Women of the Hourglass Magnets: A Giveaway!


I adore the work of Marylou Falstreau. Her Women of the Hourglass series touches on ideas I’ve tried to highlight on Friend for the Ride: the new possibilities that menopause brings (above). Along with those possibilities, comes  the realization that we can indeed simplify, giving up what drags us down (below):

Many women talk about the liberation of menopause (once the moods and flashes and goofy periods abate):

Age helps us appreciate the powers of forgiveness. Of other people and our wrinkles:

Just a few posts ago, I told you about my new breathing technique, which worked again last night:

With the loss of each of my parents, I’ve had a deep regret that I didn’t thank them enough for the blessings they brought to me. I’m working hard not to make that mistake with my friends. Thank you all for reading my blog! I’m honored that you take time from you busy days to read my words.

And thank you, Marylou, for your words and your pictures!

Giveaway: I’m giving a  Women of the Hourglass magnet to three lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by July 25. Winners will choose their magnet from the selection here.

Meet the lovely Marylou and hear about her Women of the Hourglass series:


Visit Marylou’s website to learn even more about her work and to purchase her art in the form of prints, note cards, affirmation cards, magnets, and a coloring book!



Writing Menopause: A Book Giveaway!


Hot off the press from Inanna Publications, an anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction. Yes! Here’s what the editors, Jane Cawthorne and Elaine Morin write in the introduction:

Menopause. Say the word in public. See what happens.

You may catch some knowing glances, a few rolled eyes, a few exasperated sighs. As Jane Silcott writes, you may see some squinching. It’s a good word — something between squirm and flinch. The word illustrates the uneasy silence that is often attached to this chapter of our lives.

Menopause lacks enough good stories. There are roughly tens of thousands of books about menopause. Much of the existing literature is clinical, offering women definitions, lists of symptoms, and possible treatments. This book is different. It is not about what menopause is, but about how it feels. As Donna Caruso writes, “Spare me the lecture on the righteousness of the cycle of life.” There will be none of that in these pages.

Instead, we searched for stories that we wanted to read, that were beautifully told, and reflected our experiences and the experiences of people we knew. Our contributors offered us cultural references like Chrissie Hynde, Tori Amos, Billy Idol, and Lemony Snicket. They countered the cliché that menopausal women are all used up and instead gave us vitality, creativity, sexual craving, and lust. And they offered us points of views and perspectives that went beyond women. Menopause is experienced by non-binary people and trans men too.

Our call for submissions brought us a huge variety of literary forms as well. The anthology includes stories, poems, creative non-fiction, a dramatic monologue, two interviews, a poem with a provocative prose introduction, a poem in two languages, and a list of facts and fictions about menopause. All of these add depth to the collection and an understanding that there are different ways of seeing and reading experience.

Within these pages are brains and bodies both lamenting their losses and eager to see what is next. The menopause experience is not simply something to survive. Unburdened by childbearing expectations and, possibly, by other gendered ways of understanding themselves, those in menopause climb mountains, take on lovers, create art, daydream, undertake scientific explorations, and transform themselves with an urgency that springs from the bittersweet realization that their time is short.

We divided the anthology into three parts, with titles meant to invoke contradiction and capture the multiplicity of the menopausal experience. There is no one way to think about or experience menopause, and, certainly, there is no right way. The first section, “un/done,” includes works that describe a desire to be done with social and cultural constraint, and to challenge the cliché that menopause means life is over.

The second part, “in/fertile,” sometimes celebrates and sometimes mourns the end of reproductive fertility, while acknowledging a new kind of fertility that might, or might not, emerge.

Finally, the third part, “un/known,” contains works that capture the sense of being out in a new world, not knowing oneself, or, conversely, knowing oneself at last. These pieces find their characters revising what they thought they knew. Many of the pieces could have found a home in any of the three parts, a confounding problem for the editors, but one that speaks to the depth and complexity of experience that these works describe.

In these works, we as editors have found joy, commiseration, and kinship. We hope readers will find this and more.

Now, let the squinching begin.


When I offered to feature the book on Friend for the Ride, I asked Elaine to explain the impetus behind the anthology. Here’s what she wrote:

In answer to your question about our impetus for doing the book, I would say that maybe the truest reason we decided to do this book is that we were both approaching menopause.

But the real impetus was a Facebook post a few years back. Someone in our writers’ group asked if and how menopause was entering their writing. This morphed into a discussion about representations of menopause and how there seemed to be a need for more “good stories” about it.

Most of the stories we were reading didn’t speak to us, and didn’t reflect us or the women we knew. These were not stories we felt were even true. We had new points of reference, different cultural touchstones than the ones being depicted. We wanted to hear about these. So, in this collection we have references to Chrissie Hynde, Tori Amos and Billy Idol.

We wanted to counter the idea that menopausal women are all used up. This was old and clichéd to us. And untrue. A pleasant surprise was discovering how many contributors were talking about sex. Wanting sex. Having sex. Lots of it. We also wanted to counter the idea that only women were going through menopause. Because trans men and other gendered people were going through it too.

Giveaway: The publisher is offering a copy of Writing Menopause to one Friend for the Ride reader. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by July 15. Thanks!

To find the book on Amazon, click here.


Elaine Morin was awarded the Brenda Strathern “Late Bloomers” Writing Prize in 2007. She writes, edits and finds outdoor adventure in Calgary, Alberta, just a stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies.

Jane Cawthorne’s work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and literary and academic journals. Her play, The Abortion Monologues, has been produced widely in the United States and Canada.



Italian Window Shopping

While I’m no fashionista, I do love clothes. And so, on our recent trip to Italy, I had a glorious time window shopping and snapping photos for you. The windows of Florence and Rome boast the best of Italian fashion. Love the slicker above. Great color! Not so sure about the fuzzy bathrobe-look of the coat below, but it’s spirited, to say the least

Lots of the dresses struck me as fifties or sixties retro.  I often find myself telling a young woman, “We wore dresses like that in the sixties.” (And sometimes I get the feeling that’s not what the young woman wants to hear.)

Smocking for big girls!

Which reminds me of my granddaughter Emerson in her smocked dress.

Most of the windows are fairly simple set-ups. This one is more elaborate.

Wow on the hair!

Late one night we saw two guys working in the windows below.

We stopped to watch them for  a few minutes.

Back to the fashion.

I could skip the hat, but how festive and elegant are these birds?

Italian women may be sporting jumpsuits this summer.

I wondered if the watermelon  on the striped suit below would disguise my stomach.  Don’t think so.

Where in Florence would you wear this outfit? Concert? Dinner? Evening stroll?

When shopping with my girls, they encourage me not to buy anything they deem “boxy.” But I got to say, I like boxy!

I’m fond of polka dots, and I’m a sucker for navy and white.

Lots of windows featured purses. Great colors!

Time to move away from the windows of Florence and Rome. Here are hats popping out of a shop on the streets of San Gimignano.

And look a the jaunty hats on these Italian policewomen.

Note the colorful uniforms of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican. You do wonder what this guy thinks when he gets dressed for work.

Check out the brilliant, beautiful shade of Mary Magdalene’s dress below. Bible fashion at its best! I was moved that an artist in the 15th century portrayed Mary in such a stunning gown.

Also moving, is the simple robe of St. Clare of Assisi, who founded the Little Sister of the Poor.

And then there’s Venus, keeping things simple. A drape works for her. Course why not, with a body like that?

But the real answer to any fashion woes may be to go au naturale just like this lovely lady does.

Back to window shopping.

As I walked by the windows, I thought of going into the shops, but I never did. We were usually headed somewhere, and also, I felt a bit shy. Of course now I regret not checking out the rest of the store as well as the prices.

But in many ways, window shopping is the best shopping of all. We can envision ourselves in the outfits and not spend a single cent, which, in Italy, leaves a whole lot of money for gelato.


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Thirty-four


From Cindy, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Batter up!


And Cindy snapped these at a bakery in Château-Richer, Quebec,  called “Chez Marie.”






Pat found these at the Outback Steakhouse in Williamsburg, Virgiania.




Nancy spotted this one at a restaurant near the Rialto Bridge in Venice.

Judy found these simple shapes at Lobkowicz Museum at the castle in Prague.


 She writes that, “There was a special bathroom stall for mom and baby. More room and a table to change diapers.  Very clean. Mostly white.”


From my cousin Robert the Fireman, the doors at Hopatcong, New Jersey, Defiance Engine Company 3.




I snapped this western sign at The Carriage House in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We were there for the wedding of my friend Lisa’s lovely daughter, Jordan.


From Carol, the Lake Lure Inn in Lake Lure, North Carolina:


Taziki’s in Greenville, South Carolina.

And from Carol too, the Orange Blossom Country Club at the Villages.

Here’s the unisex door at Pizza Tap, down the street from my daughter Laura in Dallas, Texas.


And to wrap it up, one of the oddest doors I’ve even found. Well I didn’t really find it. A waiter led me to it.The door is not labeled and is hidden in a wall made of puffy vinyl panels. Cliff and I stopped at the restaurant for a drink in New York City. I’ve lost the name of the place, but they sure boast one wacky door.20160920_160550

Finally, blogging friend Jena Henry introduced me via Twitter to toilet paper origami. Learn more here. Find plenty of ways to decorate the end of your toilet paper  on Pinterest, too. I wonder if I can convince Cliff that our toilet paper rolls need a bit of sprucing up. Does that seem like a good use of a retired husband’s time?



The Deepest Acceptance: A Book Giveaway

When the publishers of Jeff Foster’s book, The Deepest Acceptance, offered to send me a copy, I said yes right away. I love self-help, especially  books that deal with personal growth and empowerment. When you look at Jeff’s picture, you wonder how someone that young can spread such sensible yet almost mystical wisdom, especially when it comes to relationships and conflict. After all, I like to think that only menopausal women have that sort of knowledge. But not true, Thanks, Jeff!

Here are two passages I underlined from the book:

But really, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world to realize that nobody can be who you need or want them to be for you. Nobody has the power to complete you. Nobody can do that for you. Nobody can be that for you.


When you really listen to someone, when you really listen to their perspective, their viewpoint, their expression of their experience of life, their story about what they have noticed in their world, you can always find some truth in what they are saying, however challenging, confronting, strange, extreme, and absurd their views seem at first.

Here’s a description The Deepest Acceptance from the publisher:

How can we bring an effortless yes to this moment? How do we stop running from ‘the mess of life’—our predicaments, our frustrations, and even our search for liberation—and start flowing with all of it?

Existence is rich with mystery and wonder, and sometimes, without warning, light can shine through the cracks in the separate self. For a few brief moments, there is the cosmic suggestion that life is somehow infinitely more than what it appears to be. The most ordinary of things can easily turn extraordinary, making us wonder if, perhaps, the extraordinary is hidden in the ordinary always, just waiting to be discovered.

The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life, originally published in hardcover in 2012, explores the possibility of discovering that wholeness right now—not next year, not tomorrow, not “one day,” but right now, in the midst of present experience, in the midst of whatever is happening, even if what’s happening is discomfort and pain and a longing to be free.

Jeff Foster invites readers to consider who they really are: beyond who they think they are, beyond who they’ve been taught they are, beyond their story about who they are, beyond all their concepts and images of identity.

And it’s about discovering the ways in which, in forgetting who we are, in our attempts to build and hold up what basically amounts to a false, thought-constructed image of ourselves, we go to war with present experience, with each other, with the planet.

With a warm, thoughtful, and humorous candor, The Deepest Acceptance invites us to discover the ocean of who we are: an awareness that has already allowed every wave of emotion and experience to arrive.

How can we bring an effortless “yes” to this moment? How do we stop running from ‘the mess of life’—our predicaments, our frustrations, and even our search for liberation—and start flowing with all of it? The answers to these question are at the heart of Jeff’s book.

Existence is rich with mystery and wonder, and sometimes, without warning, light can shine through the cracks in the separate self. For a few brief moments, there is the cosmic suggestion that life is somehow infinitely more than what it appears to be. The most ordinary of things can easily turn extraordinary, making us wonder if, perhaps, the extraordinary is hidden in the ordinary always, just waiting to be discovered.

The Deepest Acceptance explores the possibility of discovering that wholeness right now—not next year, not tomorrow, not “one day,” but right now, in the midst of present experience, in the midst of whatever is happening, even if what’s happening is discomfort and pain and a longing to be free.

Giveaway: The publishers of The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life are offing a copy to one lucky Friend for the Ride winner. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by July 1. Thanks!

Jeff Foster shares from his own awakened experience a way out of seeking fulfillment in the future and into acceptance of the present moment. The author of The Way of Rest, he studied astrophysics at Cambridge University and now lives near Brighton, England. For more information, visit