Marylou Falstreau: My Menopause Story (and a Giveaway!)

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P-30 Possibilities

 A post by artist Marylou Falstreau:

Menopause was different than I expected.

I thought I’d be sitting in a comfortable easy chair looking back on the life I created; a loving home, financial security and children who had been raised to be uncomplicated little birds, always ready to fly home and adore their perfect mother.

I thought it would be a time of ease with a hot flash thrown in from time to time.

It didn’t happen that way.

Just as I began to experience menopausal symptoms my husband was unceremoniously fired from a job he’d planned to retire from. He found employment several times after, but the jobs were short lived and eventually we had no options.

Selling our family home, we moved to an apartment on the Central Coast of California with our two elderly cats. Gone were the dreams of sharing our country home with family, particularly grandkids.

I am an artist, and at the time I was selling my work at outdoor art shows and leading mixed media workshops, part time. After we moved, creating art became my full time vocation while my husband worked for a food service company in the neighboring town.

Life got crazy and I felt like I was going crazy too.

Painting non-stop and getting up at 3:00 in the morning to travel to art shows didn’t promote sound sleep. I began feeling like someone else inhabited my body and that person was in survival mode.

Was I sleepless from hormonal imbalance or because my life had changed in a way I was not physically or mentally prepared for?

I tried to find answers by spending hours in our natural food store, looking for helpful supplements.

The best anti-cure I found was a chocolate, peanut butter Twister from the Foster Freeze across the street. My symptoms became worse but for a brief, fleeting moment, I was happy.

The hot flashes began incognito. Yes, there was heat but mostly there were electrical currents pulsating through my body, holding me captive. It’s as if I’d been plugged in to an electrical socket that produced such intense anxiety that it was shocking, quite literally! So this is what it feels like to be loosing your mind and your body all at the same time!

Looking back from the vantage point of a 62-year-old post-menopausal woman, it is impossible to know when the “change” began in earnest. Nothing in my life was the same, everything had changed, but something beautiful was born as a result.

Here is the rest of the story…

Hi, my name is Marylou Falstreau, and I am creator of the Women and the Hourglass” series of inspirational art for women.

My cards and prints and other assorted items have made their way around the world, helping women connect with their own wisdom and their longing to be free of patterns that no longer serve them.

While living in the amped up world of out-door art shows I began connecting with the story within.

My painting style shifted away from whimsical… to whimsical with a theme.

Women became my focal point and then things started to fly. Chairs left the ground, so did people and trees and strange creatures that looked like hybrids of a dog and something else.

In my own way I was exploring spirituality, and that meant breaking rules of gravity and pushing the boundaries of common sense.

Around this time, I had a dream that changed things forever and was the motivation for my series.

In the dream, I was in conference with a group of women, listening intently. When I woke up, the words women and hourglass remained in my consciousness. It’s been my journey to integrate these two words and understand what their connection is.

What I’ve learned is that it’s time to wake up to our own potential and to understand life is an inside job.

We innately have the power to change what is inside.

We have the power to forgive and the power to be happy.

We most certainly have the power to count our blessings and laugh out loud, if we choose.

The Hourglass is a wonderful symbol for time passing, but it also can be turned over at any moment, stopping the flow of sand, and beginning anew.

We have the same power; it just takes a little more awareness and commitment.

Now is the time.

My life has changed in every way, yet again.

Something beautiful has grown out of those challenging years, a beauty that would have seemed impossible if considered before. I can see that growth and creation are always possible, even as we age. I can see that our purpose is revealed, sometimes at the latest hour.

For me, menopause was like a large bag of sand tied to my ankles as I navigated my way through treacherous terrain. I am proud to say I survived and am now thriving.

If I had any advice for women who are just beginning menopause, I would say try not to give in to the symptoms too much, but ask for help if necessary. Stay active, eat good healthy and natural foods and keep your eye on the gold.

Gold is always hidden somewhere in the story. Often it is revealed in perfect time; when the storm has cleared and there is a new, fresh perspective.

Everything in our lives has purpose and so does Menopause.

Card Deck

Giveaway:  Marylou has offered an Affirmation Card Deck and an  8 1/2″  by 11″  print,”One day she woke up and considered new possibilities,” to a lucky Friend for the Ride winner.  To enter, simply leave a comment by September 15 saying that you’d like to win. U.S. and Canada only. Thanks, Marylou!  You’re the best!

To learn even more about Marylou and her art, visit her website here.

 

Marylou

 

52 responses »

  1. Great story! Life does throw us curve balls sometimes! Glad it led you in a new direction as your cards look great. I would love to have them.

  2. Menopause,(AKA) Middleage is a blessing in disguise. We raised our children andit’s time to move on. You listened to the calls and accepted the challenges. You certainly are an inspiration for all. I would appreciate receiving a copy of your book.

  3. Hi, I enjoyed your Victorious story. I am 52 having a difficult time with my hot flashes ( personal summers) and everything that goes along with that. Your story beginning story sounds a lot like mind. Thanks for encouraging me to know that my latter will be greater than my former with my change. I would love to receive them. Thanks

  4. I would like to win. Thank you very much. As a woman who is just entering menopause I find your blog wonderful. Things are changing and reading all the experiences of others makes for a better understanding and an easier journey. Again, thank you.

  5. I love you artwork and your inspiration messages! Going to be moving to Central CA soon and look forward to attending some of your workshops!!

  6. Funny. True. For me, the giant jars of Nutella from Sam’s club and Cheez-its. Yup, it shows up, life changes, and then I finally woke up one morning and decided to get off my ass. Thank you for sharing. You bring a smile to my face and make the sparkle brighter every day.

  7. I was recently introduced to your work by my mother and I find your posts and messages to be a bright spot in my day. I would love to win!

  8. my mother raised me and taught me always to expect the worst case
    so i worried a long time of my life how i would be…
    when the children leave home
    when i’m getting older
    and i cried my heart out when the children leave
    but then comes menopause without hotflashes and without many symptomes
    i become very happy about getting older
    and so i love your women and words and hourglas
    and enjoy every day since
    and accept that i can always burst out in tears of joy or sorrow
    everybody around knows this and accepts too
    all my best wishes to you
    i love your artwork
    lg birgit

    • Nice to see you here, Birgit!

      I always appreciate your comments. Thank you for sharing your story and telling us how far you’ve come. You are a delight! Wishing you the very best….

  9. Menopause! (Where does one get this name? Wait men, as I come into my own?) The truth is, anyone who survives this right, becoming their gold, deserves a marching parade along with a Marylou Falstreau Possiblilties Print, including a deck of Affirmation cards! Why not I say… YES What Else Is Possible!!!
    Thanks Marylou and Namaste~
    Donna

  10. Thanks for your wisdom, and uplifting affirmations, Marylou!! I enjoy every one of them!!! And I would really love to win a print and your affirmation cards! Would be icing on the cake of my daily devotionals and meditations!!

  11. Thank you, Marylou, for sharing your story and your artwork.
    Menopause was difficult for me, but I’ve not written about it. You have inspired me to do so.
    I, too, would love to win your beautiful affirmation cards. ❤

  12. As someone who struggled with serious anxiety and depression all my life AND severe PMS every month for years, I was really concerned about how I would cope with menopause when the time came. I am so happy to say that I am post-menopausal now and “the change” happened pretty smoothly with only a few hiccups and bumps in the road. The intention and act of staying open to new possibilities has become my new guiding light. I WOULD BE SO THRILLED TO WIN A DECK OF MARYLOU FALSTREAU AFFIRMATION CARDS AND A FALSTREAU PRINT, OMG!!!
    Love, MaryJo Hutchinson

    • MaryJo, I’m so glad Menopause was relatively easy for you. Coping with anxiety and depression takes real heroism. Several members of my family struggle and there are no easy answers. Being able to stay open is a gift. Here’s to new possibilities for you!

  13. Hi Everyone!

    I am filled with gratitude for your responses to this post. I love hearing your stories and I love your ability to share with open hearts. What a ride we have been on! It’s so wonderful to know we are not alone and we have friends. Barbara’s blog is a wonderful meeting place for women and is humorous, honest and gets straight to the point. If you know me you know that I love honesty more than anything. She has quite a story of her own to share and has an open heart, too.

    So here we are….learning to love, laugh, forgive and follow our hearts down this winding road.

    It’s never too late and we are right on time!

    With love and gratitude for you…

    Marylou

    P.S. See ya later alligators….

  14. It seems like your Facebook postings are exactly what I needed when I read them. Your art and chosen words are perfect! Love the positive and affirming feelings I get when I look at them. Would really like to win the cards!

  15. I really enjoyed this (and your frozen treat “cure!”) I am being hit so hard with it, that I figured I would embrace it fully (change my name to really own it) and maybe it would pick on someone else. So far, nope! But Your art is incredibly gorgeous! I would treasure owning that giveaway.

  16. I just love this art and message. Thanks for introducing us to the art and inspiration of Marylou Falstreau. I already have my favorites of her prints. Will try to find them here. Thank you, Barbara.

      • Hello Marylou,

        I hope to possibly meet you here in California! When I said I have my favorite of your prints, I of course, meant “selected”! I found one of my favorites (upon Barbara’s introduction to your artwork, and visiting your website), and I will contact you on your website to find out about availability. Are you still here in Central Coast California?

        I have never been particularly drawn to “inspirational” cards, etc. (they never felt quite real, so to speak) but yours are extraordinarily different and unique to me — they feel authentic in a way I can’t quite explain, and this matters deeply. I suddenly found that the inspirations made sense on a significant personal level – “seismic” level? (not too big, I hope here in California!!),

        But, I personally really needed the the specific affirmation:

        “One day she decided to forgive herself” and I will put that up for me to see upon awakening every day.

        Thank you, Marylou, and hope to meet up with you sometime in this Great Golden state of ours. Your journey is much appreciated, and of course, I believe your relocation location, “golden.”

        Phyllis
        —————————-

      • Hi Phyllis,
        I actually live in Southern California, La Quinta to be exact. We used to live in Morro Bay but moved over two years ago. I return to the area every now and then for a workshop/presentation or to visit friends and absolutely love the area. This time of year, it is nice to cool off! Yesterday it was 116 degrees here. Yikes!

        I am grateful my “Women and the Hourglass series resonates with you. It might be that they are straight to the point. At this stage in my life I only want to “tell it like it is” for me, anyway. Maybe that is why they affect you in a different way. They are honest.

        Forgiveness of ourselves is probably the most difficult thing to do. Have you ever listened to the judgment inside your head, against yourself? It is like a constant nag saying you should have done things differently or at least better. That is the way it is for me anyway. I am learning and it is a very good thing! Freedom comes with forgiveness for ourselves and every one else.

        Thank you for kind and generous words, Phyllis. I wish you well on your journey.

        With the kindest of regards,

        Marylou

  17. Your sharing makes us all feel united, and not alone on a journey of discovery – no matter our age. I remember my hot flashes – I would feel them coming on – look across the room at a mirror and see my face bright red and hot, as if I just ran a mile in the 110 degree day… or cry. I would cry for no reason- seemingly consumed in grief or pity :-/

    • What a lovely comment, Patti. Thank you for sharing your memories of menopause. It is hard to describe the unusual symptoms we feel and yet they’re so profound. Yes, we are all in this together and we are certainly not alone. It is important to be open…as you are.

  18. Marylou’s posts and words of inspiration always seem to come to me at the most perfect time. One pops up on facebook just when I need it and the specific message. I would love to enjoy more of her words with this giveaway of cards and would proudly display her print.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Regina, and for letting me know we are connected on Facebook.I love the “threads” that unite us, sometimes in ways we are unaware of. Wishing you the very best!

  19. …” life is an inside job.” Love that! 😀

    I just love Marylou’s paintings. I have “One day she woke up and decided it was time for a nap.” proudly displayed in my bedroom. It speaks to me on so many levels. It has been a comfort at times I’ve felt very low, and it has been joyous, too. I can never explain exactly why, in words. I just know it makes me feel okay about myself. Does that make sense?

    I also bought three small prints and grouped them in a frame to give to a dear cousin of mine. She flipped and is now a big fan, too.

    I would love to win this wonderful gift.

    In regard to menopause – I am also through it now and have to think back to what it was like. I remember the burning sheets, then the puddle of sweat that actually was a relief. I remember the heart palpitations that gave me a great deal of stress; I was sure I was having a stroke or a heart attack since my throat would feel constricted and my thoughts were seriously jumbled. My doctor listened intently to my fear that I was dying and simply said; “sounds like menopause to me.” She was a calming influence and she was perfectly right. I am glad I went to see her. She put my mind at ease and gave me some good advice (watch the diet and exercise, etc.) I never had to go on medication – the years went by and it was over.

    I, too, had gone through some life changes during these physical changes. Some of the changes were positive, while others… not so much. I learned mostly to listen to other women (thank you, Barbara!) and to share. Our mothers and grandmothers kept their “Change” to themselves. It was not a good thing.

    Thank you, Marylou, for explaining the Hourglass connection. I get it now. Flip it and start over. And you don’t have to wait for the sand to run out either. Just grab hold of that thing anytime and flip it over. You don’t like the way things are going, flip it right in the middle of that flow!

    Thanks, Barbara, for all you do in sharing your story, and for finding such lovely people to share their stories, too. HUGS!

    • Oh my goodness, Patti! Thank you for taking the time to speak so eloquently of your experience. We are all grateful!
      I can picture the nap print hanging by your bed and love that it inspires you on many levels. I created it during one of my insomniac, menopausal slumps. The first thing I needed in the morning was a nap! Apparently there are a lot of us in the same boat.

      Thank you for your kind words and generosity of spirit.

      I wish you the very best!

  20. Hello, again, Marylou. My post is not in sequence here, but the message is still the same.

    Thank you for your insightful and supportive thoughts. Yes, forgiving ourselves may be one of the hardest things to do (and it is for me, I think). And, we might not realize how much doing so may propel us to the next most important level of being in our lives, or at least, the next part of our ability to live and be helpful to others.

    Thank you, and I will be contacting you to find out about your workshops/presentations, and of course, the print that I hope might still be available!

    Phyllis

  21. Thanks so much for the inspirational and motivational thougths! A great post that brings healing and hope. I would love to win the cards and the print as I too consider new possibilities for my life! : )

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