Friday 27th May 2022

What Am I Reading/Listening To For ‘What’s On My Bookshelf’ May 2022? 33/2022.

What Am I Reading/Listening To For ‘What’s On My Bookshelf’ May 2022? 33/2022

 “What’s On Your Bookshelf?”

Thanks to Jo, Deb, Sue and Donna who host this.

What Am I Reading/Listening To Lately?

Quite a mix but then again on careful analysis, the topics and themes of my reading/listening are quite similar.

I am curious about life and its many challenges, how we age and human behaviour generally, so this is my update.

And this time round, I have included links to podcasts that are related to the books as they have been an integral part of my experience.

My reading/listening habits:

  • every day some listening is in the car thanks to Audible and any CDs I have for a book
  • every day, usually in the time between evening meal and doing to bed, I put on a podcast as I create something art-wise
  • every night, at the end of my TV/Netflix/DVD viewing or social media, I take a page or three and read it from one the books here beside my bed.
  • Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron is SUCH a challenge but I am really softening in my acceptance and understanding. With 108 (same numbers as on a counting necklace or string in some buddhist traditions) there are 1-2 pages of tightly but well said words to challenge and take in. I first read this BEFORE my cancer diagnosis in 2017 and struggled but now, some 5 years on, coupled with my own practices, I am better attuned to the teachings.
  • Trusting the Gold by Tara Brach is a dip in and dip out little book of wisdom gleaned from her life experiences. She tells of all her perceived human failings and understanding in a self deprecating way but with self compassion. Tara’s voice is a favourite of mine from her other books which of course I have! And she is now hosting some meditations and sleep stories on Calm.

I like variety and that I can choose!

Atlas of the Heart. Brene Brown.

Atlas of the Heart.

Well..here’s the thing, I have the book, I have the Audible version and I have listened to podcasts with Brene Brown and others.

I am overwhelmed .

I thought I could tandem read and listen.

No. I thought I could just listen…not really. I think it’s partly to do with how HUGE this content is and it would be Brene herself who would admit to it.

I have become a Binge (pay tv) subscriber just to watch the series she made for US on HBO. So far, one episode in, and she is in teaching mode with an audience and I like it a lot.

I now feel over time, it will be more like a dip in and out of experience for me..and the book is freaking heavy to hold!!

Oprah’s SuperSoul:

Atlas of the Heart with Brene Brown

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0tc4spLul60Bh1eTtXOe2W?si=2L7Z7yguSiSglUlYdUIInA

Watching in Australia:

https://binge.com.au/shows/show-brene-brown-atlas-of-the-heart!14634

 

The Space Between The Stars by Indira Naidoo.

I enjoyed this book but it was not a huge new life lesson for me. The story, told eloquently by Indira, a well-known ABC Australia figure, as part love story to her sister and family, and how nature, particularly one tree in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens helped her immensely, was a light read in many ways with some great lessons for love, dying and appreciation of the green, nature and trees all around us. I admit, I saw trees differently after starting the book.

 

With The End in Mind and Listen by Dr Kathryn Mannix.

I freely admit it, I am a huge fan of Dr Mannix’s work. We have connected via social media too. Her work history as a doctor in the UK, eventually took her down the career path into palliative care and following her retirement she went onto help more people.  Now in a career helping train others and be a counsellor in CBT: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, she IS the doctor I would love caring for me or a family member.

Whilst that cannot happen, her words, so generously share on this podcast as great indicators that the world of those who are facing end of life, and death are being cared for much better as a result of this person’s work and that of many. In no way is this work done, but the conversations (Listen is an EXCELLENT book for any challenging conversation, not all about death/sickness)

I started with these books on Audible and now have the actual copies to refer to (see my ‘post its’ and book mark! Dr Kathryn Mannix is on Facebook too.

In finding her on this podcast (highly recommend it too) I have added links to both of her chats with Andrew G Marshall.

The Meaningful Life Podcast. Andrew G Marshall

Dr Kathryn Mannix with Andrew G Marshall

With the End In Mind

https://open.spotify.com/episode/1DYFG8fc9u0RgLh6n34OV7?si=cf53d51198c644f4

The Meaningful Life

Dr Kathryn Mannix with Andrew G Marshall

Listen

https://open.spotify.com/episode/29ichQxYdBvDZt4r3M1jfj?si=78fec487852240ab

 

 

The Inner Work of Age. Shifting from Role to Soul. Dr Connie Zweig.

Now, regular readers know I am doing what I can to learn more about ageing…for me to accept the inevitabilities and to enjoy some of the riches it brings and self-discovery. I first found Dr Connie Zweig’s work by accident or maybe I was meant to…and first listened to her words via Audible. It is via a podcast with Andrew G Marshall I found her work of even greater interest and have now bought the physical book.

I will be reading it over a fairly lengthy period I think as there are activities to do to delve more deeply into the ‘inner me’. Might even be a blog post one time as well.

Role to Soul: Dr Connie Zweig with Andrew G Marshall

https://open.spotify.com/episode/5U4L77vQp5RQ6fFGwux3Ye?si=dd7025da63804196

 

Ten Steps To Nanette. Hannah Gadsby.

 

Now, I am just learning more about Hannah Gadsby through listening to her book. What a listen. And a huge number of life challenges have certainly occurred for Hannah. Rather than me share more, I have included a clip from the promotion for her show “Nanette” which is still on Netflix and explains so much about “her story” and its title. I have also included one podcast where Hannah is in conversation with Glennon Doyle.

Hannah Gadsby with Glennon Doyle

We Can Do Hard Things

https://open.spotify.com/episode/6cVlrd5mRHdx5AlFJyXRAG?si=ec00322afca64866

From Netflix:

And for this month…that’s it! Photo following is of me in front of our family room bookshelf..made by my dear husband.

What have you been reading, and/or listening to in May?

Denyse.

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About Mother’s Day. 30/2022.

About Mother’s Day. 30/2022.

 

I am writing about Mother’s Day. If you believe you might be triggered by the content please proceed carefully. This is just one woman’s story. Mine.

Today as I write, tomorrow, Sunday 8 May 2022, will be Mother’s Day here in Australia and other countries which celebrate this in May too.

It’s a day that can be fraught with sadness, dosed with some anger and maybe even some fear, and using the words from those who sell flowers, chocolates and cards, perhaps some manufactured affection.

And for some it can be full of love, appreciation and gratitude to show the mother in your life something of the way you feel about her.

In my case, Mum died over 15 years ago, and it has taken me around the past two years or so to really understand and appreciate the love and care she had for me ….because I was far too busy being concerned about external pressures (Hello Dad) to make Mother’s Day what I was told from a very early age what it was about. And I miss being able to share my thoughts with her now as a result. Tell people what you want to share before they die!

We Didn’t Know This Would Be Mum’s Last Mother’s Day…..2006.

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves can be not only damaging but untrue. I know!

In my now much, ahem, wiser years, I wanted to write about what has changed for me.

My Mother.

She lived a very challenging life as a young woman in a two generation household with her own Mum caring for her three as well as her brother’s two after their Mum died. Mum married Dad in 1946 and faced many difficult times but conquered a lot. She always was a mother who was present and after school it was great to come home to a home cooked afternoon tea. I wrote about Mum (Noreen) and her mother (Vera), and my Aunty (Poppy) as well as my Dad’s Mum (Etta) here as part of Women of Courage. 

Since chatting to Dad (who has an amazing memory) in the past year or so, I learned a lot about Mum’s courage. She was also deaf for most of her adult life. She used to be the most caring grandmother and enjoyed seeing 3 of her great grandchildren arrive. Mum was impeccable in her dress and her ability to make people feel at ease when entertaining. This from an anxious woman was remarkable. I am learning, and have already, to soften any negativity about Mum and my memories as I realise she was expressing some fears and concerns she had for me, from a position of LOVE.

About Me Being a Mother.

Truly, I won’t make this long. I have written about it here: Telling My Story about our daughter’s arrival in our lives, and then here, in Telling My Story about our son and his longed for arrival. I admit it was hard becoming a mother so quickly in my first year of marriage and I was not built to stay at home. Fortunately I could always secure great child care for both the kids. To have our son was a battle for fertility which was won.

Our daughter on my shoulders…

Our son’s early days.

How I View Myself as a Mother.

I am a hard judge brought up by one. Dad. So, I do give myself somewhat of a hard time about some aspects of my relationship with our children growing up. And once they were grown and had left home. I admit I was, by dint of personality and my life, someone who tried to help far too much when not asked and in fact, could be bossy and I know, NOW, how that was for my kids and for that I am sorry. They already know this. I do know that I love them and want the best for them.

We live away from them and their families and see them infrequently but they are always in my thoughts and I wish them well, every single day as they make their lives work for them and their children…

Becoming a Grandmother.

Over 25 years ago, this event changed my life and the way I love another human who is related to me forever. I was so fortunate to have days and nights helping care for almost all of our now eight grandchildren and this is memorable.

I remember meeting each on on the days/nights of their births. Such a joy and privilege to be “Grandma”.

So, why write this today?

To ease the burden I have held for far too long of expectations around “Mother’s Day”…

it can be such a great and casual time or it can be a mishmash of other emotions. Right now, before I press publish, I am hoping to have a phone call or face time with each of our kids on Mother’s Day but if it doesn’t happen it’s OK too. Their lives are FULL of responsibilities. They know I love them and I know they love me.

My tribute to Mum, and Being a Mum and Grandma is this collage:

Middle shot is Mum, holding my hand in around 1952, with her Mum (Nanny to me) admonishing someone in the background.

Left collage is of our son, right collage our daughter, and bottom is the wonderful family photo I got for my 70th Birthday.

Bottom left, is Mum holding our son in 1979 and Bottom right is Mum with our daughter’s first child.

Happy Mother’s Day to Me….and all the Mums I know who wish to celebrate and commemorate being a Mother.

On Monday my post is about a Mother’s Day in 2017 where I was one very worried woman.

Take care,

Denyse.

 

 

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“Being Me” Was Hard in March! #WOTY Review. 20/2022.

“Being Me” Was Hard in March! #WOTY Review. 20/2022.

So, as regular readers know I chose “be me” as my guiding words in 2022.

From end of February celebrating B’s Birthday and using money from NSW Govt…for dining in at a favourite morning tea place.

I guess that IS the ultimate challenge for me, to “be myself” especially in my life where I knew how to be:

  • a daughter
  • a wife
  • a mother
  • a teacher
  • a grandmother
  • a carer
  • a volunteer
  • a patient
  • a blogger
  • a friend

But, left to be on my own I realised late last year when I became unwell, that perhaps I needed to be “me” just “me” ….being, rather than doing…..

Doing was what I knew well.

Being is actually much harder.

Having an inner conversation with me is like this:

so, what’s happening today? I don’t know, I find it hard to just ‘be’ when I want to ‘do’.

And the answer often lies somewhere in the middle of both doing and being…of course…but I still have to tame my old (very) tendencies to:

  • rescue others
  • take care of something for someone
  • go out and find items at the shops
  • do something useful ….with a product such as a meal/cake/gift for someone

As they say, and I have too, I remain a “work-in-progress”.

So far I know I am getting closer to “being me” when I feel less stressed about having to be somewhere I chose not to be anymore.

In fact, even though my people pleasing is still pretty prominent at least I recognise it and can actual say to myself “no, I don’t do that anymore”

I’ve really had to be far more truthful in how some of my past overdoing behaviours have affected me.

It might sound trite but I am now doing far less of any potential organising for anyone or anything.

I know I could. I always did. But now, I am leaving it up to others. If asked, then I may indeed be part of what is happening or:

drum roll, please:

I

CAN

SAY

NO,

thank you,

without any further explanation.

I did some of my self-care things but we were also in a very rain affected part of N.S.W. so staying home was safe. I ventured out a couple of times:

But wait there is more. 

Over the past month my resilience has faltered.

I have been over-tired (but over-wired) and not sleeping well on some nights

I sensed a familiar feeling inside and I remembered it from LONG ago and it felt like:

Burn out…work overload…as it affected me twenty years ago. Chapter here from Telling My Story.

I have been teary.

Impatient.

Unsure about things I am normally confident about.

Quick to respond angrily.

I went to the Psychologist I have seen before and off-loaded but she didn’t mention burn out (that came later from me speaking with B) but she did mention overwhelm and uncertainty and …tah dah….the last 2 years….Wrote about them too. Here and here..

  • But, the ONE aspect I could admit to during my visit was the scare I got (viscerally) when my brother let me know 98 yo Dad had been taken to hospital. It was “only” a two night stay in the end but to a man like my Dad, it gave him quite a scare, as it did us…and his homecoming, via my brother, was on the most awful day of the rains flooding streets in the Northern Beaches right where they had to drive to get Dad back to Dee Why and my brother back to Narrabeen up the road. It was OK. In the end. But, it gave me added anxiety about the “next steps” with Dad and how I might manage emotionally. I am fortunate too, to have skills these days and to have my counsellor-trained husband.

 

  • After that experience and talking it through I could see I really needed to keep up my self-care and my time out in nature (once she settled down) and try to retain some of my more balanced life choices.

 

  • That kind of worked but I was still feeling the short fuse, and it happened after a couple of health visits where I knew I was over thinking and trying to over control what was happening at these visits …..and I couldn’t overcome how I was.

So, I let time pass. That hard thing to do.

But I did, and then over time, because that’s how it works for me, I could distance myself from how I had behaved and see that what I was trying to do was come to terms with more health issues and how HARD it is to do that after the past 5+ years of dealing with cancer.

Sometimes I forget my health past….

It is hard being me at times….

So, I backed off my inner pressure person (the teacher, the one in charge, the perfectionist if you will) and let myself grieve.

I grieved for what had happened to me in so many different health procedures and more…and how I had to hold myself strong to manage to get through it all….and I cried.

I could see that I was now tired.

And I am also in my early 70s. Ageing brings its own and different challenges.

I am using self-compassion to BE me more than ever.

In fact, I wrote about it here, and am keeping myself honest and planning to share an aspect of my self compassion over 30 days of April. More here.

I made a little set of reminder boards here and they sit right within my eye-line at the computer.

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

hosted by friends Deb, Sue,  Donna and  Jo too.

You too can join in, clicking on one the above links:

Look for this image, and add your post.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I certainly send my good wishes to you all.

Denyse.

 

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Grieving For My Body’s Losses from Head & Neck Cancer. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 10/2022.

Grieving For My Body’s Losses from Head & Neck Cancer. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 10/2022.

CW: images from my head and neck cancer.

This post talks about my grief and trauma before and following my cancer diagnosis.

There are images that may be confronting.

 

Links and phone contacts are here:

https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-information/advanced-cancer/grief/seeking-support/

Cancer Council: 13 11 20

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Lifeline: 13 11 14

 

Before you read on, which I hope you will,  I am  doing well.

This post, however, has been one I have needed to write, probably for some time but it was not till recently did this need become apparent.

Warm wishes, Denyse.

 

It’s a shock to the system when you are told

we will be removing all of the upper part of your mouth and replacing it with a bone, flesh and skin from your leg“.

And to be honest, it has taken me till recent months in 2021 into 2022 to understand this has been a traumatic experience and that I am, in some ways, managing a post-traumatic event.

So here goes. Blogging and sharing has always helped me.

I hope it can be seen as a way to not only get something said but for me to now divulge what a struggle it is at times to live with the ramifications of my head and neck cancer.

May 2017: following my diagnosis the day before and meeting with the men who would form my team and perform the surgery at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

My particular cancer, a verrucous carcinoma was in the upper alveolus. Explained here. And the cancer had spread to upper top lip – see left.

After the 2.5 hours of examination – lighted tube down my nose, examination of all areas where cancer might have spread and of course inside my mouth I received the news of how this cancer would be removed.

And that was too much for my emotional system to bear for then…so B and I had a walk along the short corridor to stand here and for me to take a 1/4 valium, a sip of water and to view this scene…

 

and then come back to hear more about the surgery and the ‘what comes next’. I was asked if I was fit to sign and yes I was. I had no idea of some of the words’ meaning but over time I would.

So about the grief then…..2017 into 2018 and when I got my upper prosthesis.

I actually felt relief as an emotion more because I finally had an answer to what was going on in my mouth for the past year or more. I also began to feel confident that this team of specialists was there to do the right thing by me always. My husband, my biggest supporter, agreed.

I blogged. And in June 2017, I wrote this….adding now, as it helps me recall the downright fear:

When I wrote this post I thought I was managing myself quite well. Since then, I have had some pretty horrid days (and nights) where I have become fearful, panicked, and so vulnerable I wanted to go into a corner and hide and never come out.

I am shitscared right now.

I am worried about losing what I valued: my mouth where I speak, eat, share my emotions and smile. It has been days of crying uncontrollably, being held until I calm down (thank you dear B) and taking some valium (which I don’t really want to) and letting out the fears  in words between the sobs. 

I fear: the loss of ability to use my mouth for at least 7-10 days, have a naso-gastric feeding tube down my throat for those days, having the skin/flesh/bone from my right leg inside my mouth after 3/4 (I did not know then it would be ALL) of my upper jaw/palate as been removed. Dealing with the not being in control.

I am, as I write, unable to really express what it means to be facing this loss of control of my body. I will be in ICU to start and may even have a tracheostomy to start if the mouth is too swollen. This is very scary to me, and I am admitting it now.

For me to admit how vulnerable I feel right now is to say “I cannot do this without help”.

  • I know I did some reflecting.
  • I also know it took me a while to get my paperwork done at home.
  • I also got ‘butterflies’ in my tummy each time I had the thought ‘I have cancer.’
  • I did some blogging about it too. However, I remember thinking “I don’t want to be known as a cancer blogger”.
  • I thought, and it was mostly correct, that I could write about much more than my cancer, and I did but I did not take into account some of the feelings I may have pushed away…because I wanted to look like and sound like I was managing very well indeed. Almost true but not quite. Sigh.

But I was confident, from the ways in which my professional team described their views, that my cancer was likely to be taken away and most probably not return.

I did not know in the early months, and post the big reconstruction surgery in July 2017 that I would face LONG times in recovery in hospital and at home.

Months

Into over a year.

Four surgeries in total.

Countless cancer checks and times at the prosthodontist : all requiring a 2 hour drive there and back. I did all solo from March 2018 and one with B in 2020.

I found I had more resilience and determination than I knew.

I found I had patience but it too wore thin as I was in a pretty constant state of:

hunger

for foods I could not eat…and so I had to become very creative. See posts here.

Counselling and Help For Me.

Before I was diagnosed with head and neck cancer I had been successfully managing my mental health with a wonderful psychologist in 2016 and into 2017. In fact I saw her before my first surgery and she already could tell I had the many tools needed to deal with what was ahead. I saw her some months after my surgery and we both agreed I was going so well. I was, and that continued for some time. In fact I did go back last year to check in with another psychologist and after two sessions she and I agreed, that with my working through my feelings and more, I would be OK. I was and I am. But…further on…see what can happen!

What a Time: Getting my Upper Prosthesis Fitted. August – December 2018.

Such a big day on 21 August 2018 when I left home with no upper teeth and arrived back with them fitted. I was tired but happy even though they felt weird and sore. There were days and weeks spent back and forth to Westmead for physical adjustments.

Of course I was HAPPY. And of course I SMILED a lot. And was complimented over and over.

That is so nice.

It felt like a reward from the many months of hard yards of surgeries and recoveries and very limited eating.

I don’t think I stopped smiling. It was so life-affirming…yet…

my love of smiling and my smile itself drew me many positive comments and I sometimes felt I needed to share that the smile is actually not the whole story…this IS the blog post I needed to write now. 

However, by myself, there were small disappointments.

I thought (and I had been told!) that I could eat like I used to.

However that was not true I had a limited ability to bit and even more so for chewing.

The amount of physical hardware that is in my mouth meant amounts needed changing as did how long it would take me to eat.

Oh yes, I was still having my memories of 69+ years of eating and at times it would be a very disappointed me who could no longer:

  • eat at a dinner table other than my own
  • go out for a meal
  • eat in front of others – excluding my husband and family
  • use food and socialising together
  • go away to spend a night somewhere (we did but it was incredibly challenging to take all I needed with me)
  • take it for granted that I could eat a meal/snack as I imagined.

So this was the beginning of grief.…yearning for what was and had been and could be no longer….

I dealt with it mostly privately and made excuses to people who asked me to events and outings. Coffee and cake of some kind was still OK. Some people were/are very understanding and accommodating but I still did not truly accept what LIFE was for me now until late 2021.

I realised I was unwell and it was an overload of self-expectations and an unrealistic view of what I was now, as a 72 year old, living with the effects of head and neck cancer surgeries could do.

My body told me it was time to stop. Took me a while to listen!

Admission Of How I Was Feeling. Grief and Sadness. 

With so much gratitude for my return of health, following the diagnosis and being able to accept the role of an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia, I did get many opportunities to share the awareness, the stories and more to help others. That sure did appeal to teacher-me. I have been incredibly fortunate to have my cancer removed and doing well. In fact, I guess I even have some survivor guilt. It IS a thing.

I was going well in covid times, as I was able to adapt and work through helping others with head and neck cancer and whilst we could not hold events, I remained a participant where necessary supporting others who have head and neck cancer, and doing what I could to bring my messages of  personal experiences to federal politicians.

Then this year, I became determined to listen more to my body and take better care of my emotional health and I learned that I can say “no thank you”.

It’s been hard.

I am, by nature a people pleaser and an extrovert but I also wore myself out. A post about Being Me is coming soon…and what I have done.

But before I go:

This is the point of what I wanted to say.

  • I am managing my grief now in a better way because I know it is safe to share
  • My times in nature are helpful, as is my reading about grief and cancer, along with my daily meditations

I am also telling more of the truth about what is.

Acceptance of does not mean ” loving” or even “liking” something or situation but when there is no choice..and fighting it makes it worse…then I accept that I have had a traumatic event in my life, and I now share with greater honesty.

And that whilst I have had many, many compliments about my recovery and my smile, it has been a much harder time than even I was prepared to own up to...

till a night this week when tears overwhelmed me as I realised the brutal way in which my body had to be changed…to rid me of a nasty cancer.

This series of images and then the culmination of a graphic goes some way for me to share with the world…my readers and bloggers how it really IS to have had this cancer and the aftermath.

It’s coming up to 5 years in May, since my diagnosis and that is probably playing a part in my looking back and seeing how this has been. I will never discount it as a life trauma now.

I accept it is.

I also know I can admit how hard things are. No longer hiding it.

 

This is the graphic which I made when I was feeling less than understood about how my cancer was affecting me…because it really has been MUCH more than getting a smile back. Much, much more involved.

Life’s traumas are not always obvious until later…somehow we keep going. I did till I stopped.

There are number and links for support listed at the beginning of this post.

I do hope you are OK and that reading this frank account from me has been something that you can see why I needed to share it.

I am doing well.

Thank you,

Denyse.

And I am visiting 98 year old Dad at Dee Why today so will be back to see the post later today and comment as well.

 

 

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