Sunday 26th September 2021

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

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

 

I am grateful.

This was made a year or so ago…

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

At my teacher’s college graduation.

Try Making Your Own Gratitude List.

No-one else needs to see it.

Start small and let it grow

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

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

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

Why I Can’t Stop Meditating.

I learn something new most days about myself and being human

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

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

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

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

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

It is part of my day (and night)

Self Care Socially.

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

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

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

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

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

 

How I Manage Aspects of Ageing.

I ignore them…not really.

It is far better that I notice them.

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

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

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

I have recently had:

bone density scan: next in 2 years

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

Head and Neck Cancer Update.

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

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

  1. That was an excellent self care wrap up Denyse! I love your list of things you’re grateful for. I really need to do this and yes I have said this several times before. I will do it eventually! That must’ve been exciting to see Hamilton. I’ve heard such good things about it. I guess I must be in my 6th decade then as I turn 57 soon. It shocks me how quickly I have got to this age. Only seems like yesterday I was 37! I’m so glad that things are going well for you health wise now. I hope it stays that way. You’ve reminded me that here are a few health checks ups I need to get done! Have a great week Denyse! xo

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Min.

      I do my best to remember my self care especially when I notice I am not feeling great. That is a sign for me that I am neglecting something so I take stock of myself far more readily these days. It has taken me years of practice to get to this point and I am still learning.

      Yes, I got technical about the decades because I see people saying “I am turning…50 and into my 5th decade” …sorry, it’s your 6th. It’s a reality check maybe not all appreciate.

      I can’t remember much about my late 30s other than it was my most hectic career wise; teaching, leading a department, doing a degree part time, raising kids AND having awful menstrual troubles. At 38 I was “delighted” to have moved to a non-teaching role, finished that degree and had my hysterectomy.

      I was however, exhausted from virtually no iron so I highly recommend regular physical health checks…always!

      Glad you have found your creative side again with art. I love it too.

      Denyse

  2. Well done with your self-care, Denyse. We all age as time marches on. Living with gratitude is a good way to enjoy life. Meditation brings many benefits such as self-awareness, focus, clarity, etc. I’ve been practicing meditation and gratitude daily for a long time and they’re part of my day. Have a great week ahead! #lifethisweek

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Natalie.

      Good to know you started on these excellent practices so long ago.

      If I had understood how much better I would be for them way back….who knows?

      However, we can only take the lessons when we are ready.

      I was ready a few years back and glad I have embraced these practices as I cannot miss a day.

      Denyse.

  3. The gratitude list is lovely. Great focus on all that is good. Ageing is exhausting in my opinion. New niggles and issues appear out of nowhere.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you, Lydia.

      Yes, I know. “How dare my body”….do this, act like this…ah well.

      Not sure you could ever slow down to be less exhausted but you have a great need to be out there and moving, I know!!

      Denyse.

  4. As Lydia said, new niggles and issues appear out of nowhere! My post this week illustrates that.

    But back to your very detailed post…..I admire your skill of being able to ‘dissect’ your life and look at how some pieces relate to others. Someone once told me what we do each day is irrelevant to how our our life will pan out…..if only they could read your words and see how much each day is linked to each other.
    Take care
    Cathy

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks for the insight and compliment Cathy. You are good for my soul.

      Yes, the bits that hurt…and then they don’t hurt and then …you know what I mean I reckon.

      My struggle with the arthritic finger is that I am doing my best to type comments before the next cortisone injection tomorrow. I hope it helps because the finger is my “most” used.

      Yes, we are a community intertwined whether we accept that or not. I do!

      Denyse.

  5. What a fabulous self care wrap up Denyse! You have it all covered and by holding yourself accountable you also help us to realise how fortunate we are to share your world. Thanks also for telling me I’m in my 7th decade :). My eldest daughter turns 38 today so I’m feeling quite mature! I’m grateful for those years of being her mother and one day I’ll get to see her again in person, as she lives in UK.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh Deb, thank you….and someone had to tell you….lol. I see people talking about which decade there in and the fact that I am in my 8th…perhaps you can take comfort from that….

      When you remember the age you were when one of your kids turns that age, it really impacts.

      Our daughter is 50 in August and whilst she may be avoiding thinking about that, I remember my 50th well.

      Being separated from our kids but not by choice is pretty sad. Our GPs are from the UK and they too are sad they cannot go back to see family.

      Denyse.

  6. Great wrap up Denyse. I guess I DO carry out self care but don’t call it that. It’s important to me to be fit and strong for my age so I do force myself to go to the gym and enjoy it while I’m there. For HNC patients appearance is important so haircuts and eyebrow shaping (occasionally) are things I value. I guess one of the deepest satisfactions I get is connecting to others in the head and neck cancer support sphere. The support I give is paid back many times by that lovely feeling of human connection. And when I have a deep conversation with my young grandkids, that is also give and take. I give them my close attention and they give me that superb feeling of a sort of mental connection that bridge the generations.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      I am really pleased you did consider the ways in which you self care. I already was thinking about your walks, your coffee out and more. It’s perhaps the label that doesn’t sit easily.

      I think as HNC peeps, we need to care for more than the effects of our physical after effects and I like that you have found ways as have I.

      Great to read about the connections with both HNC and your little ones. I would LOVE to see more of ours but treasure the memories of each time. And the grandkids listen and interact with us unlike their parents, right??

      Thank you for commenting. You might be back on Thursday to see my next woman of courage….

      Denyse

  7. Hi Denyse, I’ve been writing in my gratitude diary regularly for a few months. Some days it’s hard to find anything to be grateful for and some days I have lots. Good on you for doing all those regular health checks. They are the best way to find any health problems in the early stages while they are treatable. I wish more people were diligent with their health checks. I’m glad yours all were clear. Regards, Christina

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Christina, and I know sometimes writing something to be grateful for can be hard.

      On those occasions, I just start writing “something” and then one thought follows another. Just getting the pen and mind into gear.

      Thinking of you and your family since your Mother in Law’s death and hope that things are going as well as they might.

      Denyse.

  8. Hi Denyse, you have really nailed the Self-Care and I agree that gratitude is an important component. Look at your list! Thanks for inspiring us to be better and for the opportunity to link up each week at #lifethisweek. xx

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Sue.

      Keeping myself accountable to me is one reason I do this and blog about it.

      I don’t always write lists these days of gratitude but each day I know I find something to be grateful for even on the worst days and that lightens my mood and gives me hope.

      I am glad you are linking up as I really love my community here at Life This Week.

      Denyse.

  9. You inspire me weekly, to take care of myself more. X. I am now involved in a Monday night meditation group which serves me well. I get alone time and self care time and have also made new friends with no other association to my family. 😀

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Jody, that is lovely.

      I am really glad to read of your new way of caring for you.

      Alone time is bliss when you have the full on care and responsibility for your lovely family.

      Really good to know you are out there making new friends…

      Keep on keeping on!

      Denyse.

  10. One thing I’ve noticed with you and your blog Denyse is that you always find the silver lining. You take the cards you’re dealt and you play them well. It shows in this post – all the good you have in your life – and a lot of it comes from choosing your attitude and choosing joy. You’re definitely a shining example of how good life can be if we choose to focus on the good. Glad you’re still cancer free and going strong xx

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      That’s a kind and thoughtful observation Leanne because I was not like that pre-cancer…I was very negative in my fears and thoughts about how life was treating me.

      I have chatted with my husband quite a bit about my changes in the past 3-4 years and he reckons, while those times in the decade or so beforehand when everything was tough (from a responsibility point of view and family worries) I have been able to re-emerge from that with new found joy for life and a confidence in myself that had been dormant even though I acted “as if”.

      It really does feel so much better within me to be finding what I am so grateful for and mostly I am grateful I have been able to make changes and shift my thinking after learning about myself from counselling and others.

      Long story, but I hope you can fathom where I am coming from too.

      Denyse

  11. Denyse you definitely get a big tick for self care. This is a lovely wrap up and reading it makes me realise that I should focus on self care more than I do. I love your positive attitude and am grateful that I’m able to read your words every Monday.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you so much Jennifer, I am glad that it’s helped you too. I reckon we are so immersed in keeping everyone else ticking along in our work and family lives that we neglect ourselves.

      It would be regarded as “selfish” wouldn’t it?

      The one thing we have going for us as I see it, in part or full retirement is we can choose. Choose to feel like we miss out or choose to change and take some care time for us.

      I am glad you find coming here is good. I love my community and want it to continue.

      Thanks Jennifer, for being a part of it.

      Denyse.

  12. “I am forever grateful my father championed me getting an academic education”

    This is worth remembering. It’s not that long ago that this is an exception, not the rule.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Yes so true, Vanessa. I consider that is fortunate but at the time I just went for it. I guess he could see I would make a good teacher and he encouraged it all.

      I have asked him recently. And he responded the same, it’s important and he also told me he reckons the women who were part of the office when he was Chief Accountant were much better and harder workers.

      Now, if ONLY he had not given us the advice for me to leave State Super because B was already a member….then, I would be on a very good pension as of now.

      At the time, in 1972 we were cutting it fine financially meeting our lifestyle as young parents living in the country and it seemed that would be a good plan to save another outgoing. Little did any of us know, “I” would end up going on for over 35 years as a career. No, they would not let me back in when we asked in 1985.

      Denyse.

  13. I love your gratitude list, Denyse. I once thought I would try to write a few things I was grateful for each day until I got to 1,000items. I got stalled out somewhere along the way, but it was still a good exercise, showing me how very much I have to be thankful for.

    I think most of us who have adult children have some things we would do differently if we had it to do over again. I know I do. The problem is that when we are raising children, we are young, stressed, and have many responsibilities. Looking back, we come from a space where we are older, more patient, and have fewer responsibilities and stressors.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much for your wise words Laurie.

      There is a word…”forgiveness” that draws me to it every time in one of the last songs in Hamilton and I dwell on it and the messages…for both myself and others.

      Gratitude lists are a good plan for sure…and I thought I did well getting to 100. However, the more we write on that list, the more we find to be grateful for and about.

      Denyse.

  14. What a great wrap- up! You sound like you are well taking care of ALL aspects of yourself. I find that as my boys age and become so self- sufficient it is getting easier to practice better self care.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you kindly Joanne.

      You make an excellent point about self-care …it is hard to prioritize when you are in “full on parenting” mode…and perhaps working out of home.

      Denyse.

  15. Sorry for late reply but that’s what I call a wrap! Love the gratitude list, think I’ll have to make one of those and can’t believe it’s been 5 years since you’re diagnosis – where does the time go? If it’s any consolation, I’m not yet in my sixth decade and I am getting terrible at remembering names. Being a teacher, name recall used to be my superpower but not anymore! I guess I’m not using it so I’m losing it!

    • Nah, Sammie, all good.

      I am in my 5th year of recovery….since diagnosis.

      Next May, 2022 will be 5 years. However, doing well so my head and neck surgeon has me having annual appointments.

      You have a LOT on your mind..so not losing it, just a wee bit full.

      Denyse