Author Archives: Barbara Younger

About Barbara Younger

Check out my blog about menopause and all things related to women and life: Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause and Midlife Roller Coaster

The M Zone: A Painting!

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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/

Be Light! A Message from Someone, Somewhere

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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.

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The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Eight

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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!

Moody Bitches: A Book Giveaway

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Moody Bitch Button

I’ve been attempting to understand hormones my entire adult life. As one who suffered from mood swings with PMS, menopause, and after cancer surgery, I never quite got how estrogen and the other hormones affect our brain.

And then, a few weeks ago, I read Dr. Julie Holland’s  Moody Bitches: The Truth about the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy. The book is hot off the presses from Penguin Press. With confident and upbeat prose, Dr. Holland explains it all and then some.

Moody Bitches Book Jacket

Penguin Press sent this list of the book’s major points:

  • The stresses and expectations of the modern world interfere with our health and hormones in ways big and small, and the result is the crushing fatigue, low libidos, and anxiety that so many women are feeling.
  • Women’s brains have developed to encourage empathy, intuition, and emotionality. We are designed by nature to be sensitive and dynamic. Women’s moodiness is normal.  It is a sign of health, not disease—and it is our single biggest asset.
  • Our moods are our bodies’ smart feedback system. They provide invaluable information about how we are living and what we need. Not only can we manage our moods, we can use them to live healthier lives.
  • One in four women is taking a psychiatric medication, many for years on end. That trend is lowering the bar for all of us, creating a new normal in terms of invulnerable posturing and emotional blunting, and, importantly, it is changing the tipping point for when other women will seek chemical assistance.
  • In order to live our best lives (and get off unnecessary medication) we need to better understand our bodies, our naturally cycling hormones, and how modern medicines can affect our exquisitely calibrated machines.
  • Medication can have more far-reaching effects than most people realize including blunting some of the qualities that are women’s greatest strength including empathy, passion, and sensitivity.
  • Medication can also keep us from making a clear-eyed assessment of our lives. It can make a bad situation tolerable and mask the need for change.
  • Our lives are out of sync with nature and we’ve become out of tune with our bodies.  In our digital distraction we’ve lost a basic truth: fresh air, sunlight, and movement are crucial to feeling our best. Without these our sleep, relationships, not to mention our overall health, suffers.
  • Inflammation can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health and it has many triggers and partners. Stress and inflammation fuel each other as can obesity and inflammation.  Sleep deprivation exacerbates inflammation and obesity.  Even inflammation and depression are co-dependent.
  • Though PMS can make us sensitive, vulnerable, and bitchy, it can also reveal some important truths. The thoughts and feelings that come up during PMS are genuine. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or underappreciated, that you’re taking on more than your partner, or that things are out-of-balance, chances are, it’s true.
  • Perimenopause is a primetime for psychiatric complaints. The prevalence of depression is highest in women age forty to forty-nine and lowest in women older than sixty; hence the storm before the calm.
  • Women in their early forties often have higher testosterone (relative to other hormones) that can have us feeling flirtier and more sexual.
  • If you’re going to replace sex hormones in perimenopause or menopause, testosterone should probably be in the mix. Testosterone supplementation reduces osteoporosis and the risk of bone fractures. It also increases muscle mass. Testosterone may help reduce the risk of dementia and prevent vaginal atrophy as well.
  •  Even if you’ve never smoked a joint, your body has internal cannabis-like molecules that help to keep you resilient and tamp down inflammation. They are particularly important during menstruation, conception, and delivery.
  • Despite long-term studies showing safety and efficacy of testosterone in women, the FDA has not approved any testosterone products for them (compare this to the twenty-six testosterone products currently approved for men!)
  •  Our diet and lifestyle choices have a huge impact on mood, weight, and inflammation. Stress creates inflammation; stress triggers overeating; body fat creates inflammation; inflammation feeds obesity and depression; and they all imperil our health.
  • When estrogen levels fall, we start to slowly transition from self-sacrifice—putting our family’s needs ahead of our own—to a more assertive and less accommodating place. Menopause is meant to be a time where we weed out those who are “toxic,” prioritize, and further hone what is important to us.
  •  Women are more sensitive to sleep deprivation than men but they are also more prone to insomnia primarily due to hormonal fluctuations. Learning good sleep habits, paying attention to light exposure, and making eight hours of sleep a top priority will go a long way toward reducing moodiness and stabilizing eating habits.
  •  A healthy, active sex life is important for emotional balance and stress relief.
  •  Be your own best advocate. You downtime, and pleasure, and your needs matter.  Honor your hearty appetites for food, sex, and sleep.

Love this book! Thank you, Dr. Holland.

Giveaway! Penguin Press is offering a copy of Moody Bitches and a BUTTON to TWO Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, simply enter a comment by April 30 saying you’d like to own the book. U.S. only, thanks. Comment link is at the bottom of the post.

Julie Holland

Dr. Julie Holland has run her private psychiatric practice in Manhattan for nearly twenty years. Her nationally-best-selling memoir, Weekends at Bellevue, was based on her nine years running the psychiatric ER. Dr. Holland is an expert on drugs and the brain and she has appeared on the Today show numerous times. Moody Bitches is in development at HBO with Oprah Winfrey and Diablo Cody

Photo of Dr. Holland: The author’s photo was taken by Jessica Hills.

Button Photo: Taken by me in the snow with my polka dot phone. I love buttons and am delighted to add this one to my collection.

Moody Bitch Button