Menopause, Mood, Stress

Picnics: Gain Strength!

 Godey's Ladies

Menopausal moodiness can  sure make you sad. 

The events of life can too sometimes.

Sarah Josepha Hale, famed editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, knew something about sadness and about techniques for overcoming gloom and grief.

In Sarah’s day, a new mode of dining was coming into fashion in the United States:

PICNICS!

Sarah wielded her powerful editorial pen to promote this trend. Her wise words are:

“We gain strength by touching the earth.”

Sarah Hale

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Pack a picnic in honor of Sarah Josepha Hale and find your own strength, thankfully, renewed!

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Here’s a picnic perfect dish that would meet Sarah’s approval:

Summer Tortellini Salad

one pound tortellini, cooked

1 red bell pepper chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

2 spring onions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped black olives

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup Italian dressing

1/2 cup shredded or cubed cheese, your choice

Mix all and refrigerate.

Read about the history of the picnic here.

Top Photo: The Fashion Pages of Godey’s Lady’s Book were so popular that ladies framed them to decorate their walls. This one is from my collection.

Second Photo: Sarah Josepha Hale, the first female editor of a major magazine and the poet who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” lost her beloved husband David when they were still young. The mother of five, Sarah supported her children by writing and editing.  She wore widow’s black for the rest of her life but lived a life of gratitude and vigor.  For decades, she campaigned to have Thanksgiving declared a national holiday, and won!

Third Photo: The cover of Godey’s Lady’s Book, June 1867.

Fourth Photo: I found this fine basket on the website of Victoriana Magazine.

Healthy Living Apps:  Just out from Healthline:  the best Healthy Living Apps.  I wonder what Sarah would say. Thumbs up, I bet.

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Mood

Ever Green Menopausal You

Evergreen.  Since ancient times, a symbol of life in the midst of the cold of winter. Vibrancy.  Color. Renewal.

For those of you who sometimes feel frozen with the sadness, nervousness, and grumpiness that menopausal moodiness can bring, take heart in the symbol of the evergreen.

You’re still vibrant.  You’re just feeling some chilly hormones.

Your trademark colors are there.  They’re just covered up at the moment by a blanket of uninvited snow.

You’ll emerge from the snowy tunnel renewed.

You just have to weather the ice and wind (even though they may come in the form of some hot sweaty moments).

Albert Camus, whom I know best from my days of reading L’etranger  (The Stranger) in French class, wrote,  “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Stand close to an evergreen if you’re troubled this winter.

Touch those vibrant branches.

Take in the color.

Smell the hope.

Menopausal moodiness doesn’t last forever.

Green days are a’coming.

Photo:  I took this picture on Bald Head Island. I love evergreens, but I’m not so good at distinguishing spruce from balsam from arbor vitae.  Anyone know what kind of evergreen this is?

Hot Flashes, Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Mood

From the Muck of Menopause

Menopause is mucky. Periods so weird they would scare a lady swamp monster.  Breasts that feel like water balloons ready to pop.   Sleep?  In a bed all night long?  Impossible!

The emotional stuff is even more mucky.  Muck . Muck.  Muck.

When I walk on the marsh boardwalk at Bald Head Island, I get really close to the muck.  The muddy swampy squishy kind of  muck.  I like to lean down and study it.

Then I look up again and see the expanse of marsh in front of me.  What beautiful grasses rise from the muck!

I’m not as lovely as the  marsh, and  I’m certainly not that fresh and green, but from the muck of menopause grows me.

And from the muck of menopause grows you.  Wiser.  Tougher.   Braver.  Smarter.  And even though my kids (or yours) might not agree, we’re cooler too in our own way, despite any hot flashes.

When my daughter Laura was in first grade, she loved a book in which the barnyard critters proclaim, “O lovely mud!”

I won’t go so far as to say, “O lovely menopausal muck,” but I take heart when I think about the green swaying grasses of the marsh.

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Mood, Permenopause

Menopause and Self-doubt

Since first grade, I’ve loved to write.  I began with stories for my dolls, moved to a column in my high school paper, and then published books for kids and adults.

In 2006, I began studying for an MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  I relished the work I did for this degree, from the critical essays to the picture books to the novel I completed as my final creative thesis.  I graduated on a cold January afternoon (Vermont knows cold!), warmed up and ready to take on the world with my newly honed skills.

Then WHAM!

I couldn’t write.  I didn’t write.  My mind spun with negative thoughts about my talent and my future as an author.  I hit a wall of self-doubt and discouragement.  For a year, I barely composed anything but emails and shopping lists.

Like the sky opening up after a morning of  gloom, my despondence lifted a year later.  Soon I was at the keyboard again, pounding away, working on a new novel.  That’s when I put it all together and figured out my year of self-doubt was brought on by the hormonal roller coaster of menopause.

I tell this story not for sympathy.  As I said, I’m now pounding the keys (not sure how great the words are, but I’m cranking them out).

I tell the story because  self-doubt is one of the symptoms of menopausal moodiness, and I wish I had known.  I don’t know how much that would have changed things, but knowledge, sometimes, can be a chunk of the menopausal battle.

So spread the word!

Photo:  Thanks go to Facebook  for the upbeat graphic.

Comments please!   Leave a thought, no matter how brief, below by clicking “comments.”

Life, Mood

What the Psychologists Say and a Giveaway!

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A few years ago, my friend Lisa and I led a women’s retreat on the subject of happiness.  That’s when I realized there are people who study the subject officially and write books about it.  Fun!

While looking at happiness literature, I found this neat little title:

 Here are ten of my favorite tips from the book (although I like all of them).

Secret 12:  Have realistic expectations.

Secret 22:  Pay attention.  You may have what you want.

Secret 34:  It’s not what happened.  It’s how you think about what happened.

Secret 38:  Share of yourself.

Secret 49:  Be a peacemaker.

Secret 51:  Make your work a calling.

Secret 59:  Be Your own fan.

Secret 71:  Don’t accept television’s picture of the world.

Secret 82:  Don’t dwell on unwinnable conflicts.

And here’s a good one if you’re feeling extra wrinkly today:

Secret 98:  You have not finished the best part of your life.

Author and psychologist David Niven does a great job expounding on each secret with succinct  explanations, suggestions, and easygoing examples.  And he backs each secret up with psychological research.

Yes, a lot of the points ARE really simple, but I’m kind of slow to get some of this stuff.  It helps me to read it in happy black and white. I like to pick this book up sometimes when I’m feeling grumpy or at loose ends, and you will too.  That’s why I’m offering it as a GIVEAWAY.  Post a comment below or send me an email saying  you’d like to be entered in the giveaway.  I’ll choose a winner at random on March 8.

Photo at the top of the post was taken by daughter Kath  at a  funky sandwich shop in San Diego this week.

Photo below is my daughter Laura, the school psychologist, at her graduation from Northeastern University last spring.  (Since Laura spent seven years studying psychology as an undergrad and graduate student, I’m taking this motherly opportunity to post her picture on this post related to the study of the mind and human behavior.)

The book is One Hundred Simple Secrets of Happy People:  What Scientists Have Learned and How You can Use It.  David Niven, Ph.D.  Harper One, 2006.

Menopause, Mood, PMS

Paper Plate Menopause Lady: A Craft Project

Phew!  My friend Lisa Flinn and I just turned in a manuscript to Abingdon Press for a book of children’s programs: crafts,song, stories, games, explanations, snacks, prayers.  I’m beat, but not too beat to write up one more craft, a craft just for you!  PAPER PLATE MENOPAUSE LADY!

Those old time paper plates with the fluted edges aren’t very good for serving food, but they’re great for crafts.  Google paper plate crafts + images to see paper plates turned into everything but a workable kitchen sink.  So before I give myself a break from fluted paper plates, I have a craft for you.   She’s easy.  She’s fun.  AND she will help you express your moods kindly and gently, so family and friends will have fair warning..

Color your face when you are happy and the hormones are rolling you merrily along.

Color your face when the winds of  the Great Pause are turning that smile upside down.

No need to add age spots or wrinkles, but do color or glue/tape/staple on some hair.

Add a hanger so you can wear Paper Plate Menopause Lady around your neck.

 Simply flip her to the mood that suits you at the moment.  If you like, say this poem to all you meet, by way of explanation:

If Menopause Lady sports a frown,

That means I’m feeling oh so down,

When Menopause Lady’s mouth is up,

Life’s  as happy as a  buttercup!

I’d love to see your Paper Plate Menopause Lady when she’s finished!  Do send photos!

PS. If you’re on the younger side, consider making a Paper Plate Menopause Lady or a Paper Plate Pregnancy Lady.  You’ll have to write your own poem, though.

Around the Year in Children’s Church will be out in about six months. I’ll send an update when the book is available.  Although it’s written for Children’s Church (creative programing for young kids while adults are attending the worship service),the ideas also work well for Sunday school or preschools.

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Mood

Menopausal Spinning

Spinning!

There’s the good kind.

The Tilt-a-whirl, if you’re a ride person like me.

The salad spinner my daughter Kath swears by.

The cycling class my daughter Laura loves.

Then there’s the bad sort of spinning.

The car that does a 180 on an icy road.

The roulette wheel if you’re a compulsive gambler.

The bout of vertigo that knocked me flat last winter.

And there’s another kind of spinning that can be good or bad.

Mind spinning.

A spinning mind is great when you’re working on an invention or plans to redo the family room or a Jeopardy question, but when your mind spins with worry or anger or self-doubt, it’s the pits.

A few years ago, I read an article that said women tend to let a problem spin and spin, which can lead to some pretty miserable days and nights and sometimes weeks, months, and years.  Men, on the other hand, let the problem tumble in their brain for a shorter amount of time, solve it or come to terms with it, and then give it the old heave ho.

Hmm.

That’s an “admit the men might be right in this area” kind of hmm.

Menopausal moodiness can turn a girl into an unhappy top.  It’s like the hormones jump onto the thoughts, and together, they go round and round and round and round, and they don’t know how to …

STOP!

To those of you not there yet or in the midst, beware the spinning top!  Even if you can’t stop it, you can sometimes slow it down by recognizing that menopausal moodiness exacerbates negative and troublesome thoughts.

Meditation, exercise, rest,engaging conversations, meaningful work and projects, and happy diversions can help.  And then there’s always a cold beer with a male buddy in a funky pub.  (Well the pub doesn’t actually have to be that funky.)

Ask him if his mind ever twirls ad infinitum with negative and worrisome thoughts.  If he says, “No,” offer to buy him another beer and see if he’ll share a few testosterone laced trade secrets.  Do let us know!

The Top:  When I was a little girl, my great-aunt kept just a few toys at her house.  They toys lived there;  my brother  and I were not allowed to bring them home.  My favorite was this Mickey Mouse top. When I grew up, I got brave enough to ask her for it.  Now it’s one of my finest treasures, rusty spots and all.