Bochorno* Escolar: Hot Flashes at School


                    Spa 304 final at mercado BA

A post by writer, teacher, and healer Sirena Pellarolo    

Se siente bien, maestra?” the student who was sitting directly in front of me asked.Are you ok?”

I could barely respond. I was standing there, in the middle of the circle of students–my favorite format for conducting class– trying to keep my “cool” and remember what I was doing there. I had felt a hot flash mounting up my legs from the very bottom of my feet, increasing temperature as it ascended, until it got to its highest tension in my face and head. It then erupted in visible sweat that flashed my face and made my neck and armpits moist. It was a power surge indeed, and my face was red as a tomato and my consciousness astral travelling.

When I was able to finally come back to my senses, I sat down in front of twenty faces that looked at me in horror. And then I calmly said: “It’s a hot flash!”

That day I learnt that it was better to warn my students as soon as I felt the glimpse of a hot flash coming. It didn’t matter if I was lecturing about tango women or Eva Perón, or if the designated student was giving a presentation about that day’s reading. As soon as I felt my head becoming lighter at the onset of what I felt was an of out-of-body experience unfailingly resulting in a dangerous increase of my body temperature, I would yell “Hot flash!”

In time, my students became accustomed to my interruptions of lectures with the disclosing in real time of what my body was going through. They actually started liking the fact that they were privy to my most intimate symptoms punctuating the change I was undergoing in menopause. And one of them, compassionate enough of my desperation to find anything to fan my fiery body with during those trances, one day came to class with a “present.”

“Maestra,” she said. “Last weekend I was in Las Vegas, and my older sister took me to this show, Menopause, the Musical. It reminded me of you. They were giving out these cute fans to audience members, and I thought it would come in handy when you’re teaching class and those hot flashes take you by surprise. “

I looked at the simple tool: a white hand fan with the inscription Menopause, the Musical on its reverse side. I looked at it in appreciation, and thanked the student for her mindfulness. I understood then the importance of these gadgets, and how I had seen my abuelita holding the most exquisite collection of silk fans during her outings. She was a pro at opening and closing it with just a twist of her wrist in a gesture that made her look as a sophisticated matron, who knew what to do with her hands in social gatherings. So now I knew what those fans were actually for!

Needless to say, I tucked the white fan in the bag where I carried my books and folders. It accompanied me to school during those long peri-menopausal years and helped me cool off when needed. It was also good that my school fan was simpler than the beautifully embroidered ones that my abuelita flaunted during tea parties and other social occasions. All things considered, Amalia’s thoughtful gift might have been plain, but it embodied her care, and it also kept me “shame-free” at school.

*bochorno means “shame” in Spanish. The same word was used to name hot flashes, referencing a link between uncontrolled body reactions in aging women and shame.


Sirena Pellarolo, Ph.D., your Midlife Midwife, is an author, speaker and holistic healer. She supports women in their menopause years to manage symptoms naturally, through cleanses, live foods, and emotional detoxing.  A board certified holistic health coach, raw food educator, detox expert, radio host and blogger, Sirena is Professor Emerita of Spanish and Latin American Cultural Studies. She has authored and published numerous articles and two books on Latin American performance and gender studies, globalization and new social movements.

Her forthcoming book Recover Your Juiciness: A 30 Day DIY Guide for an Empowered and Healthy Menopause will be out next Fall by Flower of Life Press. She has also designed a program, “Four Months Towards an Empowered and Healthy Menopause,” that follows the four stages of healing covered in the book.

For more info check out Sirena’s menopause website, here.

Contact Sirena at

Top Photo:  End of classes dinner with Sirena’s Spanish 304 students at Mercado Buenos Aires, Northridge, California

Leakers Anonymous!


About five years ago, at dinner with girlfriends, we confessed one at a time, that we each had some leaking issues. You could hear the collective sigh that we aren’t alone. Reminds me of this video. Love the brave underpants lady!

Stats show that millions of women experience urinary leakage, but only fifty percent talk about the problem or look for help. Women become resigned to leakage after childbirth or as a consequence of aging. Big mistake! In 1948, Dr. Arnold Kegel first explained the pelvic floor exercise that works wonders. Thank you, Dr. Kegel.

Arnold Kegel

Unfortunately, many women don’t practice kegels correctly or they stop doing the exercise. PeriCoach takes the guesswork out of kegels. Check out the PeriCoach website to learn more. 

PeriCoach Muscle Contraction

PeriCoach is available by prescription. Click here for information on pricing and the form for your doctor to sign.

PeriCoach with phone copy

I’ve received compensation for posting this information about PeriCoach. I believe kegels work and so am glad to support methods that encourage the exercise.

Experience 2015: Kayak Lesson!



A kayak lesson!

Cliff signed us up for a two-hour class offered through Burlington, North Carolina’s  outdoor program. I’d been in kayaks before and once dumped myself into a creek. When Cliff told me about the lesson, the image of wet, klutzy me popped into my head.

Melissa Hoose, our skilled teacher, taught us plenty, including how to get into the kayak without landing in the water. I NEVER would have figured this out without a class, which is why lessons work. (I found the image on


Once I used this method to launch from shore, I was in my glory. Loved placing the paddle into the lake and moving a twelve-foot boat with ease. Life seemed manageable and mystical as water striders led the way.

So my larger life lesson from my kayak lesson is a simple one I often forget:  Sometimes, you have to be brave enough to just get started.

The rest is often just sailing happily into the sunset.


Thanks to Melissa for the excellent class and for the photos!

The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Thirteen


Velvet Taco Ladies

In my year and a half of searching for ladies room doors, I do believe the door above, in bright pink, is my favorite! I found it (and the men’s below) at Urban Taco in Dallas this summer.

Velvet Taco Men

I loved this unisex door, found at The Gypsy Wagon, a funky boutique in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood of Dallas.

And I can’t resist showing you the dressing room!

Gypsy Wagon

Reader Susan, while in Chicago for her daughter’s grad school graduation, found this metal lady at Avec Restaurant.

photo (1)

And this elegant door at  Chant, a restaurant in Hyde Park, Chicago.


And from Susan, the Barkeater’s Restaurant in Shelburne, Vermont.

photo (2)

I found this at The Yellow Deli in Rutland, Vermont. The owner was pleased at my enthusiasm. No one had ever photographed his doors before.


A nice brass plate at the Latham ’76 Diner in Latham, New York. I did wonder why they didn’t move the plate down a bit.


Ah. And remember the days when we called it a “Powder Room?”  Here’s a sign for a unisex bathroom at the Gourmet Provence Bakery in Brandon,Vermont.

20150618_124451 (1)

And finally, a blast from the past: the ladies room door on the Ticonderoga Steamboat at the fabulous Shelburne Museum in  Vermont. If you visit the Shelburne, allow at least a day for an amazing blast from your past.


And so full steam ahead in our quest for creative and unusual ladies room doors. Thanks for your help!