Tuesday 28th June 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #3. Katherine. 63/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #3. Katherine. 63/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

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

Let’s meet Katherine who is 35 or 36..


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

This is the second time I’ve been asked this question in four days. So I’ve had a bit of time to think about it. I don’t know if I could claim being courageous, but I’ve probably done my best impression of it a few times now. All the way back in 2008, I decided to quit my (then) stable job at a suburban newspaper to move to London. Up until then I’d only ever lived at home with my parents, so it was a bit of a leap to believing that I could function as an adult and look after myself in another country.

I returned from London a couple of years later and my mother was diagnosed with a single cell carcinoma around her stomach months later. I was working in Perth at the time and my family was in Sydney. I decided to take time off work and go home to help care for her over her last few months. That turned into a few years of living at home with dad after she passed away.

Then in 2015 it was time for a new beginning, so I packed up my stuff (ok, some of my stuff) and headed over to San Francisco for work, all on my lonesome. It was one of those decisions that changed the course of my life really. I’m about to marry (or depending on the timing of this post, have married) a Californian named Mike who I met at work here. Ed: this post is going live before “the wedding”


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

Moving to another country (or state) always reminds me that I can be self-sufficient and as independent as I feel like. I’ve become slightly more outgoing since moving away and having to build new friendships. It has made me much more organised, and more likely to say ‘yes’ to things that I was 98 per cent sure I wasn’t capable of. Because there’s always that 2 per cent chance that you’re selling yourself short.

My mother’s death changed me in many ways, that aren’t as fun to share. It made me feel directionless, alone even though I was surrounded by family, and hopeless. Like nothing would ever be the same and nothing I did would put my life back on a track that I could feel happy with. It seems trite to say that it made me realise everything I was going to miss without mum, and everything she was going to miss not being with us. It also changed me in the sense that I couldn’t stand the thought of falling in love, getting married, and dealing with the death of a partner. It took a long time to get over that.


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

I’ve written and erased this paragraph three times now. Everything sounds so trite and ‘more easily said than done’. I honestly don’t think there was anything I could tell someone going through the death of a loved one, because the experience really is different for everyone and it hits you in different ways. Saying that the raw pain will pass feels like diminishing that special person’s meaning to you. So I would say that therapy helped me process some of the guilt and anguish I was feeling. Distance yourself from those who are uncomfortable around you or creating drama at a time when you don’t need it. Focus on yourself and your family.


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

I am much more of the ‘go with the flow’ mindset now that I ever was before. If things work out the way I want them to, or had envisioned them, then I’m stoked. But if they don’t it’s just about adjusting my expectations, finding a new way of doing things, or accepting a new reality. There are lots of things looming in my future expat life that could definitely derail our plans – visa applications, work permits, superannuation and 401K accounts etc. But I’m not too worried about it all. If I’ve learned anything it’s that panicking is not going to solve a problem.


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

You’re a lot stronger than you think you are, you can handle situations far outside the scope of what you think you’re capable of. Break the situation down into smaller chunks so that you can process it all better and consider your reactions a little better.


Thank you for sharing your story, Katherine and Happy Wedding Day wishes sent yours and Mike’s way.


Here’s where to find Katherine on-line.

Blog/Website: https://www.brightlightsofamerica.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/krasf  

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://www.facebook.com/expatsintheusa/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anaussieinsf

If you would like to share your story of being a woman of courage* please let me know in the comments and I will email you. That would be great! *There are no men included as I  think we women do not talk or not write about our stories which is why I’ve  called the series: Women of Courage.

My story was here, then Sam’s is here and Megan’s is here.

Next week’s Woman of Courage is Debbie Harris. 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.



  1. I love Katherine’s mindset – and am a fan of her blog and Instagram account so thanks for including her in your series. What she’s done and how she’s dealt with it takes courage indeed.

    • Katherine is indeed a courageous and lovely person. Sure is wonderful to follow her and see what she has learned from her life choices.

      Denyse x

    • Thanks Joanne! That’s lovely of you to say about my blog and Instagram account! The feeling is mutual!

  2. Katherine, you have been through a lot in your short years. I can sense the strong person you have become and know that will serve you as you move forward.

    Denyse thanks for sharing these stories.

    • Katherine has indeed and which is why I was so pleased she agreed to be part of the series. I admit I placed her story here so we could wish her a Happy Wedding Day and Marriage beyond.

      Thank you Michele,

      Denyse x

    • Thanks so much Michele. Hopefully I can keep that attitude as I hit more hurdles. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. I’m a huge Kat fan – I love following her on her blog and on the socials and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her a few times in San Francisco. Her courage is really inspiring!

    • I thought you might be! Today, when she knew the blog was live, she messaged me that she would read it after picking up her Dad and Uncle from the airport. So much happening for her now with her wedding this weekend so this is also a tribute to her and wishing her & M all the best.

      Denyse x

    • Hahaha, I am also a huge fan of yours Sammie! I love that we’ve all met through Denyse and are able to support each other!

      • Isn’t that the best bit about blogging…connection on-line with friends…and then, the bonus of meeting up as you both have!!

        Denyse x

  4. Another courageous woman Denyse! I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Katherine and am now following her. Your series is really showing us how many different ways there are to be courageous and one size definitely doesn’t fit all! Best wishes for the wedding Katherine.

    Oh look who’s up next week!!!!

    • I am glad you are finding new people to follow via this series. I have been blessed to get to know many people from differing ages and interest groups thanks to blogging and social media from a long way back.

      I look forward to publishing your story!

      Denyse x

    • Thanks for following me Debbie! I’ll have to have a read of your post once I’m finished here 🙂

  5. Katherine, I’m fortunate in never having lost anyone I truly care about. It must have been awful nursing and then losing your Mum at such a young age and to not have her there for your wedding and to see any future grandchildren. I’m also impressed with your willingness to move States and countries – much braver than me!
    Hi Denyse – thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Sometimes, I reply not for Katherine but as me, we can do ‘the hard or brave things’ as I well know.

      We may not “think” we can but we can.

      I agree, Katherine has been incredibly courageous. I remember just getting to know her via a private FB group we were in 4 years ago on the cusp of this trip to the US. She dealt with a lot to be able to go there. I am in awe of her.

      When I knew I had cancer, and finally let people know via a blog post, within a few days a magnificent care package turned up for me from Katherine. So thoughtful and caring.

      Denyse x

    • I think Denyse is totally right, sometimes we can do the difficult things that we have to do.

      I am a bit of a travel nut so moving overseas doesn’t really feel “brave” to me, just exciting… and maybe sometimes a little scary if I’m honest.

      Thanks for your comment Leanne 🙂

  6. Hi Katherine it is great to connect with you and like you my Mum and Dad both died from cancer well over 30 years ago. At the time with Dad I was about to have my first child so it was quite stressful losing Dad, looking after Mum and preparing for a new baby the next month. You are right that no one can really tell someone what it is like to lose a loved one. However, we all do have an inner strength that seems to come to the fore during these times. Also congratulations on having the courage to move to another country – what a huge change for you. Thanks Denyse for another interesting and inspiring Woman of Courage. #lovinlifelinky

    • Katherine is pretty excited (and highly likely nervous) right now as her family arrives from Australia for the wedding.

      When she gets a chance she will be here to reply…..

      I hope she waits till after her honeymoon!!

      Denyse x

    • I’m so sorry about your Mum and Dad Sue, that must have been so devastating for you. Especialy with the mixed emotions that a new baby brings after experiencing your mother’s death. I take my hat off to you, I can’t imagine being able to cope with all of that at once.

  7. Thanks for sharing Denyse and Katherine! I can relate to the ‘picking up and moving’ cos I’ve done it a few times myself. It’s hard to leave everything behind and start afresh but I guess in my case it’s been because the scariness of what’s coming feels like a better option than staying stagnant.

    I’m lucky to still have my mum nowadays and I know it’ll be hard once she’s gone as I suspect I’ll feel really untethered. I’m no longer really that close (in that intimate / family way) to my brother and his family and don’t have a partner or kids of my own so I think that will hit home and just something I’ll deal with when the time comes.

    • Katherine’s life has some parallels for you I can see. Moving around the world for fulfilling roles overseas is amazing.

      I do hope, on a personal note for you, that way before Mum does die, you will have made some connections which help you navigate a difficult path.

      Sending love

      Denyse x

    • You’re so right Deborah, moving can be exciting but also scary since you’re really beginning again with a lot of aspects of your life. Do you feel settled where you are now?

  8. Thanks so much for introducing us to Katherine, Denyse! Having lost my Dad only 17 months ago, I can relate very much to a lot of what she wrote. I haven’t ever moved to another country to live though! All the very best for your wedding Katherine. I hope it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed it to be and more! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Thanks Min. I am sure your kind words will resonate with Katherine.

      She is a very generous blogger and has social media accounts for expat life and more.

      When this post went live yesterday, she was at the airport at SanFran waiting for her Dad and Uncle to get off their plane from Australia for the wedding.

      Once her honeymoon is over, I think she might pop back here to comment too.

      Denyse x

    • Hi Min, I’m so sory to hear about your father, it can really be tough to feel like you’re “moving on” so to speak, even though at times you don’t want to “move on”.
      Thanks so much for your kind words, we had a gorgeous wedding and loved every second of it.

  9. Hi Denyse and Katherine, I am meeting you through #MLSTL. Thank you Denyse for sharing Katherine with us. A very poignant, yet uplifting story. I cannot imagine how difficult it is for you to lose your Mother and then to try and articulate your feelings and the lessons. Your story is helpful and I appreciate your cantor. A have 2 daughters and when they went out on their own we used the phrase “the school of life.” You have already had many beginnings and there is a lot of good ahead for you:) Erica

    • Katherine’s story really is at the heart of being courageous. I hope, once she is married and after her honeymoon she pops back to see everyone’s comments.

      She is such a kind person who, even without our meeting IRL, is someone I call ‘friend.’

      Thank you for your wise and caring words.

      Denyse x

    • Hi Erica, Thanks so much for your message! I’m back from honeymooning and trying to get into “normal” life again. It was nice to hear about your two daughters and the “school of life”. When I moved out I felt like I was constantly calling home for advice and to ask questions!

  10. Very interesting comment on the people trying to cause drama at these difficult moments. There is always one at least. Very, very weird. But maybe that’s how their grief is manifesting. I love the advice to break it into little chunks. I 100% agree. It is definitely a time to stay in the moment and not ‘race ahead’ with the unknown or possibile outcomes. #OpenSlather

    • People often only see the ‘drama’ from their perspective because they are caught by their own fears and anxieties.

      I was like this (and still can be but I know better how to get out from under it) for all of my life at my worst in terms of worry and fear.

      I take a lot from my cancer story as I can see people do from being courageous in circumstances when they are scared.

      Thank you Lydia for your insight. I always appreciate your words.

      Denyse x

    • I volunteer for a charity that supports parents who have lost children, and one of the mothers was saying to me a few months ago that she had to block out those who were “causing drama” and it really resonated with me. Because when you’re going through such a difficult time in your own life, you really have to concentrate on getting through the day, and blocking out all of those extraneous things that don’t help.

  11. Hello Katherine! It’s been ages since I visited your blog. It was always a fave of mine. Will get over there soon! Come join our linky of a Thursday so I can remember to visit you each week. Love your stuff.

    Can definitely relate to what you’ve written about here. Definitely. xoxo Much love to you my old bloggy friend (well, not so old …)

    • Katherine is getting married this weekend!

      It’s been wonderful having her be part of the series.

      I asked her to consider not coming here to comment till life settles down again…maybe!

      Thanks Leanne, your words are very kind.

      Denyse x

    • I need more time in every day to join all the linkys and keep writing blogs as well as working. Or maybe I need one of those time spinners that Hermoine had in one of the Harry Potter books.

      Love to you Leanne too xx I don’t mind being called old 😀

  12. I love reading others stories. I love Katherines advice, it resonates with me so much, as I sometimes forget to look after me first when I am not feeling strong.

    • It is hard isn’t it? The reason we need to care for us ourselves is I guess we’d be waiting a long time for someone else to! It does seem to go with the territory.

      I am glad you are enjoying these stories as am I!

      Denyse x

    • I think that’s the most difficult part, because sometimes you end up feeling selfish if you’re looking after yourself. But you can’t properly take care of anyone else if you’re not looking after yourself as well. Thanks for reading Alicia!

  13. And a HUGE thank you to you as well Denyse, for starting this series, having lots of inspiring guests, and just generally being your usual supportive self xx

    • Thanks my lovely SF friend…and so happy you could pop back to see the lovely words. Sending love and appreciation for our friendship too.

      Denyse x