Thursday 30th June 2022

Healing Me: My Personal Growth Story Over 5 Years. 42/2022.

Healing Me: My Personal Growth Story Over 5 Years. 42/2022.

Over the course of my oral cancer diagnosis (May 2017), first big surgery to remove the cancer and reconstruct my mouth (July 2017)   along with further surgeries in 2017 & 2018, and MANY visits to the prosthodontist, I have needed to grow in terms of my ability to withstand what was happening to me, and to find ways in which to manage, soothe, heal and be present for whatever came up. Link to my stories here.

This was not, as still is not, always easy but the many skills I have practised via meditation from Calm, becoming mindful far more often, and being present rather than future focussed (worry) or past focus (ruminating) helped.

I was also given advice from my dear husband even before cancer was diagnosed in May 2017, that I might be better helping my emotional health by having a daily routine.

No longer working and finding the transition to a retired life in a new place to us did not sit well with me, and I have written of this before. So I did, and still do follow for me a loose daily routine. Dressing with purpose, going out somewhere if I can for a coffee, noticing nature, blogging, engaging on social media and connecting in conversation with my husband.

In commemorating the 5 years of managing myself physically and emotionally, I have made some collages and little stories attached to what help me heal and grow as a person.

I am very grateful for all of the knowledge, and skills I have embedded and I continue to learn more as a life time learner.

Places.

The beaches near where we live. Lakes Beach is more accessible for walking and often has a dramatic surf, Soldiers Beach has suffered from recent erosion and is now harder to access but has amazing views from the carpark and I also swam/walked there last year and earlier this year.

The lakes system. This northern end of the NSW Central Coast has a series of lakes which are named more for the area in which they are located. I visit Wallarah Peace Park at Gorokan, Osborne Park at Toukley and parts of Budgewoi, including MacKenzie Reserve where the wonderful and photogenic pedestrian bridge is.

Wallarah Peace Park. Gorokan. A favourite place for reflection since late 2015.

The River System.

Wyong River. From early on in my cancer recovery, I began visiting my friend Randa’s coffee shop at Wyong for a chat and coffee each Sunday. It helped break up a big week in many ways. And after that I would visit the river somewhere along the way to stop, watch and note its changes. Porters Creek Bridge was/is a special place for me.

Noticing Nature:

Everywhere I went!

from trees to plants and even animals in the fields….

Before cancer, there were often places of reflection and using mindfulness to be more present. After cancer they served me well as familiar touch stones. We may be headed back to Sydney’s northwest, but the memories of here will hold me in good stead.

I also have great connections to the places such as Rouse Hill Town Centre, which I saw built and visited many times until 2015.

Now, the growth of nature there is so beautiful, and I am looking forward to the best connections of all…people…when I return. I already have one friend meeting me for coffee there in 2023!!

And of course..nothing better than to be able to connect with our family with greater ease and less distance to travel too.

And I am quite expecting  that this ‘back to’ will also be a transition too. I sure know that for myself. The past few weeks have been about preparing for some downsizing of donating furniture and giving other items away too. It’s ALL GOOD as they say!!

I am very grateful to have put in many of the experiences into my life to help me manage life as someone with cancer, then after having cancer removed…and making changes to my life going forward…aged 67 to 72.

I hope my story is of interest and that you too may have places that you find help you too.

 

Denyse.

 

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share over the weekend. (Publishing before then, on Wednesday 29 June 2022.)

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

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‘Being Me’ In The Month That Was May. 35/2022.

‘Being Me’ In The Month That Was May. 35/2022.

Since I decided to join in this link up each month, I am also adding my post for ‘the month that was’…and what a month it turned out to be!

MAY 2022

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

hosted by friends Deb, Sue,  Donna and  Jo too.

You too can join in, clicking on one the above links:

Look for this image, and add your post.

Those who follow this blog, and know me from either on-line conversations or in real life, will know that my highest (in terms of importance) value in life is ‘honesty’. And that has seen me make some choices to live better with ME!!

I guess another way of putting it, is to be ‘true to myself’.

I have been blogging for well over 11 years and seen so much change in this time. I have always reflected on what I want my blog and me to represent and along with honesty, comes vulnerability, truth telling and giving thanks.

So BEing ME has meant some reflection and change making…

Saw a recent Instagram hashtag  about ageing and owning up by #speakingyourage (words to that effect) and I have never been someone to hide my age…so this is something I do easily. Here:

 

And then just this week, to be honest, the work that was having a blog link up suddenly (or maybe stealthily) was not anything I wanted to do any more. I could have been someone who soldiered on, but that’s not me either. So, without anything else to add, here is the message to my blogging community…..

Well, now what has that meant for BEing ME?

A few changes within and they feel good.

I have reduced my in-person involvement with Head and Neck Cancer Australia and feel better for this.

I have decided to blog when I want to…and there have been examples of this recently.

I am allowing myself to feel uncomfortable too as changes like these are made. Instead of the old thinking of must get everyone’s approval I am being my own best friend and remembering what I REALLY want to do and be…and again, it’s part of my value system.

MAY MEMORIES.

FIVE years on from my cancer diagnosis was always going to be remembered and celebrated! I added a memento in the form of a bracelet with hearts on 17 May 2022 at 9.35 am. And wrote a post here. 

 

The feelings and experiences here are part of why I am very grateful to be well…following 5 years of recovering from a rare oral cancer…and I make the very most of all the in-person connections we can have with family. We had a lovely catch up here after 4 months.

Our son’s 4. We cared for these kids for years…sadly not Miss in heart top as she was born after we left Sydney.

Then there is this photo which means so much for my healthy recovery and emotional connections. Our four grandkids visited me just after surgery #1 (the big one) in August 2017, so I asked them to do a re-creation with me in May 2022. Love this!!

And that will do for now. I have been to see Dad in Dee Why twice in May and am enjoying the frank chats and helpful conversations we both have to better understand and appreciate each other and our similarities and differences. No more photos from him though. Fair enough! And no, he does not want to live to 100…..I get that.

How was your month of May..not quite finished of course…

And are you  using a word or words in 2022 like I am?

Denyse.

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Being Me & The Month That Was April 2022. #WOTY. 28/2022.

Being Me & The Month That Was April 2022. #WOTY. 28/2022.

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

hosted by friends Deb, Sue,  Donna and  Jo too.

You too can join in, clicking on one the above links:

Look for this image, and add your post.

 

April 2022: Being Me & The Month That Was. 

April started for ‘being me’  with less self confidence and some inner conflict.

I have been at odds with my perceived appearance (once a woman with overeating and overweight issues) that I could not shake. I needed evidence. Fortunately for me, and my current images, I now know my mind has been telling me stories. Who knew*? *sarcastic font.

And that was one of the reasons, lack of some self confidence,  I chose to make myself (and anyone who wanted to join in) a 30 Day Challenge via social media. Instagram specifically.

Being Self-Compassionate!

Dear Readers, I stopped the challenge at Day 20. I was getting little to no  engagement via my daily posts. And whilst I was wanting some likes and perhaps a comment, nothing happened. I like to engage with those who comment. So, I was a bit sorry that it did not happen. I was also taking part in a daily challenge from Fat Mum Slim about food, and using it to share knowledge and experiences from my head and neck cancer. And I stopped it at Day 20 as well.

 

Lesson learned: Perhaps I post too much and perhaps with an expectation of interest in what I post. But I can see, that having a private account, along with content that my on-line followers have seen enough of since 2017.

I am unlinking instagram from the blog as it truly was a nuisance with its updates. I am now just posting on Instagram when I have something I want to share. I have also unlinked Instagram from the Denyse Whelan Blogs facebook page. AND, in case you are not aware, I have deleted as many photos as I wanted to because Meta (owner of both FB and IG) own the images until you delete them. It takes a while to do it. But I didn’t want as much on line.

On Changing & Ageing…Being Me.

It’s all very well for people to say, “oh age is just an attitude”…and yes to an extent that is true but to deny the fact that we humans age in many ways (all different for each of us) but towards the common denominator called death, is for me and my husband, a non-realistic way to LIVE in the NOW, but keeping an EYE on our future.

What We Both Love About This Time Of Our Lives Is:

  • being together for parts of the day, week and so on
  • having some separate and private times
  • pursuing our differing interests and hobbies
  • coming together a few times each day, and at 9 p.m. to chat, laugh and listen
  • no one to answer to any more…no bosses!
  • lack of direct  responsibility for any other humans…those dear kids are in their 40s & 50s with our fast growing up grandkids as their responsibility
  • where we live now
  • having a limited but sufficient income with which to live our now modest lives

We went to Norah Head Lighthouse on Good Friday.

What We Accept Is Coming…one day…who knows when?

Our different and chronic health issues may impede some of our planning.

Already we have accepted that for two different reasons, both physical changes within us, we cannot travel or have a night staying anywhere. We both have eating and digestive issues that are managed with ease at home, and whilst we can venture to a cafe for morning tea or visit our family for a meal, that is it now.

My husband has a severely comprised spine – surgeries have helped him stay upright – and pain is with him 24/7 so he is most comfortable at home with all the needs met here. And of course, my reconstructed mouth means eating away from home is in fact, too hard!

I tend to want to know, research and read…(and listen if it’s via Audible) and “he” has learned so much in his University Counselling Degree and working as a Counsellor that he listens to me and nods ….because, dear Reader, is he WISE!

Mind you, we both do still learn from each other and he is understanding of my need to know and with my father’s age at 98 I have seen so much about ageing as it happens to him..I want to understand more about what it not only IS but what I can accept…so, learning for life me, learns! Here’s a few ways:

And this is truly BEing ME!

BEing Me.

Has changed considerably this year.

For the better.

I have, finally, taken stock of what was causing me some anxiety and worry and stopped being an always happy to say YES person.

I now have worked out whose health matters most, mental and physical and that is mine.

I know not everyone can see why I might now have changed but I have had to change.

I was being stressed over small matters that grew into big ones and they were, generally about people-pleasing.

It’s something I am more aware of now and seek to take a pause before I respond to something that perhaps I may have said yes to in the past.

On some occasions I wear my family circles but every day I wear this, a small heart within a heart to remind me of inner and self love.

Now, back to April: The Month That Was.

And some more:

I have visited Dad more often as the weather has brightened and he is needing company. I also bring little treats and food.

He no longer wants me to take photos of him but when he went to my brother’s for Easter, this image was taken and I love it….will be taking a copy “blown up” so he can see it next week. This is his youngest great grandchild and there is 97 years and 4 months difference in their age!

And that, my friends is April…..Word of the Year progress noted….and on Sunday it is May!

May, for many, can bring memories of Mother’s Days…and mothering, and grand mothering too if you get to do that.

It’s the month in which my oral cancer was diagnosed and my life changed from that time onwards.

Yes, there will be a post (or two) in May about it….

Take care,

Denyse.

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“Being Me” Was Hard in March! #WOTY Review. 20/2022.

“Being Me” Was Hard in March! #WOTY Review. 20/2022.

So, as regular readers know I chose “be me” as my guiding words in 2022.

From end of February celebrating B’s Birthday and using money from NSW Govt…for dining in at a favourite morning tea place.

I guess that IS the ultimate challenge for me, to “be myself” especially in my life where I knew how to be:

  • a daughter
  • a wife
  • a mother
  • a teacher
  • a grandmother
  • a carer
  • a volunteer
  • a patient
  • a blogger
  • a friend

But, left to be on my own I realised late last year when I became unwell, that perhaps I needed to be “me” just “me” ….being, rather than doing…..

Doing was what I knew well.

Being is actually much harder.

Having an inner conversation with me is like this:

so, what’s happening today? I don’t know, I find it hard to just ‘be’ when I want to ‘do’.

And the answer often lies somewhere in the middle of both doing and being…of course…but I still have to tame my old (very) tendencies to:

  • rescue others
  • take care of something for someone
  • go out and find items at the shops
  • do something useful ….with a product such as a meal/cake/gift for someone

As they say, and I have too, I remain a “work-in-progress”.

So far I know I am getting closer to “being me” when I feel less stressed about having to be somewhere I chose not to be anymore.

In fact, even though my people pleasing is still pretty prominent at least I recognise it and can actual say to myself “no, I don’t do that anymore”

I’ve really had to be far more truthful in how some of my past overdoing behaviours have affected me.

It might sound trite but I am now doing far less of any potential organising for anyone or anything.

I know I could. I always did. But now, I am leaving it up to others. If asked, then I may indeed be part of what is happening or:

drum roll, please:

I

CAN

SAY

NO,

thank you,

without any further explanation.

I did some of my self-care things but we were also in a very rain affected part of N.S.W. so staying home was safe. I ventured out a couple of times:

But wait there is more. 

Over the past month my resilience has faltered.

I have been over-tired (but over-wired) and not sleeping well on some nights

I sensed a familiar feeling inside and I remembered it from LONG ago and it felt like:

Burn out…work overload…as it affected me twenty years ago. Chapter here from Telling My Story.

I have been teary.

Impatient.

Unsure about things I am normally confident about.

Quick to respond angrily.

I went to the Psychologist I have seen before and off-loaded but she didn’t mention burn out (that came later from me speaking with B) but she did mention overwhelm and uncertainty and …tah dah….the last 2 years….Wrote about them too. Here and here..

  • But, the ONE aspect I could admit to during my visit was the scare I got (viscerally) when my brother let me know 98 yo Dad had been taken to hospital. It was “only” a two night stay in the end but to a man like my Dad, it gave him quite a scare, as it did us…and his homecoming, via my brother, was on the most awful day of the rains flooding streets in the Northern Beaches right where they had to drive to get Dad back to Dee Why and my brother back to Narrabeen up the road. It was OK. In the end. But, it gave me added anxiety about the “next steps” with Dad and how I might manage emotionally. I am fortunate too, to have skills these days and to have my counsellor-trained husband.

 

  • After that experience and talking it through I could see I really needed to keep up my self-care and my time out in nature (once she settled down) and try to retain some of my more balanced life choices.

 

  • That kind of worked but I was still feeling the short fuse, and it happened after a couple of health visits where I knew I was over thinking and trying to over control what was happening at these visits …..and I couldn’t overcome how I was.

So, I let time pass. That hard thing to do.

But I did, and then over time, because that’s how it works for me, I could distance myself from how I had behaved and see that what I was trying to do was come to terms with more health issues and how HARD it is to do that after the past 5+ years of dealing with cancer.

Sometimes I forget my health past….

It is hard being me at times….

So, I backed off my inner pressure person (the teacher, the one in charge, the perfectionist if you will) and let myself grieve.

I grieved for what had happened to me in so many different health procedures and more…and how I had to hold myself strong to manage to get through it all….and I cried.

I could see that I was now tired.

And I am also in my early 70s. Ageing brings its own and different challenges.

I am using self-compassion to BE me more than ever.

In fact, I wrote about it here, and am keeping myself honest and planning to share an aspect of my self compassion over 30 days of April. More here.

I made a little set of reminder boards here and they sit right within my eye-line at the computer.

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

hosted by friends Deb, Sue,  Donna and  Jo too.

You too can join in, clicking on one the above links:

Look for this image, and add your post.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I certainly send my good wishes to you all.

Denyse.

 

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