Saturday 22nd January 2022

My Father Is 98 Today. 3/2022.

My Father Is 98 Today. 3/2022.

In his mother’s arms. 1924.

My father, Andrew Simpson, was born in Wollongong NSW 98 years ago today.

11.1.1924.

He was the second child and first son to his father, Andrew and mother, Henrietta. His parents met via WWI when he was recovering from war related mustard gas poisoning & she was from the town where the hospital was located.

After the war, the war bride arrived to make her home in her new husband’s city of Wollongong. His family had emigrated from Scotland before WW1.

Dad went on the become brother to two more siblings. In the middle photo, Dad is around 11, and this is likely the last pic of his whole family.

Andy, Dad’s Dad, was fatally injured in a workplace accident at the Steelworks in Port Kembla.

So, it’s 1935, and already the effects of the Great Depression left their mark on Dad and his family. In fact, in a way, he has to grow up from then.

His mother, Gran as I knew her, became an embittered and sad woman not only because of widowhood but due to family matters, received no help at all from her late husband’s more well-to-do family.

What my father tells me helped him was:

Joining the scouting movement

Being an excellent student at school

Having some support from local men who ensured Dad’s education continued at Wollongong HS.

But, at 15, he needed to leave, to become employed and with his aptitude for office work, good understanding of figures, he was given an office traineeship with Australian Iron & Steel.

He worked hard, he rode a push bike to work and he revelled in the scouting connections.

From 1939-1945 Australia was in WW11, and Dad was working in an essential industry and could not enlist. He did community work with the Rover Scouts but it bothers him still that he could not play a part as many did…friends and family, to help his country.

By 1946, life sure stepped up a notch or 3, and he’d done very well with his clerical work and was on his way to being an accountant…and met a lovely woman who was a lady cub master, at Mt Keira scout camp, marrying her on 2.11.1946.

Dad found a different and more loving extended family via Mum’s relatives and was accepted by all. They worked hard, saving money and after 3 years, just about had a brand new house built in Gywnneville with the help of many friends, ready to welcome their first child, Denyse.

Sadly for Dad, and Mum too, he was obliged to go and work in Melbourne for most of my first year of life as it was company policy. He rode it out though, helped by me and mum flying to Melbourne to stay for a while.

By the time Dad returned and was told for his continuing employment – after all, this was a big company which had trained him and given him work experiences for over 10 years, he would be based in Melbourne.

With much thought, and in discussion with some independent mentors, he resigned and took up a role as the works accountant with a fertiliser company based in Port Kembla.

Life was improved  more so, with the addition of a son, and a Holden Car! Dad tells me he had a car in order for many months & whilst waiting had some basic lessons in driving, so when he took ownership of the car, in Sydney, his mate said “you drive home”.

Memories here are mine. Life as kids in Wollongong was family centred, we both went to the local primary school just down the street. We were taken to the beach, Dad helped us learn to body surf, we joined brownies and cubs, and enjoyed life with a few challenges. One was when Mum’s hearing, very damaged after childbirth, necessitated her having major surgery in Sydney and Dad managed work, seeing her and making sure us kids were OK with neighbours helping out.

The forever home and comfortable life in Wollongong did not remain. Dad’s skills were seen as being needed at the higher end of the company ladder, and was offered the role of Chief Accountant in the Sydney Offices of his company.

In recent years Dad & I have chatted about this big move which must have challenged their marriage as Mum had her family nearby and couldn’t even think about moving.  It did happen and despite the initial misgivings, turned out to be a richer and more varied life than either could have imagined.

Balgowlah Heights, Sydney  Years. 1959-2011.

Aspects of my parents’ life have also been covered within the Telling My Story series here.

Now, as I share on his actual birthday, and I cannot visit him because I am not well (not covid) I thought this might be a good way to share.

1960s into 1970s.

Dad’s life expanded socially and work wise with contacts in the new local community, joining scout association and kids’ cricket group both with my brother’s activities. Supporting our local primary school and getting to be part of the much larger community on the northern beaches. He and Mum joined sporting clubs to play social tennis and he became a golfer at Balgowlah Golf Club as a Saturday regular. It was a great sporting and social connection for him, eventually becoming the club  treasurer and later a life member.

Work was big and busy and often took him away for a day or more to visit work sites in relation to his financial role. As we kids grew up, Mum would often accompany him and that was best for them both.

The Big Trip in 1966.

His bosses were progressive with the big company take over of the original one, and Dad was selected to attend the Harvard Business School Management Summer Program at University of Hawaii in June 1966. A VERY big trip beforehand took him literally around the world, visiting places of business related to the big company. It changed his life in so many ways as he still tells us. Eight weeks away and endless friendships and connections made helped he and Mum when they then had their turns at international travel and over time, many trips back to Hawaii.

The class of 1966.

Kids Grow Up. Leave Home. More Happening! 

I left to teach at Barraba in 1970, and met my husband, marrying in 1971 and  my brother had an OS trip and work training, and then in 1976 married his wife. Dad saw that wherever we (the kids) ended up, he and Mum would come to visit where possible. He and Mum did get to see a lot of Australia thanks to us both.

Grandkids and Home Improvements.

In late 1971, our first child, Dad’s first grandchild, was born. As we spent each school holidays with my parents (we were country based teachers) our daughter felt that their place was her second home. In 1978 Dad made a big decision for his comfort and enjoyment…and added a large in ground swimming pool to the back yard and it was loved by many till the house sold. More grandkids arrived in 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Work Comes To An End. 1983.

Dad is a planner and very astute financially. He was tiring of the office work…especially as leadership changes did not appeal, and whilst he could have been promoted to the ‘top’ job said no. He preferred using his financial expertise and not having the ‘buck’ stopping with him. His retirement present from work was a farewell trip around the world…first class, I think, with Mum, to see all of the works’ related places where he had made friends.

Active Retirement Years. 1984-2005.

Golf more often, trips away, taking grandkids on holidays, having a  Gold Coast holiday for each winter, and much more. Helping his family out in many ways. Dealing with deaths of his mother, other family members and more. Pragmatic and an organiser meant things happened well. Garden maintenance, volunteering at a local youth club, making new friends, farewelling older ones and taking time to enjoy life. A walk along the beach at Manly and even a surf until it became physically challenging. Welcoming the first great grandchild, then over the years till now, another 10! Celebrating zero birthdays and anniversaries. Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1996.

Not Wonderful Times.

Mum was not well and in 2006 even though she was fine to celebrate their Diamond Wedding Anniversary with the family, it was clear her health was taking a toll on her and of course on Dad, as her main carer. In early 2007 Dad and Mum were told she was terminally ill with secondary brain tumours and the decision made by her, and supported all the way by Dad and us, was no treatment other than palliative care. Mum died on 5 March 2007. Dad was both relieved and bereft.

The next 3 years were ones of transitioning to being by himself and remaining as well as he could…and his goal remains that. A great walker and social person he continued his practice of getting out and about each day and meeting friends. But time, and a large cold house meant he was ready for more comfort and people around him.

New Beginnings. 

After selling the family home, Dad hosted a farewell to Curban Street with all of us there and it was bittersweet. Nevertheless he moved on and into the spacious, modern and well-fitted out apartment at Dee Why where he is today. He has made a whole group of new friends in the 10 years since he moved in. He hosted a 90th Birthday for friends old & new, and family at the RSL club next door 8 years ago. His health has remained good until the last couple of years where he was troubled with a balance issue and he spent 3 weeks in rehab getting that sorted. His GP says his heart is in great shape. Sadly, mobility is challenging but he has a walker. His eyes are affected by macular degeneration. But his mind remains incredibly active and rarely forgets anything. He can’t score at darts anymore because of his eyes. But he can listen to music, chat with others and use the phone. Interested always in learning more, his neighbours who are originally from the UK and he get together weekly for sharing knowledge and history. He cares for himself including minor cooking. He has a cleaner. He is well.

Today, even though I cannot visit him as I am not feeling well, friends are taking him out for lunch. Yesterday my brother, who lives close by, and family took Dad a cake, and we facetimed for his 98th Birthday.

He has no secret for living to this age. He has outlived all of his older times friends and his family.

Happy 98th Birthday Dad.

Denyse.

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Self Care Stories #7. 47/51 #LifeThisWeek. 127/2021.

Self Care Stories #7. 47/51 #LifeThisWeek. 127/2021.

The Last Of These 2021.

With images and some a lot of words, I will bring you, my readers, up to date with self care!
Here we go.
Mental Health
I got to do this after lockdown ended on 11 October for us here on Central Coast N.S.W….and second day in a row made it even better.
Celebrating wellness, and cafes being open..and sitting to have a coffee (double shot small latte) was a joy.
 
Had my final visit to psychologist too- had 2 in total this time round – as I had already been implementing quite a bit I had learned via my first psychologist (2016-17) and “life” experiences, reading & listening, AND having a trained counsellor husband for some “tips” and listening…
 
My own words as takeaways for me:
 
Allow time to pass. I learned this over & over again between head and neck cancer treatments…
 
Some voices and messages from so-called authority figures in my past told me information that was not helpful and fed the shame I carried about parts of my life….
 
I have the tools I need in my toolbox of strategies
 
My time in Covid was made ‘easier’ because of what I learned as a head and neck cancer patient
 
Allowing myself to feel the feelings…acknowledging them and letting them go is good practice for me
 
My self-awareness and understanding of what can be holding me back is improving as I acknowledge it too
 
That’s about it.
 
Oh and there is no shame in seeking psychological help at any time. I did this via a GP Mental Health Care Plan.
Making slow and minimal changes for me (no-one else!) re weight and activity.
And How Life Went for Us in Photos!
We used to have morning tea dates way back, now, each fortnight, we are trying out mini excursions. The one overlooking M1 is from a back road which wends from Ourimbah through rainforest! This is less than 25 mins from home. We continued to explore last week, driving to Terrigal (about 45 mins from home) to experience the new Boardwalk from the Haven to Terrigal Beach. Lovely! Not crowded as a school/work day and drizzly.

Self care is not selfish. We know that, right?

I would like to admit how much I feel the benefits of cutting back my blogging and my commitment to some of the social media groups and more that I think I felt far too much pressure (me, internal) to continue. As stated in last week’s blog post, I am making changes to 2022 plans for blogging and and thanks to you, the readers and sharers of your blogs, for understanding my ‘why’.

The Ageing Thing. 

It’s true for me, and my husband, that turning 70 and beyond has brought new issues to deal with in terms of physical health.

Ones that need check ups, some that need (different/new) medication and other test and referrals. We have a fantastic GP team where we have been going since April 2017 and in the very unlikely event that we ever had to move, the worst part would be if we could not continue to see this group. Mind you, no plans to move AND hope to continue renting here for as long as the owner allow.

Recently I’ve had an opthalmologist changeover as the person Mr W and I had been seeing since our 40s, finally said “I’m retiring”. Fortunately the practice we go to remains at Morriset, about 30 minutes drive away and they have all our records. I had some reassurance when I thought I was having a sight problem. Dad has macular degeneration so I keep up to date with how my eyes are going. The new Doctor told me there was a little bit of tissue behind the right eye that had its cataract replaced in March 2020 (left eye too) and he lasered it away in the surgery, and whilst I had some reactions with light sensitivity and still some blurring, I know my eyes and sight are in good order.

Annual Bloods and Other Tests. I always wonder how these will be as low iron has been a problem till the iron infusion in February 2021. Results are in: marvellous in all areas of health. I am incredibly grateful for wellness and, even with my cancer, to have good health. My iron, was 11 before infusion in February, rising to 200+ in March 2021, and now at 170 ish.

Feet! The podiatrist sees me every 6 weeks and things are going well with no dramas. I have had to accept the fact that the skeleton and muscles and tendons in my feet are ‘in pretty poor’ shape so shoes/walking wise I must always wear something, even around the house. Barefeet, my previous practice, can over time, and walking on hard floors cause plantar fascitis.

Hair. Well, now that I knew it was back to good health and thick (or so thick!) before I had it cut, I am relieved my hair health is back to good.

Breasts. I had an unexpected mammogram and ultrasound because of some pain but all clear, and strangely enough, pain went too. Now next one is in 2 years.

Any Follow Up For Rectopexi? Nope. Best decision ever to have that long-delayed surgery and to never be worried about bowel incontinence again. IBS has basically disappeared in the nasty diarrhoa form I used to get so very pleased with change in life style this brought.

Ears. I probably have some hearing loss but not needing testing at all…yet.

Heart, kidneys, lungs etc. All good via my GP’s test.

Cancer! Oh that. Mouth goes well. I hope to see my prosthodontist in the new year as he hasn’t seen inside my mouth for 7 months. Pretty sure my care is fine. And, my “last” (sob!) head and neck cancer check will be in September 2022. Why sob? Love my Prof and Nurse. Will Miss Them!!

Teeth. Yes, the remaining 8 on the bottom are going well thanks to me and my dentist up here.

Emotional Health.

My cup is already full of love for and love of our family.

Our daughter, solo mum, relieving Assistant Principal, turned 50 this year and just keeps on going. Very caring person and her three adult children benefit from her love every day. Miss E, aged 9 does too of course..when not asking a million questions!

Our son, solo dad, and psychologist, doing all he can to work on his new business helping Dads, maintaining a terrific physical health program via his local gym, and being the best dad to his four kiddoes aged 14 to 6.

We missed seeing them all, as did all people with loved ones in covid, and so our daughter and her youngest visited the first weekend of freedom, our eldest granddaughter the following weekend, and then we drove to Sydney to see our son and his four at his place.

This is how hearts are filled with joy, wonder and love…..

Minding H & R in 2011

 

Now here they are…R is off to HS in 2022, her brother into Yr 9.

And it was, as always good to see my father even though his sight is not great and he is weary, he can still enjoy a chat (it’s inherited by me) and we enjoyed some reminiscing and some morning tea. Afterwards, I drove to Manly to enjoy the views from the Wharf end. Growing up here was not even seen as anything special back in 1950s and 60s but as time has passed, I know I am grateful to have this as part of my life’s history.

And I will leave, with this… a great horizon shot!

How’s your self care coming along?

Share in the comments.

Thank you for reading and commenting!

Denyse.

Link Up #267.

Life This Week. Link Up #267.

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, or multiple 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!

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Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 48/51 Taking Stock #5. 29 Nov. Link Up #268

 

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View. 39/51. #LifeThisWeek. 118/2021.

View. 39/51. #LifeThisWeek. 118/2021.

This post will take a look at ‘view’ the word about seeing and perhaps a ‘point of view’. Using images and words I found of interest in my archives.

And with an update from me at the very end…about Self Care.

 

 

Bernard looking at the view: for whales! None sighted.

 

Papa & 3 Grandkids viewing the water…and seeing ‘little fishies” 2015.

 

This view, of my talented granddaughter who enjoys photography, as she checks an image via the viewfinder. Sydney 2014.

 

The view of me…last one in any kind of education role. Viewed at a TeachMeet in 2015 at the High School I attended 1962-1967. I spoke about my life in education.

 

A not-unfamilar view to regular readers…this is Soldiers Beach in late 2015 with my visiting granddaughters in view.

 

Sunny view of yachts in the background with us having a morning out with a view to greater connection amidst lots of change in 2014.

 

Is it even a session with lego unless you make a tower? Papa pleasing these 2 back in 2016. Great view!

 

Cheers Miss 2. My view of her in 2012. Out for morning tea.

 

Look at that view, as grandson takes photo with my camera. What I view too is protective arm of Miss 5 around her younger sister. 2016.

 

My view then…2015, remembering my view of room on right near. My home room in high school 1962! I got the tour before I gave my presentation.

 

I didn’t notice this view till I was finding photos. When Ms 2 stayed with us, she put her sandals next to Papa’s. 2016.

 

The place we moved to had a great view over the water. The house was too uncomfortable and expensive for us in 2015 so we moved on.

 

Teacher & Grandma Me loved this view. Miss 15 months trying out pencils. Go Miss E!

 

So long ago we did this none of remember accurately but we think about 20 years ago. The view from Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of Bridge Climb was amazing.

 

I have viewed this scene over and over and in real life many times. Back to Manly in 2013 for an early morning walk around the area with an interstate visitor.

 

This view, of the now-demolished Entertainment Centre in 2014, is of my eldest granddaughter in her solo role as part of the School Spectacular.

 

The view of the Hollywood sign in January 2006…so far away! Such a different view to what we expect as tourists.

 

My current view…and views of my life as I face turning 72 in 2 months.

These four images, all with ‘me’ inside are part of the story of what I have been, done and needed to be ready for over the past four and a half years since my head and neck cancer diagnosis in May 2017. Blog updates are here.

These times gave me many chances to display courage, admit overwhelm, be able to keep going and…as I often said “do the hard things.”

My blog, and social media have helped me greatly over this time to distract me and to provide comfort as well as to connect.

Now, as I face a YEAR ahead with no check ups for cancer, no plans for any other health issues to need my attention other than the usual checks with G.P. and dentist, I am feeling an air of relief and release.

So, this is how I am going to make some changes. Remembering self care and adapting to managing my life as I age. 

 

  • From next week, I will be blogging ONCE a week. On Mondays for Life This Week. I have posts planned ahead and this is a good thing for planner me!

 

  • I have decided to discontinue further blogging challenges for this year, which means that I have stopped Sunday Stills as of this past week. I have loved being part of the Sunday Stills community and thought I would see the year through, but no, I am making the choice to stop now and have written to Terri at Second Wind Leisure about this and appreciate the friendliness of her community.

 

  • I will also no longer linking up with Natalie for Weekend Coffee share by the time of the final Woman of Courage story and wish her all the best. It’s been a great community to meet and I have connected with Natalie too about this decision. Thank you Natalie.

 

 

  • I am discontinuing one of my instagram accounts.

 

  • I have had quite a lot of trouble with instagram since the end of 2019 where “they” won’t let me post from my phone nor recognise the @denysewhelan account unless it’s via @denysewhelan_blogs so, with the end of #ShareSeptember I will be deleting this account. I may be able to transfer some images over but I am not that concerned about it.

 

  • To be honest, Instagram was a favourite of mine until Facebook took over. Now, I will continue to post on @denysewhelan_blogs and do ask for a follow there if you don’t already follow me. I keep my account private because I was hacked in 2017.

 

  • I will keep that account because it is linked (so far no issues) to my blog and to my Denyse Whelan Blogs Facebook page.

 

 

@DenyseWhelan will be deleted at the end of September 2021 on Instagram.

 

This is the new avatar with the ‘old’ one for @denysewhelan_blogs. Do ask for a follow! Thank you

 

Thank you for you support as I make these changes.

I cannot truthfully write about self care unless practising it so this is my story.

How do you practise self care as you move forward in life?

Denyse.

Link Up #259.

Life This Week. Link Up #259.

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, or multiple 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.

Next week’s optional prompt: 40/51 Share Your Snaps.

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Self Care Stories #5. 36/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2021.

Self Care Stories #5. 36/51 #LifeThisWeek. 109/2021.

 

I think I will sub-title this with:

  • More of the Ways In Which I Spend Lockdown.
  • And Try Not To Be Too Covid-Cranky. It IS a Thing!
  • That’s Because….We ARE in many ways over it but Delta Strain of Covid has not yet finished…and so:
  • I will be continuing to find ways to Cut Parts of My Hair….Husband can help a little but right now, resisting…

Onward! 

Celebrating 3 years of having my upper prosthesis fitted…it sure does make eating AND smiling AND talking so much easier. Very grateful for that.

But before I do, I have made a small change to my commenting policy on those who link up their posts  for Mondays.

I am someone who wants to diligently comment on her blog. I do, as much as I can, comment on the day in which bloggers comment on my Life This Week posts.

Then I would aim to read and comment on every linked up post on Wednesday evenings once the link up closed.

Now, in the interests of self care, I have given up that rigid practice and now choose to take more time and do it sometime over the next 24 hours or so. Releasing internal pressure! Try it.

And next  week, it’s the link up’s 5th Birthday! Hip Hip Hooray for you all who make it a pretty regular habit of linking up!!

It will be a special Taking Stock from me.

Started Life This Week Link Up. Sept 2016.

Getting Outside Every Day. Somewhere, even if it’s the backyard. If I don’t see and experience some green of nature and some of its colours and shapes I feel deprived and sad. So the fact that I can, legally in Covid times, still drive somewhere to do this is a MUST. I do love it and am so much better in mood for sure.

And I am arting and crafting my way through emotional self care…because this IS always my go-to and makes a difference. Sending the bookmarks to friends (on-line and in real life) has been a personal project I have enjoyed so much. And it’s still happening. Nothing like connecting.

Then there is my responsibility for self care that’s an every day must or I soon feel not great and my poor husband has to put up with my ….whingeing.

Physical care.…and all that means these days.

  • I am going well with my keeping active in walking most days.
  • I have reduced my goals on the apple watch as lockdown brought fewer places where I could walk.
  • I am eating well for my age and mouth restrictions.
  • I have almost given away the notion of the food intake concerns and being obsessed by any kind of difference in my appearance.

I say almost because life-time habits take a long time to diminish.

  • I accept that my mouth and its insides limit my food intake and quantity and I am much better at ‘eye balling’ something and know I can eat it safely.
  • It doesn’t mean I don’t get ‘hungry’ looking at some people’s food posts!

My head and neck cancer seems to be gone and I have a tele health appointment tomorrow.

I have had my dentist and my GP check my mouth out, and have sent images to my team at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Fingers crossed they too agree.

The rectal prolapse surgery was the best thing I could have done for my health last year. What a difference it has made to  my life and confidence. Highly recommend it.

Mind you, I mentioned a couple of things to my GP recently and he said..but didn’t quite get the word “ageing” out….for a couple of things but if they worsen do come back

This is the most vital relationship of all, after caring for my health, and that is of my long time husband and best friend.

This is the man I share most of my day with but little of my night. Why is that?

We found many years ago we are both far better at sleeping if we maintain separate rooms and bed.

We have completely different tastes in TV…another reason…and Netflix offers more for him than I…

but in recent times we now have a 30 minute chat and wind down each evening in the bigger bed (mine) and play word games on our I pads and chat.

It’s become a time we both treasure.

Laughing together is a fave!

There it is, my accountability for self care written and shared.

How is your self care these days?

What’s the easiest part for you?

What about the hardest part?

Tell us in the comments.

Warmest wishes to all,

Denyse.

Link Up #256

Life This Week. Link Up #256

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.

Next week’s optional prompt: Celebrating 5 years of this Link Up with Taking Stock. Optional Prompt. 37 /51

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Self Care Stories#4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories #4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories are a regular feature on the optional prompts selection for Life This Week, occurring at 7 week intervals. Keeping myself accountable to me…and for your interest as readers and commenters is what my posts are about. I am also doing my best to respond under a few of my chosen categories.

Every 7th week

Covid 19 and Lockdown.

At the time of writing this post, where we live is included in a lockdown for two weeks. Of the school holidays! Grrr. No family visits. However, I am not one to be annoyed for too long these days and am grateful that we are both fully vaxxed against Covid, I had a Covid test because of a slight sore throat and it was negative. I gave myself a project/challenge to do for the lockdown period and here is a group of the photos. I hope you are well wherever you are living right now.

Gratitude.

I have gone back to being more regular at writing some things to be grateful for each day.

I am also noticing that if I have some days which do not feel so agreeable emotionally, when I call on gratitude I can do a pretty quick change of pace and attitude.

It surprises me how much I remember this now, so I guess I am integrating it better than I thought.

Health and Mindfulness.

I never need a reminder to be considerate of my mindfulness practice as doing a Calm meditation each morning, the Daily Calm, then ending my day with the Daily Trip, pays me dividends each day. I have now completed over 555 days in a row. This image from that day.  Not all days have an original meditation but that’s OK too…and why it’s called practice. We keep on doing it to learn.

 

 

And add to that practice is my art and playing with materials creatively.

Photography Shared.

There is no doubt about it, for me, have an eye into the world around me and using my iphone to capture it gives me so much joy each day.

When I review the photos I am kind in my self talk and I now have a pretty good photographer’s eye. Thanks to lessons way back in Sydney, AND now having a wonderful iphone ProMax 11. 3 lenses!

I also am glad I took so many photos and movies (little vids on the phone) of our grandchildren when we cared for them and when they had little holidays with us. Those days have passed now but my husband and I do enjoy some reminiscing and it’s a great time we share(d) together.

Mind you, we have few ‘easy to access’ memories of the pre-iphone times of the older grandkids, and I must, at some stage, get a quote on having some old video cassettes converted. We do have photos in albums, but listening and looking at the fun the get up to is priceless.

This is from a recent post. I only just noticed the HEART shape in the tree.

Stories About Ageing.

I am old(er) than I was. Ha! That is a fact.

I am more accepting of some of the physical changes happening to my skin  that cannot be “fixed” but can be better cared for, so I have some good quality sunscreen, moisturiser with tint to wear every day.

And, I am remembering more to actually add some moisturiser to my scaly legs. And I have some hormonal cream to use as well. Not stating the obvious  about where it’s applied.

My hairdresser and I agree my ‘thinning’ hair has stopped and we put it down to the 5 anaesthetics in 2020 as did my G.P. but it is still a part of ageing so I will be grateful for what I have. Brilliant hairdresser who does such a symmetrical and pleasing haircut every 4 weeks.

We are also getting to enjoy life as older married people. By that I mean we actually LOVE the times we are having now. Not 100% concerned with work anymore, care of little kids, worried about family members…we are loving and living our life mindfully each day. Lots of laughs, time for solo interests and shared time each evening talking and relaxing after our day.

We had morning tea out again recently, before lockdown, and used the NSW Government Dine Out Vouchers.

Neither of us can manage a meal out anymore so morning tea is ideal. As we have aged – and it’s not just my post oral cancer restrictions, we eat smaller portions.

Relevance is something I think about these days. Back in years of education, I had a title. I knew my role. I did it well. However, I am retired from that role as a school principal. But I am still relevant to my friends and colleagues via social media and in real life. This image of me here with a colleague at a Sydney primary school is when I was Relieving Principal there. Now, over 22 years later, someone I have known in school education since 2013 is the newly appointed principal. I am so proud of him. He’s invited me to visit too once Covid is calmer!

What I Wore.

Goodness me, it has been a long time for one of these. I have stopped doing daily photos but every so often I might ask my husband to take one.

I know now, and this might sound weird, but bear with me….that I actually look ok.

I used to scour my daily photos for ‘what’s wrong’ and that is/was a problem for me.

I have had to accept that whilst I may not like my large upper arms and my double chins, they are are much a part of me ..right now…as my hazel eyes, and great nose and ears.

To pick on parts of my body is something I am doing all I can to reduce. I am never dieting again. I am accepting that I have actually remained around the same weight now for almost 3 years. I still “can’t” believe this at times but each of my clothes tells me that’s correct.

I am a work in progress here. I am proud that I can let the voice of criticism go much more than I ever could.

Word of The Year.

Well… leaving best to last is a good plan.

I smile most days a great deal.

In fact of course I have reasons to smile.

I am well.

I am alive.

But mostly, I smile to connect and communicate with others.

And my reconstructed top lip looks much better as a smile!

That’s my self care post done.

How is your self care progressing?

Denyse.

Link Up #248

Life This Week. Link Up #248

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: 29. Please. 19.7.2021. My Post Is About Head & Neck Cancer Eating & Drinking Challenges.

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Gratitude. A Word & A Feeling. #Head&NeckCancer #Recovery. 82.1/2021.

Gratitude. A Word & A Feeling. #Head&NeckCancer #Recovery. 82.1/2021.

I occasionally add a post in between planned ones as I am doing today, 6th July 2021.

The reason is how grateful I am feeling and wanted to express this on the blog as I have already shared via my social media updates.

Today is a special day in my life.

6th July 2021.

It marks the 4th Anniversary of the first, and very complex, surgery for the cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip to be removed, along with ALL of my upper jaw and palate.

Yes, what an occasion. Oh, and in case you did not know, I also had a reconstruction in that same 11 hour surgery which harvested my right fibula, flesh and skin from my right leg and added those to make me an upper mouth. Much more to it than that, but I am here to tell the story that it did, for me go well.

I had no idea really how I would go in recovery but the fact that I had complete trust in my team and their planning and their work, and could see that I was in the best place possible for this to happen all helped. Greatly. I am a worrier by nature but over time, learned that with that my job was to keep the healing going, taking care of my emotional health and doing all I could physically to recover. There are many blog posts and they are all here.

Today though is a sharing of my updates from yesterday and today.

5th July Memories.

The day of pre-admission to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for my head & neck cancer surgery & reconstruction the next day. Never forget how it was. A relief in many ways. It had been 7 weeks of waiting. For planning, software & 3D model for my mouth. Not much sleep that night. 4 years ago. I already felt I was going to the best place for what was to happen. That instilled so much confidence in me and my husband having been here for the discussion of my surgery with my Professor and team.

Before AND After Images: 4 years apart.

One very special place I have visited over the 5 years we have lived here is the Bridge over Budgewoi Creek at MacKenzie Reserve.

The first image of of the hair-prepped for long time between haircuts, late June as I contemplated and considered what was ahead. Yes, I was scared but I also knew there was nothing else but to be putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward!

The second image, is from today (I do go here quite often but made a special trip today) to give my thanks for how my recovery and wellness is. I did not smile deliberately as I wanted to show my top lip for how it really is. Smiling of course is better…but I acknowledge that cancer took quite a bit of under that lip and 2x skin grafts have helped.

Today I shared this collage first.

It’s made up of four progress images from July 2017, July 2018, July 2019 and July 2020. Don’t my surgeons do an amazing job? And of course, my prosthodontist and my own body in recovery. Very, very grateful.

Selfies are great for monitoring progress for a visual person like me who needs evidence, as I waited… learning that TIME does indeed heal but patience is also necessary!

This impatient person learned, mostly to be a patient patient over the many months, trips back & forth to Sydney: Westmead Oral Sciences & Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

The person who helped me through these trying times… to learn patience is my husband!

 

Thank you Bernard for your patience & time given to me for “selfies”💙

 

Today we marked my 4th anniversary with some pics & a gratitude letter to my HNC surgeon & nurse… then I drove to Budgewoi to “exercise” but to mostly give thanks. This bridge at Mackenzie Reserve is a special place for me.❤️

 

About gratitude. Again!

I have posted many times about gratitude. I have found it a practice that when I use it, I am helped greatly by finding at least one thing to be grateful for in a not-so-good situation. Today though I feel full. In a good way. Emotionally. I feel well, and I really could not ask for me. It’s a feeling for me. My husband knows I remember days and dates and he wanted to know where today stood in terms of day, birthdays, Christmas etc and I said…after some thought:

Today is on top.

It is the best.

I am so grateful and I am sharing this gratitude in my way here by blogging, telling people I love and sharing as best as I can. From my post back in early 2020.

 

My 2020 Word of the Year. I Still Have It in 2021!

Thank you dear blog readers and commenters too, you all make a contribution to my healing and wellness.

Denyse.

 

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

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

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

What was I thinking?

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

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

Right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Are you a self-movitator?

Do you do better with motivation from someone else?

Denyse.

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

Link Up #243

Life This Week. Link Up #243

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

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

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

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

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

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

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

* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 24/51 Nourish. 14 June. My post will be Telling My Story. Part 1/3 2021.

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Self Care Stories #3. 21/51 #LifeThisWeek. Gratitude, Meditation & Ageing. 64/2021.

Self Care Stories #3. 21/51 #LifeThisWeek. Gratitude, Meditation & Ageing. 64/2021.

 

I am grateful.

This was made a year or so ago…

  • I thought to make this list of gratitude
  • I can see why I need to change my mindset to accept gratitude works
  • I sense that feelings this week have been oldies which tend to resurface when threatened
  • That by noticing this I can detach from the old ways better
  • I am loved
  • I am, generally, very well
  • I have a very kind, loving and caring husband
  • When I offer him my love and care and it is accepted with grace
  • I am almost 70 and truly going well
  • My life is enriched by my memories
  • My career was an amazing one
  • I am grateful to have contributed to education in NSW over 40 yrs
  • I love that I share teaching as a passion with many
  • I am grateful that teaching led me to my now husband
  • I like that I am well-respected within teaching circles and am always glad to help
  • I am pleased though that I no longer have to work in schools and education as it is so much more accountable and different
  • I love that I got to have 2 children.
  • I am grateful to have a daughter and a son
  • In the end I am glad of their age differences
  • I am grateful that it was found in 1978 that there was a physical reason for not having him earlier
  • I like that I have now made peace with my children in terms of how I mothered
  • I am grateful both of them accept the ways in which I know I faltered in being Mum as I told them in letters 3 years ago
  • I am always grateful to have been born into my family
  • I am more grateful now of the ways in which my forebears lived their lives so I had the more broad and cushy life I did
  • I am forever grateful my father championed me getting an academic education

At my teacher’s college graduation.

Try Making Your Own Gratitude List.

No-one else needs to see it.

Start small and let it grow

I made this in notes on my phone and added to it.

I did get to 100 but I did not want to bore my readers 

What started as a daily list in 2020 has continued into a more integrated way of seeing things. “Feeling” the gratitude helps me change things.

Why I Can’t Stop Meditating.

I learn something new most days about myself and being human

I listen to Daily Calm via Calm App with Tamara Levitt each morning before getting out of bed. Yes, I meditate in bed. There is no rule you need to be uncomfortable. Just awake. And to absorb the messages.

I now do the daily written reflections after the Calm meditation and have kept those private.

I often share the daily calm photo with a quote. Really enjoy adding my views to those words.

Now, I listen to Calm at night with this man talking Jeff Warren and it’s called The Daily Trip (I didn’t like the ‘trip’ initially as it had old-connotations for me about tripping on drugs but now I see how it works. Really good having different people guide me.

I am quite a record keeper and like that but I wouldn’t want to stop calm at all now.

It is part of my day (and night)

Self Care Socially.

I missed social interaction when I retired and I know I tend to do more of this on-line now

But, I still have my goal of getting out somewhere every single day. I may no longer have a coffee out (it was getting expensive!) but I chat to people and walk in areas that are nature-centred too. Going out to take photos is a wonderful way to enjoy myself.

And, in a way of celebrating greater inner confidence I am continuing to meet up with people for morning tea. On Thursday, I am meeting a journalist for that very reason. Socialising. She has followed my on instagram and we live relatively close. Excited to be doing this.

I met another friend from social media too. She works in the area. Great to finally meet.

And I recently drove myself to Sydney – no problems with that – and saw the musical Hamilton at the Lyric Theatre. Booked in Covid times we could not be sure it would go ahead, but it did. I wore a mask. Not a problem to enjoy the performance!

 

How I Manage Aspects of Ageing.

I ignore them…not really.

It is far better that I notice them.

Some include the nuisance of not being able to recall names and events whereas I used to be so GOOD at that. It’s not anything nasty but another developmental thing about being in my 8th decade (group of 10 years). Notice I am 71 but when our first decade is 0-9, that IS our first decade. So, if you are 61 you are in your 7th decade.

I am very pleased my cataract surgeries have left me with great distance vision and still, after my 12 months check, the same good reading vision – with glasses.

It sure has been a time of catching up on regular and planned (with the GP) checks.

I have recently had:

bone density scan: next in 2 years

  • mammogram & ultrasound: screening mammogram was due in November 2021 (I use my even numbered birthdays to remember) but some symptoms I had recently prompted this being brought forward (result: all fine) 
  • I have had a shingles vaccine. If you are an Australian aged between 70 and 79 you are eligible for a free vaccine. My husband got his at 70. I paid for mine in my late 60s as I never ever wanted to have the debilitating pain again.
  • We have had our first doses of Astra Zeneca – 2nd one due in June. No issues for either of us.
  • We have also have our flu vax and no side effects.
  • Haven’t needed another Covid test since late last year. All negative for all tests in 2020.
  • I have had a 12 month skin check with just some small cancers burned off my cheek. Not so happy with the skin doctor and may seek another referral.
  • I am going very well since my rectopexy and subsequent 2nd surgery for wound issues and happy to say, I have not (fingers crossed) had any I.B.S. since then. Yay!! Life changing. 
  • I remain emotionally pretty well but having a couple of sessions with a psychologist as I have noted some post-retirement (2002 from school principal role) and other events (transition to retirement and cancer) are rising up as traumatic memories so it’s better to deal with those than hide behind pretending I am OK. Getting help is important.
  • My left index finger – am left handed- has two areas of arthritis and GP sent me to cortisone injection in near each joint. One done, one next week. Still sore from process but hoping over time it helps.
  • Each time I smile, I remind myself of how grateful I am that I can smile properly!

Head and Neck Cancer Update.

Over four years ago I received the news of the rare cancer inside my upper gums and under top lip. The story is here. As this post goes out one week after that anniversary I wrote this good news update on Wednesday 19th May on Facebook. I had been for my 6 month prosthodontist check. Last September my head and neck surgeon told me he didn’t want to see me for a year.

Just over 4 years ago I was told I had a rare cancer in my gums & under my top lip. I came here, as I had at other times, some days later in May 2017 to reflect & to wonder as well as to try to lessen my anxiety about what would come.
Over those years of 4 surgeries, many trips to the prosthodontist & lots of TIME to heal in between this place remained a favourite to reflect. Mackenzie Reserve Budgewoi.
This week I am immensely grateful to be well. Entering my 5th year. On Tuesday my 6 month mouth/upper prosthesis check at Westmead along with CT scan indicate all is well. My care of my mouth needs a small upgrade! Twice a day with waterpik, micro brushes & piksters to help my 8 remaining teeth stay OK.
Having this news, I wanted to share here how good it is to be this well, living with the after effects of my reconstruction as well as I can.
Thanks to my husband, family & friends along with my health professionals who buoyed me along the way.
With My Prosthodontist on Tuesday. I said to him, I remember crying through some of my first appointment with you (May 2017) and he said “I do too”. Now, look at us!!
That’s my rather significant wrap for Self Care this time round.
How are you going?
Denyse.
Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

Link Up #241

Life This Week. Link Up #241

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, 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: 22/51 Leaving. 31 May.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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