Menopause, No More Periods

Menopause. Decisions. Yes!


With menopause, comes plenty of reflection.

Well first comes shock:  What no more periods?  After all the years, all those tampon purchases, all that wondering how you were going to manage the twelve hour sailboat excursion.  After the shock, comes reflection.  And some of that reflection focuses on decisions.

What’s the best decision I ever made?

What’s the worst?

Which one took the longest?

Which decision made me dizzy with glee?

I’m naive enough, or goofy enough,every now and then, to think I might get to go back in time and change stuff, fix those decisions that weren’t so great.

No, Barbara.  Sorry old girl.  Can’t do it.

But menopause is really about moving ahead, isn’t it?  Deciding new stuff!

Some of those new decisions will be serious:  When do we downsize? How do we make our money last?

Some will be lighthearted: Butter pecan, the old standard, over Chunky Monkey?  Or a scoop of each?  Waffle cone, sugar cone, wafer cone, or cup?

The one thing I know is, difficult or fluffy fun, any time we get to make a decision, we’re the lucky one.  The opposite of choice is no choice. No good. Even in tough situations.

And once you’re through with periods, you get to choose  sailboat rides into the sunset, white jeans, any day of the month for a gyno appointment, and the funky cheap earrings instead of the box of tampons.

Magnifico!

Photo:  The decision-maker above (not near menopause!) is daughter Laura at the Commonwealth Restaurant and Sky Bar in Charlottesville, Va.  FYI, she decided on the red fish with a spicy Creole sauce and had no regrets. Photo taken by her brother-in-law, Matt Monson.  And so you can plan ahead for your next visit to the ice cream store, do study the assortment of cones below.

This fine selection  can be found on the website of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt.  


Aging, Menopause, No More Periods, Periods

I Didn’t Mean to Mourn

Writer Jane Yolen graciously offered to share this poem with Friend for the Ride:

                                                  The Last Time

I didn’t mean to mourn,

I meant to laugh,

But my bloodline

Dribbled away so slowly,

So silently,

I hardly noticed it had gone.

The biological clock having long since

Stopped ticking,

There was no alarm.

Only silence

And a kind of wistful death.

©2002 by Jane Yolen

If you had told me ten years ago that I would feel any sadness over the end of periods, I never would have believed you. No way!

Like Jane, I planned to laugh. I also planned to drink champagne and sing to the Period Goddess in the Sky, “See ya, sweetie.  I’m done!”  I did drink champagne, and I said my goodbyes to the Period Goddess.  (She’s the one who, sometimes, gives you a break and helps you NOT get your period on the cruise to the Bahamas.)

But I understand the “kind of wistful death” that Jane describes.  I feel it too.

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?

For those of you who are finished, what are your thoughts about no more periods?  Any sadness, or just glee?  And for those of you not there yet, any idea how you will feel?

In Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft, Jane gets to the heart of why we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard: “We write to know ourselves.”

And so a challenge for you:  Write your own period poem!  Please do.  Silly or serious or anywhere in between.  Or perhaps simply jot down some words that capture your thoughts about periods and/or not having periods anymore.

Be bold and brave!  You can even use red ink. 

Email your pieces to me, (BKYounger at gmail.com), and I’ll gather them together for a fun, literary post on Friend for the Ride.  

You’re welcome to substitute a pen name for your real name or just send your first name. 

Thanks from me AND the Period Goddess, who loves to read poems on her favorite topic.

The Poem:  “The Last Time” is posted here by permission of the author. The poem was first published in Women.  Period.  Edited by Julia Watts, Parneshia Jones, Jo Ruby, and Elizabeth Slade.  Spinster’s Ink, 2002.

The Poet:  An opening page in Take Joy describes Jane Yolen as “America’s Hans Christian Andersen (Newsweek) and a modern-day Aesop (New York Times).”  You can learn more about her as well as follow her  insightful journal on her website, http://janeyolen.com/

Photo:  I used Take Joy by Jane Yolen (Writer’s Digest Books, 2006) in critical essays I wrote while studying for my MFA in Writing at Vermont College.  Now I read it to recharge my writing soul.  The cover illustration was done by Linda Holt  Ayriss.

Women. Period is a collection of poems, essays, and short stories about menstruation. The forward states that the book “celebrates both the diversity and the universality of the female experience.  We are many; we are one.”   The cover was designed by LA Callaghan.  (And that’s some cover!)

Aging, Celebrations, Menopause, No More Periods, PMS

The Girlfriend Gala



Party!  Invite your girlfriends to a gala in honor of menopause (and impending menopause for those not there yet.)  Here are some hostess tips:

Decorations:  Create a tampon garland to festoon the front door.  For an attention-grabbing centerpiece, fill a glass bowl with tampons, pads, a bottle of pain reliever, chocolate kisses, birth control, a paper fan, moisturizer, and anything else that strikes your menopausal fancy.

Refreshments:  These need to shout: “Craving!”  Ask each guest to bring a snack she devoured during PMS, pregnancy, and/or menopausal moments.  You may want to provide more nutritious snacks, since most craving foods are high in sugar and salt. For liquid refreshment, pink punch, since this is all about being a girl.  Spike if you choose.

Entertainment:  Begin by asking everyone to share the story of her first period.  Vote on the most dramatic account and reward the winner with a soothing prize to help her recover from that long ago trauma—perhaps a bar of luscious soap or a bottle of mellow wine.  Then let your girlfriends wax poetic by sharing their feelings about menopause and the period-free years to come.

Favors:  Send your guests home with every girl’s lifesaver, in any stage of life, a bit of chocolate wrapped with a festive ribbon.

Photo:  This isn’t really punch. It’s pink water.  But I bet your real punch will be delicious!

Menopause, No More Periods

Toot-a-loo, Tampons

Decisions have never given me much trouble.  In fact, I find most decisions liberating.

I’ve decided about college, career, husband, babies, houses, investments, plotlines for novels, and one of the biggest of all: a mother of the bride dress.  But for the life of me, now that I’m finished with periods, I can’t decide what to do with my leftover tampons.

Tampons are turning up everywhere: in purses, drawers, suitcases, book bags, bathroom closets, glove compartments, jewelry boxes, coat pockets, junk drawers, and the oddest place of all, the bottom of a snow boot.  I’ve been depositing them in the upstairs closet in a lovely blue bowl.  What a collection!

I considered a tampon-burning, but that seems a bit harsh. After all, tampons have rescued me on many occasions.  I thought of giving them to my daughters, but the girls like another brand.  Shelters welcome donations of feminine products, but they prefer new boxes. I could give them to a still-menstruating (yuck-I’ve always hated that word) friend, but it might be awkward handing over a zip lock bag bulging with tampons.

So this decision has not been made.  No matter what I decide, I’ve got a happy choice ahead of me.  Let’s hear it for the liberty to make decisions, and let’s hear it for tampon liberation!  And for you younger women still madly tucking tampons here and there, be of cheer, at least tampons are liberating you from what your great-grandmothers went through.

Story Sharing: It’s fun to share our Most Embarrassing Tampon Stories. Please post!  Mine was as a 25-year-old school librarian.  I spilled my purse and an eighth grade gentleman picked up the contents for me, including several tampons.

Photo:  I purchased this pretty bowl from a North Carolina potter at our annual Hog Day Festival here in Hillsborough, North Carolina.