Menopause

Growing Old Gracefully: Let Your Spirit Carry You…

 04 - Sept 6 2011 - Evelyn Baxter photo - best

A post by photographer and writer Barb Mayer:

It’s somehow fitting that the oldest woman I have had the privilege of befriending has taught me the secret of being eternally young.

At 95 Evelyn no longer feels the need to impress or  the need to modify her appearance to please others.

Advancing age has brought with it a new sense of freedom. “If it hasn’t killed me yet, I’m not going to worry about it,” is her justification for eating the rich chocolate cake sitting in front of her, though she recently learned she has borderline diabetes.

In her early 80s she lost her partner of fifty years to cancer. Though she went through a period of mourning, she didn’t drown in her sorrows.

She took a trip to Hawaii with her family and learned a new sport – surfing. Her son and granddaughter, buffeted and bruised by the waves, quickly gave up. Evelyn persevered and, much to her delight, managed to stand up on the board, feeling the freedom of the waves draw her into the shore.

Her memory is not what it used to be, and I know it’s a subject she doesn’t like to talk about. If she can’t find something in the kitchen, she invariably blames her son. “He’s always moving things on me,” she states accusingly, and I flash her an empathetic look that says… yes, men are like that, aren’t they?

When she tells me the same story she has told me for the last three days, I listen intently, as though it were the first time. I know that the telling gives her great pleasure and I enjoy listening to anecdotes of a life lived before television, before cars and before cell phones.

We no longer do aerobics together at the senior center. Her sense of balance is starting to fail and the long walks we used to take together have become dramatically shorter. But her enthusiasm for life remains unabated.

The other day we sat around her kitchen table and, brush in hand, she gave me pointers on the art of watercolor painting, a hobby she took up in her mid 60s.

Though her body is beginning to fail, her zest for life has remained intact. In the four short years I have known her, she has taught me a valuable lesson.

No matter how far along you are on the path of life, when you let your spirit carry you, it’s possible to grow old gracefully and happily.

Barb

Barb Mayer is an award-winning photographer and freelance writer who enjoys creating works to inspire and enlighten. Her latest project combines photography with music and inspirational quotes (click here to view The Poetry of the Earth and she is an occasional contributor to the anthologies of  June Cotner.

She loves spending quiet time writing and gardening in her small country house near Rome, Italy.  Her time in the States is spent traveling and visiting family and friends. You may contact Barb and learn more about her writing and photography at her web site: www.barbmayer.com.

In the top photo, Evelyn is sporting her favorite pair of Italian shoes. The photo was taken by Barb.

Aging, Menopause

Are You a Calendar Girl? The Downsizing Continues (and Cafe Steamers)

Green Plate

The project continues!

High on a shelf, I discovered these darling calendar plates my mom picked up somewhere.  They’re keepers. How fun to have your lunch on another decade!

Deep in the trenches of our storage room, I dug out a stack of nine old calendars.

I don’t know why I kept them. Perhaps I figured they might be useful for kid art projects.

Calendars

I leafed through them:  dentist, doctor, PTA, church meetings, writer events, vacations enjoyed but largely forgotten.

I usually love to pick up a tidbit from long  ago.  A photo.  A letter. A trinket from a trip.  A drawing done by one of my girls.

But looking through these old calendars made me sad and wistful.

When you can flip through twelve pages, and a whole year of your life is gone, that’s a bit too fast for me.

I made the executive decision to put the calendars in the paper recycling bin. If something bothers  you or makes you sad, the experts say to toss it.

Foiled again!

Cliff saw  them and said nope, we’re going to review one a night.

And so we are.

Remembering together makes those busy years come back more clearly.  Lots more fun!

As for the calendar plates, I bought them out of their box and washed them. I’ve got room on my shelf for them now, thanks to some other plates that didn’t make the cut.

Healthy Choice invited me to try their Healthy Choice Steamers, culinary-inspired steaming meals with a crisp and fresh taste.

On  Pink 1967, we enjoyed General Tsao’s Spicy Chicken:

1967

On Blue 1968, we served up Beef Merlot:

1968

Both low calorie  meals get good grades for flavor and freshness, and of course they look especially delicious on my beautiful plates!

You can learn more about the steamers on the Healthy Choice site right here!  

Asian Inspired

·Back to all those years…

What about you?

Are you a Calendar Girl, nostalgic for years gone by

Or are you full steam ahead?

Brown Plate Close Up

Blue Plate

Red Plate Close Up

Disclosure: I’m participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. They sent me coupons for Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers and payment in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. All opinions are my own and were not influenced, nor reviewed, by Healthy Choice prior to posting.

Aging, Menopause

Mirror, Mirror! Louise Hawes on Writing and Aging, Plus a Free Novel Giveaway

Black Pearls

A post by writer Louise Hawes:

When you’re a working writer/teacher, you have more occasion than some to mark the passage of time—in your own face!

With each new book launch , conference gig, or writing workshop I commit to, there is always the request for a bio and “recent photo.” Ackkkk!

While I sometimes wish I could send out an airbrushed, retouched, ageless portrait, if I did it’s unlikely anyone at the event to follow would recognize me!

Botox? I’ll pass.

Face lift and tummy tucks? My body and I came to a mutual agreement years ago: we’re in this for the duration, and we’re in it together.

Hair color? Now that menopause has ended regular visits from my “friend,” I’ve decided to spare myself that other monthly pain as well. If I never inhale peroxide again, or wrestle with plastic gloves, or wonder if I put in so much toner my hair will turn purple, well, as the ad says, I’m worth it!

Snow White’s evil stepmother worried a lot about her image.

But it seems to me, her mistake wasn’t putting in all that mirror time; it was the way she looked at herself.

For Queenie, it was all about comparisons: who’s the fairest?

In other words, how do I stack up against my younger self, my daughter, the models in magazines, other women my age, how I looked yesterday, the women I pass on the street?

If you play that game, you’re bound to lose.

But what if looking in the mirror was a win-win?

What if each time you checked your reflection, you laughed out loud? Or cheered? Or clapped? Or cried.

That’s what I do, and it’s not because I’m early onset, either. Thanks to my sister, who’s a painter and teacher, I’m learning to come to the image in my mirror with fresh eyes and an open heart:

When her students start critiquing their work instead of responding to it, Helen asks her students to take a fresh look, to study it as if they’re seeing it for the first time.

“Close your eyes,” she tells them, “scrunch them tight, then open them and see your whole painting at once. Don’t focus on just one part, and don’t worry if some detail is right or wrong. Listen, instead, to what this brand new experience is telling you.”

That’s how I try to look in the mirror now—with my eyes, not my head.

I don’t zero in on the fact that one side of my mouth turns down further than the other, or on that tiny age spot shaped like Bolivia on my right cheek.

Each morning, I introduce myself to me, the me who’s here NOW, not in the past or the future.

I don’t fault find or take out my mental airbrush.

Instead, I smile and say hello. When we look at each other with that unconditional friendliness, my reflection and I?

Mostly, we like what we see.

And hey, if not, there’s always the sign I’ve taped to the glass: “At least, I still have my teeth!”

*  *  *

Speaking of Snow White (writers are sooo good at segues, aren’t we?!), I hope the winner of this book drawing enjoys dark fairy tales.

Black Pearls features all the old favorites, told from angles you’d never dream of!

Booklist called it, “Twisted, clever, and artfully written.” Named to the Hall of Fame of teenreadstoo.com and chosen as a Best Book of the Year by the Austin-American Statesman, this collection was written for both adult and YA readers.

You can watch the trailer here:

http://www.yatrailerpark.com/2012/11/black-pearls-by-louise-hawes.html

Giveaway! To enter the giveaway for a copy of Black Pearls, post a comment by May 6 saying you’d like to win. Winner will be chosen at random.

Louise

Louise Hawes is a founding faculty member of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. Her short fictionhas appeared in anthologies and journals in the US and Canada, and is collected in Anteaters Don’t Dream, and Black Pearls, a Faerie Strand. Her novels for young adults include Rosey in the Present Tense, Waiting for Christopher and The Vanishing Point.

Louise has a grown son and daughter, as well as four grandchildren (not yet grown, but shooting up fast!) She lives in North Carolina and travels frequently, often to give Four Sisters Playshops with Helen (mentioned above) and her three other sisters. These creative retreats explore film, music, writing, and painting, and have been held all over the world.

For more information on the Sisters retreats and a look at Louise’s books and lectures on writing, please visit www.louisehawes.com.

Photo of Louise:  The un-retouched, all-natural photo above was taken by writer and photographer Mamie Potter.

The Cover of Black Pearls was created by Rebecca Guay.

Aging, Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, No More Periods, Periods

Menopause: Save the Sisters!

Menopause + Definition

Although the subtitle of this blog is “Encouraging Words for the Menopause Roller Coaster,” I must give you a

Whine Alert!

I thought the great day would come when we’d stop having periods.

No cramps.

No worrying about going sailing for six hours at that time of the month.

No birth control.

Just free wheeling.

I figured the definition above, which I snipped from a Google search of “menopause,” was an honest one.

Not!

 Menopause is so much more.

No cramps slips into other concerns: achy feet, insomnia, extra dry skin, weight gain, bloating, and on and on….

No birth control remains a blessing, but one’s enthusiasm can wane when vaginal dryness and atrophy appear.

I was tricked!

No one warned me, really.

Or maybe they did, but I missed it.

Menopause, physically, is not simply the cessation of periods and the end to the possibility of pregnancy.

I cry NOT to the definition above. Or perhaps that should be “THAT’S NOT ALL!”

Do I wish I had known?

Yes!

I’m of the forewarned is best persuasion.

The Girl Scout motto “Be prepared” stuck with me.

What about  you?

There’s plenty to celebrate with The Great Pause.

Liberation from some of the “shoulds” and “musts.”

A willingness to toss out what’s not working.

The courage and confidence to find new hobbies, activities, travels, relationships, and even careers.

The mind-changing stuff rocks.

But to the physical stuff I say

Yikes and Yuck.

So what are the encouraging words?

Point one is that there are remedies, at least in part, for some of the ailments.

Point two is that the mind-changing stuff is cool.

Point three is that I think it’s time we

Save the Sisters!

Just like an older sister informs a younger one about periods, we should let those who come after us know what lies ahead.

I wish I’d been warned.

I would have appreciated my youth more.

And not been so shocked by the changes to my body.

So it’s time, with encouraging but honest words, to clue in the sisters.

Agree?

Disagree?