A Halloween Beauty Tip!

Pumpkin Menopause Lady

A post from Greta, a pumpkin I met at the North Carolina State Fair last week.

Hello everyone in Internet World!

I must say, I thought Barbara was rude to just pop a camera in my face.

But then we got to chatting, and I learned she writes a menopause blog.

I thought I’d help a girl out.

“Hey Barb,” I said. “Here’s a beauty tip for your old gal readers: PAINT YOURSELF GREEN!”

That’s what I did.

Fast. Easy. Stunning results.

Look how beautiful I am, warts and all.

Here’s lookin’ at ya! Happy Halloween!



Pumpkin Menopause Lady


Take a Hike!

Indy and me-hiking-10-4-13

A post by writer and anthologist June Cotner:

When I’ve been sitting at my desk too long, I crave getting away from all technology and taking a “nature” break to refresh my spirit. While I enjoy walking my dog around town, it’s not the same as hiking with him in the wilderness. I just read an article that stated how important it is to find a type of exercise that you love—and hiking is that for me.

My dog, Indy, a chocolate lab/Doberman mix, walks perfectly at my pace. When we’re going down a rocky hill, he slows down for me. When we need to get around a mucky area, he tucks right in behind me as I pick my way through the mud. As I’m walking through the wilderness, I’m filled with a sense of peace and thoughts of work never cross my mind.

I love the sense of adventure that hiking offers. I live one hour away from the Olympic Mountains and just 15 minutes away from a huge wilderness area. Within the wilderness area, there are many turns and a lot of alternate routes, so I have frequent opportunities to explore trails I’ve never hiked before—with map in hand! Just as in life, I like the thrill of not knowing what’s around the next bend. Hopefully not a bear!

After 15 minutes of vigorous hiking, I work up a sweat, so I often need three handkerchiefs: one tied around my neck, another on my head, and a third one in my pocket. I’m drenched by the time I get back to my car, but I love the physical exertion of hiking!

This well-earned sweat can pay off in other ways, too. Recently I was happy to learn that vigorous exercise helps brain activity. According to Newsweek, “Almost every dimension of cognition improves from thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, and creativity is no exception. The type of exercise doesn’t matter, and the boost lasts for at least two hours afterward.”

I’m 63 now, and another reason I like to hike is to prove to myself that I still can! I know that building up my leg muscles will help keep me strong. I have back pain from time to time due to compressed vertebrae. My doctor said one of the best things I can do for myself is to walk every day. It really does make a difference. When I couple hiking and walking with yoga stretches, I stay pain free—and that is something to celebrate!

Indy’s Story:  Indy, now 3-1/2 years old, is a Chocolate Lab/Doberman mix. In May 2011 he graduated from Freedom Tails, a ten week program at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (Aberdeen, Washington), in which prisoners train shelter dogs and give them excellent socialization and obedience skills.

(c) 2013 by June Cotner

June Cotner, Dogs, and Trainers

Freedom Trails:  Check out the Freedom Trails website here. Their Facebook page is here.   Read their newsletter:  Freedom Tails Sept Oct 2013.

June Cotner is the author of Gratitude Prayers and 27 more books and products bringing “A World of Inspiration!”  Follow her on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Check out June’s website at and her author page on

June Cotner

Here are the covers to six of June’s vibrant and moving anthologies:

SOAR! cover



Gratitude Prayers

Wedding Blessings



The Invisible Girls (and a Book Giveaway)

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Jericho Books and received a copy  of The Invisible Girls to review.


Helping others can be a balm for your woes, be those woes simple or serious.

In giving, you often rejuvenate your own spirits.

Ask Sarah Thebarge.

Diagnosed with breast cancer at twenty-seven, she endured surgeries and treatments. Toward the end of that grueling time, her boyfriend dumped her, saying, “I can’t do this anymore. It’s just too hard.”

When her treatments ended, Sarah left the East Coast and moved to Portland, Oregon in search of  a fresh start.

A little girl engaged her in a game of peek-a-book one day on the train into the city. Sarah learned from the mother that the child was one of  five daughters.

The mother, Hadhi, explained with motions and short phrases that they were from Somalia. Hadhi’s s husband had deserted the family soon after they arrived in the United States.

Something sparked in Sarah.  The mission to help the family began.

Sarah Thebarge does a masterful job of juxtaposing the story of her own breast cancer with the struggles of Hadhi and her girls. I couldn’t put The Invisible Girls down when I read the book a few weeks ago.

Sarah’s heart and energy continue to amaze me as I write this post.

Safe on my couch, I have a stack of Halloween cards ready to address to shut-ins. A small good deed.

Sarah Thebarge got off her couch, stepping with boldness into a home of near strangers. There she discovered an almost unfurnished apartment and watched as the children ate a dinner of molded bread dipped in ketchup.

At Sarah’s age,I wouldn’t have had the grace, motivation, or courage to do jump into the lives of the Somali family. I doubt I do now.

Bless you Sarah Thebarge!

Sarah wrote the book for a specific purpose– to raise funds for the college educations of the girls. Hear her explanation in this short video.

Breast Cancer Symbol

You can read reviews of The Invisible Girls on and learn more about Sarah Thebarge oher  website

You can understand better how to help a friend with breast cancer from this piece on  Sarah’s blog. 

Giveaway: I’m giving away my copy of The Invisible Girls. Simply enter a comment by November 15 saying you’d like to win.



Part Two: It’s a Jungle Out There–Dating in My Fifties

Nick water

A post by my friend Kathy Cox:

In my first post, I mentioned the craziness of internet dating, and ended by giving a brief description of Nick (pictured above), a 52 year old man who recently emailed me expressing great interest in getting to know me better.

Nick’s online profile listed Wilmington, NC as his hometown, which is where I live.

However, in his second email to me, he mentioned flying from Wilmington home to California. I questioned him on it. He explained that he had never tried online dating before, and while on a recent business trip to Wilmington, he met a friend and business associate who suggested he look online to find the woman of his dreams. The friend helped Nick create his profile, and listed Wilmington as his hometown.

When I still objected to the distance between us, Nick explained that he travels on business and he could fly to meet me, once we got to know each other better through emails and phone calls. Since I just experienced a difficult break-up with a guy I really cared for (he had mental issues), I decided it wouldn’t hurt to email and talk with someone new for a while before meeting him.

Before we talked on the phone, Nick told me he had lived in Greece all his life until moving to California seven years ago, and begged me not to laugh at his accent when I heard him speak. He certainly did have an accent!

Nick also told me his first wife was Asian, and she died of cancer five years ago, leaving him with two fairly young children, a girl age 10 and a boy age 12. I was surprised at the young ages of his children! He emailed me several pictures:  of him, of his children, and of him with his children.

Nick was always very complimentary, telling me how beautiful I was and how he loved hearing my “tender and lovely voice.” LOL!

He would call, email or text me every day, and began describing how he was falling in love with me, calling me “darling” almost constantly.  He said, “after we fall in love, I will fly to meet you.” Then he started asking me if I loved him. Of course I didn’t, because I hadn’t even met him, but I said, “yes” because I wanted to meet him.

One day Nick told me he was awarded a bid worth two million dollars to furnish a hotel chain in England with art and sculptures, and he had to fly to London to purchase the items to fulfill the contract.

Next he called me from London and said he couldn’t purchase what he needed and had to fly to Malaysia to buy Asian art and sculptures. We spoke while he was in Malaysia, and he gave me a sim card number so I could call him (very briefly!).

A little more than a month from the day he sent the first email to me, Nick called me very early in the morning. He was still in Malaysia, calling from a shipping company where he was arranging to ship the art and sculptures to London. He said there was a problem with his credit card, and HE ASKED ME FOR MONEY!!

I immediately realized “Nick” was a scammer. I told him several times I couldn’t send him any money; then he got mad and said I was wicked! I hung up on him, and that was the end of “Nick.”

I am sure that the man I talked to is not the man in the pictures. In retrospect, I’m mortified that I fell for his lies, but he was quite convincing.

Thankfully I viewed the entire “relationship” as humorous, although many women send money to these scammers and refuse to believe they are being scammed.  So ladies, be careful when engaging in online dating!!

Kathy Headshot copy

Kathy Cox lives in Wilmington, NC and has two grown sons living in Raleigh, NC. She recently received her master’s degree in gerontology and is doing consulting work with a non-profit Aging in Place organization.  She also sells printing and works as an innkeeper on Bald Head Island, NC.


Part One: It’s a Jungle Out There–Dating in My Fifties


A post by my friend Kathy Cox:

My name is Kathy. I’m 54 years old and I have been single for the last six years. I didn’t quite make it to that 25th silver anniversary, but I did survive married life for 24 years.

I was quite unhappy in my marriage; it seemed that the only things my ex and I had in common were two wonderful sons, bills to pay, and a love of gardening. When I reached the ripe old age of 48, I said to myself, “I’m 48 and miserable…..twenty years from now, unless I change something, I will be 68 and miserable.”

So I got divorced. I liked the idea of marriage; I just hadn’t chosen the right person for me. So I optimistically set out to find “Mr. Right.”

In all honesty, this is what I thought to myself, “I look decent, I’m in fairly good shape, I have a basically cheerful personality, so surely my knight in shining armor will ride up on his white horse and sweep me off my feet.”

However, meeting that special someone proved to be a challenge.

I attend a church where the congregation is mostly old people.

I go to a gym where the men seem to be either young, short (I’m 5’10”), or married.

I work as an innkeeper on an island where most guests are couples on a romantic get-away.

Therefore, I decided to try my luck at online dating.

I was a little surprised to find that many men my age are interested in women much younger than me. Idiots! Do they really think they will be able to hang on to a woman in her 30’s when they are in their 50’s?

It also appeared that many men who were interested in me were already in their 60’s. I have no desire to take on a man ten or more years older than me in a brand-new relationship.

In the past six years I dated several men, and I met all but one of them online. My requirements for Mr. Right are: he should be at least 5’10”, intelligent, near my age, gainfully employed, decent looking, have a sense of humor, have some spiritual beliefs, and enjoy outdoor activities.

Unfortunately, although most men I dated met most of my requirements, there was usually some other issue that was a deal-breaker.

The first guy I dated was a smoker.

The next one was a narcissist.

Another one was an alcoholic.

Yet another one was extremely religious.

The most recent one had mental issues.

Then along came Nick.

I “met” Nick online about two months ago. He is 6’1”, 52 years old, attractive (I think), has a master’s degree, has a job as an antiques/art dealer, attends church regularly, and is very interested in me.

Could this finally be Mr. Right?

To be continued…

me at BHI ferry

Kathy Cox lives in Wilmington, NC and has two grown sons (top photo) living in Raleigh, NC. She recently received her master’s degree in gerontology and is doing consulting work with a non-profit Aging in Place organization.  She also sells printing and works as an innkeeper on Bald Head Island, NC.


Beer and Menopause: Help from the Hops!


When I was a student at Duke in the seventies, the beer flowed.

But I barely touched it.  Just didn’t like the flavor.

After I married Cliff, I took sips of his beers over the years.  But only sips.  I was a wine and mixed drink kind of girl.

Then bam!  Swoosh!  Gulp!

About five years ago, I began ordering my own  beer.

Why the switch to beer in midlife?

I had no clue until Chris Bradshaw of Boombox Network, posted this article on Facebook:

Beer: The Natural Menopause Treatment 


Seems that hops have estrogen-like qualities. The article reports:

“Hops have long been suspected of having an impact on the hormonal system.

Before your advent of machine pickers, girls and girls picked the plant life at harvest, and would often spend 3 weeks accomplishing this. It was observed amongst the young girls picking hops that their menstrual periods would occur early.

Two young women picking hops

But it wasn’t until hops was studied scientifically that result was explained and endorsed.

It turns out that hops contains very good levels of phytoestrogens – among 30, 000 IU to 3 hundred, 000 IU per 100 grams.” 


The article explains some of the science:

“Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like plant compounds that are also in alternative menopause therapies like soy. They work simply by binding to estrogen receptors, therefore provide a mild estrogenic impact on the body.

Phytoestrogens are quite a bit less strong as regular estrogen, however as estrogen levels decline throughout menopausal women, this boost of estrogen incorporates a balancing effect on the body.”

So the hops are hoppin’ good for our menopausal woes?

Who knows  for sure.  Let’s hope science continues to study beer and menopause.

Let’s hope science continues to study EVERYTHING about menopause.

Even if beer (in moderation, of course) is only a temporary balm for the woes of menopause, I say, “Bottoms up!”


Another Article:  Here’s more info,with the results of several studies and some thinking on the positive connection between hops and bone loss.

Non-alcoholic beers:  They contain hops too!

Beer Above:  A 37th anniversary beer with Cliff in August. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Beer Below:   A beer-rita with Laura in early September. Dallas, Texas.  Here’s how to make a beer-rita without a miniature beer bottle.  (I do wonder if the restaurant washes the bottle before dunking it into the drink.)


Nearing Menopause, I Run into Elvis at Shoprite


A poem by poet Barbara Crooker:

near the peanut butter.  He calls me ma’am, like the sweet

southern mother’s boy he was.  This is the young Elvis,

slim-hipped, dressed in leather, black hair swirled

like a duck’s backside.  I’m in the middle of my life,

the start of the body’s cruel betrayals, the skin beginning

to break in lines and creases, the thickening midline.

I feel my temperature rising, as a hot flash washes over,

the thermostat broken down.  The first time I heard Elvis

on the radio, I was poised between girlhood and what comes next.

My parents were appalled, in the Eisenhower fifties, by rock

and roll and all it stood for, let me only buy one record,

“Love Me Tender,” and I did.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I have on a tight orlon sweater, circle skirt,

eight layers of rolled-up net petticoats, all bound

together by a woven straw cinch belt.  Now I’ve come

full circle, hate the music my daughter loves, Nine

Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Crash Test Dummies.

Elvis looks embarrassed for me.  His soft full lips

are like moon pies, his eyelids half-mast, pulled

down bedroom shades.  He mumbles, “Treat me nice.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Now, poised between menopause and what comes next, the last

dance, I find myself in tears by the toilet paper rolls,

hearing “Unchained Melody” on the sound system.  “That’s all

right now, Mama,” Elvis says, “Anyway you do is fine.”  The bass

line thumps and grinds, the honky tonk piano moves like an ivory

river, full of swampy delta blues.  And Elvis’s voice wails above

it all, the purr and growl, the snarl and twang, above the chains

of flesh and time.



Barbara Crooker’s poems  have appeared in magazines such as The Green Mountains Review, Poet Lore, The Hollins Critic, The Christian Science Monitor, Nimrod and anthologies such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature.  Her awards include the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, fifteen residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a residency at the Moulin à Nef, Auvillar, France; and a residency at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland.

Her books are Radiance, which won the 2005 Word Press First Book competition and was a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press 2008), which won the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence; More (C&R Press 2010), and Gold (Cascade Books, 2013). Her poetry has been read on the BBC, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company), and by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and she’s read in the Poetry at Noon series at the Library of Congress.


Barbara’s latest book is  Gold, a collection of poems about losing her mother.  Look for one of the poems and a giveaway on Friend for the Ride next month!


To learn more about Barbara and her work, visit her website at