Menopause

Her Period Days Are Over and Mostly Forgotten

As a younger woman, I imagined feeling daily gratitude once my period days were over. How incredible it would be!

I suffered from many manifestations of PMS that started at mid-cycle. Then the cramps hit. Basically, I had one week a month when my body felt content. Even when Cliff and I argued about this and that, I remember thinking but I suffer so from being a woman. The whole world needs to cut me a million breaks.

So am I now in a state of constant appreciation that I am period-free?

Nope.

Why?

I’m not really sure, but here are two theories:

First off, I’d love to have some of that estrogen back.

Second, menopause is a transition complete with its own problems. It’s not like a fairy suddenly waves her wand and says, “Poof. You’re done!”  As our bodies weather through menopause, I think the other problems can cloud the happy feeling of no more periods.

When I saw the above article in Oprah Magazine, I realized I don’t even think about my period anymore. In fact, it’s not even in my radar that other women are suffering like I once did. I wish all of them well of course. I just forget.

Here’s a post I wrote when the blog was brand new eight years ago about mourning the loss of periods, an emotion that surprised me then.

Am I mourning  the college girl, long gone, who dealt with periods as she juggled research papers, boyfriend, and dorm conversations that ended in happy hysterics?  Am I missing the possibility of one more sweet baby?  Am I grieving for a body that amazed me because it could count the days?  Am I worrying about the body now, which certainly seems less efficient, and the one to come?

The end of periods was very much on my mind eight years ago. It’s not now.

I’m not sure what my point is. Maybe just that life moves on. At best we embrace those changes.

What about you? Do you remember to be thankful your periods are gone? Do you miss them in any way?

And for you young ones, how anxious are you for those days to be over?

Menopause

Arguing. Who’s Done?

 

I want that to be me.

I’m not talking about important moments when you truly need to stand up for yourself.

I’m talking about the dumb stuff. The stuff that doesn’t deeply matter.

Letting even minor arguments go can be a challenge at first, especially when you’re pretty sure you’re right. It can feel like keeping your hands out of the M & M’s bowl. Not easy!

1280px-Plain-M&Ms-Pile

“I know I’m right. I know I’m right. I know I’m right,” your brain chants. But learning to resist can save the moment or save the day or maybe even save the vacation.

Can you do it?

Our spunky interim pastor talked about the best toast given at her wedding. The toaster looked at them both and said, “You can either be right or you can stay married.”

And so perhaps not arguing about the dumb stuff should be a credo for happiness in all relationships. Even with strangers.

It feel so right to give up the need to be right.

What do you say? Are you there yet?

P.S. I lifted the graphic at the top of the post from Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives. This may or may not be a fair use of one of their graphics. If you find this, Tiny Buddha, and want me to take it down, I will. No arguing. Love your site! Facebook wisdom at its best.

Menopause

My Core: Planks!

This February, I noticed I was having a hard time getting up off the kitchen floor. I’d go down on my knees to clean up a spill, and then struggle to get up again. Yikes! Suddenly, I felt eighty.

Enter the issue of strengthening my core. I’ve been avoiding the topic for years. The time had come.

“Planks,” said both of my daughters.

“Planks,” said the trainer at Planet Fitness, my beloved purple gym.

And so I’m in. No need for special clothes or shoes. On Sunday, I even did a plank in my church clothes for a change of pace. I just drop to the floor and start that plank.

There are all sorts of variations and modifications to planks. For starters, this is what I’m doing:

My first goal was to hold the plank for thirty seconds, which I now can do. It may be wishful thinking, but It seems like my stomach is a bit flatter. Hooray for that. It needs it. And I’m already getting up with less of a struggle.

What about you? Anybody else into planks? Any other core exercises that you find easy and efficient? What about you yoga people? Do you feel yoga does wonders for your core?

Photo: I wasn’t wild about posting a photo of me mid-plank. Instead, I put up the sweet rug from my mom. It’s a treasured possession, and it’s my Plank Place although, of course, you can do a plank almost anywhere.

 

Menopause

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Fifty-one

Welcome to another edition of the Ladies Room Door Art series! Sadly, your curator has slipped up on the job. I don’t know where I took the above sign. It’s got an understated elegance about it. I like it!

Karen sent these funky doors from the Boathouse Restaurant in Disney Springs.

 

I found this pleasant sign at Pizza Peels in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Candice sent these lovely wolves from North Carolina State University.

Carol was impressed that even the ladies room is decked out at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. She visited with her granddaughter.

Also from Carol, The Improper Pig in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Take a look at Hers:

And then His:

These are the restroom doors  at the Gatewood House, a new restaurant here in Hillsborough.

Michele sent this spunky saying from the Salt Water Cowboys Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

To finish this post with a jolt of color, here’s good ole Dunkin Donuts. I do think they could tidy up the tape mess underneath this bold and happy W.

dunkin

That concludes another edition of our Ladies Room Door Art Series. Do keep Friend for the Ride in mind as you travel this summer. Every pit stop is a ladies room door opportunity waiting to happen. Send all doors to BKYounger@gmail. com. Thanks!

Menopause

Shingles Shot! My Report

The thought of getting shingles terrifies me. My good friend, Lisa, got very sick with the disease a few years ago, and Judith Gray wrote about her shingles experience in a blog post on Friend for the Ride. Read Judith’s account here. 

Yikes! Throw in the facts that one in three people will get shingles, that the risk grows as we age, and that shingles may leave you with postherpetic neuropathy, I say, “NO THANKS!”

Cliff and I got the original vaccine five years ago. Turns out that shot was only about fifty percent effective. When we heard that the new vaccine, Shingrix, is ninety percent effective, we signed up.

The vaccine is hard to come by. We put ourselves on our pharmacy’s list and waited about eight months. Then one night in the middle of dinner, the pharmacy called, telling us we needed to be there within 24 hours. I was ready to jump until I remembered friends telling me the shot made them feel sick.

I had an all-day art workshop three days later. Would I feel well enough? I decided to take my chances since if we didn’t get the shot this time, we were told we’d go to the end of the waiting list.

“Almost everyone reports a pretty sore arm,” the pharmacist told me as she swabbed my own arm an hour later. “Other reactions vary. Some people are so sick they’re on the couch all day. Others feel crumby but manage to carry on with the help of over-the-counter pain reliever.”

So here’s my report for those of you worried about reactions to the shot. I know all experiences are different.

I woke up at one AM, after having the shot at 7:30 PM, with a very sore arm and what felt like a mild flu. I took Tylenol and felt better fast. I’m a poor sleeper to start with though, and I was up four more hours before I finally went back to sleep. I felt really wired.

I spent the next day pretty tired, so it’s hard to know how much of my sluggishness was poor sleep and how much was the shot. I did take a few more doses of Tylenol over the next 24 hours.

Happily, I felt fine by the time I went to my art workshop a few days later. I did a tiny copy of Matisse’s  pink lady:

Matisse

Cliff got the shot the morning after I did and had the same very sore arm. He never felt as sick although he woke up in the middle of the second night feeling slightly feverish. Our sore arms lasted about three days. The arm was only sore to the touch and using that arm was no problem.

So that’s our scoop. Our reactions were not nearly as severe as I thought they might be. We take a second shot two to six months from now.

To learn more about shingles and the new shingles vaccine, read this article on WebMD.

Menopause

Atomic Habits and Me: A Book Giveway

I just finished James Clear’s Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. I’m head over heals in love with this book.

As I read, habit after habit popped into my mind-those I want to get rid of and those I’d like to add.

Here’s a quick description of the book from the publisher: “Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible.”

Visit James Clear’s website here. And here’s a link to a great get-started article by James.

As I write this post, I  have a list of forty-three  habits I’d like to either break or add. Wow!

When I tell my friends about my list, they say things like, “Isn’t that a bit excessive?” Another friend suggested such a long list implies a lack of self-esteem. Not true. I’m basically happy with myself, but there are for sure ways I’d like to change.

I’m pumped! I’m going to take it four at a time. When those four are conquered, I’ll add four more. So here we go with the first four:

Tea: I plan to limit my tea drinking to two cups. Since I put sugar in my tea, my three to five cup habit isn’t healthy. My cutback is mostly about sugar, but I do want to limit caffeine as well. My doctor says even morning caffeine can contribute to insomnia.

Interrupting: I have the rude habit of interrupting people. Enough said. Time to stop.

Scrolling Facebook: When I’m at odds as to what to do next, I scroll Facebook on my phone. I love Facebook. It’s been a great way for me to promote my art and this blog, and I’ve made wonderful connections with people near and far. But it’s definitely a time eater, and I’d love to reclaim some of that time for other activities.

Hand Weights: Although I walk about four miles a day, I haven’t been doing anything to build muscle, especially in my upper body. I need to use my hand weights. I’m also going to add resistance bands.

To help me remember the first four habits I’m working on, I’ve made them my laptop screensaver. Three are habits I want to eliminate and one is a habit I want to add. No clue yet which process is easiest.

I’m planning to chronicle my progress on Friend for the Ride. I’d love for some of you to join me. Choose a few habits of your own and see how you do in either eliminating a bad one or adding a good one. Guests posts welcome!

What’s spurring me on is visualizing my life a year from now. What if I’ve nailed the habits I’ve listed in this post? I’d be delighted. What if I can nail more? Fabulous!!

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away copies of Atomic Habits to TWO lucky Friend for the Ride readers. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by August 1. Thanks!

Menopause

Bathrooms as Escape Rooms

A guest post by writer Marla Mulloy on a favorite topic here at Friend for the Ride, the bathroom. Thank you Marla!

I have had some truly lovely moments in washrooms.

In London it’s a loo. In Australia, it’s a toilet. In Canada it’s a washroom or a bathroom. Whatever the name, I have had some truly lovely moments in bathrooms. A better name for them would be Escape Rooms. A place to escape. Sometimes it has been my favorite part of a party or a gathering. The few moments I spent in the washroom, longer than necessity would have dictated, were the grounding moments, the only moments of calm, the reason I was able to continue visiting or listening or watching. I often enter a washroom with a great sigh of relief, almost gratitude. I breathe, I rest, I settle.

I don’t have a condition that necessitates I be close to a washroom for bodily function purposes. I am not a decorator, although I have gotten some pretty solid interior design goodies from bathrooms. I don’t hate large gatherings. Well, I actually sort of do. I am a normal person who gets overloaded, easily saturated on talk and noise and interactions. The bathroom can be my social/emotional savior.

I have been in bathrooms that are nicer than most of the rooms in my house. I have been in bathrooms that are bigger than my bedroom. I have been in bathrooms that I never wanted to leave; they were so beautiful and inspiring. And quiet.

A friend’s washroom, just across from the long white granite kitchen island, where everyone gathers and exclaims and cracks pistachios as they watch something delicious being created yet again, is almost a religious experience. It is a tiny bathroom, but the ceiling is 12 feet above me, almost like sky. The walls are a tall expanse of deep violet, one of them holds a long, narrow frame of Hebrew poetry, direct from Israel, full of soft color, intricate figures, reaching tall and thin toward the white ceiling. I could look at it for hours. The sink is a glass bowl, slightly off kilter, thick and smooth, a vessel, a collector of drops. There is a violet glass prism both hefty and delicate on the counter beside the soap. I go to this bathroom like I would go into a church, for a moment of solitude and meditation before returning to the conversation outside.

I have been in restaurant bathrooms that are full of wood and wrought iron and gorgeous paintings, enough space to sit and ponder like you were in a gallery. I leave behind all of the noise and chaos and littered tables outside and sit for a moment, remembering who I am.

I remember a mall washroom where everything was white and new, space enough to engage in a full yoga practice if you so desired, or twirl and watch your skirt spin in the gigantic, infinitely clean mirror covering the whole wall. You could sing an aria; the acoustics would be out of this world. The actual toilets were around a corner, there were settees of velvet to recline upon. It was a shopping mall, for goodness sake. I was perplexed and in awe all at once. And soothed.

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, and I love the little bathrooms around the corner from the cream and sugar, displaying the local piece of art or ads for yoga and snow shoveling services. Sometimes they are blank and sweet, with a single succulent on a tiny shelf. Sometimes they are storage for the broom and the box of toilet paper. Sometimes they smell really nice, with 3 ply toilet paper. And always, I visit them at least twice as I pour coffee and water into my mouth, punch away at my keyboard, trying to get my word count up; they give me a bit of distance to reflect, to validate and to gather my senses again and go forth, back to the work of being human.

This love of the loo may be a direct result of aging. I am a middle-aged woman, finished with one career and working on another. My children have turned into adults and live far away. My need for action is declining. FOMO is waning. What I want is to be centered, grounded, quiet, alone. Maybe it is just me, my introvert self rising. Maybe it is the path of life. Either way, a washroom can be a beautiful thing.

Marla

Marla Mulloy is a writer with an evolving collection of essays, poems and stories, having been recently published in “The Timberline Review” and “Brevity Blog”. She has been a teacher and now works with refugees in Calgary. Much of her writing reflects the experience of refugees, documenting through story the paths that brought them here and how they create home in new places. She continues to share her writing through her blog, www.tossingwords.wordpress.com.