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.

Life, Menopause, Mood, PMS, Shopping

Eleven Tips on 11-11-11 for the Anytime Blues

Feeling the Menopause Blues?  Or the PMS blues or any kind of blues at all?  In honor of 11-11-11, here are eleven ways to BEAT THE BLUES!

1.  Go back to your childhood.  Blow bubbles.  Ride a bike.  Yo-yo.  Get out your scrapbooks or yearbooks or picture books and lose yourself in yesterday.

2.  Change things up.  Change locations.  Change tasks.  Change the topic of the conversation.  Sometimes, change can shake up the blues and shake them away.

3.  Blast music.  Your favorite.  You’re the Boss of the Music World right now and you get to pick!

4.  Use your hands.  Paint.  Dig.  Stir.  Knit. Scrub.  Kneed.  Rake.  Hammer. Stitch.

 5.  Cheer up a shut in with a visit, a phone call, or a card.  If you have a balloon shop in your area, send a bunch of balloons. You can usually get three mylar balloons and delivery for around twenty dollars.  The cheer will come right back at ya!

6.  Escape into someone else’s story for a bit.  Read a good novel or biography.  Watch a movie.  Click here for the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Lists.

7.  Check out The Happiness Project website of Gretchen Rubin.  She explores the whole arena of happiness and moods.

8.  Connect with other people.  We sometimes stay clear of others when we’re feeling blue, but moods improve when we’re engaged in meaningful conversations.  Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, just to check on him or her.  Invite a new neighbor over for tea or dessert or a drink.  Start a conversation about your finicky cat when you’re in the pet food aisle.  Maybe another cat owner needs a pick me up too!

9.  Exercise. The blues make you fight exercise, but once you get moving, the blues may just dash away.

10.  Do a task you have been procrastinating. Get that car inspected.  Deal with the hall closet.  Tell yourself, “I’m grumpy anyway, so I might as well do a project that makes me grumpy.”  This often has a reverse effect.   Your mind gets busy, too busy to think about the blues, and when you’re finished, you’re quite pleased with a task accomplished.   

11.  Try a little Retail Therapy.  Don’t drop a bundle, but purchase something simple that will brighten your mood.  So often we don’t allow ourselves to buy small things that we love, need, or crave.  New gym socks. An alarm clock with a gentler buzz.  Funky earrings your daughters will envy.

Photo:  This blue lady is chasing her blues away with Tip Number 11, Retail Therapy.  She was created by Aubrey and chosen to be part of the school art exhibit at the North Carolina State Fair.

Contest:  Mary Be won the copy of Goodnight Moon!  Mary, send me your address, and I’ll send you “In the great green room there was a telephone and a red balloon and a ….”