Menopause

Building Your Resilient Self: A Writing Workshop

20160305_151927 (1)

 

For those of you who live locally, my friend Judy Brown and I are repeating our writing workshop at RambleRill Farm here in Hillsborough. We’re talking about resiliency for women! We were delighted by the response to our first workshop, so we’re offering it again. The workshop is for both writers and non-writers. Come join us!

During the workshop, we ask participants to write about a troubling experience. This is what one woman reported in her workshop evaluation:

“Just such a memory had haunted me the week before attending your workshop, so I wrote about it. I also wrote about the advice that I would give someone undergoing a similar experience. That night I slept better than I had for some time. So thank you very much for the healing quality of this workshop.”

Here’s the workshop description:

Building Your Resilient Self:
An Afternoon of Wellness and Words

“The oak fought the wind and was broken,
the willow bent when it must and survived.”
Robert Jordan

Come join an intimate group of women for an afternoon at RambleRill Farm in
Hillsborough as we explore writing techniques and how they can be a tool for
resiliency. Whether we are the oak or the willow, life hands us many challenges.
Writing is a strong tool for guiding us to bend when we need to, and to help us
bounce back to physical and emotional wellness.

Judy Brown, a certified holistic health coach, will explain how our emotional,
spiritual, and relational lives can impact our resiliency and our health.

Barbara Younger, an author and writing teacher, will lead us in writing from the
heart to reach the strength within us.

The afternoon will include guided meditations, relaxation exercises, and an
afternoon tea.

Date: Friday, April 1, 2016
1-4 pm

Where: RambleRill Farm, 913 Arthur Minnis Rd., Hillsborough

Cost: $40

Please contact Judy Brown for more information and to sign up for the workshop.
Jfrances40@earthlink.

RambleRill Farm: I snapped the photo of the RambleRill Barn right before our first workshop on a cold winter day. Come meet the farm in the Spring! You can read more about RambleRill here.

20160130_123753

Menopause

My Safari: A Lesson in Wisdom and Innocence

 

Elephants

 A post by Judy Ackley Brown:

With great anticipation, Martin and I embarked on our long journey to Tanzania. Martin would fulfill a dream, to climb Kilimanjaro.

The trek to the roof of Africa would take six days. I chose to remain in Moshi and find my own adventures. Our B& B hostess, Sandra, organized a three day safari for me and my new Polish friends, Ela and Wojciech.

Our guide for this trip, whose name is Innocent, is a 32 year old Tanzanian, one of six children whose mother left them at an early age, a new father of a six week old son, a smart young man, and an exuberant guide.

His eyes gleamed and his bright white smile radiated innocence. The words from his mouth were wise and wonderful.

The animal and bird sightings, the landscape, the Masai tribe, the drive, the whole adventure, left me breathless. It was one of the most amazing adventures of my life.

zebra-e1396367358829

My conversations with Innocent, however, left an imprint on my heart.

Our days were full, but hot and exhausting. The dust and sweat stuck to my skin along with the necessary bug repellent and sunscreen.

We were camping, and to my utter dismay, I realized I had no bath towel.

Innocent gave me his one and only towel.

I resisted.

He very calmly explained to me that if his long lost mother ever needed help, he hoped someone would assist her. And so, his generosity to me.

Innocent went on to explain that trees and plants never meet, but people do. This is a blessing, so we need to be kind to each other.

This articulate young man believes we are here to improve on each generation.

His father imparted to him all of his knowledge, as this was the key to a good life.

Now that Innocent was a father himself, he would give all of his knowledge to his son, and be a better parent. He said he suffers from “no mother love.”

While lying in my tent at night listening to all the African noises, I pondered.

Have I shared all of my knowledge with my children?

Have I honestly learned from the mistakes of my parents?

Did I provide abundant mother love?

I will never forget the lions, zebras, elephants, giraffes, warthogs, or the baby baboons.

And, I will never forget Innocent’s smile.

 

Judy and Innocent

Photo Above:  Innocent and I are standing by the hippo pond at Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania. It is the only place you can get out of your car in the park.  We stopped for a well needed break and lunch on our last day of the safari.

Judy Ackley Brown and her husband, Martin, love to travel. Judy is currently enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she is learning all things related to food, lifestyle, and health.  When she travels, she readily partakes in local foods and cooking customs. In Tanzania she enjoyed avocado for breakfast and papaya for dessert.

Grandchildren, Grandmother, Menopause

The Bouncing Ball of Menopause

Capture

Child psychologists say a baby learns

When you drop a bouncing ball,

The ball bounces back up.

Babies, smarter sometimes than grownups,

Know that life has its ups and downs,

And after the down, almost always comes an up!

Some of those ups and downs, if you’re a woman of a certain age, are the moody woes of menopause.

Telling yourself that the ups will come back really is helpful.

If this doesn’t work, try chocolate, a brisk walk, and more chocolate.

Frog: The Frog, name unknown to this grandma, was a baby shower gift of guest blogger Judy Ackley Brown, who writes in this post about rainy days and life.

Chocolate:  Make that a tiny bit, each time. Menopause pounds are a real downer.

Poet (of sorts) :  Me. I’ve been having fun keeping up with current thinking in child development from Kath,  creator of Baby Eats Real Food.

The baby: My grandson Mazen, usually upbeat!

Aging, Menopause

Downton Abbey–Will I Be the Next Dowager?

maggie-smith-downton-abbey-2

A  post by Downton Abbey fan Judy Ackley Brown:

Season 3 of Downton Abbey is ending soon, and I am quietly grieving.

My obsession with the show is strong.

My Sunday nights best not be interrupted during the DA run!

This season I was intrigued with Maggie Smith’s character of the dowager.  It prompted me to double check on the exact meaning of this uncommonly used word, which is “a dignified elderly woman”.

Where are the dowagers in our culture now?

Have they lost their purpose?

Do we need to regain this quiet but powerful role?

Do we behave with dignity?

Violet is bold, opinionated, sly, but also witty and wise.

Ever present in the daily lives of the family she is the typical matriarch.

The dowager has dated opinions for sure and appears to struggle with the inevitable arrival of a new and modern world. Edith, her granddaughter, a journalist?  Tom Branson to baptize baby Sybil a Catholic?

What struck me this season, in a warm fuzzy way, is that despite Violet’s rigidity, she deeply cares for each family member.

The continuance of the estate and the well- being of the family unit is at the center of her often unsolicited advice.

She embraced Branson when a new great grandchild was in the horizon.

Despite her subtle and manipulative ways, she did play a key role in restoring peace after Lady Sybil’s tragic death.

I hope Violet sticks around for a long while.  I look to her with a new sense of awe. She has qualities I might want to embrace.

This stoic but outspoken dowager might just have her priorities in alignment.

After all, as she says, “It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding!”

Lady Violet has some of the wittiest lines in the show. Her clear opinions of Americans, as seen in this video, endear us regardless of our nationality!

Marathon!  Don’t miss the Downton Abbey Marathon Sunday on PBS

Judy Ackley Brown lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina and enjoys travel, writing, and photography. A professed anglophile, she hopes to plan another trip to England soon.

The photo below shows Judy as a toddler with her paternal grandmother, Fern Ackley. Fern sits stoically like a dowager!

Judy and Grandma

Life, Menopause

Guest Post: Deep December

IMG_1401

A guest post from Judy Brown, a December birthday girl:

December is deeply filled with activity, parties, decorating, shopping, church, family and friends.  It holds a deep spot in my heart for the traditions, the church gatherings, many family memories, both old and new.

This year I challenge myself to a fresh focus….. to fill my deep December heart.

When I place an old family ornament on the tree, I want to whisper a new wish for someone dear.

When I contemplate the advent messages, I want the meaning to latch on to my heart.

When I light a candle , I want to brighten my winter days, and yours, with hope.

When I listen to a favorite holiday melody, I want to create a centered rhythm to my day.

When I smell cookies baking, I want to fill my spirit with the scent of serenity and then pass it on.

When a snowflake falls on you and me, I want it to melt away our stubborn thoughts.

When I give a gift to someone special, I want to tie my compassion and friendship in the bow.

When I say a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or other holiday greeting, I want to elicit a happy smile.

When I greet my children, I want my welcome home hug to fill their core with gladness.

Most of all, when I pause for a deep breath during this December’s flurry, I want to exhale gratitude and then promise to never take love for granted.

My best wishes to you for a deeply meaningful holiday!

Photo Above:  Judy loves to feed our feathered friends in December and all winter long.  The birdhouse graces her yard.

 Photo Below: Judy and her daughter Jamie in the snow

Jamie and Judy in Snow

Aging, Menopause

French Lessons: Sacre Coeur

The third post in the Paris series, written by Judy Brown:

Visiting the churches of Paris is one of my favorite things to do.

On a trip this October with my two good friends, Lisa and Barbara, I took advantage of a sunny day and went to Sacre-Coeur Basilica ( Basilica of the Sacred Heart) on the hill in Paris called Montmartre.

After the long trek uphill, we happily found the crowds to be manageable, and there was no wait to go inside.

I tend to get dramatic in churches, and this one caused me to gasp.  It is gorgeous.  The mosaic in the apse is one of the largest in the world and is breathtaking.

Timing was perfect. The three of us sat in the pews and listened to the priests chant and the nuns play their table harps (or dulcimers) and sing. The sacred sounds echoed and filled me with peace.

What brings me joy is the escape from the hub bub of the outside world, the serenity and beauty the setting provides, and the cross section of humanity that is present.

I always like to people watch but really find it soothing just to sit and contemplate my life, my issues, and pray for my family and friends in need.

Upon leaving, and just outside the large wooden carved doors of the church, sat a  middle aged woman begging for change.

I can still see her face in my mind. There was desperation.  There was sadness.  There was depth in her eyes. There was hope that she would receive assistance from the travelers and church goers. She was beautiful despite being ragged.

Does she have a family to support? Is she ill or in pain? Was she cold? What is she thinking about? Does she worry about menopause?

Life and its woes are relative. This sweet lady reminded me that I need to keep my seemingly small complaints about life in perspective.  Menopausal dry skin, nights sweats, and mood swings are merely inconveniences that I could certainly bare.

Does she know that she taught me more and gave me more than the Euros I gave her? This trip to Sacre Coeur was a gentle reminder of all I am grateful for.

The beauty of the church, the beauty in her eyes were a gift to me. I continue to pray for her.

Menopause

Tangerine Tango! (And a Bright Orange Book Giveaway)

Color! Color!  Color! Color! Color! Color! Color!

The older I get, the more I’m drawn to vibrant colors.

And so is Lisa Winkler, because she titled her  new anthology Tangerine Tango: Women Writers Share Slices of Life.

I  am delighted that Lisa selected three of my poems and three of my essays for the book.  Thanks, Lisa!

Here’s what the press release says about Tangerine Tango’s contents:

  • There’s Donna Barry who writes about her mother, her father, football, the ocean, and one of her first jobs.
  • There’s Stacey Caron who is a food blogger and antique dealer. She shares her grandmother’s chopped liver recipe, a tart from Spain, and her love of food.
  • You’ll swoon in green with Judy Ackley Brown and smile as you read about Barbara Chapman’s Fifth grade memories, her fight with breast cancer, and her work with hospice.
  • You’ll lick your lips with Gabi Coatsworth’s description of ice cream, empathize with her trip to the dump, envision her shrimping with her father and her grand-daughter, and be moved by her poem dedicated to her sister.
  • Dawn Landau’s ode to her daughter teems with raw emotion and her vision of seeing her late mother is almost scary.
  • Chris Rosen’s mother will amaze you, you’ll share her pride in her rock musician son, and want to climb in the hot air balloon with her.
  • Like Leah Singer, you’ll be annoyed at the salesman, disturbed by her parents chiding her about her weight, and proud that she has made her interfaith marriage last.
  • Those with siblings will hear themselves in Madeline Taylor’s telephone essay.
  • With Patti Winker, you’ll wonder about life with 11 siblings, learn about running a candy store, and reminisces about life with clotheslines and before helmets.
  • From Lisa Winkler, you can reread some past posts – about fashion advice from our mothers, medical advice from her father, hopes for college graduates and tolerance for varying religious beliefs in her own family, and ice cream flavors.
  • Barbara Younger shares three lovely poems – about buttons, socks and fudge, and essays about her father’s music, her allegiance to her ancient stove, and a Valentine’s Day when she was 11.

Me again:

Start your holiday shopping!  A great present, the book’s tiny size makes it perfect to tuck into a gift basket or bag.

Don’t forget birthdays!  With its focus on living an exuberant life, Tangerine Tango makes a great girlfriend birthday present.

You!  And of course you’ll want a copy for yourself!

Purchase the book here. 

Proceeds from the sale of Tangerine Tango go to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Giveaway: In celebration of the publication of this colorful collection of essays and poems, I’m giving away two copies.  Post a comment by October 24 saying you’d like to win. Two winners will be chosen at random.

Photo Above:  Marina Bang designed Tangerine Tango’s delicious cover!

Photo Below:  Giveaway books stand proud on our old stove, the topic of one of my essays in Tangerine Tango.