Menopause

Stress Baking!

Cupcakes

A post by Michelle Mosier. Love this concept. And who wouldn’t want to make a slam cake? Take it way, Michelle, and thank you:

When I am stressed I bake.  I just grab a bowl, a mixer, some ingredients that may hold together, and whirl away!

This coping tool emerged during the ‘Slam Dance’ era of the ’80’s on the occasion of a bad boyfriend’s birthday.  He wanted a chocolate cake with cookie dough. After a previous party night of said dancing with other girls, I decided to use this concept to create the confection. Warm out of the oven, the cake broke apart, so I slammed in some chocolate chip cookie dough.  I glopped on several spoons of canned vanilla frosting, each overly tinted with a multitude of food colorings. Next, I speared the gooey creation with random candles.  Happy Birthday…we’re done!  I let him light the candles himself.

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Slam cakes were my thing for awhile, upon request…or not.  Baking cookies and muffins, cupcakes, or even preparing deviled eggs are a joyful release of stress.

During my stint as a retail associate, I baked, stirred and whirred aplenty.  Working in a giant mall environment alone, much less being the captive employee of a store, was enough to keep me mess making in the kitchen before going on shift.  Often, I stopped in to pick up a coffee from the guy on the corner kiosk. One day he spied my deviled eggs and asked with a little concern, “What are those?” My eggs sported sliced pimento olives. He thought I said ‘Devil Eyes.’ Thus, they became famed and a requested specialty item.

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However, I have baked some amazing cookies that continue to elude me to create again.  Belly Buttons, I called them after the way the dough puffed up and centered into a caramel pool of deliciousness.

 I never really know when the urge to stress bake will strike, like lately with my arduous job search.  I have been diligent with calls, interviews, and online psych/personality profile tests.This last bit sent me over the kitchen counter edge.  Cocoa, flour, sugar, eggs and lots of butter produced some yummy fudge cupcakes filled with vanilla frosting. Using a pastry tube seemed like a fun idea, until I tried it. Not so easy peasy. When I squeezed the tube, the icing filled the cupcake, sure, but then became string art topping. Still, I feel much better, and the squiggle cakes have been consumed with big cups of java.
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Stress baking: I reach for a spatula and threaten stress just a little.

Michele writes about herself:

I graduated 1985, University of South Carolina, B.A. with a concentration in fine arts. I was a professional painter’s assistant, and painted on large acrylic canvases. Today, I enjoy painting garden flowers and landscapes in acrylics and watercolors. I have worked alongside my husband as a stained glass artist for the past 30 years. We sold our custom designed jewelry boxes, jewelry pieces, and mirrors to many arts and crafts galleries (mainly east coast), and juried art shows. Once, we premiered at Bloomingdales in NYC, this was a high point-however, hard to get paid. We still show at NC Crafts Gallery in Carrboro, NC.

We recently moved to Charlotte to be closer to my mom and sister, as I am in serious need of more gardening tips and less long distance hugs.

We have moved many times over our 30+ years, shifting and shuffling artwork, various collections, photos, and a few precious boxes of sentimental ephemera. This colorful baggage energizes my memories and the stories I tell myself and sometimes others! I still have my early childhood diaries and later journals. Also, I have one loosely written cowboy story, and some ‘story songs.’  I hope one day to attend some writer workshops and get better at this writing thing!

I love the outdoors, hiking, and camping at the beach and mountains. We camped a lot over the craft show years and sometimes, we joined a show just to explore a place.

Michelle

Menopause

Smokey the Bear: Menopause Gladness

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The other day, when Cliff and I were furniture shopping, I studied the adorable young saleswoman helping us. She didn’t seem as lively as the last time we met with her. “Maybe she has cramps,” I said to myself. “Poor thing.”

Cramps are tricky because women are reluctant to announce they have them, and most women look just fine. No crutches or poison ivy splotches or sneezing to announce the malady. Megan just seemed what my friend Judy calls “droopy.”

When you’re finished having periods, you mostly forget about them. Every now and then, I think: wow, women all around me are still having periods. Then my mind floats back to the cramps I once had, the flooding incidents as menopause sunk in, the girlhood days of worrying about periods at the pool or beach. Phew. Been there. Done that.

And that brings me to my Smokey the Bear story.

We go to the North Carolina State Fair every near. I mean EVERY year (or Cliff gets droopy). But the most dramatic year was the year my cramps took me by surprise (about 2009 or so). I couldn’t get the pain med into me fast enough. I passed out right under the giant Smokey the Bear.

Cliff caught me and got me over to a nearby log. When I opened my eyes, I looked into his face and thought: He’s still such a cute man.

My cramps passed about twenty minutes later, which put me in a festive mood as we walked from the onion ring booth to the milking demonstration to the state’s largest pumpkin.

“That was so romantic,” I said a few times, my arm looped around his. “You caught me just like a man catches his leading lady in an old time movie.”

“Barbara, ” Cliff finally replied, “That was NOT romantic. I thought you’d had a stroke. For a few seconds, I was terrified  you were dead.”

That’s the good thing about cramps. They don’t kill you, but every time I see Smokey, I’m glad those days are over.

And I’m glad Cliff was scared that ALL MY DAYS might have been over. Shows he’s in this for the long haul.

I get why he was worried. While this close-to-menopausal woman didn’t look like a glamorous starlet fainting on the silver screen, I’m a heck of a lot of fun at the North Carolina State Fair.

For those of you who are finished, do you think about periods anymore? For those of you still having them, what do you look forward to the most when those days are over?

Speaking of periods, a friend sent me links to two articles about periods. This one discusses work policy and periods. The times they are a changin’. And this one debunks the idea that women who live together find their cycles synchronizing. 

Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Twenty-seven

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Doors, glorious doors!

Kathy sent the door above from Paleohora, Crete.

Below, from my cousin Erin’s recent trip to Korea, a Hello Kitty door!

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From Erika and Brian, a bathroom door at an outdoor mall in Huntington Beach, California.

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Becka sent this from Centre Furnace Mansion in State College, Pennsylvania.

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From Carey, the Auto Spa in Cockysville, Maryland. Let’s hear it for creativity at car washes! These are my kind of people.

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From Candace, The Dairy Godmother in Alexandria, Virginia. What a fun name for a store that serves frozen custard and other treats.

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And a simple but funky sign from Candace’s trip to Dallas, Texas.

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From Louise’s friend Chamai, who photographed these doors on a recent visit to Thailand, her homeland. Those are some frisky doors!

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Jean send these doors that a friend found in Iceland.

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Phew! What a set of creative doors! Thank you one and all.

Menopause

Margaret: Posing Boldly

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This huge painting by Alivia Moe stopped me in my tracks (it’s four feet by six feet) at the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery. The exhibit featured the work of local teen artists.

I was intrigued by that bottom!

I stepped closer to read the artist’s statement. Alivia writes about her subject: “I couldn’t believe that Margaret, a seventy-five-year-old woman, would pose naked for a group of adolescents. I couldn’t imagine doing this myself at that age. She was bold.”

The art class was studying the concept of distortion, and Alivia chose to exaggerate Margaret’s bottom. Then she discovered something: “It turned out that distorting Margaret’s butt portrayed her confidence without my knowing.”

Alivia concludes her statement:”I want viewers of this piece to be both intrigued by its beauty but feel a bit uncomfortable. I believe that pieces like this are beautiful but hard to look at or accept.”

I sometimes turn and look at my own bottom in the mirror. While I gotta say, it’s nowhere near the size of Margaret’s in the painting, I do wonder about body issues as I age. I’m with Alivia. I love that Margaret was willing to pose for an art class.

But what I love even more than Margaret’s boldness, is Alivia’s thinking. Hooray for young women who understand the powers of body image. And hooray for young women artists. Alivia, may you rock the art world with boldness and joy. Thanks for sharing your painting!

Alivia Moe

Alivia Moe writes about herself: I will be attending The School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago Fall 2016.  My art has been exhibited at the Hillsborough Library and The Hillsborough Arts Council along with works by my classmates. My first solo show took place at Joe Van Gogh in Chapel Hill. Art has been my passion since I could draw. Art is my voice, my power, and it has shaped who I am today.

I have created works that range from sculpture and painting; charcoal, pencil and pen; collage as well as digital photography. My body of work has progressed through several different phases, but is unified by the contrast between the inner and outer self, interpretations of beauty, self-perceptions as individuals; and society’s impact on our identity as peoples.

Menopause

My Cancer Story: Two Years

Barbara Before Surgery

It’s been two years this summer since my surgery for endometrial cancer. I look happy in this pre-surgery picture, and in many ways, I was. What I call “Cancer Courage” had set in. And I felt quite loved by Cliff  and my friends and my church that day and well taken care of by the medical world

After the surgery, I was happier still. The pathology news was great–early stage cancer and no further treatments.

But as happy as I was then and am now, cancer changes you. You cross a line. The line for me is that I now live in fear of recurrence. The stats say this cancer should not return, but I’m on daily alert for blood, the sign it’s back. The blood worry has gotten better, which my oncologist said it would, but it lives with me always.

If you know a cancer survivor, treat your friend to a movie or an ice cream cone or a glass of wine.I can promise you that unless he or she is an off-the-charts optimist, your friend worries too. I now understand what a cancer check means. I go every six months and hold my breath until the doctor says, “Looks good.” Then I treat myself to an ice cream cone.

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I’m now an advocate for endometrial cancer awareness, and I share resources I find. A few weeks ago I came across this excellent brochure produced by the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. 

I’ve dedicated a page on Friend for the Ride to endometrial cancer. You can visit it here. Please share this page on your social media sites. Let’s spread the word! Thanks!

Menopause

Life Reimagined: My Experience – Part One

 

 

My Life Map

I’m exploring Life Reimagined, a program sponsored by AARP.

Reevaluating my life is one of my favorite projects. With a move coming up, it’s time to think about what’s new, what’s ahead. When the folks at Life Reimagined invited me to try the program and blog about it, I said yes. You’re invited to try it too!

Here’s part of the description they sent me:

 An online, subscription-based service, Life Reimagined helps millions of Americans explore, dream, and plan for what’s next in life. Fueled by a coalition of experts who are on the cutting edge of their fields, the personalized platform provides a place where people can go to discover what is meaningful to them, navigate life’s crossroads, and find new possibilities. It’s able to connect to users via multiple touch points, to keep you constantly inspired along your path.
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You can learn lots more on their website. Some of the services are free; others require a fee.

My first task was to create my LifeMap. You play a card sorting game and end up with a brief purpose statement. See mine at the very top of this post. I was surprised, when finished, that it rings so true. It’s me!

Next, the program creates a colorful visual mosaic of your purpose statement. This is your LifeMap. You can print it out, if you like, to inspire you. You can doodle on your LifeMap and add notes.

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Next, dive in. There are activities,quizzes, and articles related to three areas of life: Well-being, Work, and Relationships. Here’s a chart I downloaded from the Relationships section.

Positivity Calendar

I read a lot of psychology and self-help, and I think the Life Reimagined articles are excellent. This is my favorite thus far, on decluttering as you work on emotional clutter: A Seven-Day Emotional De-clutter

And here’s a fascinating article on  psychological development in later life. Seems the thinking has changed.The old model had folks settling in, calming down, preparing to leave the world. No more. Experts are finding that many people don’t want to settle down at all. Bring on the new life!

The Life Imagined program is based around this book: Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities, written by Richard J. Leider and Alan M. Webber. A fast read with plenty of insights.

Life Reimagined

Life Reimagined offered me four hours of coaching services as part of their compensation for blogging about the program.Here’s an article that explores reasons for working with a life coach.

I looked through the list of coaches and chose to contact Christine Ryan. You can talk with your coach by a video or telephone. I picked the telephone.

Christine is friendly, encouraging, and a listener. I spent a lot of the call introducing myself and my challenges of recent years. Looking ahead, for now I want to focus on two issues.

Number One: The move from my home of thirty years to a brand new house just three blocks away. Here are some of the treasures coming with us. (Note: The TWO turntables are Cliff’s and the heavy boxes contain his collection of American Flyer trains, which I hope he’ll set up for the grandchildren. But I got to admit, plenty of the boxes in our new garage are mine.)

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Number Two: I also want to talk to Christine about my writing career. Despite success in earlier years, I’m having trouble getting my children’s books published, even though I love writing for kids. Meanwhile, blogging and health writing are going well. Time to make a switch and give up the frustrations of so many rejections in the children’s book field? But do you give up something you love?

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Toward the end of the call, Christine and I discussed my purpose statement and how I can use it to reimagine my years to come.

What’s so easy about working with a life coach through Life Reimagined is you speak right from your own home.

 

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As Christine and I talked about my purpose statement, I realized that most important to me right now is to be content. “Content” is not a word I’ve given a lot of thought to, but it was one of the options in the card game, and it ended up being one of my final selections. Official definition is “a state of peaceful happiness.” My definition of content doesn’t necessarily mean”calm” or “ease,” but in the years ahead, I want to energetically find a type of peace I may not have experienced in my earlier years. Christine suggested I begin by working through the activities on Live Reimagined under the “content” section. Will do!

I decorated a notebook to use as I talk to Christine and as I explore Life Reimagined. My mom created the giraffe and a great-aunt painted the sailboat seventy years ago. Am I sailing ahead into a breezy future spotted with happiness and creativity? Hope so!

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I’m digging into Life Reimagined and having a wonderful, meaningful time. More posts to come.

Your turn: Life Reimagined is offering Friend for the Ride readers two weeks of free Life Reimagined services and thirty minutes of coaching. Follow the link here.

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Menopause

From Menopause Expert Ellen Dolgen: Becoming Your Own Health Advocate

 

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Menopause expert Ellen Dolgen kindly let me share her article on becoming your own medical advocate. I’ve learned that many doctors fail women when it comes to menopause education, especially by not warning us of what to expect as perimenopause and menopause set in. Knowledge is indeed power. Take it away, Ellen. Thanks for sharing this post and for all you do for women everywhere!

You can’t leave your perimenopause and menopause symptoms on the kitchen counter when you leave the house.

You can’t pretend to be “fine” when you are dripping wet from a hot flash, sleepless and irritable. Your family, co- workers, loved ones, and friends know when you are not feeling well.

Here are some simple tips that will help you become your own best Health Advocate:

  1. You are not alone! According to Menopause.org, “An estimated 6,000 U.S. women reach menopause every day.  That is over 2 million of us per year. In addition, more women are living beyond age 65. A women’s average life expectancy in the western world is estimated at 79. 7 years.”
  1. Trust How You Feel! – You know when you don’t feel well. If you go to a healthcare provider to get menopause advice and help and your provider tells you, “You’re too young to be in menopause”, don’t sit there and accept it! Do not go home and suffer in silence.
  1. Reach out and get the help you need and deserve!
  • Get the proper hormone testing to measure your levels such as DHEAS, Estradiol, Free and Total Testosterone, FSH, Progesterone, Thyroid Panel, just to name a few.
  • Chart your symptoms. I have worked with doctors to develop a helpful chart that will help you to quickly and accurately explain how you feel to your doctor.  You can download it here.
  • Understand your options – both hormonal and non-hormonal.
  • Communicate openly and honestly to your loved ones so that you can get their love and support.
  • Remember, if you do not feel better, communicate that with your menopause specialist. If they are unable to help you – find another one! No divorce attorney is needed!

You CAN get the help that you need and deserve if you educate yourself.  Be proactive about your health, rather than reactive.

For more detailed support, download Ellen’s FREE eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause. This is a comprehensive guide to all things menopause—tips on how to find a menopause specialist, the tests, the symptoms, treatments, and long-range effects on a woman’s health.

Ellen’s motto is:   Suffering silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN!

Follow Ellen Dolgen on Twitter.

Like her menopause guide, Shmirshky, on Facebook.

Get the latest menopause news delivered to your inbox every week when you sign up  at www.ellendolgen.com  for Ellen’s free Menopause Mondays Newsletter!

Thank you, again, Ellen. Enjoy that adorable granddaughter!

Here’s an article that I wrote for Empowher on educating yourself about menopause. I am bonkers over this topic. It’s so darn important!

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