Menopause, Periods, PMS

Period! Magazine


I am delighted to introduce you to Paula Kragten, the founding editor of Period! Magazine. I love the layout! Love the articles! Love the mission of Period!

Thanks to Paula, for filling us in on how the magazine came to be and her vision for its future. (And don’t miss the last line, which swings us right back to menopause). Take it away, Paula:

I’m an editor/journalist from the Netherlands. For several years I worked for so called women magazines; mostly lifestyle features about interior design, architecture, travel, food, fashion. After 25 years, my workinganniversary so to speak, it hit me: I wondered why every single topic has its own magazine, except the one and only thing all women have in common: menstruation.

So I decided to start an online magazine. The Dutch edition went online in 2014. Aprils Fools Day seemed the most logical date. Most colleagues thought I was hit by the wings of a Dutch windmill.

Of course Period! is also the result of my personal interest. That started right after my own first period: at age 12. I wondered why there were so many mixed signals. On one hand: “Wow. Congrats.” But on the other: “Periods are gross so you better hide them. You should be ashamed.” That really puzzled me.

I was curious how women coped with menstruation in the dark ages or in prehistoric times. And also if periods were seen as a negative phenomenon in all cultures. Sadly I couldn’t find a single soul with the same interest.

So I went to the library – this was before the Google era – to get some answers. There was hardly any information there, besides from how things biologically work. Since then I have been collecting all the interesting publications and books on the topic I could find. That’s quite an archive right now.

About the launch:

Period! Magazine was originally intended to be a small project. Just for Holland. What happened really surprised me. Site visitors found us before I even realized the magazine was online. Lots of attention in the media. No harsh criticism at all. The involvement seemed huge. Also surprising – thanks to the translate button on social media – readers from abroad. A year after the launch in 2014, the English version went online.

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About the future:

At first I expected readers would be women like me: who know how things work biologically, but who are interested in the quirky side of the topic and use the magazine as a box of chocolate, selecting which posts which posts and subjects appealed to them most. That was the basic idea: a feel good magazine, colorful, surprising, entertaining. But when it comes to menstruation, thousands of years of civilization haven’t really brought us much. You can understand narrow mindedness in rural areas. But in a modern western society with internet?

It’s annoying enough that we menstruate ten times as much as we did a few centuries ago, that in total we’re on our period for six years of our lives and that we have to deal with the subject for about forty years. Menstruation isn’t even a condition for successful procreation. Rabbits don’t need sanitary towels. There’s no mammal that menstruates as enthusiastically as the human. Apparently, this gives us some evolutionary benefits. Interesting, isn’t it?

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However, periods are still an enormous taboo. When it comes to menstruation women are rather narrow minded. Period! is trying to carve a way by looking at the subject from as many different angles as possible. I strongly believe that is necessary.

More humor and self-mockery and less embarrassment would be nice. And some more consideration. On one hand everything has to be 100% ecologically responsible, while on the other we throw away at least 13,000 tampons and sanitary towels in the trash bin, without a second thought.

Many women don’t even know what a menstrual cup is. Or they suffer from serious menstrual complaints, but don’t do anything about it as they have been led to believe those problems are just a part of menstruation. Unpleasant odors and leakage stains are NOT the worst that can happen. This negative attitude has to change. We do humanity a favor by menstruating!

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Period! Magazine can go on forever. There are so many interesting period related things to write about. Last March I also published a book on the topic: Mooi rood is niet lelijk (best translated as Beautiful Red Isn’t Bad).

 

Periods became my full time job. That’s funny, for a woman in menopause 🙂

Photo Credits: The bottle is from Mentrosity. The other images are Period Magazine/Shutterstock.

Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Perimenopause, PMS

A Great Resource: The North American Menopause Society

Founded in 1989, the North American Menopause Society is, in their words:

North America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging.

Its multidisciplinary membership of 2,000 leaders in the field – including clinical and basic science experts from medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy, and education – allows NAMS to be uniquely qualified to provide information that is both accurate and unbiased, not for or against any point of view.

See how important we menopausal types are. There’s a whole society in our honor.

And wow, is their website an amazing resource.  Here is the link, front and center, so you can’t miss it:

http://www.menopause.org

You’ll probably find the most  useful information in the section headed “For Women” (as opposed to the section for healthcare professionals):

http://www.menopause.org/Consumers.aspx

Do learn your way around this excellent resource.  The section on sexual health in menopause is quite well done, and especially useful as the sex stuff can hit you with a bang (no distasteful pun intended) and can be awkward to talk about:

http://www.menopause.org/sex.aspx

Thanks, American Menopause Society.

I‘m off to BlogHer on Thursday, thanks to the Estroven Good Sleep Challenge. If you’re going and want to meet for breakfast or lunch or a drink, shoot me an email!

Dry Babe!  In thanks for your enthusiastic response to the Dry Babe sleepwear giveaway, Wendy Collettt is offering Friend for the Ride readers a 15% discount. When you check out, use the code Friend15.

Menopause, PMS

A Peeps Internet Confession

This post is short but sweet.

I adore Peeps. I mean I really adore them.

I’m fessing up in honor of the Easter holiday and the great candy it brings.

When I was in the throes of PMS and Menopause Madness, I would not just eat a a whole ROW of Peeps in one sitting but an  ENTIRE box.

And yes, I think they are darling, but I can gobble them down without any mercy.

So now you fess up!

What is your hormonal food of hormonal foods?  You’re guaranteed safe haven on Friend for the Ride.

Recipes:  I’m pretty much a Peeps purist, but here are some recipes if you’re feeling like you want to branch out.

And here are some more.

P.S.  Now that my hormones feel calmer, I’m down to two Peeps at a time. My goal is to be able to eat just one, but life is awfully short (for me and the Peeps.)

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, Mood, Perimenopause, PMS

Attack of the Venom Hormones

I had a fab time taking photos at the North Carolina State Fair this year.   Every new sight was a blog post possibility!

But it was husband Cliff who first spotted Spider Girl.  “Take her!  You’ve got to take her!”

Hmm, could he possibly think that women rattled by hormones morph into Spider Girls?

Double hmm, could he possibly think his sweet and perfect wife has ever turned into Spider Girl?

Tell me it isn’t so!

Well, maybe once or twice.

Grrrrr….

Snarl…

Snap….

I don’t understand the psychology or physiology of hormones.  Yet if the instant the words come out, you say to yourself, “Was that me talking?” you can be pretty sure hormonal spiders are at work.

But look carefully at Spider’s Girl’s face.  Her expression isn’t mean or bitchy or witchy.  In fact, she looks troubled.

Hormonal meanness is indeed troubling, for those who strike with its nasty venom and those who receive it.

Perhaps the best solution is for Spider Girl to wrap her eight furry arms around her victim and say she’s sorry.  If she’s lucky, the victim will respond by wrapping at least two arms back.

Photo:  I don’t know if this is a marquee for a ride or a  spook house.  Next year at the fair, we’ll try to make friends with Spider Girl and find out!

Children, Hot Flashes, Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Mood, Perimenopause, Periods, PMS

Surf and Turf–When Menopause Is on the Menu

Abby Catering Company Photo

Mima Tipper and I are both graduates of the MFA Program in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  I am pleased to present her guest post…

Recently at dinner I fanned my face, asking, “Is anyone else hot?” Without missing a beat, my 18 yr-old son said, “Oh, Mom. It’s just menopause.”

Some pun intended, his snap-quick response gave me pause.  Sure, I knew I was experiencing dribbles of early menopause, but to have my child—my son, no less—chime in (even going on to joke that he learned about menopause on “hotandcold.com”, and oh, yeah, that site required a “flash” drive) well, that surprised me.

Later I reflected on my own teen years: did I have a clue menopause even existed back then? The answer? No. Worse, I don’t think the concept registered with me truly until I was well into my twenties, maybe older.

Intrigued by my cluelessness, I asked my Mom about her menopause experience, particularly the onset. Her answer surprised me more than my son’s dinner-table comments.  “Oh,” she said, “I don’t think I went through any of that.”

Hunh?

How did she escape the mood swings? The hot flashes? The night sweats? The bizarre cycles of doom, where hellacious PMS pre-curses 30 or so hours of flooding rivaling the red sea?

Could she have forgotten? Or could it be that she hadn’t been aware that these early signs had anything to do with menopause?

Then I remembered…The Trip.

In the spring of 1975, my Mom and my then StepDad took all of us (2 yr-old half-sister, 15yr-old brother, and 14 yr-old me) to Florida for a little R&R. The cracks in Mom’s and StepDad’s marriage already showing, the trip’s mood was rugged from the get-go, everything coming to a head the night we dined at a fancy restaurant. My brother ordered the most expensive item on the menu—yes, “Surf and Turf”—and StepDad had a conniption, demanding he order something cheaper. My brother did, and Mom, usually conciliatory to the max, sank into a pinched-lip sulk for the remainder of the meal.

Later, through the thin wall of our no-frills motel room, I remember hearing Mom and StepDad “discussing” things. The next morning he was gone. Mom? She took us on a Mastercard-driven spending tear that, frankly, scared us kids. What I remember most was going back to that fancy restaurant (more than once) and Mom insisting, insisting, my brother order the Surf and Turf.

When we returned home, StepDad had pretty much moved out and, probably needless to say, divorce was imminent.

I reminded Mom recently about The Trip, and a door of realization opened. Maybe some of her furiously irrational behavior back then could be attributed to the onset of menopause. The likely truth gave us both an aha moment.

Now, I’m not trying to make a big point here, but these days when I think of the sum of my own menopause experience so far—that steak-sized helping of discomfort often accompanied by a tasty lobster-tail of humor—yup, I see a big plate of Surf and Turf.

Sure, my head and body are often whacked, and it is mad strange to have my teenage son (along with my other two kids AND my husband) tease me occasionally about that whackedness. The truth is, however, that I know we’ll all deal better if we keep discussing life experiences like the big M openly, and—more than anything else—if we just remember to keep laughing.

Mima Tipper:   Mima Tipper has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is represented by Erzsi Deàk at Hen & Ink Literary Studio, henandink.com. Her YA short story “A Cut-OutFace” is in the latest issue of Hunger Mountain’s online Journal of the Arts (Read it here) and another of her YA short stories, “Waiting for Alice”, will appear in Sucker Literary Magazine’s premiere issue, coming winter, 2012. Mima lives in Vermont with her family, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Menopause, PMS

Good Sports

We all know them:  The good sports.

Good sports don’t care which restaurant they go to.  They don’t complain about the weather.  They don’t mind being teased.  They don’t embarrass easily.  They’re always up for adventure.  They aren’t afraid of new things.  And they’re willing to make do.

 My family might say that many times, I’m a wonderful sport.

They also might say that other times, I’m not.

There’s something about PMS and Menopausal Hormonal Madness that can make us terrible sports.

And there’s something about the zest that can come with The Great Pause that can make us very good sports.

I don’t know how to always be a good sport, no matter what the circumstances.

(Good sports out there:  Send us your advice.)

But I’m working on it.  And I seem to be getting better.

In recent years, I’ve been able to say to myself, “Don’t ruin the fun.”  And often it works.

Take a breath.  Be slow to react.  Tell yourself you can do it.

There you are:  A good sport.

And good sports have a sporting good time!

The Photo Above:  Be a sport and read the slightly complicated explanation of this photo.

In the summer, my daughter Katherine’s teddy bears come to live with me, and I write posts about them for her blog, Katheats

Last summer, one of my posts was “The Bears Face Their Fears.”  You can read the post here.  Churton, the bear in the picture, had a fear of public speaking.  I decided he should dress as a shepherd and read the Twenty-third Psalm in church.

The photo above shows Dr. Bob Brizendine, pastor of Hillsborough Presbyterian Church, posing with Churton.  Since Bob was out of town that Sunday, we had to take the shot on a Tuesday.  Bob donned his robe at my request and stood with Churton at the door of the church, not many questions asked.  Now that’s a jolly good sport.

Photo Below:  This is Churton at the lectern.  He was also a good sport and is happily no longer afraid of public speaking.