Saturday 21st May 2022

Self Care Stories#4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories #4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories are a regular feature on the optional prompts selection for Life This Week, occurring at 7 week intervals. Keeping myself accountable to me…and for your interest as readers and commenters is what my posts are about. I am also doing my best to respond under a few of my chosen categories.

Every 7th week

Covid 19 and Lockdown.

At the time of writing this post, where we live is included in a lockdown for two weeks. Of the school holidays! Grrr. No family visits. However, I am not one to be annoyed for too long these days and am grateful that we are both fully vaxxed against Covid, I had a Covid test because of a slight sore throat and it was negative. I gave myself a project/challenge to do for the lockdown period and here is a group of the photos. I hope you are well wherever you are living right now.


I have gone back to being more regular at writing some things to be grateful for each day.

I am also noticing that if I have some days which do not feel so agreeable emotionally, when I call on gratitude I can do a pretty quick change of pace and attitude.

It surprises me how much I remember this now, so I guess I am integrating it better than I thought.

Health and Mindfulness.

I never need a reminder to be considerate of my mindfulness practice as doing a Calm meditation each morning, the Daily Calm, then ending my day with the Daily Trip, pays me dividends each day. I have now completed over 555 days in a row. This image from that day.  Not all days have an original meditation but that’s OK too…and why it’s called practice. We keep on doing it to learn.



And add to that practice is my art and playing with materials creatively.

Photography Shared.

There is no doubt about it, for me, have an eye into the world around me and using my iphone to capture it gives me so much joy each day.

When I review the photos I am kind in my self talk and I now have a pretty good photographer’s eye. Thanks to lessons way back in Sydney, AND now having a wonderful iphone ProMax 11. 3 lenses!

I also am glad I took so many photos and movies (little vids on the phone) of our grandchildren when we cared for them and when they had little holidays with us. Those days have passed now but my husband and I do enjoy some reminiscing and it’s a great time we share(d) together.

Mind you, we have few ‘easy to access’ memories of the pre-iphone times of the older grandkids, and I must, at some stage, get a quote on having some old video cassettes converted. We do have photos in albums, but listening and looking at the fun the get up to is priceless.

This is from a recent post. I only just noticed the HEART shape in the tree.

Stories About Ageing.

I am old(er) than I was. Ha! That is a fact.

I am more accepting of some of the physical changes happening to my skin  that cannot be “fixed” but can be better cared for, so I have some good quality sunscreen, moisturiser with tint to wear every day.

And, I am remembering more to actually add some moisturiser to my scaly legs. And I have some hormonal cream to use as well. Not stating the obvious  about where it’s applied.

My hairdresser and I agree my ‘thinning’ hair has stopped and we put it down to the 5 anaesthetics in 2020 as did my G.P. but it is still a part of ageing so I will be grateful for what I have. Brilliant hairdresser who does such a symmetrical and pleasing haircut every 4 weeks.

We are also getting to enjoy life as older married people. By that I mean we actually LOVE the times we are having now. Not 100% concerned with work anymore, care of little kids, worried about family members…we are loving and living our life mindfully each day. Lots of laughs, time for solo interests and shared time each evening talking and relaxing after our day.

We had morning tea out again recently, before lockdown, and used the NSW Government Dine Out Vouchers.

Neither of us can manage a meal out anymore so morning tea is ideal. As we have aged – and it’s not just my post oral cancer restrictions, we eat smaller portions.

Relevance is something I think about these days. Back in years of education, I had a title. I knew my role. I did it well. However, I am retired from that role as a school principal. But I am still relevant to my friends and colleagues via social media and in real life. This image of me here with a colleague at a Sydney primary school is when I was Relieving Principal there. Now, over 22 years later, someone I have known in school education since 2013 is the newly appointed principal. I am so proud of him. He’s invited me to visit too once Covid is calmer!

What I Wore.

Goodness me, it has been a long time for one of these. I have stopped doing daily photos but every so often I might ask my husband to take one.

I know now, and this might sound weird, but bear with me….that I actually look ok.

I used to scour my daily photos for ‘what’s wrong’ and that is/was a problem for me.

I have had to accept that whilst I may not like my large upper arms and my double chins, they are are much a part of me ..right now…as my hazel eyes, and great nose and ears.

To pick on parts of my body is something I am doing all I can to reduce. I am never dieting again. I am accepting that I have actually remained around the same weight now for almost 3 years. I still “can’t” believe this at times but each of my clothes tells me that’s correct.

I am a work in progress here. I am proud that I can let the voice of criticism go much more than I ever could.

Word of The Year.

Well… leaving best to last is a good plan.

I smile most days a great deal.

In fact of course I have reasons to smile.

I am well.

I am alive.

But mostly, I smile to connect and communicate with others.

And my reconstructed top lip looks much better as a smile!

That’s my self care post done.

How is your self care progressing?


Link Up #248

Life This Week. Link Up #248

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  1. I feel like I should’ve written on self-care because goodness knows I am struggling with that right now given lockdown and seemingly no end in sight. As always, I enjoy reading about your self-care strategies and am always pleased to see gratitude feature in that. I must admit, even though I do my weekly gratitude post, I haven’t been diligent and writing it daily like I used to pre-Covid. Maybe that’s part of my problem now. Maybe I do need to make a concentrated effort on tracking it again every night. Hope you have a good week ahead, Denyse

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Yes. Sanch, gratitude is a GIFT and I need tor remember I have it …even on the not so great days. I don’t need to write it out either as just recounting one thing can shift my inner thinking and feeling.

      I set little challenges for me because I like that sense of achievement but I also need to know when it becomes onerous and stop. The writing in a kind of journal on line each day helps me as does doing a daily IG post.

      Blogging of course is a great connecting tool for me and I am so glad you and I met firstly as bloggers!

      Thank you for your kind comments.

  2. Your self-care posts are always a reminder to me about self-care – and then I get into the business of the day job and completely forget again! I truly need to make a concentrated effort. Truly.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Jo.

      I see your morning walks, beach photos and coffee before going back home to “the day job” as self care! Give yourself greater credit…!

      Take care,


  3. Your methods are so inspiring. Wish I could follow as meticulously as you do.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Dear Shiju, that is very kind but it’s taken me a dose of cancer and a greater appreciation of what is important to get me to this age 71.

      I was not nearly as diligent about self care when working full time and raising a family.

      Take care,


  4. Well done and keep up your good self-care, Denyse. I also take good care of myself because my health is my priority. Have a great week ahead.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Natalie.

      You are an excellent example of self care done right.

      It’s taken me quite a while to reach this point and I am in my 70s now…but indeed I am grateful for that too.


  5. So many positives there but I love the last one that you are at peace with your appearance in photos. I think that’s such a shift for people (women in particular but maybe I just don’t ask enough men). Your comment about meals out worries me. I wonder if I have that coming my way? (Not yet! Better make the most of it once out of lockdown!!! 😉

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Lydia, you have been a loyal reader and follower and can pick up my shifts of behaviour too.

      I still get “wobbly” about how I look at times and then I let the thought go, saying to myself “I look pretty darned good for what I have been through and I am over 70”

      The eating out thing is something that evolves. My 97 yo Dad would concur. As we age we literally cannot eat the quantities we used too. Sometimes I recall dinner parties we held and attended and there were always three courses, then something with coffee afterwards.

      By all means enjoy what you have and can now but be prepared over time, that things change.

      I know lockdown challenges you a lot, but hope that this being our second ‘not great one’ you can adapt and pivot with greater ease.

      Take care,


  6. You really are inspiring Denyse, and as always honest! I understand the looking at photos seeing what’s wrong rather than what’s right, but I’m also getting better at acceptance too. That smile photo that B took at morning tea is just so gorgeous and your personality shines through 🙂
    I’ve shared a message from a recent #treesquare post all about hanging in there – for all of us in NSW!!!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh Debbie, you can always make me feel better with your kind and generous comments too.

      I decided at my age (I am owning it now I am over 70) it was TIME to let go of seeking whatever it was appearance wise and being content to be as well and as relatively fit as I am now.

      Doing comparisons does our heads in, right?

      Thank you for sharing your post, to hang in there. This lockdown is needed & should have been like this from day one. Messages are being political rather than for health reasons….grrrr.

      Take care,

      • I received a lovely little package today Denyse, many thanks to you! I agree this lockdown should have been much better organised from the start. Goodness knows how long it will go on for now. Take care x

        • Denyse Whelan says:

          Oh good to know it arrived! Yes, this is not great news about Covid & I have my fingers crossed for you to get to see the family as hoped,


  7. Hi Denyse, I’m so sorry you’re in an extended lockdown at the moment. Thank goodness you have the company of your husband, your art to keep you occupied, and your online connections. I’m also very glad you’re both fully vaccinated as that is a huge relief at the moment. Awesome to read that you’re accepting of how you look and not picking out the faults. Well done to you! That’s an area that I need to improve on. Your commitment to meditation and mindfulness is admirable too. I have let this slip, same with practicing gratitude. I seem to get so caught up in the jobs that need to be done each day and now my 100 day art project (though that does provide some self care & mindfulness come to think of it) that the days pass by before I know it. I hope that you have a good week, despite being in lockdown!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Min. That is a very kind and generous comment.

      You’ve known me via these posts for a long time and know that I have to make conscious choices about what I give attention to.

      It’s been a challenge to let go of “appearance” because in my post early HNC days, it was my look of being so much lighter than I am now, that I was proud of. Sadly, that was also because i could not eat much. I have now put on quite a few kilos but have not really changed much in the past 1-2 years so with my husband’s and GP’s words ringing in my ears, I have accepted “THIS” is how I look and it is fine. No more weighing because I was using that as a benchmark even though intellectually I knew it was wrong.

      Your 100 day project is commendable.

      I did one like it as a challenge for 2016 when I needed distraction from my anxiety and it helped. It was over 400 mandalas over the course of more than 12 months. However, when it became a chore rather than something i enjoyed, I stopped.

      Take care, and like most things, your gratitude practices and your mindfulness ones will serve you well again when you are ready.


  8. These lockdowns are so awful for many, many people but it’s terrifying to see how this latest outbreak has taken hold in Sydney. Let’s hope the government can sort out vaccine supply and the distribution one day soon so we can be thoroughly vaccinated as a community. I agree with your comment about photography – so much of it is about having a good eye and being able to see a frame or a story. I’m obsessed with it.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      They are indeed. I am seeing images (still!) today of people in Sydney still out and about whilst we are taking all the rules seriously…

      Glad of course to be fully immunised and I think that for many is also adding to the frustrations.

      I sure do hope things improve as so much of life as we enjoy it is not happeing everywhere.

      Loved your comment about the photography!!

      Take care Christine,


  9. You always inspire me with your self care posts and I think you’ve nailed it with the last two – smiling (and more importantly, finding something to smile about) and liking yourself. I think we are all our own worst critic and need to let the voice of criticism go! I think lockdown has been a blot on the landscape for many of us but I keep reminding myself that this too shall pass! Stay safe, keep well and have a great week xx

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Sammie that is a very encouraging comment and I will take it!!

      Yes to being own self critic. I am having a bit of day of it today…and knowing I can let it gooooooo.

      Glad you are home.

      Take care, been a rather HUGE past few months for you emotionally.


  10. Your self care posts always remind me that as I’m ageing I should put more care into self care. I do love your attitude towards your self care. You’ve inspired me to put more thought into my self care. I can identify with you in looking at photos of myself to see what’s wrong. This is why you will rarely see photos of me on my blog. This is still a struggle for me.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      I understand exactly what you mean about the self care and ageing but the way I had to change was in my thinking. Easy to say, harder to do.

      Jennifer, I have had to remind myself of my appreciation to be well and to embrace what I have now. It continues to be an internal struggle at times but now I recognise it for what it is. A lie.

      Be kind to yourself…you make sure you fitness/physical is going well so maybe you could think about your inner self too…Take care,


  11. Hi Denyse, what a shame you are back in lockdown. I hope the situation in NSW doesn’t keep escalating. I’m so happy you and your husband are fully vaccinated.
    Reminding ourselves of what we are grateful for is definitely a great self care activity. Especially on those days we are unhappy. Also, looking back at how far we have come on our journey. You take it one step further by making a photo journal – taking photos of yourself even when you had had surgery. I admire you for that. It’s an inspiration for anyone going through a similar surgery.
    Take care, Christina

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks so much Christina.

      I know you understand more than others what it can be for a head and neck cancer patient in recovery.

      Do offer my blog’s posts if anyone is interest. I leave them together at the top of my blog’s page for people to find easily.

      Sadly, with lockdown being here, it is unlikely we will be able to do any face to face fundraising which includes Soup for the Soul.

      I had a look back today at some pics of my leg (where my bone and flesh was harvested) and am glad that everything went well but we sure are “messy and meaty” under the skin aren’t we!!

      Take care,


  12. This post is unintentional good timing for my post today haha. Trying to jump back into things after a few weeks of being too unwell.

  13. Hi Denyse – well overall it sounds like you’re keeping on top of things and finding lots of ways to manage any stress that heads your way. I passed on two of your bookmarks to the grandgirls (I let them choose) and they were very pleased to take them home with them. It’s lovely that you share your art with those around you. Things here are very wet and miserable – big storm front coming through today and I have to go out to the dentist in a few hours – hoping the worst is gone by then – fingers crossed!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh that is so lovely that your granddaughters took home a book mark each. Sweet!

      I do hope Leanne, by the time you read this comment that your dentist visit is done and weather was OK for travelling. I guess you have seen both sides of being at the dentist. I wonder which one you prefer!!

      Thanks for your kind words. I remain a work in progress…

      Take care,

  14. I enjoyed reading your post. It reminded me I need to take photos more often! I’m trying to use one of my own photos on my weekly posts and yes, this week, I had nothing. I am trying to do regular self-care – planning (and doing) friend connections, daily gratitude journaling, eating more fruit, and getting a monthly massage are a few things I am accomplishing lately!

    • That sounds like you are going well in self care Patricia.

      I like the eating more fruit too. It’s hard for me to do so with my reconstructed mouth but I miss fruit so try to get something into me that is suitable each day.

      I am sure the photo taking will happen.

      So much already in your life is changing! And for the good on many levels I suspect.


  15. I do feel like the practice of gratitude and living mindfully gets easier over time. I too have learned to stop picking apart photos of myself and just be thankful for the healthy body that I have.

    • Ah Joanne, that sounds so good. I like how that what you notice about yourself is changing to the positive side of the thinking.

      Take care,


  16. Your beautiful smile makes me smile!!
    I have been in a blue funk for a while. I get better but then I slip back into questioning what I am supposed to be doing now. What is my purpose? Like you said about your career in education, I knew what I was supposed to do when I was a librarian. And I like that structure. I think that is part of what is missing. My days are always different and many are upside own.
    Your index cards are little words of art. I think you should buy a few easels to display your favorites. You could change them out now and then.
    I have about filled my third gratitude journal in as many years. Time to shop for a new one. Or maybe I will just use a cheap notebook. Stopping for a moment to think of my many, many blessings does chase the funk away.

    • Oh Leslie, I hear you on the mood shifts.

      Even though I wrote this post with a general view that things were improving for me in many ways and that included looking at myself in a mirror or photo with far less negative thinking, it all popped back at the same time.

      For me, when I get like that, I try to “allow” it and then not pay it too much attention by getting distracted and into something else. A wise woman Dr Claire Weekes, wrote about anxiety thus “allow time to pass”. It’s true. Often that is exactly what happens.

      As far as relevance and now being retired from my work life, I remain interested and supportive of those who are family and friends in education and that helps me stay connected. I do, because I am proud of it, use the descriptor Retired (Ret) K-6 Principal because it’s true. I think when our careers were such a part of our lives we can view them as being within us forever.

      Take care, I am so glad to read about your gratitude journalling and being ready for a new one!
      I do keep my ICAD cards for a while and leave them about. Then I tidy up. I regret in some ways not keeping them all. However I have a lot of my art memories in lovely A5 Moleskin books.