A Menopausal Confession About Confession: A Novel Plan


In the Presbyterian order of worship, a brief time is set  for silent confession.

A few years ago, those thirty seconds sparked in me a brilliant idea for a novel.


Suddenly, during the sacred silence, my main character, a woman, is empowered with the ability to read the minds of the congregation.

Mr. Bradford in the front row.

A visiting couple in the back.

The soprano in the choir.

The pastor.

The pastor’s wife.

The usher leaning against the door.

The nine-year-old reading the book hidden in his hymnal.

The teenagers slumping in the balcony.

Her own husband, whose shoulder touches hers in the pew.


She learns each and every sin confessed.

And my character is not known for her tact.


Troubles worse than the chaos on Noah’s Ark blow the lid off that church.

Nancy Kiehne Noah's Ark

Said novel has yet to be written, but I plan to, someday.

Until then, I’m going to confess my sin. To all of you. Right now.


For the last ten years or so, I’ve had the same sin EVERY WEEK.

How boring is that?

Here it is:

My sin is self-centeredness.

Not that I think  I’m so great or so important.

More that I beat up myself enough, worry about my own stuff so much that I don’t focus as I should on the needs of others.

A true sin. A sin of omission.

But last Sunday, a menopause angel hopped on my shoulder and said, “Barbara Younger, it’s time for  a different sin.”

And so I’ve decided, in honor of the reaching and creativity and new imaginings of the Great Pause, that I’m going to confess a new sin each week.

I won’t go out and intentionally sin  just so I have something dramatic for Sunday.

Rather, I’m going to be more mindful of  the variety of ways that I transgress against people and the Earth and God.

And list them, week by week.

Every week, a different sin.

Good plan?

Top Photo:  The bulletin on Sunday. My last time to confess the same sin.

Noah Photo: The watercolor was done by my mom, who is an artist.

Photo Below:  I’m going to use this toy church for inspiration as I write the novel. Oh the secrets that lurk inside. Just like the mighty walls of Jericho, those  old church walls are going be a tumbling down…

Wooden Church


Dr. Oz–Quick Take on Menopause and Bioidentical Hormones

Dr. Oz explains what those shifting hormones do in this short clip.

I found it especially interesting that he calls progesterone “The Valium of the brain.”   He says it’s the drop in progesterone levels that causes menopausal grumpiness.

His suggestion for the woes of menopause?  Bioidentical hormones, which I hope to have a guest post about before long.  The newscaster, who certainly looks too young to be going through the Great Pause, takes them and loves them.

Dr. Oz reports that bioidentical hormones are concocted from yams.


How clever is that? Not only do they make great casseroles, but they’re a balm for menopause.

If you’ve had any experience with bioidenticals, do chime in. Thanks!

Celebrations, Menopause

Wedding Update: What a Time to Love a Dress!

Laura and Kitty

The dress shopping is finished!  At least for the wedding day. Rehearsal dinner dresses yet to be selected. I promise a Mother of the Bride dress update soon.

Until then, in honor of the wedding shopping adventures of mothers and daughters everywhere, a poem, written by me:

What a time

To be a mom.

What a time

To love a dress.

Her dress,

My dress,

We chose them both


Just like playing dress ups


What a time,

Not so many years ago.

Laura and Mom

Photos: Laura posing in my wedding dress with kitty Edmund as the groom. And Laura and I celebrating a time when small prints must have been in vogue, about twenty (yikes!) years go.


Giveaway! The Reader’s Digest Diet Cookbook


The mother of the bride dress has been purchased!  Update to come…

But for this blogger, that means now is the time to take off these menopausal pounds.

Imagine my delight when Reader’s Digest offered to send me  a copy of The Digest Diet Cookbook. 


Along with an explanation of the popular fat releasing Digest Diet, the cookbook is filled with recipes that  don’t require a market full of ingredients and are simple to make.

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I whipped up the Yogurt Baked Chicken a few nights ago and was amazed at just how tender those chicken tenders were.  Cliff was impressed that the chicken was deliciously infused with the flavors of the marinade.

Lots more Diet Digest recipes on the docket!


The book’s editor, Liz Vaccariello, (above) writes a fitness blog, Loosing It with Liz.  Check it out here here.  Read more about the Digest Diet here.

Giveaway: Readers’s Digest is offering Friend for the Ride a giveaway!  Post a comment by February 4 saying you’d like to be the winner.  Winner will be selected at random.

Top PhotoThe Diet Digest Cookbook even features desserts such as Strawberry Cheesecake Moose, Papaya Tarts, Warm Three Berry Cream, and Chocolate-Glazed Espresso Nut Torte. That’s my kind of diet cooking!

Aging, Fashion

Guest Post: To Be or Not To Be–Grey Hair, That Is


A guest post by my friend Gail Crane:

When I was in high school, my friends always commented on the grey hairs I already had.  Not many, but just enough for people to notice.

In my early 30’s, my Mom commented that I needed to dye my hair as I had too much grey for someone my age.

So I began the every 5 week task of dying my hair.

At first I had it done by my hairdresser when I would get my hair cut, but finally I decided it was too expensive and my stylist told me how to do it myself.

So for 30 years I’ve covered up the increasingly grey, or rather, white hair on my head.  At first I colored all my hair at 5 weeks.

Then as I got whiter and whiter, I had to also put color on at 2 ½ weeks–but only on my part, around my face and at my neck.  Otherwise I started looking like a skunk!

I have played with different colors.  My original hair color was dark brown.  I’ve been dark brown, light brown, reddish brown, and that brassy blondish brown that happens from putting color on your whole head each time instead of just the roots.  Now I mix two together to get the color I want.

It really doesn’t take that long to color my hair, but every time, I dread the process:

Covering up the counter top,  spreading towels on the floor, and putting on old clothes with a towel pinned around my neck to keep any color drips off of my clothes, skin and especially the floor.

No matter how hard I try though, I still seem to drip some of the mixture (which starts out white so you can’t see it) onto something.  Then voila!  You have a black spot on your floor which is unable to be removed.

We’re waiting until I finally decide to go grey to get new flooring in our bathroom.  No reason to do it yet.

I often toy with going grey. I see many women with beautiful white hair and wonder how I would look.

My sister, who used the same color as I did for years, said she was going to stop coloring her hair when she retired.  And she did, going through looking like a skunk to get to her pure white hair.  She likes it except for the pink scalp that shows now.

Sometimes when I start seeing those white roots appear, I think it would be nice to not have to bother with the messy coloring process.

Sometimes I wish I had never started coloring my hair in the first place.

But for some reason, I just am not ready to be grey.  Will it make me look old?  Make me feel older?

I don’t think I’m ready to go there yet.

Maybe, just maybe, when I retire in four years.

But maybe not!

Gail at Reunion

Gail Crane is a long time friend of  mine. She lives in Hillsborough, NC with her husband Joe and her two cats.  She says she’s a little more vain than she wishes she were, but even though she admits to being officially old, she’s just not ready to look it!  Her two grown children don’t want her to go there yet either.

Decided to go grey?  I’d love a post about your decision. Shoot me an email!  Thanks!


Hip Menopause


I’ve been working on a proposal for a book based on Friend for the Ride.

My agent, Erzsi Deak, although enthusiastic, thought my proposal needed more glamour and spunk.

“Making menopause  HIP is the way to go! :-)” Erzsi said.

Menopause?  Hip?

I like it!

Then she wrote, “Make everyone want to go through menopause, so they ‘can buy this book!”

I like that even more!

But is menopause hip?

Ask the thousands of women suffering hot flashes, dryness, insomnia, fatigue, and moodiness, and you might be bombarded by frownie faces.

But wait, oh frownie ones.

Menopause is hip in her own way.

We’re wiser.

Hipness point.

We’re bolder.

Another hipness point.

And we’re adventuresome.

Mega hipness points.

I have menopausal friends opening businesses,walking across Scotland, downsizing to funky condos, joining marimba bands, teaching English overseas, studying playwriting, and rescuing houses before the wrecking ball hits.  And some, like me, are still pondering their next adventure, but adventure is definitely in the plans.

What about you, oh hip ones?

Any new ventures in your menopausal queue?

Photo:  Hip enough to hug a crocodile while on an adventure in South Africa, Erzsi wisely and boldly founded her own agency, Hen and Ink Literary Studio,  two years ago. The crocodiles lives at Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm, where you can even hold a wedding. I wonder if the crocodiles are invited to the reception or just the ceremony?

Hen and Ink


A TMI Post: Leg Hair–Score One for Menopause!

When the weather turns cold, I wear more pants than skirts.  But about a month ago,  I selected a dress from my closet. Gee, I thought, if I’m wearing a dress, I should shave my legs.

I HATE shaving my legs.

I probably thought it was fun in seventh grade, when my mother said, “Okay.”

But for the last forty plus years, it hasn’t been high on my list of thrilling activities.

Not to mention the danger!  Razor too fast over shin or ankle. Yikes!  Bleeding for an eternity.

Anyway, before I put on the dress, I trudged into the bathroom and picked up the razor.

No hair.

Yes, for real.

Well a hair here and there, but not many.

Then I remembered reading that in menopause, the hair on your legs can stop growing.


A perk!

Web searches didn’t reveal much info, but women on some of the forums reported the same happy situation.

After a few weeks, some hair appeared worth shaving off, but all in all, the need to shave legs seems to be slowing down.


Anybody else have a similar story to tell?

Photo: If this is a TMI post, this sculpture is a major TMI piece of art. It’s the work of George Segal, done in 1963, and appropriately titled Woman Shaving Her Leg.

I found the photo here.  Read about artist about the artist here. You can read specifics on Woman Shaving Her Leg here.