Wednesday 18th May 2022

November Notes.#1. 2018.113.

November Notes.#1. 2018.113.

November notes are related to health and mindfulness and in November in Australia we see the jacarandas in bloom. This reminds us of….for some exams are just around the corner, it’s almost the end of the academic year and it’s closer to Christmas than we think.

A year ago, on 30 October to be exact, I began a practice that was going to be for 32 days in length. It was to ‘dare to post’ a photo of myself every day from then until I turned 68 on 30 November 2017.

As regular readers know 2017 brought a significant and blindsiding diagnosis of cancer: head and neck cancer located in my upper gums and under the top lip. If that doesn’t give anyone a shake-up then I don’t know what might.

I have always enjoyed sharing my life via photos on social media, instagram for preference, and as someone who had also, in that ‘life-altering year’, lost even more weight, new clothes and an appreciation of a more physically comfortable body gave me an idea. It was not my original idea as others before me were already snapping themselves with hashtags:





and more….and I thought, maybe I could challenge myself to do this. I decided a little matter of not being able to open my mouth to smile would not stop me, so off I went. I wrote about it here in 2017.

Until I was 68. Then it changed. Again. I liked doing this so much I continued. Here are some of the shots back then.

In 2017 I used collages. It was a good chance for me to show the world how my ‘mouth’ was going – post July and then November 2017 ops


And, my husband made me smile (most times) for the pics. Finding some backgrounds was interesting.

My ‘telling it as it is” shot. I was in pain in my face from surgery, but we went to the beach to distract me…I also went bare-legged (right leg) to show my surgical scars.

Once I established this great routine, I added another, once I could be sure I could do it. Out for a coffee. Every day.


And as the weather warmed, it was clear I needed to shop for new items.


Once I was less fatigued, I found shopping for some new clothes (only ever ones on special) was a big distraction from cancer and the surgeries’ effects.

Another significant day: We attended our granddaughter’s 21st in Sydney where I saw family who had not seen me since surgeries and I got another dress for the occasion.

Deciding to go on after my birthday! Christmas Day shot with 3 of our grandkids.

And then into 2018.


I like a challenge, so a self-determined one, was that every day the clothes would be different. I kept as accurate a record as I could and it was also, ahem, great getting my shopping gene back. My mum liked to shop for clothes and shoes. As I can not find pretty shoes because of awful feet, I went for the clothes. The ladies in the local Rockmans, Millers and Suzanne Grae got to know me well and bargains were had.

It was a great thing for my mental health as there were days when, like all of us, I just would think, “I cannot be bothered”. They were the days, I recognised were the ones when I need to be bothered the most. So, as someone who keeps to her word, I went on.

I believe that this helped my recovery and in a future post or two in November Notes, I will share more.

  • Do you take part in any daily Instagram challenges?
  • Would you post photos of yourself on social media?
  • If the answer is yes, yay for you! If no, what is stopping you?
  • Can you consider that this is something that may be good for your health too?

Enough from me!


Joining with Leanne here for Lovin Life link up on Thursdays.





  1. I’m rarely in front of the lens – but so admire you for doing so. As for the jacarandas, the season has nearly finished for us in Queensland, so being back here for a week is almost like getting a second bite at admiring my fave tree.

    • Thanks Jo, there has to be something good coming back to Sydney for a while. Tomorrow I think will not be pleasant unless you are in air-conditioning.

      I was like you about being in front of the lens for many years until I thought about the why. That why was to do with my weight and then I said to myself, despite not really wanting to be photographed and reminded of what I “look like” I would be “missing” in terms of family occasions and so on. It was also then I was thinking about “making the memories you have with the people now” rather than putting it all off.

      It takes some courage to do what I did but it has been something that helps keep me connected and honest with myself too.

      Denyse x

  2. You have amazing commitment to the challenges you set yourself Denyse! You’re brave doing the outfit a day photo. It documents your journey over the last 12 months or so which is kinda special! There are some lovely outfits amongst those photos too. I think if I did this it would be so boring because I don’t really have a huge variety of clothes! Speaking of Jacaranda trees – the ones around here are stunning at the moment – my favourite tree! #TeamLovinLife

    • Thank you Min. You have been such a great supporter and I love that. I literally “had” to buy everything to start again as I had lost so much weight. I admit I “may” have bought more than strictly needed but oh it was fun!

      Now after the year is up, I am still going to post when I want to but I have changed the ‘self-set challenge’ to work better for me.

      Yes the jacarandas that are out might make a mess but such a pretty one!

      Denyse x

  3. I tend to wear a small selection of clothes (when I like something, I sometimes buy two of it) and don’t really have much to say on them, so generally if I post a fashion photo it’s to brag that I put pants on or to make fun of fashion 🙂

    • When I had work, then I had ‘clothes for work’ and clothes for home and ‘going out’. That was how I organised myself back before finishing work.

      When we retired to the coast it was ‘beach casual’ every day. However, I was not 100% with my anxiety/IBS so rarely went anywhere. Then my weight slowly went down for no other reason that I could not eat much for above reasons.

      It was obvious once I was home post big cancer surgery that I “needed clothes that would stay up” so, over time I convinced myself the huge amount of weight would not return and I could let myself shop.

      It was all (and still is to an extent) a psychological challenge for someone who was fat (& lost it, and regained it) for around 30+ years.

      Even now, I have put on 3kg over what I hoped I would never go past…and as my husband said “why that rule?” and I do not know. So, doing my best to minimise the threat and to eat for both enjoyment and health.

      How you do your wardrobe is practical and saves so much decision-making.

      Denyse x

  4. I love the way you’ve put fun and colour into each day through your wardrobe, Denyse. I’m a bit boring in that I only add colour when it’s summer and even then, not often enough.

    SSG xxx

    • Thank you for noticing. For me, and for many I guess who are house-bound via illness and recovery it is so easy to put on anything and that’s it for the day. However, this challenge (that started via others and then got a life of its own from me) has meant so much of “ME” is returning. The one who likes colour, likes finding clothes and accessories on sale, and it feels great.

      I would never class you as boring but I think in your workplace there is a standard you go by and uphold. Not all in the medical profession do. A local female doctor dresses as if she is off to yoga. I am just not used to that! I believe in comfort and like smart casual, I guess.

      Denyse x

  5. I love your outfit posts Denyse and it’s so good to look back on them. I started doing them because initially I could only share a pic of my head OR my outfit but the idea of having the photo identifiable as ‘me’ wasn’t comfortable. But… I was able to look at other bigger people in pics and think they looked good, so decided to start posting whole body and face pics in the hope I got accustomed to seeing ‘me’ as a whole.

    I think seeing photos of people helps them seem more familiar and that’s one of the things I love most about your pics. It’s like we get to catch up every day! xx

    • This pleases me so much. I am glad when I see your pics. I think you look athletic and elegant. I also love the casual way in which you take your pics.

      I think I started this to let myself know there was/is more to me than cancer and to take advantage of the new wardrobe I “:had” to buy. Now, I really need no more but I also have “that dilemma” of not wanting to gain any significant weight. Some has been added but I want (if I can) to be more resourceful about my eating and have the variety but not as much of the quantity. That’s my goal for now!

      I changed things about a bit for November and am just doing a collage photo with one of me and some things I am grateful for. I got sick of my own challenges and stopped them. Go me! Old me would have pushed on.

      Your words are supportive and kind.Thank you so much.

      Denyse x

  6. I admire you for your daily Instagram photos and how far you’ve come. You constantly inspire me Denyse. I must confess I’m not a fan of sharing my own photos as much. I love Instagram but even on the odd occasion I post selfies, I hear this little voice in my head tell me how vain it is to do so! Funnily enough, I don’t think that about others’ photos. At this point I guess my Instagram is mainly for writing/personal stuff so I avoid selfies as far as possible

    • Thanks so much Sanch and catching up in real life was awesome.

      I know what you mean about the voice in the head…but in some ways I guess me still sharing is about keeping me accountable. To myself most of all.

      I am changing things about and just doing a collage with one image of me and things I am grateful for in November.

      I reckon I did well to stop my self-set challenges, old Denyse would not have!!

      Denyse x