Thursday 4th March 2021

About That Smile. Mum & Memories. 28/2021.

About That Smile. Mum & Memories. 28/2021.

Why pink?

Why not…actually because remembering Mum, who died 14 years ago this week, bright pink was one of her favourite colours. Not being too maudlin about it, this was the best photo of her in her last months, taken at my parents’ Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary Lunch with family, and it was the outfit we chose for her final journey. The photo which sat atop her coffin, is in Dad’s place and is one I feel privileged to have taken. It was of “just” Mum edited from this photo.

Why memories?

On 5th March 2007 Mum finally died following a relatively brief illness based on a January 2007 diagnosis of secondary brain tumours. For a couple of years before that however, things began to shift and change for Mum in her body and her demeanour but none of us, including her G.P. of many years and neurologist treating her for a parkinsonian-type condition knew what was actually going on until a CT scan followed by an MRI. More details here. It was, an awful time for her, Dad and those of us who loved her as Mum, mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother.

Why smile?

It’s her smile, I believe, that I have inherited from her and although we are/were totally opposite in many ways, we were both able to find something to smile about when with family, friends and especially when meeting new grandchildren!

Circa 1969.

When I Could NOT Smile.

I know I have much to smile about now and will always appreciate getting my smile back after head and neck cancer. But I know when I was anxious and sad in the years 2014-2016 I would do what I could to summon a smile…especially when I was with my grandkids, and this one in particular. Miss J. has, I say, inherited my smile and that of my mother. We say this anyway!

With Miss J late 2016. Before my cancer was found “under those fake teeth”

A visit from J always included a selfie post my cancer surgeries.

My first social outing following my 2017 cancer surgeries: to Miss J’s 21st!

And now.

SMILE is my Word of The Year. 

I wrote about why it is the word of the year for me here. I remain glad I have!

So you smile naturally or is it troublesome?

I know I was more self-conscious in earlier times when I felt my size and the way my teeth looked affected me, but I had to change that internal story somewhat or there would have been NO photos of me at all!

Thanks for the memories and the smile, Mum!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life linky on Thursdays.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Taking Stock#1. New Version 9/51. #LifeThisWeek 27/2021.

Taking Stock#1. New Version 9/51. #LifeThisWeek 27/2021.

I recently wrote about the changes I have made to how I will blog when it’s time for Taking Stock. You are, of course, welcome to use my new version of the prompts or ones initially devised by Pip Lincolne.

 

 

But…before moving on I have this update! I am delighted to see new and returning bloggers here linking up in 2021.

This is the 5th year of this link up from me in Australia.

What I want to say is this: do link up and comment on my post (thank you!), share that you found my link up by adding the image on your blog or using it in social media & please find the time to comment on other’s posts BUT limit it to what time you have for.

There is no need to comment on everyone’s at all, I do that, but try to comment on maybe around 2-3?

Thank you…the writing here is a bit small but is directly from the ‘rules’ area under the invitation to link up! 


This post was written on Sunday 21 February 2021.

Admiring: women who are courageous enough to speak up about ill-treatment and unlawful treatment by, in many cases, men.

Becoming: less likely to add my comments on twitter right now as I am getting overly angry about what I cannot control!

Curious: to know how my bone density results will be after being told 10 years ago, they were so good “don’t come back for 10 years”. The ten years is up and I will be having the test this coming Tuesday.

Delighted: that my daughter, a teacher,  chose to give an acting promotion position a go in 2021 and even though I am aware of how much more work will be on her plate, she has so much to share educationally and it’s time for her voice to be heard.

Excited: to know we are celebrating my husband’s upcoming birthday with our two kids and their respective kids (aka the 8 grandkids & one partner to a grandkid) present which we could not do for Christmas or our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

Feeling: well. That is such a good feeling. I will not take it for granted though.

Going: to the local shops is less about stopping anywhere for coffee now and more for getting what I need and coming home again. Sometimes with a takeaway coffee.

Helping: a Year 12 scholar from the Public Education Foundation with some mentoring…advice and conversation, along with goal setting. This person, may be from a relatively low socio-economic  background and may also be a refugee. She/He is supplied  with a monetary scholarship and low cost devices and so on to complete the Higher School Certificate

Imploring: people to ….insert words about “politics” which I won’t but see “becoming” above to know why. And, I did say my blog is free from politics…

Joking: is something I do not always get when my husband tells me he is….

Keeping: some memorabilia from our recent Golden Wedding Anniversary in a special box and some inside a new scrapbook for mark the occasion.

Loving: this set of prompts so far…

Making: a mess on the mirror with my waterpik if I do not keep it inside my mouth whilst cleaning upper prosthesis!

Next: I am not sure, nor so I have any clue what my “next” view from Netflix will be that will possibly make me as  obsessed with as Schitts Creek ended up being (very poorly constructed sentence too)

Observing: that virtually no-one (I put up my hand too) wears a protective mask if there is no mandatory requirement.

Pleasing: to see that my eating, exercise and attention to staying well is being noted by me and my G.P. as OK! Numbers of scale keep me somewhat grounded for record keeping but not for obsessing. I usually weigh myself once a month. I remain a steady weight (for me) which is encouraged for all head and neck cancer patients.

Reading: blog posts. Love the community of bloggers I follow.

Staying: loyal to my friends who blog and enjoy seeing their latests posts as it helps me stay connected.

Trying: to get outside for some more moving most days….

Understanding: that if I cannot, that is OK too. No longer “all or nothing” thinking…most of the time.

Viewing: images from years gone by, especially of our now older grandchildren. Brings me such joy, especially if it’s a little video and there is laughter and words.

Welcoming: the end of daylight saving..I know it’s nowhere near ending but I do like it to be O V E R.

X- You Choose! My Daily Calm Practice is continuing with no effort these days and I am over 420 days in a row!

Yes: to anyone can make changes (big, small or in between) once the mindset can be changed…

Z – You Choose! What Do You Think Of The New Prompts? Did you try them?

Denyse.

I am driving to Sydney today to see my Dad. Unlikely to be replying to your comments here till I am back later in the day. Thanks for understanding.

Link Up #229

 

Life This Week. Link Up #229

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: Share Your Snaps #2. 8 March 2021.

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Things That Are White. #SundayStills. #9. 26/2021.

Things That Are White. #SundayStills. #9.  26/2021.

Each week I am writing and posting here for inclusion in the #SundayStills from this blogger and kind person, Terri from here. I now post on a Sunday!

White.

What’s a woman to think about who has just celebrated her Golden Wedding Anniversary?

That WHITE dress.

So much tradition in white. I was a bride of very simple tastes and am not someone who goes for a lot of frill and bling.

These images, of images, sorry, are from wedding photos my 97 year old Dad has hanging in a collage in his Unit.

 

My Mother’s Parents. I called them Nanny and Papa. This is around 1920. These were poor, working class people from a rural background. I would think the gown was borrowed.

 

My Dad’s parents. I never met my grandfather as he died when Dad was 11. My Grandmother (Gran) was a stylish dresser but with little money. She was a war bride from the U.K. marrying the love of her life around 1921. She lived a sad life as a widow with 4 children to support and did it tough.

 

My Parents. 2 November 1946. Mum and Dad had formal photos taken after the wedding. Mum’s gown was, I believe, made with the help of post war coupons. There would have been a lot of help with sewing and more. No idea what happened to the gown. Likely shared with others. Mum and Dad got to celebrate 60 years wed before Mum’s death from cancer.

 

 

The 1970s kids. Us. 23 January 1971. I bought my wedding dress off the rack from the bridesmaid section in a bridal shop. The veil was the closest to fancy. Very practical and comfy. My husband hired his suit.

Dear 11 year old granddaughter, you look so cool. Yes, your Grandma has carted this dress around NSW for over 50 years so you can try it on at our Golden Wedding Anniversary!

 

Our daughter made us an orange flavoured cake (her Dad’s choice) for our Golden Wedding Anniversary and it was decorated with white icing, and flowers. So pretty.

I know Wedding Dresses can be all shades of colour.

This post however, did benefit from having images of brides in white!

No judgement made on reasons nor actual “whiteness” of said dresses as white can be of soooo many differing shades! Ever tried to choose a white paint for a room?

Denyse.

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One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June. 2020. 25/2021.

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June 2020. 25/2021.

Yes it did. So what? Isn’t everything constantly changing anyway?

The only thing that is permanent is impermanence.

2020 was to be my year of Gratitude…and here I was in my first instagram post of 2020.

And I can tell you that I DID keep to that routine of finding gratitude every day and wrote a post here last week.

Things were still pretty grim on the east coast of Australia where bushfires had been wreaking havoc, causing death, property loss, and much much more from late Spring. Here we were in January 2020 and things were still every grim. Hot. Unrelenting. Smokey skies…but where possible,  LIFE for us/me, and as this is my version of the changes, had to go on.

First for me, and that had knock on changes for my on-going eye health was a visit for a regular check in early January 2020 where the optician was sufficiently concerned for the cataracts he could see appearing, I brought my specialist appointment forward and attended her rooms in Sydney.

Right, she said “time for cataract x 2 surgeries” and we can do them 2 days apart in Parramatta. The big changes occurred instantly early March but took a while for my vision to be ready to adapt to simpler reading glasses. The best part? Lining up at the local NSW Service Centre to have “glasses for driving” taken off my licence.

In February there was the most welcome relief of all from the unrelenting heat, smoke and fires…in the form of pouring rain, flooding roads and more but the fact is most of the fires were now put out thanks to this change. However, changes of all kinds ARE indeed mixed in their blessings!

And from January onwards we heard from time to time about something called Coronavirus that had been found in Wuhan China. We saw news items with many people covered from head to toe in what we now know as PPE. Personal Protective Equipment: masks, boots, face covers, and scrubs…

But in February and March, for my experiences as a patient visiting my head and neck surgeon for a post-cancer check, attending a charity fundraising function and for being part of a head and neck cancer video, there was just one mention at the entrance to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in early March…and none at all in February. I had a prosthodontist check at Westmead where there were no restrictions. Glad I had that because it suddenly had to stop all bar emergencies and did not come back until the latter half of 2020. Fortunately I remained OK and my regular dentist was able to see me for a check in May.

We had our first Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group Meeting in February 2020 and then…we had to cease all meetings. We were not alone. Hospitals and other organisations were affected. We were not to meet again until close to Christmas for a luncheon and then last week, February 2021 we got together like this:

 

February saw me take a solo drive to Newcastle and attend an event at the Civic Theatre. It was Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales and neither they, nor the audience knew it would be a last gathering in large crowds….and as I write, in February 2021, there is a return to concerts, theatre and live events but with some Covid-based restrictions.


I also took part in a video being made for head and neck cancer patients and families at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. We were, as they say, so lucky to get that kind of event before the greater restrictions were announced.


Already though, on-line and in person there were warnings that we should not visit under any circumstances if we were unwell or had travelled from certain countries.

At my day surgery for my eyes in early March (9 & 11 March) some restrictions commenced on the first visit – some questions were asked on arrival. By the day after that, I had to have a temperture check, answer a series of questions and have no-one accompany me. I didn’t anyway. I could feel the tension levels rising.

By the next day after that when my husband drove me to Morisset for post-cataract check, even more restrictions were put in place. I spoke to my Opthalmologist a few months back when she finally started seeing patients again and she said to manage “the many changes, and the ways in which services had to be offered, they were in a constant state of readiness for change and being flexible. Every day brought some new measure”.

And Then More Changed. Where We Could Travel. What We Could Do.

16 March onwards.

Our eldest granddaughter, already immuno-compromised, “left home” where she may have been exposed to any part of this very scary and unknown virus because her mum and young sister attended schools. Still schools remained open..but then they too had to adapt. BIG time.  Ms J. came to the Central Coast to stay with her paternal grandparents and in those months I think the generations made it work well for them. She did have a sneaky day trip to see us and we agreed: HUGS were happening. She said “I so miss hugs”.

About Schools. Teachers, Principals and The Students. Parents Too.

When announcements were made by our N.S.W. Premier, the Health Minister, The Police Minister and the Chief Health Officer,(and sometimes others)  those announcements were many fold.

Every state and territory managed the matters of education, transport, health and so on and there were/are continuing conflicts about Aged Care and Quarantine/Border Matters being state or federal. It truly has been very trying all-round. Schools, because of the close contact via their very nature of operation, had to make swift, educationally-sound and major changes of day to day operation.

It was non-negotiable for public schools. They had to stay open for vulnerable kids and those too of workers in essential industries. They also had to provide quality and consistent work at school for students and for those who could stay at home. I only read about this and viewed how it was via my teaching contacts. Our daughter, a teacher-librarian then at her school found it huge as a shift but like all, they got on with it. It would have been a logistical issue of huge proportions for all schools. I was a very understanding and empathetic cheerleader where I could.

Life As We Knew It…Mostly Changed! 

We here in N.S.W. learned to live with:

  • daily updates of covid cases, diagnoses, tests, and sadly deaths. This happened most mornings at 11.00. a.m. I kept up via updates in social media.
  • sad stories of what was happening in aged care facilities. So many stories that have had to be managed via (I think) a Royal Commission
  • mixed messages from different levels of government. By mixed I meant it was inconsistent because of our way of being governed.
  • shortages…in supermarkets. The first time I visited a supermarket post our levels of restriction in those early months: only leave home for essential shopping, health reasons, exercise and essential work, it blew me away. I wondered what had happened….

“this” item most likely to have been bought AND to have run out!

  • I missed my daily drives and had to re-invent how to take care of my emotional health and form some routines that worked for me at home.
  • I did still do shopping, but was in & out as soon as possible.
  • Our GP practice offered telehealth appointments and we knew they were early days for them too, my husband in particular found a challenging medical issue very difficult to manage via phone. The doctors at that stage were saying no-one over 70 attend the surgery.

Getting Accustomed To The Changes.

  • It was all about being safe. We recognised that. We could not (and would not) disobey the then rules around being out of the house. We saw many more people in our neighbourhood walking past as part of their day.
  • We could not just go out for fun at all in March into early May.
  • I was incredibly relieved when, following the strict rules, my hairdresser was able to re-open and I got a much needed psychological boost of a haircut and a connection with my caring hairdresser
  • Over time, of course, we saw the emergence of Covid Test centres and I had a temperature and a bit of cough so went through the then procedures to got to my local hospital test centre. It felt weird but knowing i had to do the right thing because of this invisible virus, I self-isolated at home and was glad to get my results within a day and a half. Negative.

Changes Happened Regularly.

April – June. My commentary related to New South Wales, and what I recall specifically affected me/us.

  • Covid rules went up and down in severity depending on where clusters of cases had been found and so on
  • Where we live, is an hour’s drive to Sydney and then another 45 minutes to either my Dad’s on the Northern Beaches or our Kids’ in the North West.
  • For quite a few weeks, into months, we could not travel at all, other than locally.
  • It meant no visits for celebrations or care. We did not know how long this would last but fortunately in time for Mother’s Day – May – we could drive to Sydney to see our family and later in that month to visit dad.
  • We also could see via media reports from around Australia that where we lived, we were doing OK relatively. It did not stop our feelings of sadness and concern for many who did lose their lives and the fact that families could not be with loved ones as they were dying.

 

My Health Also Needed Better Solutions.

I have written about this here before but will just summarise, I needed to have a colonoscopy once my G.P. determined how severe my rectal prolapse was in earliesh May. I did get to the colo-rectal surgeon and he very quickly sorted out my thinking do I have to….with yes, how else might we know what’s going on “up there”.

  • Meant to happen late May. Local Private Hospital where he worked one day a week for these procedures accepted my forms for procedures …psyching myself up was the hard part…and then promptly cancelled/postponed because of Covid restrictions on surgeries. They were now a quater of what was before Covid.
  • Waiting not my best thing, but had to. Had my flu injection…sitting outside G.P. surgery while he came out to give me the jab.
  • Finally late June “had the dreaded” colonoscopy. Findings: you need rectal prolapse surgery. Stat. No cancer though.
  • Stat: in Covid times, meant when larger regional private hospital could book me in and I could have relevant pre-op checks. I did. My surgery date was late July.

 

Regular Health Checks Continued.

  • We still saw our podiatrist
  • I had a physio session for my shoulder
  • We eventually went back to choice of face to face at G.P. with mask and social distancing.
  • Saw screens go up at all facilities over time.

Getting Out and About.

I missed my going out for coffee but even when I could return, there were very strict rules for being seated. Over time, and now, I have stopped having a coffee anywhere unless it’s outside. It’s not somewhere I want to linger any more. Perhaps that need has shifted. We do not miss going anywhere as a couple as we stopped that way before this anywhere. Even our get together for a morning tea out has stopped.

I could get back to driving to the beach and walking. There were, in winter, loud hailers and even a police helicopter above the sands, telling us to keep moving, no sitting…it felt big brother ish.

I did do some shopping on-line, like many, but missed actual shops. Sad to say, many of those I enjoyed frequenting for clothes have closed some local shops and the value is no longer there.

That’s it for now.

I will be back soon with July to December.

How was your first half of 2020?

Stay safe, everyone…we are almost at Covid jab time here. Phew.

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Explore. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 24/2021.

Explore. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 24/2021.

Let’s go and explore my local area.

Here’s a map of sorts:

From our place in Hamlyn Terrace, I go east to Lakes Beach Budgewoi about 20 minutes away. On a Sunday usually I go into Wyong, and out to Porter’s Creek. And in early February I drove south to Sydney to Northern Beaches.

 

This is something I do regularly each week. Drive solo to explore local areas. Often listening to an audio book.

Into my red car we go!

So, here’s a few snaps from earlier in the month.

Wyong: Sunday mornings.

Drive to Sydney to see Dad is followed by a drive to local beaches.

View from North Curl Curl looking south to South Curl where I usually stop for photos!

 

Applying some zoom, Manly is in the background. Freshwater area in the foreground.

Local drive to the Beach. Lakes Beach this time not Soldier’s Beach.

Very windy on my approach. Rough surf too.

Really wanted to walk along the water’s edge and in the water too….

these stopped me. There has been a huge influx of blue bottles up & down the coast. They STING like crazy.

What are your favourite places to explore?

Denyse.

Link Up #228

 

Life This Week. Link Up #228

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: 9/51 Taking Stock. I will be using my new prompts:

Here’s the photo of them.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Feed The Birds. #SundayStills. #8. 23/2021.

Feed The Birds. #SundayStills. #8. 23/2021.

Each week I am writing and posting here for inclusion in the #SundayStills from this blogger and kind person, Terri from here.

And also this is part of my blog’s category for sharing photographs.

I have now combined the two and made a shared purpose photo for this photographic challenge.

Late in 2020 I noticed a flash of movement outside our house.

We have a glass splashback over the stove (never install one, people, we are renting so no choice!) and I saw something flitting in and out of the agapanthus we have growing there for most of summer.

I did not do anything after that other than find my iphone and get some images.

I later found out this was a kind of honey-eater bird and have never seen one since but on this day, the agapanthus WAS feeding this bird!

Have you seen any like this before?

We live in a coastal region of New South Wales Australia in a temperate climate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I sure would love to say I have seen the bird return, but no, we just have regular nuisance birds who mess up our back patio!

Denyse.

 

I add this to my #SundayStills posts because I am not a wordpress blogger but have a self-hosted site. Do catch up with me if you are interested in knowing more and come on over on a Monday to link a post! Details below.

Please follow this blog via Bloglovin  see my home page for link in which to add your email address.

You may prefer to follow the updates from here on my Facebook page for the blog.

I am on twitter as @denysewhelan1

My instagram account is private: ask for follow @denysewhelan_blogs

Each Monday I hosted a link up called Life This Week. There are optional prompts. They can be found on the home page too.

Denyse: An Australian East Coast of New South Wales Blogger: Often found here:

 

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Gratitude & Acts of Kindness. 22/2021.

Gratitude & Acts of Kindness. 22/2021.

Last year I chose the word Gratitude as my word of the year. It challenged me at times to feel or be grateful but overall, I managed to not only feel it more than I might have but I also shared, as I said I would 366 posts about Gratitude as part of my Instagram account.

The instagram account for the blog is @denysewhelan_blogs and it feeds the series of photos which appear on the blog’s side bar. Ask for a follow if you are not already following me. Thank you!

In 2016 I chose Kindness as my word of the year and  whilst I did not even keep that post, this one was at a later stage in my life, in so many ways I failed at keeping the promise to myself. It was to include myself in being kind…to me! Soon, I will write more in the series Telling My Story about 2016 and it really was an even tougher year for me because…. I can be so incredibly tough on me!

What I Can Report About Changing My Thinking.

  • I am tough on myself
  • I am a judgy judgy person
  • I am, however, getting much better at becoming AWARE of the first two points because I use this:

“what am I grateful for today?”

I need to add, that when my wise, oh so wise husband told me he did this regularly upon waking and recommended it…I said “why?” or similar words. Now, of course from both the longevity of giving this a proper go, he is right.

Hey, husband:

You
Are

RIGHT!

and he also recommends both being “in the moment” because ….there is no other. No, he does not have a book deal but he is very handy both as a listener and helper AND a cabinet maker.

Learning from his example but also doing my own research and practice via daily meditation has given me a huge and wider appreciation for all that is in my life and has been.

A Daily Grateful List…I am making this up as I write…could go like this:

I am grateful

  • to be well
  • to be married to my husband
  • to live in a comfortable house
  • to have a flexible daily routine now I am retired
  • to have had a very stimulating and interesting career in education
  • to have enough funds to feed us well, dress us in clothes that we like and fit and to pay our bills
  • to know that I can see a doctor of my choice if needed, get medicines at a PBS rate and see my dentist for reduced rate check ups
  • to have reliable car to take me out each day
  • to be interested in other people
  • to have the commonsense to know when to take a break and enjoy some silence
  • that there is someone somewhere I know who can make me a very decent and consistent cup of coffee
  • that my family remains well
  • that my family is connecting with each other after quite an absence
  • to know that my elderly father is in great care where he is
  • that I blog
  • to have people respond to my blog posts and join in the conversations

But I do not make up a daily list anymore nor do I write 3 things I am grateful for.

Why?

It seems that I am able to integrate the feelings and thoughts about gratitude into my daily life.

This is very helpful to me when things do not always go my way and also if I become worried or fearful about something I can stop myself from going down rabbit holes and ask what is really going on? I can also then look for what is true and what I am grateful for. 

It works.

It really does.

Acts of Kindness.

In conjunction with gratitude for my life as it is now, I tend to look for opportunities for an act of kindness. I do not have the financial resources for these but I do have the time and notice when kindness is shown to me and do my best to return the favour.

Sharing my baked goods.

  • This was so good for me to do, and the recipients loved them in the COVID year. The recipients were the staff, including the G.P.s at our local medical practice. In fact they got quite a few of my boxes of little cakes and packets of home made biscuits. I felt that I wanted to show how THEIR kindness to us mattered so much. It was awful in those early months of COVID when so many government changes were made to regulations and their office staff took the brunt of that. I wanted to give a little bit of appreciation regularly and they loved it.

 

  • I also did this as appreciation to my surgeons. For my Head and Neck Professor Jonathan Clark and Team it’s now a given that I turn up with chocolate flavoured brownie slice and some little cakes. I love doing this for them. For my Colo Rectal Surgeon and his team, they were blown away with this act because I guess, not many people share home baked stuff.

 

  • I also took some down to the local Real Estate Rentals Team because they have been especially kind to us with ensuring we got a couple of great places to rent and also they cared about me when I had cancer. Their working conditions changed due to COVID too so they were really appreciative of a gift like this.

Sending friends a card or an unexpected gift.

I admit this happens less due to financial constraints but I try to think of friends who might be needing a cheer up or  “I’m thinking of you” too.

In one case, I have sent a Big Hug Box to a friend with cancer. I know it was appreciated very much.

In fact, it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week as I write.

I know my friend and founder, Lisa Greissl, is hoping for donations IN KIND…aka money, towards the RandomHUGSofKindness boxes donated to cancer centres. These are not purchased individually but are donated as a result of corporate and business donations drives and more. See here for much more about that.  Lisa was also a Woman of Courage here. 

From my time as a volunteer contributor in 2018 and 2019. I made book marks from my art, and sent them to Lisa where one day I too became part of a packing team for the early versions of RHoK boxes. For more updated information please use the links I have provided. Lisa’s story is unique and I hope you get a chance to read more about her and the ‘why’ of founding the Big Hug Box.

Have you found being grateful helps you?

What is your way of being kind to others?

Do you remember to be kind to you too?

Denyse.

Linking up with Leanne here who is the epitome of kindness! Lovin’ Life Linky, every Thursday.

And across the oceans, with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Self Care Stories #1 7/51. #LifeThisWeek. Ageing. 21/2021.

Self Care Stories #1 7/51. #LifeThisWeek. Ageing. 21/2021.

Every 7th week for #LifeThisWeek optional prompts it’s about Self Care. Time to take a look at care habits, physical, mental and emotional.

And this year as I began to consider my purpose for continuing this blog in a meaningful way as I am changing, I added a category called Stories About Ageing. I introduced my view on ageing and I sought readers’ comments and thoughts. For this week’s post about self care, it made sense to write about what I am noticing about my habits and what I may need to change or update.

Self Care #1. Ageing.

Physical.

What I am noticing about me now. I am, because I can see from the many photos I have that I am looking older.

Yes, I am overweight  somewhat more now than when I was at my then lightest following my first year of head and neck cancer in 2017. However my doctors (and I!) do not want me to change anything.  I am also showing signs on my face with extra sun spot marks and

….for the first time ever, my hair has begun thinning.

When I first remarked on this at a recent hair appointment my lovely hairdresser said she had noticed it before and we worked on a style that will not show it as obviously. I also mentioned it to my G.P. and he said that because I have had a number of anaesthetics in the past 9 months, the effects can do that to hair and growth.

Recent blood tests showed my low iron has continued and in fact is probably the lowest it has been since my head and neck surgery in July 2017. The conservative treatment of iron supplements just don’t work for me as my sensitive IBS gut (potentially) acts up.

To rule out internal bleeding, because I had a colonoscopy back in June 2020 where all was OK cancer-wise, I am having a gastroscopy and an iron infusion. The first will check any potential bleeding sites in the gut, gullet and so on, and the second will, I hope boost my energy because even with the best of intentions, I do find hill walking hard. So I don’t do it! Update: had the gastroscopy and no bleeding areas but will need to increase use of anti-reflux meds and iron infusion went well but making me, ironically, a bit more tired next day!

Mental.

I have been well following my head and neck cancer surgeon’s visit last September when he said “see you in a year!”. At the time, that came as quite a surprise because I thought I would still be having 6 monthly checks.

I did need to take time to process this news.

Coming from my surgeon, who knows head and neck cancer the best (top one who is recognised by his peers as the best) I needed to believe he was right in his judgement.

It is quite a mind shift to make from wondering if any new swelling, pain or slight change might mean cancer is back. And I have had to work on challenging such negative and highly emotive thoughts. They can take me back to feeling fearful as I had for such a long time and I have to trust in the process that I can be well.

I am well!

Then there is this. In July 2020 and then in August 2020 I had some pretty serious abdominal surgeries. One was a rectopexy to repair and make my rectum work as it should, and when the surgeon was inside, he found a hernia, so that meant two lots of incisions. Big upside down T for me…and readers here might recall the wound dehisced. And that meant more surgery. More and much longer recovery and loss of independence, just as I had it back.

How to handle this?

By letting out my frustrations in some tears and telling my husband how I felt.

And making my home space more comfortable so I could recover in comfort. I also needed to allow myself time to grieve for how disappointed I was I needed a second surgery.

Once I had done that, I accepted with gratitude (it truly works!) and allowed the healing from the visiting nurse, my attendance at the G.P.s to go well.

It did. And now, I still cannot believe the freedom I have from having a fully working well ….body. No more worries about prolapse, and so much more embarrassing times I endured for far longer than I needed.

Emotional.

It’s hard to delineate where this fits in between physical and mental but for me it’s about how my mood is and how I can catch myself before go down any rabbit holes of negativity, regret and future concerns.

I remain in the present as much as I can and this for me has been a game-changer!

In fact, I have many more good and great days now than ever.

It has a lot to do with my own growth via reading, learning, seeing a psychologist some years back, a great G.P. who listens (and always tells me how well I am doing to when he first met me in early 2017) and my dear, counsellor-trained husband.

I have been taking an old fashioned anti-depressant since April 2017 which my G.P. originally suggested I take to help calm my insides when IBS was rampant and it would help me sleep. Since then I have, with his support, continued to take it in various doses.

Establishing a daily routine way back in the latter half of 2017 in my early head and neck cancer recoveries is still the basis of my day and it works. I shift times and so on around a bit but the essence of the routine is this which I wrote about here too:

  • Calm Meditation when I wake. Daily Calm. I lie in bed to do this as I am much more comfy.
  • Getting Up times: looser in structure now as we are retired.
  • Having breakfast and getting into my morning: reading the daily newspaper, blog reading and commenting
  • Dress With Purpose and Go Out Of the House. I continue to do this in a modified way with COVID changing my habit of sitting somewhere for a coffee but the delineation in my day makes this something I look forward to every day.
  • Late Lunch and reading
  • Afternoon for Blogging, Some art and NOW some walking outside somewhere. I got slack about this a while back and I am back into it.
  • Dinner Preparation and Eating.
  • News and maybe other viewing for a while with my husband.
  • Later: shower, bed  routine and Netflix or similar in my wind down
  • Calm Meditation of my choice in bed as I ready for sleep

In Summary.

I do all I can to remain in the present.

I remember to go outside if I need a better perspective for a while. I look up, I walk on the grass barefoot and I might drive to the river just to watch and listen.

I spend far less time than I did in comparing myself to others. This used to be a main source of upset for me.

I look at myself with a kinder eye and a warmer heart. Often.

I remind myself I AM 71….

and it is OK not to be as sprightly as those I sometimes see talking about “as we get older” and they are in fact, maybe 45-50. Eye rolling!

That’s me for now.

How are you going in terms of self-care?

Share in the comments for us all to learn.

Denyse.

Link Up #227

 

Life This Week. Link Up #227

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