Sunday 5th July 2020

Women Of Courage Series. #46 Christie Hawkes. 53/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #46 Christie Hawkes. 53/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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 am pleased to say I have another wonderful blogging friend join us today from the USA for this series. I ‘met’ Christie Hawkes, who is 58, via a regular blogging link up called. Mid Life Share The Love here. We have read each others’ blog posts over the years and I felt quite a connection to the way in which Christie ‘tells it as it is’….and THAT is from a place of courage. I am honoured too, that she is sharing a story that may bring some sad thoughts to the surface in doing so…but I will say no more. Here is Christie and she can tell it her way.

 

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

Like most women who reach middle age, I have faced a number of circumstances that required courage:

  • moving out on my own,
  • getting married,
  • having children,
  • going back to school,
  • applying for jobs,
  • getting divorced,
  • getting remarried (creating a blended family with four teenagers!)…you get the idea.

But the thing that comes to mind for me as the most challenging was facing an adult child’s drug addiction and knowing that I could not fix it for her.

Not only that, but I would have to ask her to leave my home, not knowing where she would go or if she would be lost to me forever.

 

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

Perhaps most important, I gained a new confidence in my ability to deal with adversity, and I learned to release things I can’t control. (Well, I’m still learning that one: practice, not perfect.)

  • I learned that I can survive something that initially felt so all-consuming that it might literally destroy me.
  • It did not.
  • I discovered the power of breathing, meditation, and grounding myself in the present moment…rather than projecting into an unknown future.
  • I learned to focus on what I can control.
  • And I learned that you can feel joy even in the midst of the most difficult of times.
  • Flowers still smell sweet.
  • Sunsets are still beautiful.
  • Music still touches you.
  • Coffee still tastes good.
  • These are all invaluable lessons I carry with me today and tools I put to use on a regular basis.

 

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

All the things I listed above, but to simplify, take one breath at a time.

Know that this crisis will not last forever.

It will either pass or you will make adjustments and settle into a new normal.

You are so much stronger than you think.

If you are still breathing, you are succeeding.

 

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

Definitely. As I mentioned previously, I have gained confidence in my own abilities and I have developed tools for resilience.

 

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

Embrace the small joys.

Take care of yourself physically.

If you become overwhelmed, pause and breathe deeply, refocus on those things that are within your control.

Release everything else to the Universe…to your God…or to whatever higher power is out there.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I would like to share that my daughter is sober today, working as a nurse, recently remarried, and raising her three beautiful children. We remained in touch throughout her journey to sobriety.

I did not lose her forever. I know not every story has a happy ending, but if I had let this crisis…the incredible fear…consume me, I would have missed all the joy, all the growth.

 

 

Thank you Christie for opening up to share this story of courage within many part of your life where courage was also needed. I am glad to read of your daughter’s continuing good health and her life as is now. Mostly too, for many of us, that through reading a story like yours, I am again reminded of controlling what I can control. Only me.

Denyse.

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  https://christiehawkes.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chawkes61

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christiehawkes/

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #45. Laurie. 51/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #45. Laurie. 51/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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 ‘met’  Laurie, who’s in her early 60s and  from USA, here…from the blogging world we inhabit. Firstly via a link up with another blogging group called Mid Life Share The Love found here….and then. over time, as Laurie began linking up for my Monday’s link up Life This Week. Both of us are teachers who are retired and grandmothers…but there is more for me (and you, dear readers) to learn from Laurie and she shares her story generously with us today. Thank you!

 

 

 

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

When I went to college, I already had a toddler at home. My mother, who was retired, babysat for me while I attended classes. I paid for my own tuition, books,  lab fees, etc. from money I made from a part-time waitressing job. I studied to become a teacher.

I graduated after struggling through four years of a very tough and time-consuming chemistry education major, got my first teaching job…and hated it.

I was not a very good teacher that first year. I was at odds with the kids, didn’t feel grounded or appreciated and dreaded getting up and going to school each morning.

I got pregnant with our second son at the end of my first year. In those days, pregnant women did not teach, so I didn’t go back to school. I stayed home with my two young sons and worked part time as a waitress again.

A few years later, we had another son.

I enjoyed staying home with my three boys but one day the local high school (not the same school I taught in before) called and asked if I would be interested in substitute teaching in a chemistry classroom.

We needed the money, so I said “OK”.

I absolutely loved it!

I matured during my time at home with the boys and developed more patience and appreciation for my students.

I went back to teaching after one year of substituting and stayed for another 31 years, loving every minute of it.

 

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

I learned patience, perseverance, and that things happen on God’s timeline, not mine.

 

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

I learned to be patient, to trust myself to make the right decisions, and to trust God to be there with me in difficult situations.

 

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

I believe that courage, like trust, is accumulated a little bit at a time. When we have been courageous in the past, we can lean into that knowledge if we need to summon our courage. We know we have been brave before, we can do it again.

 

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

I would tell others to relax, find some good mentors or friends who will stand by you and offer encouragement, trust yourself, and pray.

Laurie eventually found the role in her life she loved and I know that must have come as both a great relief and a joy. However, as now retired teachers, I know both of us are glad to be away from the classroom but relishing the life time of memories, joys, highs and lows that come with the privilege of the title ‘teacher’.

Thank you so much for sharing your story of courage. 

Denyse

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  http://meditationsinmotion.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeditationsinMo

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

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #43 Christina Henry. 47/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #43 Christina Henry. 47/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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 was so pleased when Christina Henry, aged 54, decided to accept my invitation to share her story as a woman of courage. We are Australian bloggers who catch up by following each other’s blog posts on a weekly link-up called Mid-Life Share The Love which is hosted by two previously featured Women of Courage: Sue, whose story is here and and Leanne who shared here too. Welcome Christina!

 

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

One of the scariest times in my life was in 2010 when I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.

I was a single mother of two teenaged boys and had to undergo several heart procedures.

During one angiogram I was paralysed but still aware so I couldn’t let the doctors know I was awake, and could feel everything.  After another angiogram I bled from the insertion site and went into complete heart block for 6 minutes, requiring CPR.

If I hadn’t still been in the hospital I would have died

 

 

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

Knowing I was that close to dying changed my outlook on life.

I never take for granted the gift of life, and I value the people close to me very much.

I was terrified of leaving my sons motherless so staying healthy has always been a priority.

I lost my own mother to cancer when I was 24 and did not want my sons to go through a life without me in it.

 

 

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

If you are facing challenges and feel scared and anxious, get support.

I’ve cried on my friends’ shoulders many times.

Admit you’re scared – there’s nothing to be ashamed of in voicing your fears.

I’ve found support from others who have gone through the same thing invaluable, so find out if there is a support group that you can join.

There are groups online as well, such as facebook groups.  I have sought help from counsellors as well if I need it.

 

 

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

I am about to face more health challenges this year and my priority is to do everything I can to keep my body as healthy as possible.

I have been diagnosed with BRCA 2 gene mutation which puts me in high risk for ovarian and breast cancer, so I have chosen to have risk reducing surgery – removal of my ovaries and a double mastectomy.

It’s really scary, but the thought of having cancer scares me more.

 

 

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

Just take one day at a time, and get through each challenge before you tackle the next.

For example, each doctor’s visit, or diagnostic test, or operation.  When it’s a medical issue, there are often so many appointments to get to.

I look at the calendar each night and work out where I have to be tomorrow.

Take a support person to the ones that you worry about the most, especially specialist appointments.

There’s usually so much information to take it that it can be overwhelming.  Having someone with you can calm you and they will be able to recall the things that you can’t remember.

 

Add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

Facing challenges in life can be overwhelming.

Life can seem to spiral out of control.

In these situations, if you admit you don’t have control it gives you a sense of relief.

If you are a spiritual person it can help to hand it all over to God and say, I know it is out of my control. My life is in your hands, what will be will be.

At the present time the world is being challenged by Covid-19.

We are having to adjust to lockdowns, lifestyle changes and risks to our health – no-one can escape this unless they are on a desert island somewhere.

It is completely out of our control and many people are struggling with it, including myself.

We can’t control everything, but we can control ourselves.

Only get advice from respected official sources and block out the rest – there is so much misinformation out there, and it can be overwhelming.

Get help if you’re struggling.

 

So much courage in those words Christina and yet there is so much to be  scared about. You have a big hurdle of challenges health-wise to overcome, and I wish you all the best in terms of recovery and future good health. So much advice there based on your personal experiences.

Thank you.

I have included some counselling links too, for anyone who may need them. Cancer Council Australia has links too, for the two cancers you are doing all you can to prevent.

Denyse.

Do check out Christina’s sites under her name: midlifestylist.

Website:  https://www.midlifestylist.com

Facebook:  https://facebook.com/midlifestylist

Instagram:  https://instagram.com/midlife_stylist

Twitter:  https://www.twitter.com/midlifestylist

 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

  • Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details
  • Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/
  • Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor
  • Cancer Council Australia: https://www.cancer.org.au/

 

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #42. Ann. 45/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #42. Ann. 45/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

This woman of courage, Ann who is 70, has known me longer than anyone who would be reading this blog….unless my brother or father do ….and I suspect not.

Ann and I met aged 10 when our family moved from Wollongong to the northern beaches Sydney suburb of Balgowlah Heights. I was placed in 4th class in December 1959 as Dad decided my brother and I should start school before the long summer holidays. I then went into 5th and 6th class with Ann, who had been at the school since Kindergarten. She and her family also lived in the same street as the school and I remember visiting their amazing house.

Sadly, like my parents’ house it no longer looks as it did in those years.

Ann and I also travelled by bus to Manly Girls High School as the foundation students for the 6 years of the education now known so well and we did both the School (Year 10 1965) and Higher School Certificates (Year 12 1967). By the time the senior years came we had different subject choices, friendship groups and futures planned that were tertiary education-based. I went to teaching and she went to architecture.

We lost any connections until the latter years when we found each other via facebook or maybe one of those school groups. I can’t recall. However, before we left Sydney we caught up for those decades having a morning tea together…and discovering for all those preceding years, she and I had probably passed each other quite a few times as Castle Hill’s “Towers” as she and her family, like ours, settled in the north-west of Sydney, not the northern beaches!

 

 

 

 

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

I have never considered myself as a particularly courageous person and found myself wondering how to respond to Denyse’s request to take part in her mission, so my first reaction was to look up the meaning of courage. 

“Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery”, “strength in the face of pain or grief”.

After deliberating, I can look back at times during my 70 years of life on Planet Earth where that “ability to do something that frightens” certainly played into action, although I was oblivious of my strength of courage to work through these events at the time. 

My first need to find strength was during 3rd Grade at school, as we had a most terribly strict female teacher who delighted in the use of harsh military tactics and corporal punishment to maintain discipline. The entire class was petrified, scared stiff and united in our fear of this sadistic woman, to the point that her behaviour was a major talking point amongst us when we were out of the classroom.

I remember waking every Monday morning with dread, then thinking to myself that I made it through last week, so I would get through the coming week.

Courage? Yes, and incredibly, I now realise that I have recalled and drawn on this singular experience of that brave little eight-year old girl many, many times.

 

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

I was raised by parents who drew no gender barrier in our household of six females and two males, and due to my love and abilities in the artistic and mathematical arenas, selected a career in architecture.

This was a field dominated by men back in the 1960s, but of which I was rather naively oblivious.

After graduation, I had a struggle finding employment as I had to scan the “Positions Vacant, Men and Boys” columns of the daily newspaper and often did not get beyond the receptionist, who was quick to remind me that I was “a girl”.

However, I persevered over months of unsuccessful interviews and finally did find employment with a delightful partnership of three “liberated” young men.

I still faced the difficulties of a young woman dealing with foremen and labourers on building sites and men in local councils who decided I was the receptionist, but that little girl was always there in the back of my head, pushing me to rise above them and whispering “you’ll get through this”.

I am the mother of four children, born six and a half years apart, and when the youngest was just under three years of age, I found it necessary to end my marriage.

I had since moved my design career sideways, running my own business in stage and costume design, which enabled me to work from home.

But…raising my four children, running the home and working my business, all entirely on my own, was hard, hard work.

There was no time out, apart from the school holidays when my wonderful parents and equally wonderful mother-in-law would take two each of the children for a few days, then swap.

There were times of total exhaustion, but I always remembered my 3rd Grade experience, and how I had managed, as an eight-year old, to “make it through” each week.

Over the last eight years, I have dealt with lung cancer on two occasions four years apart, occurring in each lung and requiring radical surgery both times.

I suffered greatly due to a surgical mishap during the first surgery, so when it was necessary to repeat the operation four years later, I was most fearful of the outcome.

Again, that little girl and my years of experience helped me to remain strong, particularly around my now adult children, who were as fearful of possible outcomes as me.

 

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

I live by the “one day at a time” adage, and it is now obvious to me that my eight-year old self survived her 3rd Grade schooling by taking one day at a time.

Yoga, yoga breathing and meditation follow on from this and both can be done anytime, anywhere.

 

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

As an Elder now, I feel that I now have the advantage of many life experiences to fall back on. 

Strange, though, as I had not realised how important a landmark the courage and determination of that little 8-year old girl had become in my life, until I began to ponder upon Denyse’s questions. Thanks, Denyse!

 

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

This is a crazy hectic world that we live in, and it is difficult, at times, to not become overwhelmed and fearful.

However, this is your life and you have permission to be selfish about inner peace.

Take time out during times of stress to wind down. 

Relax, breathe slowly and deeply to calm the mind, as it only takes a few minutes to realign.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I give permission to anyone who reads this to use that little voice my that whispered to my 8-year old self: 

“You made it through last week, you’ll make it through this week…”

 

 

Thank you Ann. This was a big one for you to respond to and I am most grateful that you did ponder the questions and let your memory and voice through. Getting to 70 and being well is a great outcome. Let’s continue to connect and one day we will be sharing a cuppa again too! 

Denyse.

Here’s a little trip down memory lane which Ann and I shared. Thanks again, Ann!

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #41 Johanna Castro. 43/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #41 Johanna Castro. 43/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

So good to welcome Johanna (I know her as Jo!)  to share her story here this week. Jo, who is 62, is a regular blogger and writer who has been part of the international and Australian travel and writing scene for a long time. I am pretty sure Jo and I met (or at least saw each other in passing!) at Digital Parents Conference for Bloggers in Melbourne in 2012. So many people at that one and so many are no longer blogging but I have made many on-line and off-line friends thanks to occasions such as those – sadly none like them anymore- conferences and am always grateful for those connections made. Now it’s Jo who is sharing her story today.

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

 

Courage is a funny thing.

  • As the ability to do something that frightens you, I think it presents itself in both big life changing ways and in small everyday incidents.
  • For some people it’s finding the courage to face life in the most warrior-like way when halted by heartbreaking or frightening setbacks.
  • For others it’s being able to summon up courage at points in their lives when if they didn’t they would surely spiral downwards and not recover from the problem.

And for some, courage has to be summonsed every day just to keep living.

 

Have I been courageous?  I would say no, not really.

Although in the overall scheme of things perhaps some people might disagree.

  • Was I courageous when I set off from England for the Continent aged 18 with a rucksack on my back and a guitar slung over my shoulder, waving the White Cliffs of Dover goodbye knowing not what to expect as I headed off to be a groom for a showjumping family in Belgium?

Was this in itself courageous?

  • Well, yes because I was young and shy and emotionally insecure and I was acting out of character and defying the status quo of what was expected of me.
  • But also, no not really, because many young people have set off on similar Dick Whittington quests to travel and see the world.
  • I was also deep down reaching for a new life to escape a situation that was beyond my control because domestic abuse tainted an otherwise idyllic childhood.
  • And this leap of faith into the unknown leaving privilege and fear behind, set the course for the rest of my life when moving countries became the status quo, through necessity rather than choice.

 

 

Some years later I met a geologist from South Africa when we were both backpacking in South East Asia.

When we married I half expected to always be adorned with pretty and priceless pieces of rock that he picked up during the course of his geological hammerings, and that we would be safely settled in England by the age of 40.

How wrong I was. The reality was that we would always be on the move. Project to project. Internationally. And geologists often go in at ground zero level when nothing, not even the houses to live in, have been built.

We’ve lived in the most remote situations.

  • A tiny caravan trawled to a spot high in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho next to a river which soon came down in flood. Here the mountain road was termed as ‘the road to hell and back’, the big wigs were helicoptered in, we drove.
  • I almost got away with swapping the outdoor Porta Loo they gave us for a palomino pony that a Basutho horseman brought by one day. At least until Dave and the village chief intervened.
  • On another occasion we went from the wide open spaces of South Africa, and a house with a large garden, to a flat the size of a postage stamp on the 22d floor of a high rise building in Hong Kong where I home schooled our children for a year because there were there was a two year waiting list for a place in schools on Lantau Island where we lived.
  • My wild African toddlers were not impressed with the tiny balcony or our tiny flat, but we learnt to love Hong Kong with a vengeance.

In the very early years of our marriage Dave was offered a job as a geologist in the foothills of the Himalayas and I was pregnant with our first child. Six months pregnant and we had an auction on the lawn. All our worldly possessions and furniture went up for sale – bar what we could fit in our suitcases.

Sam was just 5 weeks old when we set off to live at a remote project site between Kathmandu and Pokhara, reached along treacherous roads, where we were without a phone, 3 hours from the nearest Doctor, and where food supplies were scarce. We had to put water through a 5 point purification process in our tiny kitchen before it was drinkable, and our diet consisted mostly of dhal, bhat, tarkari (lentil, rice and vegetable curry.)

I ended up breastfeeding Sam for 21 months, Dave became very sick from combined dysentery and hepatitis, and I was desperately tired, worried and home sick most of the time – though baby Sam thankfully survived in a robust way!

So I guess I have been courageous, and although people might say I’m lucky (of course) I have also had to sacrifice geographical safety and family stability for a life of constant change. We’ve moved 21 times, 11 times internationally. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and I can definitely vouch for that.

 

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

Having the courage to leave your roots, your family and friends and continuously jump off a proverbial cliff into the unknown has changed me because in time I realised that I didn’t have to live constrained by the limitations of other people’s expectations, or the chains that society places on us.

I also learnt that leaping into the unknown with courage and energy will always throw up fantastic opportunities and exciting new horizons along with lovely new friendships.

 

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

Don’t be afraid to change direction.

There is no wrong direction.

Go boldly and you will find pots of gold that you never even expected.

You have to remember that your heart and your head can put up all sorts of obstructions if you dare to reach beyond your comfort zone, but sometimes you just can’t look at the possible problems that lie ahead, you just have to go for it – don’t question – just go with it.

“I can do this. I’ve got this. Let’s do it.”

It might be a fleeting thought, you might not even believe it when it first appears, but you have to hang onto it, expand it, and nurture it without putting up tons of obstacles.

 

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

Yes, definitely. And I hope so! But I guess it also depends on the sort of courage that’s required in the future.

When I had a melanoma on my back I fainted before the surgeon had even made his first cut, and blood tests of any sort always send my heart straight to my boots, and my head longing to reach down between my knees!

 

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

You are stronger and more resourceful than you imagine.

 

Wow. What a traveller and story-teller from real life living you are Jo! I thought we had lived in some remote teaching spots in New South Wales but your experiences are winners “hands down”. What a ride you have had…and come up for air and can see the courage within too. As for procedures involving nasties like melanomas…you are entitled to deal with that in the way you did. Thank you so much for sharing an amazing story of LIFE lived by you.

Jo has a number of social media connections and they are all listed below for your investigation and following.

Denyse.

Social Media:

Blog/Website: https://lifestylefifty.com and https://zigazag.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/johannaAcastro

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://facebook.com/lifestylefifty and https://facebook.com/thezigazagmag

Instagram: https://instagram.com/lifestylefifty

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Women of Courage Series. #38 Tara Flannery. 37/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #38 Tara Flannery. 37/2020.

Trigger warning: domestic abuse, cancer, psychological help.

 

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

Tara Flannery, aged 48, and I have never met but we have much in common. Firstly we are teachers. Secondly we share a similar team caring for us as head and neck cancer patients. Thirdly, we want to help others  and this is why I was delighted with Tara agreed to share her story as a Woman of Courage. We are planning to meet for a coffee and a chat as soon as we can post-COVID-19. It will be a long and much needed catch up for us both. Welcome to the blog Tara and thank you again!

 

 

 

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

I have had a couple of moments where I have had to dig deep.

Becoming a single mum with a 18 months old and finding studying full-time, no home, no family support

Discovering I had cancer and the treatment that followed.

 

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

I learnt I could do anything I set my heart too.

I learnt that that there are a lot of generous people out there.

I learnt that there are a lot of judgmental people out there.

I learnt that it is not easy to walk away from domestic abuse. It is easy to tell someone to get out but to actually do it is another thing completely.

I learnt that the love I have with my husband is unconditional.

I learnt that others take on your cancer as their problem and can turn against you.

I learnt that I have amazing friends who still loved me even though my anxiety turned me a tad neurotic.

I learnt having a cancer diagnosis will not make family who have turned their backs come back.

I learnt that not many people have the ability to empathise or self-reflect and that is OK.

That is their personality not mine.

I learnt to appreciate every moment I have with my friends, husband and children.

 

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

Don’t let other peoples perception of your reality be yours.

You don’t need to be strong – if you need to cry, scream, throw something. Do it!!! Of course without hurting others 😉

Go talk to a psychologist. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You need a safe place to vent and sort through your emotions.

I didn’t realise how deeply I was depressed and filled with anxiety until I had a year of therapy.

If you are prescribed medication to keep you calm. Take it. Again – nothing to be ashamed of.

Your mind will be racing – you need sleep and rest. These medications are not forever. I took valium and antidepressants for 18 months.

I am off the valium (except for procedures where I need to be awake) and am on minimal dose of antidepressants for most likely the rest of my life.

I suffer Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Trust your medical team. They have helped numerous people before and will continue helping people like you.

Trust their judgment and advice.

Don’t make major decisions – you may come to regret it later.

Eat well – try to evaluate your nutrition. Fresh whole foods.

Try alternative therapies – it can’t hurt (research them thoroughly before you do – there are a lot of con artists out there!)

Learn about self-reflecting. Try to be aware of how you are acting.

Try not to take other peoples behaviours personally.

 

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

I think I would probably handle it the same way I did.

I consider myself a resilient person. But having a cancer diagnosis is traumatic and I don’t think I would be calm if diagnosed again.

If I had to go through a divorce again. I would be mentally prepared and I know I could support myself and get through it.

 

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

Try to choose a reason why you need to be here – or set a goal.

My goal is to be a Grandma. My girls are only 21 and 15 but setting that goal and having that as my focus helped.

I also had a family holiday booked that I was keen to participate in.

I worked hard at rehab and was assured by my medical team I could do it.

Do not set unrealistic goals.

Accept help. Any help. Try not to be a martyr.

 

What an amazing and heart-felt story of courage from Tara. So grateful we ‘found’ each other on-line and thanks for sharing the ups & downs of head and neck cancer surgeries and mouth prostheses so I know I am not alone either!

Denyse.

 

 

For readers of this blog post: 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details

Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/

Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

Cancer Council Australia https://www.cancer.org.au/

Beyond Five. Head and Neck Cancer Organisation. https://beyondfive.org.au

 

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series.#37 Kathy. 35/2020.

Women Of Courage Series.#37 Kathy. 35/2020.

 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

As bloggers Kathy and I have connected on-line but  have not met, and I do know the part of the world in New South Wales where Kathy and her husband have made home in retirement. As a child I remember one lovely family  vacation in that very town. Kathy, who is 62,  recounts some of her day via great photos taken on her walks. Thank goodness, even in COVID-19 restrictions,  walking for exercise is allowed! I hope you enjoy learning more about  Kathy as I did when she shares her story now as a Woman of Courage.

 

 

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

6 years ago my husband came home from work one day and asked me the question “would I be prepared to toss in my job and travel around Australia in a caravan for a year?” At that time in my life I had only commenced my blog, was working as a part-time bookkeeper and had recently become an empty nester. I must admit I was in a big rut and I wasn’t happy with my life.

Particularly since I lost friendships because of my blog (which is another story entirely).

Although I immediately said yes, I started having doubts about this lifestyle change as it meant giving up so much. I did have to be courageous and take it head on. Spending a year away from my family and friends was going to be challenging. I also wasn’t certain of whether I’d get a job when I returned after 12 months. There were many issues to consider.

 

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

Being away from home changed me dramatically. I learnt to enjoy my own company and reconnected with my husband.

Plus I discovered the new hobby of photography as I captured the beauty of Australia as we travelled around. It impacted on what I wrote on my blog that slowly transformed into a journal of our travels.

I became a much more content person and no longer sought approval from friends or the need to compete.

Being removed from the life I once had made me realise that I wasn’t being true to myself. I rediscovered my true self as she had been lost a long time ago.

 

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

I learnt that the simple things in life are definitely better.

Being out amongst nature I was surrounded by quietness and stillness and I found it to be very therapeutic.

Prior to taking this trip I was seeing a Counsellor who was helping me through a difficult period of my life, but escaping like this was the best therapy ever.

I would recommend that changing your life situation can help alleviate many of your problems.

Even small changes can make a difference, like changing jobs, moving house, finding a new hobby or interest, or removing yourself from toxic friendships.

 

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

I’m a hell of a lot more courageous and strong as a consequence.

I don’t feel that I need the approval of other people and that I can be my own person.

I actually enjoy my own company and now see the shallowness in constantly trying to keep up with other peoples’ expectations.

 

 

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

Just be yourself.

You’re the only one that knows yourself best.

Go with your gut instinct and remain focused on making changes that will improve your life and wellbeing.

Don’t listen to the naysayers! If you really want something go out there and get it!

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post.

I while ago I wrote this blog about “Making The Most Of Your Life in Your 50s”. It’s very relevant to this interview. https://www.50shadesofage.com/2016/09/07/making-the-most-of-your-life-in-your-fifties/

 

Thank you so much Kathy for sharing that very important and life-changing story in response to the questions here. Your social media pages below are added for readers and bloggers who would like to know more and follow you too.

Denyse.

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  https://www.50shadesofage.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/50shadesofage

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/50shadesofagecom/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/50shadesofage/

 

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #35. Jennifer Jones. 31/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #35. Jennifer Jones. 31/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

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.

Whilst Jennifer Jones and I have not met, we share some common interests. We are bloggers and we are women from the group over the age of 60 who continue to stretch ourselves by our internet connections. Jennifer is someone I admire for all she has continued to do and be in her life right now. Thank you, Jennifer..on with your story.

 

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

On 2nd November 1995, my life was changed when my eighteen year old son Craig, was killed in a car accident. In the car with him, was his friend Fiona, who at only fifteen years old, also lost her life. Craig was the middle child of three, with the eldest being 20, and the youngest 15 years old.

When Craig died, my daughter, Lisa, the youngest, was an exchange student in Japan. With just two months until she was due to return home, we had to make a quick decision, about whether she should come home for the funeral or not. I decided that she must come home for the funeral,for her future acceptance of her brother’s death, but that she must return to complete her year in Japan. I didn’t want her brother’s death to cause her any incompletion issues, in her future. Lisa came home for one week. It was a weird week. We were so sad, and yet, so happy to have Lisa at home.

It proved very difficult to get her home, and would have been easier to have her stay in Japan. On the day of the accident, she had moved to a new host family, and we were concerned about her getting the news from somebody she hadn’t yet had the chance to build a relationship with. Because we hadn’t as yet been given her new contact details, it took quite a few stressful hours to track her down. This was in the days before social media. It was also Melbourne Cup Weekend and getting a flight into Melbourne was almost impossible. Luckily, Rotary made sure that Lisa was well supported in Japan, and that she had a flight home.

I’m not sure that I was courageous at the time. When I think back, I was just doing what had to be done. But I have no doubt at all, that I have been very courageous in the face of the death of my son, in the years since.

 

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

Everything about me changed after this happened. This was the worst thing that had ever happened in my life. Up until then, I had lived a fairly pampered and incident free life. Immediately, I felt that I had  to handle the reactions, of the people around me. After Craig’s funeral, for some reason, my family, including his father, decided to never mention his name again.

At first I found this difficult to accept, and was constantly upset about it, until I decided that it was up to me how I was to live my life from now on. I didn’t want the death of Craig to define who I was. I was more than just the mother of a child who had died. As huge a part of me that it was, I was determined to live a life of happiness and fulfilment, going forward. But I came to realise very quickly that to do that, I would have to rely on myself.

These days, in my family, it is as if Craig never existed. This still hurts but it is one of the things I have had to forgive in order to live an exceptional life. To me, this is the best way that I can honour my son.

 

 

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

I learnt that I was stronger than I ever thought I could be, that if I could survive this tragedy, then nothing in life could ever faze me. I became less reliant on others, as I realised that this was something I had to cope with alone. Even though my family and friends were also mourning Craig, there was nobody at all in the family, who really understood what I was going through.

At least, that’s the way I felt and I still do feel like that today.

I’m still quite resentful of some family members, however my strength and resilience have allowed me to put that resentment aside. I also discovered that I could choose to be happy. In the early days after Craig’s death I suffered constantly with feelings of grief and sadness. I realised that living a good life was going to be difficult with these thoughts.

I made the decision that I could choose to be happy and that wasn’t being disrespectful to my son. It also didn’t mean that I had forgotten him. Craig is in my thoughts constantly, every day, but I can now choose to be happy without forgetting the sadness.

The advice I would give to someone else in the same position would be to do what you need to do for your own self care, and disregard the expectations of others. Put yourself first and don’t let others tell you what is good for you or what you should do.

 

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

I am a much more resilient person now, and I would definitely be more courageous now or in the future. Since 1995, when Craig died, I have had many challenges thrown at me, and I’m pleased that I seem to be able to find a way to solve them or do what needs to be done.  If a similar tragedy were to happen today, I would not rely on the people around me the pull me through. I would not rely on the advice of others. I would have confidence in my decisions,

Eleven years after my son died, I had to show courage once again, when my 34 year marriage broke down unexpectedly.

I had no warning of this, and I am very proud of how I was able to show the strength to move on, and start a new life in a city where I knew nobody.

Since then, I have been in a few situations where I’ve needed to show courage. I don’t doubt myself any more, in fact, I’m quite proud that I’m able to recognise the problem and then make whatever plans are necessary to deal with that problem.

The death of my son, is the worst thing that  I have ever had to face. I know that my experience in coping with that, and the strength and resilience I have gained since, stand me in good stead if I find myself in such a dreadful situation again.

 

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

All I would say to others facing a situation where courage is needed, is to be confident in yourself , and believe that you are capable of handling the situation. Also don’t put pressure on yourself to be a certain way, behave in a certain way or to think there is anything wrong with how you are feeling.

I do wish somebody had given me that advice.

The way I coped, was to spend time on the bike every day. Craig and I both had road bikes and we would sometimes go on training rides together. After he died, I felt the need to get on that bike everyday and ride my heart out. It may sound silly, but I can remember feeling that Craig was on my shoulder when I was riding. That was a hugely comforting feeling for me.

Try to find someone who truly understands what you are going through. People around you will think they understand, but they may not really understand your pain.

At the time of the accident I had never met the mother of the young girl who died with Craig. After a fearful first meeting, when each of us wasn’t sure how the other would react, we became close friends and still are to this day. We were able to support each other in the days following the accident, and we were there for each other in the days following the funeral when everyone went back to their lives. We don’t catch up often these days due to distance, but when we do, we pick up where we left off, and are able to have fun and laugh together and also talk about our children and cry on each others shoulder, whilst laughing about our fabulous memories of our beautiful children.

 

 

 

How anyone manages to come through life when challenges of unimagined tragedy occur as they did for Jennifer, tells me we have more inside us than we can ever imagine in which to learn, change and grow. Of course, NO person wants this example, ever but Jennifer has so eloquently and kindly shared what she has learned. I am in awe of her courage and appreciate her decision to write this story as a response to the questions.

Thank you Jennifer. For more about Jennifer and her reasons for blogging..please see the links below.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.jones.3532507

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferalisonjones/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennifer_Jones0

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/JenniferAlJones/

Links to my blogs:

https://nextphaseinfitness.com.au/

https://bestbookishblog.com/

https://jonesfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/

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.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

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