Monday 20th September 2021

Women Of Courage Series. #72. Alice Leung. 113/2021.

Women Of Courage Series. #72. Alice Leung. 113/2021.

 

Two years ago… I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday into September 2021 when it will conclude.

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

Trigger warning: miscarriage and infant death. Information may be found at the end of the post.

 

 

To introduce Alice Leung properly I will say she is someone I admire greatly professionally and personally. We have met, so many years back now , at a Teach Meet when I was living in Sydney. Being on twitter, as a supporter of all matters education,  I see Alice’s tweets and know how much she puts into her education thoughts, and actions. In her late 30s now, when I asked Alice to share her story, I was not surprised when I read her response. I do, like many of her friends and family remember these experiences well. Alice and I determined that we include a trigger warning for this post, and information at the end of the story. Thank you Alice.

 

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

There has been two times when I had to be particularly courageous. The first time was when I lost my second child due to a miscarriage and the second time was when I gave birth to my third child at home (I didn’t plan for her to be born at home; she came too quickly!).

 

The miscarriage was a very early miscarriage. As a science teacher, I am very aware of embryo growth and understood that the baby was lost a very early stage when he/she was a bundle of cells.

I didn’t expect to feel the great sense of loss that I ended up feeling for “a bundle of cells”.

It was hard to deal with the internal dialogue of what felt like logic versus emotions.

I chose not to take leave from work and pushed through it.

It was not an easy time and my first experience of living through what I felt as a tragic loss while the world just kept going and I had to eventually also just keep going.

 

The birth at home was a very different courageous experience.

I didn’t plan for my third child to be born at home.

I just couldn’t make it to the hospital in time.

An ambulance was called and paramedics came right at the moment she was born.

Birthing a child away from a hospital setting and without health professionals carries high risk and that went through my head throughout the birth.

However, I carried on remembering everything the midwives told me with my first child, the advice that was over the phone from the triple 0 operator and just do what needed to be done.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I think both experiences have made me stronger as a person.

Whenever I have to do things that make me nervous like presenting to a large audience, I often joke that I’m not nervous because this is nothing compared to birthing a child at home yourself.

If I’ve done that, I can do anything.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

Courage comes in many forms.

Courage doesn’t have to be a highly visible and theatrical event.

It can be something that is very personal, private and simple like continuing to carry on when it seems to be impossible.

 

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Yes, because I’ve done it before and know that I can get past challenges.

So even though the situations that require courage may now be different and will be different in the future, I have more confidence and belief that I can get through it.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

One step at a time. And there will be steps back. But just keep moving forward and eventually it becomes easier.

 

Oh yes I remember the events you describe Alice and I am so sorry for your  the loss of your second baby. I do remember, like many who are your friends…and via twitter, hearing the news about your third child. It was an amazing feat for sure. Thank you so much for sharing. I like the way you compare what you did back then to when you are speaking in public, and via media. You are doing an exceedingly good job in your role supporting the NSW  Teaching Profession. Thank you for all you do there too.

 

Denyse.

 

 

 

These sites are Australian-based. 

https://www.panda.org.au/

https://www.sands.org.au/stillbirth-and-newborn-death

Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support and Suicide …

 

 

Alice’s social media.

Blog/Website:  aliceleung.net

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/aliceleung

 

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking Stock #4 37/51 #LifeThisWeek. 5th Birthday Edition. 112/2021

Taking Stock #4 37/51 #LifeThisWeek. 5th Birthday Edition. 112/2021.

This Taking Stock is different as I am using images from the 5 years of this link up….

for which I am grateful  and that you, dear blogger and reader  play a very important part…

as it shares some of my stories…

Because back on this day in September 2016 where I posted this…I did not know what lay ahead. I

f you do open the link, you will see it’s a bit like a time capsule. 24 bloggers linked up. Sadly some no longer blog.

Is your name or blog there I wonder?

Present: September 2021.

My focus as a blogger who loves to connect is  summed up in these images on the home page.

I’ve chosen the months of May, September and December for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020….to take stock!

Whilst  I am not using my A-Z list this time round, I am pretty sure I am using images which spark:

GRATITUDE

LOVE

HEALTH

CONNECTION

APPRECIATION

CARE

MEMORIES

(no meaning in the colours…just used rainbow colours to give headings a different look!) 

Back to: September 2016. When Link Up Began

My dear friend Tanya who makes my blog the colour-filled one it is, and helped me refresh the blog at the beginning of 2016, made this for the link up. Always grateful to her:

Started Life This Week Link Up. Sept 2016.

September 2016.

December 2016.

May 2017.

September 2017.

December 2017.

May 2018.

September 2018

December 2018.

May 2019

September 2019

December 2019

May 2020

September 2020

December 2020

May 2021

September 2021

On 7th September 2021 I had great news from my head and neck cancer surgical team that because my mouth looks good inside, I don’t need to return to them for another YEAR and that visit will be my last. I can scarcely believe it. Yes, so grateful of course and yes to all the support many here have given me….so here’s to good health for us all: Click on the link, please:

https://youtu.be/N91kCMHTzEA

Thank you for being here, whether from the start of the link up or as the years have gone on.

Delighted to announce that I will continue my Monday Link Up for 2022.

I have the plans in readiness for a different set of ‘optional prompts’. I have shared them with one blogger already to get a feel for how they might work out and they should do well. As usual they are optional. I will publish a separate post about this in October-November.

Meanwhile:

Stay well

Stay covid-free

And Be Fully Vaccinated (if you can and health permits)

May we all have greater freedoms of places to visit and be in the near future.

Denyse.

Link Up #257. 5 Years Old.

Life This Week. Link Up #257.

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, or multiple 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.

Next week’s optional prompt: Unusual. 38/51. Mr Whelan is back with Time. Part Two So Optional Prompt Not Used.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Going Back IS Possible But… #SundayStills. 111/2021.

Going Back IS Possible But… #SundayStills. 111/2021.

Terri here has shared the prompts for September 2021 and this one is very thought-filled.

Come and read to see what I did for this post!

Going back….to school, to work, to University happens in the southern hemisphere in January and February.

I see that this happens to our friends in the northern hemisphere around now as Summer fades to Autumn.

I am used to “back to school” advertisements on TV for shoes, stationery and more. I am very familiar with the “back to work/school” feelings too. The letting go of leisurely life and back to alarm setting and packing lunches…

However, I am here to add more images and what they mean to me about going back.

Starting and ending  with  images and quotes which I believe:

 

And my photos with my “going back” words.

Through my head and neck cancer years, I would have to go back to my surgeon for frequent  checks and to have more surgery. Here I am back at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse with cakes of appreciation for my team…and going back over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to go back home.

 

There’s a part of me that would go back to this day with then not quite 2 year old granddaughter. Here she is at our then local GP surgery, waiting for my appointment. I had come to Sydney to mind her while her parents had other appointments. She is holding the Teddy we gave her to commemorate her birth. I would LOVE a hug from this girl soon once lockdown is over…and she is now, 8 years old. Still has her bear.

 

This selfie taken by me, is having taken my Dad some meals, and spent the morning with him, I am on my way back home. 2 hours away. I will be going back here as soon as lockdown is over because he is missing my home cooked meals AND he is very much over being unable to socialise with others where he lives in an independent retirement unit complex.

 

 

The three images above are from our trip down memory lane, back  to where we met in 1970. Last year we saw some of the sights we remembered and of course had lots of nostalgic conversations but both agree, we would not go back to living in an area that could not care for our complex health needs…sigh. The things you have to consider at “our age, over 70”.

 

 

In January 2006 I visited the west coast of the U.S.A. and did day trips to various places, including Alcatraz. I loved San Francisco area, reminded me a lot of Sydney. I would love to go back but with covid, ageing and not much spare cash for travel, this is not on. But I always say, as the song does, I left (a part) of my heart in San Francisco.

 

 

I know I will go back here. To this part of the Freshwater to Curl Curl boardwalk. It won’t look exactly like this of course, but it will still be there. And the views. Just need lockdown (again!!) to end.

 

 

This drink, double shot piccolo, at my fave cafe in Wyong, will be where I will be going back…(insert the familiar phrase about lockdown)

 

And this quote sums up some of my thoughts about going back too.

Do you think you can go back?

If I could change one thing it would be about some financial decisions. However, seeing I cannot do that, I can learn from those times!

Denyse.

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Women of Courage Series. #71 Joanne. 110/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #71 Joanne. 110/2021.

Two years ago… I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday into September 2021 when it will conclude.

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

 

Joanne, in her mid 40’s, is a blogger from the United States. I have not met her but as in blogging communities we tend to get to know more about each other through reading blog posts over time and connecting via our comments. Joanne has been quite a regular visitor here to Life This Week, my Monday Link Up, and after getting more interested in her words and photos (brilliant ones they are!) I asked if she would consider sharing her story as a woman of courage. And like some who have gone before her in the series, her initial “no thank you” turned into a “yes, I do have a story”. This is my introduction to Joanne and I am thankful for her change of mind.

 


 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

I have had a generalized anxiety disorder most of my life.

When I was in grade school and even up through high school, I can remember getting sick nearly every day over school (whether at home, on the bus, or just arriving at school, sometimes something might trigger me to panic during my normal school day).

I struggled with a bunch of fears that I often couldn’t even name or pin point.

Things like field trips, assemblies, and any break from the normal routine made me anxious.

It was never formally diagnosed and I never saw anyone beyond our elementary school counsellor as these things weren’t really known about back then.

As I got older and my confidence grew my anxiety began to subside.  I knew that my upset stomach was caused by my head and began to be able to talk myself out of getting sick to where I would just feel nauseous.

It still rears up now and then but years and years of learning coping mechanisms have helped me manage it really well without the use of medication or therapy.

 

Nothing has ever made me face my fears more than parenthood though. 

Sick and injured boys have forced me to be courageous in ways I honestly didn’t think I could be.

I always knew I had to hold it together and reassure them that all was going to be OK no matter how sick or injured they were.

When my oldest son was just a toddler, we were referred to a neurologist because he had had a series of febrile seizures.

Fast forward to kindergarten when he was undergoing an MRI to find out if there were other underlying issues and weeks upon weeks of waiting for results.

Our paediatrician tried to help out because our neurologist was on vacation and all he could tell us was that there was something that showed up on the test but since that wasn’t his field of expertise, he couldn’t tell me more than that.

He felt so bad; he had been trying to relieve my fears and assumed that all would be normal with the MRI results.  Instead, I stood there in my yard on the phone with the doctor with a smile on my face and my sunglasses hiding my tears, hoping and praying that whatever this was would be no big deal.

I knew I couldn’t fall to pieces in front of my boys.

Thankfully, once we got hold of our neurologist, he explained that it was most likely scar tissue deep in the brain from something that must have happened in utero during development and he assured us that our son’s brain had compensated and that no further anything needed to be done—ever.

 

We also had our youngest son hospitalized when he was just a few months old and was suffering from RSV lung infection.

He was put on oxygen and fluids and thankfully recovered well; though we did end up in the ER at least once a winter for the next few years with him fighting off pneumonia.

There is nothing quite like watching your little babies’ lips turn blue and hearing him gasping for breath.  We had been proactive though and sought treatment out early before he had to be intubated or put into ICU.

We’ve had fractured wrists, “standard” procedures like tonsillectomy & adenoid removal (which seem like anything but when you’re waiting outside the OR to hear how the surgery went), and more than a few ER visits and ambulance rides.

 

It seemed like after all that I had endured with my boys through the years, I was more than prepared to face my own mini health crisis.

In just the past two years alone I have had several ultrasounds, an x ray, a D&C, and a hysterectomy.

Normally any kind of medical appointment or procedure would have made me so anxious but I was pretty surprised over just how calm I was through the whole ordeal.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I think we are all a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

It’s not easy to think of being courageous but often when the need arises those stores of courage are there.

Even when it feels like that courage is deserting us somehow the human spirit seems to keep pushing us onward.

I find that looking to family, friends, and beyond the current moment helps remind me what I’m fighting for.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Maybe?! That’s a hard one to answer as I almost always think that there are so many things I could never handle, or do, or walk through and yet deep down I know that I probably could.

Even if I would never want to know just how courageous I could be.

I think I’m at a point in my life where I just know that I would battle anything for my family and my boys.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

First and foremost—breathe.  Just breathe.

Then take that one next step.

Often, we get overwhelmed when we’re looking at the big picture or we start worry about all the what if scenarios.

I do that all the time and have never once found it to be all that helpful.

Deep, mindful, almost meditative breathing, and focusing only on that one next small step helps.

Also don’t be afraid to ask for help; even if it’s just a should to learn or cry on.

We all need help from time to time, it doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human.

 

Thank you so much Joanne for your frank and honest story where I was in awe of how you could manage your own anxieties and worries to be able to help your sons through their illnesses. And your advice to breathe…yes, and to breathe again. Little steps that keep us going and helps reduce some of inner feelings that are stirring. I remember that well from my days of anxiety and fear. Your words are very true and oh so helpful.

Denyse.

Joanne’s blog can be found here:  https://www.myslicesoflife.com/

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Self Care Stories #5. 36/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2021.

Self Care Stories #5. 36/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2021.

 

I think I will sub-title this with:

  • More of the Ways In Which I Spend Lockdown.
  • And Try Not To Be Too Covid-Cranky. It IS a Thing!
  • That’s Because….We ARE in many ways over it but Delta Strain of Covid has not yet finished…and so:
  • I will be continuing to find ways to Cut Parts of My Hair….Husband can help a little but right now, resisting…

Onward! 

Celebrating 3 years of having my upper prosthesis fitted…it sure does make eating AND smiling AND talking so much easier. Very grateful for that.

But before I do, I have made a small change to my commenting policy on those who link up their posts  for Mondays.

I am someone who wants to diligently comment on her blog. I do, as much as I can, comment on the day in which bloggers comment on my Life This Week posts.

Then I would aim to read and comment on every linked up post on Wednesday evenings once the link up closed.

Now, in the interests of self care, I have given up that rigid practice and now choose to take more time and do it sometime over the next 24 hours or so. Releasing internal pressure! Try it.

And next  week, it’s the link up’s 5th Birthday! Hip Hip Hooray for you all who make it a pretty regular habit of linking up!!

It will be a special Taking Stock from me.

Started Life This Week Link Up. Sept 2016.

Getting Outside Every Day. Somewhere, even if it’s the backyard. If I don’t see and experience some green of nature and some of its colours and shapes I feel deprived and sad. So the fact that I can, legally in Covid times, still drive somewhere to do this is a MUST. I do love it and am so much better in mood for sure.

And I am arting and crafting my way through emotional self care…because this IS always my go-to and makes a difference. Sending the bookmarks to friends (on-line and in real life) has been a personal project I have enjoyed so much. And it’s still happening. Nothing like connecting.

Then there is my responsibility for self care that’s an every day must or I soon feel not great and my poor husband has to put up with my ….whingeing.

Physical care.…and all that means these days.

  • I am going well with my keeping active in walking most days.
  • I have reduced my goals on the apple watch as lockdown brought fewer places where I could walk.
  • I am eating well for my age and mouth restrictions.
  • I have almost given away the notion of the food intake concerns and being obsessed by any kind of difference in my appearance.

I say almost because life-time habits take a long time to diminish.

  • I accept that my mouth and its insides limit my food intake and quantity and I am much better at ‘eye balling’ something and know I can eat it safely.
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t get ‘hungry’ looking at some people’s food posts!

My head and neck cancer seems to be gone and I have a tele health appointment tomorrow.

I have had my dentist and my GP check my mouth out, and have sent images to my team at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Fingers crossed they too agree.

The rectal prolapse surgery was the best thing I could have done for my health last year. What a difference it has made to  my life and confidence. Highly recommend it.

Mind you, I mentioned a couple of things to my GP recently and he said..but didn’t quite get the word “ageing” out….for a couple of things but if they worsen do come back

This is the most vital relationship of all, after caring for my health, and that is of my long time husband and best friend.

This is the man I share most of my day with but little of my night. Why is that?

We found many years ago we are both far better at sleeping if we maintain separate rooms and bed.

We have completely different tastes in TV…another reason…and Netflix offers more for him than I…

but in recent times we now have a 30 minute chat and wind down each evening in the bigger bed (mine) and play word games on our I pads and chat.

It’s become a time we both treasure.

Laughing together is a fave!

There it is, my accountability for self care written and shared.

How is your self care these days?

What’s the easiest part for you?

What about the hardest part?

Tell us in the comments.

Warmest wishes to all,

Denyse.

Link Up #256

Life This Week. Link Up #256

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.

Next week’s optional prompt: Celebrating 5 years of this Link Up with Taking Stock. Optional Prompt. 37 /51

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Murals, Walls, Silos & Art. #SundayStills. 108/2021.

Murals, Walls, Silos & Art. #SundayStills. 108/2021.

Terri here has shared the prompts for August 2021 and beyond when Natalie from here hosts for 3 weeks. This week is the final. Thank you Natalie, and welcome back Terri next week.

Come and read to see what I did for this post!

When I saw “colourful murals” as a prompt for this week’s Sunday Stills, I thought I don’t know that I have any images of these nor would I know where to find any where I live.

But wait, it only takes some noticing doesn’t it?

Then I began to remember where I knew there were  some near us, on the New South Wales Central Coast of Australia…..

The side wall of my favourite cafe in Toukley. Sadly closed until lockdown ends.

 

Set in a seaside area, this theme of seas and waves is about “no bad days at BluJs”

 

Next to the library at Toukley is this mural reminding us of the Canton Beach activities in Summer.

 

And, from the wall of the amenties block at Soldiers Beach is this testament to the whales who pass by on their way north each winter, and back south each spring after calving.

 

Information about Whale Migration next to the mural.

 

And again, on an amenities block in Toukley Village close to where I go grocery shopping is this visual portrayal of the area near where we live.

 

Now these may not be traditional  walls but they sure are walls. Of wheat silos. In Australia this has become quite a phenomenon. This photo from our trip in October 2020 to Barraba where I was teaching in my first year. It was from Barraba that I went to a function in Tamworth and met the man who became my husband over 50 years ago.

The farmer here portrayed with a ‘water diviner’ stick, looking for underground water.

 

There is no rule a mural cannot be from nature is there?

I love seeing this wall come to life each Spring. Sadly it’s at our local big shopping centre which for us has been ‘out of bounds’ since late June 2021.

This creeping flower was one my Mum loved.

When I go to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (my cancer hospital) in Sydney, I always stand next to the mural outside…signs more like it…but they mean a great deal to me. I also shot this image of my husband inside the large corridor within COBLH which has extensive images and more to share the cancer care that is patient centred and research driven.

 

And finally, I reckon some of my art might look good as a mural…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have colourful murals in your local area?

Denyse.

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35/51 #LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Ch. 26. Part 2/3. May-August 2021.106/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Six. 2021. Part 2/3. May – August.

The backstory first:

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 Six. Telling the story as 2021 progresses in three parts. Today is Part Two. May-August 2021.

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, a recent photo…taken overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

 

May 2021.

We had pretty good weather in May. We got outside even more. The covid ‘stuff’ had settled. However, we could never be quite sure of its whereabouts so we did “wearing a mask” when asked inside, and I know I was pretty casual about signing in using the State Government QR code. No-one was really practising social distancing but living on the coast, we did not have too many concerns.

We did not travel to Sydney for Mother’s Day this year even though I could have. It just wasn’t happening.

I got to celebrate my 4 years since my Head and Neck cancer diagnosis with a much anticipated visit to Sydney’s Lyric Theatre where I saw Hamilton.

Yes it was everything I had hoped and more. Wonderful.

That week I also came back to Westmead for a 6 month mouth check with my prosthodontist. All is well.

I stopped on my way home at a cafe in a nursery where I used to meet up with friends in Sydney days. It was lovely but it had changed as had I.

June. What happened?

We were continuing to be lulled into some kind of normality, living without too many restrictions and life was pretty good.

I visited my Dad to celebrate his 10 years living in his independent retirement Unit. He is going well.

I had my 6 months check with my regular dentist and he was very pleased with how well I care for my mouth and 8 teeth now! It’s always a treat going to him because we have such a history and he is a great cheerleader too.

I was delighted to recall that my head and neck cancer nurse, Cate, was a Woman of Courage on the blog too. But….the head and neck cancer group getting to Canberra was not able to happen because of Covid restrictions in Victoria and I took a reality check. The reality check for me was about how I would be able to eat when away from home over 3 nights and it was literally something I need to accept. A future post on eating and drinking challenges post head and neck cancer was planned.

But, we were going OK. In fact we had morning tea out twice using our government’s ‘dine in’ vouchers and I was excitedly planning the Soup for the Soul event with my friends from BluJ’s in Toukley.

 

And then late June 2021, just as the school holidays began, and we got excited about seeing our son and his family to celebrate our newly minted 8 year old’s birthday it was OFF. Back to Lockdown. Because of Covid 19 and ONE person’s infection from the newly seen and very nasty delta strain….it was not a good news day or week. So much changed in a very short time. STAY home. STAY safe. And as I write this ready for 30 August publication we are STILL in same lockdown. It’s actually become much more serious. More on that as I try to recall August! OK, we live on N.S.W. Central Coast, around 2 hours from centre of Sydney the capital of N.S.W. On 27 June 2021 we were declared to be part of Greater Sydney, along with Sydney and all its suburbs, Wollongong and Shellharbour to the south and the Blue Mountains to the west. NB: the Central Coast where we live was declared a regional area mid August.

The Hawkesbury River and Bridge. From the side where I took this photo it’s Central Coast.

July 2021.

July holds many memories for me since 2017. It marks the anniversary of my first head and neck cancer major surgery and reconstruction on 6 July (4 years this year) and 27.7 each year – since 2014, is World Head and Neck Cancer Day.

I met other people who were also head and neck cancer patients, carers and professionals in July 2018 at Central Coast Cancer Centre and in 2019 was part of the group called Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support who held a Soup for the Soul Event. And, each year the charity for whom I volunteer as an Ambassador, Head and Neck Cancer Australia, has awareness activities on line and encourages communities and individuals to host Soup for the Soul.

I was one who was going this with my friends at my local cafe but once lockdown came and they chose not to open as takeaway business was not a large amount of their trade, the event could not go ahead. So, I made it a virtual event and kind friends and professionals donated to a total of $305.

Some other memories and more from July 2021.

And August Arrived!

Of course we celebrated our daughter’s birthday. Post in detail here. We continued in lockdown which felt endless. I admit I did sometimes get very cranky on social media and then had to stop using it.

I tended then to spend more time outside, or doing something creative. I know preparing and sending off little packs of bookmarks was a positive experience.

Of course, Women of Courage continued on the blog but I was planning to bring it to a close soon. I stayed in contact on line with friends and family as much as practicable but also remembering people at work (even at home) are much busier than I am.

I had successful dental checks – of the regular kind. I am doing well after the surgeries I had in July and August 2021 and I am very grateful for that. I talk to Dad once a week. He is OK and finding the visitors restrictions within his unit complex quite frustrating. He is a sociable person. My brother and sister in law help him each week with shopping and some company. I haven’t been to see him since mid June because of “lockdown”.

I try to get out each day somewhere to notice nature – walking locally or driving somewhere near the water and that helps regulate my mood.

And to do this often:

 

What’s ahead and what other news is there?
No-one knows.

However, I know I am going well and have quite a few choices of art and creative ventures at home. B is making a new TV cabinet and has numerous small projects on the go. He is doing some on-line music lessons and I have similar ones for art. We would not be happy if the NBN stopped working!!

My dear husband has enjoyed writing his 3rd blog post, with another one to come. We are very well suited…different interests but shared common history, love of kids and education (not always the formal kind), and connecting with people. It’s the first time in our marriage of over 50 years that we have spent so much time together at home and for the most part…at least 99% …it’s going well.

Our next door neighbours have two little ones, one born just before Easter and when our family visits were curtailed and I had excess of mini cupcakes in the freezer, it’s been great to share (safely!) a couple of little boxes of treats. Their family cannot visit just as we cannot have ours come. Still, for the greater good.

We have made a promise, once new restrictions began for lockdown, to only go to two stand alone supermarkets, the doctors and chemist and (before they became more restricted in entry) Bunnings on occasions for B. On one day, only one of us goes out (for essential reasons) and we stick to that. I recently made a trip to the local Reject shop…the only place open in a large super centre to buy a stash of cards for upcoming birthdays and celebrations. I also got some fun items which have been sent to Sydney to two families for the school aged grandkids…a care package…costs more to post by express but I would rather they got them! Australia Post employees tell me they have never been busier.

Here’s  two days of contrast (weather and condition wise) at Soldiers Beach.

 

Mon 23.8.21. Warm weather

Great day but look at those clouds.

Windy & wet. Tues 24 August.

Same ‘area’ where person was snorkling on Monday!

 

 

UPDATE: In late August I heard very sad news. Two friends had both died of cancer. One of whom was a Woman of Courage. Her name is Tracey Fletcher King. Here is the link to her story:

The second person is Fergus McCulla, a young man I had the pleasure of meeting back in 2019 as he had questions to ask me about my surgeries for cancer in my mouth. Fergus’s cancer was a very nasty one, and despite “everything” he eventually left behind the pain and suffering, that as his Mum said, he never spoke about. On Tuesday, I will attend his funeral service which will be streamed on-line.

 

Sending my love to the  families and friends of both of these special people. Vale Tracey and Vale Fergus. I am honoured that our paths crossed.

 

 

 

 

And so the second of three parts of 2021 is done. I will of course, be finishing this year’s story. However, I am no longer going to update here as I have found it hard(er) than I imagined in the midst of other life stuff…meaning, I am reducing some of my ‘have to’s in 2022 and keeping Telling My Story going won’t be a blog post. I might do a summary one time, but the recall and record keeping is less appealing than when I committed to starting!

 

Thanks for reading. And maybe just skimming but looking at the pictures. That is cool too. I am grateful I have used this blog to make me accountable.

Last one will be published as the last blog post (and Link Up) for 2021. 51/51….but we have a few weeks to go to that, and I am not wishing the year away!

Denyse.

Link Up #255

Life This Week. Link Up #255

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.

Next week’s optional prompt: 36/51 Self Care Stories #5. 6 Sept. Link Up #256

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Women of Courage Series. #69 Bianca Hewes. 104/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #69 Bianca Hewes. 104/2021.

Two years ago… I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday into September 2021 when it will conclude.

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

 

Thanks to the world of school education being big as well as small in New South Wales, where I used to be employed, I am fortunate to say I have met Bianca Hewes, who is 41 on a couple of occasions at Teach Meets! In fact, one of them was in August 2015, held at where “I” attended high school in the 1960s, and also where Bianca did….much, much later!  She, was at the time of meeting, working locally at a selective High School and introducing new and exciting subjects, along with her philosophy of education I found very refreshing. She and her husband impress me greatly and education is richer for their presence. But today, it’s Bianca’s story, and I am delighted to share because saying “yes” was not initially Bianca’s response! Thank you, B.

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

 

I find this question very hard to answer, as I’ve never really viewed myself as a courageous person.

In fact, since I have anxiety (the diagnosed sort stemming from childhood trauma, not the trendy kind) I’d say that I’m almost the opposite of courageous.

But, after some prompting from Denyse and a bit of reflection, I think something that could be classified by others as being courageous was my decision to continue with my university studies whilst I had a newborn son.

Luckily he was born in mid-semester break so I had a few weeks to give birth and learn how to be a mum before I strapped him to my chest and headed back into the lecture hall.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

 

I suppose it just made me more determined to work hard and prove everyone wrong.

I got used to people staring at me on the bus and around campus – even though I was 21 I looked like I was 15 – and this defiance of judgement is something I have cultivated as a key personality trait and a value I’ve passed onto my sons.

I learnt quickly to stand up for myself when I needed to and to assert my rights as a woman and a mother. It also made me realise that I can do anything I want to – which sounds really cliche but has proven (mostly) true.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

 

I think the biggest thing is to not listen to the negative opinions of others and to embrace those who support and celebrate you for who you are and the decisions you make.

I remember that second semester with my tiny two week old son I was doing two philosophy courses.

One lecturer was so supportive of me, but the other came up to me after class once and told me he didn’t agree with me being at university with a child.

It hurt being confronted that way, but I knew my rights and I stood my ground.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

 

Like I said at the start, I don’t think I’m a particularly courageous person, but having my children when I was also studying and then later working meant that I developed resilience and determination.

I definitely draw on both of those qualities a lot in life.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

 

Just don’t listen to society.

Be true to yourself.

Trust your own judgement and your own capacity.

I knew I could care for a baby whilst completing my studies even if other people lacked faith in me – and I was right.

So, I suppose just trusting yourself and enjoy proving others wrong is my message.

 

Thank you Bianca, I “knew” you would share a great story of courage and that it would help others to see what can be done despite the ‘judgements’ of some. How awful was that comment from a Uni so-called professional!

Bianca has some social media sites where she shares about education and more.

She has written and co-authored many texts and other books for teachers and schools.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website biancahewes.wordpress.com

Twitter @biancah80

Facebook Page:  Australian Project Based Learning Network

Instagram: @jimmy_reads_books

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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