Tuesday 5th July 2022

Women Of Courage Series. #22. Joanne. 106/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #22. Joanne. 106/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

If Joanne, aged 52, and I had met in real life some years ago we would have been neighbours (almost). However, we have ‘met’ virtually now and that is awesome. Since we made a move to another part of Australia as did Joanne we have found some experiences in common. This woman goes on with her life with such energy and interest in all things ‘foodie’ and visual – her morning beach photos are magic and story-telling…so without further ado, here’s hers on the blog today. Thank you Jo for being part of the series.

 

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

I have written and deleted a few answers to this question. I don’t think that I’m particularly courageous, in fact compared to others I really feel as though my life has been a fortunate one thus far – and I’m touching a lot of wood as I say that.

My mantra is “seriously, how hard can it be?” and I have, over the years, found out to my cost that some things can be very tough indeed. The truth is, if I think too hard about most things I’ll talk myself out of it every time.

I remember a time that some girls at the new school I’d gone to in country NSW told me to meet them in the oval after school because they wanted to bash me up. Their words, not mine. Not only was I the new girl but I was also smart-ish. Apparently, both of those things together were unforgiveable. Anyways, I turned up and they didn’t. I did ask them the next day why they didn’t show. I must have been 9 or 10 I suppose. Courage or stupidity? Either way they didn’t bother me again.

Then at 18 I decided that not only did I want to get a rugby league referees ticket, but I wanted to actually use it. I was the first woman to do so and North Sydney Referees had the courage to allow me to run lines and officiate at games. It didn’t occur to me at the time that I was being courageous, more that I had a point that needed to be made.

There were other points that have needed to be made at various times during my career and I wasn’t afraid to make them – even though on occasion it put my job at risk.

More recently we made the difficult decision to sell up in Sydney and move away from family and friends to start over again on the Sunshine Coast. While difficult to do, it was a decision made from a point of preservation, not courage. At the time everything we’d built up and worked for was at risk – as was our relationship and our mental and physical health. Yes, it took courage to trust in ourselves and walk away from our support networks but when all factors were taken into consideration it wasn’t a difficult decision to make at all. While we miss family and friends we otherwise haven’t looked back.

By far, though, publishing my first novel took more courage than all of that. I’m well aware of how trite that sounds, but it really felt as though I was exposing a part of myself and deliberately making myself vulnerable – and vulnerability absolutely terrifies me.

 

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

To be honest I don’t think it’s changed me at all. I’m still the girl who would sit in front of that panel of senior referees and stare them down and answer their questions until they gave me a ticket.

I’ll still stand up for what I believe in and I’m still ridiculously scared every time I publish a new novel – and I have four out in the wild now. I suspect that the day I no longer care will be the day I should give it up.

 

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

Be true to yourself. Sometimes the only thing you can control is whether you act with integrity – in accordance with your own moral code or ethical standards, whatever they happen to be. That takes real courage.

 

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

In many ways I think I’m less courageous than I used to be – less prepared to risk or expose myself. Goodness knows, I can’t be behind the wheel on the Bruce Highway without feeling panic. Having said that, I think I’ve developed a sort of resilience over the years that I didn’t have when I was younger and I’m definitely more aware of the consequences of my actions – although that awareness is always enough to stop me when I’m on a particular path.

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

Sometimes it’s best not to think about it, but just to jump in. As a politician who I quite admire but won’t name here once said – “down the slope with one ski and no poles…” or something like that. After all, how hard can it be?

 

 

How interesting to learn more about you from this post. Love the surprises I have found in reading your story, especially about  becoming a rugby league umpire. As to the politician’s quote. How interesting! As for resilience I too know the more I seem to do that I may fear the better I become at it. However, it is not to say it’s any easier!

Thank you so much for sharing here and I look forward to seeing the comments after your post.

Denyse

Social Media:

Blog/Website: http://andanyways.com

Twitter: jotracey_

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

Instagram: jotracey

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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What Is This Series Women Of Courage About? 104/2019.

What Is This Series Women Of Courage About? 104/2019.

In April 2019 I attended Newcastle Writers’ Festival and got to hear, amongst others, Author and Public Education Advocate, Jane Caro speak. Jane’s been known to me for a long time via social media, her other books and her involvement in promoting public education. She spoke at length of the roles we women have played and often at great loss or expense to our health, welfare and future financial security in her book Accidental Feminists.

 

Her written and spoken words really made me think.

Women do so much unsung, not necessarily because of not wanting people to know, but because we “just do get on.” I know that my life has taken some not great twists and turns and I realised I drew on resources of courage to do so.

This led me to finding out more about courage from others.

 

The words of Brene Brown helped inspire me in recent years.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognise the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” 

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” 

“The willingness to show up changes us, It makes us a little braver each time.” 

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” 

Her program, on courage, is on Netflix here:

https://www.netflix.com/au/title/81010166

 

My germ of an idea grew and initially I wrote to a few on-line and ‘in real life’ friends (although those of us on the interwebs count many as one and the same) and asked, after in introduction to the ‘why’ of the series, if they would become involved with a contribution.

My great joy was the response. Not everyone said yes, but many more said it and sent me back their responses. That was back in May when I started here with my post then one from Sam.

Not every person is a blogger, for instance here is Tracey’s story recently as was Margaret’s here.

Honestly, each and every post makes me think about courage. Every day courage. The kind that you don’t even react to, but do it anyway. Then there is the slow build up to courage, which takes us along to change.

Here on this page: Women of Courage are the twenty one (21!) women who have already shared. Do check them out if you haven’t. I am so grateful for their courage and responses.

Next week and until mid November there will be five more stories shared.

After that Women of Courage series is having a break for the lead up to Christmas and into January as I need to do some posts relating to Telling My Story (homework!) and more.

From February 2020 I have eight more women’s stories ready to go.

Wow.

Here are the women who have shared their  stories to date! 

If you would like to share your story as a Woman of Courage, please let me know in the comments and I will email you the five questions!

Very much appreciate the stories I have been entrusted with for the blog series. Thank you all.

Denyse.

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #21. Deb Morton.102/2019.

Women Of Courage Series. #21. Deb Morton.102/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

I got to know Deb Morton via her son Rick’s social media. Rick Morton (see a post here) and I first chatted back in 2011 at the first ever Aussie Bloggers Conference. I knew he was someone who not only would go far but he also had a big story to tell. He has done that in his book (see below). However, that’s how I learned about the pivotal and most important person in his young life. His Mum. Deb. After seeing Rick at the same writer’s festival where I got the idea for these posts, I asked Deb to be my facebook friend too and we chatted from then on. I was chuffed when she agree to respond to “what is courage” and here is her story…in her words. Thanks so much Deb (and Rick for the friendship which saw me get to know your Mum).

 

Courage: The ability to meet difficulties and danger firmly or without fear.

Source: unknown – supplied by Deb.

 

Well I did have fear on September Fathers Day 1994, the date I will never forget! My 9 year old son had a serious farm accident, the Flying Doctors were called and airlifted my son, myself and my 3 week old baby girl to the Burns Unit at Royal Brisbane. As a mother I was distraught that I could not take the 7 year old son with me as well, he stayed behind to what ended up being a major catastrophe in our lives!

Our stay in the Burns Unit had many sleepless nights, skin grafts, infections and being away from home for just over 6 weeks. I knew before I arrived home all was not well on the home front, call it your gut instincts, trust them!

My marriage , my home  and lifestyle had dissolved in one full swoop.

During this time I had to find somewhere to live, still take the son to his appointments at the Burns Unit and find a school for the boys , as they were previously educated on Distance Education. I had anger, fear , loneliness and trying to pay bills as well. Make sure you have a network of support people in your life, luckily for me my Mum, sister , brothers were there for me.

A few years later I was to lose Mum and my sister within a year of each other.

I am a better person for what I have gone through , I am so lucky that my little daughter saved me , the fact that she needed me , helped, I thank God every day she came into my life and I know that I have passed on to her the ability to deal with whatever life throws at her, she is a hardworking and capable person that I can be proud of!

I think of the simple things in life, sitting in my garden, watching birds, enjoying the flowers blossoming . Always be grateful for what you have , there is always someone worse off than you and we do live in the best country!

Thank you Deb. When I read about this in Rick’s book that was hard enough to take in. You lived it, as did the children. Reminding us of gratitude and looking around us for the good makes me understand that we humans can go through more than we ever imagine.

Denyse.

My catch up with Rick Morton. A little plug for him is he is now senior reported for The Saturday Paper. In other news, he and his sister have given their Mum Deb a brand new bathroom. Amazing gift! Just what she needed…and asked for! His twitter handle is @squigglyrick and his work for social justice needs to be followed.

Recently Rick and his sister  Lauryn appeared on SBS Insight program: Estrangement in Families. A powerful show and equally powerful responses from two of Deb’ s children. Here is the link.

Next week a Women of Courage story will not appear. I will be sharing stories about Women of Courage. The next one to be published will be on Wednesday 23 October. Thank you all for your interest and comments. Denyse.

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

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Women Of Courage Series. #20. Tracey Fletcher King.100/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #20. Tracey Fletcher King. 100/2019.

A sad update: In August 2021, we received the news that Tracey had died. This woman loved by many, stayed as well as she could, to enable her to see her only child graduate with her PhD. I suspect Tracey didn’t quite own up to how hard life was for quite some time…and even when she agreed to write this post. I am so grateful, like many to have known her, even without meeting in person. Vale Tracey.  

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

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

Welcoming friend and artist, Tracey Fletcher King, aged 51, to this series. Tracey and I have ‘known’ each other via the world of art and creating and a few years back, she had some wonderful on-line classes called Delicious Paint. They were delicious because it was about learning to paint fruit and vegetables. I amazed myself when I saw the shapes and colours in a few I managed to do under her guidance.

I learned so much about ‘patience’ in waiting for  a page to dry because it would not help me get the result if it was a teensy wet. Maybe, without me knowing it, Tracey was using her experience as a cancer patient to then help me (again) as a newbie cancer patient back in 2017. Here’s more about Tracey in her words. A little different in presentation this week, is the use of two other images (I asked Tracey to supply them) about her Art Exhibition. Go, if you can. I know some Queensland blogging friends did last year.

 

Blog/Website: www.traceyfletcherking.com

Instagram: traceyfletcherking

 

 

 

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

Six and a bit years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nothing too special about that as 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosed with it, and despite mine having spread to some lymph nodes and a gruelling year of treatment I had good results and for a glorious couple of years I was cancer free. In April 2016 I went for my routine check to hear that my cancer had returned and had metastasised to my liver, and suddenly everything changed.

The courage, bravery and strength I thought I had acquired thanks to my first run around was blown away from that moment on as suddenly I was dealing with incurable. Those words and the new path I was then on was devastating. I had to tell my daughter, my family, and face the five million tests to determine treatment options etc while holding it together. I still have no clue how I got through that week but I think it was one of my strongest weeks just to get up and face it.

 

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

This new reality has changed me in profound ways. We all have a use by date, but mine is monitored and discussed constantly and while some weeks it feels like we may have years left and others the end feels scarily close, it is always there at the back of your brain. It is part of my everyday and the only way to cope for me is to be pragmatic. I had a stage of not wanting to know what was going on, and I tried like crazy to pretend it was all going to be fine and that a miracle cure was around the corner and every other thought that screamed avoidance. It didn’t make things easier, in fact it made it harder and those months were pretty miserable as I tried to shove the cancer bunny back in its hole but during a round of chemo my oncologist explained having cancer is like trying to hold sand, eventually it will run through my fingers and there will be none left, but his job and mine is to keep shoving as much sand back in as we can.

That was a revelation to me.

I can only hold that sand if I acknowledge that I need it and that it is running through my fingers which that can only happen if I am dealing with it so that’s what I do. If I try to pretend and have no say in my care or face how I am doing then how can I hold that sand? It takes tears and a good old boot up my own butt somedays, and other days I feel like I am piling that sand in there left right and centre, but I face it. I don’t try and hide from it or cling to false hope. I am just going to do the best I can with what I have and for as long as I can and as long as I stick with that I can face almost anything. This is so much easier to deal with and makes courage an everyday habit rather than something to call on in dire circumstances.

 

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

The idea that if you pretend it’s not there it isn’t happening is one of the toughest mindsets to cope with. It’s weirdly easier to just face it, grieve, yell, stomp around the house, cry, try new things, change your mind a million times and be angry at what’s been dealt to you, than trying to pretend it’s not there. The sooner you face it the sooner you can live with it. The fantasies you have in your head of how bad things are going to be are always worse than the reality in my experience so just face up so you can stop wasting time and get back to the good stuff and there is a lot of good stuff. My days are filled with lots of great stuff, they are also filled with a litany of side effects from ongoing and endless rounds of chemo but life is actually pretty good now I let it be what it is and go along with it.

 

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

I know I am more courageous now. I don’t have time to warm up to things or to run endless pro and con lists before I do something I just do it. I don’t want to regret time taken making decisions and torturing myself with what ifs… I just jump in most of the time now. Well not so much jump as a bit of a lurch but I just get on with things. I am better at saying no to things and I spend a lot less time on social media. If people find my work and want to buy it etc then that’s great but I’m not into marketing my art or anything else. I got rid of a heap of online platforms and my days are much better for it. It takes so much pressure off to not be faced with a barrage of notifications and emails. I have stepped back and enjoy the quiet a lot more. I meditate daily, exercise most days and face chemo with a welcome attitude instead of dreading it. It is all about going with the flow rather than fighting things and that gives me the time and energy to be courageous when I need it.

 

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

The thought of what may happen is always worse than living with the reality so face it as soon as you feel able to, and then go with the flow because some days you just have more than you do on other days. For example I ask myself how strong am I feeling and then tell the oncologist at the beginning of the session, I’m having a strong day today so hit me with it, or I’m not feeling on top of things so just tell me what I need to know. Courage is a habit and some days you will do it better than others so make the most of it when you are feeling strong and be kind to yourself on the days when you aren’t feeling so strong.

 

 

That is one BIG story of courage. I know that others who read this are also undergoing treatment for cancer which decided to add its ugly presences elsewhere. I do hope as I am sure readers will too, that your art exhibition is a great success, and that your treatments give you the strength to attend. You are in my thoughts often. Your kindness, checking on me during my early days of learning about my cancer, will never be forgotten. Thank you Tracey.

Before this post went live, I was assured from Tracey that all fingers (and toes!) were crossed that she was well enough for her treatment regime and that she would be able to attend this much anticipated event:

Therefore I am adding this for you, dear readers as Tracey and I have discussed:

“Tracey will be delighted to see your kind words I am sure, but as she is conserving her energies (post chemo treatments is always a challenge) for this Art Exhibition “Still Blue and White” coming up on Saturday – see the brochure- I know she will read but may not be up to commenting right now.’

Denyse.

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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