Saturday 23rd October 2021

Women of Courage Series. #74. Ness. 119/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #74. Ness. 119/2021.

Two years & five months ago… 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 conclude today: Thursday 30 September 2021.

Over a couple of weeks soon, I will publish a round-up series of posts  of the women who contributed: not all shared their names and some used initials only but all shared their story and I thank them over and over for their courage to do so. 

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

 

Trigger warning: Miscarriage and infant death. Breast cancer. Information may be found at the end of the post.

 

 

Welcoming Vanessa or Ness for short to this series. Interestingly we have known each other via blogging for probably around 10 years and she turned 50 this year just as my daughter did. We lived within about 8 kms of each other too for a along time, and most likely crossed paths in the local big shopping centre! But we have not yet met IRL (in real life) as they say. So, my words about Ness will likely make her blush a bit but I am not sorry. And we share a love of Downton Abbey!!

I have seen this woman’s life as she describes some of it here via her updates on social media platforms we both were part of when Australian blogging was a much bigger ‘thing’. I remember health news. Cancer news I mean. I also recall the ways in which she had to get on with what was very anxiety producing in treatment and recovery. We are both fans of the work based on Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and there is a link at the end of the post.

May I add too, how proud I am to have seen Ness become trained in her work to be able to work in a library and even in Covid I see that she continues to make a contribution…and best of all, she has returned to blogging. Welcome back Ness. You were missed!

 

 

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

Over the years I’ve had an ongoing struggle with anxiety which eventually led to me figuring out that I’m on the autistic spectrum. I was officially diagnosed ten years ago at age 40.

In 2004 my husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Thankfully he is a survivor and going strong. It was a difficult period dealing with his treatment while we also had a toddler and a baby.

In 2007 I was expecting again but had a late miscarriage and had to give birth to my deceased baby which was very traumatic and devastating. Luckily I subsequently had another baby in 2008 and completed our family.

In late 2015 I was diagnosed with early stage triple negative breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy plus chemotherapy and radiation.

 

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

I spent many years as a stay at home parent but a year or two after my cancer treatment I began volunteer work for St. Vincent De Paul Society Service Centre .

Eventually I went back to TAFE and achieved a Diploma of Library and Information Services.

I originally worked in libraries and had always thought I’d eventually get back into it.

I got a casual job with a council library in January and also  work for a library shelf ready service.

So I guess the change was I stopped putting things off.

 

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

Don’t be afraid to admit it if you’re struggling and need help.

I would not have gotten through any of the above without taking medication and seeing a psychologist .

 

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

I must admit that I’m currently struggling again so I’m not sure how to answer the question.

I guess I can be scared and struggling yet still take action however small whereas before I avoided things.

 

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

Try to be kind to yourself the same way you would to a friend or family member in the same situation.

Remind yourself it’s not weakness to seek any help you may need including medication if appropriate.

Take things one day at a time and when you’re going through hell, just keep going.

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

The book The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris and the techniques used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy were helpful for me.

 

 

Thank you Ness, how pleased I am you have contributed to the series. And it is fitting that a fellow blogger’s story concluded not only Series 3 but Women of Courage Stories.

I so hope we can finally meet up in person too with cakies and coffee!!

Take care,

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media for Ness here:

Blog/Website

https://nessiville.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Nessofnessville/

Instagram:

http://www.instagram.com/ness_nessville

 

Resources That May Help: 

These sites are Australian-based. 

https://www.panda.org.au/

https://www.sands.org.au/stillbirth-and-newborn-death

Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support and Suicide …

Russ Harris: Acceptance Commitment Therapy Information is here. The Happiness Trap is also another resource from Russ.

Breast Cancer resources: from Veronica’s  Women of Courage post found here. 

Pink Hope – Know Your Risk, Change Your Future

http://pinkhope.org.au

Be Dense Aware (Did you know dense breast tissue can make diagnosis more challenging?)

https://www.bedenseaware.com/

iPrevent – Breast Cancer Prevention Through Risk Assessment

https://nbcf.org.au/19/prevention-through-precision-medicine/

Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation – The 3 Step Breast Check

https://www.sbcf.org.au/resources/

National Breast Cancer Foundation – Zero Deaths from Breast Cancer by 2030 campaign

https://nbcf.org.au/

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

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Women of Courage Series. #71 Joanne. 110/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #71 Joanne. 110/2021.

Two years ago… 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 into September 2021 when it will conclude.

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

 

Joanne, in her mid 40’s, is a blogger from the United States. I have not met her but as in blogging communities we tend to get to know more about each other through reading blog posts over time and connecting via our comments. Joanne has been quite a regular visitor here to Life This Week, my Monday Link Up, and after getting more interested in her words and photos (brilliant ones they are!) I asked if she would consider sharing her story as a woman of courage. And like some who have gone before her in the series, her initial “no thank you” turned into a “yes, I do have a story”. This is my introduction to Joanne and I am thankful for her change of mind.

 


 

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

I have had a generalized anxiety disorder most of my life.

When I was in grade school and even up through high school, I can remember getting sick nearly every day over school (whether at home, on the bus, or just arriving at school, sometimes something might trigger me to panic during my normal school day).

I struggled with a bunch of fears that I often couldn’t even name or pin point.

Things like field trips, assemblies, and any break from the normal routine made me anxious.

It was never formally diagnosed and I never saw anyone beyond our elementary school counsellor as these things weren’t really known about back then.

As I got older and my confidence grew my anxiety began to subside.  I knew that my upset stomach was caused by my head and began to be able to talk myself out of getting sick to where I would just feel nauseous.

It still rears up now and then but years and years of learning coping mechanisms have helped me manage it really well without the use of medication or therapy.

 

Nothing has ever made me face my fears more than parenthood though. 

Sick and injured boys have forced me to be courageous in ways I honestly didn’t think I could be.

I always knew I had to hold it together and reassure them that all was going to be OK no matter how sick or injured they were.

When my oldest son was just a toddler, we were referred to a neurologist because he had had a series of febrile seizures.

Fast forward to kindergarten when he was undergoing an MRI to find out if there were other underlying issues and weeks upon weeks of waiting for results.

Our paediatrician tried to help out because our neurologist was on vacation and all he could tell us was that there was something that showed up on the test but since that wasn’t his field of expertise, he couldn’t tell me more than that.

He felt so bad; he had been trying to relieve my fears and assumed that all would be normal with the MRI results.  Instead, I stood there in my yard on the phone with the doctor with a smile on my face and my sunglasses hiding my tears, hoping and praying that whatever this was would be no big deal.

I knew I couldn’t fall to pieces in front of my boys.

Thankfully, once we got hold of our neurologist, he explained that it was most likely scar tissue deep in the brain from something that must have happened in utero during development and he assured us that our son’s brain had compensated and that no further anything needed to be done—ever.

 

We also had our youngest son hospitalized when he was just a few months old and was suffering from RSV lung infection.

He was put on oxygen and fluids and thankfully recovered well; though we did end up in the ER at least once a winter for the next few years with him fighting off pneumonia.

There is nothing quite like watching your little babies’ lips turn blue and hearing him gasping for breath.  We had been proactive though and sought treatment out early before he had to be intubated or put into ICU.

We’ve had fractured wrists, “standard” procedures like tonsillectomy & adenoid removal (which seem like anything but when you’re waiting outside the OR to hear how the surgery went), and more than a few ER visits and ambulance rides.

 

It seemed like after all that I had endured with my boys through the years, I was more than prepared to face my own mini health crisis.

In just the past two years alone I have had several ultrasounds, an x ray, a D&C, and a hysterectomy.

Normally any kind of medical appointment or procedure would have made me so anxious but I was pretty surprised over just how calm I was through the whole ordeal.

 

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

I think we are all a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

It’s not easy to think of being courageous but often when the need arises those stores of courage are there.

Even when it feels like that courage is deserting us somehow the human spirit seems to keep pushing us onward.

I find that looking to family, friends, and beyond the current moment helps remind me what I’m fighting for.

 

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

Maybe?! That’s a hard one to answer as I almost always think that there are so many things I could never handle, or do, or walk through and yet deep down I know that I probably could.

Even if I would never want to know just how courageous I could be.

I think I’m at a point in my life where I just know that I would battle anything for my family and my boys.

 

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

First and foremost—breathe.  Just breathe.

Then take that one next step.

Often, we get overwhelmed when we’re looking at the big picture or we start worry about all the what if scenarios.

I do that all the time and have never once found it to be all that helpful.

Deep, mindful, almost meditative breathing, and focusing only on that one next small step helps.

Also don’t be afraid to ask for help; even if it’s just a should to learn or cry on.

We all need help from time to time, it doesn’t make us weak; it makes us human.

 

Thank you so much Joanne for your frank and honest story where I was in awe of how you could manage your own anxieties and worries to be able to help your sons through their illnesses. And your advice to breathe…yes, and to breathe again. Little steps that keep us going and helps reduce some of inner feelings that are stirring. I remember that well from my days of anxiety and fear. Your words are very true and oh so helpful.

Denyse.

Joanne’s blog can be found here:  https://www.myslicesoflife.com/

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

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Women of Courage Series. #70. Anonymous.107/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #70. Anonymous.107/2021.

 

Two years ago… 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 into September 2021 when it will conclude.

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

Trigger Warning: Abuse, Children, Mental Health.
There are websites at the conclusion of this post recommended by Anonymous in conjunction with my intention for this blog’s policies.

 

 

 

Woman of Courage #70  has chosen to be anonymous. There will be no replies from this poster.

She will, however, be reading and I will be responding as I always do to readers’ comments.

Thank you for your understanding.

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

 

Growing up as a child I was faced with a lot of obstacles and situations when courage would have been best used but unfortunately it wasn’t.

I was a victim of a certain abuse by a close family member (like some victims unfortunately are).

Though I like to call myself a ‘survivor’ now instead.

I was quite young at the time and was put in a very vulnerable situation.

Sadly I did not have the courage to speak up about what had happened at the time.

A few years on, I started to see that if courage didn’t show its face soon more pain was to be brought.

So I found a small voice inside of me and told ‘Parent A’.

It was a shock to everyone and had some people unsure of what or who to believe.

The breaking of this news would be the end of something not so great and the start of something a little better.

But I began to understand the value of being courageous because as soon as I told someone, I wasn’t alone anymore.

 

 

How did this change you in any way?

 

Speaking up about what had occurred even just for the first time to Parent A, was a huge life changing moment for me.

I was never one to speak up as a kid.

Always felt the expectation to be the good girl and to just do what I am told.

To have found this voice and still be only just blooming into my teens was a stun to me.

I experienced a lot of character building from using my voice in times of need.

I was, and still kind of am to this day, one to hide away when things get hard.

But that moment, that day, would be the first of many courageous moments.

I feel that if I never spoke up then, I wouldn’t be able to use my voice as strongly as I do now.

The more I let myself be courageous when I needed to be most, in both positive and negative situations, it became easier as time went on.

 

 

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

 

I have definitely learnt from this situation as soon as you tell someone what’s going on, whether they don’t listen/respond or in any way care, you’ve told that person, they now know that information as well.

So you’re no longer alone.

Yes it would be best for them to listen intently and help you out to show they care but sometimes that’s not always the case.

And I learnt that  when I spoke up for the first time, Parent A technically didn’t believe what I had confessed.

And as much as that was a kick in the gut it still felt so good to finally say something.

So in recommendation, I guess I would say, as scary as having courage is and particularly in a situation of confession, just speak.

Even if the words don’t make sense at first just keep talking!

Just keep fuelling your courage and take care of it by standing up for what’s best in times that need it.

The hardest thing to learn is to accept that it’s a process, unfortunately gaining courage doesn’t happen overnight.

But it will come to you and continue to grow when you take care of yourself and wellbeing.

 

 

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

 

As previously stated, I definitely believe I could be courageous, and maybe even more so, in the moments that call for it.

I learnt a lot of huge life lessons as a kid and it helped me surround myself with the right people as I grew up.

I still struggle daily to use courage but I am way less afraid of it.

I have an extremely supportive partner who constantly teaches me that it is okay to speak up, that it is okay to have an opinion, that it is okay not to like something and say that aloud.

Every time I allow myself to be courageous, I can feel less of the weight on my shoulders.

I’ve also learnt that each time you use your courage you definitely become less fearful of the world and what’s around you.

 

 

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

 

If you ever find yourself in a situation and a burst of courage is needed, take a deep breath and close your eyes and visualize the bigger picture.

Courage obviously does not have to be used only in negative situations.

But when faced with a negative circumstance and you need that bit of courage to keep yourself safe and content, a quick breather to analyse the situation before responding has helped me.

I always, and will admit sometimes I still do, think that the worse outcome is the only outcome possible.

But I’ve learnt over the years that if you choose to use courage in those particular situations you can have a better outcome.

And to just remember at the end of the day to be courageous is a choice, it just takes that little bit of faith.

 

Don’t ever be afraid to speak up, someone will always be there for you. And sometimes there’s even more people there for you than you think.

Thank you Anonymous for having the courage also to share your story. The readers and I would agree, I think,  that you are indeed a woman of courage. This poster is safe and well and in a secure relationship with a long term partner.

Sending all the best to you.

 

Denyse.

 

 

 

Recommended Sites: these are Australian sites.

 

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

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Women of Courage Series. #68 Gloria Hill. 101/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #68 Gloria Hill. 101/2021.

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

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

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

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

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

 

I may not have (yet) met Gloria Hill, aged 48, but I already am very aware of her role and input as a parent into the very newest public school which opened in 2019. This is North Kellyville Public School, and I am a proud retired principal who continues to support public education in N.S.W. Our daughter is the teacher/librarian there, becoming foundation year staff member, and I recall seeing the many positive and amazing projects which the foundation year Parents and Citizens group (P&C) initiated. To that end, Gloria, as the 2019 P&C Secretary and later as the 2020 P&C President was nominated for the 2020 NSW P&C Federation Volunteer of the Year Award, and was one of 16 Finalists after winning the North West Sydney Electorate. Thank you Gloria for sharing your story with us. At the foot of this post is information from Gloria.

 

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

In 2012, my son Sean was diagnosed with a genetic disease at the age of 12 months.

  • The disease is called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) and people born with this disease are effectively born without an immune system.
  • Most undiagnosed cases do not survive infancy.
  • I was not aware I was a carrier of this glitchy gene, nor that I had passed it on to my son.

As a first-time mum, I did not know why my little man would take weeks to get over a cold, or why a small nappy rash would leave his entire bottom a red raw open weeping wound for days on end.

That first year was spent advocating for my son with various medical professionals – we got to know our GP and our early childhood nurses very well, to the point where one medical professional noted the frequency with which we were visiting the doctors’ surgery and flippantly told us we should be earning frequent flyer points for all of our visits.

For his many ailments, Sean was prescribed every potion and lotion available from our local pharmacy, but there would still be extended periods of ill health between the bright and happy days.

After many months of bashing down the doors of various doctors, a chance meeting with an early childhood nurse fast tracked the diagnosis when she insisted that Sean be seen by a paediatrician immediately.

  • In the space of 2 hours, we went from being just a number in a queue to Patient #1 at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick.
  • The diagnosis came quickly, and the treatment plan followed – we would have to consent to chemotherapy and a bone marrow/stem cells transplant to save Sean’s life.
  •  He was 13 months old, my first and only child, and my husband and I sat through all the medical scenarios and diseases Sean may develop post transplant, all of the scenarios ended with “if this disease developed, then Sean may die”.
  • The bone crunching, soul destroying scenario was presented last – if we did not consent to the transplant, then Sean will die.

 

On 27 March 2012, a specialist team performed a miracle by transfusing 30mL of precious stem cells into Sean’s little body.

  • Over the next 5 weeks, we watched Sean’s condition worsen before he got better.
  • In a comparatively short period of time time, Sean’s body recovered from the treatments as the stem cells grafted in his body and he grew stronger by the day.
  • We were discharged from the hospital in May 2012 when the real fun awaited: a lengthy period of self-isolation with an inquisitive toddler quarantined in a small house while trying to manage weekly hospital check ups, the complicated medication schedule, the new diet (both liquid and solid), and the upkeep of his medical accessories (nasogastric tube and central line) tested my patience.

 

By the end of 2012, all the hard work paid off.

Sean was weaned off all medication, and all of his medical accessories were removed.  Sean’s appetite returned and he was thriving again hitting all of the growth milestones with ease.  The weekly clinics at hospital turned into monthly visits, and by the end of 2013, the visits would become an annual check up.

Today, 9 years since the transplant, Sean is a healthy 10 year old who loves to swim, ride his bike, and read, with a healthy appetite and an even brighter outlook on life.

 

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

I learned to trust my gut instincts and not back down, especially when I am advocating for my family and my loved ones.

I learned to look for silver linings, because the alternative was too sad.

I learned to show my vulnerability and accept help in all the different ways that were offered to us.

I learned to take a deep breath and push on – sometimes, it just IS what it is, and I have to get on with it, because there is no other option available.

 

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

Lean on those you trust.

Some friendships will grow and transform to the next level.

Expect to lose friends and see friendships shift – you may be surprised by who “slip away” and bow out of your life, but don’t begrudge their departure.

They are not bad people; they just don’t know how to support you.

You are not alone.

AND you don’t have to do this alone.

There is help and support available, everywhere.

Never be afraid to reach out for help.

And if help comes to you, accept it.

You are not weaker by seeking or accepting help – in fact, you are the stronger and more courageous one for seeking or accepting help.

Specifically to a medical condition: listen to the professionals – if they tell you not to Google the disease, then don’t Google the disease, especially at 3am when you can’t sleep.

 

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

I don’t think I could be more courageous now than I was then.

In 2012, just after diagnosis, we found ourselves “shedding friends” – people who called to check in on us, but then picked fights with us over trivial matters.

The drama that some of these former friends created at the time distracted us from the real focus at hand – the life and health of our critically ill little boy.

In hindsight, I came to realise that these people may not have been strong enough to support us, nor knew how to support, nor knew how to react to the news.

Whilst it was disappointing at the time, the loss of these relationships was actually to our benefit.

At the same time, our true friends stepped up and found innovative ways to support us.

Financial donations flooded in from well meaning friends who wanted to make sure my husband and I were fed during our hospital stay and we had money for petrol to get to and from the hospital.

Friends cooked us meals, took us out for quick meals (just so we would leave the hospital room and get some fresh air), and called and messaged us to get up to date news on Sean.

We still have the same loving network of family and friends who rallied around me then, so if I had to face the situation now, I know I have the support and love to get through it.

 

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

You are not alone.

You don’t have to do this alone.

And asking for help is not a failure.

To ask for help is a sign of strength, so reach out to family and friends, and lean on them.

 

Thank you Gloria. I feel it is such an hnour for people like, and all the women who decide to share their stories, that this is a place here on my blog to do so. I am in awe of your strength as you were learning to be a mum too. I do hope all continues to go well for you and your family.

Denyse.

 

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Oh_Glorious_One

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

Information supplied by Gloria which I am very pleased to be able to share…awareness is always an important factor in any health conditions. Thank you.

Since Sean’s diagnosis, I have discovered the Immune Deficiency Foundation Australia’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ImmuneDeficiencyFoundationAustralia/) and their private group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/217875418231666).  IDFA have provided a fantastic platform for people with Primary Immune Diseases to share knowledge and information and to provide support to each other.
As a point of interest – if anyone is keen to find out more about our involvement with Inner Wheel Australia.  The treatment plan devised by our Oncology and Immunology teams at the Sydney Children’s Hospital involved a stem cell transplant.  Sean received the transplant using stem cells extracted from cord blood, and in the ensuing years, we have been involved with Inner Wheel Australia as Ambassadors for their National Project in Cord Blood Research (https://www.innerwheelaustralia.org.au/national-project).  I have been a keynote speaker at various conferences, and Sean is the face of their national fundraising campaign called “Sean’s Two For Ten”.  The annual campaign was launched this year, and we have agreed to be the face of the campaign for the next 6 years (until Sean is 16).

 

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

 

 

 

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Remember. 32/51. #LifeThisWeek. 97/2021.

Remember. 32/51. #LifeThisWeek. 97/2021.

Remember? Oh yes, that’s right. We had our daughter 50 years ago last week.

“50” years …wow. Indeed.

We became parents at 21. Mind, you back then 21 meant we were already working and in permanent employment with the N.S.W. Department of Education. My husband was in his 4th year as a teacher, I was in my 2nd. Now, I look at our granddaughters who are older (just) than 21 and in different employment and life-style situations than us. Not a judgement at all. It shows the ‘gap’. Our daughter was around 25 when she became a Mum and did not get permanent employment in teaching until some years after that.

 

Our daughter does not like the spotlight nor this amount of attention but I sense given it’s her 50th we are celebrating, and it’s lockdown, then all on-line I get some leeway! On the day, she was teaching remotely, supervising her grade (she is a relieving Asst Principal at the moment) and making sure her youngest stayed on task for home-learning

During the weeks before her birthday I posted a care pack of favourite biscuits to savour at home, and some presents and a card for the day. I also sent later on the two blog posts relating to her birth year and some memories in photo collages.

 

More times to remember…

We celebrated with a family zoom….can’t can share the  one image &  we did have fun.

She LOVED her birthday that was at home…with her whole school staff, arranging a staff meeting (all on zoom) to sing her Happy Birthday and they delivered little cakes and a huge bunch of flowers. I made her smile…with a beautiful message via instagram from our fave author Trent Dalton. He mentioned how much he values teachers too. Aww.

A few more photos to remember her stories before 50th Birthday.

1991. K at 20, with Mum & Me.

 

With her brother’s family and hers, our daughter managed this magical photo shoot. Always remember the sweet surprise when I got the big photo on canvas and book for my 70th birthday.

 

18th Birthday for only son. We enjoyed being back celebrating too. With the fam!

 

Thank you for our Anniversary Cake, K.

My Birthday cake made by my daughter.

 

Glad I got this shot! Thanks KT, I know it’s not your fave thing to do. Brunch by ourselves in Jan 2021. A rarer than rare occasion in covid.

 

Our first born with a first born Mum and fifth born Dad.

We love you and always remember how it was to become YOUR parents back in 1971!

Mum and Dad.

Link Up #252

Life This Week. Link Up #252

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.

 

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Women of Courage Series. #66 Jacqui. 95/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #66 Jacqui. 95/2021.

 

Content/Trigger Warning: I have been requested to add this. Information for readers is at the end of this post. Thank you.

 

Two years ago….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

Welcome to Jacqui’s story as a woman of courage. Jacqui and I have similar career background and have met via twitter..often! I was so pleased when she put her hand up pretty fast to say “yes” and got her story back to me. We have chatted about her story more, and in keeping with others’ privacy have kept some identifiers deliberately hidden.

Thanks so much Jacqui. Oh, and Jacqui has included some great links for us at the end of her story.

 

Introduction from Jacqui.

It’s taken me a while to think about the times when I’ve most needed courage and decide which story to focus on.

Throughout my career or 20+ years of teaching I have pushed myself to show courage- to stand up for what’s right, challenge pedagogy, take on new experiences and chase promotion.

There was even a time where I was so broken I thought I would quit teaching altogether.

I had to work very hard to find my passion again.

As it turns out I have shown  enormous amounts of courage in my professional life.

So, instead, I am going to focus on courage in my personal life. And, it’s happening now.

 

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

6 months ago my life stood still for a moment.

  • My 11yr old daughter was having suicidal thoughts.
  • How can this be possible? She’s only 11.
  • I can’t ever remember being aware of death/suicide at that age, let alone thinking that I didn’t fit in this world.

My heart was breaking.

Her psychologist urgently needed to meet with me and of course I went.

She was tangled in a web of depression and anxiety.

To move forward, I need to go back a bit.

This is my third child, my husband’s sixth. Our last.

She had complications after delivery and spent the first 3 weeks in the neonatal clinic.

At 5-6 years old she was showing signs of puberty.

I insisted on investigations and at about 7yrs we found out that she has a genetic condition known as non-classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia (NCCAH).

This was a whole bundle of changes including 3x daily medication and an emergency action plan for the rest of her life.

You would think that was enough to deal with, but there’s more.

  • It was around about this time that I discovered I was no longer in love with my husband.
  • After lots of fighting, tears and deep discussions we agreed to stay together without being intimate.
  • We thought this was the best option as our eldest was sitting the HSC.
  • Little did we know that our astute little girl picked up on all of this, causing her great confusion and a deep worry about me.
  • She pushed her father away and became extremely clingy and attached to me.
  • It was suffocating but I was unaware of the damage it was causing her.
  • She could not work out the ‘reality’ of our family or where she fit in (her closest sibling is 8 years older). So it was at this psychologist appointment that I found the courage to do what I needed to do for me. For her. I went home and told my husband that I needed to move out.

 

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

I released all of the pain anger hurt and disappointment from the last 4 years and slipped into my own silent world of depression.

I needed to find the deepest courage to be vulnerable, be honest, be real.

I needed to be strong enough to share this with my daughter to a certain extent so she can see that  it is possible to make changes and heal ourselves (with support).

I started seeing a psychologist of my own.

I spoke up and stood up to my husband for the first time – I bought a house and moved in with my 2 daughters.

I also started to discover myself. I’d lost so much of who I was throughout my almost 30yrs relationship.

 

 

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

That the comfortable or easiest pathway isn’t always the one we are meant to travel.

That sometimes even the best intentions cause the most pain to ourselves and to others.

That it’s ok to ask others for help.

That it’s ok to put yourself first.

 

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

Absolutely.

I have had 6mths of ongoing courage.

It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Courage has got me through all the other parts that come with separation- financial separation, setting up a new house, co-parenting plans and decision making.

It’s still hard.

The grief and sorrow is enormous.

Making my own decisions is a strange novelty.

The regret and guilt of the impact on my daughter is always there.

But, I know that I have the skills, the strength, the determination, the love and the courage to get through it all and to help my daughter find her courage.

 

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

Even the highest mountain can be climbed if you take that first step.

We are stronger than we think.

And Brene Brown’s book Dare to Lead and her TED talks were very helpful for me. I was reading it for professional purposes but I found it was helpful in my personal life also.
Thank you so much for your story Jacqui. Courage requires vulnerability and more and you have, in the sharing, as well as the living of this, demonstrated the qualities you have in so many areas. One day, it would be good to finally catch up. As always, we wait for those times and areas around N.S.W.  to open once we are declared “covid-safe”…if there is such a declaration!
Denyse.
For those who may need to reach out to organisations based on this story’s content these are Australian-based sources for help.
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

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

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Optimism. 26/51. #LifeThisWeek. 79/2021.

Optimism. 26/51. #LifeThisWeek. 79/2021. 

Bernard, my husband,  has offered to share some thoughts on this week’s optional prompt of optimism. One reason for asking is that I, like many, tend to be more on the pessimistic side and I know his help for me to turn this around at times has been invaluable.

Thank you Bernard.

 

 

What is optimism?

 The prime minister of Great Britain during WW2, Winston Churchill presented as a highly optimistic personality and is notably quoted as saying, “a pessimist sees only difficulty in every opportunity while an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”  The great effect for the nation was the hope that his optimism generated during that tragic conflict.

Most definitions of optimism share common components such as hope and confidence about future positive outcomes. Optimistic philosophers believe that optimism is about good prevailing over evil while the world of psychology is split into two main bands. For some, optimism may be attributed to a belief that experiences will generally have positive outcomes. The second band attributes optimism as having more to do with the way we explain event causes. This is called our explanatory style and its established in early childhood.

Studies tell us that our DNA is more likely to be hardwired as optimistic rather than pessimistic despite the negative bias we also carry around from birth thanks to our cave-dwelling ancestors. Their world abounded with negative experiences and, so, their very survival depended on being prepared for the worst. Decision-making was a little more cut and dried in those days – “Kill the f***king beast before it kills you!!!”

It is fair to say that our levels of optimism are a combination of nature and nurture. Being transmutable, the environment into which we are born and grow up enables optimism to either flourish or flounder. Exposure to risk in childhood encourages the development of a more optimistic mindset as well as creativity.

 

What Does It Mean to Be Optimistic?

Optimists are likely to see the causes of failure or negative experiences as:

  • temporary rather than permanent – “It’s just a minor setback. All will be well tomorrow.”
  • specific rather than global – “It’s just that particular group of people. We won’t be involved.”
  • external rather than internal – “What just occurred wasn’t my fault. It was the extreme heat of the day.”

Such a perspective enables optimists to more easily see the possibility of change.

So long as the optimism isn’t cockeyed as a result of engaging in fanciful thinking, realistic optimism is a worldview that gives its owner a greater sense of influencing their well-being. This flows from optimism being generally accompanied by a healthier outlook in relation to the consequences of any actions. Optimists encourage the growth of resilience as they display a tendency to look for meaning in difficulties.

What are some of the benefits of being realistically optimistic?

An optimist can also expect to:

  • live longer;
  • feel the hope that is necessary to ameliorate doubt and despair;
  • be less susceptible the negative effects of illness, fatigue and depression
  • be able to manage pain more effectively;
  • have improved immunity;
  • have better heart-lung function; and,
  • be fitter.

Can optimism affect relationships?

 You bet, if it’s unrealistic! Where both partners are optimists there is a danger that their positivity about their future can lead to expectations that become too high for anyone to fulfil, especially as such a mindset can discourage the growth of problem-solving skills required during difficult. Being overly sure of a rosy future tends to ignore the very real fact that our journeys through life are littered with difficult times. This is an effective way to lower relational quality.

What’s the key to all this?

So, if there is a question mark over being optimistic, maybe we should just resort to playing it safe all the time and be pessimistic. That way, you wouldn’t have your hopes dashed. It is not advisable that you adopt that strategy.

Pessimism is driven by fear of failure. Living one’s life being afraid to take any risk and assigning reasons why not against any and all plans is quite dysfunctional. You miss out on the thrill of chasing your dreams.

Decision-making that has a good probability of having a positive outcome is cognisant of the evidence that informs that decision-making. Research suggests incorporating some Realism into the conversation is the best way to the try line.

Both optimism and pessimism are judgemental biases that on their own don’t make for effective decision-making. Realism seeks the evidence that short-circuits the psychologically painful consequence and encourages the outcome that is most helpful. In the well-being stakes, realists come out trumps. Talking of Trump – he was not a realist!

We currently are endeavouring to deal with the hot topic of the COVID 19 pandemic. As I’ve already said, both optimism and pessimism are judgemental biases and, therefore, shifting sands upon which to base decisions. Either approach can lead to a failure to take appropriate precautions to a potential threat – “Oh, I don’t need to have the vaccine as I never get the flu!” OR “Having that vaccine is a sure way to make you sick!” A Realist will take measured risks and look at the available evidence before making a decision in relation to treatment. The available evidence suggests that observing suggested protocols such as social distancing and taking advantage of the vaccine is currently the most sensible approach to adopt.

Realistic Optimism has been the key to my well-being.

Through not allowing optimism – nor pessimism for that matter – to escape the realms of realism I have minimised the risk of my hopes being dashed upon the rocks of disappointment. As a result, I have enhanced my level of contented living.

Can my child learn to be realistically optimistic?

Absolutely! As you may know, children see the world quite strictly – it’s either black or white, little or big, fast or slow, good or bad, etc. As they grow older and learn the skills of contrasting and comparing, their perception of the world allows for the integration of degrees in their rules. The black becomes grey. So, a child may be likely to be optimistic or pessimistic. The result of an event will be either good or bad. At this time they are also sponges rabidly attempting to soak up the way the world works so that it makes sense to them. Parents are the greatest authorities and what mum or dad sees is indubitably what will occur.

This, therefore, provides you as a parent with an ideal time to temper their hopes by inculcating their perceptions of event outcomes with Realism.

And in my case, as a grandfather to this youngster way back, where I imagined this conversation.

So, Papa…..

“Papa, I’m ‘cited ‘cos the toof fairy is coming and she will leave me free fousand and firty dollars, won’t she Papa?”

“Well, sweetheart, I’m sure the toof fairy will come but I don’t fink she will leave you wif quite that much. That’s a lot of money! Perhaps, $2 is more like what she will leave.”

 

Recommended Reading

Martin Seligman has spent a great deal of time studying optimism and related topics and has written a number of books that you may be interested in. They include,

  • Flourish
  • The Hope Circuit
  • Learned Optimism
  • The Optimistic Child

Thanks so much Bernard, I have learned more about the ways in which we can develop and change our negative biases as a result of incorporating knowledge rather than accept the ‘Oh I am a pessimist’ self-judgement.

Denyse.

Link Up #246.

Life This Week. Link Up #246.

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: 28/51 Taking Stock #3. 

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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