Thursday 5th August 2021

Women of Courage Series. #64. Anne Howe. 89/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #64. Anne Howe. 89/2021.

In July 2021 The Women of Courage posts will be connected in some way to World Head and Neck Cancer Month (July) and the #WHNCD Day on 27 July 2021. Those who have followed my blog since 2017 know I was diagnosed with a rare Head and Neck Cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip. More here.

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

Whilst Anne Howe, who is in her late 60s, and I have not met in real life, we have connected on-line via a very supportive facebook group for those affected by Head and Neck Cancer. The details are below. Anne’s story looks short yet it is incredibly full of courage from Anne’s words, taking the best chance you can as a human to survive a devastating diagnosis and allowing those who have your trust to do their best for you. Anne is a very determined woman, loved by her large family and often a carer to others. She has had more surgery since her post-HNC photo was taken and this has been, as best as it might happen, for her to have some teeth added inside her mouth.

Note from Anne:

 While I have had teeth made I am unable to wear them until I have had the screws implanted in my jaw and the bridging work made. Then its fingers crossed to hope my jaws don’t crumble due to the radiation. So still a way to go there.

I chose to use both images supplied by Anne as they do illustrate her words at the end of her story. I have, though, used her image before the surgeries for her Woman of Courage collage because it was then she needed to have all the courage she could muster to go through her many trials in her head and neck cancer journey.

Thank you, Anne. Let’s share your responses now.

 

 

 

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

My moment of courage kicked in when I presented for surgery to remove a SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) tumour from my nose back in 2017.

I was nervous and terrified as anyone is when facing surgery but the full impact hit when my surgeon came to see me.

His first words when explaining my surgery really tore through me.

He could NOT give me informed consent.

I would have to trust him and he promised to do the very best he could for me.

At best he would remove the tumour and do his best to repair the damage but at worst I could just wake up with a hole in my face.

With a very shaking hand I signed on  the line but while doing it a very gentle hand covered mine and a gentle voice told me he would take good care of me.

I woke up to find I had lost most of my nose, my top lip up to the nose, some of my left cheek, my central upper jaw and part of the soft palate.

 

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

After my surgery I was informed by my surgeon that I was stage 4 and he didn’t think I would survive.

He had done his best to get me this far and I made up my mind to do whatever I needed to do to get through this which is exactly what I have done.

I knew I had a long hard road ahead with a lot of work to be done.

Over the last 4 years I have endured 11 surgeries on my nose and 30 sessions of radiation.

I still have further nasal surgery to have and also surgery on my mouth due to having lost part of my jaw. (this is some of  the surgery I mentioned in my introduction)

 

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

When I woke up from surgery and first  saw my face I thought that was it.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think it could be repaired to the stage it has.

I put my faith and trust in my surgeon which was the best thing I could ever have done.

The other thing that helped get me through was the love and support of my family and friends.

 

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

I have learned from this experience that I am stronger than I ever thought I was.

I have often been told I am very brave but I disagree.

I have fears just like everyone else but to survive I just had to put on my big girl pants and do what was needed as the other option just didn’t bear thinking about.

It really was a live or die situation.

Over time my strength has just grown.

 

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

To anyone going through something that fills you with fear or concern my advice is to give everything you have because only then can you say you really tried.

Surround yourself with some people who will truly understand and accept you no matter what.

Sometimes I have needed to vent or just have a good cry to let those emotions out and that is important too.

Never give up.

 

My favourite saying through all this has been:

My face does not define me I am still the same person.

Anne, your courage and your story blow me away. What a great relationship you have with your surgeon. Trust is so much a part of it. I am so glad you are here, and looking after your family too…as you continue to recover. Thank you so much.

Denyse.

Note About Head and Neck Cancer Support on-line.

IF a family member or someone you know does have a diagnosis of a head and neck cancer or that person is a carer, the value of a good facebook group cannot be over-done. The friendly space that IS this group for eligible people to request membership is a good one. There are people from all over the world but the group is not huge so personal connections can be made. It is mainly made up of New Zealanders, and Aussies too…along with those from the U.S. There are questions to be answered to join and it IS strictly for those with a head and neck cancer. Link is here.

This is a link to Head and Neck Cancer Australia too. This is where I found information initially after my 2017 diagnosis and where I am now an Ambassador.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

 

 

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Head & Neck Cancer: Eating & Drinking Challenges. 29/51 #LifeThisWeek. 88/2021.

Head & Neck Cancer: Eating & Drinking Challenges. 29/51 #LifeThisWeek. 88/2021.

 

July: World Head and Neck Cancer Day. 27.7.2021.

As it’s July, I am publishing more posts relating to Head and Neck Cancer as 27 July is World Head and Neck Cancer Day. It only started back in 2014 I think, with Michael Douglas the actor making the speech to open the world congress for all Head and Neck Professionals. Michael has had #hnc as it’s often abbreviated.

In my role as an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia, I will share more on-line and links about it too.

Blog Disclaimer: see end of post.

Denyse:

Those of you who have followed me before and since I was diagnosed with a head and neck cancer, know that I continue to write and share about this awful cancer which affects more people than ever. And, for me, back in 2017 I was completely ignorant of its existence.

To inform, educate and to make aware is what I like to think is something I can contribute these days on-line.

I’ve been given a new book to help cancer patients and their carers to read and review. It’s by Dr Toni Lindsay, a qualified Clinical and Health Psychologist who works in Oncology at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. This quote resonated with me, as I am guessing it would with the other people I have mentioned in this post:

Eating is one of our most social activities and often forms much of our connection and engagement with our family and friends. Feeling you are not able to engage in this way can be overwhelming and isolating. So if you are likely to be unable to eat for extended periods of time *it is perhaps worth thinking of ways in which you can continue in social activities that don’t involved food. 

*We understand this, of course, as part of our recovery but, we are also able to eat again and yet, it remains a challenge. Please read on! Thank you.

This is why I am sharing about the challenges of eating and drinking after head and neck cancer with a lot of help from my friends, and Head and Neck Cancer Australia.

This is one place you could find information:

https://www.headandneckcancer.org.au/health-and-wellbeing/diet-and-nutrition/nutrition-videos

This image from the day of filming at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Here is my blog post about that day, the ways in which I have had to adapt my eating and drinking and more.

And those of you who know me in real life, know that I can socialise but it’s helpful for me to have a coffee and something sweet to eat so I tend to choose going to a late morning tea with friends and family and they may have lunch. I cannot eat a meal outside the house unless it’s with family and I can pick & choose. Sound fussy? Not really but practical.

You see my mouth can only hold so much food at a time, and chewing only has two small areas in my mouth, towards the front and food congregates there as I try to get it right for swallowing with ease and not choking.

It’s something that you cannot tell by looking at me, right? But it is like this and I now share more frankly as a result.

I also lose fluid at the side of my mouth unless I keep up with the paper towels/tissues. My upper lip was reconstructed and it does not seal any more. However, it is all pretty good, and the more I share, the less I am embarrassed I guess.

Maureen:

Like me, Maureen is often seen on social media with a coffee in front of her. It is NOT the same double shot as mine but one she truly enjoys and can have it with friends.

Maureen is  a Woman of Courage who told her story here.

She sent me these notes about her eating & drinking challenges.

What adaptations have you had to make to daily life and eating/drinking post head and neck cancer?

  1. My case is unusual and my eating is marred by dribbling so I have to have facecloths to my lips every time I consume anything.
  2. I’ve lost teeth and my marginal mandibular nerve.
  3. I have two boxes of cloths, one on each end of the sofa and I take at least 3 wherever I go.
  4. Believe me, tissues are not enough, even big fat hospital tissues. I
  5. have to do a machine wash every day.
  6. Never had any help with this as I guess there is nothing else you can do.

What advice would you give to others as they recover and are back ‘in the real world’ post HNC?

My advice as such is that it is good to meet up with other non-social eaters and have a coffee.

Coffee is manageable – in fact I often have two cups when I’m with “normals” who are eating. Maureen’s personal blog about Head and Neck Cancer is here. 

Maureen is one of the leaders of this amazing Head and Neck Cancer Facebook Group and she is also the person who blogs about head and neck cancer here and has been instrumental with other people connected with head and neck charity in New Zealand, starting this way of helping others. Head and Neck Cancer Aotearoa Charitable Trust. https://hncsa.org.nz/

IF a family member or someone you know does have a diagnosis of a head and neck cancer or that person is a carer, the value of a good facebook group cannot be over-done.

The friendly space that IS this group for eligible people to request membership is a good one. https://www.facebook.com/groups/HNCSupport.Aotearoa

There are people from all over the world but the group is not huge so personal connections can be made. It is mainly made up of New Zealanders, and Aussies too…along with those from the U.S. There are questions to be answered to join and it IS strictly for those with a head and neck cancer. Link is here.

 

Yvonne:

Readers here have met Yvonne via her post as a Woman of Courage here. 

Yvonne has appeared in an on-line Soup for The Soul event for Head and Neck Cancer Australia last year when we were prevented from doing anything ‘live’ because of COVID. Yvonne’s cancer has changed so much about her life, and the link here, to her newly published book tells more.
1.What adaptations have you had to make to daily life and eating/drinking post head and neck cancer?
  • Meals and what they consist of have completely changed for me.
  • I note now I eat a lot more vegetable and pulses.
  • I do add fruit to my smoothies but sadly just biting into fruit and eating it is out of my range unless it’s mango, lychee or something of that consistency.
  • Drinking alcohol is now pretty much non existent and I was quite the drinker in that I was a party girl and loved nothing more than to sit with friends over a bottle of sparkling or 3 !

So that has also changed for me. It has had a bigger impact too I think because pretty much COVID hit when I was convalescing and of course I had already quit my job and moved countries.

Picking at food and tasting whilst cooking is non existent too these days, I miss just jamming my finger in my mouth to taste stuff, my taste buds thankfully have come back but I still surprise myself with flavour layering occasionally and find sharp and sudden flavours ( acid and sour) sometime confrontational.
What advice would you give to others as they recover and are back ‘in the real world’ post HNC?
I am also very keen to see more support around the emotional and psychological fallout of HNC treatment, I think this has a huge impact as does food in terms of how people come out the other side.

Do my program!  : )  Mind Food Body Program as part of the nofeedingtubes movement.

Yvonne introduced me to this word. Yes, I understand this well. Thank you.

Commensality – eating and drinking at the same table – is a fundamental social activity, which creates and cements relationships. It also sets boundaries, including or excluding people according to a set of criteria defined by the society.

 

Marty:

Marty is a fellow Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia. He and I chatted recently about the challenges of eating post head and neck cancer.

We met back in September 2018 and I was so excited to not only meet up but to share a photo as I had only just had my “teeth” installed.

Interestingly some of his responses were ones I have heard before from members of the Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group.

Marty is more than 17 years post his cancer treatments. Radiation was one.

Marty spoke of limitations of eating rice, fried rice and spicy foods.

Food that were previously enjoyed. It seems taste and texture remains an issue.

And often because of the loss of salivary glands or damage, swallowing becomes hard.

So like others I asked, Marty finds he has to adapt his eating practices often making sure there is a liquid element to the meal such as soup – this is why the fundraiser for head and neck cancer focusses on soup – and to have a drink of water nearby.

Most of us carry out own small bottles of water.

For some of us, it’s a lack of saliva and we need to replenish our mouths to be able to talk. For others it’s about making sure some lingering food crumbs and pieces can go down.

This group photo of some member of the Central Coast Head and Neck Support group at Christmas time 2020 tells an unwritten story.

 

At this table there are 7 head and neck cancer ‘survivors’.

  • Each of us has had different treatments and each of us has been left with eating (and sometimes drinking) challenges when we go out.
  • There were some here who had to have lots of gravy (as an extra) added to their meals, others asked for their meal to be “blended”…oh that is not something some places like to do.
  • Seriously hard on the person who could have enjoyed the baked dinner that way.
  • Instead, from memory the meal became mashed potato and gravy.
  • Others had to make sure there was nothing spicy or with chillis.
  • And as for me, you already know, I chose what I knew I could eat from a mouth concern and how much my stomach could handle.
  • I enjoyed coffee and some date loaf. I have learned not to be embarrassed because the social part of the get together was for me, the important part.

And More From Denyse.

I cannot use a straw any more. My mouth does not seal.

I can have a Christmas lunch. It just needs to be adapted by me.

Here is what I ate on Christmas Day 2020 at home. We were in a covid concerning time and chose not to go to Sydney. So, I made up for my disappointment this way.

Soup for The Soul.

Sadly, due to on-going Covid19 restrictions and closures in our area of New South Wales, this event will not proceed as hoped on World Head and Neck Cancer Day. We “are” however, hopeful of having it at another time. 

Tracey and Me: Soup For the Soul.

Tammy.

In keeping with my own learning about the effects of head and neck cancer, I am adding a paragraph, written by a woman who is both carer and wife in a long term marriage and as things go, can never again have the pleasure of the simplest thing: eating a meal with her husband who has had devastating head and neck cancers taking away his ability to talk – he can communicate via Ipad, but his wife can no longer remember how he sounded…but it’s this, as she gave me permission to share, that I feel needs to be thought about and taken into consideration:

I also think of those who never eat again. For many of this group, communication/talking is not an option either. I know its a very small/rare group , but it’s one dear to me. Socialising involves talking, eating and drinking with others . Its what makes us Human Beings. For a small group of H&Ners, none of this is possible.

Thank you Tammy. I am grateful for your words.

Denyse.

My stories and photos along with suggested links and websites must not be seen as medical advice. I write this blog from my experience as a head and neck cancer patient. Words from others are accordingly from their personal experience and not to be taken as nutritional/dietary/medical advice. Seek what you might need from qualified health professional  who understand the needs of cancer patients.  Denyse Whelan. 2021.

Link Up #249

Life This Week. Link Up #249

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. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

* 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, sales 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: Share Your Snaps. #6. Mine Will Relate to Head & Neck Cancer Awareness. 

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Women of Courage Series. #63. Cosette Calder. 86/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #63. Cosette Calder. 86/2021.

In July 2021 The Women of Courage posts will be connected in some way to World Head and Neck Cancer Month (July) and the #WHNCD Day on 27 July 2021. Those who have followed my blog since 2017 know I was diagnosed with a rare Head and Neck Cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip. More here.

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

Those of us who have been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer never feel quite alone when there are others we can share our stories and one such place is a special facebook group (private, but ask to join) here based in New Zealand. This is where I virtually met Cosette Calder, aged 46, and she was someone I reached out to share her story of head and neck cancer, and here she is. Thank you Cosette.

 

 

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

  • In 2015 I was diagnosed with throat cancer.
  • I had a young family, full time job and life was busy.
  • Suddenly everything stopped and I had to undergo Chemo and Radiation Treatment to beat this cancer and have a chance to live.

 

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

  • I had a brutal cancer treatment.
  • I couldn’t eat food and had to have a tube inserted into my stomach.
  • For two months I only drank water and was tube fed.
  • I lost 8kgs and some of my hair fell out.
  • I really had to dig deep to get through this treatment.
  • I had a plastic mask made of my head and shoulders.
  • This mask was for the radiation treatment.
  • My head had to be perfectly still on the radiation table so the mask was bolted across my face to the table for 20 minutes a day during radiation treatment.
  • It is incredibly scary and claustrophobic.
  • I somehow managed it.
  • I am proud of myself for the courage of wearing the mask when I was so ill and feeling down.
  • I fought hard whilst being so unwell. I didn’t realise I could be so strong.

 

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

  • Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Sometimes we can’t help what happens to us.
  • Keep moving on and keep trying.
  • Acceptance too helps.
  • By accepting my cancer diagnosis I was able to focus and keep moving ahead.

 

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

  • I am stronger now.
  • I have been pushed to the limit and I know how lucky I am to be here.

 

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

  • You CAN do it!

 

Oh my, yes we do have brutal treatments don’t we?

However, in reading this of your experience as a head and neck cancer patient Cosette, and, now well-recovered, it is a tribute to your human qualities of strength and courage that you have recovered and now share your story. Thank you again. I am sharing the information below from the New Zealand Based Facebook Group for Head & Neck Cancers. Thanks to for all you do to share awareness!

Denyse.

Note About Head and Neck Cancer Support on-line.

IF a family member or someone you know does have a diagnosis of a head and neck cancer or that person is a carer, the value of a good facebook group cannot be over-done. The friendly space that IS this group for eligible people to request membership is a good one. There are people from all over the world but the group is not huge so personal connections can be made. It is mainly made up of New Zealanders, and Aussies too…along with those from the U.S. There are questions to be answered to join and it IS strictly for those with a head and neck cancer. Link is here.

This is a link to Head and Neck Cancer Australia too. This is where I found information initially after my 2017 diagnosis and where I am now an Ambassador.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

 

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Motivate. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 70/2021.

Motivate. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 70/2021.

When I first returned to this optional prompt I drew a blank.

What was I thinking?

And then as I reviewed the categories under which I write my blog posts, I saw these:

  • Gratitude
  • Health & Mindfulness
  • Life This Week Link Up
  • Self Care Stories
  • Stories About Ageing
  • What I Wore: Self Care & Confidence
  • Word of the Year.

Right.

I asked my husband about motivation and the fact that, in my opinion, motivation comes from within. His response was that there are, for example, at times others who may be motivated after a positive, uplifting and genuine comment from someone they respect. More on motivation and quotes about it are here:

I can see now how I use each of those above to motivate myself every single day.

However, I will add that when I was anxious and not willing to give anything new a go, at my worst emotional health times in 2015-May 2017, I could not motivate myself much at all, except to “get up, get dressed and do something creative and then try to see a bigger world around me.

THIS improved for me…and it might be helpful, to know more, by reading these two posts:

But first. I wrote two blog posts here and here about Doing the Hard Things back in late 2018.

I learned for myself that putting off doing anything because of fear, worry or concerns was actually a backward step. I learned, over time, to motivate myself when, if I got a bit scared or worried, I would say….Mmm This is a sign you actually need to do that. It still works for me, every time.

I used my choice of clothing every day once I was able to get out and about after the first head and neck cancer surgery in 2017. I have written about that here.

It truly IS a motivator for me even now. What I wore: Self Care and Confidence. 

On any day where I might feel I can’t be bothered, I shake that attitude away and realised being bothered is what makes me feel better…and motivated to live life as I can now.

And let me add some photos from days I remember than motivation was harder but I still managed to get out …”of my head and into the bigger world”. Health & Mindfulness…. I remember where I can go, and it always helps.

And I cannot lie, doing 10 minutes of Calm: morning with Daily Calm and evening with Daily Trip is as necessary to my well-being as eating and drinking. Contrary to the myth that you need to clear your brain/mind to meditate, that is impossible. What you are practising is to pay less attention to those thoughts, daydreams and distractions and even if you do, no worries just come back to the breath. No recriminations. No blame. In fact the teachers I follow have been doing this for over 20 years and that they too have this happen. All we need to do, is stay. Like a puppy in training. Stay…with the breath and listen to the person who is helping you.

These are some of the visuals that pop up after my sessions. I keep those which resonate with me.

About that word called Gratitude. I can attest to its magical powers…I can be feeling pretty down, maybe even sad and worried and then, somewhere out of the back of my mind, comes that reminder, based on the 12+ months I practised it. It works. A sense of gratitude takes me from the trivial and not great with a reminder.

Getting ready for Monday’s Life This Week is a great motivator and rarely a chore. I am always grateful to have a wonderful and loyal community of other blogging friends who visit to link up and comment. My Mondays are better for Life This Week!

A few years ago, via suggestions from others, I decided that self care could be a stand alone category and optional prompt. People agreed that they wanted it and would, it seemed, be motivated to share what they see and do as self care. It made me accountable too. It is a great motivator, isn’t it? That we need to ‘account’ for ourselves. Optional of course. But I tend to need the discipline.

Then there is this. Stories About Ageing. What’s good or motivating about this? The fact that, when I can, I see the good in the ageing process. I have better perspective on some of life’s big challenge. Even changed from say 5 years ago. I am more motivated now to get interested in some new to me things, take a risk and do something new and always remember that this will be the youngest I will be today!!

Last but never least is this: My word of the year. 

It’s said that we use far more muscles to frown that to smile and that is helps release feel good hormones. I know that I love to smile these days as much as possible because there was a long time when I could not. And I will admit my smile now is the best one I have ever had. Thank you for my team!

 

Are you a self-movitator?

Do you do better with motivation from someone else?

Denyse.

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

Link Up #243

Life This Week. Link Up #243

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. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

* 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, sales 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: 24/51 Nourish. 14 June. My post will be Telling My Story. Part 1/3 2021.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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What’s The Story Behind These Images? 8/2021.

What’s The Story Behind These Images? 8/2021.

Quite some time ago, years in fact, I began buying images from Dreamstime for use on the blog. I accumulated many and have used few.

I guess I have not used them in more recent times because the focus of those images was for my education category which I blogged about with frequency in 2012-2015.

I was also an Education Specialist assisting families and educators who were part of a group of pre-schools in the northern and norwest suburbs of Sydney.

I was very careful to only use approved photos from the organisation so I tended to add some of these images where there was a correlation between my written messages and the images.

Today, I am using my imagination to write something as I might see as the story behind the images.

Image One.

Here are the students in Year 9 who were asked to look as if we are reading and be interested too. However, you can see that that two of them who were excluded from being seated. Huh? Stand against the shelves and look like they are reading? We can do that. Still not sure what we are reading though. Guess if the teacher is smiling it might be a funny book?

However, in all seriousness it is good to see reading AND being in a library of interest. Far too much these days, books from libraries and students being able to access a library within a school setting is being denied. Something, something, funding! Rubbish. I wrote a post about it here.

Does your child’s school have a library and a trained teacher librarian?

 

Image Two.

This one is a very familiar image. Boy, in image, gets what they are supposed to be doing, as requested by the teacher, leaning over another student at a computer in rear of image. This is how it does happen in many schools. There is a computer lab or bank of them set up. Truly, it can be quite the challenge to keep this kind of lesson under control in terms of the students’ searches. Fortunately there are security set ups via the schools’ systems.

With a whole class of 30 this kind of lesson is exhausting! Back when I reckon this was the kind of way teachers may have “ticked” the boxes of computer education. This is less likely to be the kind of work done by students now as each classroom has a range of set ups for technology including interactive white boards. High school students have laptops and ipads too, as do many primary schools.

Do you remember this kind of lesson?

 

Image Three.

Taking the hand of an older and trust adult to be safe in terms of being outside, in a crowd, approaching the road, or even starting school. It is both reassuring and kind to the child as he or she makes changes that need some parental or adult support. However, of course, there can be hand-holding refusers and with those little ones, there needs to be a firmer grip…a kind one.

Did you know children need adult supervision to cross a road up to around the ages of 8-10. It is something to do with developing peripheral vision.

 

Image Four.

This is quite an homogenous group of four. Interestingly for me as I reviewed some of my images, I realised back when I was selecting them my unconscious bias took me to the familiar for me. White and anglo in appearance. I am quite surprised now that I look back and know that even acknowledging it is better than continuing this.

Do you think play and children’s ability to let off steam outdoors is allowed enough for these days?

 

Image Five.

I loved the connection of these two children as I imagined in this image. They seem comfortable with each other, and are moving along a bridge-like structure to another area. The simple parts of childhood can be forgotten in the hustle and bustle can’t they?

How much do children really get to play and explore within a relatively safe space. Food for thought.

 

 

And now for my images….I think I am missing return to school time in some ways but agree it is not something I could do practically nor emotionally but I still have the love of teaching in me.

My M.Ed. Graduation from CSU Wagga Wagga in 1991. My daughter used ‘the same cloak’ for her Masters of Education (Teacher Librarian) when she graduated in 2017.

 

Images Six, Seven & Eight.

Image Nine.

My Education Collage: Where two teachers met, our trip back to the area, farewelled by the Deputy Secretary of NSW Dept of Education, My Service Medal

Image Ten.

On 27 January 1970 this is where I began teaching. The classroom in background was mine, teaching a K/1 group. My image here: 50 years later we re-visited Barraba Central School.

That’s my  post about the stories and the images. It was thought-filled and a bit of fun as well as a trip down memory lane!

Did you enjoy being at school?

Tell me more.

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky here on Thursdays.

And here too for Natalie’s Link Up: Weekend Coffee Share

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Share Your Snaps.#10. 50/51.#LifeThisWeek.100/2020.

Share Your Snaps.#10. 50/51.#LifeThisWeek.100/2020.

The last, last lucky last post of Sharing Your Snaps in 2020.

I hope you have enjoyed this optional prompt as much as I have. It returns in 2021 every fifth week.

Every 5th Week

Mine is…about “ME” gosh. How different. LOL.

OK, it’s a series of Birthday Girl Photos…close as I could get anyway…to celebrating:

Denyse. 30 November Girl.

The post on my actual birthday: 30.11. paying tribute to my parents. They had me when they were 24 (Mum) 25 (Dad) This photo is from about 20 years ago.

I think I am 2 or 3 here.

Some images are better in full size!

At my 70th. Surrounded by the people who mean most to me.

With Dad (97 in Jan ’21)

 

I’ve had massive changes to my appearance thanks to oral cancer, then the reconstruction of my upper mouth, I have stayed rather ‘thinner’ than most of my adult years. Sometimes, I need something like now, a collage from birthdays, to notice this for myself. And accept I look well…and that I am doing well too.

A little aside – in photos of me turning 68 and 69 I have tried to blow out the candles. I cannot do this easily any more. My mouth, thanks to its reconstruction, cannot form the shape requires for this. It is the same for kissing…and blowing up a balloon and drinking via a straw. No can do. Interesting side-effects of my reconstruction and life moving on!

And I am incredibly grateful to be here and be well.

Happy Snapping.

Denyse.

Link Up 219

Life This Week. Link Up #219

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: Your Choice. 51/51. Last One In 2020.

Back on Mon 4 January with: 1/51 Word Of The Year.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Telling My Story.Chapter Nineteen. 2010-2012. 93/2020.

Telling My Story. 2010-2012. Chapter Nineteen. 93/2020.

About a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at...Chapter Nineteen.

I admitted last chapter  it is getting harder in some ways to blog about the more recent times. I think it is because without using particular markers (i.e. deaths, births, engagements, marriages, break ups…) then it can be hard to recall.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members.

I have a goal to continue to present at least one more of these chapters, after this one,   this year, have a break and be back in 2021.

All the posts are here if you would like to check them out.

Photo: #7 for Telling My Story.

2010, 2011, 2012.

The group of these three years are somewhat mixed up  for me in a chronological sense. I would possibly be making factual errors if I tried now to assign a month/year to an event or memory or significance. So, I will do this chapter with what were highlights, new and memories from this era.

No More Work in Schools.

I really knew when to go. In fact, I wrote last chapter by the time I got to 4th term of the year I turned 60 (2009) I was tired and ready to leave working in schools. Much had changed but much was also wearying. I no longer had the mental interest and physical stamina to be contributing member of a school staff. I also was aware that at my age and stage I did not want to be a negative influence either, so with grace and at the right timing for me, I retired to become:

Grandma (and Papa) Grandchild Carer.

As someone who actively resisted any call to stay at home for more than some months when I was a full time teacher seeking promotion, I had a different ‘take’ when it was about the offspring of those two of ours. This time around it would be our son’s two children – one a toddler getting to be a pre-schooler, and one a baby. We would begin care for up to 3 days a week for these two. Honestly, I have never been more physically tired but in such a good way.

It really was a fun time. The shops which sold kids and baby toys and more, did well out of me and we had an ideal set up for a child in a bed and one in a cot to be with us. I duplicated bottles, nappies and always had a ready supply of changes of clothes, along with a highchair, a stroller and much much more.

The two would be brought by whichever parent was coming our way in the mornings. Drop offs could be tricky. We did have tears a few times, even though we had practice stays but at time went on, things eased. We (the grandparents) got into our routine with the children too. There were stories with Papa while I did other things, and we convinced them for as long as possible that sleeps after lunch were mandatory because WE needed the break too.

 

The days of care changed from time to time and some days, as the children got older, we would also care for our daughter’s youngest. Honestly, 3 were hard work but we did it. For one term. One of these children is now in High School…and one goes next year, and the youngest in the group will be in primary school. What is it they say about time flying?

Denyse Needs Something Else To Do.

I have always been an early adopter. I had an on/off relationship with Facebook but twitter was my place to be and I met so many people there, and then via blogging from 2010 who continue to be friends and we have met up. I enjoyed the conversations on twitter that took me to new places, called blogs! So, by the end of 2010 – coming up ten years in December, I kicked off my foray into blogging.

Sadly I had to pay someone to set it up and then I had no real clue what to do other than post something. I did. Pretty sure I knew nothing about how to get others to read it. And then came (via twitter of course!) the information that there was going to be the First Ever Aussie Bloggers’ Conference. I hesitated thinking I was not really eligible and then with encouragement from the founder, I dived in. I attended the conference of two nights and one day in Sydney. This started me well on my way to…

Denyse Whelan Blogs.

So in the three years 2010-2012 the Australian (Mummy, then) Blogging Community grew and grew…there were events for bloggers run to help us understand sponsorship, brands and it was BIG learning for many of us and we then thought, a chance to MAKE some money from this thing called blogging….wow.

But not for many, in fact anyone like me did that happen. I did however, get some sponsorship to attend a Blogging conference in Melbourne – flights and accommodation. I was not really the demographic..in fact I was (still am) the oldest blogger in most cases. I was always made to feel welcome and enjoyed the connections. I think in 2011 I attended at least 4 blogging events and again a chance to learn and meet up with people.

From my previous career in schools I learned more about others and was no longer only about schooling and education. I have, as I said, made great friends via blogging and many I got to meet not only at the conferences but sometimes at sponsors’ events where I was invited to a promotion and with gifts of products (mine were often related to children’s learning) to blog about.

Over these years I did try a range of types of blogging and got my head around link ups and more. But what I needed was a blog developer and I got this in the form of meeting with the kind person who (still) looks after any aspects of my blog in a technical way. It took me some money and more understanding to get this blog thing something that worked for me. I then got on with all I could do and learn from others. Took me to Melbourne 3 times in that period.

Life Challenges and Great Memories Made With Young Grandkids.

In this three year period, my husband was not well. He has had a pretty tough road in terms of medical challenges because his body has many parts that do not work well…mostly related to his spine. He was medically retired from teaching aged 30. That is part of the story for year 1978.

Now, even more so at the time of writing he does have medical challenges….

However, back then, erroneously, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease by a specialist and the day that happened was the day he was forced by those words to stop driving, hand in his licence and basically given medications that she and his psychiatrist deemed appropriate for his now PD on top of spinal stenosis and chronic pain.

He, along with me, was devastated but, as we DID then, we went along with this awful news. The medications he was on affected him cognitively and it was not a great outcome for quality of life.

He did, however, always question the actual diagnoses and through his actions and those of  a new GP made great inroads into changes of medications. Eventually he sought a second opinion on the PD from a specialist neurologist who claimed he had only an essential tremor and as none of the PD meds had made  any difference, it was not Parkinsons disease.

The GP and my husband then worked on the plan to get his driver’s licence reinstated and that in itself was a costly experience – around $700 back then and a day in a rehab hospital. Honestly, the patience this man had. Anyway, he got it back. He tried to tell the first neurologist of her error but she was not interested.

What a shame. This is a prime example of why HE now is his own medical expert and his now health is kept in line with his conditions thanks to an excellent team of his GP and other specialist.

LOVE is….50 years together

Scenes with some of our grandchildren…who are, indeed, significantly older too. These are the best of times. Always. We may have been tired out physically but never emotionally.

Highlights of Significance From Family Life. 

  • Dad had found living in the original family home, alone, since Mum’s death 4 years earlier more and more of a challenge.
  • He decided to sell, and did in 2011. In a down market unfortunately. He helped us financially to be able to stay in our house for an additional 4 years.
  • He moved to a brand new Independent Retirement Place at Dee Why and almost 10 years later, remains there and as well as he can be for almost 97.
  • Our daughter was in a new relationship and with that person (now not together) sold her townhouse and with him, made plans to build and buy their own to live in with their extended family. This was OK for a while but from late 2012 things changed. No details, as I cannot share them nor do I want to.
  • Our son married his then partner and the two grandkids were ‘corralled’ by me for most of that long, hot day in the beautiful setting at Gunner Barracks.
  • We cared for the children for part of their honeymoon time too.
  • My husband’s dad, whose wife had died in 2009, sadly lost his life by the end of 2012.
  • I began some contract work with NSW Institute of Teachers as an External Observer and that took me, often by plane, to schools all over N.S.W. from 2012-2015.
  • Grandchildren were growing up and attending primary and high school. We had less to do with our eldest 3 then but they still had overnight stays from time to time. And we did have a pool!
  • Family functions continued: birthdays and the like.
  • Over time, Christmas became more complicated to try to ‘fit everyone’ in so we often compromised the the big Christmas Days of the past were gone.

More About Me.

Whilst I was busy, busy, busy, I did not do a lot of healthy self-care that helped me. Actually my version of self-care usually involved comfort eating, shopping and taking some time out for me. In fact, none of it really helped someone whose self-esteem was pretty low. I had a few reasons to be less than confident about myself I guess:

  • never measuring up (in my eyes) to my parents’ expectations
  • not finishing my job as a principal
  • taking comfort to deal with the worries from my life as a wife, mother and grandmother
  • trying my best to be the confident me in public…and doing that well…but the inner me needed soothing

I was aware my weight was at a not-great level for my on-going health. I also did not want to talk about it or do anything about it much. I had a couple of tries at losing weight over my lifetime and wrote about that here.

I had some health issues that included Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diarrhoea) which let me know when my emotions were not in balance and I had a bout of pancreatitis a couple of years earlier which I did not want to repeat. Nevertheless, I did my best to ‘look OK’ even though when I see the images now, I am very overweight.

I have a great deal of concern and sadness for me, the Denyse then, as I believe(d) I was doing the best I could.

Self-compassion, as I write this in 2020 in evident now.

Nothing like perspective and personal growth (the mental and emotional kind!)

In 2012 I met up with blogging friends and loved this connection! Still have that here and in real life as well as social media. Very grateful.

And, there are a few more memories from this period.

And that ends the memories from this era.

I will be back!

Chapter Twenty is 2013-2014 will go live before the end of this calendar year.

Thanks for your kind words about Telling My Story, too!

Anyone notice I have changed the image for this group?

Here’s all I have used since starting Telling My Story.

Photo (#1) For Telling My Story.

Photo (#2) post major cancer surgeries.

Photo (#3) After getting my upper prosthesis.

Photo (#4)Post: retirement medal presentation late 2018.

Photo #6. Mother’s Day 2020

Denyse.

Joining with blogging friend Leanne and others here too. Thanks for the link up!

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Women Of Courage Series. #54 Leanne @DeepFriedFruit. 73/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #54 Leanne @DeepFriedFruit. 73/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week and now the series concludes today with this post. Over the next two weeks there will be a look back at those who have shared their stories. Actually 56 women. The link to all of those stories is here.

Here is the introduction to the series and each woman’s story.

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.

 

Leanne, also known by her blog’s name of Deep Fried Fruit, has been blogging FOR ever..no, not really. However, I believe she started for a significant ZERO birthday and now admits to being at the next decade. Not one to hide away from her celebrations of life, she calls her birthday a festival. In real life, and yes, we have met, this person is warm, funny, generous and very caring. In fact, she stopped off on her family’s trip to Queensland two years ago so we could meet up!

 

Let’s get on with Leanne’ story…and I admit, she has written more than was asked but all good. The more we get to know about the ‘why’ of this lady!

 

Background

  • I look back and think of all the things in my life that took great courage and I guess most things do.  Every new experience requires some amount of bravery.
  • I used to be timid and shy.  As an only child I found safety in the walls of my own home with my tiny family.  Then one day my mum was told she only had two weeks to live and suddenly my safety was about to be stripped.
  • Her bravery of fighting the disease and winning, changed who I ultimately became.  Being timid in life was no longer an option. I learned if you want to achieve results you have to stand up and take responsibility for your existence. You had to find courage.
  • As a result, I’m someone whose meta programming is set high on the “challenge” meter.  Some people take the path of least resistance in life, others take the path of most challenge. I’m the latter.

 

My favourite quote is by Sarah Henderson:

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.”

That’s how I live my life. I spend a great deal of time striding down great big long tunnels to turn that bloody light switch on. Which means I need a fair bit of courage I suppose.  Although I don’t necessarily recognise it at the time.

 

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

My mum’s leukaemia, backpacking overseas alone, buying my first home, completing my degrees, creating a career, marrying into a readymade family, having kids, dealing with fibromyalgia. The standard stuff.

 

I think there are some major milestones that took more courage than others though.

  1. “Retiring” from a well-established career at the age of 36 to concentrate on my family
  2. Becoming the creator/founder of several small business initiatives
  3. Deciding to self-publish my children’s book series
  4. Watching helplessly as cancer took our (my husband’s) eldest child
  5. Re-entering the workforce at the age many retire

While point number 4 is probably the one jumping out as the most challenging event anyone could possibly face, it’s still too hard to talk about.  So, I won’t be talking about the loss of a child today.

Instead, given it’s current, I’d like to chat about number 5.

 

Re-entering the workforce.

 

How did this change you?

  • For the past 15 years, skipping merrily outside the boundaries of the paid workforce as a sole trader and finder of cool projects, I’ve been striding through many tunnels turning on a shitload of Sarah Henderson-esque light switches.
  • You’d think that with all the results I’ve achieved when I was out there on my own, re-entering the workforce would be easy. I mean, I’ve done so much! I’m a force to be reckoned with, aren’t I?
  • I would have thought so too, but no.
  • Going back to work” has honestly been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
  • Why? Because I discovered something when I went back to work in corporate Australia.  I’m old!
  • I know right.  Shocking revelation.
  • I thought I could waltz right back in there and just be amazing. But it turns out I’ve got a bit to catch up on in the corporate world and apparently my brain isn’t quite what it used to be.

 

Re-entering the workforce changed me.  My confidence, resilience and emotions hit an all time low.

According to the numbers I am fifty years old, but my heart says I’m still a vibrant, intelligent and energetic 35-year-old who knows everything there is to know about everything. Hell, there are days I’ve got the mindset, energy and frivolity of a 20-year-old and the smarts of a 70-year-old Harvard professor.  Lingo and all.   Yet despite my love of life, my readiness to be challenged and the wealth of experience under my belt, the fact is, I’ve been out of the workforce for a bloody long time.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend?

  • Every single challenge in life presents an opportunity for growth.
  • While wallowing in self-pity, I realised I’d bumbled into this job without much thought nor planning.  Somebody needed me to fill a gap, so I filled it.  Then somebody else needed me to fill another gap and I filled that one too. That was my re-entry. I didn’t create my new work life; I simply fell into it.
  • It’s hard to stride down a tunnel with purpose when you’ve fallen into the tunnel.
  • So, I downed tools, re-wrote my resume, contacted recruitment and said, “hello world, here I am, and this is what I have to offer you”.  I took back control and started striding forward on my terms again.
  • I guess I’d like to say out loud for all to hear, if you find yourself in a job you aren’t enjoying, or that doesn’t suit you, or that makes you feel less-than, then do something about it.  Don’t stay there for staying sake.
  • I’m now focussing on my strengths, adding value where I know I can and not putting so much pressure on myself to be able to do everything.

 

I have decided to create my job, rather than have my job re-create me. Or more specifically, rather than have my job deflate me.

 

 

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

  • Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt. Our challenges make us stronger.  My challenges have made me stronger.
  • Facing problems can be hard. At the time it can even feel like the end of the world.

But looking back at the times where courage has been required is a fantastic reminder that we do survive them, 100% of the time, because we’re still here!

 

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

 

  • When you’re younger you tend to put up with a lot more heartache in order to get your foot in the door, particularly when it comes to jobs and careers.  I know I did whatever it took to show my value. I worked hard from the ground up.
  • When I re-entered the workforce, I thought I’d waltz back in without that need to go back to grass roots, and it was quite a dent to my pride to discover I wasn’t as shit-hot a I thought I was; or perhaps as I used to be.
  • When I hit rock bottom, I thought “wow, does this mean I have to start again? Has my experience over the last 30 years meant nothing?”
  • No.  We don’t need to start again. Everything we’ve done previously is still part of us, only we’re even better off because we not only have that experience, we also have a proven track record of resilience, growth and acquired wisdom.
  • If like me you don’t like your job, and the light at the end of the tunnel is dimming, then just stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.

 

Anything else to add?

  • This “being back at work” thing is new, and I am still finding my feet.
  • But if there is one thing I know for sure; I still have a good 15 years of work life left in me in which to create something that suits my strengths.
  • I may well create my dream job or a whole new career, or I may just decide that my current income generating activity is simply that, an income source.
  • The bottom line is, if the world feels dim, I’m now old enough and wise enough to know where to find the light switch.

Denyse offering me this WOC interview has been a fantastic exercise in recognizing where my inner lion has been needed in life and how I can apply it to my current situation.Thanks so much Denyse for this opportunity to reflect and to remind me where to find the light.

 

Thank you Leanne, you are an amazing friend and definitely a great woman of courage and it’s my privilege to share your story as the final one in the series over the past 2 years.

Thank you to all of the Women of Courage.

Over the next two weeks, there will be a farewell and appreciation for those who shared in 2019 and in 2020.

 

Denyse.

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  www.deepfriedfruit.com.au

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

Instagram: @DeepFriedFruit

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

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