake.

 

Haircut (tick) new cheap readers on (tick) admitting I need these (tick) Not for driving though!

 

Delicate & beautiful pansy I am growing. After rain.

 

Where does the seagull start and end?

 

On the last day of remote learning: I made this.

 

Windy and cold…at Soldiers Beach to view the sea.

 

 

That’s a sample of what I saw!
I hope you enjoyed the snapshots via my eyes!

Next week, Debbie from here and I will be writing our second posts in our 2-part series on being Grandmothers in Life Stories. My first one is here.

Take care everyone,

Denyse.

Link Up #191.

Life This Week. Link Up #191.

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

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

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

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

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

* THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 23/51 Life Stories 2.  8.6.2020. (changed prompt: do choose your own if it does not suit this week)

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21/51.#LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Chapter Fifteen. 2003. 42/2020.

21/51.#LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Chapter Fifteen. 2003. 42/2020.

 

Background…from Telling My Story: Chapter Fourteen published in February 2020.

The story behind Telling My Story is this: I began in May 2017 and then was diagnosed with cancer. I had a lengthy break and returned to the plan to keep on documenting my life, one blog post at a time. Here is the link to the page where they all are now. I also shared this as My Woman of Courage story here.

Where was I?

OK. I know. I was a K-6  school principal.

It was in September 2002 when I could not return to my school.

I was sad, ashamed and very tired as there were different outcomes for me personally and us financially.

But I also had some good things happening in my personal life. I will get to them too.

Life is LIKE that!

Cancer. Leaving My Role as a Principal.

Doctors, Psychologists, WorkCover, Staff Welfare, Dept of Education, Psychiatrists…..

When the school principal is told by her G.P. “you are not to return to that school, nor to be in that role again”, it felt both comforting and helpful.

I had been a patient of my G.P. for decades and she had been doctor to our growing family including my husband and me so knew what else had probably impacted my life as well as school and its responsibilities.

But even before that…the night before, I was left to try to tell my acting boss – who was known then as a District Superintendent, that I would not be going into school the next day…and for sometime after that but he did not understand.

Eventually I must have made inroads into his understanding, after seeing my G.P. who immediately saw this as a work overload matter making me both depressed and anxious. The employer had not taken steps to see me better supported in my school. I told that story in the last chapter.

 

Days into Weeks into Months.

What started as ‘sick leave’ did become workers compensation leave over the next month as I took myself to appointments and interviews.

I had to share my story (see the recent two chapters here & here) and my employer’s representative agreed that yes, there was a case for me to be compensated under Work Cover. In other words, I was paid via that scheme and did not lose sick leave.

But….

I could not and would not attend a school.

It was suggested at meetings that I could transition back to schools but did nothing to improve my mental wellbeing. In fact they made me even more anxious. Then I was offered, later in the year, the chance to ‘work in district office.’ Noooo. I felt such shame and was so anxious about seeing any of my colleagues that I could not envisage any kind of “return to work.”

And…it did not let up.

My mental illness, as it was defined later by a treating psychiatrist, was a reactionary one based on my personality and my role in the school.

It would, over time, resolve but there was medical agreement with my G.P., the employer’s rep and that of work cover, that I could return to “a school” for some days a week but never in the role of a school executive.

In 2003 all that felt like for me was:

F A I L U R E.

 

How I Was Affected By Schools.

Before I continue.

I lived about (then) 40 minutes from the school. I love schools! It had been my life…as a kid and then becoming a teacher and of course, having our children and grandchildren attend schools.

But, I was so scared, worried, ashamed and threatened by “schools” I could not even drive on the road (Windsor Road) that would have been my way to my school without feeling ill.

I was a proud (still am) Grandma but my first foray into the grounds of the school where our daughter was a teacher and our granddaughter in an Infants’ class made me highly alert.

I still felt I was the principal within that school, watching children running everywhere and wanting to tell them to stop. It was not fun. At all.

But, I was also not a victim….and I refuse to play that role any time.

I did know though that I was ill from the stress of my role in a school and so I took the chance to get the help of professionals and did a lot of work for myself. This involved seeing a friend each week for a coffee and over time, driving on the road that went to my school…and one holiday time, I went back and drove around the perimeter. I was sad and it felt wrong that I had to leave it as I did but I also know my health was paramount.

3 amazing grandkids who love me unconditionally and their presence in my lives helped me in this awful time.

 

Giving Up The Role For the Greater Good. 

Despite the urging of my bosses, the meetings with the work cover people and my professionals who agreed I would choose to do what I had to, I could not return to school. Or any school.

What then?

To ensure the school was able to progress into 2003 from my day of departure in September 2002 I relinquished my role.

It could then be advertised for a replacement principal. I was visited at home sometime after that by my then school office assistant who had brought me any personal items from my office and some cards and I recall getting flowers.

I was a sad but relieved person that not everyone ‘hated me’ there.

Photos remind me of my literal ups and downs re weight. Far right, 2003,I was ‘looking good’ but feeling awful inside.

 

But, How Will We Survive Financially?

At this stage of our lives as a couple, we had a mortgage on the house, my husband was in part-time work and I brought in a good salary as a school principal. Work cover continued to pay that but over time, as I stood my ground about not returning to the Department of Education  because of my health things got tricky for us financially.

 

Don’t Give Up Your Superannuation People!

I married my husband (teacher in NSW Dept of Education) in 1971 and in 1972, as I returned to work after maternity leave we made a short-term financial decision that would (still does!) affect us negatively. Back then as both of us was paying into the then BEST ever Super Fund “I” could opt out and save us some much needed dollars. We spoke to my accountant father about this who, it seems, saw this as a win….and over time, agrees “NOT right”.

The reason is this. None of us knew then that  by 1980 my husband’s health would deteriorate to the point that he was medically retired and was placed on a pension from the Super Fund. I was working then and continued to do so, but still had no super. At all.

It was in around 1985 again, my father who advised I try to get back into superannuation. Made sense but nope, I could not.

Once opted out, I was not allowed in….but wait “we have a new fund and you can join that”.

I did. The new fund was different but I did pay into it. I had a sizeable lump sum there in 2003 when I was making up my mind how to access it. Aged 52.

 

Getting Paid Out. Not Easy. At All.

By the beginning of 2003 and into the first few months, I was being harrassed strongly encouraged by my employer and work cover to ‘get back to work’.

Let me tell you now, it was worse in some ways than how I had to leave my job.

Phone calls, meetings…doctors’ appointments, psychological testing…so, with the agreement of my G.P. I decided to “medically retire”.

Um. No. There is no such thing now.

The new and subsequent super funds that took the money from  NSW Dept of Education teaching staff only ever paid out a lump sum IF you were declared NOT FIT TO WORK and you have to RESIGN first.

No pension…and YOU need to prove you are not fit for work.

  1. For someone like me, a dedicated and loyal employee from 27.1.1970 to HAVE to resign was C for crazy but we were P for poor when my salary was being slowly stopped
  2. I filled out the form. It was awful. I also added, though, that I wanted “approval to teach”. I did not want any issues in case I wanted to ever have a day as a casual teacher. I would be pleased I did.
  3. It was accepted. Leave paid out.
  4. I was now free of the dreaded work cover requirements
  5. Got all the forms from the State Super People and completed them…along with the documentation from my G.P. and others.
  6. Attended one of the most stressful appointments ever with a psychologist from State Super and was obliged to complete a 500 question survey to assess my mental health and ability to work.
  7. Found out my application to access my funds  was “Rejected” after that horrid experience.
  8. You are still fit to work according to our rules.
  9. “Dejected” and now time, finally, for me to get some legal help.
  10. My union, N.S.W. Teachers Federation, were wonderful once I got to outline to a welfare officer what had happened.
  11. She arranged a meeting (free) with their lawyers and they heard the rejection story and saw the documentation from the State Super Board.
  12. The lawyer took my information, along with the State Super letters and my reports and so on and sent off the missives that….eventually allowed me to:
  13. Access all of the funds as a lump sum
  14. And retain my right to return to part-time teaching work if I chose.

We paid off this house….

 

Relieved. Getting Better. Breaking My Ankle. Retirement Means This. 

From paying out the mortgage there was a big sigh of relief.

There was also a relatively good amount of money from leave entitlements and by June we decided to “splurge” on a Far North Queensland holiday for 2. We even got a car to drive us to the airport. That was cool. But I must say, for my poor husband whose spine is very damaged from surgeries and more, the flight in economy for over 3 hours was not a good one at all. I was OK but he was not. We picked up the hire car and I drove via the Captain Cook Highway on that most beautiful trip: from Cairns to Port Douglass. Disappointingly though the apartment was accessed by a series of flights of stairs and by the time we got inside, my husband admitted “I cannot fly back like that”. My pain is too much. I agreed. So, the luxury of a return trip by business class meant comfort but took a huge amount of money to obtain so the holiday’s effect was negated! His health was worsening from the load of high school teaching which he took on after the business was liquidated in 1996 so, retirement was his plan too.

We were OK financially without a mortgage but by the time I had a few months at home I sought an art class (it was great) and became a volunteer with the Smith Family. It was around November after I had been answering the phones for them for people requesting Christmas Hampers that I had an accident. At home.

It was a rainy afternoon, I parked on the sloping driveway and as I got out of the car, one foot slipped, and the rest of me came with it, twisting my right ankle badly. I tried to call to my husband – from the letterbox…on the driveway and he did not hear, so I crawled up and made it inside.

Not wanting to over-dramatise it..but I should have actually…I waited for my husband to have a cuppa and we drove to the local medical centre.

Rooky error. I literally had to hop from the car with my good foot as the very sore foot could not weight bear. Oh. The G.P. agreed that X-rays were needed and they had that facility there. After the X-ray showed broken bones, it was “off to local private hospital” because this needs specialist attention.

Long story short: back slab applied, in-hospital stay, saw preferred orthopaedic specialist, “we will operate tomorrow and pin the fibula and tibia”. He did. I came home needing a wheelchair around the house as I couldn’t use crutches (hands needed surgeries for carpal tunnel etc) and I was stuck. The best part was shortly before Christmas at a check up I got a fibreglass cast and then could shower and even get in our pool but getting out was too hard.

Oh, and about that fibula of mine…I did get the screws out sometime in 2004 and in 2017…guess where that fibula went….HERE: The upside down U shape. My fibula cut into 3 with abutments added.

New Jaw is seen here

This sure was a year, 2003.

We did have a lot on our plate between us. But we also had a great family supporting us with care and love and three grandchildren to bring joy. The next year 2004 would prove to be significant too but with some great stories that helped re-build me in many ways.

Grandkids helping me, newly without plaster, to stand up!

Just after my cast came off, a celebration for my Dad’s 80th birthday.

Let’s see what Chapter Sixteen will bring!

Thank you for reading my story started over 3 years ago.

I do print the blog pages out and have them in a folder for future readers.

What were you doing in 2003?

It seems not that long ago, but of course it is 17 years ago!

Denyse.

 

Link Up #190.

Life This Week. Link Up #190.

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Share Your Snaps. #4. 20/51 #LifeThisWeek. 40/2020.

Share Your Snaps. #4. 20/51 #LifeThisWeek. 40/2020.

Every 5th Week, We Share Our Snaps!

My recent weeks in photos and one retro photo too.

Three collages from examples of my ‘draw’ something every day challenge: 2nd lot of 30 days under COVID-19 life restriction. Started 9 March with  30 flowers (1 a day from 9 March) and began this one: inside same sized circles each day till 8 May)

Out into nature somewhere is my goal most days.

Then there is this….

Celebrating via facetime….Happy 21st to our second granddaughter…

What is next?

I wanted more colour in pots so spent a bit of time at Bunnings and now have this vista outside the back door.

 

Our street: night after supermoon. Just opened up my iphone 11 Max pro and it did the work.

 

LONGING….to be back at a table, enjoying a coffee, writing in my art journal...Come on Gladys… Hopefully I will have found a fave cafe open by the time this post is live! YES…I had my first double shot small latte in a glass in a cafe I had not visited for 8 week. I was so welcomed back!

 

Autumn arrived

Good News…on the eyes. 

It’s well over 2 months since I had both eyes’ cataracts removed and I got the go-ahead to get some reading glasses. I admit I am still getting used to ‘no glasses’ outside, driving etc (sunglasses back on my head as they used to be in my teens and 20s!) ….reading glasses to keep in my bag $5 at the cheap shop, but I am getting prescription ones for computer use and general reading. Glad OPSM opened up and should be good by end of May. Got them: one pair for the computer and one for general reading..so far OK!

Then this is an important one for me.

My way of marking 2 years of cancer diagnosis, surgeries x 4, treatments x 30+ at the prosthodontist and a LOT of driving up and down the M1 and time…patience required for healing.

3 years since my cancer diagnosis 17 May...wrote more last week…..and on Mother’s Day 2020, with the kind co-operation of my daughter and granddaughters, I got to re-create this:

Mother’s Day 2017: waiting for results from gum biopsy

Mother’s Day 2020: I am well…and relieved to be!

And then there was this. I drove to Dee Why to see Dad after almost 3 months. He is well but missing some of his usual routines which are slowly returning such as scoring at darts. He was happy for a hug on arrival….and asked for another before I left. Touch is what someone misses out on when they are left solo after many years of marriage. He was 94 in top pic: taken when I had just had 4th surgery inside my mouth. The stent pushing my lips out stayed for another 3 months. Dad is 96 and I am 70 now in bottom pic!

Onward….thanking my favourite nurses on International Nurse Appreciation Day.

Left: Lisa: head and neck & lung nurse & friend: Central Coast.

Right: Cate my head and neck surgery’s assistant & all-round awesome woman

Now counting the days till Index Card a Day (I.C.A.D.) starts on 1 June. This is my 7th year as a participant. Details here: 

How is your week shaping up?

Are you out and about more?

Is there a favourite place where you hope to sit for a meal/coffee/chat?

Tell me more!

Denyse.

Link Up #189.

Life This Week. Link Up #189.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other May Memories!

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

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

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

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

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

The first year I heard from no-one.

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

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

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

Making New May Memories. 

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

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

My reward for 2 years post cancer: apple watch

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

Post surgery #4 was a shock!

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

That’s my special anniversary….May!

What special anniversaries are part of your life?

Did you celebrate Mother’s Day yesterday?

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

That IS a win/win!

Denyse.

Link Up #188.

Life This Week. Link Up #188.

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

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

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

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

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

* THANK you for linking up today!

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