Maca! Taking on Menopause the Natural Way


I’ve had several readers write to me about the good luck they’ve had with maca. Here’s a post and a giveaway offer from Femmenessence:

In some ways, we’ve made tremendous progress since the days when menopause rarely was a topic of conversation – and yet, it seems that as the topic has become less taboo, the discussion still hasn’t matured completely. Snickering and jokes about hot flashes and mood swings abound, but the fact is that menopause is a significant life event for women. We are living longer and working later in life and are looking for ways to manage the physical and emotional symptoms that accompany this transition, and to address the foundational health impact that the loss of hormones has on our heart, bones and mental health.

Within the next five years, there will be nearly 60 million peri- and post-menopausal women in the United States1 alone. A recent Australian study found that many women are choosing to “grin and bear” the challenges of menopause because of the uncertainty about what works and specifically, about what is safe and not safe. Unfortunately, women often underestimate how long they will suffer in silence – studies show that hot flashes continue on average for five years, with one-third of women still experiencing them for 10 years2.

What are our options to manage the often life-disrupting symptoms of menopause – such as hot flashes, interrupted sleep, low energy, hair loss, mood swings, vaginal dryness, lack of sexual desire and more? Many women may be familiar only with pharmaceutical options such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bio-identical hormone therapy. However the risk factors and protocols of HRT are still being explored, especially long term. Understandably, some women are reluctant to use them for long periods of time, or even at all.

Fortunately, a natural, organic alternative which has  is has demonstrated in published clinical trials to significantly impact hormone levels in women during peri-menopause and post menopause is now widely available. It does not introduce any hormones into the body, but rather supports the body’s own hormone production. More than 8 in 10 study participants reported improvements in mood, hot flashes, night sweats, libido, vaginal dryness, sleep and energy levels. In addition women experienced positive benefits for heart and bone health.

The ingredient in the studies is Maca-GO (commercially known as Femmenessence). Maca is an herb that grows in the Peruvian mountains and historically has been shown to support energy and hormones in young men and young women. More recent research revealed that there are 13 different varieties of the plant, and each has its own benefits. Not a standard maca powder, Maca-GO employs higher concentrations and blends specific types of maca for women in peri- and post-menopause and is the only product with published clinical studies demonstrating its effectiveness.

Maintaining hormone balance is the most important component to managing overall health in the second half of our life. We should never suffer in silence or not have complete solutions. Talk to you your doctor about your personal situation, the best options for you, and your concerns, so that you can make the best decision for your individual needs.

Check our the Femmenessence website here and their Facebook page here.

Giveaway!! For readers interested in trying this clinically-tested natural remedy, Femmenessence is offering a giveaway to the first five readers who say they’d like a sample. You’ll have the chance to choose which Femmenessence product you’d like to try:

    • MacaPause:  for hormone balance in women 50, 60, 70 and beyond.


    • MacaLife:  for women experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms.


    • MacaHarmony:  for hormone balance, menstrual and reproductive health in younger women.



Charlie and the Monkeys


When our dear friend Charlie was diagnosed with a fast-moving brain tumor, a friend and I planned to send a meal to the hospital for his wife and daughters. They spent many hours there, and homemade food gave them a break from hospital fare.

I went into Dollar General to pick up a few candy bars to include and met the above monkeys. Right away, their expressions won me over.

Charlie was dying. Should I send along a whimsical gift? Charlie and his family were just the types to appreciate four monkeys with endearing expressions, but is it okay to be silly when things are so sad?

Something told me to send the monkeys. So I did.


The next day, Charlie’s daughter Cheryl emailed me this photo. Charlie was pulling on tubes. The monkeys gave him something to hold, a good distraction. A few days later, Charlie was moved to hospice. When Cliff and I visited him there, I saw the monkeys again. They swung from the bed.  Charlie was now too sick to hold anything.

But the lesson for me is that it’s okay to give green and yellow and brown monkeys with velcro paws to a seventy-year-old man. And when you’re not sure what choice to make, trust your whimsical side.

Here’s Charlie Morgan, in the yellow shirt, at the beach this summer. We’ll miss you, friend. Thanks for your smart, calm, assuring, and witty presence in our lives for the past thirty years.


Periods! WOW!! The Full Moon Party Ad

Check out this ad from Hello Flo, a subscription service that delivers tampons and other supplies. An interesting idea but definitely not cheap.

My favorite line: “Periods don’t have glitter in them.”

Yuckiest moment: The red marshmallows!

Best reaction: The scream when her dad shows up.

What I like: Of course the First Moon party is over-the-top, but what I like is the openness about periods. Love that the men in this child’s life are allowed to talk about a taboo subject.

My childhoods would have been a lot easier if this were so for me. Periods were never discussed, and I frequently made up excuses as to why I didn’t want to go swimming, sometimes even getting in trouble for my spoil sport attitude.

How sad that I didn’t feel comfortable telling my mom and dad why I didn’t want to go to the pool.

Hooray for changes for the better!


And I should add, that Mom got lots better. I take great joy that she loved my blog and even did the art for this post.


Read more about the ad on Ad Week


Getting Serious at the State Fair: Hands-on Only CPR


Love the state fair! The onion rings, the quilt and cake exhibits, the swings, the freebies.



But I never want to do anything serious there like have my blood pressure taken or the vision tests. Who wants to think about medical stuff when you are stuffing yourself?

But when I walked by the CPR booth and a guy said, “Let me show you the new hands-only CPR,” something told me to say, “Yes.” Above is the model I practiced on.

The new thinking is that all one needs to do is pump, hard, on the victim’s chest, fast, about one hundred pumps a minute.

The guy told me no more blowing into the mouth. They’ve found more people are willing to jump in if they only have to pump on the chest, and in lots of cases, this is all that’s needed. I’m pleased because the new technique is way  less complicated. I’m not good in medical emergencies. This seems like something I could do in a panicked state, or at least I hope so.


To really learn the technique, the American Heart Association wants you to take a CPR class, available in most communities. I’m glad to have gotten a running start though. Maybe this is the state fair that will help me save a life someday!


P.S. I asked about younger kids. The process is more complicated–another reason to take a class.


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Sixteen


Now this is cool. I’m at 21C, a funky hotel in Durham, North Carolina. When you look into the bathroom, you can see the potty and sink. When you’re inside, you can look out. Freaky when one then thinks of using the potty.


You read a notice on the inside that says:


You click the door and voila! No one can see you! Cliff took the picture. Note the reflection of a woman waiting her turn.


A bit more down home, here’s the door at the Pizza Inn in Durham. Cliff loves the buffet!


The outside door of this unisex bathroom is pretty generic, but here’s the back of that door at the Learning Express in  Durham, North Carolina. Thomas! Now that Mazen knows how to use the potty, I should bring him to see this one.

Thomas Door

From reader Renee, the door of the Red Robin in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Renees Door

From reader Lisa, Charlie Brown and Hello Kitty at the Barbetta Restaurant, 321 W. 46th St., NYC. The characters over the men’s and women’s room surprised Lisa because the restaurant is fancy and formal.



Candace, while on vacation in San Diego, took the door at the Ocean Pacific Grille.


One of my finds after a writer’s conference this summer: The Switzerland Cafe in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.


And the bookstore next door, Books and Beans. This door is one of my all time favorites. Classy and fun.


Every time I go in a restaurant now, I  make a beeline for the ladies room to check out the door.Even if the food is fab, I rate the place down a notch for not having a creative door. But, I suppose if every restaurant had a creative door, the joy of the hunt would lose its intensity.

Keep hunting! Thanks to all of you who sent doors for this post.


Experience 2015: Moselle River Barge

20151004_174914A few weeks ago, Cliff and I took a trip on the Moselle River from Metz, France to Cochem, Germany. The river is “Moselle” in French. In Germany, it’s “Mosel.” And it’s beautiful!
Mosel-Radkarte-Metz-bis-Koblenz Kopie

We sailed on the Merlijn, a restored river barge owned and operated by Jantien Wondergen and Henk Karelse. They’re spirited, lovely people who hail from the Netherlands. Jantien and Henk did an incredible job restoring and decorating the boat. You can imagine my delight to spot the above ladies room door within seconds of stepping onto the Merlijn.


The boat has twelve cabins like this one. Plenty of room!.


The bathroom was just right.


Daniela, who is from Romania, keeps the boat shipshape.


Of course I’d heard about river cruises but couldn’t have dreamed just how mystical they are. Your eyes go into overdrive.



We passed cities, towns, castles, churches of every size, and vineyard after vineyard growing riesling grapes.


One day, we took a VERY merry wagon ride into one of those vineyards.


And every night on the boat, Lidia, also Romanian, served us local wines, beers, cocktails, and cordials.



We ate delicious meals in the dining room.


And enjoyed sparking conversations with our fellow travelers. We were fifteen in number, and we became good friends by the time the trip was over. (That wagon ride sure helped!)

The Moselle features a series of locks. Another new experience of 2015. I’d never been through a lock before.


Here’s the view from the porthole in my cabin as we went through a lock. Kinda scary looking.

Our tour planner and guide was Dr. Ken Ostrand, who holds a doctorate in Ancient Studies and was a Fulbright Scholar. Ken knows a lot about a lot but has special expertise in antiquities and medieval religious art. He adores ruins and saints! Ken is leading this trip again in 2018. Here’s the link to our trip, but the next one will be nearly identical.

Ken Ostrand

I was especially pleased by the Barbara Baths, built by the Romans. Women and men bathed on separate days. I bet the ladies had a grand old time. Wonder if some of their discussions included menopause talk? (For those who lived long enough.)

Barbara Baths

I loved this statue of St. Barbara. Let’s hear it for Barbaras! A name no longer trendy, I was pleased to see Barbara had her glory days.


We toured church after church, which was fine with me since I love old churches.

Stained Glass
Small church

Church from Afar

My favorite was the the Cathedral of Our Lady of Luxembourg. I like the expression on the cherub at the bottom of the pillar (At least I think he/she is a cherub).

Our Lady of Luxembourg

And I was drawn to the faces of these women, who stand over a tomb of a king/duke whose name I did not record.


Of course the trip wasn’t all history. We checked out the cafes to sample the beer


and the pastries!


Crumb Streudel

I was on keen alert for ladies room doors.


A cafe in Metz, FranceMetz

The Chocolate House in Luxembourg Square


A museum in Trier, Germany

Close up of Drier Museum Door

And another door whose location I can’t remember. I like that even the simpler doors use varying shapes of women, unlike the U.S., where we tend to use the same  symbol.
Red Lady


This charming picture hangs near the restrooms in a cafe in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany.

This sign lets you know that if you aren’t a customer, you may use the bathroom for fifty cents. Fair enough! I wish establishments in tourist locations in the U.S. would permit this.

20151008_131326The actual door20151008_131336

Ken was pleased to lead me to this door at the Hotel Bellevue, an art nouveau hotel in Trabach, Germany. Ken reports that the door is original to the hotel, making it circa 1903.


The towns are storybook quality.


Window boxes abound.


Eltz Castle is right out of fairy tale too.


And so are the swans that follow the boat.


I miss the new friends I made, exploring intriguing places, and the view from the Merlijn.

Window View

But I was glad to return home with t-shirts for grandson Maze


And my traveling companion.Cliff


DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change

High Resolution Front Cover_5692078

Lately, I’ve been writing on Thursdays at the Panera Bread in Durham. I love the energy that sparks from people working on their laptops, chatting intently with their fellow diners, or engaging with their kids. Two Thursdays ago, I met Aruna, who showed me her brand new book, DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change. I asked the author to send me some excerpts for Friend for the Ride. Here are three of my favorites:

Number One: I love the idea of a panel discussion with me as the leader. What a new way to approach discord. Aruna writes:

Change Dat. Take a deep breath. Take fresh air in. Get all the toxins out of your body. Learn to chill. Attain peace of the body and mind. If someone is being unreasonable, YOU be reasonable. Reassess a situation, like you’ve never done it before. And teach them that you are calm about that situation in hand. This is not reason to flare up, whether it is work, school, or kids, think of it as a panel discussion and you being the leader. You don’t have to yell, or lose your temper. Show them that you can be cool. They will also learn, with time. But let that not bother you. Ever.

Number Two: When I get upset with someone, I rarely embrace the concept that he or she is precious. It’s usually about me, my feelings. Time to change that thinking thanks to Aruna. I’m precious and so is the soul who has upset me! She writes:

Are you annoyed? For whatever reason? Do you feel like yelling at someone? For the meanest thing they’ve done to you? Then Wait. DON’T YELL. Here’s why: Yelling causes an increase in your blood pressure, heart rate, causes headache and increases stress and a whole bunch of negative hormones associated with it. And the person who inflicted this ugly reaction in you, is happy and feels lovely. Instead, take short deep breaths, like you’re blowing at something softly, listen to music, walk around, divert your mind, try to understand that this person might be coming from a different world, so I won’t be upset by this, I won’t let myself be hurt, I am precious and so is he.

Number Three: As an admirer of diamonds, I’m going to keep this image in mind. Aruna’s book focuses on change, but she points out that not everything can, will, or should change. She writes:

Change is NOT ubiquitous. Not all things can change. A diamond, for instance, has a crystal lattice structure such that it can take years and will melt only with great, great difficulty. But who would want to melt a diamond? My point is, when something is resistant to change, then so be it. Two minds, for instance that don’t marry, must be left alone. So, if you are trying to change everything about yourself or others, forget about it. Some things are better not touched. A state of equilibrium is important to achieve and sure can be attempted. That state of equilibrium will bring two minds together, the cat and the rat together, Duke and Carolina together, and India and Pakistan together.

Giveaway! I’m giving away one copy of DIYA: A Megawatt Approach to Change. For a chance to win, please enter  a comment by December 1. Thanks!

Book Signing: Aruna will be signing copies of DIYA at the Bulls Head Bookshop on the UNC Chapel Hill campus on November 11 from 5 to 6 PM.

Buy the book on Amazon here.

Read an article about Aruna and her book in UNC CHapel HIll’s Daily Tarheel here.

A Diya: Aruna explained to me that “a diya is the light that brings about change.” The cup-shaped lamp is used in the Indian festival of Lights Deepavali/Diwali.


About Aruna: Born in Mumbai, Aruna Gurumurthy lived in different parts of India before she crossed barriers and continents to attend graduate school in Amherst, MA.

She has worked as a medical researcher at Duke University, University of North Carolina and University of California, Berkeley. Her research scholarship has been in many diverse medical fields, including orthopedics, functional GI, breast cancer, craniofacial genomics and community psychiatry. Aruna cares for female literacy, education of slum children, elderly with Alzheimer’s, young adults with learning disability and emancipation of school dropout teenagers. She believes that true change can happen when one immerses oneself in the community and empathizes with others’ minds.

Aruna lives with her husband and toddler daughter in Chapel Hill, NC. She enjoys watching basketball, American football and more recently, golf. She has an avid ear for music of all hues and likes lap swimming. DIYA is Aruna’s first book.