Sunday 25th October 2020

The Value Of A Smile. 46.1./2020.

The Value Of A Smile. 46.1./2020.

I’ve been contemplating the ways in which smiling can improve my/our health.

Maybe too, because of being socially isolated and  when being out keeping our distance, I have noted that when engaging with people a smile cuts through any communication to be gain a positive response often with a smile back!

Have you noticed this too?

Regular readers here will know I lost my smile for a long time when the top half of my mouth (and some of my top lip too) was removed because of head and neck cancer, and that I really, really missed my smile!

Recovering from Cancer Surgery 2017. Smiling as Best I Could.

Interesting to get to know my needs for social inclusion were/are based on my ability to connect with my smile.

I think it is fascinating that of the three things I lost for a while after the July 2017 surgery: ability to eat & drink, talking clearly and smiling…that I found

S M I L I N G was what I needed to do most.

There is science in this too!

Recently I read this:

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. Peace begins with a smile.

Mother Theresa.

Years ago, I was seeing a psychiatrist for some issues and he talked of the fake it till you make it smile. It seemed silly to me then, but apparently there IS something to this.

I can share this practice , from my experiences of meditation and being mindful, of not allowing myself to retreat or resist what I am not liking. I still need to remember this. In fact, I ask myself ‘what am I afraid to admit, or do or be’?

I need to be in the moment. The only moment as that’s all I have.

Yet, the physical act of helping my body make a smile, works. It’s like a circuit breaker. I can look in the mirror and smile. Not always genuinely but it changes things.

Further advice in troubled times:

  • life the corners of your mouth with your fingers, literally putting a smile on your face.

  • let the smile remind you that acceptance is more powerful than resistance.

  • breathe deeply, then exhale slowly

  • invite yourself to be curious about whatever set of circumstances initiated your resistance.

           Ashley Davis Bush: The Little Book of Inner Peace.

I do engage as much as I can with feeling gratitude each day (and made a promise to do this every day in 2020). Smiling reminds me of how grateful I am for my health, and that even though my top lip is shrinking back somewhat, smiling is one very sound exercise as is connecting with the people around me.

I made my first vlog…I am not sure that is what I call it…but I now have the ability to make mini-videos at home and sorted my channel on You Tube to be able to do so. Yes, the ending is a bit unproffesh but the message is mine!

Take care, people….and do remember to smile.

Denyse.

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Self-Care Stories. #1. 7/51 #LifeThisWeek. 13/2020.

Self-Care Stories. #1. 7/51 #LifeThisWeek. 13/2020.

 

Welcome to the first in the series for 2020.

This optional prompt pops up every 7 weeks or so.

Today here’s mine!

Before kicking off: I have made two changes to my daily routine which is helping me:

One is to consider what I am grateful for each day. I tend to think about something or someone through the day and by even thinking that way I notice a change within. I blogged about it here. I am doing an instagram post each day here: @denysewhelan_blogs and no longer have my account private. I still have @denysewhelan going and no longer private...look at me taking a risk

Two is I am listening to Calm meditation app twice a day. One session, the Daily Calm, before I get up from bed and last thing at night a session of whatever I need at the moment. I have just listened to 10 or so day of “relationship with self.”. Calm is free initially and then you can decided to buy. I got a lifetime price as a bargain in 2018 and am never sick of it. Sleep stories are ace too on nights when I am less than sleep-ready.

What Have I Been Doing?

  1. remembering to follow my daily routine: get up, have breakfast, get dressed and go somewhere for a coffee….come home, blog, read, relax, cook, sleep…
  2. this was, for the most part, pretty well kept.
  3. however and it may have been something that affected others too, I became more anxious than usual when we had extremes of threats:
  • Bushfires
  • More fires
  • High temperatures
  • Continued fires
  • And then it rained.
  • Rainfall was excessive in some places and caused:
  • Flooding
  • Electricity to be cut
  • And NONE of this directly affected me.
  • Mmmmmm.
  • so I was most fortunate to have an in-house counsellor (aka my husband) but also that my previous years of learning how to self-care via means at my disposal actually helped..a great deal.
  • but being an avid follower of social media there were signs that my emotional health was being impacted when I stayed on news and updates for fires/disaster sites for long periods.
  • I realised even before I was “told” by my husband to stop. That was a good self-care measure in itself.

 

Why Have I Needed to Do This?

  1. I know I thrive on being informed and also caring about and for others….BUT there has to be a limit placed.
  2. I do this now by asking myself “what is it I can do that will help this person/those people etc?” If there is nothing really, I do send out a message of empathy where it’s appropriate and I might even do this.
  3. The loving kindness messages are always a way for me to feel a greater connection with others.
  4. I recalled with some hyped and stressed memories of the 5 days of the 2015 East Coast Low when we first moved to the Central Coast and I needed to talk a few of those memories through.
  5. Once I had done that I also knew I am in (and still am in) a much better headspace some 5 years later thanks to all the work I have done to achieve greater emotional health.

Loving Kindness (Metta) can be said silently for yourself, for another or for many. These words above are just one group.

How Do I Integrate This Into My Life?

  1. I continue to follow my routine as much as possible allowing for days (there were a couple!) where to go out of the house meant to be on unsafe roads in flooding rains so I stayed home
  2. I managed to fill in those particular days with little and varied projects of mine.
  3. I automatically come to my art desk when I need to zone out and concentrate on ONE thing and that worked well. In fact it has been something I have done before as well.
  4. I love the variety of activities I now have at my disposal and made use of exploring more of the media too.
  5. My husband was well-occupied with his in-house hobbies and some cabinet making in the garage so with no power lost, we really did well!

 

Afterwards. Onwards.

  1. Self-care is on-going and it can change in its focus for me, depending on how I am.
  2. This week (in fact today!) I am at Westmead seeing my prosthodontist for an update on my upper mouth. I used to get quite stressed about these visits “what will he see that I cannot” and last week I said “STOP”.
  3. I had been living in fear that had no justification.
  4. It was shifting the relaxed mood in our house (and relationship) to tense because I was experiencing some mouth pain (it IS always there, it just seemed worse)
  5. I changed how I approached the pain. I stopped focussing on it by not mentioning it. I also took panadol as instructed.
  6. Self-care is pretty well an on-going matter and recently on Bev Aisbett’s Facebook page (Living with “IT” Anxiety) she posted this, with permission to share:

Recently I took this selfie looking back to  Norah Head Lighthouse in the background, the huge seas reaching the shore…to remind me of how well I am, grateful for all in my life and how far I have come. More to come too, of course!

How is your self-care going?

What do you notice if you are not keeping up your self-care practices?

I look forward to catching up with the comments after I am back from Westmead!

Denyse.

Link Up 176.

Link Up #176. Life This Week.

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

* Please add just ONE post each week!

* 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 by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice.

* THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 8/51 Unusual 23/2/2020

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Self-Care Stories #7 48/51 #LifeThisWeek.117/2019.

Self-Care Stories #7 48/51 #LifeThisWeek.117/2019.

Dear Readers,

We have finished the series for 2019 for Self-Care. However, “I” know how much it means to me to continue the practice of caring for the self…and so it will return as a regular prompt in 2020.

 

My approach for self-care in recent weeks.

Daily. Every Day.

I’ve long been the fan of my morning ritual of:

  • dress with purpose
  • go out to a coffee shop, shopping centre, cafe….
  • order my small, latte, double shot in a glass…..
  • open my current art journal and see where I am at..or what I want to share today
  • and often have two of these little biscuits

IF I do not get to do this because of being unwell or in Sydney for an appointment I really, really miss it so as best as I can, it’s the next day for me.

About the journal.

  • all pages are art-paper – heavy-ish quality
  • all are blank
  • sometimes I prep a page layout with paint at home
  • I write a bit
  • I might add a list- for example, what went well
  • I write to get stuff out…usually helpful and always something I need to do and work on
  •  I add in little patterns and designs
  • I make one if these little babies last me about 2-3 months if I can because they are expensive
  • I used a changing range of unipin black pen (0.5 or 0.8) for writing, outlining and some mixed media for colour

Something to read.

Only recently, when I found this little book, have I read something in this special self care time. This book has given me so many insights and I find myself nodding in agreement. It has confirmed lots of what I have been learning in these recent years and it’s done in such a great, easy-to-follow way.

Author: Ashley Davis Bush

This excerpt is from: Enjoy Your Non-Toothache.

The wise Vietnamese spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh talks about gaining inner peace via the path of noticing what you don’t have. His classic is to enjoy your “non-toothache”. If you’ve ever had toothache you will know (as I do well!) it causes a bit of pain..ok, a lot of pain. All you do when you have it is notice it, thinking about it…..you’d give anything not to have a toothache.

However when the toothache is gone, you quickly forget about the pain and immediately begin to focus on other issues or concerns.

For this equanimity practice write a list of ten things that, for today, you are currently NOT experiencing, but would definitely be unpleasant if you were. In other words, write a list of “it could be worse” items.

The author’s list:

  1. I enjoy not being homeless
  2. I enjoy not being in hospital
  3. I enjoy not vomiting
  4. I enjoy not have a migraine
  5. I enjoy not declaring bankruptcy
  6. I enjoy not going blind
  7. I enjoy not being caught outside in a blizzard
  8. I enjoy not losing my electricity
  9. I enjoy my car not having a flat tyre
  10. I enjoy not having a serious illness.

Here’s my list as of time of writing

  1. I enjoy not being in pain
  2. I enjoy not being employed as a principal
  3. I enjoy not being worried about my job
  4. I enjoy not have issues with IBS today
  5. I enjoy not having a deadline for anything
  6. I enjoy not needing to do Christmas shopping
  7. I am really enjoying not having to prepare family meals each night
  8. I am enjoying not feeling pressured for any reason to be anywhere
  9. I am enjoying not being in treatment for head and neck cancer
  10. I am enjoying not being in debt

How is your self-care?

Meeting up with friends is a really important part of my self-care and I am so glad to have people I know to do so!

On  a recent Monday Kirsty  and I met for coffee and a good old catch up. Kirsty is one busy lady and I am glad to see her role helping educators and parents better understand kids with special needs is taking off. Kirsty can be found here.

 

Sanch and I caught up recently when we met for coffee! Wishing my blogging friend all the best in her new job AND new place of living.  Her blog is here. I shall miss her presence in my life on the Central Coast! I am sure we will catch up again though!!

Excellent Self-Care on 18 November with Sanch!

Self-caring and sharing with my blogging & social media friends recently for my 70th Birthday! 

L-R. Me, Sam, Veronica, Grace & Kimba

 

I hope your self-care is going well!

Tell me more in the comments.

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * 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 by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s optional prompt is: 49/51 Taking Stock #5 9/12/19

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Learning To Be Calm. 39/2019.

Learning To Be Calm. 39/2019.

Over 4 years ago, when I first began understanding that I needed to care for myself INSIDE and out, I began meditation. I went to a retreat at the local Buddhist place and learned that I liked being calm and centred. Of course I could not stop thoughts coming and going and I thought then that made me a failure at meditation.

No.

It made me someone who understood that thoughts come and go no matter what but the trick is not to engage in them. Ha. Easier said than done!

Then.

Now, I have been doing some kind of mindfulness each day AND adding around 10 minutes or so of formal meditation via an app, I KNOW I can stop some of the previous ways in which my mind would race, my gut would churn and I would go down the slippery slope (my husband’s name for it) of rumination, regret and future thinking.

I am much better now at stopping the thoughts by not buying into them and distracting myself with going outside, doing some art, driving and listening to an audible book.

Here’s what I have used in the past: Headspace. I paid for it and used it most days for almost 3 years. What happened for me is boredom set in.

I moved to another app called Calm after doing the free trial.

A for Amazing. I love its variations, I love the refreshing of the meditations, I love that I can re-do ones I get a lot out of and I love that I can explore new sessions.

Sleep Stories is a winner too. I now tend to do my meditation at bedtime (I used to be a mid-morning meditator) and then, I might also listen to a sleep story. It is just the best.

This is the link to the website and you can see there is a free trial. I did that, then paid for an annual fee and after that was offered LIFETIME membership at not much more than the annual fee. I grabbed that bargain! I am not being paid ( I don’t do sponsored posts) but I like to recommend.

I hope you find some calm in your every day in any way that works well for you!

Denyse.

Joining with Min for her Zen Tips Tuesday link up here.

 

 

 

 

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On Being Human. 30/2019.

On Being Human. 30/2019.

It’s the strangest thing, this being human.

One day we think we have this dealing with life sorted….

Then….one thing or many may change that so-called certainty.

The book by Leigh Sales: Any Ordinary Day seeks to explain and find out more about this life of ours.

Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, and her many books and teachings are in my library now.

I had this book beside my bed and read one chapter a night before I knew I had cancer.

This excerpt is from chapter 14.

According to the Buddha, the lives of all beings are marked by three characteristics: impermanence, egolessness, and suffering or dissatisfaction. Recognising these qualities to be real and true in our own experience helps us to relax with things as they are.

The first mark is impermanence. That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and changing, is the first mark of existence. We don’t have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact.

It means life isn’t always going to go our way. It means there’s loss as well as gain. And we don’t like that.

We know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out. Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep-rooted aversion to it.

 

Are we ever certain of anything, really?

No, just the next breath in and then out we learn.

This has been attributed to the Dalai Lama…..

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

 

 

The time is NOW. This is all we have.

https://steemit.com/psychology/@keysa/the-power-of-now-the-book-from-eckhart-tolle-that-changed-my-life-a-talk-about-the-ego-of-man-the-future-destructive-thoughts

So many of us, and I put my hand up here, have thought we CAN control what is going on for us in life.

As those who are wisest say, the only thing that IS certain is uncertainty.

But in saying this, there is a kindness too. In this poem attributed to Rumi, I have found comfort in the words during my tougher times of stress, anxiety and of course, recovering from cancer.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jalaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks (The Essential Rumi)

Finally, something from a recent newspaper clipping. I sometimes do  not agree with Michal Leunig’s words, but this time, for me, he has nailed it.

On Being Human is what we can, be and do each day (and night) to remain well in body and mind. Whilst this can be tough, each of us probably already has some ideas and practices which work. These are those for me:

This is another post, written with self-care in mind and also to relate to the theme of bring mindfulness and more ‘zen’ into our lives.
I hope there is something helpful for you here too.

Tell me more about what your thoughts are “on being human”.

Denyse.

Linking with Min who blogs here for Zen Tips Tuesday. Her guest writers come from all over the world and provide unique and helpful perspectives.

 

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The Big C and Me. 15/2019.

The Big C and Me. 15/2019.

It’s time to share more about me and the Big C.

Yes, it’s about C for…..

CONFIDENCE!

(ha! not the other big C for cancer)

I think I give an outward show of being confident. It is not really a fake it till I make it confidence either.

It is about self-confidence in selected settings.

  • I am confident about my school life and teaching days and enjoy sharing the stories from then.
  • I love this part of me that can share now. I know there were days in education that were not always great (yes, my emotional health took a beating in 2002) but I have grown so much as a person and learner since then.

 

  • I am getting more confident of how I am managing my self-care in regards to less anxiety that plagued me for the years of my transition into retirement.
  • What good news that is! It was horrible for me with IBS thrown into the mix and I have done so well taking on board exposure therapy and a small medication routine.

 

  • I am less than confident in my belief about how well I am going in terms of my mental outlook since my cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments and surgeries.
  • What is the evidence each day? None, really. It just happens sometimes.

 

  • I remain under-confident about my changed appearance a.k.a. my body’s change from very overweight to ‘almost normal weight’ and then back to a slightly ‘overweight’ status.
  • Am I taking steps to understand this huge shift and learning as I go? Yes. Every day.

 

  • I am still not as confident as I think I need to be to take on a continuing role in educating others about Head and Neck cancer because I am sensing judgment of others. I do know that I call upon courage to help me through even I have doubts.
  • Do I have evidence? Not really.

WHY?

I am who I am.

I am the product of a childhood and teen years spent in a dominant paternal household. I was told what to do. I may not always have done it but the memory of “other people’s words” being my measure for self remain.

I am able to give myself a ‘good talking to’ at times and can turn this matter of lack of self-confidence around.

But it takes energy and time AND motivation. I do not always have these on hand together and so there are days when my lack of self-confidence AND worth impact me more.

I am learning more in terms of self-compassion and how each of us is connected via shared humanity.

AM I FOOLING ANYONE?

Possibly but what of it?

  • I am on Instagram each day keeping myself accountable for dressing with purpose and going out somewhere for coffee.
  • This does help me ramp up some of my confidence in just doing so. I am not reliant on the comments as much any more because I know the effort I put in makes the outcome worth it.
  • But then when I have kind followers write comments of “congratulations, kindness and cheering me on” I do appreciate this a lot but also that inner critic rises up and adds her voice “would they say that if they really knew me?”
  • Lies. I do not tell them as far as I am aware but it seems maybe I am believing them from this inner critic. Who? Moi?

WHAT NOW?

Onward.

I know that putting these words here has helped me see that it’s my faulty thinking that has been affecting my self-confidence.

OK! How to change that?

  • Already I have in some ways as I now recognise this inner critic voice and her role.

 

  • My actions, my words and my inner life help me remember MUCH more about the confidence I like to have and know I can bring more to the fore.

 

  • Each time I dress and go out for coffee, I am embedding self-confidence.

 

  • My daily journal keeping can continue to be a ‘write it all down’ place and then review for evidence of this confidence tracking upwards not the downwards the inner critic can believe.

 

  • My on-line interactions with people from my various communities in education, blogging and head and neck cancer are ways in which I grow my self-confidence and also give back to others where I can and it is asked for.

 

  • Seeing myself as others do and may. It helps to believe that I am both good and doing good. This is something I have struggled with all of my life and want it to change. I can do this. I will remind myself more.

 

  • Maintaining practices of:

 

  • being in nature,
  • time-outs with my art journal,
  • chats with my husband, meditation each night,
  • helping my physical body to relax,
  • exercising within my limitations,
  • planning to eat well and doing the same without any deprivation,
  • cancer checks and better understanding of the fact that cancer actually never leaves but might take a back seat in my life,
  • taking time to make contact with family and friends,
  • exploring the local area’s beauty,
  • browsing at the shops,
  • reading,
  • keeping to a timetable of sorts each day for balance in my life.

Already I feel better!

Thanks for reading.

Do you have an issue with the Big C?

 

Denyse.

Joining with my blogging friends here:

Min on Tuesdays here for #ZenTipsTuesday

Sue & Leanne on Wednesdays  here for #MidlifeShareTheLove

Leanne & Crew on Thursdays  here for #LovinLife

 

 

 

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My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

I have written about the value of mindfulness and meditation several times here and here since 2015 and I have decided to update my readers and in doing so, join in with Min of who is launching her ZenTipsTuesday link up today!

Join the #ZTT train by linking up your post about any kind of lifestyle choice, activity, or holiday that helped bring you a feeling of ZEN – peace, or enhanced feeling of balance (mind, body and spirit).

Congratulations to Min. I hope this Tuesday link-up is a great one.

In the past year, these are some of what I practise to achieve mindfulness:

mindfulness: rather than me explain it: this one page article has three ways in which to describe mindfulness and I suggest a read because…it is ‘not all about being in this moment’. Nor is it all about meditation and clearing out your mind. That as I know is impossible and no meditation teacher ever expects that to occur.

 

When I notice my body (and soul I suppose!) not being as in sync as I now know they can be, I try to find s part of nature that soothes me and helps me add the world around me to filling me up again.

A place called Porters Creek – part of Wyong River – is a favourite place to walk alongside and stop and take in what surrounds me.

 

Of course, I have written before about Mindfulness and Mandalas and that is here. However after quite a gap between making mandalas due to busy-ness of making bookmarks from my art, I felt called back to this most mindful of art I do. I love the creative process and then carefully deciding after the pattern has been completed, just how I will colour it.

 

An A3 size mandala created by me and eventually coloured with some of these fabulous markers which has a brush end and a pointed end.

 

Recently I could not settle myself. That happens at times when there is more on my mind than I may admit to: possibly related to cancer recovery. So on this occasion again I took myself out in the car and found a place at Tacoma beside the Wyong River and sat. And looked and noticed: what I held in my hand. Check out the tiny mandala shape in nature!

Sometimes it is the change of view that helps and I get out of my house. This find told me that if I look carefully I will find something of interest. I did.

 

I have learned the lesson over and over again that there is no one right time. Take a risk, give something a go and be kind to yourself as you do so. That is living in the now!

 

Calm is my preferred meditation app now and I have life membership – it was surprisingly cheap and there are many options on the app that it is for me better than my previous Headspace app.

 

If my mind is whirling and worrying sometimes a more complex but different kind of drawing challenge helps me focus on “just one thing”. This is an example of a previously “too hard” mandala in its final stages of drawing.

Taking my time, reading the instructions (!) and doing this was such a good thing for me at the time.

 

I have been learning about Self-Compassion for over 3 years now but am always learning something new about it and myself. I am far less likely to speak to myself harshly these days and I remember to practise self-compassion when I do not have a great day. Completing the Mindful Self Compassion Workbook by Dr Kirstin Neff and Dr Chris Germer is helping cement my practices.

Do you practise self-care? In 2019 each 7th week, for LifeThisWeek I am asking bloggers to share their self-care and self-kindness stories.

 

A favourite way of re-connecting with myself in a pleasant environment is this place. I found it before I knew I had cancer in 2017 and visited it once I found out. I like to walk here and take time to gather my thoughts and at the same time immerse myself in the bigger world beyond my mind!

The walking bridge at Budgie is a favourite.

 

It is no secret to those who follow me on Instagram that the beach is a winner hands-down for me as a mood-buster and a ‘time to give thanks’ spot.

I knew last week this is where I HAD to come at 6 p.m. and it cheered me no end. Especially dipping in the water and facing the challenge of crashing waves!

 

And so, that IS my mindful practices’ update. I hope you are finding this thing we are in called LIFE going well for you. If you are not so, and that happens, maybe some of mine could be ones to help you too.

Denyse.

Joining in with Min from Write of the Middle for Zen Tips Tuesday for the first link up!

On Wednesdays I link here for Midlife Share the Love. Thank you Sue and Leanne.

This Thursday I link up here as part of Lovin’ Life linky  with Leanne and friends.

 

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Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Appreciation In August. #5. 2018.85.

Five weeks of Appreciation posts are concluding today with a list of people and businesses I wanted to share my appreciation for in my life and to spread the word to my readers and fellow bloggers. I have not been, as they say, sponsored nor paid for my post, I just tell things as they are. Enjoy!

The Big Hug Box

I first heard of the Big Hug Box and its founder, Lisa, via social media. Lisa tells her story on the website here and as a cancer survivor (from a rare cancer) she wanted to raise funds to give back to research. Lisa is a wife and an energetic Mum of 2 from Newcastle , who admired my hand-made book marks when she saw them.  I offered a suggestion of these as an inclusion in the gifts especially for those newly diagnosed with cancer & Lisa said “yes, please”. I love that my art can be made into bookmarks by me for others to use.

Thank you Lisa. I know we are yet to meet but I do know how kind and supportive you are. Lisa’s blog post about me recently.

https://thebighugbox.com/

Colour Me Well

Social media, specifically Instagram, was where I first saw the development of a colouring calendar from Sharon, at Colour Me Well. This is based on her experience as a cancer survivor where during her treatment she started making boxes on a page representing the treatment days, and colouring them to remind herself of how far she had come.

The calendar comes in a presentation box with a tin of quality pencils. Here’s my little story of becoming involved. Sharon was considering a new product, a greeting card/small gift with a message of kindness, connection and hope and she saw that a mandala would be an ideal mindful colouring pattern on the front.

I liked the idea, of course…mandalas..and set about designing specific once for Cards. Of the 6 designs available, four have been drawn by me. I have no payment for these. I did these out of love for helping others and again, of giving back!

https://www.colourmewell.com.au/

 

Fight Cancer Water Bottle

This is another venture by a cancer survivor who is Sharon too. As I watched the Instagram posts of @fightcancerwaterbottle I soon realised we lived in a similar area. When we met one day by “happy accident” this snap was taken and since then we have been out for a coffee. To read the story of this special water bottle and where the funds from one purchased ends up, it is all on the website.

https://www.fightcancerwaterbottle.com.au/

 

My Blogging Friend and C0-Owner of Skin Boss Australia is Kirsten.

Around the same time she and her husband started this unique business, I was in hospital recovering from my first BIG surgery. Via the kindness of many on a social networking group & this new business I was sent, among other items, Skin Boss Get Up and Glow and Skin Boss Sleep On It. (aren’t the names great?). To read more of the Skin Boss story…and to order some oils of your own as I have (the Body Oils were added recently ) go to the website. I did have to wait a while (some months actually) before I could regularly use the oils on my face as my skin was numb and tender. But now, it is a routine: day and night.

https://www.skinboss.com.au/

Little Blue Wren

I first heard of Jen (little blue wren) as she is a local Newcastle person helping develop products which help skin, specifically the lips. This product is part of the Big Hug Box. I also bought two of her lip balms and one sits on the desk where I am typing, the other on the desk where I create. They are lovely.

1 x Citrus and Peppermint Lip Balm – made locally here in Newcastle by Little Blue Wren. It’s blend of Citrus and Peppermint has been made with the highest quality “Young Living” Oils. (from The Big Hug Box site)

Find her products on Instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/little.blue.wren_/

 

Reading This. Listening to This Book.

I was drawn to this book by Megan Devine after following her Facebook page called Refuge in Grief. Her story as both a counsellor and someone who had the love of her life die in front of her is compelling.

I know that having a cancer diagnosis can feel like a death. Of the life that was an is no more. It is not something I dwell on much as I would rather not be consumed but I do know that listening to Megan read her book (I am a car listener) had me throwing out what were my beliefs about grief.

 

Kindness of “Strangers” ….the people in my Instagram Feed...you know what I mean!

I have followed a delightful and generous woman who I will call Linda…because THAT is her name! I really cannot recall exactly “when” we started to know each other via the usual social media channels but I do know I lucked in with her as a friend. She is one of my “cheerleaders” and I love her for this more. Recently after arriving home from yet another trip to Westmead a LARGE and somewhat weighty packed was on the kitchen bench. I smiled, when I saw the sender…and then I laughed and laugh/cried when I saw the contents. An amazing and beautifully hand crafted crocheted blanket that almost covers my king-size bed…in MY favourite combination of colours AND with a mandala in the middle. Swoon. It is the BEST. As is she!

 

 

Now, as you already know, if you have come this far, that my skin has been problematic for more than a year. My lips especially. I needed something very very dense and something well-known as a salve for skin.

Lanolips was it. I messaged them and told them of my situation and within a week or so, I got some mail! I was sent three types of their product and the bigger one is used just before I go to sleep. It really really helps.

Here is where to find them: http://lanolips.com They are a wholly Australia product. On Instagram: @lanolips

Mindfulness and Meditation.

I have had more than 3 years taking time each day (or night) for some specific meditation activities. For 3 years I paid for a Headspace subscription  and with a 30 days of Cancer program found that really helpful in my early months after diagnosis. Mid year, I changed tack and now have the Calm App as my meditation (and sleep stories) as a great find. Then just last week I became a founding member of Buddhify (they have a free app too) because I wanted to have more variation and one to listening to during the day.

I have found of course, just going outside and being in nature helps as does creating but if you are looking at apps for yourself, there are 0nes I have appreciated and enjoy.

Beyond Five.

I have known about Beyond Five since my cancer diagnosis in May 2017 but I was not really in a ‘space’ to take on much of its important information about Head and Neck Cancer until I was further into my understanding of “my cancer’. Squamous cell carcinoma. More about all of that here in my page.

Back to Beyond Five, which is a charity wanting to spread the message of early and timely diagnosis of all Head and Neck Cancers. From May this year until World Head and Neck Cancer Day on 27 July 2018 Beyond Five ran its first fundraising venture called; Soup for the Soul. I joined in with a Virtual Soup for the Soul event and over $400 was raised just by that. In total, $28,000 was raised. Most work and spreading of messages is via Head and Neck cancer support groups of which I am a member as well as on social media.

Some ways in which I appreciate the work is to tell more people of its purpose, including meeting my Federal MP to let her know more. Find Beyond Five here: 

My Dressing With Purpose, Art Journalling and Coffee.

Long time readers and followers know that I dress, with purpose, each day (and have done, with few exceptions) for almost 10 months now. Every. Single. Day. I generally go out by myself to have a coffee somewhere locally (I am up to 17 places now!) and I take time to reflect in my art journal. I find if I do not, for any reason, get to do this on one day, I am really, really ready for it the next day. The wonderful and sharing Styling You, Nikki Parkinson, has an amazing website and blog here, recently celebrating 10 years of helping women make the most of themselves….well, that has worked for me as I often share my daily photo on the facebook group and have won a weekly prize of Nikki’s book called Unlock Your Style.

 

The best is saved for last. This person. With me.

Words are inadequate for the depth of love and appreciation I have for the man, my husband, who had held me, comforted me and told me to use my skills in re-framing my thoughts and oh-so-much more…and who kind of forgives me for not measuring up to his cleaning standards…especially in the kitchen! 

This is the first photo of us…for a LONG while…where I can smile fully and it was taken by our 6 year old granddaughter on Sunday. Thank you Miss E.

Who or what are you appreciating today?

Denyse.

Joining here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky.

 

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