Please Help: A Menopause Survey


Sharon Hartnett, a practitioner in holistic healing methods, and Dev Steiger, a researcher, are conducting a survey on the multi-faceted experience of menopause. I received a letter a few weeks ago from Dev:

Dear Barbara,

I appreciate your writing about the lack of information, the reticence of women to seek answers, and the things that women face as we transition into a new time of life.

We are conducting a survey on the physical, emotional, and spiritual experience of menopause. Given how long women are living, we need support and useful information to thrive in a chapter of our lives that is as long as our childbearing years.

Our goal is to collect data and share the information, so all women can benefit from the collective knowledge, experience, and wisdom of other women.

Dev and Sharon would love your input and asked if I would share the link on Friend for the Ride. PLEASE help in this important research by completing the survey. It’s fun to take and asks some really intriguing and insightful questions.

Thank you to Dev and Sharon for your important work! We look forward to reading the results.



Menopause T-shirts: A Giveaway!

Here on Friend for the Ride, I work to help the world understand and appreciate the challenges of menopause. These great t-shirts designed by  Avaeh Kristopher do  that too.Take it away, Avaeh and thanks for your generous giveaway!

My family & friends and I often joke about various subjects, but there is one in particular that only a few of us can actually comment on with authority without being called out on with a loud and cranky barrage of  “What’dya know about it?” And that topic is menopause LOL  🙂

I’m a firm believer in optimism and the power of positive thinking and the use of humor as a way to keep yourself out of the dumps (and I can be a bit snarky from time to time – I rationalize that by thinking it’s a sign of a smart mind… or smart mouth).

So for years now I have made jokes about menopause, and then one day my daughter suggested I put these on a book or a t-shirt… so after a time and a lot of cajoling I followed her advice. I made 2 coloring books first and now a few shirts. So here are some of my favorite sayings about “the big M” emblazoned on a few t-shirts on Amazon for women everywhere to get a good laugh, or at least a giggle, out of. My favorite so far has to be : “I’m not crazy, I’m just hormonal as hell”

I hope you guys enjoy them.

Giveaway: Avaeh is giving away a t-shirt to one U.S. winner. For a chance to win, please enter a comment before November 1. The winner will make a selection from the Amazon website (below). Thanks, Avaeh!

The Amazon link to the t-shirts is here.

The Amazon link to Avaeh’s coloring books is here.


Avaeh tells us more about herself:  I’ve led many lives while here on this planet – child, friend, partner, parent – but I’ve always been an artist too. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved to draw, craft, and sketch. I have always had pets and love being in the great outdoors. My friends call me a hippie, and that’s okay with me – I take it as a great compliment. I am definitely not the conventional or corporate type – I am much more of a free spirit who enjoys a good joke, colorful language, and insightful conversations over high heels and the newest trends in fashion. Give me a t-shirt, jeans, and some comfortable shoes any day over all of that, and I’ll be as happy as can be. 



Thanks to Nicholas: The Power of New

(I wasn’t able to embed the video, but here’s the link.)

Soon after I started painting, I discovered Nicholas Wilton. He’s a generous artist who posts great advice on painting, especially on the approach an artist takes to his or her work.

When I first watched the video, I applied it immediately to my art. I’m a new artist, but I already feel myself needing to be wary of what’s too comfortable. Too easy.

But then I watched the video again.

What else can I change up? Switch out.  Do in the exact opposite way that I always have.

  • Breathing. Well actually, I have been breathing all these years, but I’ve resisted the idea that I can sleep better, think better, react better, if I focus on breath and breathing techniques. I’m taking a mindfulness class at SunStone Wellnes led by Denise DeForest Pastoor. I’m beginning to understand the power of focusing on breath.
  • I bought a rust-colored sweater at the Loft outlet store the other day. Rust is not a color I’m drawn to, but I like my new sweater. I hate cold weather, but this year, I’m trying to get my clothes ready ahead of time so the cold doesn’t shock me so.


  • Cliff has gotten me on a kick of eating banana peppers on sandwiches. I don’t think I ever tasted a banana peppers before this year. Talk about a mid-day pick me up!


What about you? Have you switched things up lately? Were you happy with the results?

And speaking of changing things up, here’s one of my recent paintings. SOME of the blueberries decide they’re tired of being blue. My friend Susan bought my painting at a charity auction. She’s changing to brighter colors in her kitchen.

Three cheers for the power of new! Thanks, Nicholas.


Two New Menopause Products (and a Giveaway!)

A post and a giveaway offer from JDS Therapeutics, makers of Relizen®for hot flashes and RevareeTM for vaginal dryness:

No, menopause should not disrupt daily life.

Times are changing. For far too long, women feared the unknown—the normal, natural event that is menopause. For far too long, women suffered in silence for various reasons:

Ashamed of getting older and going through “the change”

“Doctors will think I’m a hypochondriac and my symptoms are all in my head.”

“I should be able to just push through the symptoms.”

These common myths did nothing more than prevent women from getting the assistance they needed. Menopause symptoms are very real and relief can be, too. Today, women are encouraged to be vocal in all areas of their health and well-being. Consider these recent examples to see how the tides are changing and women are being empowered to find their voices:

  • #MeToo movement
  • Good Morning America airs a two-part segment on menopause, early menopause caused by some cancer treatments, symptoms and remedies.
  • Articles such as Doctor explains why period cramps can hurt way more than a heart attack
  • JDS Therapeutics, a biotech company with a dedicated line of natural, plant-based, nutraceutical products, invests millions in research and clinical testing of women’s reproductive health supplements. Ads for the company’s products (Relizen®, for menopause symptoms, Serenol® for PMS symptoms and RevareeTM for vaginal dryness) emphasize women’s strength, control and empowerment over their symptoms.

Fear of the unknown included hearing stories about treatments for menopause symptoms that were more concerning that the symptoms themselves. Hormone replacement, for example, has been associated with an increased risk of blood clots, strokes, some forms of cancer and even dementia. A woman with a history of blood clots, heart disease, stroke or breast cancer, would likely be advised by her doctor to avoid such treatment.

Women have been waiting a long time for non-hormonal remedies. The wait is over! Certain natural supplements can provide relief without side effects. Swedish flower pollen extract, for example, has been used for over 15 years by millions of women (particularly in Europe) in the treatment of irritability and uneasiness, mood changes, hot flashes, excessive sweating day and night, and restless sleep caused by menopause. Hyaluronic acid, a moisture-binding molecule naturally found in the body that relieves a range of vaginal dryness symptoms, including dryness, burning, irritation and painful sex, has also been shown to help improve overall vaginal health by maintaining vaginal pH and improving vaginal tissue elasticity. More than one million women across 40 countries have safely used variations of hyaluronic acid formulations.

Not all supplements are the same, however. JDS Therapeutics employs a cultivation method that doesn’t compromise the integrity of the extract and utilizes only the highest quality extract to produce Relizen, which is recommended by more than 5,000 U.S. gynecologists.

FDA-cleared Revaree is available without a prescription, yet its active ingredient, hyaluronic acid, has proven to be just as effective as the leading prescription hormonal creams in alleviating symptoms of vaginal dryness, with results in as early as 9 days.

Stop believing the myth that “Menopause symptoms just go with the territory of being a woman.” Now there is relief.

Giveaway: The company is offering a sample of both Relizen and Revaree to two Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by November 1. U.S. only. Thanks!

As with all medicines and supplements, women should consult their medical professionals before taking Relizen if there are any allergy or other concerns.



Dress Me in Leaves? Thinking of You, Sister Eve

I always loved to shop for clothes. Lately though, as sixty plus sets in, I’ve grown weary of worrying about the shape of me or the shape of my wardrobe.

A few weeks ago, it hit me. Eve, spunky Eve, sported simple yet no doubt trendy outfits. What did she wear? Leaves.

Dress me in leaves, and I might be quite content. The patterns are elegant, the colors exquisite. The fabric will be refreshing in summer and crisp in the fall. Leaves will cover a multitude of sins, no biblical pun intended, and the price will suit my budget.

Thank you,Sister Eve!  You’ve inspired me! I’m off to the woods to shop.

What about you? Are you as interested in shopping as you once were? Do you do more of your clothes shopping online nowadays?

The paintings were created by my mom, Nancy Kiehne. I think I’d sport a few more leaves than Eve does in the painting. My figure is not nearly as cute, and I don’t own a hat that sprightly.

Update:  The day after I put this post together, I went to the mall. My bra life needed major uplifting. (That pun intended.) I  got fitted for bras that seem to eliminate droop and are comfortable. (Thanks to Star, the fitter at Victoria’s Secret at Southpoint Mall in Durham, NC.)

Next, I went on to find two dresses, a top, and jeans, all on sale, at Macy’s, Loft, and Belk. I felt like I had my old shopping mojo back.

But still, Eve did have it simple, in some ways and no credit card bill to pay.


Take Off Your Shoes: A Book Giveaway


I always dreamed of taking a year off and living in Europe. Cliff had a few job opportunities overseas from time to time, but they never panned out. I thought it would be a wonderful learning opportunity for my girls (and us).

I just lived that year vicariously in Ben Feder’s new memoir, Take Off Your Shoes: One Man’s Journey from the Boardroom to Bali and BackExasperated by the cooperate rat race, Ben, his wife, and four kids set off for Bali. As a new artist myself, I especially enjoyed reading about the art classes Ben took while there.  And it was insightful to see how his kids adjusted since I always wanted to take my own on an overseas sabbatical.

For those of you into yoga, you’ll appreciate Ben’s commentary on his yoga classes in Bali, where I get the impression yoga is practiced in grand style.

I loved this book and was sad to see it end. Taking Off You Shoes is receiving great reviews. Here’s what the publisher has to say:

The former CEO of Take Two Interactive, publisher of the monster-hit video game, Grand Theft Auto, Ben Feder’s hard charging, high-performance business life was seriously impacting his personal and family health. That’s when he made the bold, audacious, and potentially career-ending decision to travel with his family to Bali on an eight-month sabbatical.

In Take Off Your Shoes, Feder asks and answers the question: Could he—could anyone—find a way to live a harmonious and balanced life and simultaneously achieve substantial success?

Illuminating and inspiring, Take Off Your Shoes is Feder’s brutally honest and revealing journey of self-rediscovery, his heartfelt attempt to find personal fulfillment and rebuild family relationships before he loses them forever.

Sharing his experiences on changing a life of doing to one of being and meaning, Feder narrates how he:

  • Deepened his connections to his wife and children
  • Lost 20 pounds, moving his health stats from the red zone to normal levels
  • Tackled life’s challenges in new ways, seeing differently through the practices of art and yoga
  • Became a better father, offering his children a broader worldview and freeing them from unnecessary stressors, so they could engage, play, and create
  • Gained a fresh perspective on corporate life that he applies daily, returning to his life in New York City a better, more thoughtful leader

Witty and wise, Take Off Your Shoes provides insightful guidance for anyone facing change, making a tough decision, or weighing a next step in life.

Giveaway: The publisher is giving a copy of Take Off Your Shoes to one lucky Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by October 10. U.S. only. Thanks!



Ben Feder is the author of of Take Off Your Shoes, President of International Partnerships for the U.S. at Tencent Games, and formerly was CEO of Take Two interactive, the publisher of the smash video game hits Red Dead RedemptionGrand Theft Auto, and NBA 2K.  He serves on the boards of directors of public and private companies in the media and entertainment industries and is a director of Save a Child’s Heart, a nonprofit that works globally to rescue children with congenital heart defects. A Harvard Business School graduate, Feder lives in New York City with his wife, Victoria, and their four children.


Macular Hole Surgery: The Recovery



This post is long-winded and jumps around a bit, but I wanted to thoroughly chronicle the experience for others who may need to have eye surgery and then spend time face down. You can read the first two posts about my macular hole here and here. 

The hospital sent me home with this green bracelet. The bracelet was to remain on my wrist until all hints of the gas bubble in my eye were gone. If I needed emergency surgery, I couldn’t have nitrous oxide because that doesn’t mix with the gas, and I couldn’t be airlifted as that creates a change in pressure. I had to cancel a trip to a conference in the mountains later in the month after the doctor told me the restriction against changing altitudes. The results of not following these mandates can be extreme pain and blindness. Yikes!

The 45 minute ride home from the hospital seemed like ten minutes thanks to the lingering effects of the anesthesia. I kept asking Cliff, “Does this ride seem short to you?” I had no problem keeping my head down in the car since the time magically  flew. I was worried about neck pain, but I had zero trouble.

As soon as I got into the house, I began the serious business of keeping my face down for seven days. The doctor said the first few days were the most crucial, so I didn’t take many breaks during that time. After that, I did use the five to ten minutes allowed each hour. Luckily you are permitted to walk about as long as you keep your head down, so I made lots of circles around the downstairs of my house.

I soon realized that I liked the face support that hooks to the end of the bed the best. The chair I rented wasn’t especially comfortable to me for sitting long periods, and the face support system that works in the bed made me feel like I was sleeping on a ramp. You can see all of these products on the Comfort Solutions website.  The equipment rents for $150 a week, which I think is a very good price, especially since that includes shipping both ways. In fact, this was by far the cheapest part of my surgery.


Although you are permitted to read, I found it difficult, so I listened to audio books and had a blast. I also put my phone on the ledge on the side my bed and watched three seasons of The Durwells in Corfu. Since I don’t watch much TV, this was fabulously fun. (The ledge of my bed is a little dull for photography, so I thought you might like to see our new headboard and one of the pillows that matches the duvet.)


Sleeping was a challenge. I dozed some during the day, so I wasn’t super tired at bedtime. Once we turned the lights out, I put my head in the end of the bed face support. About halfway through the night, I cheated by sleeping on the bed itself with my head to one side.

The oddest thing is when morning comes. You think, oh good. I can get up. But you really can’t. You can get up just long enough to grab a hot beverage, and then it’s back down again.

My daughter Laura sent me sunflowers with a lovely note from granddaughter Emerson:

Friends visited and brought entertaining stories, food, wine, and flowers. If I ever popped my head up, they instructed me to put it back down again. Bossiness in friends can be good! I must admit it did feel strange entertaining guests with almost zero eye contact. Since my eye was red and somewhat closed, I have a feeling they were just as happy not to look at it.

Cliff took excellent care of me, and I greeted cocktail hour with gusto. A word of caution: wine is so delicious through a straw that it’s easy to over-imbibe.

On the day after the surgery, I saw the most incredible black and white geometric patterns in my surgery eye. I wished I could take a screen shot so I could later paint them. They were fleeting but amazing. This is the closest pattern I could find to the real ones:

Another time, I saw a bright red oval with brillaint silver tinsel all around it. Christmas in July!

I returned to the doctor the day after my surgery. They removed the bandage, checked my eye pressure, and examined my eye. The doc reported that things looked good. The eye was cloudy, so he couldn’t tell for certain, but he thought the hole was closing. (It starts to happen that fast.)

That day, I began a regimen of eye drops: a steroid and an antibiotic, four times a day for a week. Then the drops slowed to just the steroid, tapering off over a month. Cliff was my drop guy. After a while, I got more used to the drops, and learned to do better about not blinking, but there’ s just something about eyes that shout: “No! Nothing goes in here.” I bet people who wear contacts would have an easier time than I did. I’ve definitely gotten used to the eye pressure tests during the exams since they do this every time I go in.

After six days, the gas bubble began to shrink. At first I could see a small sliver at the top of my field of vision. Every day it got a bit lower. It seems like you’re mostly underwater with just part of you above.

My next eye appointment was a week after my surgery. This time they took films. I waited nervously for the results. The bubble was still obscuring enough of my vision that I had no clue if the hole was closed.

“It’s closing,” the doctor announced. He pointed to the picture.

“Yes! Please thank Dr. Manning for her fine surgery,” I said. “I’m so grateful.”

“I will,” he promised. “She ties fabulous stitches.”

Then I asked, “I’m blogging about this. May I take a photo?”


I got out of the examining chair and snapped some photos of the screen. Below, you can my macular hole in  a photo taken before the surgery.


In the photo below, you can see that the hole is closing at the top. The doc says it starts at the top and gradually closes in to the base. Macular holes tend to not reopen because the vitrious fluid that caused the problem in the first place is removed during the surgery.


As the gas bubble got smaller, it felt like I was looking at the world through the giant bubble that transports Glinda in the Wizard of Oz:

After twelve days ,when the bubble grew so small I figured it would soon be gone, I spoke to it: “Thank you bubble, for healing me eye.” A few hours later, I realized the bubble officially was gone. It had become a buddy of sorts, so I felt a twinge of sadness.

I still had the stitches for company though: delicate black strings dancing across my vision. They were tons of fun to watch. They’d go away and reappear again like a ballerina coming back in from the wings. Now, eight weeks later, I see a tiny speck of black every now and then.

And eight weeks later, after two more trips to the doctor, I am celebrating my completely closed hole:

I never experienced any pain deep in my eye, but it did hurt some when I opened and closed my eye. I took Ibuprofen until that pain went away in about six days. My first foray into the world didn’t go well. Despite the super dark sunglasses they gave me at the eye doctor, the sun caused me to feel off balance and almost blinded. I stayed out of the sun for the next few days, and then  I was able to venture out with regular sunglasses.

Once the doctor gave us the good news that surgery had done its trick, we packed up my face down equipment, and Cliff took it to our local shipping store. Comfort Solutions really is a wonderful company to work with.


My vision should continue to improve over the next three months. I can read print again, and work on Friend for the Ride without any visual distress.The weird jumping around that my eye did is gone. I began driving again after twelve days, which pleased me as I feared it might be a month or so.

The procedure causes a cataract, which is now forming according to my last check up.  I will need cataract surgery in the next year. I’m at increased risk for a detached retina, and I will forever fail the Amsler Grid. Parallel lines are still crooked. Some part of my central vision is now gone.

By the end of my face down time, I was going a bit bonky. I posted the old song I Am Slowly Going Crazy on Facebook. But all in all, this was not a bad experience. In some ways, it was like a personal retreat. I enjoyed the time to chill and listen to books and watch TV and chat with Cliff and friends. When you know you aren’t supposed to be productive, the time away from life’s pressures can be quite fulfilling.

And I don’t think wine has ever tasted so good as did through that straw!