Monday 8th August 2022

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty. 2013-2014.97/2020.

Telling My Story. 2013-2014. Chapter Twenty. 97/2020.

About a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at...Chapter Twenty.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members.

In saying that, these two years, 2013-2014  are presenting me, the memory writer and ‘rememberer’ with some internal challenges. You see, I look at my images back then and see the very overweight Denyse smiling (as she does) for the camera and sharing what she did professionally in her work well, along with caring for her family…but as I know now (and did then) I was:

  • very unhappy
  • using some foods for comfort
  • confused in some ways about what was best for me going forward
  • hiding how I felt mostly from myself I guess
  • acting out: angrily, tearily and more

In saying this, I hope to share honestly for my sake and to keep the story telling real even though to re-hash some of the memories and to see again those self-images makes me sad. I am somewhat ashamed of the me then. However, I need to let that go…over time, I guess I do. More about my weight issues here.

I have a goal to continue to present a one more of these chapters, after this one, as a snapshot of 2020…that year that was… have a break and be back in 2021.

All the posts are here if you would like to check them out.

Mixing Up The Years 2013-2014.

Changing Priorities.

By the time the end of 2014 arrived, we knew we were to become grandparents of an 8th grandchild due in 2015. This would be our son’s 4th child. He had a 3rd child with his then wife in 2013 and we cared for her and her older sister for much of 2014. In 2013 we did some care for our daughter’s 4th child along with our son’s 2nd.

We did enjoy these days very much but they were tiring as we aged.

We did this mostly together but as 2014 changed my husband’s focus to some personal and professional learning in counselling as well as becoming a trained telephone support person for Lifeline, I was left alone with one under 1 year old and I admit, I was liking that less and less. So, the compromise was made to having her 2 days a week.

The House Needed These Improvements.

My husband had a business for some years when he was 100% well and it was in kitchen cabinet making. He had to let the business go (see Chapter12 ) but his interest in maintaining our then house inside and out, grew in the years from 2012 onwards.

Whilst we never really discussed it, the house (ours since 1997), with its significant mortgage: thanks to us (ok, me) wanting to borrow to help our two adult kids get into housing, and then making more home improvements for our comfort, was going to need to be sold one day.

That day when I had a tearful conversation with my husband came around as a first discussion point in July 2014 when I was flailing at any kind of paid work pressures. They were not huge but as someone who was now quite unwell emotionally (did not realise it in reality) and longed to be free of paid work obligations this idea filled me with relief. Much to do before putting it on the market, but it all happened. See more below.

But First….there was a lot more happening! 

  • My business: Denyse Whelan Education Specialist (I dislike Expert!) and I had a newspaper article, column for a short time (local papers), a consultancy that saw me work with a local and reputable Early Childhood chain of centres in the Hills District. I helped their staff and parents navigate the world that is “after pre-school and before school”.

 

  • The blog saw me have 3 separate ones: education, schools and teachers. I had hoped, via my role as an educator/tutor for Masters of Teaching at a local University there may have been more interest on-line but my ‘at the chalkface’ role continued as a practicum supervisor and tutor at Uni (marking too!) until I asked to stop…in time for second semester 2014. I did enjoy it, but I was ready to leave the world of accountability!!

 

  • However, I continued to be an ‘as needed’ person in then NSW Institute of Teachers to visit schools as an External Observer from as far away at Cobar (went there in one day thanks to a small passenger place) to local Western Sydney schools. I enjoyed that I got to see parts of N.S.W. as a tourist and educator. Parts of my trips were paid by me if I wanted to extend the times. I did that when visiting Cobargo PS (scenes of the awful fires in 2019-2020) as I flew into and stayed at Merimbula. I did that for a Woolgoolga trip staying at Coffs Harbour and in Tamworth for my first visit to Kootingal.

 

  • The educator role also saw me invited a couple of times to appear on television in discussions and as a so-called expert. I admit “one” was enough and luckily I already knew Kerri Sackville and the appearance went well. I “needed” a new wardrobe of course, and I enjoyed being pampered in the make-up chair and saying ‘g’day to Jane Caro as she left from her segment.

Still The Grandmother AND Educator! 

In early 2014 Rick Morton (top journalist and writer) asked me some questions for a story he was writing for the Australian. He now works for The Saturday Paper. One of the images from the day is first below.

We did have lots of fun making memories, grandchildren and grandparents. Some were at times like Easter, others ‘just hanging out’ at our place where there was always paint AND playdoh! Never mix the colours, kids!

Making Memories : for Me! 

I admitted to myself there would be much I would miss about living in Sydney and being closer to the family. So, I made sure I had some special occasions to look back on. My formative years aged 10-20 were spent living near Manly and the Harbour so this was an even more special place to make memories. Mum and Dad had continued to live at Balgowlah Heights till 2011. Mum’s death in 2007 saw Dad stay for as long as he wishes but eventually, he was ready for independent retirement living at Dee Why. That’s is where I visit him now.

Few More Memorable Occasions. 2013 into 2014. 

The Changes Becoming Realities.

At the end of 2013 my organisation energies were applied to my father’s 90th Birthday luncheon. He gave me and my brother his wish list of ideas and people, and then, we, the family sorted it for him. It was held next door to his retirement place, at Dee Why R.S.L. where he hired a room and they supplied lunch for us all. We, the kids and grandkids, sorted the presentations, the decor, the name tags and more. He, was, and continues to be, overwhelmed by it. Nearly 7 years later. Anyway, it goes without saying, he enjoyed it.

Time To Make Reality Happen. Mid 2014 onwards.

In order for us to be mortgage-free the house had to be sold.

We were both keen to do that. My husband has never really been a city person and was keen to leave for the less busy areas on the Central Coast. I agreed at the time that this was the right move. It still is. However, I knew nothing about the emotional effect the changes would have on me. I will be writing about that in 2015.

What happened though was that there was a LOT of physical work to be done to ready a house for selling. We interviewed agents. Eventually we agreed on one. We half-jokingly took him up on an offer to pay him a smaller personal percentage if the house sold for over (what we though was unreachable) $800K. Late 2014, people. Western area of Sydney.

Before then, my husband finished off the outside areas, made and painted new side gates, made the pool area extra comfy and of course added fence protection to a side garden as we realised the raised grass area made the pool fence climbable. We planted a great deal and did all we could to make the outside areas of the house private as Blacktown Council had extended their community centre to our side fence.

I started detaching from the possessions that had made our space for grandchildren. We gave away a lot, sold some things and each grandchild got their own box of Christmas decorations to use in their future. Part of my tradition since becoming grandparents in 1996 was a new tree decoration for each grandchild each year. There were a LOT for our daughter’s first 3 kids!

At the same time, in late 2014,  we were trying to find somewhere to rent on the Central Coast.

We thought we would try before buying…and now, some 6 years later we are less close to buying than ever thanks to using our sum left after sale and increasing house prices here. However, we are reasonably content with renting now.

I spent a lot of time on-line and some Saturdays up and down the M1 with little success. Our wish list then was air conditioning and the southern end of the coast..closer to returning to Sydney – my idea. The house we eventually took was because of desperation. Our place had sold, we needed to be “in” somewhere around mid January 2015 so with haste, we signed up for a too expensive and too uncomfortable house with limited air conditioning.

Then It All Came To This. End of 2014. 

  • The house sold. We accepted $825,000 on the night of the first open home. We never thought it would get to that but we had a very volatile Sydney housing market and an exceptional agent.
  • The relief was palpable but there were still hurdles to overcome including the usual inspections, delays from buyers but it did all come together on 15 January 2015. We had already moved but were assured all would be fine. And it was. But it’s nail biting. And we had almost zero in our accounts!
  • We celebrated our eldest granddaughter’s 18th birthday, success in HSC thanks to first 10% of state in Drama, her solo performance at the School Spectacular with the NSW Group of Talented Drama Students.
  • We knew we had a new grandchild arriving in the following year.
  • Our daughter kindly offered (accepted!) to have our last Christmas in Sydney at her place and both of our kids and their kids attended. It began hitting home for me…these were lasts!
  • We had a few more occasions to have grandchildren over to swim and to stay…and then…that was it.

2015 Awaited Us. 

I am glad to have written this chapter. It took some doing but it’s done. I hope that you, the reader, find it of interest.

Thanks for being here.

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne and friends here for Lovin Life Linky.

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Telling My Story.Chapter Nineteen. 2010-2012. 93/2020.

Telling My Story. 2010-2012. Chapter Nineteen. 93/2020.

About a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at...Chapter Nineteen.

I admitted last chapter  it is getting harder in some ways to blog about the more recent times. I think it is because without using particular markers (i.e. deaths, births, engagements, marriages, break ups…) then it can be hard to recall.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members.

I have a goal to continue to present at least one more of these chapters, after this one,   this year, have a break and be back in 2021.

All the posts are here if you would like to check them out.

Photo: #7 for Telling My Story.

2010, 2011, 2012.

The group of these three years are somewhat mixed up  for me in a chronological sense. I would possibly be making factual errors if I tried now to assign a month/year to an event or memory or significance. So, I will do this chapter with what were highlights, new and memories from this era.

No More Work in Schools.

I really knew when to go. In fact, I wrote last chapter by the time I got to 4th term of the year I turned 60 (2009) I was tired and ready to leave working in schools. Much had changed but much was also wearying. I no longer had the mental interest and physical stamina to be contributing member of a school staff. I also was aware that at my age and stage I did not want to be a negative influence either, so with grace and at the right timing for me, I retired to become:

Grandma (and Papa) Grandchild Carer.

As someone who actively resisted any call to stay at home for more than some months when I was a full time teacher seeking promotion, I had a different ‘take’ when it was about the offspring of those two of ours. This time around it would be our son’s two children – one a toddler getting to be a pre-schooler, and one a baby. We would begin care for up to 3 days a week for these two. Honestly, I have never been more physically tired but in such a good way.

It really was a fun time. The shops which sold kids and baby toys and more, did well out of me and we had an ideal set up for a child in a bed and one in a cot to be with us. I duplicated bottles, nappies and always had a ready supply of changes of clothes, along with a highchair, a stroller and much much more.

The two would be brought by whichever parent was coming our way in the mornings. Drop offs could be tricky. We did have tears a few times, even though we had practice stays but at time went on, things eased. We (the grandparents) got into our routine with the children too. There were stories with Papa while I did other things, and we convinced them for as long as possible that sleeps after lunch were mandatory because WE needed the break too.

 

The days of care changed from time to time and some days, as the children got older, we would also care for our daughter’s youngest. Honestly, 3 were hard work but we did it. For one term. One of these children is now in High School…and one goes next year, and the youngest in the group will be in primary school. What is it they say about time flying?

Denyse Needs Something Else To Do.

I have always been an early adopter. I had an on/off relationship with Facebook but twitter was my place to be and I met so many people there, and then via blogging from 2010 who continue to be friends and we have met up. I enjoyed the conversations on twitter that took me to new places, called blogs! So, by the end of 2010 – coming up ten years in December, I kicked off my foray into blogging.

Sadly I had to pay someone to set it up and then I had no real clue what to do other than post something. I did. Pretty sure I knew nothing about how to get others to read it. And then came (via twitter of course!) the information that there was going to be the First Ever Aussie Bloggers’ Conference. I hesitated thinking I was not really eligible and then with encouragement from the founder, I dived in. I attended the conference of two nights and one day in Sydney. This started me well on my way to…

Denyse Whelan Blogs.

So in the three years 2010-2012 the Australian (Mummy, then) Blogging Community grew and grew…there were events for bloggers run to help us understand sponsorship, brands and it was BIG learning for many of us and we then thought, a chance to MAKE some money from this thing called blogging….wow.

But not for many, in fact anyone like me did that happen. I did however, get some sponsorship to attend a Blogging conference in Melbourne – flights and accommodation. I was not really the demographic..in fact I was (still am) the oldest blogger in most cases. I was always made to feel welcome and enjoyed the connections. I think in 2011 I attended at least 4 blogging events and again a chance to learn and meet up with people.

From my previous career in schools I learned more about others and was no longer only about schooling and education. I have, as I said, made great friends via blogging and many I got to meet not only at the conferences but sometimes at sponsors’ events where I was invited to a promotion and with gifts of products (mine were often related to children’s learning) to blog about.

Over these years I did try a range of types of blogging and got my head around link ups and more. But what I needed was a blog developer and I got this in the form of meeting with the kind person who (still) looks after any aspects of my blog in a technical way. It took me some money and more understanding to get this blog thing something that worked for me. I then got on with all I could do and learn from others. Took me to Melbourne 3 times in that period.

Life Challenges and Great Memories Made With Young Grandkids.

In this three year period, my husband was not well. He has had a pretty tough road in terms of medical challenges because his body has many parts that do not work well…mostly related to his spine. He was medically retired from teaching aged 30. That is part of the story for year 1978.

Now, even more so at the time of writing he does have medical challenges….

However, back then, erroneously, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease by a specialist and the day that happened was the day he was forced by those words to stop driving, hand in his licence and basically given medications that she and his psychiatrist deemed appropriate for his now PD on top of spinal stenosis and chronic pain.

He, along with me, was devastated but, as we DID then, we went along with this awful news. The medications he was on affected him cognitively and it was not a great outcome for quality of life.

He did, however, always question the actual diagnoses and through his actions and those of  a new GP made great inroads into changes of medications. Eventually he sought a second opinion on the PD from a specialist neurologist who claimed he had only an essential tremor and as none of the PD meds had made  any difference, it was not Parkinsons disease.

The GP and my husband then worked on the plan to get his driver’s licence reinstated and that in itself was a costly experience – around $700 back then and a day in a rehab hospital. Honestly, the patience this man had. Anyway, he got it back. He tried to tell the first neurologist of her error but she was not interested.

What a shame. This is a prime example of why HE now is his own medical expert and his now health is kept in line with his conditions thanks to an excellent team of his GP and other specialist.

LOVE is….50 years together

Scenes with some of our grandchildren…who are, indeed, significantly older too. These are the best of times. Always. We may have been tired out physically but never emotionally.

Highlights of Significance From Family Life. 

  • Dad had found living in the original family home, alone, since Mum’s death 4 years earlier more and more of a challenge.
  • He decided to sell, and did in 2011. In a down market unfortunately. He helped us financially to be able to stay in our house for an additional 4 years.
  • He moved to a brand new Independent Retirement Place at Dee Why and almost 10 years later, remains there and as well as he can be for almost 97.
  • Our daughter was in a new relationship and with that person (now not together) sold her townhouse and with him, made plans to build and buy their own to live in with their extended family. This was OK for a while but from late 2012 things changed. No details, as I cannot share them nor do I want to.
  • Our son married his then partner and the two grandkids were ‘corralled’ by me for most of that long, hot day in the beautiful setting at Gunner Barracks.
  • We cared for the children for part of their honeymoon time too.
  • My husband’s dad, whose wife had died in 2009, sadly lost his life by the end of 2012.
  • I began some contract work with NSW Institute of Teachers as an External Observer and that took me, often by plane, to schools all over N.S.W. from 2012-2015.
  • Grandchildren were growing up and attending primary and high school. We had less to do with our eldest 3 then but they still had overnight stays from time to time. And we did have a pool!
  • Family functions continued: birthdays and the like.
  • Over time, Christmas became more complicated to try to ‘fit everyone’ in so we often compromised the the big Christmas Days of the past were gone.

More About Me.

Whilst I was busy, busy, busy, I did not do a lot of healthy self-care that helped me. Actually my version of self-care usually involved comfort eating, shopping and taking some time out for me. In fact, none of it really helped someone whose self-esteem was pretty low. I had a few reasons to be less than confident about myself I guess:

  • never measuring up (in my eyes) to my parents’ expectations
  • not finishing my job as a principal
  • taking comfort to deal with the worries from my life as a wife, mother and grandmother
  • trying my best to be the confident me in public…and doing that well…but the inner me needed soothing

I was aware my weight was at a not-great level for my on-going health. I also did not want to talk about it or do anything about it much. I had a couple of tries at losing weight over my lifetime and wrote about that here.

I had some health issues that included Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diarrhoea) which let me know when my emotions were not in balance and I had a bout of pancreatitis a couple of years earlier which I did not want to repeat. Nevertheless, I did my best to ‘look OK’ even though when I see the images now, I am very overweight.

I have a great deal of concern and sadness for me, the Denyse then, as I believe(d) I was doing the best I could.

Self-compassion, as I write this in 2020 in evident now.

Nothing like perspective and personal growth (the mental and emotional kind!)

In 2012 I met up with blogging friends and loved this connection! Still have that here and in real life as well as social media. Very grateful.

And, there are a few more memories from this period.

And that ends the memories from this era.

I will be back!

Chapter Twenty is 2013-2014 will go live before the end of this calendar year.

Thanks for your kind words about Telling My Story, too!

Anyone notice I have changed the image for this group?

Here’s all I have used since starting Telling My Story.

Photo (#1) For Telling My Story.

Photo (#2) post major cancer surgeries.

Photo (#3) After getting my upper prosthesis.

Photo (#4)Post: retirement medal presentation late 2018.

Photo #6. Mother’s Day 2020

Denyse.

Joining with blogging friend Leanne and others here too. Thanks for the link up!

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Telling My Story. Chapter Eighteen. 2008-2009. 89/2020.

Telling My Story. 2008-2009. Chapter Eighteen. 89/2020.

About a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at…Chapter Eighteen. I admit it is getting harder in some ways to blog about the more recent times. I think it is because without particular markers (i.e. deaths, births, engagements, marriages, break ups…) then it can be hard to recall.

This couple of years actually did cover getting over Mum’s death, the joy of a first child for our son and his fiancee in the year that Mum died…and there would be a marriage planned. More of that in the next chapter!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted. All the posts are here if you would like to check them out.

School and “Work At Home”.

By the time the beginning of the school year of  2008 came around we (my husband and I) had begun to care for the dear little grandson who had been born late in the previous year. When we began his daily care, from around 8 a.m. to around 5 p.m. up to 3 days a week we knew what we were up for…of course we did! But we were older than the last time we had grandchildren in our care AND the Mum in that case worked till around 3-3.30 so we knew that her baby would be going home around then.

My husband was not well enough to do paid work outside the home so he was very good at telling stories, reading books and taking slow walks around the house with a small baby who preferred another’s arms than bed!

I was still working in a school for 2 or 3 days a week, as an English as a Second Language teacher too. So, there were only weekends off for me so to speak. But I loved the “work at home” and I do think I was probably wearying of the role at school. But, “we” needed me to keep working for income so I did.

 

Some of My Memories of 2008.

  • getting areas of the house baby-ready.
  • making the former grandkids’ room (there were already beds for them) into something that could also occupy a baby boy.
  • buying…yes buying a LOT of new toys, books and some items of spare clothing, including bibs, washers and little towels. It had been a long time since the last baby who had been at our house. That baby boy was now 7.
  • enjoying the stroller walks around the neighbourhood so that ‘he’ might get some sleep.
  • loving the daily routine and making up little reports with words for his Mum and Dad to keep.
  • continuous reams of photos being printed at the local photo service centre: I was still using film. Yet to have the iphone.
  • proudly seeing the hard work of this young baby’s parents working for them as it was our son working in retail full time, studying almost full-time while his fiancee managed a physio practice
  • watching for one of the parents’ cars by close to 5 p.m. as we were very tired by then!

No better place than with Papa listening to HUG!

From baby to toddler: 2008-2009

 

The dearest little boy! Now a teen…

 

School.

I was almost 60. I was, I admit, getting over many of the changes that were coming about in education and whilst I saw they may have been necessary, I was beginning to become ‘bored and disinterested.’ I know that I was working for an income, but over the next couple of years, we did hope I could stop work. I did try though to be as positive an influence on other teachers at the school and to mentor those who were interested in promotion and the like. I still have many of those people in my life today.

My Dad.

Dad is a resilient person. He did seek grief counselling after Mum’s death in March 2007 and his self-organised plan of writing Mum letters seemed to help him over the many years he continued this. He even drove to Queensland by himself, stopping over, to have the ‘usual’ holiday he and Mum would have around July each year. He found the journey too much in the end and decided that was the last time. But, never say never and his goal to go and visit a friend on the Gold Coast – for the last time in 2008 –  was to fly up for a few days and he asked me to accompany him. I was OK to do that (pretty sure I would have had the time off school but may be not from grandchild care!)

Dad would still drive over to see us and on a few occasions, especially around Christmas, would stay a couple of nights to catch up with the other members of our family. I admit though, it was a bit of a strain on me having him stay because we clash(ed). Much much less of that these days but back then, it could be tense. Nevertheless he got some fun out of seeing little people and he was always invited to birthdays. He has, now in 2020, lost all interest in anything like that, except with immediate to him close family. At nearly 97 he is just doing what he can to get by!

My Dad with our two grandsons. Some years back now.

2009 Notched Up The Busy Life For Me.

Just as Christmas holidays were over, and the awful fires of Black Saturday burned in Victoria that February, we received news that a new grandchild was on the way. A sibling to the little fellow who was now 1 and very active and interested in the world around him. That was great news. It meant more work for his mum as she struggled (valiantly) with all-day morning sickness and for our son, the dad, as he readied himself for more study towards his future career goals as a mature age student having graduated with his Bachelors Degree.

Such a big and busy time alright and I admit, when my husband turned 60 in the February, retirement of some kind for me was looking good. That was not really possible as we had our mortgage and I was still liking aspects of my part-time teaching role.

Other family members were at High School and Primary School and our daughter was in a relationship and keeping her part-time role in a school happening. The townhouse we had helped her purchase was sold and she and her then partner had plans for building and more. Whilst this did happen down the track, I am not including any more about that time in their lives. It is not my story. At all.

Around 3/4 of the way through 2019, Miss R arrived

She made a dramatic entrance to the world. Her Dad literally caught her! That was amazing. He sure was shocked but perhaps not as much as the midwife when she heard him shout out!! The hospital was a few minutes away and once we knew of his little sister’s arrival, we drove the big brother down to meet her! It was just the best.

And Then I Stopped. I Was 60.

In Term 4 of 2009 I would turn 60. Suddenly, it seemed, I did not want to go to school any more to work. I had felt a real pull to be back at home more and with the prospect of having two grandchildren coming to us in 2010 the time seemed right. The money would be tight, but we would try to make it work.

I had a special birthday celebration. I had a lovely weekend High Tea at a local hotel with female family and friends. It was just lovely. I was spoiled and I have many happy memories. I was also given a lunch by my Dad, husband and my kids and their partners. Miss R above, a breastfed baby was there by necessity.

And I got the retirement farewell I had not had from my time as a principal. My friend, the principal where I was about to stop teaching, organised a morning tea, I got to say a few words, our family came to listen and see, and I was re-presented with the Retirement Medal with the errors on the back. It did not matter. I felt appreciated and cared for and I was ready to be at home. Full-time it seemed!

 

Miss R with one of her cousins.

 

Some 9 years after the ‘first’ retirement, the NSW Dept of Education put on a special morning tea and presented me with the correct medal and the Deputy Secretary made a speech about my career.

What I Cannot Add and Why.

We often see the words “not my story to tell” and I even used them in this post. I could add more but choose not to as some of the times were both sad and based on ill-health issues. What I can say is that I was affected but that is because of the person I was then and that I did find aspects of life in the coming years quite stressful. I know the whys. I am much wiser now some 10 years later but we do have to go through much to learn don’t we?

That has been the case for me. I also know I could add many more photos but I choose not to try to find them…they are in albums and again, they do not necessarily add anything to this public post.

Next time: 2010 – 2012. Not sure how that will be. May be more words than photos. I shall see!

Thank you for being part of the audience who reads Telling My Story.

Denyse.

Linking up with Leanne and friends here on Thursdays.

 

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26/51#LifeThisWeek.Telling My Story. Chapter Sixteen. 2004-06.52/2020.

26/51#LifeThisWeek.Telling My Story.2004-2006.Chapter Sixteen.52/2020.

So, about a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed. Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at…drum roll… Chapter Sixteen.

With yet another photo of me because I keep changing my appearance…thanks to head and neck cancer, then cataract surgeries.

The most recent chapter, finalised how my first and significant career in New South Wales Department of Education ended. Sadly but there was a need for my health to improve and that it did.

L: NSW Teachers’ Federation Badge. R: N.S.W. Primary Principals Ass. Membership Badge.

Why was 2004 memorable?

I went back to school! As a teacher. But first, there is MORE!

I spent quite a bit of summer 2004 recovering from the broken right leg and receiving physiotherapy to get me walking again. We were a two-person household as our adult son had moved in with a friend. I had S P A C E to call mine, and claimed his old room for an art-craft one for me. It also doubled as a grandchild-sleepover space where we installed double bunks and these were in regular use.

My husband, whilst not in the best of health, started to enjoy his music and had a space in the house for that and part  all of the garage eventually morphed into a workshop. We had two vehicles but we were soon to add some home improvements but wait, I am getting ahead of myself.

Around the middle of what would be Term One in schools, I started to feel a restlessness within and to be honest a NEED to do something related to teaching. Having over a year away from schools to try my hand at volunteering and to get better health-wise, the thoughts grew that I probably needed to get my casual teaching availability sorted and out there to my principal friends.

“Would You Like Two Days a Week From Next Term?”

We lived in Glenwood, a suburb on former dairy land in Sydney’s northwest. My friend, D, and I had been colleagues for many years and I heard that the brand new school at a brand new suburb just 10 minutes drive away was where she was the foundation principal. I rang and she said ” come over and have a look at it, love to see you”. I did, with a version of a casual teacher resume in my bag.

After a tour in a modern, private/public built school we sat in her office and I began speaking about wanting to come back to teaching. She knew of what had happened to me at R.P.S. and in fact was one who stayed in touch initially. Before I could say much more, I received an offer, to start Term 2, doing 2 days a week Release From Face To Face Teaching for all of the SEVEN classes (K-6) the school then comprised. By the time I left the school in 2010 the student population had exploded from our original 156 to around 700…and since went close to 1000…if you know the now-densely populated North West area of Sydney, this will not surprise you.

Yes, thank you…that would be great. I asked what I should teach in that time. Her reply was ‘up to me’ and in a complete switch for me, I chose Creative Arts: art, drama and music.

Back to School. As a teacher.

On the first day of Term Two 2004,  the day after our second granddaughter turned 5 (huge party with jumping castle and I did face painting) I presented myself to the school…and the first group I would be teaching. Year 6. Now, this was still a very small school and the teachers were incredibly welcoming and friendly. I remain friends with many today. However, Year 6, first up took some courage but I did it. The thing about a brand new school is that the kids in the upper grades have come from different schools with different expectations. I did have some kids who tried me (behavioural and attitude) but we managed. After that baptism, I had the rest of the day…and I think I returned on the Tuesday as my 2nd day. I do recall being on Cross Country duty too as the kids ran around the then spacious grounds.

When a new school opens in a new neighbourhood there are children presenting to enrol every week and over time, this position grew to 3 days a week. By the end of that year however, I got a different role and loved this one even more.

Before I move on. The school had its official opening and that was a privilege to be part of. Some of the work I had done as the R.F.F. teacher in Art and Craft also involved Aboriginal Education (I had some expertise from my previous schools) and the Year 6 group performed at the opening using clapping sticks made by my husband.

The principal now had someone on her staff who she could confide in and even offload on but she did not do this much at all. However from time to time she would ask me “how come you are always so happy?” My answer was, she had seen my need to be back teaching and I was loving it as well as being a mentor of sorts to some …but I no longer had the full responsibility which weighed heavily when I was a principal.

The English as A Second Language Teacher. Me! 2005 & 2006.

I was always a teacher of literacy at heart, and loved working with children at the entry level of school. It made sense then for me to turn what I loved to do into a role I could deepen for myself and the school when there was growing student population of students whose second language was English.

I was able to set up the program, a space for the students and to develop the school’s programs. This was an important part of my role and being a former principal something I knew a lot about. What I did need to learn more about was the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of teaching English to a range of learners. Some were literally just stepping ‘off the plane’ as we used to say, and others had been in Australia speaking and learning English at previous schools.

The ‘language’ of teaching in this field has changed in the past 5+ years so I will use what I remember. The students were assessed, if needed, by me upon enrolment in whichever year they were entering. For example a student coming into Kindergarten and one coming into Year 5 might still be classed as ‘new arrivals’ if they had no understanding of English and would need, at separate times to being in class, some one-on-one or very small group learning.

To that end, I enrolled in a Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Charles Sturt University. Part-time and on-line with lots of practical work I could do with the students. This was a great way for me to add to my qualifications and hopefully, as time passed, get appointed to the school in 2007 as the substantive E.S.L. teacher. In the next chapter, I will share what happened.

Flexibility and a program that helped teachers integrate the students into their classes was important and I did all I could on the 3 days allocated to the program – always by student numbers – that year. The school’s population grew and grew, in 2006 there was a need to employ another person like me on a temporary basis. I was not permanently appointed, even though, over time, I hoped that might occur. More on that in the next chapter. 2007 was a big year for me. In many ways.

Family Times, House with ‘New’Mortgage & My First Trip O.S.

Despite the fact that we were now mortgage-free, see chapter fifteen, we became tempted to use the house as collateral for home improvements. Yes, people, we not only were tempted, we went ahead. The house benefitted with the enclosure of the outdoor room and adding air conditioning to it so it was a useable space, a carport, added driveways and landscaping out the front and back. This all helped at the time for our enjoyment. Much later in terms of selling, we had added value but the outstanding mortgage was paid out at the time of sale in 2015, bought new cars (much needed, old ones were literally ‘dying’)  but we did not have enough after that to buy a house on the Central Coast. This has, as it turns out, not been too bad as we have found a couple of options where we may wish, one day, to buy a house. For now, we are, like many, more comfortable as renters in the lovely, modern house we are in now.

Family times in those years became busier in some ways as the first group of grandchildren were changing in terms of ‘growing up’ and starting school. We attended Open Days, School Assemblies, Musicals and other events when possible. We took our two eldest granddaughters on a family holiday to Ballina which was fun and they got to meet some of their extended family and see where Papa grew up and went to school.

We welcomed partners into the family and life continued getting to know extended family members, and share in occasions, as well as support new ventures such as a return to study for one of our kids, with eventually University degree completed and more to come. One adult child continued in teaching part-time and we offered weekend/evening/afternoon respite for the kids in her busy times of responsibilities at school and beyond.

For some time I guess I did consider travelling overseas but never really got the chance. Then my plan was hatched and by crikey, I love a plan. To organise, the research and to find out more..blah blah. It was always going to be a solo trip. The plane ride for my husband of just on 3 hours in 2003 was the deal breaker for him as I wrote last chapter. He couldn’t accompany me. However, I was actually OK to give solo travel a go in a bigger way. I had already done some shorter trips and small breaks away within Australia so I looked at what I thought I could manage flight time wise, and where I was interested in visiting. It was to the U.S.of A.’s west coast but mainly the state of Hawaii I wanted to see. Dad and Mum had been there many times following Dad’s first visit when he was part of Harvard Business Summer School for 6 weeks in 1966.

With meticulous care and with the help of Flight Centre I booked 15 days away from 1 January 2006 to 15 January. Flights on Hawaiian Air, were marvellous and I joined their Premier Club to get preferential seating, extra luggage allowance and use of Lounges at LAX and Oahu. Brilliant. But, I almost went home from Mascot (our airport) before I left.

New Year’s Day in Sydney 2006 the temperature was 45deg. There was no air con working at the airport. My flight was not leaving till 10 pm. I was dropped off at the airport by my daughter…allowing plenty of time and it was actually ‘too much’ time. I was SO hot and over it..but stayed until check in could start…and when as a priority boarder I got to my window seat (then the aeroplane was 2,3,2 in economy)and sat, the aloha music and air con working….I sighed with relief. I probably need to expand this story separately but it went like this: Syd:Oahu, 3 nights. Oahu to Kona 2 nights. Kona to Oahu & onto LAX 2 nights, LAX to Las Vegas 2 nights, LV to SanFran 2 nights. SF to LAX back to Oahu 3 nights…and H O M E.

My Parents. 

In the latter part of 2006 my parents celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary (60 years wed) with a couple of small at-home celebrations with friends, and a family lunch in a local restaurant with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the following weekend.

I went to their house on the actual day with 60 yellow roses from the local Dural Rose Growers, and Dad already had the cards I had organised from Queen Elizabeth II, the Governor-General, the Premier of N.S.W. and…for Mum especially, my brother organised a ‘congratulations to long time listeners, N & A,’ message on 2GB from Alan Jones. Mum loved it. And he was kind.

Mum had not been well for a couple of years and with an aversion to doctors and investigations, Dad did the best he could to keep her health under check. Mum had some symptoms that appeared to be Parkinson’s related and also a lot of pain in some areas that was put down to be ‘post shingles’ neuralgia.

Mum had a great smile. And she made a lot of effort to do the best she could to look well and co-ordinated, with hairdresser appointments weekly and a pretty regular wardrobe updates. She started to not want to go out much in a lot of 2006 and it became harder to convince her to do so.

Previously Mum had been quite social, independent with her own car and social groups and interests including tennis and cards. But no more. Even their much enjoyed June-July winter stays on the Gold Coast stopped in 2005. But, there were reasons which would not be evident until next chapter: a big one. 2007.

Mum and Dad, taken by me, at the family celebrations for their 60th Wedding Anniversary. November 2006.

 

That is all…that I remember and CAN write about…with confidence of telling my story without giving away too much. It does get tricky with privacy but I have permissions and try to stay within boundaries set by myself and what is reasonable.

For all of the stories to date, please visit this part of the blog. Telling My Story.

I print each post out and have it stored in a folder for family if they wish to read it.

Thanks for reading.

Denyse.

List of Optional Prompts: July & August 2020. On home page too.

27/51 Taking Stock #3 6.7.2020

28/51 Self-Care Stories. #4. 13.7.2020

29/51 Your Choice. Mine is: World Head & Neck Cancer Day. 20.7.2020

30/51 Share Your Snaps #6 27.7.2020

31/51 Food. 3.8.2020

32/51 Why Did I? 10.8.2020

33/51 I Want. 17.8.2020

34/51 Self-Care Stories. #5. 24.8.2020

35/51 Share Your Snaps #7 31.8.2020

Link Up #195.

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