Menopause

A Friend for the Ride Makeover

My blog has a new look!

I’ve been blogging since 2011, so it felt time for an update. Thanks to daughter Laura for major design help.

This is post number 788 on Friend for the Ride. Phew! That’s a lot of words and photos. I thank all of you, new followers and old, for reading my posts and the posts written by my guest bloggers.

I’m taken up acrylics, so I wanted the header to show my paintings and also two of my own photographs. We’re still tweaking, but thanks for taking a peek.

Happy Sunday!

Barbara

Menopause

Book Friends: Laura Ingalls Wilder

A post by writer and reader Carynne McIver Button:

The summer I was five years old, my best friend was named Laura. She lived in a cozy cabin in the woods and, like me, she loved to play outside. She had adventures I had never imagined, such as seeing wolves on a prairie, helping to cut hay, and traveling in a covered wagon. Laura even inspired me to name my favorite doll after her own–Charlotte. Laura was the first of many “book friends” I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life. Since then, there’s been Lizzie, Anne, Scarlett, Lucy, and Claire (plus lots of real life ones!).

But Laura Ingalls was the original and always holds a special place in my heart. Even though she was shaped by words on a page, she was not a flat character. Laura was spunky, curious, occasionally jealous, and (usually) helpful for her parents. From her many stories, I learned the proper way to bale hay (and jump on it afterwards), how to efficiently pack a covered wagon, what it takes to live in a dugout, and how a china shepherdess can turn a house into a home. Sometimes the exciting moments in Laura’s life seemed dull when I attempted to recreate them (apparently molasses poured on snow is not nearly as delicious in the 20th century). Others–like Pa’s fiddle music in the prairie twilight–are memories I never experienced but for which I still feel deep nostalgia.

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I have reread Laura’s books countless times throughout my life, returning to them when I felt homesick or missed the comfort of an old, familiar friend. Laura’s values of simplicity, a sense of home, and wonder in the natural world have shaped my own life. As a college student in Massachusetts, I even had my mom send me my worn copy of The Long Winter just to help me get through a March in New England!

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I recently read Prairie Fires, a new biography about Laura Ingalls Wilder written by Caroline Fraser.

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The book was fascinating and illuminated many of the difficulties Laura left out of her books–including significant debt, government support that dispels the myth of “self reliance,” and Laura’s own complicated relationship with her daughter and editor. My book friend Laura has always been different from the author Laura whom I admire, so these stories didn’t cause any harm to our friendship. Rather, they helped me understand more about how my friend came into being and why she still means so much to readers like me.

When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, I inherited a figurine she often kept on her bookshelf. I had seen the graceful, barefoot woman for years, but when I took her home for myself I realized I had my very own china shepherdess. I placed her on my mantle and I knew I was at home. She lives just a few feet away from my original well-loved copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.

Carynne McIver Button is a grant writer and book lover living in Durham, North Carolina. When she needs a break from words, she enjoys yoga, gardening, and hiking with her husband Garrett. Visit her website atwww.mciverbutton.com/

Carynnne

Menopause

Eyes: My Macular Hole

I saved this cartoon to go along with an easygoing post about eyesight as we age. Wow. Life gives us twists, and now my eye issues aren’t so easygoing.

They began when I realized my cute over-the-counter reading glasses were no longer strong enough. I went to the eye doctor, a bit nervous abut the exam. My dad had glaucoma that came on in later life.

The doc pronounced my eyes fine, although I do need to be monitored yearly for glaucoma. I picked out cute blue glasses.

But in the time between my eye exam and picking up the finished glasses, I noticed that my eyes seemed to be jumping around. Using the computer became difficult. Letters were slightly out of place. I had trouble getting a comma where it’s supposed to be. Cliff pointed out typos in Facebook posts.

Although it was hard to determine definitively,the problem seemed to be with my left eye. It felt like it was running up a hill and couldn’t  catch up with the right one. I have an astigmatism and google told me that asigmatisms get worse with age. Could that be the trouble?

A few days later, I got my new glasses. Love how the magnetic sunglasses snap on as if by magic.

The glasses definitely helped me read, but the text still seemed jumpy. Friend and blog reader Stephanie works at my eye doctor’s practice. She quickly set me up for another appointment.I hoped they could simply tweak my prescription and all would be well.

At the appointment though, things went south when the technician said, “Mrs. Younger, I’ve tried a weaker lens and a stronger one. Neither works. The problem is with your eye.”

They dilated my eyes and took lots of pictures. The doctor asked me about my health, especially diabetes. I finally spoke about my deepest fear: “I’m concerned the problem could be neurological.” I knew that a lot of serious brain issues, such as tumors, first manifest themselves through failing eyesight

“The problem is definitely not in the front of your eye. We’ll start with the back of your eye and then go further back if we need to.”

“Further back” meant beyond my eye and possibly into my brain.

They took more pictures  on two different machines and found this. A hole in my retina.

It may sound odd to be relieved you have a hole in  your eye, but I was. The doctor was too.  “I’m glad we found this,” he said, looking at the film again. “I don’t like mysteries.”

Next step was a retina specialist.

The next day, at the specialist, they flashed a zillion lights in my eyes. Over and over again I was asked to look up, look to the high right, look to the side ride, etc. (My eyes were sore for several days afterwards.)

Next they gave me an IV and injected dye into my arm. This turned the world a lovely rose for a few minutes as they took more pictures. (I later read the dye tests for eye tumors and circulation issues. Yikes!)

When the testing was over, Cliff and I waited for the doctor in her examining room, Cliff studied the eye charts on the wall. “The eye sure is fascinating,” he said with enthusiasm. At that moment, I wasn’t so sure.

After the doctor spent a long time looking at my eyes, she gave me the official diagnosis: a macular hole. She said twice during the discussion, “You did nothing to cause this, and you could have done nothing to prevent it.”

As we age, the vitreous fluid pulls away from the retina. If you’re unlucky, it takes a bit of the retina with it. Read more here.

Here’s  a grid you can use to test your own eyes. I wish I had known about this six weeks ago. When I look at the grid with my right eye, the lines are straight. When I look at it with my left eye, the eye with the macular hole. they’re wavy.

I’m able to wait until after the family beach trip to have the surgery, which is called a “vitrectomy.”  The doctor will inject a gas bubble into my eye. Somehow, as the bubble dissipates, it causes the hole to close up. At least this works in ninety percent of the cases.

For a week after the surgery I’ll need to keep my head down for 45 minutes out of every hour. You can rent special equipment such as this chair to make the process more comfortable. This chair was NOT in my decorating plan for our new house.

The surgery may not restore my vision in that eye, but it should prevent the hole from growing and hopefully, stop my eye from jumping around. The procedure will cause the eye to grow a cataract, so a few months after the surgery, I will need cataract surgery.

I plan to blog about the experience just like I did my endometrial cancer. 

Keep your eyes open. More to come!

Menopause

Cool Links: A Cool Giveaway!

A post by Alex Chevarry, creator of Cool Lnks:

Popsicles, frozen peas, wet towels, fans full blast; she tried everything.  The hot flashes and night sweats were becoming more regular. She just turned 49 years old and didn’t want to enter her 50’s in discomfort.  The reality of menopause was sinking in.  Sometimes it was subtle or sometimes it was extreme, but either way she just wanted some relief.

My mom tried everything to beat the heat. It would be winter and she would run to the freezer, seemingly sweating, just to find some short term relief. When I was a kid, she always did everything to make sure I was taken care of and comfortable.  So it was difficult to see her going through this transitional period in her life without that comfort she was so good at providing.

The idea to provide relief from the heat came from a family outing on an overwhelmingly hot day at a local amusement park.  We could not find any product to truly cool us down.  After many years of testing & tinkering we created our own; the Cool Links: an ice cooling neck wrap providing long lasting and effective relief from the heat for everyone, including mom.

The Cool Links was designed to be the first adaptable cooling wrap to help people beat the heat.  It is created with individual links which help it contour around the body making it light and comfortable.

It is the first product to have removable cubes so you can keep extra ones in the freezer to swap out thawed ones and extend the cooling time as long as you’d like.

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We made sure to use a wrap made of moisture wicking fabric so you can feel cool without ever getting wet; not to mention stylish and fun to wear.

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After launching in July of 2017 at outdoor festivals throughout California, we discovered that we can now help anyone who needs to beat the heat.  Many women told us how much they love the relief they get with Cool Links as well as all of its great features.

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Giveaway: Alex is giving a Cool Links wrap to TWO lucky Friend for the Ride winners. Winners may choose between the Tropicool and the Popsicool. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by June 25. Thanks!

Check out the Cool Links website here.

Menopause

Take the Plunge: Go to Counselling

 

When reader Penny McMahan offered to write a post on going to counselling/therapy, I jumped at it. So many people are hesitatant to get professional help, but that help can be life-changing. Take it away Penny, and thank you!

Since I was a little girl, I had envisioned my life. It was a beautiful dream — but, a dream it was. Life has never really been as I expected from childhood, but it’s somehow been manageable with the help from the Lord. I am a Christian who prays regularly, but like many women, has a hard time waiting upon the Lord!

I wanted all my children living close by as adults, and I always dreamt of being a full- time grandmother. I didn’t ever imagine a child would move away. What an eye-opening experience that has been. My marriage was falling apart and my daughter, my first born, was about to graduate high-school. Much to my surprise, she was ready to leave the nest — and not just go across town with a roommate or a college dorm — she was going “back home” to her birth state where we lived until she was almost 15.  That blew my dream to pieces. Our move to Texas when she was 14 proved to be much harder than I had expected. She couldn’t wait to get back to Oklahoma — home to her.

My son, who left the nest, but returned a few times, has lived in Texas since he was nine. He loves his ties to Oklahoma and is even loyal to his OU football team, but his home is Texas. What?! They don’t even consider the same state to be home?

My little girl dream was shattered….Yes, in the past it was chipped, broken, hazy, and even forgotten about many times, but nothing caused it to fade like this. Not even divorce or other hardships in life made a dent in my dream compared to one of my little birdies leaving the state.

This is when I sought counseling. I needed help!

When I first began counseling, I was very uneasy about telling my life story and problems to a stranger but, I knew life should and could be better. Plus many others had told me they had great experiences with counseling. I knew it was something I definitely needed to do.

I thought about how embarrassing it might be but, then I realized I have already told so much about myself to doctors and health professionals for years. One delivered my babies, one prescribed medication for panic attacks, one does my colonoscopies, one talked to me about peri- menopause and the sexual, emotional, and physical side effects. Thinking about that, I wondered, why would we think twice about seeing someone well- trained and educated to deal with relationship issues, family problems, or making the most of our marriage?

And the answer was, we shouldn’t!  So, I went, and guess what? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. They are professionals, so they know how to do this. All you have to do is show up. They will let you work at your own pace, you can talk or not talk, give input or just sit and listen. There are no rules on how you open up. If you know it’s OK (and it is) to go and just sit totally quiet for the whole 50 minutes, then you have discovered just how easy it is to go.

I want to encourage every woman and every couple to go to at least three or four sessions and see if you gain some strength in any or maybe every area of your life. I promise you will gain something good from it! I may take some time off from counseling, but I always return with a new challenge at some point and am thankful for it as it gives me hope, and the counselors do have answers.

My first husband and I actually ended up divorced. I look back now and think why did we not seek counsel? I am remarried, and my present husband is willing to go to counseling with me any time I ask. Let me say that when a man decides he will go even if he thinks it’s stupid, embarrassing, or completely not needed, it gives you a great sense of being.

Keep in mind you will not always find a perfect client-counselor partnership on your first try, so don’t hesitate to change and try someone different if you feel they aren’t giving you tools that work for you. And never go to someone who just listens. Always, go to someone who will give you tools, challenges, and resources to use outside of counseling. A good friend can listen, but a counselor knows how to teach, guide, and challenge you to be your very best

Believe it or not, we aren’t the best judge of how to do life right! We need help from our spiritual leaders, accountability from family and friends, and medical professionals and counselors to help us be our very best. Just like birthing classes or parenting classes, job training, or learning in any other aspect of life, it’s best to reach out to those who know more than we do and to not keep taking shots in the dark.

 

Penny McMahan is a former soccer (really basketball and ballet) mom living in Austin,Texas, trying to find her way and purpose, one day and one challenge at a time.

She works part- time, and volunteers at her local police department and church. She likes reading, baking, walking, outings with her girlfriends, Bible study, and cuddling with her two very witty and full- of- personality dogs, and last but, certainly not least, bonding with her grandson in real time and bonding with her out-of-town grandchildren via video chat and free two-day shipping 🙂

The photos above was taken during her candy-making class, one of many ventures she has enjoyed as she “learns to do things just for me.”

 

Menopause

Downsizing: Finding Happy Homes

Cliff and I are still downsizing as we move into our new home. A burst pipe in the fire sprinkler system set us back this winter. The pipe was incorrectly insulated by the builder. It sounded like Niagara Falls when I walked in on that freezing January day to discover that one wing of our house was already flooded.

The repairs, done begrudgingly by the builder, have taken forever, but we were fortunate as it could have been so much worse. Lucky I came into the house when I did.

In the meantime, we’ve continued to empty the old house (and we’re now living in the new one for the most part). My downsizing mission has been to put almost nothing in the landfill, and I’ve had great success. A second mission was to be creative in giving away my goods, so that they found the best possible home.

Our love seat became an important part of the set of Orange Community Player’s production of California Suite. Not only did I have a blast playing Mattie the Maid in the show, but I loved seeing how well my love seat worked on the set.

My church, Hillsborough Presbyterian, supports refugee families. My friend Alice delivered our guest room bedding to two little girls in one of the families.

Alice reported that the girls were delighted. Here’s Zakara on her  newly made up bed. (For those of you who remember the old Eddie Bauer home stores, that’s where this set came from.)

Their mom, Sekeena, is a seamstress. I sent dust ruffles to her too, hoping she can  use the eyelet in some of her projects.

I commissioned Sekeena to make potholders from extra fabric I bought years ago to match our living room couches. The couches aren’t coming to the new house, so the potholders make great souvenirs. I’ve got a stack of ten or so. Should last a while!

We bought this school desk when we were first married and living in Pittsburgh. I love it but have no place for it in the new house. One day it popped into my mind that a children’s museum might like a school desk. A few weeks later, our desk was on its way to the  Children’s Museum of Alamance County. We look forward to visiting it there.

And I sent these framed quilt pieces to  Ali Givens, who does fabric art. Hopefully she can use the smaller roses in a project.


After the flooded wing of the house is painted next week, we plan to move over another load of furniture. Then I’ll find a home for those couches, among other projects.

Soon comes the biggest downsizing project of all: Getting our 180-year-old house on the market.

Anyone want a house in historic HIllsborough? We’ll fix the shutter before you move in…

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Menopause

You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide to Grief, Healing, and Hope (and a Giveaway)

 

Just off the presses:  You Are Not Alone: A Heartfelt Guide to Grief, Healing, and Hope by Debbie Augenthaler.
For those of us who haven’t experienced it yet, we wonder what it would be like to be thrown into immeasurable grief. That’s what happened to the author of this riveting book. Debbie Augenthaler not only recounts in vivid, compelling prose what it was like to lose her husband, but she offers clear and encouraging coping suggestions for those enduring intense grief. I found this book so deeply moving and encouraging that I could turn right around and read it again.
 
Here’s what the publisher says about You Are Not Alone:  Debbie is a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. Her husband, Jim, died suddenly in her arms when she was only 36 years old. He had been healthy and vibrant – the doctors compared the probability of his death by heart attack to being struck by lightning. That lightning strike ended her life as she knew it and thus began the “baptism by fire” that brought her to her new future.

You Are Not Alone is the book she wishes she’d had when she was grieving. With the connection of a shared experience, Debbie guides the reader through grief to transformation and a new beginning.

“This is my story of loss, healing, and the spiritual journey that led me to know that love never dies. This book is about hope. As hard as it might be for you to believe right now, I want you to know: you will heal, you will not only survive, but you can thrive and find joy and meaning in your new life. This may not be the life you had before; but it is still your life to live.”

Giveaway: The publisher is giving a copy of You Are Not Alone to two lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by June 10. U.S. only. Thanks!
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