Sunday 26th June 2022

Is It REALLY Time for #WhatOnMyBookshelf In June? Yes! 39/2022.

Is It REALLY Time for #WhatOnMyBookshelf In June? Yes! 39/2022.

I asked the question because “I” couldn’t believe it and had to ask Deb when it was…and yes, it’s Friday 17 June 2022…and thanks for the link up!

 “What’s On Your Bookshelf?”

Thanks to Jo, Deb, Sue and Donna who host this.

Bookmarks.

In 2018 I made 100s of bookmarks for my friend’s charity for people with cancer,  The Big Hug Box. It was great therapy for me as I recovered from my surgeries and giving back always felt good. I stopped in 2019 but continued from time to time making them for friends, putting them in the mail as a surprise, and sharing them if I met up with a friend.

So, do take a “virtual” book mark from me and enjoy this eclectic post!

 

I’ve become quite the listener and reader recently.

I am using time in the car, and at night when nothing is of interest on a screen, and also to complement my practices of mindfulness…and to remind myself of what is important, what I need to learn more about and what I need to remember.

 

And about my first book on Mindfulness….and Meditation.

Quiet The Mind. Matthew Johnstone. 

In 2012 I was on the south coast of N.S.W. on an observation day for N.S.W. Institute of Teachers. I already knew that I needed some inside help for the growing stress I was feeling and to be able to help myself.

I saw this book,  as I browsed a bookshop on the day before I went to the school, and thought, that’s it! I bought it, read it (very easy contents) and was R E A D Y for mindfulness.

It never arrived dear reader….

in fact not for about another 3 to 4 years! Oh how we fool ourselves if we think one “book” can change the life we have been leading till then. I admit, I look at this book now, and it is good.

But I had SO much life and learning and practising to do and it’s taken me ten years to really put it into action!!

 

About a School Library.

The bookshelves that will often hold treasures to turn a young person into a reader! I loved being a library monitor at primary school. And now, a little bit about a school library..and hopefully schools will continue to have libraries and with BOOKS on the shelves… sadly, some no longer do. But for now a story about a school library…

Did you know that to start a new school’s library requires not only book and other resources to be bought…but also to be accessioned.

In other words, covered and marked for their place on the shelves, AND as a school resource accountable to the financial part of the school’s operation. And then, the students will have their information loaded onto the schools’ files, and they will then form the borrowing systems.

There is something very special as a teacher and a teacher librarian, to see the youngest members of the school doing their first “borrowing” from the library..with their special library bag. 

How do I know this?

Firstly as a school principal, but more than that as…

my daughter, is a trained teacher librarian and with her masters in librarianship can operate in an educational setting like a school and a public or private library. She has started TWO new school libraries in the past 6 years…and once every month or so, volunteers in the library at Sydney Jewish Museum.

Schools Go Back….this was in the first month of the brand new school’s library in 2019.

School Readers and Others In Groups: on the bookshelf…and the letters? Donation of many from me! First school library started: 2015.

Into the spirit of all things reading for Book Week 2020.

A New Book For Beginning Teachers.

On Teaching : For New Graduates. Bianca Hewes.

A friend and colleague put a call out last year for some of us to help her with sections of brand new book that she’d been commissioned to write, and I said “yes”. My chapter was about “the first days” where as a newbie to schools there is so much to observe, listen and learn to check out how that school ticks. And it’s on my bookshelf before giving it to my daughter’s school as a resource.

Highly recommended if you know of anyone starting out in teaching. Available from the publisher: Small Caps Publishing. Great work Bianca Hewes…and co. Bianca was also a Woman of Courage! Here’s her story.

I am interested in so much of what makes us humans tick.

I tend to enjoy other people’s memoirs and what their life story has taught them. The learning and teaching part of my DNA remains keen and very curious.

I am someone very interested in how we humans manage many of life’s challenges, and probably because I am the age I am, and have had cancer, I am somewhat drawn to learning more about serious life issues which include death, dying and grief.

I don’t tend to read to escape these days. I do like to get engrossed in both fiction and non fiction but fiction that I love these days is less than it was for me back in my 40s. But now, if something from the fiction realm engrosses me and then I will likely return to it….

I returned to this listen...and I am loving getting reacquainted with the unusual storyline, the flowers and flora of the Australian bush and more. I am not good at reviews but if you look it up, I am sure you will find out more. I also LOVE that the narrator here really can do the characters’ voices.

NB: I cannot bear listening to a narrator whose skills are not up to speed. I once had to return a book because I could hear every intake of breath. Fussy, moi? Yes!

From Audible: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland. And in bookstores.

Lisa by Lisa Curry. From Audible. The book is out in most book stockists.

Just finished this:  Lisa a raw and true memoir from Australian swimmer, Lisa Curry.

She has written from the heart, and I suggest it needs some tissues nearby to listen to Lisa share the part of her life, particularly when describing the impossible but true death of her eldest child, Jaimie.

I wasn’t sure if I would find this book a bit light on, and some parts were I guess for me, but the true pull is the fact that no-one can change another person’s fate (my word) where mental illness, an eating disorder and more are part of a human’s load.

I hope Lisa has some professional guidance for her grief that can complement all of the other loving support in her world now.

Which brings me to these books:

Every Family Has a A Story: How We Inherit Love and Loss. Julia Samuel.

Julia Samuel is a psychotherapist in the UK. I have the actual book but am listening, one chapter at a time, to her at times raw and painful recounting of others’ stories shared with her in the therapy space. What attracted me to her book was “Every Family Has a Story” and whilst we may not know them all, nor even want to know, there will be something in each of our family and forebears which has an effect on us and if we have them, our kids and grandchildren. It is a dense and intense listen and I am doing it one story at a time. In the car.

The Choice. Dr Edith Eger.

This book was recommended to me by my daughter. The one mentioned above. She is into life history, family histories, and  the history of those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis in World War Two. It’s a reason she gets so much out of her regular volunteer work ( I don’t know how she does it as a full time now Relieving Assistant Principal, and Mum to one under 12) because of her respect for the member of the Jewish Community who survived and many made their homes in Australia.

This book is written by an Auschwitz survivor and her work and what she found out about herself and others is compared with the work of Dr Victor Frankl. I haven’t finished Dr Eger’s book but I am going to as I recently heard her on Brene Brown’s podcast here. Worth the listen!

Grief.

It affects us all and it is not always related to death. It can be a loss, a trauma, a serious illness. I know I have written about the surprise of grief during my years of transition ….grieving the life and type of life we had led to go into a retirement mode. I also grieved for lost friendships when we moved to the coast, and for the loss of connection.

I know I grieved the changes of relationships I witnessed in our close and extended family and at times it would all seem too much to bear. But knowing now, that the mention of the word “grief” means that you are less likely to be “shhhed” or asked, “aren’t you over that now?” but as humans we will want to be out of the discomfort of grief as fast as we can.

And that doesn’t work.

In fact, it probably worsens it.

I am not an expert at all but I believe in self-education and learning from others and Megan Devine is one such person.

It’s OK that You’re Not OK. Megan Devine.

She also now has a podcast. I follow her on twitter and have listened to her book on-line and have this copy here:

I know my friend Sandra finds Megan’s words helpful &  is in a space that is both challenging and hard, with sprinkles of good times after the sudden death of her husband over a year ago. Sandra’s  story from Women of Courage is here. 

And folks, that’s it for now.

I am writing this post Wednesday evening to be ready for Friday. Thursday I will be driving to and from Sydney to see the prosthodontist and to have lunch with my two oldest granddaughters. I am not sure which book I will listen to but I often do one book I have in my Audible collection for the journey down and another for coming home.

It also depends on how I am feeling.

NB: it was Every Family Has a Story on the way down, and The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart coming home. 

Take care!

Thanks for reading here!

And small shout out for bloggers. The last link up from my blog is on Monday 20 June. Do join in if you have a post old or new.

Denyse.

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Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Welcome (back) to Life’s Stories.

A Fortnightly Link Up here. The dates for the year are here and I hope you can keep on linking up too.

Back to Newcastle! #LifesStories.#LinkUp. 24/2022.

Since moving from Sydney to the New South Wales Central Coast, Newcastle is a big city closer to us than ever before.

It has changed immensely in the decades of this and last century. Going from a fully industrially-centred place (coal, steel making and more) to a renewed up-market place with inner city Sydney vibes, and harbour views along with beaches.

I’ve been to “Newy” (Newcastle) most years we have been up this way. Newy, by the way, is an affectionate term we Aussies seem to do with cities, places and people’s names: we shorten them affectionately.

About an hour from our place, along the M1 to the city centre makes it a pretty easy trip. With some help from google maps of course.

I was off to the Newcastle Writers Festival 2022 and made sure I had a car space booked. I am a planner and I do not apologise for that!

But first, I had a small crisis of confidence about appearance so needed a mirror check and selfie…and look what else happened after days & days of rain…the sky had changed at 7.45 a.m. to make it a sunny & dry day!

Arrived in plenty of time to notice a lot on the walk from the carpark to City Hall: green spaces, trees, and more…SUNshine gave everyone an extras spring in their step!

I loved attending Sydney Writers Festivals back in the years we lived in Sydney. They are a great chance to listen to the authors sharing THEIR stories about their books.

Newcastle Writers Festival in 2019 was a great occasion for me…and in fact, it was from hearing Jane Caro AM speak about Accidental Feminists (her non fiction book at that time) that I came up with the plan for the Women of Courage series. Here’s more about that.

And as a great fan of Trent Dalton and Rick Morton, it was awesome to meet Trent and catch up with Rick.

Then this happened…Covid. It stopped all events that were live so there was no Writers Festival (other than an on-line event) in 2020 and 2021.

But in 2022 It was BACK! With much fanfare, an amazing group of authors and for me, a ‘cheap’ way to be part of it when our NSW Discover Vouchers could help defray costs.

Where the arrow is pointing from is my grey head, as I am in the front row, and listening to (and loving) Trent’s talk with Rosemarie Milsom the Festival director. Debbie from Debs World was watching live from her lounge room and we tweeted a  bit too. Fun to connect!

I got to hear Kate McClymont speak about her journalist and author career looking into crime in our state of N.S.W. She has had death threats (!) and has spoken with many from the world of organised (and other) crime that is a part of our state’s history.

I listened to Jane Caro speak about her book The Mother, and another author too. They spoke of their writing processes and where some of their ideas had arisen. Sadly both topics within their words are pretty common these days.

I was tired (but happy!) after the events and took a drive over to the water to check out the big seas that had taken away walls from beaches and sand, along with stopping a surfing event.

Still, it was great to be there on a dry weather day, enjoy some of the sights, and to drive leisurely home via the old Pacific Hwy to our place at the northern end of the Central Coast.

It is still a bit strange to be getting out and about like this as the limitations of Covid (and lately, weather events that were dire) have made us hesitant. Maybe us? We are still part of a dwindling group of people wearing masks at the shops. We were asked to wear masks at Newcastle Writers Festival.

And by the way, there were many more author and writers I would have loved to heard but…time. I could only manage one day away from home. That’s life as a post oral cancer person. Some of the writers I missed included Helen Garner, Clementine Ford, Julia Baird, and more. Sadly my friend Rick wasn’t there…he told me he thought he was but no..bit busy as well with a new book out that he edited: Growing Up In the Country:  Australia.

I’m pleased to add that my interest in reading is refreshed now and I am actually browsing fiction as well as non-fiction books. I will more than likely have a post for the What’s On Your Bookshelf too.

I also hope to attend the Words on the Waves Writers Festival at the southern end of the Central Coast in early June. Waiting for the program to be released. It had its first year in 2021 and I missed that it even happened. Not this time, I am signed up for updates. Here is more info. 

Do you know the city of Newcastle?

Are you a “fan” of Writers Festivals?

Do you have a favourite author you would like to meet?

Let me know if you get a chance in the comments.

Denyse.

It’s the Monday before Easter & the weather seems fine for driving to Dee Why to see Dad, so that’s my plan.

I will catch up with you here later.

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Women of Courage Series. #64. Anne Howe. 89/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #64. Anne Howe. 89/2021.

In July 2021 The Women of Courage posts will be connected in some way to World Head and Neck Cancer Month (July) and the #WHNCD Day on 27 July 2021. Those who have followed my blog since 2017 know I was diagnosed with a rare Head and Neck Cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip. More here.

Two years ago….around this time of year, 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.

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 Anne Howe, who is in her late 60s, and I have not met in real life, we have connected on-line via a very supportive facebook group for those affected by Head and Neck Cancer. The details are below. Anne’s story looks short yet it is incredibly full of courage from Anne’s words, taking the best chance you can as a human to survive a devastating diagnosis and allowing those who have your trust to do their best for you. Anne is a very determined woman, loved by her large family and often a carer to others. She has had more surgery since her post-HNC photo was taken and this has been, as best as it might happen, for her to have some teeth added inside her mouth.

Note from Anne:

 While I have had teeth made I am unable to wear them until I have had the screws implanted in my jaw and the bridging work made. Then its fingers crossed to hope my jaws don’t crumble due to the radiation. So still a way to go there.

I chose to use both images supplied by Anne as they do illustrate her words at the end of her story. I have, though, used her image before the surgeries for her Woman of Courage collage because it was then she needed to have all the courage she could muster to go through her many trials in her head and neck cancer journey.

Thank you, Anne. Let’s share your responses now.

 

 

 

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

My moment of courage kicked in when I presented for surgery to remove a SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) tumour from my nose back in 2017.

I was nervous and terrified as anyone is when facing surgery but the full impact hit when my surgeon came to see me.

His first words when explaining my surgery really tore through me.

He could NOT give me informed consent.

I would have to trust him and he promised to do the very best he could for me.

At best he would remove the tumour and do his best to repair the damage but at worst I could just wake up with a hole in my face.

With a very shaking hand I signed on  the line but while doing it a very gentle hand covered mine and a gentle voice told me he would take good care of me.

I woke up to find I had lost most of my nose, my top lip up to the nose, some of my left cheek, my central upper jaw and part of the soft palate.

 

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

After my surgery I was informed by my surgeon that I was stage 4 and he didn’t think I would survive.

He had done his best to get me this far and I made up my mind to do whatever I needed to do to get through this which is exactly what I have done.

I knew I had a long hard road ahead with a lot of work to be done.

Over the last 4 years I have endured 11 surgeries on my nose and 30 sessions of radiation.

I still have further nasal surgery to have and also surgery on my mouth due to having lost part of my jaw. (this is some of  the surgery I mentioned in my introduction)

 

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

When I woke up from surgery and first  saw my face I thought that was it.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think it could be repaired to the stage it has.

I put my faith and trust in my surgeon which was the best thing I could ever have done.

The other thing that helped get me through was the love and support of my family and friends.

 

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

I have learned from this experience that I am stronger than I ever thought I was.

I have often been told I am very brave but I disagree.

I have fears just like everyone else but to survive I just had to put on my big girl pants and do what was needed as the other option just didn’t bear thinking about.

It really was a live or die situation.

Over time my strength has just grown.

 

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

To anyone going through something that fills you with fear or concern my advice is to give everything you have because only then can you say you really tried.

Surround yourself with some people who will truly understand and accept you no matter what.

Sometimes I have needed to vent or just have a good cry to let those emotions out and that is important too.

Never give up.

 

My favourite saying through all this has been:

My face does not define me I am still the same person.

Anne, your courage and your story blow me away. What a great relationship you have with your surgeon. Trust is so much a part of it. I am so glad you are here, and looking after your family too…as you continue to recover. Thank you so much.

Denyse.

Note About Head and Neck Cancer Support on-line.

IF a family member or someone you know does have a diagnosis of a head and neck cancer or that person is a carer, the value of a good facebook group cannot be over-done. The friendly space that IS this group for eligible people to request membership is a good one. There are people from all over the world but the group is not huge so personal connections can be made. It is mainly made up of New Zealanders, and Aussies too…along with those from the U.S. There are questions to be answered to join and it IS strictly for those with a head and neck cancer. Link is here.

This is a link to Head and Neck Cancer Australia too. This is where I found information initially after my 2017 diagnosis and where I am now an Ambassador.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

 

 

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Women of Courage Series. #63. Cosette Calder. 86/2021.

Women of Courage Series. #63. Cosette Calder. 86/2021.

In July 2021 The Women of Courage posts will be connected in some way to World Head and Neck Cancer Month (July) and the #WHNCD Day on 27 July 2021. Those who have followed my blog since 2017 know I was diagnosed with a rare Head and Neck Cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip. More here.

Two years ago….around this time of year, 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.

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

Those of us who have been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer never feel quite alone when there are others we can share our stories and one such place is a special facebook group (private, but ask to join) here based in New Zealand. This is where I virtually met Cosette Calder, aged 46, and she was someone I reached out to share her story of head and neck cancer, and here she is. Thank you Cosette.

 

 

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

  • In 2015 I was diagnosed with throat cancer.
  • I had a young family, full time job and life was busy.
  • Suddenly everything stopped and I had to undergo Chemo and Radiation Treatment to beat this cancer and have a chance to live.

 

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

  • I had a brutal cancer treatment.
  • I couldn’t eat food and had to have a tube inserted into my stomach.
  • For two months I only drank water and was tube fed.
  • I lost 8kgs and some of my hair fell out.
  • I really had to dig deep to get through this treatment.
  • I had a plastic mask made of my head and shoulders.
  • This mask was for the radiation treatment.
  • My head had to be perfectly still on the radiation table so the mask was bolted across my face to the table for 20 minutes a day during radiation treatment.
  • It is incredibly scary and claustrophobic.
  • I somehow managed it.
  • I am proud of myself for the courage of wearing the mask when I was so ill and feeling down.
  • I fought hard whilst being so unwell. I didn’t realise I could be so strong.

 

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

  • Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Sometimes we can’t help what happens to us.
  • Keep moving on and keep trying.
  • Acceptance too helps.
  • By accepting my cancer diagnosis I was able to focus and keep moving ahead.

 

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

  • I am stronger now.
  • I have been pushed to the limit and I know how lucky I am to be here.

 

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

  • You CAN do it!

 

Oh my, yes we do have brutal treatments don’t we?

However, in reading this of your experience as a head and neck cancer patient Cosette, and, now well-recovered, it is a tribute to your human qualities of strength and courage that you have recovered and now share your story. Thank you again. I am sharing the information below from the New Zealand Based Facebook Group for Head & Neck Cancers. Thanks to for all you do to share awareness!

Denyse.

Note About Head and Neck Cancer Support on-line.

IF a family member or someone you know does have a diagnosis of a head and neck cancer or that person is a carer, the value of a good facebook group cannot be over-done. The friendly space that IS this group for eligible people to request membership is a good one. There are people from all over the world but the group is not huge so personal connections can be made. It is mainly made up of New Zealanders, and Aussies too…along with those from the U.S. There are questions to be answered to join and it IS strictly for those with a head and neck cancer. Link is here.

This is a link to Head and Neck Cancer Australia too. This is where I found information initially after my 2017 diagnosis and where I am now an Ambassador.

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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

 

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