Saturday 25th September 2021

Women Of Courage Series. #59. Tribute To My Relatives. 74/2021.

Women Of Courage Series. #59. Tribute To My Relatives. 74/2021.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

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

This is a different take.

I wanted to show my appreciation for the Women of Courage in my life. All of them are no longer living. I know I  am applying my judgement through my lens as a:

  • granddaughter
  • niece
  • daughter

To these women:

  • my paternal grandmother: known in this as Etta.

Henrietta Season (nee Earl) Simpson

  • my maternal grandmother: known in this as Vera.

Vera May (nee Bailey) Chapple.

  • my aunt (Mum’s sister) known in this (and to me) as Poppy

Thora Doris Chapple.

  • my mother known in this as Noreen

Noreen (Chapple) Simpson.

I know this is a very lengthy post and some may not wish to read it all. I wrote their stories of courage for me to remember. I hope you get to read some parts. I found it a process which helped me get more insight into who came before me, and what qualities I may have inherited or learned as behaviours.

About Etta.

I knew Etta as Gran. When we lived in Wollongong too, we saw her more often. Dad shares that it was always by obligation. She visited us in Sydney, coming up by train and she attended our wedding and got to see her great grandchildren from both me and my brother before dying in her late 80s in 1985.

Etta displayed enormous courage in 1920, to follow her then fiance, a soldier from Australia, back to his hometown Wollongong. She left everyone and everything she knew back in, as she called it, “home”.

Nevertheless, love won. She married, and despite some England vs Scotland prejudice (Andy, her husband was of Scottish descent) she went on the have her first two children, one of whom is my Dad. Over time, though, I can guess her courage waned, as during the Great Depression years, her husband was out of work, and by then two more children came along.

A family of 4 small mouths to feed, and to find work for her husband, she courageously left the family home with them all. It was owned by  her mother –  a widow who had migrated shortly after her daughter. My father tells me the stories of them driving up to Auburn in Sydney, to live temporarily for his Dad to have work. It did not last, and they, like many, relied on some work, handouts and more.

How do I imagine this was for Etta? I think, given she was a middle class woman from England it must have taken an enormous amount of courage to live in a new country with new ways, and to deal with society in that city where she lived. You see, I know that her husband was banished in some ways from his family due to underlying secrets about money and jobs. Sigh. She had to deal with those disappointments and a lack of what she might have thought was coming to her and her new husband when she arrived in Australia.

Yet…..there was more to come. In 1935 her love and husband died. From an injury sustained in the work he got back into at the Steelworks. She was widowed with 4 kids, the youngest was aged 2. From my then 11 year old father’s recollection she remained sad, and unable to offer her children some of the love and discipline they might have  needed. Instead, as he tells it, that came from her mother, Edith.

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

I have learned compassion. I am also far less likely to quickly make a judgement about other people’s decisions. I do not judge Etta at all now. I have tried to share with Dad (in our recent chats) just how hard it must have been for this woman he called Mum. She had no idea that being courageous would lead her to a life of poverty and being shunned socially in the town where they lived.

Etta did ‘classy’ for special occasions like my christening and her Mum did too!

About Vera.

When I remember Vera, Nanny to me, I remember her care for me but it was edged with a pretty strict regime. She died when I was about 8, my mum losing her Mum in her 30s. I stayed with her and my Papa and their extended family quite a bit as a child and always felt loved and cared for. However, in the latter years of her pretty short life I recall her severely affected by a stroke and that my grandfather cared for her at home for sometime. I have a strong memory too, of an Ambulance taking her to Wollongong hospital, and that later my mum was very sad because her mother had died.

I have done some family history research as has my daughter and with Dad still having an excellent memory I ask him about his late mother-in-law  and her life. She lived a hard physical life. It was in a rural/small town area of the south coast of N.S.W. Interestingly she and her brother (Don) married a brother and a sister (Ettie). So there was a closer blood relationship between the families. My grandmother worked at home, and kept the home fires burning even after having 3 children because her husband had been blinded in one eye in an accident at the local coal mine. In fact, he was in Sydney Eye Hospital having surgery on his eye socket and to have a glass eye added when my Mum (Noreen) was born in Dapto.

From that time, of course, there were hardships relating to one person unwell and unable to work full time again, even though he did what he could. Vera lived by Christian convictions (she was Presbyterian) and her strictness around the family life and upbringing may have contributed to her courage. I do know she tried to have me read the bible from a very young age. I still have it.

Then, tragedy struck.

In a way that no-one could envisage but would in some ways become a life saver of sorts. Vera’s sister-in-law, her husband’s sister and married to her brother, died giving birth to her third child – a daughter. This was in mid 1920s. Neither survived. Nor did her husband and father of 2 sons, ever recover. Vera, whose own situation was pretty dire, agreed for the family’s sake that she, her husband and 3 children – Poppy, a son, and Noreen, would move to the house that was being paid off by her brother. This allayed fears of being evicted from their rental as work was thin on the ground during the Great Depression.

Now I add what I know is hearsay. From my Dad, telling me Mum’s memories. That house was full. It had 3 bedrooms. Your Nanny and Papa slept in one room, Uncle Don & his son, another, and your mother & Poppy in the other one. Bobby (son of Uncle Don) slept on one part of the verandah as did your Uncle Keith. This pattern continued even as I recalled as a child. Over time, the children became adults who could work. And they did. It was the start of WW2. Your grandmother had not only a house full of family but made the house available for soldiers stationed near by and of course was encouraged to give back due to her Christian upbringing. She worked. As did those other woman, your mother and aunty, just to keep the household fed. Her brother contributed nothing other than the shelter. He sunk into a deep, life lasting depression, only emerging on days when his beloved greyhounds needed training and then to catch up with other trainers. 

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

I have learned that despite life’s biggest and hardest challenges we can survive. However, sadly, that did not help Vera live. Her life stopped. Prematurely. In 1957 Vera died. She had been unwell with blood pressure causing a stroke and then another one ending her life. I remember my Mum’s sadness the most. I learned that I have strong women in my mother’s family but that their health frailty and anxiety about health is something I have been given. I am more resilient as a result of recent life events like my cancer but I also am wary of my health because of my lineage. I do take medication for high blood pressure and it is controlled well.

I hope Vera was happy on her wedding day.

About Poppy.

As I prepare this post, it is Poppy’s birthday and she would have been 98.  Dear woman she was to me and my brother and to our kids as well.  Born Thora Doris, that was shortened to Poppy by one of the relatives and that’s who she was to us. She was the middle of 3 with Mum, Noreen, the younger. These two shared a bed in one room until Mum left home to marry Dad. They were a  sporting and community minded family even with the hardships at home and little money. Poppy’s intelligence was good enough to get her from the local primary school into the selective  Wollongong  H.S. in the late 1930s and funnily enough she was in 2 years up from my father! But she still had to leave school, as Dad did, aged 15.

Poppy and Noreen played competition sport: Hockey to be exact. They played at representative level and  it was a great way to meet others socially too.  They travelled around N.S.W. and to Sydney.  This was mostly by train. I have included both of their Hockey photos in this post. I am the least sporting person ever but I did inherit a love of competition from someone!

I only ever heard dribs and drabs about Poppy’s life as a young adult. I know she was shy. I know too, that she trained to be a telephonist. Those were the women who sat at large banks of phone lines and plugged in calls.  First with the Post Office in her local area on  the South Coast, and then after the war, she went to the Steelworks to work  in their section. Before that, I understand she may have had a boyfriend but that he  was  killed in the war. My mum seemed to attract more male attention  but I don’t think my aunt  was ever jealous. She was already friends with my dad before mum met him.

But what about her courage?

It’s in sharing this story that I acknowledge one of mental  ill-health, sadness and grief. She lost her Mum  (Vera) at an early age. Work at home fell to her, even though she was a full-time  working woman. I was a  young kid and my brother and I were spoiled a lot by her: lollies, taking us to the Dapto Show and more. She loved to read and I devoured her women’s magazines when I stayed with her.

Life  challenges took a big toll.

As I understand it, she had what was called a nervous breakdown based on her workload and went into a Sydney private hospital  for electro convulsive shock  treatment. I was about 11. I remember visiting her but not much else. She was able to return home and was given modified duties with her employer away from the switchboard. That continued until she turned 60. She was well-respected. An ardent follower of sport – Rugby League in particular- and a kinder and more caring Aunty and Great Aunty I am yet to  know.

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

I have learned selflessness is something that needs to be balanced with self care. I saw Poppy taking care of everyone else first…and then, over time, herself last. She used to eat for comfort too but was incredibly lonely as well. Her latter years of life were spent in a new-to-her house, which was almost hers along with her older brother who was severely unwell due to depression, and excessive alcohol intake and more. She rarely saw people once she stopped work and so that was something I, along with my parents would try to rectify with visits and encouraging her to come and stay with us. She was the kindest hearted person and totally devoted to her family. I have learned that overdoing it via work can cause issues with our health (yes, I know I too suffered) and that seeking treatment and continuing life afterwards is not to be discounted. In fact that IS an act of courage right there.

Poppy is next to little girl in pink hat, and to my Dad in blue shirt. I think this might have been her last Christmas with us.

About Noreen.

It’s only been in the recent 5 or so years that I have been interested in, and talking more to Dad about, Mum’s history. Dad and I are the talkers. Mum sure could talk but she also had an impediment for as long as I can recall. Mum was left very deaf in one ear in particular, which her specialists back in the mid 50s attributed to having children. In fact she and Dad were told not to have more. Before I go back to earlier times, even before she met Dad, I remember her being upset because she couldn’t hear. I know Dad always came to us kids in the night because when Mum was lying on one side, she heard nothing. But what I want to recall is her immense courage in doing something to help her hearing. She was a shy woman from the South Coast but it would be an operation of big magnitude that her ENT specialist in Sydney said would help restore some hearing….and she went through with it.

We were under 10s then and I remember feeling sad about Mum’s absence. Dad took us up to RPA one time. Interesting fact, when I was in Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, my room overlooked Gloucester House where Mum had that surgery. And it helped her for some time but in her latter years, she needed more hearing aids. It frustrated her so much when we would talk and she wouldn’t know what we were saying, and in a group setting, or people around a table it was more annoying too. Sigh. I am wondering about compassion here. My husband tells me I talk loudly and it is true and it is always clear (OK, bit rough since my mouth reconstruction) but we used to have to do that at home.

Mum was the baby in her family. However that did not coming spoiling as I wrote in Vera’s story, Noreen and Poppy had home duties even when high school and work called. Mum did enjoy fashion. She worked locally in a store and eventually, for her, got the job of her dreams selling shoes. Honestly, I am so not like that. Mum had the best collection but was a small size, frustratingly for her granddaughters. She became someone who loved her competitive sport and I have seen that in her as a tennis player (it was a way to become friends in Sydney, when she joined a club). She was lithe, fast moving and skilled. Hockey made her very competitive.

About the courage she had. I talked to Dad about this not long ago. As a woman who had met the man to become her husband through the Scouting Movement, she became friends with his friends, and her sister often accompanied them on picnics and overnight stays. All above board. They were wed, he continued study to be an accountant whilst building their first home, and Mum worked each week…and I was eventually born. Just into the new house too and Dad was transferred to the Melbourne office, very unwillingly. He made it a deal, that he had to be home for his daughter’s first birthday and he did. However, in the midst of that year, Mum very courageously took us both by plane (1950 people!) to Melbourne from Sydney. I cannot fathom how much courage that took but love won!

But after marriage, and having one child, when she saw Dad not only get his driver’s licence and a family car, she decided that was for her too. She got that licence soon after my brother’s birth and had independence not many 1050s women enjoyed. Yet, she loved her house, her neigbourhood and more. And then all that came undone.

She had already dealt with the death of her mother. But her husband had some news she did not like. He was being promoted to head office in Sydney and he really could not turn that offer down. She did not want to go. Everything was unknown. Dad eventually convinced her it was the right move but he was challenged by the circumstances too because of the time between when he had to start and when he could move us up after selling the ‘first home’ built together.

My views on Noreen’s courage from there:

  • she accepted the move, despite her anxiety and loss of family and friend support
  • she ended up, as parents often do, making friends with a woman whose son was in the same class as hers and from then on, it was great..over time of course. But she had met many people close in age, interests and more. That remained the case until her death!
  • she joined P&C, Scouts & Guides parent groups, tennis clubs, card clubs, was part of the first V.I.E.W. Club formed to raise funds for The Smith Family, she did Meals of Wheels and more
  • she became more of the sole parent at times, being independent with a car helped, as Dad travelled interstate and then…the big one:
  • 1966 he was flown by the company he worked for, around the world, ending in Hawaii for 6 weeks at Harvard Management of Business Summer School. It changed his life. Mum cried at the kitchen sink after he left. I had never seen that before.
  • But, as in all things, she rallied and we were teens at school, and she even drove us with friends to Port Macquarie
  • Over time I saw Mum grow in her personal strength indicating a change for the good in terms of courage
  • She did not do well however, with her own illness. Who does?
  • Well, she became so unwell at the end of her life because she lost her confidence, her ability to manage her body well and I believe that in keeping Mum as safe as he could, Dad was right but it was at the expense of ever knowing what had happened inside her to cause her death.

What Have I Learned About Myself From This Woman of Courage?

It’s taken me till the past few years to realise that I could learn to “talk less” as they say and listen more. Noreen used to say I rushed my kids too much in the mornings, getting them to school and pre school, and I agree but I also had to….and I liked work outside the home. In fact I needed it. But I also look back now at Mum and admire her quiet courage…especially when she did not want to “be” or “do” what she was. In the end, and it was her almost end, it was her words “no more test, nothing” that set the path for her once it was discovered she had secondary brain tumours. That’s courage done confidently and quietly but firmly.

We all agreed, as did her team.

Thanks Noreen, for my life, and for me making better inroads into understanding you and your life way past the time when I could tell you so. I had to get to now to know this, aged 71. You died when I was 58.

Such a favourite. Noreen, with her first granddaughter, at the front of 61, with Andrew, Dad.

Thank you to readers who came this far. I really appreciate it.

Denyse.

 

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #57 Marsha Ingrao. 68/2021.

Women Of Courage Series. #57 Marsha Ingrao. 68/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

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

In the world of blogging we can ‘meet’ people virtually and make a pretty instant connection. I found this to be the case in early 2021 when Marsha Ingrao who is 69 began hosting Sunday Stills while another blogging friend from the US was moving into her new home. From my on-line emails and messages with Marsha as I learned more about her and her life, I had hoped she would agree to share her story as a Woman of Courage. And I was delighted with here response of “yes, I will”. Welcome Marsha and thank you for sharing your story

 

 

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

  • I had a birth defect – bilateral cleft lip, which is still fairly rare. From birth I had several surgeries including spending my first month in the hospital. This did not require any courage on my part. But it did change me.

 

  • When I was 15 and my brother was 13, we moved with Mom from Indiana to Oregon where we didn’t know anyone. Mom didn’t have a job. I was a junior in high school, and my brother was in 7th grade. My brother and I made the choice of where to go rather than to stay behind with our father or grandparents. It was the best decision of our lives.

 

  • My first husband had major health problems. He and his sister both had rare and genetic disease. Less than six months into our marriage, he broke his hip which deteriorated until he could not sit, stand or walk without extreme pain. We had no insurance. I was petrified, but his aunt found us a surgeon. At age 27 he had his first hip replacement, and the second one at age 29. His only sister died at age 35. I was 25 at the time, married for two years and lived with the fear that my husband would probably live maybe five more years. He lived eighteen more years and passed away at age 47 with heart, kidney, liver, and lung disease caused from the same missing enzymes that caused his joints to deteriorate.

 

  • Before Mark’s second hip surgery, we had no money coming in for a while. He couldn’t work and he did not want to have surgery again. Our pastor advised that I should quit working at my less than minimum wage job and let God provide through Mark. My husband was furious about this idea, but I wasn’t making enough to make ends meet anyway and I felt a sense of relief. I quit selling magazines door to door, and God supplied us with inheritance money and back disability checks enough to keep us going for over a year.

 

  • Finishing school. Neither of us had finished our four year degree when we married. I had started right out of high school, but quit when my scholarship ran out. I finished my associates degree after we were married, and was offered another scholarship and a position at Oregon State so that I could also earn my master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration. Mark also wanted to go to school and get his degree in Ministerial Studies from a college in Colorado Springs.

 

  • We sold everything and moved to Colorado and I waited until we moved to California and established residency there before I was able to pick up my education again. Eventually we both achieved our goals. He became a pastor and I earned my Master’s Degree and Administrative Credential and taught school, then moved into administration.

 

  • Having breast cancer. Actually I think I sailed through that recent obstacle, so far. The three surgeries were fairly easy, medication was not even though I did not have to go through chemo and radiation. I still have at least four to six more years of medicine, but I think it’s finally manageable.

 

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

  • My name, Marsha, comes from the name Mars, the Roman god of war and courage. I expect to and usually do overcome obstacles and win my wars.

 

  • I had to develop a positive attitude from the time I was a child to overcome shyness and make friends. I am sensitive, so I have to be careful not to take myself too seriously and get over myself when my feelings get hurt.

 

  • As a result, before I retired, it was sometimes hard to get others to take me seriously.

 

  • I am friendly. Without our many friends and family, Mark and I would not have survived.

 

  • I learned to work hard and both my husband and I achieved all our career goals and were married for 20 years before he passed. My second husband is also a hard worker, and I’ve learned a lot from him about precision and pushing beyond my best efforts. We have been married for 25 years.

 

  • I have a hard time quitting – even when I should. I hang on way too long because I see quitting as losing instead of being sensible and recognizing that I could be using my time and talents in other ways.

 

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

  • I wish that you didn’t need courage. But we all do. I rely on God, my friends and family and their prayers. People have always been kind and supportive of me.

 

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

I don’t know.

  • It’s hard to believe I have lived through the difficult times that I have. I think in a way you compartmentalize your problems and live outside and above your difficulties. I don’t know many people who throw themselves into dangerous situations just to be brave.

 

  • Trials happen to us and we deal with them as they come. I thank God for the times I don’t have to be brave.

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

-Don’t try to do everything by yourself. Get help!

-Pray

-Give to others. This might be a kind word, a meal, a smile, a prayer, or a million dollars. Give what you have.

-Love and appreciate everyone, especially those who help you.

-Be positive but not phony, find someone to whom you can vent when you get hit with too much reality.

-Exercise as much as you can.

-Eat healthy food

-Don’t feel guilty about what you can’t do.

-Blog – tell your story, get involved in the stories of others.

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post. For example a website or help line.

  • For breast cancer I recommend my friend Abigail Johnston’s website. No Half Measures.
  • For difficulties in marriage I recommend finding a good counselor. I’ve had two secular counselors (not pastors) that helped me deal with difficult situations. I would ask friends rather than use the web.
  • Get involved with a local church. We used the internet when we moved here because we didn’t know anyone.
  • Get a doctor who cares about you. Again, word of mouth is better than a website, but I used both when we moved.

 

Marsha put in some kind words at the end of her story and I believe that they are worth sharing. I am very proud to have been able to share these stories, so generously given to me here on the blog.

Thank you so much for this honor to be called a woman of courage. What a wonderful thing you are doing by honoring women. Thank you for all you do for our Blogging community, Denyse. You are a blessing and an inspiration.

Thank you, we are all connected, and I am glad for that.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media: for Marsha

Blog/Website:  https://www.tchistorygal.net

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarshaIngrao

 

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/TCHistoryGal/

 

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

This series continues over the next months.

If you have  story to share, please leave me a message in the comments.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series.#56 Cate Froggatt. 65/2021

Women Of Courage Series. #56 Cate Froggatt. 65/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

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

There are people who come into our lives for a reason, as the saying goes. This woman of courage came into MY life because of my head and neck cancer diagnosis! She is Cate Froggatt, aged 52, Clinical Nurse Consultant for Prof. J Clark AM who is my Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon.

This woman and I have clicked…as they say…over chats, shared experiences as parents and with hugs and smiles at my regular visits to have cancer checks. However she is much more than that for me. Cate tells me I met her at or after my first surgery in July 2017 but like all things where an anaesthetic is involved, a verrrryy long one, I can’t recall.

She has, along with my Professor, her boss and friend, has been inside my mouth on a few occasions. When I go for a check at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (last one was in September 2020) I know (pre Covid anyway) I can get a hug and we share smiles and laughs too.

But she also is one of the people who knows a great deal about the surgeries I have had because she is part of the team that does many. A couple of memories of Cate from me. One is her blowing me a kiss after seeing me in the anaesthetic bay and wishing me well “see you sweetcheeks”…very comforting and another is the kind voice at the end of the phone when I was (very) concerned about the skin graft weeping after surgery #4…She said, I will show Jonathan the photos and get back to you. Within minutes, reassurance, get into the bath, take off the dressing and Bernard will have something there I am pretty sure, to cover it for you. He did. I was better after that.

And in receiving Cate’s story, she said “use any photo because I know you have plenty”. She is right. Here’s Cate’s story.

In Sept. 2020. “See you in a year”

Hug with Cate: early 2020

 

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

In a way I feel as if I have had to be courageous for most of my life.

Not in a ‘life and death’ kind of way, more like an ‘out of my comfort zone’ kind of a way.

It’s not the exciting kind of courage that gets written about in novels but rather the courage required by those who are innately shy and filled with anxiety about the possible disasters awaiting in the unknown and the unfamiliar.

I had to leave home when I was 12 to go to boarding school.

This was a situation which certainly required me to muster up some courage. Leaving the safety and security of parents and home was quite hard initially.

Following school I moved to Sydney to an apartment with two friends.

The sheer size of the city and the hustle and bustle was so far removed from all that was previously familiar to the three of us.

Just to go to the shops for groceries was an undertaking that required courage.

Let alone navigating public transport, working for the first time, attending university and meeting grown up responsibilities like rent and bills – all without Mum and Dad being close enough to call upon for help.

Being a parent requires courage although I think naivety saves the majority of us there – we have no clue what we are in for as we gaze lovingly down at our firstborns!

More recently my career has demanded significant courage.

Every day I feel like an imposter in a world where I am surrounded by the most amazing minds.

I stand beside my boss in awe of his intellect, his organisational skills and his ability to literally change the world.

The incredible opportunity I have been afforded by him to be able to contribute in a small way to the great things that are being achieved calls upon courage each day.

Finally as healthcare professionals we have all recently had to gather all our courage together in a rapidly changing world where each day of early 2020 brought with it new fears, new parameters and new demands on physically and emotionally exhausted bodies and minds.

 

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

All of these things have not so much changed me but shaped me into the person I am.

 

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

I have learned to ‘just do it’.

If you think you can, you probably can.

Have faith in those who have faith in you and never, ever underestimate the power of commitment and dedication.

Finally, if you can’t beat fear, do it scared!

 

 

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

Certainly. It becomes inherent.

 

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

 

Believe in yourself. As C.S. Lewis famously said ‘We are what we believe we are.’

The quickest way to acquire self-confidence is to do exactly what you are afraid of.

 

Ah Cate, those words about doing it scared. I know that too.

What a great way to own your courage and the examples just tell me and readers too, that courage IS a muscle we can work. Love your work…and you …I have been very fortunate to have been your patient as part of my head and neck cancer surgeries and recoveries.

I also thank you too for sharing my blog more widely with your colleagues and how this helped me become offered a role as an Ambassador for (then Beyond Five) which is now Head and Neck Cancer Australia!

Thank you Cate!

Do you have special health professional who has cared for you?

Share in the comments.

Thank you

Denyse.

 

This series continues over the next months.

If you have  story to share, please leave me a message in the comments.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #55 Tanya Selak. 62/2021.

Women Of Courage Series. #55 Tanya Selak. 62/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday.

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

Welcoming Woman of Courage #54 Tanya Selak today, as she helps this series begin. I love the world of social media, particularly twitter, where I get to ‘meet’ the most interesting and engaging humans. One of these is Dr Tanya Selak who is in her 40s.

I admit I am a bit of a groupie of hers and yet we have not met. I follow medical and surgical people – having a head and neck cancer diagnosis will do that to a person like me – and when I saw @GongGasGirl tweet photos from Wollongong…I was very interested. Even more, that some were coming from Wollongong Hospital where I was born over 71 years ago. We have engaged on numerous occasions since and I thank her wholeheartedly for not only her on-line connections, and her wonderful smile but the fact she returned this story within a day of being asked!

Her words gave me more than a sense of what it is to not only be courageous but continuing taking these riskier steps. Tough times we do not always associate with people in her field. I leave her now to share her words from the questions asked.   Thank you Tanya.

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

When I was an anaesthetic trainee in Auckland in my 20’s, my husband needed to travel to London for additional surgical training (he’s a colorectal surgeon).

For me, it meant leaving the training program in Auckland, which was very difficult to get into, and would interrupt my career progression, with no guarantee of continued training in London.

The risk was that I could become yet another trailing spouse, who never completes specialty training. I had no contacts in London, and had no job lined up.

At the time, I was nearing the end of the one year of study required to sit the first anaesthetic speciality exam. It is very difficult and has a low pass rate. I was so focused on study, that I had not arranged a job, but had an interview at a hospital the day after my flight landed.

Back then, social media didn’t exist and it was difficult to get helpful accurate information to set up life in London. I didn’t even know the basics like names of any hospitals or where it would be good to live.

My husband left for London to start work (while living on his cousin’s couch), I stayed and sat my exam in Melbourne (thankfully passed), flew back to Auckland and left my family and friends for London 2 days later.

Leaving a training program, your life and heading overseas with no job and no flat and no plan was considered to be quite courageous or reckless depending on your point of view!

 

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

We arrived in London very naïve and green and poor.

We used all of our savings to secure a flat (at the time the exchange rate from $NZ to GBP was 4:1) and it took a while to sort out the paperwork at both of our hospitals to be paid.

Even though the language was the same, culturally and professionally everything was different and difficult – even just getting a bank account was a struggle.

A few months in I remember looking at the McDonalds in freezing cold Waterloo Station wondering if we could afford to eat there.

I was appointed to a great anaesthetic job the week after arrival.

However, the work was very different and my colleagues and the patients couldn’t understand my thick kiwi accent – I had to learn to slow down!

We found our feet in a few months, lovely new friends helped us settle in, and we started to enjoy living in London, with all it has to offer.

I went on to work at incredible hospitals and was able to continue my training remotely.

It gave me the confidence that I had the resilience to thrive and push through uncertainty.

It showed me that good things can happen outside your comfort zone.

 

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

Despite no planning and many unknowns, sometimes things can just work out.

I see many people with ‘analysis paralysis’ professionally and personally.

Sometimes it’s OK to just leap in.

While we dither, time marches on.

What’s the worst that can happen?

 

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

Interesting question. I am probably more and less able to be courageous now than I was in my 20’s depending on the issue.

We now have three children to raise, a mortgage, consultant positions.

A radical life move like this would be very difficult now.

I am however more courageous in standing up for what’s right.

In the past, I have been deferential to authority figures even when they have not deserved it.

I’m in a position now where few things or people scare me, I feel safe to challenge those with power.

 

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

My dear friend recently sent me this from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

It’s a nice reminder to give up on perfectionism, do the best that you can, and then move on.

Don’t forget to gather and cherish your trusted support crew, hold on to them tightly especially when you need to be courageous.

 

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

Many thanks for your story Tanya, which tells of  considerable examples of courage…as you must face each day in your role as an Anaesthetist. I know that you are a teacher of others too and am not at all surprised to see that you do so well there too. Your support for me has always been appreciated. And yours is a face I would love to see in my anaesthetic bay! Take care, and keep tweeting.

Denyse.

This series continues over the next months.

If you have  story to share, please leave me a message in the comments.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

 

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Third Series Is Here in 2021. 59/2021.

Women of Courage Third Series is Here in 2021. 59/2021.

Two years ago….around this time of year, I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

Many of you know I have had the experience of a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery and I am aware I had to garner a lot of courage to come through much of what has happened. However in my  courage post  you will read something different where I believe I was courageous.

For those like me, who are interested in attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in 2021, here is the link to the website. I was fortunate to attend the first LIVE event earlier this year when Festival Director (and Woman of Courage #49 found here) Rosemarie interviewed former PM Julia Gillard.

 

All the women’s stories from Series One (2019) and Series Two (2020) are here. 

In the 2019 group, there were 24 women who used their names and one who was published anonymously at her request.

In the 2020 group, there were 25 women who went public with their stories and four who chose anonymity.

Total: 56 women’s stories shared! Jane’s and mine did not carry a number.

First post in 2021 will be Woman of Courage #54.

I am excited, interested and curious about these stories from real life…and  now so grateful to be sharing women in a third series.

I hope you are too. I have asked over 20 women to date  who said yes, and have five responses so far which go live each Thursday after today….

There is always room for more, so if you would like to share, email me! denyse@ozemail.com.au or tell me in the comments.

 

I asked the first Woman of Courage, Sam if she wished to share any updates for her first post, found here,

And she replied “happy to leave it as is”….but “I have a new photo” and this, dear readers, is Teddy Roosevelt, who is already a STAR on Sam’s Blog found here. Thank you both!

 

And again from my first post…these words from Brene Brown.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognise the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” 

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” 

“The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.” 

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” 

Last year I began listening to Brene Brown here on her podcasts. She has two. I have checked out both from time to time, learning more and being inspired by other women of courage and some of  her guests are also from all genders and walks of life.

Next Thursday, 20th May, I welcome Woman of Courage #54 to this blog community for her to share her story.

See you all then too, I hope.

Denyse.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

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Heroic. 13/51. #LifeThisWeek. 39/2021.

Heroic. 13/51. #LifeThisWeek. 39/2021.

As I am the instigator of these optional prompts you might think ‘ah that makes it easier to write’….well actually it doesn’t at times. This is one such time.

I was telling my husband about it and he said this about me. I wasn’t asking, but he told me he saw me as a hero.

“Displaying great courage under difficult circumstances and I see that in you”

He would say any more…ha! Man of few words and apt to give praise very rarely. However, it was not only related to overcoming cancer, but he didn’t elaborate and I know him well enough to know it’s cool that he sees me that way.

 

Heroic: adjective

having the characteristics of a hero or heroine; admirably brave or determined.”heroic deeds”

(of language or a work of art) grand or grandiose in scale or intention.

“one passes under pyramids and obelisks, all on a heroic scale”

Heroic: noun

behaviour or talk that is bold or dramatic.”the England star is getting special treatment because of his World Cup heroics”

heroic(a.) Synonyms: brave, valiant, courageous, intrepid, bold, daring, gallant, fearless, dauntless, noble, magnanimous. heroic(a.)

 

Some Heroic Actions and Attitudes by People I Know.

  • My late mother. She overcame intense shyness, some anxiety and being deaf in one ear, to eventually make her way into a new group of friends and social circles when Dad’s promotion at work brought us to Sydney leaving behind her family and all she knew. Dad told me recently that she did not want to make that move. I understood that from my own experiences in 2014-2015.

  • My eldest granddaughter. She’s someone who has overcome (and continues to monitor and do well) a serious life-changing auto-immune condition. She had managed it with support from her Mum of course but as anyone with a serious  health condition knows, it is UP to you…always. Onya Miss J.

  • My youngest granddaughter. Turning 6 very soon, her way of arriving in the world set the scene for future heroic and an attitude determination. A breech baby who refused to be turned, so Mum gave birth naturally (under safe conditions) and then when she broke her wrist a year ago, took the hospitalisation, surgery, and recovery in her stride. So cool….about it, I mean!

 

  • My late paternal grandmother. She fell in love, during World War 1, in England, with a Scottish-born soldier from Australia, recovering in a hospital near her home. She left everything and everyone she knew to get on a War Bride ship to sail to Australia. She always hoped to go back home to visit but circumstances of poverty prevented that. Became a mum to 4 by the time she was in her 30s, and it was the Depression. Sadly, her husband died of injuries in a workplace accident. She may never have liked her life after that but she was heroic enough to see it through, dying of old age in 1985.

 

  • My husband. Shhhh. I looked at the list and thought, I have no men on it. He is heroic in so much he does and is to me and our family. Early, medical retirement aged 30 was not how life should have been for him, and his family, but he, over time, made some great opportunities come his way to improve his health, our lives together and more. He is quiet, self-effacing but every day, in often debilitating chronic pain, he makes the most of each waking moment. He makes me laugh every.single.day.

And then, there are the Women of Courage featured here.

Back in 2019 I heard Jane Caro speak at Newcastle Writers Festival about her latest book Accidental Feminists. After that, I realised I knew many, many women would could share their own stories of courage if they were prepared to. More said yes than no. Then over 2019 and into 2020 over 50 posts were published here.

I am selecting a few, where I see heroic actions and attitudes went hand in hand in the courage of those women. I honour each and every woman’s story.

Debbie Harris’  Story.

From her post, back in 2019, here is her story. It tells itself. Her blog is here.

“We all need to be brave in our own way and make the most of what life throws at us.  It’s funny that anyone who gets a bravery award says they didn’t feel brave they just did what they had to do at the time.  Those were my exact words when I was given the award”.

Deb Morton’s Story.

Deb’s second son, is friend and author Rick Morton. His latest book “My Year of Living Vulnerably” is a must-listen/read. His facebook page has more. I am in awe of his words and more. Her story, awful as it is, is here. I so appreciate Deb’s involvement with this.

“I am a better person for what I have gone through , I am so lucky that my little daughter saved me , the fact that she needed me , helped, I thank God every day she came into my life and I know that I have passed on to her the ability to deal with whatever life throws at her, she is a hardworking and capable person that I can be proud of!”

 

Jane Caro’s Story.

In her earlier book, and as part of her story,  Jane wrote of her anguish when her first child (now very well adult teacher & Mum herself) was very sick in the Children’s Hospital in Camperdown and how a doctor’s words, below helped. Follow Jane here.

I asked for help (as going to therapy had taught me to do) and spoke to neo-natologist and grief counsellor Dr Peter Barr. He said these three sentences to me that began to crack the carapace of anxiety I had been living behind. “There’s nothing special about you, there’s nothing special about Polly (my daughter). Terrible things can happen, and they can happen to anyone. Safety is an illusion, danger is reality.”

Catching up with Jane Caro: April 2019.

 

 

By the way, IF you would like to share YOUR story, I would be happy to send you the 5 questions…let me know via an email to

denyse@ozemail.com.au as I see no reason why I cannot have some more Women of Courage posts into 2021.

DELIGHTED to ANNOUNCE: 2021 will have a series of Women of Courage.

After April, there will be more stories to share.

This is what I wrote today to quite a few women who I follow on twitter, many of whom I have known for some years:

Hello

In 2019 and into 2020 I had a series of posts written by women, answering 5 questions from me about being courageous. Given recent events here in Australia, we know women’s voices need to be heard more. I am asking you, would you be interested in taking part in 2021 series.. It can be using your name or anonymously.

Do let me know YES or NO…and if it’s a yes, your best contact email please.

Thank you,

Denyse Whelan

The page here takes you to the 56 stories already shared.

https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/women-of-courage/

 

 

Goodness me, with this post we are 1/4 of the way through 2021.

Make of that what you will!

If you celebrate the coming Easter festival, may it be enjoyable.

I know teachers (parents and kids) in N.S.W. schools are looking forward to end of Term One and some holiday time.

Denyse.

Link Up #233

Life This Week. Link Up #233

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

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 14/51 Self Care Stories #2. 5 Apr.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Why “Women of Courage” As A Series? 59/2020.

Why “Women of Courage” As A Series? 59/2020.

As of today, 50 women have shared their stories. 

I did not assign a #number to my post or Jane Caro’s. 

Women of Courage.

This is what I wrote to each woman who agreed to be part of this series. Interestingly I had only “one” knock back initially. I am so proud of the women who are sharing their stories in the weeks and months to come. Over time as I continued to invite women  to consider adding their stories, I did get more ‘no thank you’ responses but obviously a lot more “yes, I will” ones as the series had spanned over one year.

“Thank you for agreeing to share your story for my Women of Courage series of posts which will be published from mid May 2019 onwards.”

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

Jane’s Women of Courage story is here.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

Many of you know I have had the experience of a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery and I am aware I had to garner a lot of courage to come through much of what has happened. This is  my own courage post, you will read something different where I believe I was courageous.

I am excited, interested and curious about these stories from real life…and women of courage!

I hope you are too.

Extract from my post introducing the series here in May 2019.

 

And I added this…which I am repeating here. 

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 enough which is why I have called the series: Women of Courage.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Send me an email: denyse@ozemail.com.au to become part of the series. You will be glad to join in. I have been told quite a few times now how therapeutic and helpful it was to write.

Won’t you consider this please?

Next week, the series continues.

I am recovering in hospital today, after some pretty serious surgery. Not related to my head and neck cancer, not cancer in any form. But, major in its own way. I think, over time, I might blog about it but not yet. If I take a while to respond to comments, this will be why. Rest assured, once I am home, I will want to be back on the computer and blogging!

I may not be responding to comments today…but I will!
For this reason, I will see how I go for linking up as I usually do.

Sure hope my hospital has good wi-fi.

Cheers,
Denyse.

Two weeks prior to the surgery, I took myself to the beach to try to gain better perspective for me…and I found it as well as support from many, for which I am very grateful. These stairs are a reminder that my recovery will be step-by-step and a challenge but not one I cannot complete.

 

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.

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What Is This Series Women Of Courage About? 104/2019.

What Is This Series Women Of Courage About? 104/2019.

In April 2019 I attended Newcastle Writers’ Festival and got to hear, amongst others, Author and Public Education Advocate, Jane Caro speak. Jane’s been known to me for a long time via social media, her other books and her involvement in promoting public education. She spoke at length of the roles we women have played and often at great loss or expense to our health, welfare and future financial security in her book Accidental Feminists.

 

Her written and spoken words really made me think.

Women do so much unsung, not necessarily because of not wanting people to know, but because we “just do get on.” I know that my life has taken some not great twists and turns and I realised I drew on resources of courage to do so.

This led me to finding out more about courage from others.

 

The words of Brene Brown helped inspire me in recent years.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognise the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” 

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” 

“The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.” 

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” 

Her program, on courage, is on Netflix here:

https://www.netflix.com/au/title/81010166

 

My germ of an idea grew and initially I wrote to a few on-line and ‘in real life’ friends (although those of us on the interwebs count many as one and the same) and asked, after in introduction to the ‘why’ of the series, if they would become involved with a contribution.

My great joy was the response. Not everyone said yes, but many more said it and sent me back their responses. That was back in May when I started here with my post then one from Sam.

Not every person is a blogger, for instance here is Tracey’s story recently as was Margaret’s here.

Honestly, each and every post makes me think about courage. Every day courage. The kind that you don’t even react to, but do it anyway. Then there is the slow build up to courage, which takes us along to change.

Here on this page: Women of Courage are the twenty one (21!) women who have already shared. Do check them out if you haven’t. I am so grateful for their courage and responses.

Next week and until mid November there will be five more stories shared.

After that Women of Courage series is having a break for the lead up to Christmas and into January as I need to do some posts relating to Telling My Story (homework!) and more.

From February 2020 I have eight more women’s stories ready to go.

Wow.

Here are the women who have shared their  stories to date! 

If you would like to share your story as a Woman of Courage, please let me know in the comments and I will email you the five questions!

Very much appreciate the stories I have been entrusted with for the blog series. Thank you all.

Denyse.

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.

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