Wednesday 4th August 2021

Self Care Stories#4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories #4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories are a regular feature on the optional prompts selection for Life This Week, occurring at 7 week intervals. Keeping myself accountable to me…and for your interest as readers and commenters is what my posts are about. I am also doing my best to respond under a few of my chosen categories.

Every 7th week

Covid 19 and Lockdown.

At the time of writing this post, where we live is included in a lockdown for two weeks. Of the school holidays! Grrr. No family visits. However, I am not one to be annoyed for too long these days and am grateful that we are both fully vaxxed against Covid, I had a Covid test because of a slight sore throat and it was negative. I gave myself a project/challenge to do for the lockdown period and here is a group of the photos. I hope you are well wherever you are living right now.


I have gone back to being more regular at writing some things to be grateful for each day.

I am also noticing that if I have some days which do not feel so agreeable emotionally, when I call on gratitude I can do a pretty quick change of pace and attitude.

It surprises me how much I remember this now, so I guess I am integrating it better than I thought.

Health and Mindfulness.

I never need a reminder to be considerate of my mindfulness practice as doing a Calm meditation each morning, the Daily Calm, then ending my day with the Daily Trip, pays me dividends each day. I have now completed over 555 days in a row. This image from that day.  Not all days have an original meditation but that’s OK too…and why it’s called practice. We keep on doing it to learn.



And add to that practice is my art and playing with materials creatively.

Photography Shared.

There is no doubt about it, for me, have an eye into the world around me and using my iphone to capture it gives me so much joy each day.

When I review the photos I am kind in my self talk and I now have a pretty good photographer’s eye. Thanks to lessons way back in Sydney, AND now having a wonderful iphone ProMax 11. 3 lenses!

I also am glad I took so many photos and movies (little vids on the phone) of our grandchildren when we cared for them and when they had little holidays with us. Those days have passed now but my husband and I do enjoy some reminiscing and it’s a great time we share(d) together.

Mind you, we have few ‘easy to access’ memories of the pre-iphone times of the older grandkids, and I must, at some stage, get a quote on having some old video cassettes converted. We do have photos in albums, but listening and looking at the fun the get up to is priceless.

This is from a recent post. I only just noticed the HEART shape in the tree.

Stories About Ageing.

I am old(er) than I was. Ha! That is a fact.

I am more accepting of some of the physical changes happening to my skin  that cannot be “fixed” but can be better cared for, so I have some good quality sunscreen, moisturiser with tint to wear every day.

And, I am remembering more to actually add some moisturiser to my scaly legs. And I have some hormonal cream to use as well. Not stating the obvious  about where it’s applied.

My hairdresser and I agree my ‘thinning’ hair has stopped and we put it down to the 5 anaesthetics in 2020 as did my G.P. but it is still a part of ageing so I will be grateful for what I have. Brilliant hairdresser who does such a symmetrical and pleasing haircut every 4 weeks.

We are also getting to enjoy life as older married people. By that I mean we actually LOVE the times we are having now. Not 100% concerned with work anymore, care of little kids, worried about family members…we are loving and living our life mindfully each day. Lots of laughs, time for solo interests and shared time each evening talking and relaxing after our day.

We had morning tea out again recently, before lockdown, and used the NSW Government Dine Out Vouchers.

Neither of us can manage a meal out anymore so morning tea is ideal. As we have aged – and it’s not just my post oral cancer restrictions, we eat smaller portions.

Relevance is something I think about these days. Back in years of education, I had a title. I knew my role. I did it well. However, I am retired from that role as a school principal. But I am still relevant to my friends and colleagues via social media and in real life. This image of me here with a colleague at a Sydney primary school is when I was Relieving Principal there. Now, over 22 years later, someone I have known in school education since 2013 is the newly appointed principal. I am so proud of him. He’s invited me to visit too once Covid is calmer!

What I Wore.

Goodness me, it has been a long time for one of these. I have stopped doing daily photos but every so often I might ask my husband to take one.

I know now, and this might sound weird, but bear with me….that I actually look ok.

I used to scour my daily photos for ‘what’s wrong’ and that is/was a problem for me.

I have had to accept that whilst I may not like my large upper arms and my double chins, they are are much a part of me ..right now…as my hazel eyes, and great nose and ears.

To pick on parts of my body is something I am doing all I can to reduce. I am never dieting again. I am accepting that I have actually remained around the same weight now for almost 3 years. I still “can’t” believe this at times but each of my clothes tells me that’s correct.

I am a work in progress here. I am proud that I can let the voice of criticism go much more than I ever could.

Word of The Year.

Well… leaving best to last is a good plan.

I smile most days a great deal.

In fact of course I have reasons to smile.

I am well.

I am alive.

But mostly, I smile to connect and communicate with others.

And my reconstructed top lip looks much better as a smile!

That’s my self care post done.

How is your self care progressing?


Link Up #248

Life This Week. Link Up #248

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. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

* 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, sales 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: 29. Please. 19.7.2021. My Post Is About Head & Neck Cancer Eating & Drinking Challenges.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Copyright © 2021 – All rights reserved.




Taking Stock #3. 27/51 #LifeThisWeek. 82/2021.

Taking Stock #3. 27/51 #LifeThisWeek. 82/2021.

I wrote about the changes I have made to how I will blog when it’s time for Taking Stock. You are, of course, welcome to use my new version of the prompts or ones initially devised by Pip Lincolne. This optional prompt occurs every 9 weeks. Before I start, some information:

July: World Head and Neck Cancer Day. 27.7.2021.

As we move into July, I will be publishing posts relating to Head and Neck Cancer as 27 July is World Head and Neck Cancer Day. It only started back in 2014 I think, with Michael Douglas the actor making the speech to open the world congress for all Head and Neck Professionals. Michael has had #hnc as its often abbreviated. In my role as an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia, I will share more on-line and links about it too. In fact, the only fundraiser held by the charity where I volunteer (HANCA for short) promotes  Soup for the Soul events for people to arrange and then with any funds raised, to donate back to HANCA for the continuation of the support of supplying materials and information to GPs and to Dentist.

My local cafe BluJ’s has agreed to hold a Soup for The Soul Day and will be donating 100% of their takings on two soups. This place is one which I have been doing to for my much loved coffees since 2017 and I am stoked they are wanting to help raise awareness of Head and Neck Cancer along with me. Update: still hoping to go ahead once lockdown is over.

Now: Taking Stock for July 2021.

Admiring: those I see going through really tough times themselves supporting others. Examples I see: from cancer groups, from women in need of assistance and generally those who seem to need it most, reach out to help others.

Becoming: better at self-talk. I know, I know I know. By 71 I would have thought it may have gone completely but the good news, she has a much more gentle and compassionate voice and only every so often goes down what my husband calls the slippery slope. I know enough about my health and moods to recognise this so much more quickly.

Curious: about the ups and down of the blogging world. By that I mean what has obviously happened to many here in Australia there is reduced interest and reduced if not curtailed following of blogs. Maybe I am still naive enough to still think getting my words out there is good for my health…and I am always….

Delighted: that those words are often of interest to fellow bloggers who link up, and others who sometimes read and comment because….

Excited: is how I still am when I see something I have written and shared has a positive reaction.

Feeling: that I am well. It’s an amazing feeling alright and I am loving it.

Going: nowhere in particular beyond our normal neighbourhood and for good reason as we believe it’s….

Helping: to reduce our contact with any Covid 19 clusters and so we are….

Imploring: people to take this whole Covid 19 pandemic and its health and economic reactions and responses seriously even though we still see people….

Joking: about its impact. Maybe I am being super sensitive (yes indeed I can be!) but we Aussies have a tendency to make light of most things. May this time, we need to be serious and conscientious in taking personal responsibility.

Keeping: my life in perspective these days as much as possible and trying not to take on new ventures even though I can be tempted. 

Loving: the ways in which I can find simple joy in my day. It might be one colourful flower amongst a pile of weeds spied as I sit in the traffic queue at the lights or it might be turning the sound on when a friend’s baby LAUGHS with delight and it is shared via Instagram.

Making: the usual batches of meals and cakes and the like, because I only have to do that amount of cooking and baking once and get some nights off as a result. We often cook an individual meal or snack type meal for ourselves and we eat far less in quantity now we are…O L D er. It’s true!

Next: is probably what many of us are thinking about Covid19. There is so much uncertainty despite vaccinations going ahead around the world. And as I wrote above: we are still in Lockdown. 

Observing: that there are some things I notice more when I look down: a tiny leaf in a beautiful red, or a wee shell with a heart shape, or…what do you observe I wonder?

Pleasing: that my inner-self talk border far more on the forgiving and understanding side rather than its predecessor in black and white.

Reading: price labels on everything much better now I have my reading glasses with me in my bag. I don’t need glasses to drive, walk around but when it come to details I do! 

Staying:here as renters of this comfortable for us house as long as we are allowed to by the owners.*

Trying: to understand that even if we had to move (again, she says!) that our real estate agency would always take care of us. *In fact, they have told us that. 

Understanding: that years ago I could not have been this accepting of change. In fact, when….

Viewing: my posts for Taking Stock a few years back my constant refrain was about being housed securely.

Welcoming: your comments on this post.

X- You Choose! I am choosing to add some excerpts from previous Taking Stock posts as I can see that…

Yes: I have changed and for the good in term of my equanimity.

Z – You Choose! What say you? Have you noticed changes in yourself in recent years?


I have added these excerpts from 2017 when I was posting about taking stock. The dates are indicators of what was happening to me in 2017! A big year indeed. Interesting to look back.

Feb 2017: unwell with high levels of anxiety.

Waiting: to have enough money to buy a house

Liking: that we do not have enough money to buy a house (yet) because it gives us more time to consider

Needing: to be as kind a friend to myself as I am to others and I am getting better at it

Questioning: why…about quite a few things that I now realise is futile


May 2017: just before I was diagnosed with head & neck cancer.

Trawling: Realestate dot com dot au with NO hope of buying anything but getting sad about how big the prices of houses are. Bad news.

Wanting: To be settled in our own affordable house one day. I hope.

Looking: Up at the sky every single day. It never fails to impress me.

Deciding: That going for a walk is better for feeling anxious than sitting feeling anxious. So I do.


July 2017: days before my first cancer surgery & reconstruction

Wishing: that my surgery was over, that I recover very well and that my year ahead will be a smooth path to have my mouth reconstruction over and there is no cancer found anywhere else. (quite a few wishes I know, but that’s my focus!)

Loving: the enveloping of care, concern and attention from many people since my cancer diagnosis and even though many of these people have never met me I know I am loved

Hoping: that Sydney house prices eventually settle as it’s a cray-cray scenario there (and in other cities I know) and I fear for those with a mortgage who are living  week by week



Sept 2017: waiting to heal & be ready for surgery #2.

Trawling: the internet for houses that we might buy ONE day …I think it is an obsession but I always want to be prepared.

Wanting: not much at all. No, that is a lie. I want to be planning something like a great holiday in my  our future.

Looking: quite self-conscious because of my mouth – post surgery – but….

Deciding: that is a small price to pay for being as cancer-free as any doctor can predict. 


Late November 2017: after surgery #2.

Thinking that the surgical team who care for me are very competent in their roles.

Feeling a lot more confident than I used to be about getting out and about up here and even taking myself to Hornsby recently.

Bookmarking all the wonderful comments that people make to buoy me up when I am feeling a bit down.

Waiting as patiently as I can for my long recovery and reconstruction of my mouth to be finished sometime in 2018.

Liking that I am learning, from my cancer experience, to be more patient than I was.

Wondering from how much my grandchildren have special memories of us, their grandparents.

Loving the blogging community I am part of and follow.


And to right now….happy and well…and ageing gracefully, I think, here we are: The Two of Us.

Do you think you’ve changed over the years too?

I guess it would be boring if we did not!


Link Up #247

Life This Week. Link Up #247

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. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

* 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, sales 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: 28/51 Self Care Stories. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Copyright © 2021 – All rights reserved.


Women Of Courage Series. #59. Tribute To My Relatives. 74/2021.

Women Of Courage Series. #59. Tribute To My Relatives. 74/2021.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

This is a different take.

I wanted to show my appreciation for the Women of Courage in my life. All of them are no longer living. I know I  am applying my judgement through my lens as a:

  • granddaughter
  • niece
  • daughter

To these women:

  • my paternal grandmother: known in this as Etta.

Henrietta Season (nee Earl) Simpson

  • my maternal grandmother: known in this as Vera.

Vera May (nee Bailey) Chapple.

  • my aunt (Mum’s sister) known in this (and to me) as Poppy

Thora Doris Chapple.

  • my mother known in this as Noreen

Noreen (Chapple) Simpson.

I know this is a very lengthy post and some may not wish to read it all. I wrote their stories of courage for me to remember. I hope you get to read some parts. I found it a process which helped me get more insight into who came before me, and what qualities I may have inherited or learned as behaviours.

About Etta.

I knew Etta as Gran. When we lived in Wollongong too, we saw her more often. Dad shares that it was always by obligation. She visited us in Sydney, coming up by train and she attended our wedding and got to see her great grandchildren from both me and my brother before dying in her late 80s in 1985.

Etta displayed enormous courage in 1920, to follow her then fiance, a soldier from Australia, back to his hometown Wollongong. She left everyone and everything she knew back in, as she called it, “home”.

Nevertheless, love won. She married, and despite some England vs Scotland prejudice (Andy, her husband was of Scottish descent) she went on the have her first two children, one of whom is my Dad. Over time, though, I can guess her courage waned, as during the Great Depression years, her husband was out of work, and by then two more children came along.

A family of 4 small mouths to feed, and to find work for her husband, she courageously left the family home with them all. It was owned by  her mother –  a widow who had migrated shortly after her daughter. My father tells me the stories of them driving up to Auburn in Sydney, to live temporarily for his Dad to have work. It did not last, and they, like many, relied on some work, handouts and more.

How do I imagine this was for Etta? I think, given she was a middle class woman from England it must have taken an enormous amount of courage to live in a new country with new ways, and to deal with society in that city where she lived. You see, I know that her husband was banished in some ways from his family due to underlying secrets about money and jobs. Sigh. She had to deal with those disappointments and a lack of what she might have thought was coming to her and her new husband when she arrived in Australia.

Yet…..there was more to come. In 1935 her love and husband died. From an injury sustained in the work he got back into at the Steelworks. She was widowed with 4 kids, the youngest was aged 2. From my then 11 year old father’s recollection she remained sad, and unable to offer her children some of the love and discipline they might have  needed. Instead, as he tells it, that came from her mother, Edith.

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

I have learned compassion. I am also far less likely to quickly make a judgement about other people’s decisions. I do not judge Etta at all now. I have tried to share with Dad (in our recent chats) just how hard it must have been for this woman he called Mum. She had no idea that being courageous would lead her to a life of poverty and being shunned socially in the town where they lived.

Etta did ‘classy’ for special occasions like my christening and her Mum did too!

About Vera.

When I remember Vera, Nanny to me, I remember her care for me but it was edged with a pretty strict regime. She died when I was about 8, my mum losing her Mum in her 30s. I stayed with her and my Papa and their extended family quite a bit as a child and always felt loved and cared for. However, in the latter years of her pretty short life I recall her severely affected by a stroke and that my grandfather cared for her at home for sometime. I have a strong memory too, of an Ambulance taking her to Wollongong hospital, and that later my mum was very sad because her mother had died.

I have done some family history research as has my daughter and with Dad still having an excellent memory I ask him about his late mother-in-law  and her life. She lived a hard physical life. It was in a rural/small town area of the south coast of N.S.W. Interestingly she and her brother (Don) married a brother and a sister (Ettie). So there was a closer blood relationship between the families. My grandmother worked at home, and kept the home fires burning even after having 3 children because her husband had been blinded in one eye in an accident at the local coal mine. In fact, he was in Sydney Eye Hospital having surgery on his eye socket and to have a glass eye added when my Mum (Noreen) was born in Dapto.

From that time, of course, there were hardships relating to one person unwell and unable to work full time again, even though he did what he could. Vera lived by Christian convictions (she was Presbyterian) and her strictness around the family life and upbringing may have contributed to her courage. I do know she tried to have me read the bible from a very young age. I still have it.

Then, tragedy struck.

In a way that no-one could envisage but would in some ways become a life saver of sorts. Vera’s sister-in-law, her husband’s sister and married to her brother, died giving birth to her third child – a daughter. This was in mid 1920s. Neither survived. Nor did her husband and father of 2 sons, ever recover. Vera, whose own situation was pretty dire, agreed for the family’s sake that she, her husband and 3 children – Poppy, a son, and Noreen, would move to the house that was being paid off by her brother. This allayed fears of being evicted from their rental as work was thin on the ground during the Great Depression.

Now I add what I know is hearsay. From my Dad, telling me Mum’s memories. That house was full. It had 3 bedrooms. Your Nanny and Papa slept in one room, Uncle Don & his son, another, and your mother & Poppy in the other one. Bobby (son of Uncle Don) slept on one part of the verandah as did your Uncle Keith. This pattern continued even as I recalled as a child. Over time, the children became adults who could work. And they did. It was the start of WW2. Your grandmother had not only a house full of family but made the house available for soldiers stationed near by and of course was encouraged to give back due to her Christian upbringing. She worked. As did those other woman, your mother and aunty, just to keep the household fed. Her brother contributed nothing other than the shelter. He sunk into a deep, life lasting depression, only emerging on days when his beloved greyhounds needed training and then to catch up with other trainers. 

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

I have learned that despite life’s biggest and hardest challenges we can survive. However, sadly, that did not help Vera live. Her life stopped. Prematurely. In 1957 Vera died. She had been unwell with blood pressure causing a stroke and then another one ending her life. I remember my Mum’s sadness the most. I learned that I have strong women in my mother’s family but that their health frailty and anxiety about health is something I have been given. I am more resilient as a result of recent life events like my cancer but I also am wary of my health because of my lineage. I do take medication for high blood pressure and it is controlled well.

I hope Vera was happy on her wedding day.

About Poppy.

As I prepare this post, it is Poppy’s birthday and she would have been 98.  Dear woman she was to me and my brother and to our kids as well.  Born Thora Doris, that was shortened to Poppy by one of the relatives and that’s who she was to us. She was the middle of 3 with Mum, Noreen, the younger. These two shared a bed in one room until Mum left home to marry Dad. They were a  sporting and community minded family even with the hardships at home and little money. Poppy’s intelligence was good enough to get her from the local primary school into the selective  Wollongong  H.S. in the late 1930s and funnily enough she was in 2 years up from my father! But she still had to leave school, as Dad did, aged 15.

Poppy and Noreen played competition sport: Hockey to be exact. They played at representative level and  it was a great way to meet others socially too.  They travelled around N.S.W. and to Sydney.  This was mostly by train. I have included both of their Hockey photos in this post. I am the least sporting person ever but I did inherit a love of competition from someone!

I only ever heard dribs and drabs about Poppy’s life as a young adult. I know she was shy. I know too, that she trained to be a telephonist. Those were the women who sat at large banks of phone lines and plugged in calls.  First with the Post Office in her local area on  the South Coast, and then after the war, she went to the Steelworks to work  in their section. Before that, I understand she may have had a boyfriend but that he  was  killed in the war. My mum seemed to attract more male attention  but I don’t think my aunt  was ever jealous. She was already friends with my dad before mum met him.

But what about her courage?

It’s in sharing this story that I acknowledge one of mental  ill-health, sadness and grief. She lost her Mum  (Vera) at an early age. Work at home fell to her, even though she was a full-time  working woman. I was a  young kid and my brother and I were spoiled a lot by her: lollies, taking us to the Dapto Show and more. She loved to read and I devoured her women’s magazines when I stayed with her.

Life  challenges took a big toll.

As I understand it, she had what was called a nervous breakdown based on her workload and went into a Sydney private hospital  for electro convulsive shock  treatment. I was about 11. I remember visiting her but not much else. She was able to return home and was given modified duties with her employer away from the switchboard. That continued until she turned 60. She was well-respected. An ardent follower of sport – Rugby League in particular- and a kinder and more caring Aunty and Great Aunty I am yet to  know.

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

I have learned selflessness is something that needs to be balanced with self care. I saw Poppy taking care of everyone else first…and then, over time, herself last. She used to eat for comfort too but was incredibly lonely as well. Her latter years of life were spent in a new-to-her house, which was almost hers along with her older brother who was severely unwell due to depression, and excessive alcohol intake and more. She rarely saw people once she stopped work and so that was something I, along with my parents would try to rectify with visits and encouraging her to come and stay with us. She was the kindest hearted person and totally devoted to her family. I have learned that overdoing it via work can cause issues with our health (yes, I know I too suffered) and that seeking treatment and continuing life afterwards is not to be discounted. In fact that IS an act of courage right there.

Poppy is next to little girl in pink hat, and to my Dad in blue shirt. I think this might have been her last Christmas with us.

About Noreen.

It’s only been in the recent 5 or so years that I have been interested in, and talking more to Dad about, Mum’s history. Dad and I are the talkers. Mum sure could talk but she also had an impediment for as long as I can recall. Mum was left very deaf in one ear in particular, which her specialists back in the mid 50s attributed to having children. In fact she and Dad were told not to have more. Before I go back to earlier times, even before she met Dad, I remember her being upset because she couldn’t hear. I know Dad always came to us kids in the night because when Mum was lying on one side, she heard nothing. But what I want to recall is her immense courage in doing something to help her hearing. She was a shy woman from the South Coast but it would be an operation of big magnitude that her ENT specialist in Sydney said would help restore some hearing….and she went through with it.

We were under 10s then and I remember feeling sad about Mum’s absence. Dad took us up to RPA one time. Interesting fact, when I was in Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, my room overlooked Gloucester House where Mum had that surgery. And it helped her for some time but in her latter years, she needed more hearing aids. It frustrated her so much when we would talk and she wouldn’t know what we were saying, and in a group setting, or people around a table it was more annoying too. Sigh. I am wondering about compassion here. My husband tells me I talk loudly and it is true and it is always clear (OK, bit rough since my mouth reconstruction) but we used to have to do that at home.

Mum was the baby in her family. However that did not coming spoiling as I wrote in Vera’s story, Noreen and Poppy had home duties even when high school and work called. Mum did enjoy fashion. She worked locally in a store and eventually, for her, got the job of her dreams selling shoes. Honestly, I am so not like that. Mum had the best collection but was a small size, frustratingly for her granddaughters. She became someone who loved her competitive sport and I have seen that in her as a tennis player (it was a way to become friends in Sydney, when she joined a club). She was lithe, fast moving and skilled. Hockey made her very competitive.

About the courage she had. I talked to Dad about this not long ago. As a woman who had met the man to become her husband through the Scouting Movement, she became friends with his friends, and her sister often accompanied them on picnics and overnight stays. All above board. They were wed, he continued study to be an accountant whilst building their first home, and Mum worked each week…and I was eventually born. Just into the new house too and Dad was transferred to the Melbourne office, very unwillingly. He made it a deal, that he had to be home for his daughter’s first birthday and he did. However, in the midst of that year, Mum very courageously took us both by plane (1950 people!) to Melbourne from Sydney. I cannot fathom how much courage that took but love won!

But after marriage, and having one child, when she saw Dad not only get his driver’s licence and a family car, she decided that was for her too. She got that licence soon after my brother’s birth and had independence not many 1050s women enjoyed. Yet, she loved her house, her neigbourhood and more. And then all that came undone.

She had already dealt with the death of her mother. But her husband had some news she did not like. He was being promoted to head office in Sydney and he really could not turn that offer down. She did not want to go. Everything was unknown. Dad eventually convinced her it was the right move but he was challenged by the circumstances too because of the time between when he had to start and when he could move us up after selling the ‘first home’ built together.

My views on Noreen’s courage from there:

  • she accepted the move, despite her anxiety and loss of family and friend support
  • she ended up, as parents often do, making friends with a woman whose son was in the same class as hers and from then on, it was great..over time of course. But she had met many people close in age, interests and more. That remained the case until her death!
  • she joined P&C, Scouts & Guides parent groups, tennis clubs, card clubs, was part of the first V.I.E.W. Club formed to raise funds for The Smith Family, she did Meals of Wheels and more
  • she became more of the sole parent at times, being independent with a car helped, as Dad travelled interstate and then…the big one:
  • 1966 he was flown by the company he worked for, around the world, ending in Hawaii for 6 weeks at Harvard Management of Business Summer School. It changed his life. Mum cried at the kitchen sink after he left. I had never seen that before.
  • But, as in all things, she rallied and we were teens at school, and she even drove us with friends to Port Macquarie
  • Over time I saw Mum grow in her personal strength indicating a change for the good in terms of courage
  • She did not do well however, with her own illness. Who does?
  • Well, she became so unwell at the end of her life because she lost her confidence, her ability to manage her body well and I believe that in keeping Mum as safe as he could, Dad was right but it was at the expense of ever knowing what had happened inside her to cause her death.

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

It’s taken me till the past few years to realise that I could learn to “talk less” as they say and listen more. Noreen used to say I rushed my kids too much in the mornings, getting them to school and pre school, and I agree but I also had to….and I liked work outside the home. In fact I needed it. But I also look back now at Mum and admire her quiet courage…especially when she did not want to “be” or “do” what she was. In the end, and it was her almost end, it was her words “no more test, nothing” that set the path for her once it was discovered she had secondary brain tumours. That’s courage done confidently and quietly but firmly.

We all agreed, as did her team.

Thanks Noreen, for my life, and for me making better inroads into understanding you and your life way past the time when I could tell you so. I had to get to now to know this, aged 71. You died when I was 58.

Such a favourite. Noreen, with her first granddaughter, at the front of 61, with Andrew, Dad.

Thank you to readers who came this far. I really appreciate it.



Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 – All rights reserved.


Motivate. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 70/2021.

Motivate. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 70/2021.

When I first returned to this optional prompt I drew a blank.

What was I thinking?

And then as I reviewed the categories under which I write my blog posts, I saw these:

  • Gratitude
  • Health & Mindfulness
  • Life This Week Link Up
  • Self Care Stories
  • Stories About Ageing
  • What I Wore: Self Care & Confidence
  • Word of the Year.


I asked my husband about motivation and the fact that, in my opinion, motivation comes from within. His response was that there are, for example, at times others who may be motivated after a positive, uplifting and genuine comment from someone they respect. More on motivation and quotes about it are here:

I can see now how I use each of those above to motivate myself every single day.

However, I will add that when I was anxious and not willing to give anything new a go, at my worst emotional health times in 2015-May 2017, I could not motivate myself much at all, except to “get up, get dressed and do something creative and then try to see a bigger world around me.

THIS improved for me…and it might be helpful, to know more, by reading these two posts:

But first. I wrote two blog posts here and here about Doing the Hard Things back in late 2018.

I learned for myself that putting off doing anything because of fear, worry or concerns was actually a backward step. I learned, over time, to motivate myself when, if I got a bit scared or worried, I would say….Mmm This is a sign you actually need to do that. It still works for me, every time.

I used my choice of clothing every day once I was able to get out and about after the first head and neck cancer surgery in 2017. I have written about that here.

It truly IS a motivator for me even now. What I wore: Self Care and Confidence. 

On any day where I might feel I can’t be bothered, I shake that attitude away and realised being bothered is what makes me feel better…and motivated to live life as I can now.

And let me add some photos from days I remember than motivation was harder but I still managed to get out …”of my head and into the bigger world”. Health & Mindfulness…. I remember where I can go, and it always helps.

And I cannot lie, doing 10 minutes of Calm: morning with Daily Calm and evening with Daily Trip is as necessary to my well-being as eating and drinking. Contrary to the myth that you need to clear your brain/mind to meditate, that is impossible. What you are practising is to pay less attention to those thoughts, daydreams and distractions and even if you do, no worries just come back to the breath. No recriminations. No blame. In fact the teachers I follow have been doing this for over 20 years and that they too have this happen. All we need to do, is stay. Like a puppy in training. Stay…with the breath and listen to the person who is helping you.

These are some of the visuals that pop up after my sessions. I keep those which resonate with me.

About that word called Gratitude. I can attest to its magical powers…I can be feeling pretty down, maybe even sad and worried and then, somewhere out of the back of my mind, comes that reminder, based on the 12+ months I practised it. It works. A sense of gratitude takes me from the trivial and not great with a reminder.

Getting ready for Monday’s Life This Week is a great motivator and rarely a chore. I am always grateful to have a wonderful and loyal community of other blogging friends who visit to link up and comment. My Mondays are better for Life This Week!

A few years ago, via suggestions from others, I decided that self care could be a stand alone category and optional prompt. People agreed that they wanted it and would, it seemed, be motivated to share what they see and do as self care. It made me accountable too. It is a great motivator, isn’t it? That we need to ‘account’ for ourselves. Optional of course. But I tend to need the discipline.

Then there is this. Stories About Ageing. What’s good or motivating about this? The fact that, when I can, I see the good in the ageing process. I have better perspective on some of life’s big challenge. Even changed from say 5 years ago. I am more motivated now to get interested in some new to me things, take a risk and do something new and always remember that this will be the youngest I will be today!!

Last but never least is this: My word of the year. 

It’s said that we use far more muscles to frown that to smile and that is helps release feel good hormones. I know that I love to smile these days as much as possible because there was a long time when I could not. And I will admit my smile now is the best one I have ever had. Thank you for my team!


Are you a self-movitator?

Do you do better with motivation from someone else?


Copyright © 2021 – All rights reserved.

Link Up #243

Life This Week. Link Up #243

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. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

* 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, sales 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: 24/51 Nourish. 14 June. My post will be Telling My Story. Part 1/3 2021.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Self Care Stories #3. 21/51 #LifeThisWeek. Gratitude, Meditation & Ageing. 64/2021.

Self Care Stories #3. 21/51 #LifeThisWeek. Gratitude, Meditation & Ageing. 64/2021.


I am grateful.

This was made a year or so ago…

  • I thought to make this list of gratitude
  • I can see why I need to change my mindset to accept gratitude works
  • I sense that feelings this week have been oldies which tend to resurface when threatened
  • That by noticing this I can detach from the old ways better
  • I am loved
  • I am, generally, very well
  • I have a very kind, loving and caring husband
  • When I offer him my love and care and it is accepted with grace
  • I am almost 70 and truly going well
  • My life is enriched by my memories
  • My career was an amazing one
  • I am grateful to have contributed to education in NSW over 40 yrs
  • I love that I share teaching as a passion with many
  • I am grateful that teaching led me to my now husband
  • I like that I am well-respected within teaching circles and am always glad to help
  • I am pleased though that I no longer have to work in schools and education as it is so much more accountable and different
  • I love that I got to have 2 children.
  • I am grateful to have a daughter and a son
  • In the end I am glad of their age differences
  • I am grateful that it was found in 1978 that there was a physical reason for not having him earlier
  • I like that I have now made peace with my children in terms of how I mothered
  • I am grateful both of them accept the ways in which I know I faltered in being Mum as I told them in letters 3 years ago
  • I am always grateful to have been born into my family
  • I am more grateful now of the ways in which my forebears lived their lives so I had the more broad and cushy life I did
  • I am forever grateful my father championed me getting an academic education

At my teacher’s college graduation.

Try Making Your Own Gratitude List.

No-one else needs to see it.

Start small and let it grow

I made this in notes on my phone and added to it.

I did get to 100 but I did not want to bore my readers 

What started as a daily list in 2020 has continued into a more integrated way of seeing things. “Feeling” the gratitude helps me change things.

Why I Can’t Stop Meditating.

I learn something new most days about myself and being human

I listen to Daily Calm via Calm App with Tamara Levitt each morning before getting out of bed. Yes, I meditate in bed. There is no rule you need to be uncomfortable. Just awake. And to absorb the messages.

I now do the daily written reflections after the Calm meditation and have kept those private.

I often share the daily calm photo with a quote. Really enjoy adding my views to those words.

Now, I listen to Calm at night with this man talking Jeff Warren and it’s called The Daily Trip (I didn’t like the ‘trip’ initially as it had old-connotations for me about tripping on drugs but now I see how it works. Really good having different people guide me.

I am quite a record keeper and like that but I wouldn’t want to stop calm at all now.

It is part of my day (and night)

Self Care Socially.

I missed social interaction when I retired and I know I tend to do more of this on-line now

But, I still have my goal of getting out somewhere every single day. I may no longer have a coffee out (it was getting expensive!) but I chat to people and walk in areas that are nature-centred too. Going out to take photos is a wonderful way to enjoy myself.

And, in a way of celebrating greater inner confidence I am continuing to meet up with people for morning tea. On Thursday, I am meeting a journalist for that very reason. Socialising. She has followed my on instagram and we live relatively close. Excited to be doing this.

I met another friend from social media too. She works in the area. Great to finally meet.

And I recently drove myself to Sydney – no problems with that – and saw the musical Hamilton at the Lyric Theatre. Booked in Covid times we could not be sure it would go ahead, but it did. I wore a mask. Not a problem to enjoy the performance!


How I Manage Aspects of Ageing.

I ignore them…not really.

It is far better that I notice them.

Some include the nuisance of not being able to recall names and events whereas I used to be so GOOD at that. It’s not anything nasty but another developmental thing about being in my 8th decade (group of 10 years). Notice I am 71 but when our first decade is 0-9, that IS our first decade. So, if you are 61 you are in your 7th decade.

I am very pleased my cataract surgeries have left me with great distance vision and still, after my 12 months check, the same good reading vision – with glasses.

It sure has been a time of catching up on regular and planned (with the GP) checks.

I have recently had:

bone density scan: next in 2 years

  • mammogram & ultrasound: screening mammogram was due in November 2021 (I use my even numbered birthdays to remember) but some symptoms I had recently prompted this being brought forward (result: all fine) 
  • I have had a shingles vaccine. If you are an Australian aged between 70 and 79 you are eligible for a free vaccine. My husband got his at 70. I paid for mine in my late 60s as I never ever wanted to have the debilitating pain again.
  • We have had our first doses of Astra Zeneca – 2nd one due in June. No issues for either of us.
  • We have also have our flu vax and no side effects.
  • Haven’t needed another Covid test since late last year. All negative for all tests in 2020.
  • I have had a 12 month skin check with just some small cancers burned off my cheek. Not so happy with the skin doctor and may seek another referral.
  • I am going very well since my rectopexy and subsequent 2nd surgery for wound issues and happy to say, I have not (fingers crossed) had any I.B.S. since then. Yay!! Life changing. 
  • I remain emotionally pretty well but having a couple of sessions with a psychologist as I have noted some post-retirement (2002 from school principal role) and other events (transition to retirement and cancer) are rising up as traumatic memories so it’s better to deal with those than hide behind pretending I am OK. Getting help is important.
  • My left index finger – am left handed- has two areas of arthritis and GP sent me to cortisone injection in near each joint. One done, one next week. Still sore from process but hoping over time it helps.
  • Each time I smile, I remind myself of how grateful I am that I can smile properly!

Head and Neck Cancer Update.

Over four years ago I received the news of the rare cancer inside my upper gums and under top lip. The story is here. As this post goes out one week after that anniversary I wrote this good news update on Wednesday 19th May on Facebook. I had been for my 6 month prosthodontist check. Last September my head and neck surgeon told me he didn’t want to see me for a year.

Just over 4 years ago I was told I had a rare cancer in my gums & under my top lip. I came here, as I had at other times, some days later in May 2017 to reflect & to wonder as well as to try to lessen my anxiety about what would come.
Over those years of 4 surgeries, many trips to the prosthodontist & lots of TIME to heal in between this place remained a favourite to reflect. Mackenzie Reserve Budgewoi.
This week I am immensely grateful to be well. Entering my 5th year. On Tuesday my 6 month mouth/upper prosthesis check at Westmead along with CT scan indicate all is well. My care of my mouth needs a small upgrade! Twice a day with waterpik, micro brushes & piksters to help my 8 remaining teeth stay OK.
Having this news, I wanted to share here how good it is to be this well, living with the after effects of my reconstruction as well as I can.
Thanks to my husband, family & friends along with my health professionals who buoyed me along the way.
With My Prosthodontist on Tuesday. I said to him, I remember crying through some of my first appointment with you (May 2017) and he said “I do too”. Now, look at us!!
That’s my rather significant wrap for Self Care this time round.
How are you going?
Copyright © 2021 – All rights reserved.

Link Up #241

Life This Week. Link Up #241

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, sales 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: 22/51 Leaving. 31 May.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Joyful. 17/51. #LifeThisWeek. 51/2021.

Joyful. 17/51. #LifeThisWeek. 51/2021.

The last Aussie-based link up is HERE!

I started this 5 years ago this coming September picking up Mondays when my friend Kirsty stopped blogging. There was a link up on Wednesdays until last year with Sue and Leanne called MidLife Share The Love and one on Thursdays for a long time called Lovin Life with Leanne.

Now, it’s me. This one. I remain committed to keeping the link up happening FOR sure until the end of 2021. After all, I have done the 51 optional prompts!

But for me this link up is MORE than a place for bloggers to share their posts. It’s a space for connecting with others. The one reason I began blogging in late 2010 was the same. So, I appreciate you:

who link up, and

those who also read,

and comment because that  is the way to connect.

The link up is not too much hard work at all for me. I thrive on it. I am hopeful that bloggers from Australia, the U.S.A. and Canada along with further flung places will continue to find a place which care about them, their posts and how they are going.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you all. Denyse.

Today’s post is about fewer words and more photos.

It’s the date of my late grandmother’s birthday. She was a war bride  from World War 1, leaving her home in England to sail to Australia to marry her Andy. My Dad’s dad. It’s a sad tale. I have shared it here. However I like to think she was joyful in her early years of love for him and their first two children. Pity I cannot find the image. In the meantime, maybe she was a little bit joyful at my Christening in 1950.

Off to see Dad at Dee Why today, so will be commenting later when I am home

Gran is on the left

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

So pleased I have my smile back and it’s a joy to help others.

I believe as I am ageing, now 71, that I take more time to notice what makes me feel joyful. Sometimes I do not seek it, but there it is and I will say WOW. Julia Baird’s book Phosphoresence talks of finding moments of awe and wonder. I see these for me as joyful moments too. I remember them and I smile as I recall.

The look of joy on my face on receiving this amazing gift for my 70th

I cannot ever forget the joy I felt when I saw the image I captured….

This too is what I see when I am out: joy in nature, shapes, colours and more.

I was very joyful to get my smile back on 21 August 2018 after my cancer surgeries and reconstruction. I never take that joyful feeling for granted.

The Before and After of “Teeth Day” 21 Aug

I am also joyful that the Women of Courage series is making a comeback with some very interested & interesting women volunteering to share their stories. If you did not get a chance to do that in 2019 and 2020, let me know in the comments and I will share the information with you.

And the man who tells me his life is filled with one joyful moment after another…this is why he is my hero and star. He has taught me all I need to know about living in the moment. I call him my husband.

The man who said “Smile” is your word

Where do you find joy?

What or who makes you feel joyful?


Link Up #237

Life This Week. Link Up #237

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: Taking Stock. #2 3 May 2021.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter



Telling My Story. Chapter 23. 17 May 2017- May 2018. Part 2/2. 49/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter 23. 17 May 2017- May 2018. Part 2/2. 49/2021.

Dear Readers, thank you for reading my posts. Bloggers who are also readers and link up Mondays, thank you too. Always appreciate you doing this. Nearly 4 years ago, this project of mine started actually getting posts done. It took some time. I wasn’t sure how to do this but eventually found a rhythm. Now, I am relieved and delighted to be finishing the series …..until of course I have to do posts for 2021. But they can wait. These posts here as part of Telling My Story are forming a memoir. I have each post printed and in a folder (thanks teacher me). If you find these overly long I get that. But without me telling the details, I would have lost just how this particular time in my life was.

So, I am saying, should you find it too wordy, stick with the photos…and look at the captions if that is the case….and thanks again. Only “two more” to come: Tuesday 27 April and Thursday 6 May.

You are awesome. All of you…sticking with me! Denyse.

The backstory first:

Almost FOUR years ago now ….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 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 Three & It’s One Post.  Two Parts. Part One is here.

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. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, another photo…taken this year overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Three. Part Two of Two. May 2017 – May 2018.

Why I thought I could  tell this part of my story in just one post it’s not possible….

There was more I wanted to add to Telling My Story even though I posted a great deal about the topics contained within this post I am adding links back to those posts as I see applicable.

December 2017.

Always a month of some excitement and anticipation, this one was as well but with added events. Our eldest granddaughter was having her 21st Birthday as a family & friends picnic lunch in a lovely park and I was determined to attend. It would be my first big function for at least 2-3 years.

But before that, there was a trip back to my surgeon for another check post the 2nd surgery in November, and more. I finished my teaching connections(already had in reality) with end of membership of N.S.W. Teachers Federation.

Our daughter graduated from her Master of Education course at CSU and attended with her offspring and wore the same cloak I did for my Masters of Education.

I visited my father before Christmas to catch up and knowing me, left him some frozen meals and treats.

I became more creative with my eating…remember no upper teeth and just 8 on the bottom…but see the summer lunch picture, I could get it all down over time. The secret still for me (and many with head and neck cancer) is to have slippery, wet items to help foods mix better to swallow and to have water on hand.

Dressing with purpose each day continued and gave me a focus on looking good and feeling better within myself. I always went somewhere for a coffee. Sometimes I had something to eat that I could manage in tiny pieces. Two of these cafes I still visit now and they were so kind to me back then.

Going Out Each Day Was (still is!) So Important.

Finishing 2017 and Welcoming 2018.

We had a quiet Christmas but we had visits from family. Very grateful. My husband had to take quite a few photos of the inside of my mouth to share via email with my surgeon over the January break. He was great and it was reassuring. You see, I had no idea really of how these surgeries would work out for me. I trusted my professional teams. I knew I had a 3rd surgery in early February but there was always more happening than my recovery!

February Surgery. March Recovery. 

I would love to write how this time went so well and with no problems but it did not. Even though we had planned it would. This pre-surgery time, we came down the day before, and my husband went to help our daughter at her place and I enjoyed re-visiting Sydney. I missed much of the sights and was determined to enjoy what I could. However, Sydney was changed. Like me. Streets were torn up for light rail. Sigh. Anyway for distraction’s sake I did this:

Before I knew it we (husband my ever present companion) were walking up Missenden Road Camperdown from our accommodation, to take me to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for reconstructive surgery #3.

Yes, I did have foam holding those stitches inside my nose down to my flap which was inside my mouth. It was awkward, and I had to wait a while for them to come out. But I still managed coffee. AND I went out.

Back to Sydney for removal of stitches, check of the stent (it’s a clear mouth guard screwed into the abutments in my jaw created by the fibula) and then orders to continue to see my prosthodontist for check. Honestly it was pretty horrible and stinky for me wearing that stent but it was all for the good. To stretch out my man-made lip (well, woman made really from my own (leg)skin.

Time for my first photo request of my surgeon and his clinical nurse. So grateful for them. They also got cakes..of course they did (and still do)

But wait, we also needed to move house. At Gorokan where we rented since November 2015, the owners wanted to return. OK. That meant we had to find another place. Our rental agency was so good (still is) and found us a somewhat more expensive house but also more comfortable but it also meant…packing up and moving again, and this was planned for by early days of April.

One Step Forward. Four Steps Back.

My prosthodontist team at Westmead was now seeing me every week or so and checking on the stent, taking it out, cleaning it and returning it. It was no pleasant and my husband was a very kind and compassionate driver and carer. But I was elated in late February when these two men reckoned the healing was fine and the stent could be removed. WOW.

For about a day or so.


You see, my skin in the space that was being created did not want to stay where it was supposed to and it jumped right back meaning…sadly not only did the stent have to go back in BUT I would, even though it was no confirmed till May, have to have a 4th reconstructive surgery. My anxiety and I.B.S. worries were high. Surgery likely, house move and just dealing with travel and my inner expectations. On March 1 I had what I would call something like a panic attack but it was caused by high levels of gut spasming because I had taken too many ibubrufen in my fear of having an episode of diarrhoea. Eventually I settled enough for my team to work inside my mouth, and then we came home.

After that, my self-confidence had to grow and I began doing my own trips back and forth to Westmead.

And in March 2018, this Telling My Story Chapter Two was published here.

March into April 2018.

House needed packing up.

My husband did a great deal of boxing up items. Very efficient. Then we realised in the new house we needed more details of contents rather than room destination.

I continued with regular visits back and forth to Westmead. Sometimes these were up to 4 hours in the chair. The prosthodontist needed to do a lot of measuring and checking since we both knew a fourth surgery would be happening and this one needed to be right.

I sure had my patience tested but I was always in the kindest and gentlest of hands and could call a break from the chair when I needed it. My emotional levels went up and down a bit as I was always waiting to know if something wasn’t going well. I sought constant reassurance and by speaking up about that need frankly my prosthodontist understood and was very generous with my maintenance of my mouth. Three years on, he still is. I am going well. But where were we?


As I compiled this post, I sit here happily in this same rental property which we have just re-leased until April 2022. It is in a lovely neighbourhood, lots of shops nearby and only 20 minutes to the beach and 10 minutes to the M1 back to Sydney. Our medical services are here and at over 70 now, we appreciate that very much.

What May 2018 Brought.

A visit to my head and neck surgeon who confirmed there would be a fourth surgery and that this time the stent would stay on for months not week. I will admit I was a bit teary (and angry) on the way home as it felt like all that February’s work was undone. However…I got over myself. I always do.

How Did I Manage My Emotional Health?

I became better over time I guess but anxiety about “does this mean cancer is back” for any type of symptom or little thing going wrong in my mouth was always present. Yet, I would seek reassurance and move on. My G.P. was/is terrific at that. And I continued to take the anti-depressant.

Our family was in some ways changing and growing away from us as they edged to adulthood, and family settings changed. We usually got a visit to our place once each school holidays.

I became a meditator via Calm after finishing with Headspace as my paid app, and this continues to be my preferred meditation to this day.

With some distraction therapy i.e. my art was/is a great way to be mindful about just one thing.

My blog. Always. It was and continues to be a great way to remember the world is not just about my cancer recovery…

Being sociable on line. In fact I was already that way but my interests grew and this was about when I took more interest in becoming involved with giving back to those who help others.

I follow Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and over time in 2018 they wrote part of my story on their website.

Beyond Five – as Head and Neck Cancer Australia is now known – was an account I not only followed but in 2018 felt that I could perhaps make a contribution someway in terms of education. That site also has my original story.

In the next Telling My Story, I will share more about my reach out to politicians and about joining head and neck cancer groups but for now…I was focussed on ONE thing…

the May Surgery

Off we went to Sydney, repeating the place to stay and then we both did the visiting Sydney as tourist again. A return Ferry trip to the Zoo is brilliant to see the Harbour at its best.

The next morning, up at 5.45 a.m. for the silent walk in the dark turning to light to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse knowing I would be first again. How much do I love my surgeon who can do that for me. Up to day surgery, off with the day clothes, on with the gowns, husband farewelled back to Unit where we stayed and then…after a brief chat to some of my team in the anaesthetic bay, I remember getting onto the table for this one…and then…not much till I was up and dressed in recovery. And the big shock I got when I looked in the mirror.

How Did The Rest Of May Proceed?

I already knew what recovery looked and felt like. Yes, it was/is painful and yes I had to adapt again to eating differently but I also got a bit ambitious. You see, I had my second skin graft taken from my thigh and it was packed with special seaweed dressing and firmly bandaged (this was a repeat of what happened at November 2017 surgery) and I knew that in 2 weeks I would have a bath and it would soak off.

Until I decided to do some Sydney to see my Dad and to Gosford to get some cakes from Kyla and I felt something wet and sticky down my leg one evening not even a week post surgery. I admit I panic. But I also have a calm husband, an iphone and a direct line to my HNC nurse. Cate was reassuring, bandage it up a bit more, see how it goes. Nope. No good. I was teary. However, she in her professional way, showed Jonathan the pics and he said, in the bath now. Take it off over time. My husband had bandages and coverings from my 2017 leg wound recovery and that is what we did. Phew.

But still, things were a little more tricky/worrying when on last days in May, I woke feeling something  hard coming through the top of my lip. YIKES. I texted my surgeon. Not something I did lightly and within a few minutes, he rang. He told me it was an area he had put a small stitch in and hoped it would stay. The hard thing I could feel was the stent, not as I initially thought the ‘jaw’ and he said he would let my prosthodontist know and he would get back to me.

He did. I went to Sydney that day and was somewhat reassured that I could watch it, apply some anti biotic cream I think, and the prosthodontist said maybe another surgery (!) or it might close up by itself. Over time it did. Phew. Skin! Very grateful it grew.

Oh gosh. What’s next?

June 2018 into 2019 that’s what!

Thank you for sticking with my story. It’s been a good way to remember how far I have come, and I have greater appreciation for my courage and fortitude at the time even more, three years after this happened.


Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.


Share Your Snaps. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. Golden Wedding Anniversary. Part 3/3. 45/2021.

Share Your Snaps. 15/51. #LifeThisWeek. Golden Wedding Anniversary. Part 3/3. 45/2021.

And here we are, at the third  of the photo-based sharing for 2021.

I call this optional prompt, Share Your Snaps. Snaps is another word for photos, pics etc.

Every 5th Week on Mondays


For this week and the past 2 Share Your Snaps, I  shared the recent Golden Wedding Anniversary memories for us. 50 years married on 23.1.2021.

Part One is here.

Part Two is here.

This is a LOT more wordy than usual for a Share Your Snaps but in keeping with my blog being part of my history it’s worth it for my records.

Where We Live(d): Bella Vista   Glenwood   Empire Bay (Central Coast Sth)  Gorokan (Central Coast Nth)  Hamlyn Terrace (Central Coast Nth) current residence.

Where We Worked:

N.S.W. Department of Education Schools:

Denyse:  Cherrybrook P.S.  Jasper Road P.S.  Seven Hills West P.S.  Walters Road P.S.  Shalvey P.S.  Rooty Hill P.S.  Richmond P.S. As Principal. More here as part of Telling My Story.

Kellyville Ridge P.S.  Hebersham P.S.

Adult Education:

Via in-home English One to One Teaching.  In Small Classes: Macquarie Community College

Own Business:

Denyse Whelan K-6 Education Specialist.  Writer, Presenter, Advisor for Families with Children  Entering School.

University Contracts:Western Sydney.  Masters of Teaching Tutor   K-6 Pre-Service Teachers Experience in Schools.

New South Wales Teachers’ Institute   External Observer

Receiving my Service Medal. NSW Dept of Ed.


N.S.W. Department of Education Schools:

K-6 Teaching

Turramurra P.S. Shalvey P.S.

High School and Special Education Teaching

Parramatta Diocesan Schools: Western Sydney.

Own Business: Cabinet Maker, Kitchen Designs.  Home Tutoring.

Volunteer: Lifeline: Telephone Support and Counsellor

My man…visiting me at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in July 2017.

Vehicles: More!  Toyota Van,  Corolla,  Commodore,  Corolla, Lexcen, Toyota Van,  Commodore Wagon, Holden,  Ford Van,  Falcon,  Magna,  Toyota Paseo,  Territory,  Avensis,  Nissan Pathfinder,  Corolla,  Nissan X Trail


Now that is out of the way…our proud legacies in terms of family.

Our children, seen in the last Share Your Snaps, went on to form relationships and in a couple of instances, married their partners, and “we” became the most fortunate of people…in our life anyway…Grandma and Papa.

How did those names get chosen?

My parents for their own reasons chose to have their grandchildren call them bu their first name. Hence, “Andrew and Noreen” to the four grandkids they had between my brother and myself.  B’s parents were Nana and Pop. So, I came up with “Grandma” for me and “Grandpa” for B. This was fine. Until, when Miss J (eldest) started saying his name as “Papa” we LOVED it. And as I had a much loved Papa in my life , it fit. I admit I got “Gummy” for a while, and now the adult grandkids refer to us as G-Ma and Pups.


Here they are: in order of arrival as our grandchildren….we are so fortunate! First one arrived late 1996 and the last one early 2015.

A few more memories, specifically from the Golden Wedding Anniversary:

We were very grateful to receive cards and letters of congratulations from various heads of state and government.

These can be organised for many celebratory occasions and the links are here and here if you are interested. I knew what to do because I had used this to get my parents’ Diamond Wedding Anniversary Congratulations Messages. Knowing your local (in our case, N.S.W.) member is also a way to apply along with sending in our case, a copy of our marriage certificate. The one lodged at Births Deaths and Marriages.

The Federal member for us also helped and very kindly sent her personal congratulations in a floral way!

And just a few more memories…it seems ages ago now but life is like that, right?

And that is it. The three posts commemorating our Golden Wedding Anniverary on 23 January 2021.

Thank you for reading and commenting.


Link Up #235

Life This Week. Link Up #235

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