Downsizing: Journal’s End

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A post by writer Frances Wood: 

My grandmother kept journals for decades, written in code – a shorthand she had learned back in 1917 or so, long obsolete. I always wondered what was in those journals, and even if I might someday be able to decipher them and finally learn all the family secrets.

Until she burned them.

I don’t know why. She was probably downsizing. In her seventies, perhaps.

I felt bereft. All those secrets, lost.

I felt that way until this summer, when I calculated I had perhaps a hundred pounds of highly flammable paper in my attic – my journal, dating back to high school. And not just my journal, but greeting cards and letters – some from that same grandmother.

And I realized: I don’t need all that paper up there. The contents are also stored in my head. So I began going through plastic bin after plastic bin, and I purged my attic of paper. But at the same time, I refreshed some of those memories in my mind.

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I am finally old enough to share in Grandmother’s wisdom. Some secrets are best left behind. Allow ancient gossip to fade. Let the future be unburdened.

Frances Wood is the author of When Molly Was a Harvey Girl, Daughter of Madrugada, and Becoming Rosemary.

Frances and I have been tracking each other’s writing careers for several decades now. When I told her how brave I thought she was to discard the journals, Frances said, “I didn’t feel brave. I felt lighter. I already am my experience-I didn’t need all that extra weight to prove it.”

To learn more about Frances Wood and her writing, visit her website, Frances M. Wood.com.

frances

Howling at the Moon

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Moon Rise

Cliff and I attended a Howl at the Moon Party last week on Bald Head Island.

Red pepper crab soup; appetizers and cookies;  beer; a bagpiper; and sparking conversation with Margot and John, a couple we met at the party, made it a night worth howling about (happy howling, that is).

Then it hit me. I’d never ever seen a moonrise. How’s that for saving some new experiences for your menopausal years?

When I was a little girl, I was terrified of the moon. “No moon!  No moon!” I’d shout. My parents had to close the curtains in my bedroom so not a speck of moon peeked through.

Look at me now! Partying in the moonlight!

We have touchstones in life. The moon is for me, as I suspect it may be for you, one of them. It’s a quirky ball that lives above our heads, and even on a cloudy night or if  it only shows a sliver, it’s there. And when the moon laughs in bright orange or displays cheddar cheese patterns or puts on a show over the ocean, we’re delighted to be among  its admiring earthlings.

During every full moon, Patti Winker’s post, “The Moon and The Menses,” gets lots of views. Here’s the link. Women and the moon go way back!

Patti

The ancients believed the moon mirrors the life of a woman: maiden, mother, and crone, the moon in its new, full, and fading forms.

Maybe.

But when I stood on the beach and howled with the others, I didn’t feel like a crone at all.

A-woooooooooooo!

Playgrounds and Passages

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Playground

About twenty-five years ago, my mom described a dinner she hosted in Baltimore for Cousin Jim, visiting from Canada.

“Your brother’s children (two and three at the time) didn’t behave very well.” She paused and then said, “I think Jim is glad his own kids are grown.”

Zam! Mom’s comment really struck me (and for some reason has stayed with me).

Having grown children means you’re old (or at least it did to my thirty-year-old self).

Who wants to be old? Wouldn’t you rather deal with pesty kids than be old?

Jump back to now.

I’m walking in Gold Park on a steamy, soupy August morning. I pass the playground.

“Dad, Parker is being mean.”

“Then just play your own way,” says Parker’s dad from the bench. “Be imaginative.”

More whining.

“Colin, Parker doesn’t own the playground,” says the dad. “Go play on another piece of equipment.”

Whining encore.

“You boys just need to play separately.”

Then like a see-saw slamming to the ground, I get it.

Been there, done that.

I’m my mom. I’m Cousin Jim.

“See ya, Parker and Colin,” I say to myself as I head across the bridge for home. “I’ve invited grownups  for a beer tasting. Got to bake some cheese straws.”

 

Bridge

Old has  some advantages!

What about you? Would you like to be thirty, raising Parker and Colin, or are you content with the age you are?

Mom’s Cheese Straws

Two cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

One cup very sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Six tablespoons butter, slightly softened

Eight or so tablespoons cold water

Blend dry ingredients. Add the cheese. Slowly add water and cut in like you’re making pie crust. Roll the dough pie crust thin. Cut into strips 1/4 inch wide with a sharp knife or pastry wheel. Bake on greased cookie sheets until golden brown. These keep well.

Cheese Straws

 Disclaimer: My brother’s children turned out wonderfully, and I’m sure Parker and Colin will too!

Lifescript: Tips from Menopause Bloggers!

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Menopause Tips

Lifescript writer Susan Jara put together this collection of menopause tips and life strategies from nine bloggers, including yours truly.

Jara writes, “Often, women who have experienced it have the best tips for managing perimenopause or menopause symptoms.”

That’s for sure! Don’t miss these suggestions for dealing with painful sex, low libido, fatigue, memory loss, mood swings, early perimenopause, feeling old, self-doubt, and weight gain.

Here’s the link to the article.

Thanks to Susan Jara for the article and to Lifescript for providing plenty of excellent information on menopause in their Menopause Health center.  

Lifescript on Menopause

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