Category Archives: 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. 

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.

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!

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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.

My Cancer Story: Two Years

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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!