Wednesday 18th May 2022

About Mother’s Day. 30/2022.

About Mother’s Day. 30/2022.

 

I am writing about Mother’s Day. If you believe you might be triggered by the content please proceed carefully. This is just one woman’s story. Mine.

Today as I write, tomorrow, Sunday 8 May 2022, will be Mother’s Day here in Australia and other countries which celebrate this in May too.

It’s a day that can be fraught with sadness, dosed with some anger and maybe even some fear, and using the words from those who sell flowers, chocolates and cards, perhaps some manufactured affection.

And for some it can be full of love, appreciation and gratitude to show the mother in your life something of the way you feel about her.

In my case, Mum died over 15 years ago, and it has taken me around the past two years or so to really understand and appreciate the love and care she had for me ….because I was far too busy being concerned about external pressures (Hello Dad) to make Mother’s Day what I was told from a very early age what it was about. And I miss being able to share my thoughts with her now as a result. Tell people what you want to share before they die!

We Didn’t Know This Would Be Mum’s Last Mother’s Day…..2006.

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves can be not only damaging but untrue. I know!

In my now much, ahem, wiser years, I wanted to write about what has changed for me.

My Mother.

She lived a very challenging life as a young woman in a two generation household with her own Mum caring for her three as well as her brother’s two after their Mum died. Mum married Dad in 1946 and faced many difficult times but conquered a lot. She always was a mother who was present and after school it was great to come home to a home cooked afternoon tea. I wrote about Mum (Noreen) and her mother (Vera), and my Aunty (Poppy) as well as my Dad’s Mum (Etta) here as part of Women of Courage. 

Since chatting to Dad (who has an amazing memory) in the past year or so, I learned a lot about Mum’s courage. She was also deaf for most of her adult life. She used to be the most caring grandmother and enjoyed seeing 3 of her great grandchildren arrive. Mum was impeccable in her dress and her ability to make people feel at ease when entertaining. This from an anxious woman was remarkable. I am learning, and have already, to soften any negativity about Mum and my memories as I realise she was expressing some fears and concerns she had for me, from a position of LOVE.

About Me Being a Mother.

Truly, I won’t make this long. I have written about it here: Telling My Story about our daughter’s arrival in our lives, and then here, in Telling My Story about our son and his longed for arrival. I admit it was hard becoming a mother so quickly in my first year of marriage and I was not built to stay at home. Fortunately I could always secure great child care for both the kids. To have our son was a battle for fertility which was won.

Our daughter on my shoulders…

Our son’s early days.

How I View Myself as a Mother.

I am a hard judge brought up by one. Dad. So, I do give myself somewhat of a hard time about some aspects of my relationship with our children growing up. And once they were grown and had left home. I admit I was, by dint of personality and my life, someone who tried to help far too much when not asked and in fact, could be bossy and I know, NOW, how that was for my kids and for that I am sorry. They already know this. I do know that I love them and want the best for them.

We live away from them and their families and see them infrequently but they are always in my thoughts and I wish them well, every single day as they make their lives work for them and their children…

Becoming a Grandmother.

Over 25 years ago, this event changed my life and the way I love another human who is related to me forever. I was so fortunate to have days and nights helping care for almost all of our now eight grandchildren and this is memorable.

I remember meeting each on on the days/nights of their births. Such a joy and privilege to be “Grandma”.

So, why write this today?

To ease the burden I have held for far too long of expectations around “Mother’s Day”…

it can be such a great and casual time or it can be a mishmash of other emotions. Right now, before I press publish, I am hoping to have a phone call or face time with each of our kids on Mother’s Day but if it doesn’t happen it’s OK too. Their lives are FULL of responsibilities. They know I love them and I know they love me.

My tribute to Mum, and Being a Mum and Grandma is this collage:

Middle shot is Mum, holding my hand in around 1952, with her Mum (Nanny to me) admonishing someone in the background.

Left collage is of our son, right collage our daughter, and bottom is the wonderful family photo I got for my 70th Birthday.

Bottom left, is Mum holding our son in 1979 and Bottom right is Mum with our daughter’s first child.

Happy Mother’s Day to Me….and all the Mums I know who wish to celebrate and commemorate being a Mother.

On Monday my post is about a Mother’s Day in 2017 where I was one very worried woman.

Take care,

Denyse.

 

 

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Confidence & Why I Need It. 29/2022.

Confidence & Why I Need It. 29/2022.

Quite some time ago, in late 2017 and into 2018,  I was recovering from a very invasive and nasty cancer which resulted in all of my upper mouth being removed (to make sure the cancer in both the jaw, gums and under top lip was gone…and it is!) and I needed to make myself a routine of sorts once I was back into more independent living.

From May 2017 until around late October that year I was fully present …in learning how to eat, drink and speak following my oral cancer diagnosis and treatments of surgeries, AND to be able to ensure I was OK to be well and truly independent outside the house.

I was so ready for this but in October, after seeing some posts relating to Outfit of the Day and Dressing With Purpose, I decided to adopt those plans and incorporate them into my day:

  • Get Up, Make Bed & Have Breakfast
  • Take some time to enjoy social media and blog and chat with my husband
  • Plan to go out somewhere for a coffee each day
  • Use this to Dress With Purpose
  • And show my self to the world via Instagram…..

I admit, it was so helpful for my mental health, and as the skinniest* I had been since early 20s, I did enjoy finally being confident enough to buy good fitting underwear and clothes for this new-to-me body.

The very first outfit shot. Off to hairdresser’s.

I use this term* with slight reluctance as I hate being defined by weight..life history is part of this. My need to show my body to the world had two motivations back then…1. I was going OK and 2. I could dress with some confidence again and took pride to be able to do so.

Now, as I write in May 2022, I see I looked ok but also getting well was a hard lot of work that I needed to let my body do.

What Happened Next.

Into 2019 I decided to stop the regular posts.

I think it was about not flooding the instagram account with same old same old…but now I think about it, I also was having some negative thoughts coming back into my inner life. 

Ones like:

  • Oh you can tell you have put on some weight
  • Are you sure you look OK…
  • I wouldn’t be sharing these as much as you will be noticed for negative reasons….

The Why and The What of 2020 into 2021.

Covid happened.

I got to have some surgeries…not cancer related and they had some challenges for me personally as recovery from the major abdominal one was complicated. I had some negative feelings about my appearance. That I was getting too fat and I became hooked on this negative thought.

Sigh.

I found my view was skewed. I had certainly added kilograms to my face and frame from those very early post cancer surgery days. Not eating much because you can’t will do that…. But I also knew that with some covid times, I ate more for comfort.

What did I do? I actually cut back some of the amounts of food without sacrificing nutrition or treats because I do not do deprivation! And over a few months a few extra covid kilos were shed and I was back to my days of 2018-19 weight wise. So, go me. And I am not scale dependent any more on how I feel about myself.

It was hard though to have reasons to dress with purpose during lockdown and then afterwards but just recently, with more confidence mustered I wrote this on facebook and instagram and received kind and positive responses.

My Facebook & Instagram Post. 1 May 2022.

Amazing what some confidence returning will do for a person.

I’ve been less than confident about my ‘appearance’ most of my life. But when my oral cancer diagnosis happened, and then surgeries x 4, I made myself #dresswithpurpose #takedailyphoto and get out into the ‘world’ for a walk, a catch up, a coffee and it didn’t matter that I had no upper teeth till August 2018.

I lost some confidence to continue this practice consistently thinking it had served its purpose for me: – letting people know I was doing OK – getting out and about – enjoying wearing ‘new for me’ clothes and styles.

Then came 2020 and into 2021 and now, we are one third of way into 2022. I needed to remember how confident it helped me feel in my “less than wonderful” days following surgeries and treatments, to dress well…and have a photo and go out.

Now, I have re-started it. Coming up to 5 years since my diagnosis on 17 May 2022 and I am using this month to celebrate my life, my changes and my health.

I am very grateful. Always.

Now I am putting me, the 72 year old version, out there again. And quite enjoying it. Even for a morning doing mundane things, it helps for me anyway, to look OK. Thanks for your support too friends and family. Always appreciated. The photographer is B who is not on FB. When I smile, it’s at him! That is LOVE!!

Why I Need Confidence Now.

I won’t be believing those intrusive and untrue thoughts any more

As an older woman I will continue to champion myself as I age.

I will, from time to time, add posts of my daily outfits on social media.

My budget may be tiny but I have a sense of colour and style so I will do well at making some good combinations.

I will remember this time in my life and appreciate that I can make changes for good.

Now, do you have confidence about your appearance?

Do you like to dress with purpose?

I am very interested in your comments!

Denyse.

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share later this week.

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

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Being Me & The Month That Was April 2022. #WOTY. 28/2022.

Being Me & The Month That Was April 2022. #WOTY. 28/2022.

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

hosted by friends Deb, Sue,  Donna and  Jo too.

You too can join in, clicking on one the above links:

Look for this image, and add your post.

 

April 2022: Being Me & The Month That Was. 

April started for ‘being me’  with less self confidence and some inner conflict.

I have been at odds with my perceived appearance (once a woman with overeating and overweight issues) that I could not shake. I needed evidence. Fortunately for me, and my current images, I now know my mind has been telling me stories. Who knew*? *sarcastic font.

And that was one of the reasons, lack of some self confidence,  I chose to make myself (and anyone who wanted to join in) a 30 Day Challenge via social media. Instagram specifically.

Being Self-Compassionate!

Dear Readers, I stopped the challenge at Day 20. I was getting little to no  engagement via my daily posts. And whilst I was wanting some likes and perhaps a comment, nothing happened. I like to engage with those who comment. So, I was a bit sorry that it did not happen. I was also taking part in a daily challenge from Fat Mum Slim about food, and using it to share knowledge and experiences from my head and neck cancer. And I stopped it at Day 20 as well.

 

Lesson learned: Perhaps I post too much and perhaps with an expectation of interest in what I post. But I can see, that having a private account, along with content that my on-line followers have seen enough of since 2017.

I am unlinking instagram from the blog as it truly was a nuisance with its updates. I am now just posting on Instagram when I have something I want to share. I have also unlinked Instagram from the Denyse Whelan Blogs facebook page. AND, in case you are not aware, I have deleted as many photos as I wanted to because Meta (owner of both FB and IG) own the images until you delete them. It takes a while to do it. But I didn’t want as much on line.

On Changing & Ageing…Being Me.

It’s all very well for people to say, “oh age is just an attitude”…and yes to an extent that is true but to deny the fact that we humans age in many ways (all different for each of us) but towards the common denominator called death, is for me and my husband, a non-realistic way to LIVE in the NOW, but keeping an EYE on our future.

What We Both Love About This Time Of Our Lives Is:

  • being together for parts of the day, week and so on
  • having some separate and private times
  • pursuing our differing interests and hobbies
  • coming together a few times each day, and at 9 p.m. to chat, laugh and listen
  • no one to answer to any more…no bosses!
  • lack of direct  responsibility for any other humans…those dear kids are in their 40s & 50s with our fast growing up grandkids as their responsibility
  • where we live now
  • having a limited but sufficient income with which to live our now modest lives

We went to Norah Head Lighthouse on Good Friday.

What We Accept Is Coming…one day…who knows when?

Our different and chronic health issues may impede some of our planning.

Already we have accepted that for two different reasons, both physical changes within us, we cannot travel or have a night staying anywhere. We both have eating and digestive issues that are managed with ease at home, and whilst we can venture to a cafe for morning tea or visit our family for a meal, that is it now.

My husband has a severely comprised spine – surgeries have helped him stay upright – and pain is with him 24/7 so he is most comfortable at home with all the needs met here. And of course, my reconstructed mouth means eating away from home is in fact, too hard!

I tend to want to know, research and read…(and listen if it’s via Audible) and “he” has learned so much in his University Counselling Degree and working as a Counsellor that he listens to me and nods ….because, dear Reader, is he WISE!

Mind you, we both do still learn from each other and he is understanding of my need to know and with my father’s age at 98 I have seen so much about ageing as it happens to him..I want to understand more about what it not only IS but what I can accept…so, learning for life me, learns! Here’s a few ways:

And this is truly BEing ME!

BEing Me.

Has changed considerably this year.

For the better.

I have, finally, taken stock of what was causing me some anxiety and worry and stopped being an always happy to say YES person.

I now have worked out whose health matters most, mental and physical and that is mine.

I know not everyone can see why I might now have changed but I have had to change.

I was being stressed over small matters that grew into big ones and they were, generally about people-pleasing.

It’s something I am more aware of now and seek to take a pause before I respond to something that perhaps I may have said yes to in the past.

On some occasions I wear my family circles but every day I wear this, a small heart within a heart to remind me of inner and self love.

Now, back to April: The Month That Was.

And some more:

I have visited Dad more often as the weather has brightened and he is needing company. I also bring little treats and food.

He no longer wants me to take photos of him but when he went to my brother’s for Easter, this image was taken and I love it….will be taking a copy “blown up” so he can see it next week. This is his youngest great grandchild and there is 97 years and 4 months difference in their age!

And that, my friends is April…..Word of the Year progress noted….and on Sunday it is May!

May, for many, can bring memories of Mother’s Days…and mothering, and grand mothering too if you get to do that.

It’s the month in which my oral cancer was diagnosed and my life changed from that time onwards.

Yes, there will be a post (or two) in May about it….

Take care,

Denyse.

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My First “What’s on My Bookshelf?” Post. 26/2022.

My First “What’s on My Bookshelf?” Post. 26/2022.

I’ve been seeing post from various blogging friends for some time now, for this link up “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” and for a few reasons I have not joined in. Those reasons included “time” and “energy to blog” because I have slowed down my blogging pace and output, and the fact that I got caught up in the myth (mine) that listening to books was not part of this challenge. IT IS…and so here I am.

Thanks to Jo, Deb, Sue and Donna who host this.

What Am I Reading/Listening To Lately?

What a shock. Denyse Reads Fiction.

The good news is I am reading actual books…which for some time I just could not. The Mother by Jane Caro got me going and kept me going and now, I have been fiction  (yes, fiction!) book browsing. Its theme, whilst modern and topical,  is a very dark one. About men, coercive control and psychological bullying/harrasment/threats. I can’t write much more without giving too much away. It started slowly and built up in content and with details I found of interest as they were places known to me…and then, it got into the main reason for its content. Hearing Jane speak about it and how she came about the characters and so on, was very interesting too.

From Audible. So yes I can listen to fiction too.

It started slowly for me but I have become engrossed in it…and found it’s coming out on Apple as a series: Pachinko is the second novel by Harlem-based author and journalist Min Jin Lee. Published in 2017, Pachinko is an epic historical fiction novel following a Korean family that immigrates to Japan. I believe Barack Obama is a fan of this work. I have not yet finished yesterday.  Very long but keeping me interested.

I Read To Learn & Understand More About Me…and Others. 

In between times, on Audible, I am listening to this: The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. Everyone who has lived needs to know more about how their life has affected them…truly great research and very good in its sharing. It is for both professionals and “us”.

“Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children.”

Another very very long one, and we also bought the book. Much head-nodding in some places and understanding so much more about effects of trauma. It’s not a very recent publication but it is incredibly relevant and many who work in the field call it one of the ‘musts’. Finished now too. Excellent.  Did you know “trauma” affects more people in the U.S.A. annually than death by shooting  and car accidents. Fact at time of author’s writing.

 

Interestingly, this next book could have had many examples of post war trauma examples but “back then” men (and women maybe) were not encouraged to share or to admit to the fears of the fighting and the outcomes. In our family, I have an uncle who went missing AWOL. And he did time in a military prison ….’for not wanting to be part of the war effort’.

 

I’m listening to Peter Fitzsimon’s massive tome Kokoda …Peter does not know how to write short books..mind you he can do a weekly column…A few years back B and I went to a local talk by Peter, who grew up on the Central Coast and he is the ultimate story teller. Very amusing. Lots of competition at home for a word in, being married to Lisa Wilkinson and now their daughter Billie is an editor of an on-line news service.

I am doing this story in sections as I sit and do some art. I thought I knew about where Australians took part in the wars but was very sketchy about the New Guinea part of the war, despite having an uncle and father in law who served there. It is a very long listen and his researchers are hard workers. The personal stories are priceless and paint a picture of a long- ago Australia.

Time to consider these two books, and the ramifications in the lead up to A.N.Z.A.C. Day.

A.N.Z.A.C. Day 2021. I went at dawn to watch the sun rise.

Comfort Books.

Here’s a couple.

Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty. This small but incredibly wise and in some ways hard-to-understand tome, is wisdom learned, and shared…over and over and over again. Because we need to reflect. I first started reading these small chapters a night well over 5 years ago before my cancer diagnosis. I had confusion at times with the messages because they seemed so tough. I have, however, in the ensuing 5+ years learned so much more about acceptance and what is suffering…that now when I read or dip into a chapter, I far more likely to smile. And nod. It’s beside my bed.

Tara Brach is a favourite teacher of mine from the world of meditation and learning about ‘life’ as it is. She has an amazing way in which she shares her faults and failings (like us all) and then making it a teaching moment. Tara has, via her books and CDs and podcasts and now on Calm as a Meditation teacher, been a consistent and loving presence in my life. Her latest book here, Trusting the Gold is a dip in and out of one of comfort. Love it too.

The one on the bottom is new and not yet finished. If I do a second post for On My Bookshelf I will write about it there. Very interesting by Indira Naidoo it’s called The Space Between the Stars,  and in some ways has been likened Julia Baird’s Phosphoresence. I found Julia’s book overly challenging  to handle for me personally because of my thoughts I have about privilege…’nuff said..but the cancer part of her book hit home.

Loving a Book on Audible Means:

I buy the actual copy.

I also have to love the narrator’s voice.

I prefer the voice to be the author…as it works for the content.

In two cases I offer this: Trent Dalton is a great narrator of his recent publication Love Stories. However, his first fiction book, Boy Swallows Universe required a range of male voices and the actor who narrated it was, for me PERFECT. Then, massive disappointment for me with All Our Shimmering Skies. I found the content hard and some of it was overly lengthy but the narrator’s voice..female, spoiled it so much, I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Peter Fitzsimon’s book, narrated  by Lewis Fitz-Gerald is wonderful as he is an Aussie actor of a similar vintage to Peter.

I love Dr Kathryn Mannix’s books and may write more about them next time. However, the first one is only partially narrated by her and I didn’t realise fully until I read/listened to the next. Her personal warmth and experience added much more to the book’s topic and I love her for that.

I also listen to books again on Audible. I like that I have the ability to do that.

I also used to listen on my longer car trips to and from Sydney but now that most of my appointments are no longer needed, I play them in small episodes as I drive around locally, and at times, in bed.

So for my first post and linking up, I think I have done well!

Thank you to the bloggers who follow this link up too.

Denyse.

 

 

 

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