Wednesday 18th May 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doing was what I knew well.

Being is actually much harder.

Having an inner conversation with me is like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

drum roll, please:

I

CAN

SAY

NO,

thank you,

without any further explanation.

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

But wait there is more. 

Over the past month my resilience has faltered.

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

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

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

I have been teary.

Impatient.

Unsure about things I am normally confident about.

Quick to respond angrily.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Sometimes I forget my health past….

It is hard being me at times….

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

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

I could see that I was now tired.

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

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

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

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

Word Of the Year Link Up Party.

Joining in with these kind bloggers:

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

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

Look for this image, and add your post.

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

Denyse.

 

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Fifteen Years Ago. Why 5 March Matters To Me. 14/2022.

Fifteen Years Ago. Why 5 March Matters To Me. 14/2022.

CW: death, mourning, grief

 

Today is Saturday 5th March 2022 and it marks 15 years since my dear mother died.

I say “died”…because the messages/words around death need to be used as they are meant to…to  convey meaning, not to confuse. I heard recently of a person being told on the phone, that a loved on, in a care home, was “gone” and that confused the recipient even more, because “where had he gone?”

About her 80th Birthday.

Mum said to Dad after attending yet another person’s funeral, “why do people wait till others die before telling them what they meant to them?” She was right. So, for her 80th Birthday, 6.12.2004, we hosted a Family Birthday Dinner and Celebration of Mum. I made a timeline with photos and the story of her life, and we were all there for her. Her husband, her adult kids and their partners, her adult grandkids and 3 grandchildren…and we shared words to her, in written form, cards and a speech of sorts. In looking back at the night, because I recently found the photos, there is a little video of Mum speaking about the gratitude she has for us all. I found that very touching and I am so glad I have it.

over 17 years ago! My brother & I with our parents.

Mum & Dad with B & Me, and our two children. 2004

Mum was the birthday cake maker….but not for her 80th. The look is so much my Mum…and the 3 great grandkids helped her with those candles.

I wrote back in 2017 for Telling My Story, a little of Mum’s history and what happened to her health after the celebration of her 80th Birthday.

Up until Mum’s 80th Birthday in December 2004 she had been quite well. A few so-called minor things were wrong and I know where my worry/anxiety gene comes from. But my mum, just as I do, could put on a smile no matter what.

So, we as a family watched over our Mum as her health, and with that her demeanour changed. Speaking to Dad now he says “she just wasn’t the same” and I know now why. In the course of her eventual hospitalisation in late January 2007 and an MRI, Mum was diagnosed with secondary brain tumours. Her downward health spiral the 2 or so years before had including symptoms of bad pain and some tremor but despite some doctors’ advice and care, Mum was a very scared reluctant visitor to doctors and specialists…and to hospitals. Obviously it was based on fear and Dad had to do what he could to convince Mum to get help and care. A big challenge. So, after the diagnosis of the secondary brain tumours, there was some ideas of what her primary cancers might have been but there was no way to know and Dad decided against an autopsy.

And now it’s the 15 Years Anniversary.

I don’t really know WHY this one is standing out to me but I am making some guesses:

  • Dad had a stay in hospital this week and whilst he is now back home, he is a visually impaired and mobility challenged, fully cognisant 98 year old. So, yes, I did get concerned “this may be his time” early this week.
  • Dad has no more peers, nor family members alive. Those who are his friends where he lives are in their 70s and 80s.
  • Dad says he missed Mum more than ever. I suspect with the added loneliness and covid restrictions he IS indeed lonely.
  • I finally accepted that his death will be a shock despite what I logically know
  • I am now, thank goodness, well enough and better in myself emotionally, to realise the significant of my Mum dying
  • I was a pretty distant daughter in my own way but that was because of “my” views of me, and perceived critical views of me by my mum.

Here’s why I needed to write and post today.

  • I appreciate now more than ever the mother Mum was to me
  • I was, and still can be, someone who is a challenge in relationships…mostly fuelled by my old ways of seeing me
  • I know that she gave me unconditional love
  • I know I WAS loved
  • I know that by sharing this now, I may be feeling more loving towards my Dad too.

He and I will chat today on the phone and I will listen to his thoughts.

We only have one chance at this thing called LIFE and I wanted to write more to enable this to be seen and viewed by me and others.

My Tribute in This Image & Words. 5.3.2022.

 

This was going to be a facebook tribute but then I changed to a blog post. I now am pleased to have done this.

Today, Mum, it’s 15 years since you died.

Wow. You had been quite unwell for around 2 years before this, and it was via secondary brain tumours that you succumbed.

Dad is missing you more than ever as he ages alone at 98, having left the home you shared together 4 years after your passing, to live at Dee Why.

Thanks for your love, presence, care and support in my life growing up. And then when Ibecomea mum, a very young one, married to B, another teacher & living in remote northern NSW.

Thanks too for the love, care and cooking for our family too,as I was a full time teacher. Taking our kids to stay and have holidays with you and Dad gave me respite. And they loved Noreen’s porridge and rice custard!

Your life was a busy one, and you gave a lot to the community. Thank you. And before you turned 80, we decided as you always said, it was better to tell people how much they meant to you before you died!

We listened, and your family, including by then, great grandchildren, did so on 6.12.2004.

What joyful photos and memories there are here!

You are missed by many, Mum & Noreen.

 

 

Love is a wonderful and necessary human connection to sustain life, but to love someone is to mourn for them once they are dead. I know that there is a saying along the lines of grieving is the price we pay for loving.

If this post has brought up memories or more grief from your past, there are people who will listen here: at Lifeline 131114.

Grieving is on-going and shows itself in all kinds of ways. It is something we live with. I know my grief today is heightened as it is an anniversary day.

I am going gently and kindly and thinking of my Mum and all she brought to my life…by giving me life.

Vale Noreen Simpson nee Chapple. Mum.

Mum’s Memories. After her cremation, Dad placed some of her ashes in pots, along with her favourite flower. Other family members did similarly.

Thank you for reading. I hope that it has not been too sad.

I am finding the power of writing on my blog a force for good.

Denyse.

 

 

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

 

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Women of Courage Series. #74. Ness. 119/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #74. Ness. 119/2021.

Two years & five months ago… I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will conclude today: Thursday 30 September 2021.

Over a couple of weeks soon, I will publish a round-up series of posts  of the women who contributed: not all shared their names and some used initials only but all shared their story and I thank them over and over for their courage to do so. 

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

 

Trigger warning: Miscarriage and infant death. Breast cancer. Information may be found at the end of the post.

 

 

Welcoming Vanessa or Ness for short to this series. Interestingly we have known each other via blogging for probably around 10 years and she turned 50 this year just as my daughter did. We lived within about 8 kms of each other too for a along time, and most likely crossed paths in the local big shopping centre! But we have not yet met IRL (in real life) as they say. So, my words about Ness will likely make her blush a bit but I am not sorry. And we share a love of Downton Abbey!!

I have seen this woman’s life as she describes some of it here via her updates on social media platforms we both were part of when Australian blogging was a much bigger ‘thing’. I remember health news. Cancer news I mean. I also recall the ways in which she had to get on with what was very anxiety producing in treatment and recovery. We are both fans of the work based on Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and there is a link at the end of the post.

May I add too, how proud I am to have seen Ness become trained in her work to be able to work in a library and even in Covid I see that she continues to make a contribution…and best of all, she has returned to blogging. Welcome back Ness. You were missed!

 

 

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

Over the years I’ve had an ongoing struggle with anxiety which eventually led to me figuring out that I’m on the autistic spectrum. I was officially diagnosed ten years ago at age 40.

In 2004 my husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Thankfully he is a survivor and going strong. It was a difficult period dealing with his treatment while we also had a toddler and a baby.

In 2007 I was expecting again but had a late miscarriage and had to give birth to my deceased baby which was very traumatic and devastating. Luckily I subsequently had another baby in 2008 and completed our family.

In late 2015 I was diagnosed with early stage triple negative breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy plus chemotherapy and radiation.

 

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

I spent many years as a stay at home parent but a year or two after my cancer treatment I began volunteer work for St. Vincent De Paul Society Service Centre .

Eventually I went back to TAFE and achieved a Diploma of Library and Information Services.

I originally worked in libraries and had always thought I’d eventually get back into it.

I got a casual job with a council library in January and also  work for a library shelf ready service.

So I guess the change was I stopped putting things off.

 

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

Don’t be afraid to admit it if you’re struggling and need help.

I would not have gotten through any of the above without taking medication and seeing a psychologist .

 

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

I must admit that I’m currently struggling again so I’m not sure how to answer the question.

I guess I can be scared and struggling yet still take action however small whereas before I avoided things.

 

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

Try to be kind to yourself the same way you would to a friend or family member in the same situation.

Remind yourself it’s not weakness to seek any help you may need including medication if appropriate.

Take things one day at a time and when you’re going through hell, just keep going.

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post. For example a website or help line.

The book The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris and the techniques used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy were helpful for me.

 

 

Thank you Ness, how pleased I am you have contributed to the series. And it is fitting that a fellow blogger’s story concluded not only Series 3 but Women of Courage Stories.

I so hope we can finally meet up in person too with cakies and coffee!!

Take care,

Denyse.

 

 

Social Media for Ness here:

Blog/Website

https://nessiville.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Nessofnessville/

Instagram:

http://www.instagram.com/ness_nessville

 

Resources That May Help: 

These sites are Australian-based. 

https://www.panda.org.au/

https://www.sands.org.au/stillbirth-and-newborn-death

Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support and Suicide …

Russ Harris: Acceptance Commitment Therapy Information is here. The Happiness Trap is also another resource from Russ.

Breast Cancer resources: from Veronica’s  Women of Courage post found here. 

Pink Hope – Know Your Risk, Change Your Future

http://pinkhope.org.au

Be Dense Aware (Did you know dense breast tissue can make diagnosis more challenging?)

https://www.bedenseaware.com/

iPrevent – Breast Cancer Prevention Through Risk Assessment

https://nbcf.org.au/19/prevention-through-precision-medicine/

Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation – The 3 Step Breast Check

https://www.sbcf.org.au/resources/

National Breast Cancer Foundation – Zero Deaths from Breast Cancer by 2030 campaign

https://nbcf.org.au/

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women of Courage Series. #73. Gillian Coutts. 116/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #73. Gillian Coutts. 116/2021.

Two years ago… I tentatively courageously launched Women of Courage series on my blog and here was what I said then:

I got this idea from attending the Newcastle Writers Festival in April 2019 and hearing the wonderful Jane Caro speak about her book Accidental Feminists. IF you ever get a chance to listen to or read Jane’s works they are very good.

What I considered after that day and in the days to come is how we women have a tendency to underplay our achievements and whatever else we are doing in our lives. I know this is changing.

This third series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here will continue to be published each Thursday into September 2021 when it will conclude.

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

Introducing Gillian Coutts who told me she is ‘just 50’ so I am guessing she was born in that year which was one I know well, having become a first time Mum then too. It was recommended to me by fellow educator and Woman of Courage Tracey here that I ask Gillian to do this story for us. And here she is. Mind you, we had the odd messaging conversation before the story landed. Something very familiar to many of us. On-line learning and also working on-line. From home. I am very glad she did commit her story to email, and with her images, I know the story ahead will be of interest to many. Thank you Gillian.

 

 

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

Until I was in my late 30s, I’d been relatively lucky in life.

I’d had an interesting corporate career, come from a great family, I’d married a good man and become an instant step mum.

I became a bio-mum when I was 38, and a year later was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Lots of people at that time would have said I was courageous about the treatment and balancing work and family, but to me I was just doing what you had to do.

There was no other choice.

But what I did next was – in hindsight – more courageous.

There’s something about those experiences that helps you see life is short, and there’s not much point in living the life others expect you to, but rather, taking the path that you want to.

This for me was about finding an alternative career.

I’d been a typical corporate ladder climber, and while I’d started out with a big heart for people and social justice, I’d ended up managing divisions of consumer goods companies which seemed to be more about making profit from people buying things that they didn’t really need.

My heart was definitely not in that.

So when my role was made redundant a few years later, I decided not to take another “job” for two years.

It was risky as I’m the primary bread winner for our family, but I knew there had to be another way.

So I stitched together a “portfolio” of things – consulting, becoming a partner in Potential Project here in Australia, board roles.

The only criteria was that I had to work with people I loved doing things I enjoyed.

I also had to say yes to opportunities if I felt scared (but not if I didn’t want to do them).  So that took courage.

The thing that really took courage though was when my friend and I started to join a folk rock band.  That was really pushing the boat out there!

 

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

Joining the band is a great example of the challenges I felt all the way through the last ten years, in all the things I’ve tried.

It takes courage to dream of doing something that you’re not good at… yet.

It takes more courage to book the venue, show up and play when you know you’re still not that good… yet.

The funny thing was that when I joined the band, I thought maybe I could be one of the lead singers.

It turns out that my voice wasn’t that good.  I was relegated to be one of the back-up singers and played the keyboard, while two great young singers took the lead.

Then I wasn’t that great at the piano, and the bass player decided he’d be better at keys, so I learnt to play the bass too.

Then the lead singers left, and my friend and I looked at each other and decided we had to go for it.

So we got some singing lessons and have slowly worked our way to the front.  We all take it turns to lead now, and have great harmonies too.

It’s been a lesson for me in continuing to turn up, even if you’re not perfect.

It’s taught me an enormous amount about performing in all aspects of life.

If you are content in yourself, and not too precious about how others see you, you can help other people have a really great time.

Even if you’re not the next person likely to win Australia’s Got Talent!

 

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

Letting go of the need to be perfect is so liberating!

It is also infectious.

People have loved coming to see us perform because they can feel free to sing along and just have a good time.

Many have come to tell us that they’ve also been inspired to pursue their own “not yet perfect…” kind of project and share their pride with us.

 

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

I think I’ve realised that what is most entertaining and engaging is when you as a performer are engaged, present and having fun yourself.

Sure, you need a base level of talent to not completely embarrass yourself, but fully committing to the present moment is a joyful feat in itself.

It’s rare and people appreciate it.

I’ve had to give a lot of talks and run programs for leaders all over the world now where I would have previously (and still sometimes do) have a massive imposter syndrome moment.

And then I remember that’s human, I know my stuff well enough and just commit to the moment.  And 99% of the time that’s more than enough.

 

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

When it comes to pursuing your dreams, think less about how others will see you, and more about what you want to do for others.

Compassion is an amazing catalyst for courage.

 

Thank you so much. Living life to the fullest with all its ups and downs yet finding a balance between work and family AND being yourself.

Denyse.

Social Media Connections for Gillian.

Blog/Website: www.potentialproject.com/Australia, www.vegasnerve.com.au

 Twitter: @GillianTPP

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gillian.coutts.7

LInkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gilliancoutts/

 

Book: One Second Ahead – Enhance your performance at work with mindfulness

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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