Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause, Periods

I Didn’t Pause for Menopause

When blogger Ruth Crates told me that she flew through menopause, I asked her to write us a post to present that side of  the story.  Take it away, Ruth!

Menopause?

I think I was so busy I missed it.

Since I am now 62, and I haven’t had a period in a while, I am pretty sure it happened.

Let’s back up just a little bit…

menarche

When I reached the age where periods were probable, my mom sat down with me (briefly) and we had a talk.

What I remember most about the talk was the fact that my grandmother never told my mother about the entire process.  Some subjects were just taboo in the 1930’s; this was one of them.  When her first period came, she seriously thought she was going to die and was afraid to tell anyone.   Luckily, her older sister intervened.

Even though Mom didn’t really give me a lot of information during the talk, she at least wanted to spare me the fear of the unknown.

She  gave me a little book created by Kotex  called “Now You Are 10”.  It explained everything very nicely and even had a diagram explaining how to use the little belts we had to wear to hold the sanitary napkins in place.   I never did get the hang of that!

now you are 10

Girls are always at some hormonal point in their lives.  I figure we get 10 years of no worries.

Then you have:  Premenstrual, Menstrual, Postmenstrual,  Pregnancy, Post pregnancy, Perimenopause. Menopause, and Post Menopause.  It’s the never-ending story!

I have gone through all those stages (some of them several times).

Unfortunately, now I have reached the stage which I have taken the liberty of calling “Oldness.”

I may be done with all of the above afflictions, but now there are new things  like memory-loss, confusion, arthritis, joint-replacement, and the ever popular incontinence.

As for the menopause thing, I had a pretty easy time of it.

My periods were never  regular except for a brief time in the 70’s when I was on “The Pill”.  So I can easily dismiss that symptom.

I don’t recall a single hot flash.

I did have night sweats for a long time…. maybe even as long as 10 years, but I blamed it on my mattress.

Since my periods were irregular, they were sometimes “super-heavy” and unpredictable.  I bought a rubberized bed cover to protect the mattress.  I always thought that the rubber discouraged air flow and  resulted in the sweats.  Maybe it was actually … menopause!

This I am sure of:  paranoia is a direct result of menopause.

When I turned 57, I had not had a period in several months and I began to have thoughts about being pregnant. It could happen.  These thoughts took on a life of their own and I began to obsess about it.

I had several mini-panic  attacks thinking I was pregnant.

I actually went to the doctor and had a pregnancy test done.   My doctor, thank goodness, is a woman, so I think she sensed how disturbed my thoughts were and wanted to put these fears to rest.

Of course, the results were negative, and I was quite relieved. I guess the funniest part about this obsession is that my husband had  a vasectomy 20 years earlier…. I mean, really, what were the odds!

I have always thought that obsessive and unrealistic thoughts were a side effect of menopause, at least in my case, because usually I am pretty sane.

Every woman’s menopause is different.

We should be careful not to compare our experience with others too closely. Experiencing an uneventful menopause is definitely preferable to having a difficult one.

Taking your menopausal symptoms seriously is sound procedure.

Visiting your doctor on a regular basis is just good sense.  The better your doctor knows you, the better chance you both have of being able to figure out what is going on with your body.  That is something we all need to be aware of no matter what time of life we are in.

Regardless of how you deal with the stages of your life… they are your Life.

Enjoy the changes and embrace each stage because there is always another one on the way!

Ruth profile

Ruth Crates was born and raised on a Midwest grain and livestock farm and has  lived her entire life within a 30 mile radius.  She’s  been married to a grain and livestock farmer for 41 years, and they have three children (An attorney, a carpenter, and a librarian) and three grandchildren. Ruth taught for 35 years. She’s now retired and loving it! She started blogging to record stories for her children and grandchildren. Check out her  blog at Retiredruth: Life in the 50’s and Beyond.
Aging, Fashion, Menopause

Surf’s Up and a Solar Shades Giveaway!

Maze in His Shades

My grandson Mazen, in the photo above, sports his way cool shades, ready to hit the beach.

And I bet if Maze knew his alphabet, he could wear those shades when he reads by the surf.

He’s got young eyes!

When my old eyes began to fail me and small print elude me, I decided not to grump.

I bought myself cute reading glasses and settled in.

The glasses worked great from my cozy spot on the couch.

But the first time I sank into my striped beach chair and pulled out a novel, I realized I was in trouble.

Yikes!

cartoon-sun-hi

If I took off my sunglasses and put on my reading glasses, the sun blinded me.

If I didn’t wear my reading glasses, I couldn’t even read the title page.

I tried layering them:  reading glasses with sunglasses on top.

It’s like trying to make  mismatched puzzle pieces fit. Just can’t do it.

Solar Shield makes sunglasses  designed to fit just right over regular glasses.

How clever is that?

Fits Over

And Solar Shield makes clips ons that fit snugly on today’s eyeglasses.  They sent me two pairs to sample.

No tourist nerd look here.  You stretch them to make them fit.  They come in a carrying case to keep them sand-free when you aren’t wearing them.

Clipon-over-prescription-glasses

So this summer, when the surf’s up, I’m set, just like Maze.

Giveaway: I’m keeping one pair and giving away the other pair. For a chance to win, enter a comment by May 10 saying  you’d like to be the winner. US addresses only. Winner will be selected at random.

images (1)

 I received two pairs of Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses and compensation for reviewing this product via Vibrant Nation’s Vibrant Influencer Network.

Aging, Memory, Menopause

What About You? The Girl is Mother of the Woman

Menopause often sends you back.

Way back.

To your girlhood.

Since The Great Pause has set in, I’m spending more time reflecting on my early years.

But now is good!

I love writing this blog.

More than any job or hobby, ever.

But about my youth.

In high school I wrote for the school paper.

I had my own column, which I loved writing too.

A few days ago, I dug out the old issues.

Whoa!

My words  in The Talisman  stopped me in my looking-at-old-stuff tracks.

My column reads a lot like my blog posts.

That’s either good, since I wrote pretty well in high school

Or bad

Since I’m forty years wiser and should be a  better writer now.

But I sound almost the same.

I guess the girl really is mother of the woman.

(To paraphrase William Wordsworth’s “The child is father of the man.”)

What about you?

Even though the years have swirled by, are you, in some ways, still the same girl you were long ago?

And does that make you sad, happy, or a bit of both?

The touches of red in this post trace back to one of my favorite elementary school riddles:

What’s black and white and red all over?

The newspaper!

I think I learned the riddle from this book, one of my favorite of all time, Bennett Cerf’s Book of Riddles.

 I wish I still had my old copy. Then I could check to see if I’m right.  I do know for very sure, it’s got this one:

What’s big, red, and eats rocks?

A big, red, rock eater!

Bennet Cert's Big Book of Riddles

Aging, Menopause

Mirror, Mirror! Louise Hawes on Writing and Aging, Plus a Free Novel Giveaway

Black Pearls

A post by writer Louise Hawes:

When you’re a working writer/teacher, you have more occasion than some to mark the passage of time—in your own face!

With each new book launch , conference gig, or writing workshop I commit to, there is always the request for a bio and “recent photo.” Ackkkk!

While I sometimes wish I could send out an airbrushed, retouched, ageless portrait, if I did it’s unlikely anyone at the event to follow would recognize me!

Botox? I’ll pass.

Face lift and tummy tucks? My body and I came to a mutual agreement years ago: we’re in this for the duration, and we’re in it together.

Hair color? Now that menopause has ended regular visits from my “friend,” I’ve decided to spare myself that other monthly pain as well. If I never inhale peroxide again, or wrestle with plastic gloves, or wonder if I put in so much toner my hair will turn purple, well, as the ad says, I’m worth it!

Snow White’s evil stepmother worried a lot about her image.

But it seems to me, her mistake wasn’t putting in all that mirror time; it was the way she looked at herself.

For Queenie, it was all about comparisons: who’s the fairest?

In other words, how do I stack up against my younger self, my daughter, the models in magazines, other women my age, how I looked yesterday, the women I pass on the street?

If you play that game, you’re bound to lose.

But what if looking in the mirror was a win-win?

What if each time you checked your reflection, you laughed out loud? Or cheered? Or clapped? Or cried.

That’s what I do, and it’s not because I’m early onset, either. Thanks to my sister, who’s a painter and teacher, I’m learning to come to the image in my mirror with fresh eyes and an open heart:

When her students start critiquing their work instead of responding to it, Helen asks her students to take a fresh look, to study it as if they’re seeing it for the first time.

“Close your eyes,” she tells them, “scrunch them tight, then open them and see your whole painting at once. Don’t focus on just one part, and don’t worry if some detail is right or wrong. Listen, instead, to what this brand new experience is telling you.”

That’s how I try to look in the mirror now—with my eyes, not my head.

I don’t zero in on the fact that one side of my mouth turns down further than the other, or on that tiny age spot shaped like Bolivia on my right cheek.

Each morning, I introduce myself to me, the me who’s here NOW, not in the past or the future.

I don’t fault find or take out my mental airbrush.

Instead, I smile and say hello. When we look at each other with that unconditional friendliness, my reflection and I?

Mostly, we like what we see.

And hey, if not, there’s always the sign I’ve taped to the glass: “At least, I still have my teeth!”

*  *  *

Speaking of Snow White (writers are sooo good at segues, aren’t we?!), I hope the winner of this book drawing enjoys dark fairy tales.

Black Pearls features all the old favorites, told from angles you’d never dream of!

Booklist called it, “Twisted, clever, and artfully written.” Named to the Hall of Fame of teenreadstoo.com and chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the Austin-American Statesman, this collection was written for both adult and YA readers.

You can watch the trailer here:

http://www.yatrailerpark.com/2012/11/black-pearls-by-louise-hawes.html

Giveaway! To enter the giveaway for a copy of Black Pearls, post a comment by May 6 saying you’d like to win. Winner will be chosen at random.

Louise

Louise Hawes is a founding faculty member of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. Her short fictionhas appeared in anthologies and journals in the US and Canada, and is collected in Anteaters Don’t Dream, and Black Pearls, a Faerie Strand. Her novels for young adults include Rosey in the Present Tense, Waiting for Christopher and The Vanishing Point.

Louise has a grown son and daughter, as well as four grandchildren (not yet grown, but shooting up fast!) She lives in North Carolina and travels frequently, often to give Four Sisters Playshops with Helen (mentioned above) and her three other sisters. These creative retreats explore film, music, writing, and painting, and have been held all over the world.

For more information on the Sisters retreats and a look at Louise’s books and lectures on writing, please visit www.louisehawes.com.

Photo of Louise:  The un-retouched, all-natural photo above was taken by writer and photographer Mamie Potter.

The Cover of Black Pearls was created by Rebecca Guay.

Menopause

The Menopause Marbles

Marbles

Nope!

You aren’t losing your marbles.

Menopause just makes you feel that way sometimes.

Names skip away.

Car key escape.

The brownies decide to burn.

For years, women nicknamed this condition “menopausal fog.”

The results of a recent research study confirm that menopausal brain fog is for real.

And the best suggestion for working through the fog seems to be to cut down on distractions and multitasking.

I learned to multitask as a young children’s librarian when I had bunches of kids asking me for books at the same time.

I could grab A Wrinkle in Time with one hand and Beezus and Ramona with the other while heading toward the biographies to find Helen Keller and Hank Aaron.

I carried on my multitasking tradition as a mom, when we all become Multitask Queens.

But menopause seems to be a time to let up a bit.

I find I no longer want to rush.

In fact, rushing doesn’t give me the happy rush it once did.

And not rushing helps me hold onto a few more marbles.

What about you?

Any tips for keeping your marbles in the jar?

The marbles in the photo are from my mom’s collection. They decorate her kitchen counter in her apartment in Towson, Maryland.

To learn more about vintage marbles, check out this cool blog, Marbles Galore.

Marble

MINTED:  Congrats to Karoline  who won the Minted giveaway!

Menopause

Bravery and Impoliteness: What I Learn from Teaching Young Writers

Cookies on a Plate

A post by writer Margaret Nevinski:

“Who remembers where Isabel left off reading last week?” I ask, referring to a young writer’s story in progress during my Creative Writing Workshop.

Several young authors raise their hands. “When the giraffe escaped,” calls out an eight-year-old with perfect recall.

Which is just one of the reasons I love teaching young writers in mid-life. Who needs to write things down? All I have to do is ask an eight-year-old.

I’ve been teaching after-school and summer-camp writing workshops for more than a dozen years.

As my students stay the same age (8 to 12), and I somehow get older, the benefits of teaching the young keep accruing. What I see in my students are the things I want to keep in my own life.

Energy.

Enthusiasm.

Bravery.

Laughter.

Love of jokes.

An appreciation of the absurd.

The ability to draw, because they haven’t yet learned to say, “I can’t.”

Willingness to try out new ideas.

Impoliteness.

Impoliteness?

Don’t we want to teach children to be polite, kind, and compassionate?

Of course, and my students are all those things, most of the time.

But aren’t we adults a little too polite at times, especially we women who’ve been told for decades to be “nice?” Wouldn’t it be fun, just once, to grab that last cookie on the plate?

If I had to pick one trait I most admire in my young students, it’s bravery.

The bravery to create a story.

To fill the page with words.

To read aloud, for everyone to hear, a story they’ve just written.

I also teach writing to adults. When it’s time to share our work out loud, hands tend to stay firmly planted in laps, not darting up with enthusiasm. What happens to our kid-like bravery when we grow up?

So in mid-life, with the help of the young writers, I’m trying to cultivate bravery, energy, enthusiasm, humor.

And yes, impoliteness.

At least a tiny bit.

Just once, I want to reach for that last cookie, and oh it’ll taste so good.

Margaret Nevinski is the author of several children’s books for the school market, as well as published poems and short stories. Her young adult story, “The Eve of St. Agnes,”appeared in Hunger Mountain. Currently she’s working on a middle-grade novel. Margaret has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She teaches writing and creativity workshops for children, teens, and adults. Her kid-friendly blog, Yellow Pencils, offers fun prompts for young writers.

Yellow Pencils

Margaret lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband. When she’s not writing, teaching, or reading, she loves to walk or bicycle around Bainbridge Island and in Seattle, with frequent stops for coffee. You can read more about her at www.margaretnevinski.com.

Margaret

Yellow Pencil Banner: The art is by Alyssa L., age 11.

Margaret on Bainbridge Island: The photo was taken by Sue Hylen.

Aging, Celebrations, Fashion

Wedding Update: A Dress and a Fox

Belk

In the last post, I bemoaned my missing waist.

But in terms of a rehearsal dinner dress, the story has a happy ending.

You know the feeling. You already love something. You pray your shopping consultant agrees.

Time freezes as you wait for the pronouncement.

“I like it!” the bride-to-be said.

Yes!

(Point here being that sheath dresses work well on women of a certain age.)

The dress fits much better than any I tried on.

But…

What pleases me most are the polka dots!

Polka Dots

I’m pretending they’re champagne bubbles.

We’ll toast our guests and  the bride and groom and the groom’s lovely parents, who are hosting the party.

To love!

To life!

To families!

images (1)

Back to the dress.

Yes, it disguises my lack of a waist.

But no, I don’t look as foxy as the model in the picture.

I don’t need to.

Bald Head Island, setting for the wedding, has real foxes!

images (2)

Cliff and I sometimes spot one on the road that runs the length of the island.

A lucky camera person spotted the fox below right on the beach.

(Give the video about eight seconds for the fox to appear; until then, listen to the swooshing of the waves.)

To the waves!

To the sand!

To the fox!

And once again, as always, to life!