Thursday 2nd December 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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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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Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2020. 77/2020.

Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2020. 77/2020.

The Women of Courage Series has now concluded.

I like many was sad to see it end, but with no further contributions waiting in the drafts area of my blog and no-one coming forward with their stories after the invitation, it was wrap time! I certainly am delighted too, that 55 women DID share their stories and they are incredibly varied too. But with one theme: courage!

It ran from May 2019 until September 2020 with breaks at certain times. The backstory is here.

The message I added to each post is this:

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 2019 I began with my post, and then numbered each person from #1 onwards. The colour I used in 2019 was this one.

In 2020 I changed to red!

Last week I shared those who told their stories in 2019 here.

 

2020 Image For the Series.

Leaving  January 2020 behind, it was good to launch into the 2020 series with this post: from Jane Caro AM, whose book Accidental Feminists helped me form my plan for a blog series and I will always be grateful for Jane’s support (and likes and retweets each Wednesday) along with those from Rosemarie Milson (#49) who ‘is’ Newcastle Writers Festival Director.

Catching up with Jane Caro: April 2019.

 

Jane Caro AM

To read, or re-read the posts of these Women of Courage: please visit the page at the top of the blog: here. 

Thank you all for sharing your stories. I hope you return occasionally to re-read and see what sharing your story has brought to your life.

Were you someone who shared your story in 2020?
How did it make you feel once it was done?

Thank you again for sharing.

Denyse.

Linking here with Leanne and friends for the Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2019. 75/2020.

Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2019. 75/2020.

The Women of Courage Series has now concluded.

I like many was sad to see it end, but with no further contributions waiting in the drafts area of my blog and no-one coming forward with their stories after the invitation, it was wrap time! I certainly am delighted too, that 55 women DID share their stories and they are incredibly varied too. But with one theme: courage!

It ran from May 2019 until September 2020 with breaks at certain times. The backstory is here.

The message I added to each post is this:

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 2019 I began with my post, and then numbered each person from #1 onwards. The colour I used in 2019 was this one.

In 2020 I changed to red!

Women of Courage 2019 Series.

One woman’s story was shared anonymously in 2019. #25.

 

 

 

 

 

To read, or re-read the posts of these Women of Courage: please visit the page at the top of the blog: here. 

Thank you all for sharing your stories. I hope you return occasionally to re-read and see what sharing your story has brought to your life.

Were you someone who shared your story in 2019?
How did it make you feel once it was done?

Thank you again for sharing.

Denyse.

Linking here with Leanne and friends for the Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #43 Christina Henry. 47/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #43 Christina Henry. 47/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

I was so pleased when Christina Henry, aged 54, decided to accept my invitation to share her story as a woman of courage. We are Australian bloggers who catch up by following each other’s blog posts on a weekly link-up called Mid-Life Share The Love which is hosted by two previously featured Women of Courage: Sue, whose story is here and and Leanne who shared here too. Welcome Christina!

 

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

One of the scariest times in my life was in 2010 when I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.

I was a single mother of two teenaged boys and had to undergo several heart procedures.

During one angiogram I was paralysed but still aware so I couldn’t let the doctors know I was awake, and could feel everything.  After another angiogram I bled from the insertion site and went into complete heart block for 6 minutes, requiring CPR.

If I hadn’t still been in the hospital I would have died

 

 

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

Knowing I was that close to dying changed my outlook on life.

I never take for granted the gift of life, and I value the people close to me very much.

I was terrified of leaving my sons motherless so staying healthy has always been a priority.

I lost my own mother to cancer when I was 24 and did not want my sons to go through a life without me in it.

 

 

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

If you are facing challenges and feel scared and anxious, get support.

I’ve cried on my friends’ shoulders many times.

Admit you’re scared – there’s nothing to be ashamed of in voicing your fears.

I’ve found support from others who have gone through the same thing invaluable, so find out if there is a support group that you can join.

There are groups online as well, such as facebook groups.  I have sought help from counsellors as well if I need it.

 

 

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

I am about to face more health challenges this year and my priority is to do everything I can to keep my body as healthy as possible.

I have been diagnosed with BRCA 2 gene mutation which puts me in high risk for ovarian and breast cancer, so I have chosen to have risk reducing surgery – removal of my ovaries and a double mastectomy.

It’s really scary, but the thought of having cancer scares me more.

 

 

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

Just take one day at a time, and get through each challenge before you tackle the next.

For example, each doctor’s visit, or diagnostic test, or operation.  When it’s a medical issue, there are often so many appointments to get to.

I look at the calendar each night and work out where I have to be tomorrow.

Take a support person to the ones that you worry about the most, especially specialist appointments.

There’s usually so much information to take it that it can be overwhelming.  Having someone with you can calm you and they will be able to recall the things that you can’t remember.

 

Add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

Facing challenges in life can be overwhelming.

Life can seem to spiral out of control.

In these situations, if you admit you don’t have control it gives you a sense of relief.

If you are a spiritual person it can help to hand it all over to God and say, I know it is out of my control. My life is in your hands, what will be will be.

At the present time the world is being challenged by Covid-19.

We are having to adjust to lockdowns, lifestyle changes and risks to our health – no-one can escape this unless they are on a desert island somewhere.

It is completely out of our control and many people are struggling with it, including myself.

We can’t control everything, but we can control ourselves.

Only get advice from respected official sources and block out the rest – there is so much misinformation out there, and it can be overwhelming.

Get help if you’re struggling.

 

So much courage in those words Christina and yet there is so much to be  scared about. You have a big hurdle of challenges health-wise to overcome, and I wish you all the best in terms of recovery and future good health. So much advice there based on your personal experiences.

Thank you.

I have included some counselling links too, for anyone who may need them. Cancer Council Australia has links too, for the two cancers you are doing all you can to prevent.

Denyse.

Do check out Christina’s sites under her name: midlifestylist.

Website:  https://www.midlifestylist.com

Facebook:  https://facebook.com/midlifestylist

Instagram:  https://instagram.com/midlife_stylist

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/midlifestylist

 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

  • Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details
  • Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/
  • Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor
  • Cancer Council Australia: https://www.cancer.org.au/

 

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #42. Ann. 45/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #42. Ann. 45/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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 woman of courage, Ann who is 70, has known me longer than anyone who would be reading this blog….unless my brother or father do ….and I suspect not.

Ann and I met aged 10 when our family moved from Wollongong to the northern beaches Sydney suburb of Balgowlah Heights. I was placed in 4th class in December 1959 as Dad decided my brother and I should start school before the long summer holidays. I then went into 5th and 6th class with Ann, who had been at the school since Kindergarten. She and her family also lived in the same street as the school and I remember visiting their amazing house.

Sadly, like my parents’ house it no longer looks as it did in those years.

Ann and I also travelled by bus to Manly Girls High School as the foundation students for the 6 years of the education now known so well and we did both the School (Year 10 1965) and Higher School Certificates (Year 12 1967). By the time the senior years came we had different subject choices, friendship groups and futures planned that were tertiary education-based. I went to teaching and she went to architecture.

We lost any connections until the latter years when we found each other via facebook or maybe one of those school groups. I can’t recall. However, before we left Sydney we caught up for those decades having a morning tea together…and discovering for all those preceding years, she and I had probably passed each other quite a few times as Castle Hill’s “Towers” as she and her family, like ours, settled in the north-west of Sydney, not the northern beaches!

 

 

 

 

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

I have never considered myself as a particularly courageous person and found myself wondering how to respond to Denyse’s request to take part in her mission, so my first reaction was to look up the meaning of courage. 

“Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery”, “strength in the face of pain or grief”.

After deliberating, I can look back at times during my 70 years of life on Planet Earth where that “ability to do something that frightens” certainly played into action, although I was oblivious of my strength of courage to work through these events at the time. 

My first need to find strength was during 3rd Grade at school, as we had a most terribly strict female teacher who delighted in the use of harsh military tactics and corporal punishment to maintain discipline. The entire class was petrified, scared stiff and united in our fear of this sadistic woman, to the point that her behaviour was a major talking point amongst us when we were out of the classroom.

I remember waking every Monday morning with dread, then thinking to myself that I made it through last week, so I would get through the coming week.

Courage? Yes, and incredibly, I now realise that I have recalled and drawn on this singular experience of that brave little eight-year old girl many, many times.

 

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

I was raised by parents who drew no gender barrier in our household of six females and two males, and due to my love and abilities in the artistic and mathematical arenas, selected a career in architecture.

This was a field dominated by men back in the 1960s, but of which I was rather naively oblivious.

After graduation, I had a struggle finding employment as I had to scan the “Positions Vacant, Men and Boys” columns of the daily newspaper and often did not get beyond the receptionist, who was quick to remind me that I was “a girl”.

However, I persevered over months of unsuccessful interviews and finally did find employment with a delightful partnership of three “liberated” young men.

I still faced the difficulties of a young woman dealing with foremen and labourers on building sites and men in local councils who decided I was the receptionist, but that little girl was always there in the back of my head, pushing me to rise above them and whispering “you’ll get through this”.

I am the mother of four children, born six and a half years apart, and when the youngest was just under three years of age, I found it necessary to end my marriage.

I had since moved my design career sideways, running my own business in stage and costume design, which enabled me to work from home.

But…raising my four children, running the home and working my business, all entirely on my own, was hard, hard work.

There was no time out, apart from the school holidays when my wonderful parents and equally wonderful mother-in-law would take two each of the children for a few days, then swap.

There were times of total exhaustion, but I always remembered my 3rd Grade experience, and how I had managed, as an eight-year old, to “make it through” each week.

Over the last eight years, I have dealt with lung cancer on two occasions four years apart, occurring in each lung and requiring radical surgery both times.

I suffered greatly due to a surgical mishap during the first surgery, so when it was necessary to repeat the operation four years later, I was most fearful of the outcome.

Again, that little girl and my years of experience helped me to remain strong, particularly around my now adult children, who were as fearful of possible outcomes as me.

 

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

I live by the “one day at a time” adage, and it is now obvious to me that my eight-year old self survived her 3rd Grade schooling by taking one day at a time.

Yoga, yoga breathing and meditation follow on from this and both can be done anytime, anywhere.

 

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

As an Elder now, I feel that I now have the advantage of many life experiences to fall back on. 

Strange, though, as I had not realised how important a landmark the courage and determination of that little 8-year old girl had become in my life, until I began to ponder upon Denyse’s questions. Thanks, Denyse!

 

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

This is a crazy hectic world that we live in, and it is difficult, at times, to not become overwhelmed and fearful.

However, this is your life and you have permission to be selfish about inner peace.

Take time out during times of stress to wind down. 

Relax, breathe slowly and deeply to calm the mind, as it only takes a few minutes to realign.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I give permission to anyone who reads this to use that little voice my that whispered to my 8-year old self: 

“You made it through last week, you’ll make it through this week…”

 

 

Thank you Ann. This was a big one for you to respond to and I am most grateful that you did ponder the questions and let your memory and voice through. Getting to 70 and being well is a great outcome. Let’s continue to connect and one day we will be sharing a cuppa again too! 

Denyse.

Here’s a little trip down memory lane which Ann and I shared. Thanks again, Ann!

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #41 Johanna Castro. 43/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #41 Johanna Castro. 43/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

So good to welcome Johanna (I know her as Jo!)  to share her story here this week. Jo, who is 62, is a regular blogger and writer who has been part of the international and Australian travel and writing scene for a long time. I am pretty sure Jo and I met (or at least saw each other in passing!) at Digital Parents Conference for Bloggers in Melbourne in 2012. So many people at that one and so many are no longer blogging but I have made many on-line and off-line friends thanks to occasions such as those – sadly none like them anymore- conferences and am always grateful for those connections made. Now it’s Jo who is sharing her story today.

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

 

Courage is a funny thing.

  • As the ability to do something that frightens you, I think it presents itself in both big life changing ways and in small everyday incidents.
  • For some people it’s finding the courage to face life in the most warrior-like way when halted by heartbreaking or frightening setbacks.
  • For others it’s being able to summon up courage at points in their lives when if they didn’t they would surely spiral downwards and not recover from the problem.

And for some, courage has to be summonsed every day just to keep living.

 

Have I been courageous?  I would say no, not really.

Although in the overall scheme of things perhaps some people might disagree.

  • Was I courageous when I set off from England for the Continent aged 18 with a rucksack on my back and a guitar slung over my shoulder, waving the White Cliffs of Dover goodbye knowing not what to expect as I headed off to be a groom for a showjumping family in Belgium?

Was this in itself courageous?

  • Well, yes because I was young and shy and emotionally insecure and I was acting out of character and defying the status quo of what was expected of me.
  • But also, no not really, because many young people have set off on similar Dick Whittington quests to travel and see the world.
  • I was also deep down reaching for a new life to escape a situation that was beyond my control because domestic abuse tainted an otherwise idyllic childhood.
  • And this leap of faith into the unknown leaving privilege and fear behind, set the course for the rest of my life when moving countries became the status quo, through necessity rather than choice.

 

 

Some years later I met a geologist from South Africa when we were both backpacking in South East Asia.

When we married I half expected to always be adorned with pretty and priceless pieces of rock that he picked up during the course of his geological hammerings, and that we would be safely settled in England by the age of 40.

How wrong I was. The reality was that we would always be on the move. Project to project. Internationally. And geologists often go in at ground zero level when nothing, not even the houses to live in, have been built.

We’ve lived in the most remote situations.

  • A tiny caravan trawled to a spot high in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho next to a river which soon came down in flood. Here the mountain road was termed as ‘the road to hell and back’, the big wigs were helicoptered in, we drove.
  • I almost got away with swapping the outdoor Porta Loo they gave us for a palomino pony that a Basutho horseman brought by one day. At least until Dave and the village chief intervened.
  • On another occasion we went from the wide open spaces of South Africa, and a house with a large garden, to a flat the size of a postage stamp on the 22d floor of a high rise building in Hong Kong where I home schooled our children for a year because there were there was a two year waiting list for a place in schools on Lantau Island where we lived.
  • My wild African toddlers were not impressed with the tiny balcony or our tiny flat, but we learnt to love Hong Kong with a vengeance.

In the very early years of our marriage Dave was offered a job as a geologist in the foothills of the Himalayas and I was pregnant with our first child. Six months pregnant and we had an auction on the lawn. All our worldly possessions and furniture went up for sale – bar what we could fit in our suitcases.

Sam was just 5 weeks old when we set off to live at a remote project site between Kathmandu and Pokhara, reached along treacherous roads, where we were without a phone, 3 hours from the nearest Doctor, and where food supplies were scarce. We had to put water through a 5 point purification process in our tiny kitchen before it was drinkable, and our diet consisted mostly of dhal, bhat, tarkari (lentil, rice and vegetable curry.)

I ended up breastfeeding Sam for 21 months, Dave became very sick from combined dysentery and hepatitis, and I was desperately tired, worried and home sick most of the time – though baby Sam thankfully survived in a robust way!

So I guess I have been courageous, and although people might say I’m lucky (of course) I have also had to sacrifice geographical safety and family stability for a life of constant change. We’ve moved 21 times, 11 times internationally. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and I can definitely vouch for that.

 

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

Having the courage to leave your roots, your family and friends and continuously jump off a proverbial cliff into the unknown has changed me because in time I realised that I didn’t have to live constrained by the limitations of other people’s expectations, or the chains that society places on us.

I also learnt that leaping into the unknown with courage and energy will always throw up fantastic opportunities and exciting new horizons along with lovely new friendships.

 

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

Don’t be afraid to change direction.

There is no wrong direction.

Go boldly and you will find pots of gold that you never even expected.

You have to remember that your heart and your head can put up all sorts of obstructions if you dare to reach beyond your comfort zone, but sometimes you just can’t look at the possible problems that lie ahead, you just have to go for it – don’t question – just go with it.

“I can do this. I’ve got this. Let’s do it.”

It might be a fleeting thought, you might not even believe it when it first appears, but you have to hang onto it, expand it, and nurture it without putting up tons of obstacles.

 

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

Yes, definitely. And I hope so! But I guess it also depends on the sort of courage that’s required in the future.

When I had a melanoma on my back I fainted before the surgeon had even made his first cut, and blood tests of any sort always send my heart straight to my boots, and my head longing to reach down between my knees!

 

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

You are stronger and more resourceful than you imagine.

 

Wow. What a traveller and story-teller from real life living you are Jo! I thought we had lived in some remote teaching spots in New South Wales but your experiences are winners “hands down”. What a ride you have had…and come up for air and can see the courage within too. As for procedures involving nasties like melanomas…you are entitled to deal with that in the way you did. Thank you so much for sharing an amazing story of LIFE lived by you.

Jo has a number of social media connections and they are all listed below for your investigation and following.

Denyse.

Social Media:

Blog/Website: https://lifestylefifty.com and https://zigazag.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/johannaAcastro

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://facebook.com/lifestylefifty and https://facebook.com/thezigazagmag

Instagram: https://instagram.com/lifestylefifty

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Women of Courage Series.#39 Natalie. 39/2020.

Women of Courage Series.#39 Natalie. 39/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

I welcome Natalie to share her story here this week. Natalie is a regular and very keen blogger who joins up on my Monday Link Up called Life This Week. Her presence is valued for her continued support of the world of blogging both here and elsewhere in this world of ours. Over to you Natalie.

 

 

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

I’m sharing three of my life experiences where I have had to be courageous:

  • My first experience with courage came when I was in elementary school. Two students who were older and bigger than me had been bullying my younger sister. One day I caught them doing it in the playground. I felt scared but stood up for my sister and told them to stop. I didn’t know what the outcomes would be but felt I had to say something right at that moment. Fortunately, whatever I said worked and those students never bothered us again.

 

  • I had a near death health-related experience when I was about nine years old. I was misdiagnosed at first. By the time I was taken to the hospital, I was at a critical stage. I remember the sensation of life leaving my body when I was in the emergency room. I ended up in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with complications that required an operation, a lengthy hospital stay, a second surgery, and follow-up rehab. I had to be brave to survive the entire ordeal as I was very sick and in a lot of pain.

 

  • On a more positive note, I’ve travelled solo to many foreign countries where I don’t know the language. The first solo trip took more courage than subsequent trips. However, every trip is unique so even now, I still feel some butterflies when I go on my own.

 

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

  • From the first experience, I learned to be assertive. Like Maggie Kuhn once said: “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”

 

  • From the second experience, I learned life is fragile and one health emergency can quickly end it. I learned to always take good care of my health and to enjoy life as much as I can.

 

  • From the third experience, I learned a lot about world cultures, adapting to changes, and opening myself to new human connections. I’m grateful to have made a few long lasting friendships through my travels.

 

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

  • I think we all have courage within ourselves and just need to dig deep when we need it

 

  • What’s important is for the person to choose an action for a better future or to accomplish something personal.

 

  • Inaction or inertia would lead to regrets.

 

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

  • Yes, I think my life experiences and resilience will help me overcome any new crisis.

 

  • Once I survived a near death experience and thrive, everything else seems less critical.

 

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

  • Do self-care and practice positive thinking every day so you feel strong mentally and physically.

 

  • Follow your heart and use your head to get you there.

 

  • Ask for help as needed.

 

Thank you Natalie  for taking the opportunity to share your story of courage, containing three and incredible examples from your life. I sure can understand that you are living a life now that is full and rich based on your experiences and that in itself is testament to your courage.

Denyse.

Social Media: 

Blog/Website:  https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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