Menopause

Experience 2015: Corn Snake!

Snake in HandOkay, granted he is a small snake.

Granted he was handed to me by a trained naturalist.

Granted I knew he wouldn’t bite

But…

I still, for the first time in my life, held a snake!

His name is Ricky. (Lucy escaped, never to be found again.)

He’s a corn snake, and he lives in the enviromental building at the Bald Head Island Conservancy.

Here are my three thoughts on holding the snake:

  • This item is now off my bucket list. Although if holding a snake is on my bucket list, it makes me wonder if my bucket list needs revising.
  • I like that I stepped up, and in an instant, gathered the courage to do something that’s scary to me. Hope I can do more scary things.
  • Ricky didn’t feel like I expected he would. There was not a hint of slime, and he seemed solid, as if he were happy and confident in his own snake self.

I don’t think I’d be brave enough to reach my hand into Ricky’s cage and pick him up myself. The road to snake handler, for me, would be a long, terrifying one. But I’m now, for the first time in my life, thinking sweet, fond thoughts about a snake. Thanks, Ricky! (And thanks to Emily, our excellent tour guide).

What about you? Is snake handling on your bucket list or are you already a pro?


Snake
Want to learn more about corn snakes? Sure you do! Here’s some info from the National Zoo.

Check out this theory on why many humans fear snakes.

Menopause

Mindfullness and Menopause

Paula

A post by mindfulness instructor Paula Huffman:

As you may have noticed lately, the word mindfulness is getting tossed around a lot! Is there something to this concept of Mindfulness or is it just another trend? And, you might ask yourself, “What is Mindfulness? What does that mean?”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Pain Management program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center began developing what he called “Mindfulness programs” back in the early 70’s to help people with chronic pain. The methods were so successful that programs flourished and began to be used to help clients with all sorts of issues from chronic physical and mental illness to everyday stress! Now these programs are available world wide! Kabat- Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of awareness. When practicing Mindfulness, we are making a conscious effort to remain aware of what is going on right now! We work on moving out of Auto Pilot and start to live life again!

Mindfulness wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. It provides a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck and back in touch with our own wisdom and vitality. Through the Mindfulness practices, we can learn to identify stress triggers and stress indicators. We practice bringing awareness to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations while they are happening. Learning the Mindfulness practices can help you to manage stress by allowing you to function from a calmer baseline, manage catastrophic thinking, and choose to respond skillfully to difficult events in your life.

Mindfulness is not a religious practice. Mindfulness classes are educational experiences and not group therapy. Through mindfulness classes you will learn practices such as Mindful Eating, Mindful Breathing, Seated Meditation with attention to the breath, Walking meditation, Mindful Movement, and Loving Kindness Meditation.

As with many concepts that become more popular, the pure essence of those concepts can become diluted. In some cases, the word mindfulness or mindful may be added to something so it will sound enticing and sometimes the concepts are not really being used or taught with a full intention or from a sound knowledge base. As Jon Kaba- Zinn developed his programs, he made sure to say that Mindfulness is taught to others from the experience on one’s own practice.

Practicing Mindfulness during the menopause years can help you learn to cope with and diminish many of the common health issues and discomforts such as weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, increased reactivity, mood swings, and more that are often related to this time of life. Learn how to cope with stress and other symptoms by using mindfulness practices such as Mindful Breathing, the Breathing Space to Step out of Auto Pilot, Seated Meditation, Mindful Movement, and Loving Kindness Meditation.. 

For those who live near Hillsborough, North Carolina, Paula is offering a series on menopause and mindfullness. Here’s the scoop:

Managing Menopause the Mindfulness Way 

Upcoming Introductory Series…

Menopause Symptoms Making you Feel a Little Wild?

WIld

6 Weeks starting May 13th

9-11 a.m.
$150 for the series

Location: Carolina Wellness Institute
121 W Margaret Lane  Hillsborough, NC

Register: info@carolinawellnessinstitute.com
919 260 0255

Practicing Mindfulness during the menopause years can help you learn to cope with and diminish many of the common health issues and discomforts related to this time of life.

Common symptoms associated with menopause might include:
– Weight Gain
– Sleep Issues
– Hot/Cold Flashes
– Fatigue
– Increased Blood Pressure
– Urinary Urgency and Incontinence
– Generalized Muscle Aches
– Increased Reactivity and Mood Swings

Want to learn how Mindfulness and other holistic practices can help? Each session will include:
• Presentation and group discussion on a Mindfulness theme related to menopause
• Stress management through identification of stress triggers and indicators, thought, emotion and physical sensation awareness.
• Learning how to step out of auto pilot and live your life!!
• Introduction and experience of Mindfulness Practices including Mindful Eating, Mindful Breathing, Seated Meditation with Attention to the Breath, Mindful Walking, Mindful Movement and Loving Kindness Meditation.
• Discussion on home practice and how things are going
• Bonus of topics related to the physiology behind the symptoms, complementary and alternative therapies including nutrition and herbal support, acupuncture and more.  These topics will be presented by licensed practitioners who provide women’s health services.

Facilitated by Paula Huffman BS, RN, ERYT, Mindfulness Instructor

Paula (in the photo at top) has been a Yoga and Meditation practitioner for close to 25 years. She is a Registered Nurse and certified Yoga Instructor. Paula completed studies in leading Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Pain Management programs with Jon Kabat Zinn and the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical Center on two separate occasions. She has been teaching Mindfulness classes for 6 years classes with the Program on Integrative Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. Please feel free to contact Paula for information or questions on these programs: info@carolinawellnessinstitute.com

Menopause

Hormones and Superheroes: A Menopause Novel Giveaway

Going Through the Change

(Cover art by Polina Sapershteyn)

A post by speculative fiction writer Samantha Bryant:

Menopause can be a pretty scary word. In a world that values youth and physical perfection above experience and knowledge, especially for women, getting older is fraught with psychic landmines. The process can make you doubt your own self worth.

Besides what the world thinks, there’s that feeling that your body is betraying you, changing physical shape around you and surprising you with new changes in function. You can start to feel like you can’t trust your own senses. Is it hot in here? No? Guess it’s just me, then.

As a writer, when something scares me, it comes out on the page. In the stories and characters I create, I can deal with the things that worry or upset me. I always tell my husband that it’s cheaper than therapy.  That’s exactly what happened with Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel. The novel follows five women as their journey through the change of life takes some unexpected turns: superheroic turns.

While the subject matter is definitely the stuff of comic books–human flight, wielding fire, and transformations are unlikely to be a problem for any of us here in the real world–the book also explores the heart’s truths of this time of life. One of my characters, Helen Braeburn, is taking it especially hard.

“Sometimes, Helen felt like she had spent her whole life waiting to be ‘old enough’ and then had crossed over into ‘too old’ without finding out what it was she had been waiting for.”

And

“It was a truth of life that as a woman aged, Helen thought, people tended to treat her more and more like a child. Salesclerks called older women honey, just like they might a child. Senior food and movie tickets were sold at a reduced price, just like a child’s. Discounts and nicknames weren’t so bad in the scheme of things, but the assumption of incompetence was hard to take.”

Even in her lighter moments, Helen still struggles with aging.

“Getting old sucked. Of course, so did being beaten up by a giant lizard with red hair, and strangled by a cheerleader.”

Writing this book definitely has helped me deal with all my anxieties about aging and menopause. I hope my readers will find connections with the experiences of these characters, too.

Giveaway: Friend for the Ride is giving away a copy of Going Through the Change (digital or print) to TWO lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by May 15 saying you’d like to be the winner. U.S. only. Thanks! Comment link is at the bottom of the post.

Book Launch Party: Meet the author, Samantha Bryant, at Fly Leaf Books on Saturday, April 25 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at 2 PM!

Amazon link is here.

Going Through the Change

Introducing the stars of the show, the menopausal superheroes! These wonderful drawings were done by artist Charles C. Dowd.

Here’s Helen, who brings new meaning to “one hot mama.”

Helen

Jessica, who finally lightens up, literally.

Jessica

Linda, whose inner strength becomes her outer strength, and it comes with a surprise!Linda

Dr. Liu, who doesn’t see a problem with the means she uses to get to her ends.

CindyLiu

Patricia, who always had a thick skin, but now is bulletproof!

patricia

Samantha Bryant is a writer, mother, and middle school Spanish teacher, so she knows a thing or two about being a superhero. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. She lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina with her family and dog.

Check out Samantha’s Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/samanthadunawaybryant
Here she is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mirymom1
And Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamanthaDunawayBryant/posts
To read her blog, click here: http://samanthabryant.com

full-swing-computer-shoes2

Menopause

Mental Flexibility: Try This Test!

Last Saturday, I went to a conference on menopause and women in midlife sponsored by Duke University. At a booth that focused on the aging brain, I took this test.

You try it! Say the name of the color you see NOT the word. Say the colors as fast as you possibly can.

GO!

How did you do?

The gentleman manning the booth said I did well, but I didn’t really hit my stride until the last two lines or so. The test is used clinically for lots of purposes. In this case, it was measuring the flexibility of my aging mind.

Ha! I’m working on flexibility. I agreed to a sponge holder in our sink. I’m willing to try a fancy concealer my daughter Laura recommends. And I allow my grandson Maze boss me to the moon and back.

Here’s another version of the test:

Second Stroop

I could do this for a long time. It’s way fun.

What I don’t want to do is count backwards by sevens. I find it painful. I’m not a numbers person. My parents had to count backwards by sevens to get into their retirement center. “Piece of cake!” Mom said. I’ve been practicing. With my luck, I’ll get the sevens down, and my future retirement center will switch to sixes or eights.

Back to the Stroop Test. I’m going to bring the paper copy to Family Beach Week. I want to see how my kids do. I already tested Cliff. He sped through the colors. But that’s okay. If he’s more flexible, then I should get to be the boss of our aging years, right?

Here’s the wiki on the Stroop Test.

Menopause

The M Zone: A Painting!

Second Photo of Lilly's Painting

A painting by artist Lilly Stevens and Lilly’s interpretation of her lovely lady dressed in purple:

The M in the title, “The M Zone,” stands for “menopause.” We are finally at that stage where our wombs are closing up shop. No longer children, or young women, we have gained great life experience, valuable wisdom, and maybe a few unwanted pounds! Our hair is no longer blonde or brown, but grey, white, or silver.

The M zone is new, uncharted territory for us. Inside we are tender, feminine, maternal (pink) but our ‘skin’ is tougher (the grey outline); we are tougher, for better or worse.

The heart is depicted as big and golden, and most women possess well deserved halos, due to their loving and self-sacrificial natures.The roses are symbolic of the womb, the birthplace of mankind.

In my journey, every woman I’ve known loves the color purple, so I thought this would be fitting for her dress.

At the end of the day, no matter how strong or tough she is perceived as, there is a feminine creature that longs to be respected and cherished.

Since the age of ten, writing and creating art, Lilly Anne Stevens has exhibited her paintings in places such as Houston’s City Hall as a member of “Artists Alive and Well.”  She is  one of 25 authors whose short devotions comprise the publication Thank you for your Hero, proceeds benefiting United States Gold Star families. Join her @ https://laughalotlovemore.wordpress.com/

Menopause

Be Light! A Message from Someone, Somewhere

quote-perfectionism-is-the-voice-of-the-oppressor-anne-lamott-107202

From Anne Lamott:

Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart.

From me: The other night, in the middle of the Duke NCAA championship game (Go Blue Devils!), I got a message as clear as any message I’ve ever been sent:

 Be light

I’m looking for messages from my mom, who died three weeks ago. This didn’t really sound like Mom talking but who knows?

 Be light

So my new goal is to be lighter. I’d love to shake some pounds, and I plan to continue my downsizing project, but I think this lightness is meant to mean more. A true lightness. As light as spring clouds. As light as laughter. As light as sorbet or orchid flowers or Cliff when he says, “Let’s go downtown and eat outside. It’s a gorgeous night.”

My mom’s dolls, Mimsy and Mattie, are now living with me. They arrived last week in bubble wrap. As you can see from their expressions, they need to lighten up too.

Mimsy and Mattie

Be light

Have you lightened up in recent years?

Any tips for people and/or for dolls?

Here’s Wiki on the wise and wonderful Anne Lamott.

anne_lamott2 (1)And here is a splendid collection of Anne Lamott quotes on Goodreads. As we ponder lightness, I wonder what inspiration we can stir up from our earlier days.

Capture

Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Eight

More doors! The leaping figure above graces the ladies room door at The Vendue Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. I love her exhuberance! Here’s the lobby door at the Church Street Inn. This Charleston lady is a bit more demure. Fancy Lady from Inn Fleet Landing in Charleston features a nautical porthole, with frosted glass, of course. Some elegant glass at the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse in Charleston. Photos were taken on a post-Christmas trip with my son-in-law’s parents. The kids abandoned us for Argentina. No worries! The parents had a great trip together. Finally, from that holiday adventure, the roped sign on The River Room in Georgetown, South Carolina. Let’s hear it for the South Carolina Coast. Ya’ll really know how to do ladies room doors! Daughter Laura sent the door below from a cafe in Buenos Aires called “Sans.” Thanks, Laura! I love the young lady’s confident yet casual pose in her striped sweater. And Laura found this cute guy and gal at Los Pizarros Bistro.   This door, from San Juanito, a tapas restaurant, could do with a touch of tidying up. Damas Blog reader Susan sent this crazy number from her holiday trip. She found it along the A1 Hwy between Montego Bay and Negril, Jamaica. Jamaica Back home again, I attended January classes taught by my friend Judy Brown of Judy’s Wellness Cafe. Below, a mandala, on the bathroom door at the wellness center. A mandala represents the universe. 20150105_105936 I’m grateful as I write this for the whimsy of the universe, including bathroom doors that add to the fun of a visit to the loo. Keep searching, wonderful blog readers, and send me the doors you discover in your travels.Thanks!