Tuesday 28th June 2022

Self Care Stories #2. 14/51 #LifeThisWeek. 42/2021.

Self Care Stories #2. 14/51 #LifeThisWeek. 42/2021.

Every 7th Week on Mondays.

Who is the 71 year old woman behind this smile?

She is Denyse.

She is ageing.

She is also a thinker, a doer and someone who likes to learn.

She is seeking answers to her age-old question about HER. Her relationship with herself. Her belief in herself. In fact, yes, it’s about Denyse exploring what she is learning via self care and more.

Why the third person?

In learning to place some distance between me and my thoughts, I now know using my own name draws my attention to what I want to do but doesn’t suck me in as much as using the personal pronoun. I learned this, and have put it into action recently, via the book I highlight below called Chatter.


In Chatter, acclaimed psychologist Ethan Kross explores the silent conversations we have with ourselves. Interweaving groundbreaking behavioral and brain research from his own lab with real-world case studies—from a pitcher who forgets how to pitch, to a Harvard undergrad negotiating her double life as a spy—Kross explains how these conversations shape our lives, work, and relationships. He warns that giving in to negative and disorienting self-talk—what he calls “chatter”—can tank our health, sink our moods, strain our social connections, and cause us to fold under pressure.

Loss of Confidence in Myself. Recently.

Life is not linear although that might appear to be the case. I have found since late January 2021 that some of my usual confidence has waned. I could feel it and as yet another medical test came up, I began to identify with it as

fear of something else going wrong for me

What Happened?

I needed a gastroscopy and iron infusion in early February. They went well. Iron levels from 11 to 225! Who knew.

But any little twinge, ache or whatever had me seeking medical advice. Always assured and re-assured.

Still not that convinced.

Body Image And  What I Saw Not Being True.

Long time readers here would know that way before my cancer was diagnosed, I was on a long journey to losing weight but in a not healthy way. It was via anxiety and I.B.S. However, one by-product was that I was over 30kg less in weight than my heaviest back in 2013. I tried to convince myself that right now, I seemed to look OK but of course I remain overweight but….




I listened to this book, website below, in some parts and found it of interest. I stopped hating my body (and me) as much because I could acknowledge what it had done for me and that being overweight (technically I am) was not a sin, nor something I needed to be ashamed of…and actually for me , it meant I was healthier post cancer than most times of my life.


The Body Is Not An Apology is an international movement committed to cultivating global Radical Self Love and Body Empowerment. We believe that discrimination, social inequality, and injustice are manifestations of our inability to make peace with the body, our own and others. Through information dissemination, personal and social transformation projects and and community building, The Body is Not An Apology fosters global, radical, unapologetic self love which translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world.

The Evidence Was In. Need to Believe.

Just recently I spoke to my main G.P. and my other one, along with my husband, about how I was viewing myself. I had begun to worry about the numbers on the scales. I saw this as a pattern from my past and felt helpless to let it go. I needed and asked for confirmation from others that I was OK, at this weight, and doing well. I had to see myself as a well person. I was to stop weighing myself.

I am on my way to better self-belief and acceptance of this is both who I am now and how well I am.

In fact my female G.P. stressed just a week ago “Denyse, you are WELL, enjoy yourself”.

Truth in that. I think, given that I overcame my head and neck cancer, and then endured a pretty stressful and traumatic series of tests & surgeries in 2020 too, I have only just now, realised this too.

Thankful, indeed!

More Help For Handling Emotions. 

I remain dedicated to my Daily Calm: meditation both day and night.

I go outside every day.

I seek to interact with others somewhere in my day.

I am seeing a psychologist for a few sessions just to re-calibrate!

I saw one, last week who asked, amongst her listening to my stories, “when do you rest?”. Umm. Not much at all. Made me think.

I have a loving husband.

I am well physically.

I know how to care for my eating via nutrition and food enjoyment.

This: Written at my most “difficult & searching for peace within” time of my recent life:

Early February 2017 TRYING to show confidence.

What Do I Really want My Life to Look like Now?

  1. I act with ease & no trouble at all
  2. I smile, I exude joy & peace
  3. People want to be around me
  4. I want to be around them
  5. I want old barriers of ‘excessive & always there’ fear to be reduced so it only surfaces for “real” reasons
  6. I will be comfortable in my skin
  7. I will be happy to be the age & stage I am in
  8. My contentment & ease will continue to bring me closer to my husband & family
  9. I will seek new & other social networks & people when I want to connect
  10. I will be energised & confident to go anywhere & with anyone

I see so much of the above is how I am living my best life now. Who’d a thought that’s what cancer would bring.

Four Years Later. Confidence is there…believing it a challenge at times


Emotional Agility.


Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share.

Susan David’s Ted Talk: Emotional Agility

What does your self-care consist of?

Do you get enough rest?

Can you think of yourself with kindness?

Share how things are for you.


Link Up #234

Life This Week. Link Up #234

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

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* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 15/51 Share Your Snaps #3. 12 Apr.



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  1. Chatter sounds interesting! I am definitely trying harder to be more aware of my self-talk and my emotions but also, look at them curiously as opposed to letting them control me. I love that you’ve shared Susan David’s talk; I’m hoping to finish the book this week! Having those routines and little tweaks to help with ‘sefl-care’ is so important, isn’t it?

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Yes, looking at them with curiosity instead of getting into those old and oh so round and round convos! Nailing it. I am better at this now. Awareness is probably the biggest breakthrough I have had in recent times.

      Glad you have found Susan David! I obviously found her pretty early – via Audible – as the title attracted my attention. Her talks with Brene Brown on Unlocking Us or is it Dare To Lead (yes, that one) are very good. It’s like Brene is having her ahha moments too…and they speak of the toxicity of positive psychology words..not the notion I don’t think but pretty sure you know what I mean.

      I do need to remind myself that those small routines of the every day have helped me through a LOT and they were railroaded by covid somewhat but I am getting better at knowing what I need every day to stay well (emotionally) and on track.

      Lovely Easter Monday here, and I am inside! Bet you are soaking it up.


  2. You sound like you have a lot of good things (and people) around you Denyse and these resources all sound very interesting. Thanks again for your honesty and openness, it certainly helps understand you more.

    You’ve had a lot going on and deserve to be enjoy being well now as your GP suggested. I like that you’re seeing someone to go over things and recalibrate, it has been a great source of wisdom and understanding to me in the past few months, that’s for sure.

    A very pertinent question too, when do you rest? That’s an area for a whole other post, I think I’m in much the same place as you on that one!!!

    I love the later photo you shared, I think I actually can tell that you aren’t faking the confidence as much, it shows more acceptance.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Debbie, this blog of mine is a therapy within itself!

      I also blog the truth as I don’t know how to pretend. Definitely cannot play poker.

      Yes, it takes a lot of emotionally energy to stay with a physical recovery routine and from last May until October I was in that mode thanks to the non-cancer procedures and surgeries.

      It takes a long while to repair internally so I was wary of that as well. Coupled with the high emotions of celebrating our Wedding Anniversary amidst covid, it was a mix of emotions.

      I found I was hyper vigilant for a while, especially as I needed the gastroscopy and iron infusion so until I have confirmation from my GPs then I was wary. I did however, “know” this wasn’t me and so I thought a top up chat or two with a psychologist might help.

      This one, who said “when do you rest” is not who I will see again, as really she didn’t offer much other than not paying attention to first self-talk thoughts, so I see another one soon and I shall decided after that if more is required.

      We know ourselves well and we need to remember that! Yes, I cannot fake confidence either.I remember the anguish I felt that day “trying” to do so!


  3. I must check out Chatter. It looks interesting. As someone who Also suffers from body image issues and lack of confidence, I can relate to so much of your post. Your positivity, awareness and clear thinking always amazes me #lifethisweek

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Jennifer. Not that we all want to have “issues” so to speak but if my words and references help another person by my blogging about it, that is great.

      My blog helps me connect and I enjoy the communication very much.


  4. This is a great topic. Especially for me right now. I have been up and down for a while since my mum passed in June last year. I will be checking out that website link. Good to hear you are mastering your own self care.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh Jody, of course that would be the case about your Mum who was a huge presence and love in your life.

      The wonderful Megan Devine writes about Grief and if you check her facebook page out, I believe some of what she writes about will be helpful for you to know you are not alone.

      Getting the self-care thing right is that I need to stick to it for its benefits.

      Thank you for your kind words and I hope having the kids home for Easter has been fun.


  5. Denyse, You seem to have good self-awareness and know when and where to get help which is important. My self-care includes a combination of physical movements, mental calmness, gratitude, doing more of what gives me joy, moderate eating, drinking water as my main source of hydration, and getting adequate amount of sleep. I listened to Susan David’s TED Talk. Thank you for sharing your self-care and links. #lifethisweek

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Natalie, your discipline and routine are admirable and keep you well at all times.

      I admire your daily, weekly and regular routines that suit you so very well.

      Thanks for your modelling.


  6. HI Denyse, thank you for sharing your heart, as well as many excellent resources. I can relate to some of what you have shared, though so far, not the cancer, but body image and other things. One of my main self-care practices includes regular naps, but also writing, regular contact with friends. Sadly, more direct contact with friends than family, simply because of distance and life. I try to practice joy and gratitude and it’s not a big stretch, if at all. Blessings, Michele
    P.S. Hoping my offering is acceptable, I don’t always have something ready to jump in.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you kindly Michele, I enjoy reading your updates too. I have no contact with educated women close to my age where I live, so blogging connections rock.

      I cannot nap these days but my husband has an afternoon one.

      I tend to have quieter times then but still, I admit, often scrolling through the social media pages!

      Gratitude saves me from going down too deep into negativity these days and two years ago I would not have believed that. I remind myself as I continue to wear my little bracelet each day.

      Never apologise for the post you link up…it’s fine not to connect with the prompts which I deliberately made optional!


  7. Denyse this post has provided me with much to think about AND to read (thanks for those links). I have a long way to go to be happy with myself. My self chatter can be quite negative at times and I have recognised that I self sabotage a lot. I think you have amazing self awareness and I love your list of what you want your life to look like right now. Also those photographs of you are beautiful! I’m sorry my linked up post today is completely off the ‘self care’ topic. Self care though is a topic I am very passionate about. Have a great week Denyse! xo

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Min, glad it helped you.

      Do check out some of these people, they make a lot of sense! Chatter was an easy book which I listened to but also got the Kindle version.

      The stories we make up in our heads are generally untrue and mostly unhelpful. Letting them happen is what we have to do but listen and pay attention to them…no, that’s when I was told say “thank you, but not what I need right now”.

      Never apologise for a link up not on prompt. It’s always an optional prompt.


  8. Self care is so much more than a manicure and pedicure isn’t it Denyse? Unfortunately, because social media promotes so much about Self Care the real message can get lost and people tune out. I like the use of your language in your list – ‘I will’ shows determination rather than ‘I want’ or ‘I should’. Love the Selfcare prompts Denyse. This week I launched Micro Mondays Resetting our Mind,Body and Spirit for the week ahead. Short episodes on the podcast to encourage, inspire and motivate us to live well. To me living well is the key. Have a great week.#lifethisweek

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Sue for your wise words and support.

      I did try those external ideas of self-care but they fade rapidly unless we are taking care of our thoughts and emotions.

      That is the learning I have been doing and it’s finally paying dividends.

      That list I wrote I have no memory of doing back then but it is likely it was something recommended to try. In other words, where do you want to be, how would it look like. I was so NOT believing anything like this helped but did it anyway.

      When I found it during a diary cull, it was exactly how things are for me now. But I did not strive for these nor make them goals. It was through my inner resources found in my cancer diagnosis days, how I had to manage my emotions during long, painful and tedious days of recovery that got me to this point.

      Being well physically, for the first time in many years, is something I am enjoying. Healthy inside and out and needing to remain this way, in MY way, no-one else’s means I am stronger and more self-confident than I have been for a number of years.

      Thanks for your support and I wish you well in your latest venture helping others.


  9. Denyse, you sound so much like me, in our struggles with life and liking (loving?) ourselves. It has been a constant struggle for me since the late 80s. It sounds like you are taking it all well in hand. I think you look marvelous! Seriously. The post I added to your party is one of the ways I take care of myself the best. I am committed to being creative each and every single day. I feel my creativity is my life blood. I consider it my Creative Therapy. My post, #dailycreating OCTOBER 2020, shows the best of what I’ve drawn for a month. My biggest passion is any kind of papercrafting. Hang in there! You’re doing great! Smiles, Linda from Paper Seedlings

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Lovely of you to visit Linda! We are women who find creativity a joy and a part of our mental health wellness.

      I first found an on-line community related to non-judgmental art and having fun via friends online called Index Card a Day in 2013 and since then with the exception of one year, I have joined in the fun.

      When I need to get focussed on just one thing, it’s to my art desk I go. Little and big art books, my own designs, to colour, cut and paste. The kinaesthetic matching the visual for me is the best.

      So, yes I do something creative every day too. Process is more important than product. In fact, when I discovered the joys of drawing, designing and colouring my own mandalas they helped me over 365 days in a row!!

      Love your work and will check it our more. Are you on Instagram? I have two accounts – both private @denysewhelan and @denysewhelan_blogs


  10. My problem with rest is that I find it largely boring. I do wonder if this is inattentive and impulsivity behaviours from the possible ADHD that I still haven’t booked in to talk to anyone about because I find the experiences of others much more educational.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      I understand that too, Vanessa.

      My idea of rest is doing something as I rest. Hence the scrolling on social media which can make me mad..so negates the notion of rest.

      I don’t have anything like the concentration to read more than a page or two of a book but I think over time as I relax more into being less hyper aware of how I am feeling this may improve.

      I think whatever helps you understand yourself is what you do. What would a diagnosis do, unless it helped you in some way. I am sure you have already thought of that too.


  11. Hi Denyse – I think you probably have a little bit of PTSD from all the trauma you’ve been through in your health journey over the last few years. I feel like it’s what I was dealing with after the trauma of the years in my horrible job. It saps us of our resilience and drags us down. I think taking positive steps to turn your mindset to intentional, positive self-care is a great way to work through it and to bounce back again. I know I still have times when something will remind me of the dreadful woman I worked with and the tension escalates immediately. I remind myself daily how blessed I am to be living the life I have now – and you are too (as well as being a great role model for those who have to deal with similar health issues). It’s also good to put that part of yourself on the back burner for a while and be “healthy, happy Denyse” again – and celebrate being “normal” xxx

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks for your words of kind understanding Leanne.

      I would say, over time, that it was leaving my role as a school principal that was far more traumatic than these past years of health issues.

      I lost what defined me in many ways. I did see people back then to talk about it, but every so often, the way it all happened and so on makes me quite resentful that “I” was the one who had to leave. It could be a topic I raise next time when I see a psychologist.

      I do like the wellness I am feeling and the enjoyment I am finding in life, but you are right, at times something occurs and our ever-helpful negative/default mind takes us there first. I have been told tell that mind “thank you, but I am not taking that on, and will be doing…” instead.

      Funny isn’t it, this learning all the time..but it’s oh so helpful too.


  12. I popped back for a reread and as my mother used to say, oh my goodness – you’ll make yourself sick with all the worrying you do.
    Mind you there’s a reason for all your worrying and breaking it down into small pieces to understand the whys and wherefores has obviously worked for you. Thank you for sharing some of those with us today.
    Now it’s Live Love Laugh time! My ‘mantra’ for many a year….I’m still working on the love part though. Loving myself is a work in progress!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Cathy, interestingly my mum was a #worrier herself and then my father would dismiss it all. I guess that is where I saw how to (or not to) deal with it.

      Nevertheless as a learner at heart I want(ed) solutions and have picked up quite a lot since my worst times of 2015-2017 and they continue to hold me in good stead.

      The biggest one of course is “I can only control me and my actions”.

      That was something having cancer taught me the most, how to trust in the professional team and the process as they knew more than I did.

      In fact I decided I knew how to teach little kids how to read and they didn’t so I left them to their area of expertise!

      The loving myself has been slowly coming and it truly has only recently happened thanks to my acceptance of what is. And that some of my thinking had been distorted. Always a trouble maker that!


  13. Love your honesty and openness. I too am seeing a psychologist, I find she keeps me emotionally accountable and on the straight and narrow! Your post gave me lots to think about, I definitely care less about my weight (even though I have a lot to lose) and more about my emotional health and wellbeing. As long as I’m happy and can make others feel happy, I’m happy with that. I think self care these days for me is being kind to myself. I should probably sleep more and snack less but can recalibrate accordingly. And I love the third person, I must try that! Thanks for such a motivating Monday!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Really good to know some of what I wrote helped, Sam,

      I had to let go of the “being overweight” because it was clouding so much of my life and in fact, when the actual numbers on the scales were hardly changed at all from the years with some teeth back I realised it was faulty thinking and that I needed to accept, yes I look overweight in some photos but the most important part is I am WELL.

      That third person thing was so good to learn. In fact I use it a bit myself about not getting weighed anymore as my GP recommended. We have scales in the bathroom (not my choice) so I say to myself “Denyse doesn’t do that anymore”. No emotion. Just acceptance.

      Not an issue having a talking therapy person is it when that’s what we need when we need it. I had one a long time ago, and learned a lot but now getting more of a top up and another chance to offload. Hope you have found someone compatible. That is half the battle!


  14. Chatter seems interesting. Now I am trying to figure out if my thought process can be termed as chatter and whether it is affecting me :)). Meticulously written post as usual!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Shiju. Yes, some chatter is very necessary. And we all do it. This man’s work though is about the chatter that is not serving you in your life. Words and messages that can have us over thinking and over-reacting.

      I found it a good listen and now have it on Kindle.


  15. I need to check out Chatter. Sounds interesting.

    Curated By Jennifer

  16. This is the second time in less than a week, I have read an endorsement of the book “Chatter”. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. I think I should order the book. I love the premise – we are more than just our thoughts.

    Your doctor gave you great advice: “Enjoy yourself!” I need to hear that sometimes too. It is sometimes more difficult to hang onto our confidence as we get older. I feel that too.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh that is cool, isn’t it Laurie? I think the book and audio version have only recently been released. I tend to check out new releases via Audible and it came up.

      It was not something too complicated to hear but its messages were spot on for me. Using the 3rd person for some self-talk is something I adopted whereas before it would be a self-criticism or admonishment there is a gap now. Really cool.

      I agree about the ‘confidence’ thing and it surprises me because I felt like I missed a lot of what I would have liked to have done in retirement but my anxiety, then cancer put paid to much of it. I am going ok but now feel there is an extra bit of security needed for me. Could also be tied up with our limited finances too.

      Take care and I hope your covid injection went well with no issues.


  17. Hi Denyse, I find it hard to lose the anxiety about being unwell. It’s easy to worry that you’ll be stuck in the recovery phase after going through major issues. You’re so right, self talk is so important. It’s easy for someone to say just enjoy being well but I know how hard it is to live it! Thanks for another thought provoking post

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Christina. I hope back to work is going well.

      I know I found it somewhat challenging to put myself back in patient mode for last year’s rectopexy but I couldn’t avoid it any more. I knew it would put me back in ‘recovery’ mode and forgot how limiting it can be. Then of course, I got good old wound dehiscence and that lobbed me a curved ball.

      From October till now there have been some small health issues but GP treated and I needed that ‘kick’ if you like from the GP to get myself out there to live life as I can now.

      I am!


  18. I have been trying so hard for these past few years so stop the negative self- talk and the body shaming but it’s so hard when it had begun to feel like second nature. Even having dropped nearly 40 pounds and being called SKINNY! by my doctor on my last visit hasn’t helped me not feel just as large as I’ve always though of myself.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh Joanne, how much do I get this!!

      I know I know I know!

      How to check the voice in our heads with reality.

      I guess, as I know I have, and you too, when you live thinking of ourselves as a f’at woman, overweight whatever’, it defies belief that you (I) are no longer that. Keep hanging in there with the changing of your thoughts. It will come.

      I actually found My Body Is Not An Apology on Audible quite good for changing my view not only towards myself but to others. It’s quite confronting and it may not be to your taste but google for checking the movement out. I first heard the author on a podcast with Brene Brown as part of Unlocking Us.


  19. Lovely photo of you at the end. I think as many of us get older the weight goes up. I work on self-acceptance on this issue as well. And I think I can be healthy even if I am not as small as I was years ago.

    • Thanks Deborah. I am learning acceptance of what is so that my life moves forward with gratitude. And a healthy dose of reality and ageing!!


  20. Susan David’s TED talk – WOW! Thank you for sharing that gem. Xx

    • She’s good one isn’t she Sandra? Did you listen to her podcast with Brene Brown? I think it’s either in Unlocking Us or Daring Greatly.