Grandmother, Grandparents, Life, Menopause

On Getting Old, Grandma-style

I have a feeling I worry more about getting old than the average woman.

Hard to know for sure, but it seems that way from  conversations with friends.

But I had a moment come over me like a voice from the universe.

On September 7.

Cliff and I were leaving the hospital in Charlottevsille, Virginia.

We’d just spent two hours with our brand new grandson, Mazen.

It’s okay, the moment said.

Mazen’s here.

You’re the grandma.

He’s the baby.

That’s how it goes.

And the going is good!


Guest Post: Our Safe Place and an Autographed Novel Giveaway!

A guest post  by writer C. Hope Clark about her new mystery, Lowcountry Bribe:

Carolina Slade was a government worker, a solid employee, an attentive mother.

To her a good life meant a comfortable setting, one in which the waves were few and routines many, giving her complete control over the highs and lows. Holidays and kids’ ballgames served as the highlights of her year, with maybe a promotion or an atta-girl or two from her employer. Diligent, she proved reliable at whatever she tackled.

Until fate ripped away her routine with a new challenge – someone offered her a bribe to abuse her position . . . threatening her children if she refused.

The novel Lowcountry Bribe addresses Slade’s personal choices as much as the mystery itself. Suddenly she faces a dilemma with two heads, neither of which is waveless, palatable, or fits into her comfortable life.

I initially designed Slade after myself. I was offered a bribe.

Priding myself on making correct choices and showing remarkable prowess at home and work, I operated by the book, thinking that such modus operandi served as the simple key to a happy environment.

But a sleazy, conniving client disrupted that elementary mindset. Suddenly there were no rules. People wondered if there was a bribe when the client twisted and turned and avoided capture. My boss questioned my loyalty. Some family turned their backs. The only person on my side was the federal agent, and ultimately, few believed him before it was said and done. The simple matter of doing the right thing by calling in the feds to corner a bad guy proved not so simple.

My scenario wasn’t as desperate as Slade’s, but our emotional upheaval ran parallel.

One of the most exasperating and upsetting times in my life, the bribe proved to be the most educational, and I painted those emotions in the story. The main character in any tale is supposed to exhibit growth by the end, endowed with lessons learned. Oh my goodness did she . . . we . . . grow.

Slade learns how the right decisions don’t always end triumphantly. Not everyone sees our decisions as the proper ones.

Not everyone can be trusted in time of need, but yet, we can see remarkable friends rise up amidst the fire.

In chaos, we come to know our inner core of resilience and unearth instinct and talent that can hone us into exceptional human beings. And it’s in these moments that we not only redefine ourselves but also redefine all who know us, and as painful as the journey may be, the end result makes us strong, capable, and oh so wise.

Such journeys are a combination of stimuli thrown in our path, and our decisions in dealing with them. For the most part, wives and mothers, ever in their protective mode, fight to avoid stimuli, at least the harmful ones, in hopes of weaving a pleasant world for themselves and the people they are responsible for.

That mindset sometimes even leads us to watch others from a distance with skepticism as they fight personal entanglements, as we wonder what they did wrong to bring such calamity upon themselves.

We have this misconception that good results are the product of our smart choices.

Until we get thrown into an unexpected battle, we do not understand.

But sometimes life hands you crap. Or we blindly step left when we should have stepped right. Then our substance is based upon choosing the lesser of evils while shouldering the judgment of others who aren’t involved and don’t understand.

We live in a world of blame. We blame others, God, fate, and most importantly, ourselves for all the ills in the world.

There’s something about not having a place to lay blame that drives us mad.

Some of our most defining moments appear, however, when we learn to drop the blame game, dig deep, and deal with the obstacle before us.

Our scars make us proud, but they also open our eyes and create a more 3-D world for us and our own. We fear childbirth before it happens, having heard all about the pain and suffering from others who’ve gone before us. Afterwards, we speak of it through the voice of experience, the pain not so much the focus as the result. We’d repeat the moment all over again. We’re more than willing to help those having their first.

What started as a way to turn my story into a fun mystery, morphed into an exorcism for me and a subtle lesson for other women.

We are better for having lived through turmoil. Even the right choices can land us in trouble, but how we fight our way out empowers us. We may never be the same, but then, we probably wouldn’t want to be.

Brain power is strong. Things get better if we will them to, but most importantly, it’s the proactive manner in which we choose to make them better that turns us into extraordinary women.

And this is how I designed Carolina Slade.

GIVEAWAY!!Leave a comment saying you would like to win by October 5 at noon E.S.T, and TWO winners will be chosen at random for a free autographed copy of Lowcountry Bribe.

C. Hope Clark and her federal agent husband have been married for 20 years and live on the banks of Lake Murray in beautiful South Carolina. From their back porch Hope spins stories from their real investigations, overlooking the water.

Lowcountry Bribe is the first in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, released in February 2012, and the second, Tidewater Murder, is expected in early 2013 from Bell Bridge Books.  To visit Hope’s website, click on

Hope is also editor of, chosen by Writer’s Digest Magazine for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 12 years. Her newsletters reaches 35,000 readers each week. Learn more here:

Hope’s  excellent newsletter, FundforWriters,  encouraged me to start blogging about menopause. She ran a notice that Woman’s Day was looking for a menopause blogger. I bopped out some posts, emailed them to Woman’s Day, and never heard a word. But the experience told me I love the topic, and Friend for the Ride was born. Thanks, Hope!

Celebrations, Menopause

Cake in Fridge!

At Piedmont Community College, where I work as a writing tutor, we get a lot of emails. Most of them have to do with grading rosters that need to be turned in or  an upcoming college event.  I scan the email headings to see which emails I need to read.

My eyes almost popped out of my English tutor head when I read this one:



I love cake. I love it for the flavor, but I love cake too for the the celebrations it represents: birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, promotions, book signings, holidays, store openings, and lots of other happy times.

Today, Friend for the Ride is one year old.

And so, to each of you, for reading my blog, I’m sending:

A cake in the fridge 

Albeit it’s an imaginary one, but it comes with my love and thanks!

Photo is courtesy Laura Younger. I’m not sure if this was her birthday cake or Matt’s, but I could take a big old dollop of that butter cream right now.

Celebrations, Children, Fashion, Menopause

White Dresses, One, Two, Three

We’re thinking white dresses at our house!

This was the first white dress daughter Laura wore.  A christening gown, first donned by either my grandmother or her twin sister.

The white bunny suit for Halloween doesn’t count as a dress, so next was the Junior Marshall dress.  As a prize for good grades, Mom didn’t grump over the price of this Ann Taylor number.

But now Laura is on a quest for the WHITE DRESS OF WHITE DRESSES:  her wedding dress.

A clothes person since she could crawl, she has the ring on her finger and the date has been set. Time to do some real shopping!

I began thinking:  Which of the three white dresses is my motherly favorite?

The christening gown represents tradition and faith and family.

The white marshall dress represents scholarship and hard work and mall shopping trips with mom.

The wedding dress represents love and future and more family. Laura first swooned over Matt when he was a soccer player at Davidson College.  Seven years later, the wedding wagon is rolling along.

I can’t decide which of Laura’s white dresses is my favorite, but there’s just something about a white dress…

What about you?  What are the favorite white dresses in your life?

Aging, Menopause, Menopause Symptoms

Hot Flashes! A Video and a Poise Giveaway

A few weeks ago, I posted a guest post by Lori Jo Vest. She’s blogging for Poise as part of the 2nd Talk.  I have a friend getting ready to give her daughter the 1st Talk: periods and growing up. The 2nd Talk is, you guessed it, menopause, and Poise is adding energy and information to the discussion.

As part of the 2nd Talk, Dr. Jennifer Berman, menopause and intimacy expert, speaks about hot flashes:

She introduces Poise’s new cooling gel and their body cooling towlettes, designed to take some of the steam out of those flashes.

The New Products:  To learn more about the 2nd Talk and the new line of Poise products, please visit

Giveaway!  Poise  was kind enough to offer tubes of the cooling gel to FIVE winners. Please  post a comment, saying you’d like to be a winner, by September 28 at noon E.S.T.  I’ll choose the winners using a  random number generator.

Photo:  The photo was taken at the Poise booth at BlogHer. The young women, confereence attendees, don’t look old enough for the 2nd Talk. But it’s good to learn what’s ahead. I wish I’d paid more attention! I think it would have helped me ready my mind and spirit for the roller coaster ride.

Aging, Menopause

Guest Post: Dog Love

A guest post by writer Michele Regenold:

I’m a cat person. I love cats, even persnickety ones. I love their independence, their cuddliness, their snootiness, their sweetness.

I like dogs too, but it’s not the same indiscriminate affection I have for cats as a species. So I was surprised when dog love appeared in my life. It sort of snuck up on me.

One day in my late thirties I decided I wanted a dog of my own who would be my special running buddy. Hunting dogs make good running buddies. My husband has hunting dogs, specifically pointing dogs for hunting upland birds like pheasant, grouse, and quail, so we decided we’d get one my husband could take hunting.

I didn’t know then that this dog would become my travel buddy too and near-constant companion. I didn’t know then how much I would come to love this orange and white dog with freckles on his nose.

And when, in my mid-forties, I lost Diesel suddenly, unexpectedly, the pain of that loss was sharper and longer-lasting than any I’ve known. No more sniffing my breath as I rubbed his ears when we greeted each other. No more huddling next to me during thunderstorms. No more wrestling on the floor. No more runs together.

Running without Diesel on the winding, hilly country roads near my house felt incredibly strange after eight years of running with him, tugging the other end of the leash.

After a couple of weeks of running solo, I decided to try running with our other dogs. I felt like Goldilocks and the three bears. Chester wanted to go too fast. Dasher wanted to go too slow. Snowden wanted to circle me constantly and make me keep changing leash hands. Nobody was just right, of course, because none of them was Diesel.

Throughout the fall, winter, and spring I ran alone, imagining Diesel bouncing along beside me. Then as spring slowly warmed into summer, I tried running with Snowden again.

When I first ran with Snowden last fall, a few weeks after Diesel died, Snowden had just come to live with us, having recently experienced his own loss. His human companion, a shooting buddy of my husband’s, died of cancer and the man’s family wanted to find a hunter who would adopt Snowden.

So not only was Snowden thrust into a new human and dog family, but here I was trying to run with him at the other end of a leash, a process he obviously was not accustomed to. And since he didn’t know me or what I wanted, we didn’t mesh well.

Over the winter, Snowden and I got to know each other better, and as spring turned into summer, I decided to try running with him again. Although he’s not thrilled about the harness being put on him, he holds still for it (unlike maniac Chester), and he’s gotten the idea that we’re both running in the same direction. He’s still learning how to behave when a vehicle approaches us. And he still weaves in front of me sometimes, but he doesn’t do that annoying circling thing.

Snowden is a friendly, lovable dog who is burrowing into my affections. It seems that dog love is here to stay.

Michele Regenold, an aspiring children’s novelist, teaches English at Nicolet College in northern Wisconsin. She runs with Snowden, walks with Dasher, and cross country skis with Chester.

Photos: At the very top is Diesel. Next comes Snowden. The dog posing with Michele is Diesel.


Museum of Menstruation, Oh My!

In July, I did a post about the Disney film, Understanding Menstruation.

Someone, I think it was Patti, mentioned the “thing we used to wear.” It was a sanitary belt, although to me, the whole concept never seemed that sanitary. The one above is dated about 1945. When I searched “sanitary belts,” it popped up, along with a lot of other pictures that kind of turned my early morning stomach (from other sites).

But the belt above led me to the amazing site of the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health.  I corresponded with the museum’s curator, Harry Finley, and he kindly gave me permission to post the picture above.

Turns out the museum is in Harry’s home, but he’s now closed it to the public because the stress of running the museum and working full time wore down his health.  Several institutions have offered to house the collection, most likely only making it available to researchers/scholars. Harry wants the collection on display, where everyone can see and study it.

I asked Harry how he got started collecting items relating to periods. He’s what he wrote:

After I got the best job of my life, art director of a small magazine in Frankfurt, Germany, I bought magazines from all over the world to get ideas for laying our magazine out. I saw zillions of ads, among them ads for menstrual hygiene, which differ across country lines. It’s a taboo or semi-taboo subject, which made it more interesting. So I collected many ads as well as ads for everything else and started researching the companies involved.

Back in the U.S., when a job got awfully boring, I thought about opening a museum in my house – and did. The rest was a roller coaster ride. I was criticized by liberals and conservatives but also supported by liberals and conservatives. Quite an experience.

Harry, in the next email, added:

If you want, write that I totally believe a museum would attract many people, and I would hope, families. I experienced the discussions in the museum in my house, and there’s no reason to think many visitors would be any less shy in hashing things out with strangers, especially with something like a real menstrual hut from Africa or South America present; they’re still used there.

You could also add that I estimate the chances of a museum getting funded are tiny, microscopic. Men have told me in person or through e-mail that the government had better not use THEIR tax money! It’s hard enough to defend the National Gallery of Art, my second home.

Here’s an article written by a visitor to the museum before it closed:

Do check out the museum’s site.  Incredible information here.

Thanks, Harry, for collecting these pieces of women’s period history. I hope you find a place for your collection, so we can visit.

In fact, if you do, we’ll come to the ribbon cutting! No doubt that ribbon will be red.