Menopause

Downsizing: Take a Photo?

Duke Mug

When it comes to giving away an object with sentimental value, I’ve heard many times, “Take a photo.”

That made zero sense to me. If you’re traumatized about giving an object away, won’t the photo break your heart every time you look at it?

I found my freshman mug from Duke in a box in the attic and snapped a photo for Facebook. Then I got brave and gave the mug away. I’ve got a lot of mugs, and this one, with my name and graduation year painted on, can’t go in the dishwasher.

Weeks later, I scrolled past the photo on my phone. And guess what? Those who push the take-a-photo method are right.

I look at the picture and remember how Freshmen Week went. How the whole year went. I should have studied harder, but oh, did I have the time of my life.

I miss being young, some. I miss those days at Duke, still. But I don’t miss my mug.

So I’m a convert, at least for something as simple as a mug.

Any naysayers to the take-a-photo method out there? Anyone swear by this technique?

kilgoquad

My freshmen dorm on Kilgo Quad at Duke University. The mug’s first home!

Menopause

My Theater Debut: The Show Went On!

Surprise!

The show went on for four performances, and I loved every minute.

The Dixie Swim Club is the story of five friends from a college swim team who spend a weekend each August on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I played the part of Jeri Neal McFeeley, described in the script book as “a ditzy ray of sunshine.”

In the photo above, I arrive at the beach house eight months pregnant. This shocks my buddies because the last time they saw me, I was a nun.

I really shake up the weekend by going into labor. Sheree, our team captain in the striped shirt, takes control of the situation.

In Labor

Scene Two opens five years later. The lawyer, our friend Dinah, is coaching me for job interviews, without much luck.

Bathrobe

A few minutes later, I model the interview dress Mama made for me. It gets a fast thumbs down from the other girls. Dinah says I look like “an upholstered footstool.”

Frumpy Dress

Then I try on a dress that Lexie, the sexpot in the show, thinks might work for my interviews. Vernadette (wearing a clown suit and also the show’s real director, Lisa Woodward) announces I look like a “hooker with a stolen handbag.”

Pink Dress

In Scene One of Act Two, I’m newly married to a younger man. I have to fuss at Brice because he wants to talk sexy on the phone. I’m worried one of the girls might hear (and one does, much to my embarrassment). Here I am below, later in the scene, pondering the hurricane that is quickly brewing off the Outer Banks.

Contemplating the Hurricane

In the last scene, with one of our five beloved friends now dead, we gaze at the ocean from the cottage window. We’re 77! Lexie, never one to give into aging, dons a blonde wig.

I messed up some lines, but not too many, and I did not trip, faint, or spill the martini glass of milk Sheree hands me after I arrive pregnant. I’m not headed to Broadway, but I received lots of compliments. Thanks, everybody!

unnamed

And thanks to all of your for your enthusiasm, to Cliff and my friend Bernie for their encouragement, to my friends who came to the show, and to the cast and crew of The Dixie Swim Club. Hats off to Lisa, our director;  Debbie, our stage and sound manager (below); and Bob, our producer.

Debbie

I’m going to miss Jeri Neal and the other colorful characters. I’ve saved the sticker from my dressing room chair, the pink bathrobe and the frog slippers, and an ocean full of happy memories.

Jeri Neal Sticker

Menopause

The Ghosts of Empty Nest

Will and Anna

A post from Beth Lyon-Suhring:

It’s not the empty nest that’s the problem in this phase of my life.  I’m pretty happy to be able to spread my junk into bedrooms formerly occupied by my offspring.  I revel in a supper of the split pea soup that neither of them liked.  I rejoice daily that I never have to spend another afternoon on the soccer field that consumed years of our lives, and I don’t miss science fair projects even a little.

No, it’s not the empty nest that’s the problem; it’s the nest repopulated with the ghosts of Christmases, Valentines Days, and Summer Afternoons Past that is the problem.  My last flesh and blood child left for college over four years ago, so we should be rattling around in a house that’s far too big for our needs.  Instead, everywhere we turn, there are wraiths to trip over.

In the rocking chair upstairs there’s a shadowy young mother nursing her infant for what must surely be the twenty-seventh time since midnight.  The mom is obviously exhausted, but she’s so madly in love with the small creature in her arms, I can’t seem to work up the nerve to ask her to leave.

Rocking Chair

There in the living room are two pajama-clad apparitions, just out of their bath, wrestling on the couch as they await the next chapter of Charlotte’s Web, or Swallows and Amazons, or The Long Winter.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a couple of shadows in the kitchen as my husband prepares dinner.  One is carefully chopping apples beside him, while the other one, standing on a kitchen chair pushed up to the counter, is stirring something vigorously in a big bowl.  Can’t they see that our kitchen is small enough as it is, without more arms and elbows in the way?

Will

There are small ghosts hanging over the banister, letting GI Joes and Barbies tied to strings rappel down the side of the staircase.  Childish voices at the dining room table leave little room for mature conversation.

These specters are in and out of our house all the time these days, and they always seem to be bringing more with them.  Sometimes I just stand and watch them, struck dumb by their unspeakable sweetness.  At other times, I pull myself together and get on with business.  If I ever manage to banish them all, I’ll let you know how the real empty nest works out.

Beth

Beth Lyon-Suhring lives in an old farmhouse with her husband and dozens of spectral children in Suffolk, Virginia.  She has two grown children, whom she misses just a little, and is a church educator.

Menopause

My Theater Debut: The Elephant Purse

Elephant Purse

 

In our production of The Dixie Swim Club, I jerk this purse off my shoulder and slam it to the ground. How fun is that? To get to be mad, real mad, and act on it by doing something we aren’t supposed to do in real life.

At rehearsal, I’ve found myself starting to tug on the shoulder straps in anticipation of the line that infuriates me. I want to be ready to throw that purse!

No good. I can’t react until it actually happens. I have to wait until the character says the line, until she announces that I look like a “A hooker with a stolen handbag.”

Ah. Another life lesson from the stage. Don’t spend your days worrying about things yet to come. Don’t react until it happens. Don’t borrow trouble.

I’m pretty much in the worrier category. Not off the charts, but firmly on that side. And worrying can make you miserable.

The non-worriers are no help. They say things like “Why worry? You can’t change what’s to come.”

Their words make me worry more.

I don’t know what the secret is to not worrying. I googled, “How not to worry” and found lots of articles. Here’s a good one from the Huffington Post that includes a powerful quote from Corrie Ten Boon: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorry. It empties today of its strength.”

In recent years, I’ve started to worry a bit less. The wisdom of menopause? A new found courage? Maybe.

But I still worry. I still tug on those shoulder straps before the line is delivered

What about you? Do you worry more or less than you did years ago? Any tips for the rest of us?

 

The Dixie Swim Club

If you’re local, here’ s the link to the Orange Community Players website.  Don’t worry. It’s easy to buy your tickets online. Come watch me throw that elephant purse!

Menopause

Downsizing: Glass Upon Glass

 

Bride Full Piece

In my downsizing project, some of the hardest objects to deal with are those made of glass. Glass breaks (duh) and so packaging it up for donation gets more complicated.

When I discovered this sculpture at the North Carolina Museum of Art, I thought wow, maybe I could find an artist to come to my house and pick up all my glass.

In the interview below, artist Beth Lipman talks about her creation, which she titled Bride. She explains that the sculpture starts with order at the top and descends into chaos as the eye reaches the bottom.

I still remember unwrapping some of my glass wedding presents.. So neat, so elegant, nestled into a white boxes with tissue. Now those vases and candy dishes and candlesticks are crammed into cupboards. Chaos.

With menopause must come downsizing hormones. There’s not a woman I know who doesn’t want to clear out when she hits a certain age. But gosh is Beth Lipman going to have a good time with downsizing. She can build more incredible pieces of art!

What about you? What’s been your greatest downsizing challenge?

 

 

 

Menopause

KegelSmart!

Intima

 

What’s new in the world of kegels? This innovative product from Intimina designed to help you keep your pelvic floor in shape. When they contacted me about a post, I was glad to give them THIS floor on Friend for the Ride:

About 20 million American women suffer from incontinence. While bladder leakage can occur at different stages of life, menopausal women are among the most frequently affected. Hormonal changes during menopause often weaken the pelvic muscles, making it easier for incontinence to occur.

Thankfully, the number one doctor recommended treatment is one that can be done in the comfort of your own home – Kegel exercises.

Kegels work your pelvic floor – a group of muscles that support vital internal organs like the bladder, bowel, and uterus and help control their function. Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor and can eliminate leaks.

Knowing that the solution for most women is a simple exercise supported by doctors is comforting; however, the problem is that without guidance most women who try Kegels tend to quickly give up. They don’t know for how long they should hold each contraction or how many contractions to do; they can’t even tell if they’re making progress.

KegelSmart is a device that guides you through a short and effective Kegel workout. Made by Intimina, a Swedish brand, it’s small, discreet, and coated in a soft, medical grade silicone.

 

In Hands

 

KegelSmart is like a mini personal trainer, coaching you through a complete Kegel session with easy-to-follow vibration guidance. The instructions are simple: contract your muscles when you feel the vibrations, and rest when they stop. That’s it. It only takes 5 minutes and you’re finished.

 Press_kegelsmart_allyouhavetodo_600x310_RGB (1)

 

KegelSmart automatically adjusts the exercise level from 1 up to 5—with 5 being the highest—so you’re always working out at the strength level that’s right for you. When you turn on KegelSmart, a little LED light blinks to indicate which level you are on so you can keep track of your progress and keep motivated to reach level five.

Completing the KegelSmart routine once daily will help you achieve total pelvic health. Once you have reached your goals, you can reduce usage to 3-5 times a week to maintain your tone.

Bladder leaks are not something you need to live with; they can be treated. If you are experiencing leaks, talk to your medical practitioner today about Kegel exercises.

Thanks, KegelSmart, for the post and the information. Love that gorgeous shade of pink!