Saturday 25th June 2022

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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Women Of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #34. Rebecca Bowyer. 27/2020.

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.

 

Rebecca Bowyer and I have never met ‘in real life’ but we have connected via our blogs way back as part of “I Blog on Tuesdays” a regular link up for a very long time that many Australian bloggers would remember with affection. Rebecca who is 39, offered me some advice way back in 2016 when I first had the idea it was time to document my life story. Initially feeling daunted by the notion of writing a whole book (with me at the centre of it) Rebecca offered me this piece of wisdom. “Write a chapter at a time as if it is a blog post”. She mentioned our friend Mrs Woog did that for her book “Primary School Confidential” and then it all seems do-able. So, I am always grateful for this advice….and to know this woman, a determined and published author! Congratulations on your book.

 

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

I published my first novel, Maternal Instinct, in 2019. The lead up to this single event comprised dozens of smaller moments of courage. If my courage had failed at any of these moments, I would not be a published author now.

First, I had to give myself permission to be creative. Finding the sustained creativity required to write an 80,000-word novel meant stepping aside from family responsibilities for periods of time over the course of more than a year. It meant taking a chance on a project that might amount to absolutely nothing but hours of ‘wasted time’ if it didn’t find a publisher.

Next, I had to find the courage to send my completed manuscript out into the world. I was very fortunate to find a literary agent all the way across the world in New York. I then held my breath and kept going through more than a year of rejections and a couple of almost-acceptances from publishers.

By early 2019 I wanted to sweep the whole thing under the floor and forget I’d ever tried to be an author. My agent was still positive about finding a publishing home for the manuscript, but I’d decided to draw a line under this chapter of my life. First, however, I decided to publish the novel myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of all those ‘wasted hours’ if I just let it go.

So, I took another deep breath – more courage required!

You need capital to publish a book. I had none, so I raised the funds via a Kickstarter campaign. Most start-ups have investors, but knowing that didn’t make it any easier to go out, cap in hand, and ask people to believe in my project enough to back it financially.

After the funds were raised, the book was professionally edited, designed and printed, and I sent it to reviewers. This was the point at which I nearly fainted dead away from fright. But a book needs reviews and recommendations to succeed, so out it went.

I was relieved and very excited when comments came back such as “Amazing debut” (Emily-Jane Clark, best-selling author of Sleep Is For The Weak) and “Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale will be instantly hooked” (Virginia Franken, author of Life After Coffee).

On 7 October 2019 Maternal Instinct was published in Australia, the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada. For a natural introvert like me, book promotion is a rather horrifying prospect. I spoke at the book launch, did podcast and written interviews, spoke on three panels at Conflux 15 in Canberra and did book signings at festivals such as Bendi-Con and Mornington Peninsula & Frankston Writers & Book Festival.

Before every single event I had to make a deliberate decision to either show up or hide under my desk. I’m pleased to say that I managed to show up, though I was exhausted by the end of it all.

 

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

I feel much more confident about carving out time for creativity, without feeling the need to justify it by making money or becoming the next Margaret Atwood. The best thing about writing and publishing a book is the community of writers and readers. It’s such an incredible exchange of creativity, ideas and stories and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it.

 

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

The most important thing I learned about courage is that it’s not a finite resource. A series of small courageous acts can give you the confidence to try for bigger courageous acts.

The second thing is learned was to focus on the positives but also embrace the negatives enough that I can sit comfortably with them.

My successes and my failures have taught me so much. Over the past few years I’ve felt like a failure because my book didn’t find a traditional publisher; because I didn’t sell a million copies; because it’s not available in bricks and mortar bookshops. All of those things still sting a little, but I’m comfortable with owning them now.

I’m comfortable because I’m learning not to focus on the failures, even though it goes against all of those niggling anti-courage voices in my head. (“Don’t be so arrogant, why should you publish a book? See? You sold less than a million copies. You failed. I told you so. You should have just stayed home and folded washing.”). The main thing is that I wrote and published a novel. That’s huge! That’s a very brave thing to do. (Take that anti-courage voices.)

 

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

Writing and publishing my first novel has given me the confidence to write and publish more stories. In 2020 I’ve got a short story, ‘Practice Child’, coming out in Deadset Press’s Stories of Hope anthology to raise money for bushfire charities. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my second novel and am itching to start writing my third.

I’ve faced all my fears about putting my creative writing out there – rejection, ridicule, failure – and I’ve lived to tell the tale.

Publishing a novel has helped me understand why I want to keep writing. It’s got nothing to do with ‘success’ or ‘achievement’, or even fame or fortune.

I love to write, and there are readers out there who love to read what I write. All the bits in between – finding an agent, finding a publisher (or publishing it myself) and book promotion – are simply the journey I have to go on to get the story from my head to readers’ heads.

 

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

Finding courage can be hard. Something which helped me was careful planning and risk assessment. I wanted to make sure that, if I failed, my failure wouldn’t cause the rest of my life to implode. I didn’t quit my day job and I didn’t go into massive debt.

In the end, what I was really risking was my creative self-esteem and hundreds of hours of my time.

If you’re still finding it hard to press the ‘Go’ button, even after you’ve put in the hard work and planning, try channelling Drew Barrymore and her glorious silver wings from Ever After: “Just breathe.”

Heartiest of congratulations to you. Check out Rebecca’s social media links too.

Thank you for sharing.

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media: 

Blog/Website: www.storyaddict.com.au

Twitter: @RebeccaBowyerAu

Facebook Page : www.facebook.com/rebeccabowyerwriter

Instagram: @RebeccaBowyerWriter

 

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. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.

Women of Courage Series. #33 Sanch. 25/2020.

 

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.

In the world of blogs and social media we often think how good it would be to “meet I.R.L.” ….meet up in real life. I have been following Sanch as a blogger for some time, and one day, we DID just that. We met up. We did that a few more times too. Coffee and a treat..and chatted away for ages. You see, I was fortunate that Sanch came to live for a while in the area where we live so meet ups could happen. Now, even though she has moved back to “the big city” we know well, I am sure it won’t stop us getting together again soon. Sanch is a 36 year old with a vibrant smile and energy to bottle. She loves time at the beach I know that too.

 

 

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

It’s interesting, there have been so many situations in my life that people have defined as being courageous but I never thought of it that way especially while going through it. But I think when I look back in hindsight, it certainly was the case. Coming to Australia as a 21-year-old with no family or friends here was a big deal but it was something I wanted so again, I didn’t see it as being brave even though it’s what everyone told me.

 

I think though, one of the bravest things for me was leaving a couple of long-term relationships; one in 2012 and the other in 2017. The 2012 in particular required a lot of courage not because of anything to do with my partner necessarily but because I was unhappy and not fulfilled but probably stayed because it was more comfortable than the unknown. We’d been together for a long time and I was genuinely scared what it would be like without him. It was similar in 2017 – a shorter relationship – but I also had an added bout of depression for 18 months which made me stay longer than I should have. For most people, this might not seem like something brave or courageous but for me, when in those long-term relationships, it was the only ‘family’ I had here and therefore leaving it meant being alone.

In 2012, I also only had about 4 friends from uni, three of whom were in long-term relationships themselves. It was one of the scariest things to do – to leave the comfort of something stable albeit unhappy.

 

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

The first break up in 2012 taught me a lot about myself. It pushed me to decide to get out of my comfort zone, to change my life. I started by losing weight and getting healthier physically, and slowly and steadily, decided I needed to expand my friendship group. In that relationship, we’d both been socially anxious and in hindsight, I think my social anxiety was maintained by his. If you know me now, you’d never believe I was someone who was anxious in social situations and even now I wonder how much of it was just contagion as opposed to it being me.

I decided after the break-up, I had two choices – to sit at home alone on the weekends or to push myself and meet new people. I still don’t know how, but I chose the latter. I still remember how nervous I was when I went to my first hiking Meetup – a group of 20-odd people and I knew no one. I can still remember the anxiety, the fear of meeting people, the fear of being judged, of not knowing what to say. And then, I surprised myself. I kept doing this weekend after weekend and today, 6 years later, I do have a good group of friends I’ve made from those hiking days.

It has also made me much more social and when I moved up to the Central Coast two years ago, I made the effort to meet new people and build networks. I also find that now, I’m more open to new experiences and doing things on my own or with others. I can push myself out of my comfort zone a lot more easily. It’s not that I don’t feel nervous – it’s that I’ll do things despite the nerves. And that in itself, is courage.

 

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

I learnt I am a lot more capable than I realised. Back in that long-term relationship, I always thought of myself as socially anxious and boring {quite obviously, it wasn’t helping me grow!} but once I left, once I faced fears, it made me realise maybe I’m not who I thought I was. More than that, I also realised that in order to courageous, one doesn’t have to not feel afraid. Courage is doing something even when you are scared. It’s making a choice to do something regardless of the outcome. It’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway. In fact, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ has become a mantra of sorts for me.

 

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

Oh definitely! I think now, every time I’m faced with something new, something unknown and I feel scared, I remind myself of all the times I’ve done things before and survived. Of course, sometimes things haven’t always worked out, but I have still learnt from experiences, still grown in ways and yes, survived. So, if I could do it before, I can definitely do it again.

 

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

I can’t stress enough that courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It is embracing the discomfort and doing what needs to be done. I think if you remember that, you are more likely to allow yourself to be okay with the uncomfortable feelings and unhelpful thoughts and still give things a go. The fact is, when we are anxious about something, it is human nature to avoid it. But by being courageous, we learn either one of two things: we learn that things are either not as bad as they seem or that we are so much stronger and capable than we realised even if things are as bad as we imagined. By avoiding, we never really learn our true capabilities.

Thank you so much Sanch. Wisdom gleaned from experience as well as learning is so good as it often  remains embedded in us.

Denyse.

 

 

 

Blog/Website: http://www.sanchwrites.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sanchwrites

Facebook Page (not personal account): https://www.facebook.com/sanchwrites

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

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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