Light at the end of the tunnel & light in the middle of the circle

 

 

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My oldest (not in age ;)) and one of my dearest yoga teachers, Sukhraj and I decided we needed to start a support group for women going through perimenopause, the next phase of life, she was witnessing other women struggling and struggling herself and clearly I was … as she and all 70 😂of my blog followers know all too well 😉.  We started our circle a few months ago and have recently changed the name from Perimenopause Women’s Circle to Wisdom Circle — much more positive, don’t you think?!  Since then something has shifted in me, I’ve decided to try to embrace this transition instead of only complaining about all the miserable side affects and try to look at it as an opportunity for change, instead of a a threat or a burden.  What I have experienced the last 8 years has not been a “picnic” but along with my attitude changing, I am glimpsing the “light at the end of the tunnel”, perhaps because of the “light” in the middle of our circle 🤗.  Some of my symptoms have started to abate (although I still get my period every 28 days like clock work — but the duration etc. is lessening), my night sweats are less frequent, although now I’m experiencing  some flashes in the day 😯, but they are manageable , my brain fog may be lifting a bit, and I’ve weaned off my anti-anxiety/anti-depressant (again) and so far so good 🙏.  The irrational & irritable behavior have not crept back in, I take comfort in the fact that my husband and children will absolutely let me know if those behaviors start up again!  Since we started our Wisdom Circle I have been graced with information that has made for a more positive spin on this transition … like the quote above and the excerpts from the article below.  My daughter started reading “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant, on her own, I’ve been telling her to read it for a few years, she loves it, I am obviously “over the moon”.  If you know me, for the last 17 years I’ve been asking “where is my Red Tent?”  I may have found it …

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What if We Didn’t Dread Menopause?

The end of a woman’s fertile years has gotten a bad rep. What if we finally gave it the respect it deserves?
By  *link to full article below

The word “menopause” itself was coined by a French physician in 1821; by then, there were colloquial expressions for it in Europe, such as “women’s hell.”

Physicians in France, England and elsewhere associated a huge number of conditions, from scurvy to epilepsy to cancer, with this exciting new syndrome. Because they believed that a buildup of humors — especially blood — caused most medical problems, 18th-century physicians focused especially on hemorrhaging and white flux, which were symptoms, as they saw it, of an unhealthy retention of fluids. They also linked menopause to the fits associated with uterine (“hysterical”) suffocation, a disorder whose tradition was ancient in origin but that reached a new level of popularity in the Renaissance and later. It was defined by episodes of choking (shortness of breath? 🤔) and other symptoms : the original explanation was that a woman’s uterus had migrated upward and suffocated her (again shortness of breath???). European physicians in the 1700s and early 1800s reinterpreted hysterical attacks as signs of excess blood and thought they could be symptoms of menopause.

(HealthDay News) — As if hot flashes and night sweats weren’t enough, a new study suggests that a woman’s lung function seems to decline during perimenopause.

Adaptive theories of menopause, like the Grandmother Hypotheses, argue that postreproductive women shared food and other kinds of help with their children and grandchildren, and as a result, their daughters reproduced faster. What would otherwise have been five decades of reproduction could be compressed into half that time. This strategy meant that every group of humans had an invaluable, naturally renewing resource — older, experienced women with energy to spare. Menopause, in other words, is one of the traits that allowed humans to become the successful species we are.

So let’s stop talking about menopause as though there’s something wrong with it. Menopause isn’t just a collection of symptoms or a pathological condition. It’s a transition to a phase of life that has been critical to human success — one that should be valued and respected, not approached with dread.

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RESPECT and reference for all we have experienced and endured, the ups and downs, the losses and failures, the joys & triumphs … and the wisdom to keep moving forward and to share these experiences and support one another.

I just watched a movie I hadn’t seen in years “A Little Chaos” it came out in 2014, I would have been 45 and maybe not quite “wise” enough to fully grasp or interpret a section of the movie that moved me profoundly the other day, maybe because coincidently after the Wisdom Circle monthly meeting.  It is historical fiction, based on the creation of part of the gardens at Versailles by Louis XIV.  His landscape architect hired a female assistant and she is quite admired & revered at court and a bit of a mystery because he chose to hire a woman, with the King’s approval of course.  Later in the movie she is invited to meet with the King’s mistress, who he has recently “cast off” perhaps as “too old”, she invites this woman to her quarters and into a closed off chamber as she whispers … “Welcome to the “Secret Space” (“The Red Tent” 🤔 🤗), she enters and the room is filled with a group of women of all ages … the mistress goes on to explain, this is where it is safe to speak of things not allowed at court, such as death of children and husbands, (there are many, including this newcomer who has never spoken of the death of her husband and child), abuses, betrayal and aging bodies.  The elder women are revered and respected for their life experience, and their beauty regardless of their age and of course their WISDOM!

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Louis XIV was known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, he was King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European History.  He was a lover and curator of the arts including the natural world and of course the gardens of Versaille.  He also had a very close relationship to his mother who he loved and respected above all else.

“Nature was responsible for the first knots which tied me to my mother.  But attachments formed later by shared qualities of the spirit are far more difficult to break than those formed merely by blood.” King Louis XIV.

There is a scene in the movie when the female landscape artist is presented to the King by his mistress, the woman presents the king with a rose and the following discussion ensues, a rose is like a woman …

When he says “some roses have become faded and overblown” (he is clearly referring to his cast off mistress), she replies “that is the fate that awaits all roses … all roses bud, bloom & fade … although the elements (life) may treat her cruelly, she knows nothing of it and continues to her end without judgement on her beauty, alas it is not the same for us” (unlike the rose, woman as we age are sadly made VERY aware of it).  When the King asks “if that rose could speak what would she say?” she replies “Yes I am HERE, and gave service under nature’s eye and after me, my children will be, is there any greater contribution or more graceful end?”  (she doesn’t necessarily mean children, for she had lost her only child, I think she is referring to our legacy, what we will leave behind, our work, our creations, our love, our roles as mentors, friends, mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers and of course daughters). And when the Kings asks “what protection can the gardener afford this rose from the harsh elements of change?” (I think he is referring to his “old” mistress who I think he still loves and cares for), she replies “patience, care and a little warmth from the sun are our best hope” (when she says “the warmth from the sun” I think she is referring to the warmth and respect and wisdom from all the women that came before and will come after).

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“Can I jut say something? Living my life the way I always wanted to live (traveling constantly, being outdoors a lot, loving hard, swimming in the ocean, laughing all the time, crying all the time, squinting at books, and getting my heart broken repeatedly) has beat the living shit out of my skin … and I like it!  The older I get, the more I like my face. In fact, the older I get, the more at home I feel in my whole entire “body-costume”. (This is true of almost every woman I know. We all seem to be liking ourselves a lot more as we get older — thus disproving the omnipresent culture/commercial assumption that youthful beauty = happiness).  I want to eventually becomes one of those badass old ladies whose faces look like topography maps of everywhere they’ve ever been, and everything they’ve ever felt.  Because, to me, that’s authentic beauty.  Now, all that said, I have had a Botox shot or two in my day, because come on people — I’m not THAT freakin’ authentic (we all get to have SOME contradictions right?❤️ This concludes my Instagram beauty seminar.  I hope you take from it whatever you need.  Whatever you do with your face, you’re perfect and I love you. ❤️ LG
Elizabeth Gilbert

“Menopause (like menstruation) was not discussed in public. Today this is no longer true. As we break this silence we are also breaking cultural barriers, so that we can enter this new life phase with eyes wide open—in the company of more than 48 million kinswomen, all undergoing the same transformation at the same time … we are powerful”**

WE ARE HERE … not unlike the rose.

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Wisdom Circle 2nd Saturday 11a monthly

 

 

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**Christiane Northrup, MD

Not just anger … RAGE

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My friends describe moments of anger and so many of them report it as beyond anger, impatience, or irritability … it’s full blown RAGE!  They talk about wanting to throw dinner plates on the floor, or a glass at their husband’s head, or get in the car and drive and never come back.  My sister-in-law forwarded me an article from Oprah Magazine called “The New Midlife Crisis”, she knows I’m obsessed with the concept of the midlife crisis and perimenopause.  When I first heard the term “perimenopause” from my doctor eleven years ago, I’d never heard the term before and I almost called bullshit on it, just liked I’d called bullshit on the concept of a “midlife crisis” until I realized what was happening to me was indeed perimenopause and indeed a midlife crisis.

I do want to give you hope, I started having pereimenopause symptoms at 40, I just turned 51 and my symptoms are lessoning (even though I still get my period every month like clockwork 🙄).  My episodes of anger and fits of rage have become less frequent as have my hot flashes and night sweats,  I am hopeful I see the light at the end of the tunnel.   My rage, at times warranted and sometimes not at all, it came with warning signs other times no warning at all, it  would even catch me off guard.  A full blown temper tantrum over someone asking “what’s for dinner?” or “did you make an appointment for the car?” I wouldn’t see it coming. Other times I could feel it simmering for days, weeks, months until finally the only choice was to “explode” or wither away into misery and solitude.  I dreamt of never getting out of bed again, or getting in my car and driving away and never coming back.  I would fantasize about being a celebrity so I could check myself into the hospital for “exhaustion” (anger, resentment, frustration and exhaustion, RAGE).  If you know me and my family and my life you will think “she is insane”, “what a spoiled brat”.  I have a really great life, a wonderful husband, great kids, a home I adore, nice vacations, I was able to retire early, all my needs are met and then some, and yet there was no stopping “midlife”.  Just like the Grinch trying to stop Christmas from coming … “it came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. It came just the same”.

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The excerpts from the articles and books below may be depressing but they are validation and some might even make you laugh.  At the end of the day I always think it helps to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

“Generation X (or Gen X) is the demographic following the baby boomers and preceding the Millennials … typically birth years around 1960 to 1980. 

“When it came time for many of us to start thinking about buying a house or a car, we slammed into the Great Recession, the worst economic crisis since the Depression, which hit Generation X hardest: According to a Pew Charitable Trust report we lost almost half our wealth.” I knew it! Depressing for sure and accurate!

“Is it any wonder that women our age possess a bone-deep, almost hallucinatory panic about money?  It’s not an idle worry.  By some estimates, we carry more debt than any other age group.  We’re some of the best-educated women in history, and yet we’re downwardly mobile; about two-thirds of us have less wealth than our parents did at the same age.”  I have always told my parents how thankful I am I didn’t have to take out student loans because I’d probably have just paid them off in time to take out loans for my children!  

“Meanwhile, the safety net is vanishing; in 2040, the Social Security trust fund is due to run out—right as many of us hit retirement age.” YEP … and yet we’ve all been paying into it all of our working lives!😠

“If you’ve never lost a job or had to prove yourself in an industry that’s changed massively in the few years you were away, then you might not realize how holding on in today’s workforce, or trying to ascend, can feel like a feat of endurance.  Many women our age feel lucky to have steady work, even if it’s not their dream job. But if there were a recipe for a midlife crisis, it could be showing up day after day for a job that’s slowly corroding your soul.”  If you’ve ever worked in a cubicle or a dead end position or just a job you hate, you know the feeling! Male or Female!

“But back to the sweatiness and insomnia. Ours is the first generation to have gynecologists sit us down as early as our late 30s and tell us that signs like weepiness, hot flashes or irregular periods could indicate that we have begun “perimenopause,” a term no one used 20 years ago but now is everywhere … Perimenopausal women have also been found to have an increased susceptibility to depression compared to younger women. Other symptoms are no less crummy: trouble sleeping, fat starting to gather around the midsection.”

“One of the things we’re taking about is rage.  We’re getting frustrated and overwhelmed.  You are literally seeing red, and you want to throw your phone against the wall.  So now, on top of everything else, it’s also like, “Did you meditate? Taken to an extreme, though, even the most strategic and useful self-help can wind up feeling as oppressive as the problems it was meant to soothe. The flood of advice can send the message that if you’re unhappy, it’s your own fault.”  When I tell my husband I’m having trouble sleeping because my heart has been racing again or I was up half the night with night sweats and if he replies “maybe you need to start meditating”, I literally see red, it does nothing but make me angry and feel guilty that here’s one more thing I’m failing at! 

“More than one in five women are on antidepressants. An awful lot of middle-aged women are furious (enraged) and overwhelmed. What we don’t talk about enough is how the deck is stacked against them feeling any other way.”  I’ve said for years “you cannot have it all”, I know previous generations of women thought they were doing us a service by encouraging us to “have it all”, a career, marriage, kids, volunteer work, a perfect body, perfect hair, but it has left us overwhelmed and overworked, depressed and exhausted. And filled with RAGE.  Feeling like a failure because not only can you not have it all, it’s impossible to DO it all.

The message Gen X women got was ‘You can have it all.’ … That came with better blueprints and also bigger expectations … In midlife, what I see in my Gen X patients is total exhaustion. That’s what brings them to treatment. They feel guilty for complaining because it’s wonderful to have had choices that our mothers didn’t have, but choices don’t make life easier. Possibilities create pressure.” says Deborah Luepnitz, PhD, a psychotherapist.  When pressure becomes too much it turns into an explosion! Sometimes an explosion of RAGE.
“The New Midlife Crisis” Oprah Magazine

“I can’t tell you how much I love it now that you girls are gone … to have your father to myself, to have my time to myself, but I do have to tell you something else … there are times that I refuse to even let myself think about all I had to give up in the early years of my marriage, because if I dwell on those feeling too much I become so enraged I can’t even see straight.”  Elizabeth Gilbert “Committed” 

“Bill Bixby’s and Lou Ferrigno’s portrayals of Dr. Banner and the Hulk, in the seventies television show relate to my experience of the change. The show, with its barren desert landscapes and makeshift sets, is permeated with alienation and sadness. Banner’s melancholy suggests to me that while the Hulk is make-believe, his burden is real. He struggles to control his out-of-whack body chemistry and also ‘the raging spirit that dwells within him.”

“Germaine Greer writes in her book The Change that some of our negative feelings about menopause are “the result of our intolerance for the expression of female anger.” RAGE.

“The Change for decades has been a euphemism for menopause, whispered behind the backs of aging women: She’s going through the change. It sounds sinister and surreal but is actually accurate. Like the Hulk, I am in the midst of a rupture, a metamorphosis, an all-encompassing and violent change.  He is out of control but also free. And while he may break down a few doors, he also acts with an inner integrity. ‘The woman who lashes out at menopause,’ Greer writes, ‘has found the breach in her self-discipline through which she may be able, finally, to escape to liberty.’”

“My heart is hammering so hard it feels like it will burst out of my chest … The Hulk’s inability to control the change in his chemical & emotional control in his own body.  After years of docility he can reveal … his rage.  The change is a euphemism but accurate “out of control but freeing”.  Freedom is on the horizon – freedom from child care and domestic duties, from trying to be beautiful, from the leering male gaze, from derailing sexual desires. First, however, my body must evolve. As a woman, I should be used to the seismic changes of flesh and blood.”

“Out of estrogen approach at your own risk”

“Beware of temperature tantrums”

“People encourage you to laugh more complain less, NO-ONE wants to hear about menopause even menopausal women themselves — sometimes.  But sometimes they do … some women feel so alone and isolated when they enter into this new “hell” … we are female and have been taught that in order to survive, we must keep quiet so that authorities (mostly men) will like us. Everything we’ve tried to ignore and struggled to keep beneath the surface bursts forth in all its unedited glory.”

“Eighty five percent of women bear the primary responsibility for taking care of their families, including laundry, school matters, transportation, and meals. This can lead to an incredible surge of pent-up resentment (rage) when the hormonal veil lifts and a woman suddenly sees with clarity what has happened in her life.”

“Menopause is situated at the crossroads between the metaphysical and the biological.  It is as much a spiritual challenge as it is a physical one.”
Darcy Steinke “Flash Count Diary. Menopause and the Vindication of Natural life”

“The symptoms were subtle at first: insomnia, a racing heart, a lost word, sometimes a wrong word. But within months there was no denying it. Soon enough there were panic attacks, sobbing fits and that verboten emotion of middle-aged women ― RAGE”
Aileen Weintraub “This is what no-one tells you …”

“Then there’s the anger … RAGE.  This is the time when many women stop doing what I call “stuffing”—stifling their own needs in order to tend to everybody else’s. Our culture expects women to put others first, and all during the childbearing years most of us do, no matter the cost to ourselves. But at midlife we get the chance to make changes, to create lives that fit who we are—or, more accurately, who we have become.” 

“Long before we begin to feel hot flashes from changing hormonal levels, our brains undergo changes in the hypothalamus, the place where GnRH is produced. This same brain region is key for experiencing, and ultimately expressing, emotions such as anger.  It is well known that hormones modulate both aggression and anger. Our midlife bodies and brains fully support our ability to experience and express anger with a clarity not possible prior to midlife”  Christiane Northrup “The Wisdom of Menopause”

“Holding myself together tight and tense like a rose bud.  It was time for me to find out what I really want to do and not what my husband wanted.  Not what I thought my children needed not what I thought my parents expected.  Not what society thought was good or bad. It was time to step boldly into the fullness of life with all of it dangers and all of its promises . Remaining tight in a bud had become a sort of death it was time for me to blossom into the future.”  Elizabeth Lesser “Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow”

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“I was right about one thing – to call what happens at midlife “a crisis” is bullshit. A crisis is an intense, short-lived, acute, easily identifiable, and defining event that can be controlled and managed.  Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling … the truth is that the midlife unraveling is a series of painful nudges strung together by low-grade anxiety and depression, quiet desperation, and an insidious loss of control. By low-grade I mean it’s enough to make you crazy, but seldom enough for people on the outside to validate the struggle or offer you help and respite. It’s the dangerous kind of suffering – the kind that allows you to pretend that everything is OK.  We go to work and unload the dishwasher and love our families and get our hair cut. Everything looks pretty normal on the outside. But on the inside we’re barely holding it together.  Or maybe we’re standing in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher when we suddenly find ourselves holding up a glass and wondering, ‘Would my family take this struggle more seriously if I just started hurling all this shit through the window?'”

“And, just in case you think you can blow off the universe the way you did when you were in your twenties and she whispered, “Pay attention,” or when you were in your early thirties and she whispered, “Slow down,” I assure you that she’s much more dogged in midlife. When I tried to ignore her, she made herself very clear: “There are consequences for squandering your gifts. There are penalties for leaving big pieces of your life unlived. You’re halfway to dead. Get a move on … how dare she ask anything of me! I had worked and sacrificed and paid enough. I had spent my life saying “yes” when I wanted to scream, “Hell no! Do it yourself!” I had met every deadline, expectation, and request possible. I had earned every bit of my armor and I was enraged by the idea of giving it up.”

“I expected her to walk away like the dejected mother of an angry teenager, but she simply stood in front of me, wiping the spit off of her cheek.  We stared at each other for a minute, then I said, “I’m not afraid of you. I know what you’re asking and the answer is no. I’ve spent my entire life building these walls and digging these moats – do you really think a little whisper is going to intimidate me? Do I strike you as the unraveling type?” It was an ugly street fight and, even though I got my ass kicked, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. There was a significant amount of pain and loss, but something amazing happened along the way – I discovered me. The real me. The messy, imperfect, brave, scared, creative, loving, compassionate, wholehearted me”

“In some miraculous way, I feel as if this midlife unraveling has taught me – in my head and my heart – how to be brave.  As far as my relationship with the universe . . . well, we’ve actually become very good friends. I even came to love and trust her when, in a quiet moment, I looked deeply into her eyes and realized that she, the universe, was me.”
Brene Brown The Midlife Unraveling

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I’ve come to believe in something I call the ‘physics of the quest’, a force in nature governed by the laws of gravity. The rules of quest physics goes something like this: If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting and set out on a truth seeking journey either internally or externally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared most of all to face and forgive some of the most difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you” “Eat Pray Love” Elizabeth Gilbert

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The way I sum this up in middle age:  If you are brave enough to allow yourself to not be perfect and to put yourself first (at least some of the time), you may just come out on the other side of “midlife” a better, happier version of you!

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“A lot goes on …”

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I was standing in the kitchen of a friend and fellow football mom, we were putting together gift bags for the football player banquet and cleaning up from the homecoming party the night before, we were reminiscing about football and all the senior year activities of the prior week.  Our boys have played together since 4th grade, it had been a busy, emotionally taxing week,  senior player/parent dinner, last football game (EVER) for both our boys, senior acknowledgment before the game, homecoming dance, football awards banquet … and all the while they had been in the throes of college applications.  It was A LOT.  Right then she got a phone call, that one of her four children had just gotten in a car accident.  She was okay, thankfully.  My friend looked up after hanging up and said … “Well, as my mom used to say … ‘A lot goes on’”.  I said, “please say that again”,  she replied “a lot goes on …” in her best southern drawl 😘.  I interpreted it as kind of the southern bell* equivalent of “shit happens”, I loved it so much, because YES sometimes, whether neutral or all bad or all good or a little bit of both … A LOT GOES ON

“In those windows was everything—hope, sadness, loss, triumph, sex, betrayal. Everywhere was love and everywhere was death.”
“He breathed in, and he breathed out. It was happy, and it was sad. It was good, and it was bad.”**

Life happens. Shit happens.
And it happens a lot.
To a lot of people.

Colleen Hoover

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A LOT GOES ON … it’s such a great response, perhaps even a “mantra”  to have  that as as your thought or remark vs. “this sucks”, “this is the best”, “this is the worst”, “this is too much” … simply put “a lot goes on” and you can take it for what it is, frankly most of the time life is what it is …  the name of my blog is “this is how it always is”  because I find myself saying those words a lot.  Even the things that you think are terrible or fantastic,  “how can this be happening?”,  “seriously!? not this again?”, “that’s fabulous!” whether good or bad … chances are if you look back in history, even just the history of your own life or those you know, people have always gone through similar life events, the details may be different and some experiences are worse and some better, but at the end of the day “this is how it always is” …  “A LOT GOES ON”.  Personally I am grateful for all of it! (at least most of it, most of the time😘).
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*“Southern belle’s are a true God givin gift to the world, and if your a northern transplant, well just bless your heart, fake it! We all know that you got here as fast as you could!”
**”Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

You can’t hide in your room forever … or can you!?

 

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My husband has said to me often over the last few years “you can’t hide in your room forever!”  I think maybe I can, at least sometimes, especially certain times of the month! I’ve been spending a lot more time in my bedroom seeking sleep but mostly for peace & quiet, reading and meditation.

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My husband and I have slept in separate bedrooms for years, it works for us and our different schedules and my room will only hold a queen size bed, not enough room for two grownups and two dogs!  Our bedrooms have become our seperate sanctuaries.  Mine full of art and dogs, paintings I love, a bit “too girly” for my husband, they make me happy and I adore my dogs and yes they sleep in my bed.  My husband’s room is definitely more masculine and a “no animal zone”.  After years of having no space to call your own, remember toddlers banging on the bathroom door? My daughter rifling through my jewelry box & trying on my shoes 😘 — we love our separate “quarters”.  My parents slept in separate rooms they were happily married for 54 years, “until death due us part”.

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 7.16.53 PMimageScreen Shot 2019-08-22 at 12.27.28 PM  Sarah Kinn                                                     Cindy Hinkleman-Smith

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Part of the reason I find solace in my room is I feel like it’s a place I can claim as all mine. It’s a safe space to “change” and change requires quiet and self reflection and sleep.  Going through mid-life can cause a number of physical, emotional & spiritual changes.

“I have changed so much. I have stopped caring what anyone thinks, have started claiming my time, growing my tribe … I am more beautiful and confident than I have ever been in my life, while simultaneously becoming invisible to much of the world”. Aileen Weintraub*

I don’t feel more beautiful (mostly just old & tired ;)), I too feel like I have become invisible and it’s not easy not being seen or heard, literally and figuratively.  It’s not easy watching yourself age, to never get carded again, to be called ma’am, to begin experiencing the aches & pains older people complain about, and I thought “that will NEVER happen to me”!  The saggy skin, age spots, wrinkles & varicose veins, that I assumed wouldn’t plague me until my sixties but are happening now!  It all comes so much sooner than we thought.  Not just menopause, but marriage, kids, middle age, parent’s death, illness, kids leaving for college, empty nest, maybe divorce.

“In my late thirties, my intuition had tried to warn me about the possibility of a midlife struggle. I experienced internal rumblings about the meaning and purpose of my life. I was incredibly busy proving myself in all of my different roles … so much so that it was difficult for any emotion other than fear to grab my attention. However, I do remember flashes of wondering if I’d always be too afraid to let myself be truly seen and known.” Brene Brown**

I’m hopeful it will all be okay, I glimpse a new version of myself emerging.  And until then I’ve decided it’s ok to stay “inside” when I need to…

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Going inside doesn’t have to be literally inside, in your house, your room or your bed.  Going on long hikes alone, yoga, yoga retreats, stand-up-paddle boarding (quiet, no talking, no media).  When my husband and I go to Mexico we get up early and paddle out and do our morning meditation on the water, with the sunrise and a few downward dogs!  It’s the best! I want to go on a silent meditation retreat but I’m scared — remember Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love”, when she is “in silence” and then they ask her if she would mind coming out of silence to be the greeter at the ashram — she happily takes off her “in silence badge” and with a big smile says “I’m your girl” — I’m afraid that’s me … “Chatty Cathy”🤭.

For my husband it’s backcountry skiing, motocross — they are activities that you have to pay attention to what you are doing and only what you are doing in the moment, to not do so could mean serious injury or death.  It can still mean injury 😯! It’s the only way he can totally “unplug”.  He also loves it because mostly where he goes there is no cell coverage.  My husband also has a dedicated meditation practice — he’s much better than me, 20 minutes every morning for years! I’m happy if I can do 5 minutes (outside of the yoga studio).

So whatever you need to do to “go inside” even if it means going outside!

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“Many scholars have proposed that the struggle at midlife is about the fear that comes with our first true glimpse of mortality … wishful thinking. Midlife is not about the fear of death. Midlife IS death. Tearing down the walls that we spent our entire life building is death. Like it or not, at some point during midlife, you’re going down, and after that there are only two choices: staying down or enduring rebirth.” Brene Brown**

My kids found me in bed the other day practically crying, I’d just gotten out of the shower and needed to get dressed to go somewhere I didn’t want to go and I felt paralyzed.  They were very sweet and sat on the bed trying to “lift my spirts” saying it might be fun & trying to make me laugh, I was crying/laughing (aka hysterical), they eventually cajoled me out of bed and into getting dressed and on my way.  It’s hard to go places and be the “older woman”, no one pays attention to you it’s not an easy transition and I’m not making it any easier on myself.  I’m hypercritical of my wrinkles and little belly (some days worse than others).  Throughout most of human history, the vast majority of women died before menopause. The average life expectancy for a woman in 1900 was forty.  Not that I don’t want to live a long life, but I think about this fact often, not until recent history have people lived this long.  Between that and previous generations either being put on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or given a hysterectomy (probably unnecessary), going through perimenopause is somewhat “uncharted territory”.  In the “old, old days” if a woman lived long enough to go through perimenopause men would assume she had gone insane and it must be coming from her no longer “useful” womb, so they removed the offending organs, the word hysterectomy comes from the latin word hysteria, men thought women in their late 40’s, early 50’s were becoming hysterical (aka perimenopausal ;)).

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“The old self is dying and a new creature is emerging … the sudden hormonal changes can result in insights about our lives that are as dramatic and unexpected as the hot flashes that often plague us at this time.  Perimenopause is a time when you are meant to mother yourself.  In the interim, while we experience the upheaval and wait for the new path to become clear, we have to hang out in the “underworld” for a while.”

“The woman in menopause, who is becoming the queen of herself, finds herself at a crossroads of life, torn between the old way she has always known and a new way she has just begun to dream of. A voice from the old way (in many cases it’s her husband’s voice) begs her to stay in place … but from the new path another voice beckons, imploring her to explore aspects of herself that have been dormant during her years of caring for others and focusing on their needs.” Christiane Northrup***

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“Questing is what makes the woman the hero of her own life” Darcey Steinke****

Quest:  a long search for something, adventure, journey, voyage, exploration, to search, hunt, pursue, investigate …

“I was young once . . . to all my female friends from 40 years and up… most of us are going through the next phase of our lives. We’re at that age where we see wrinkles, gray hair and extra pounds. Menopause may have appeared or is just waiting around the corner. We see the cute 25-year-olds and reminisce. But we were also 25, just as they will one day be our age. What they bring to the table with their youth and zest, we bring our wisdom and experience. We have raised families, run households, paid the bills, dealt with diseases, sadness and everything else life has assigned us. Some of us have lost those that were nearest and dearest to us. We are survivors… we are warriors in the quiet… we are women…like a classic car or a fine wine …”  Gretchen Nordham

“The second requirement for transformation is more difficult by far: we must be willing to feel the pain of loss and grieve for those parts of our lives that we are leaving behind. And that includes our fantasies of how our lives could have been … loss is rarely easy, and that is why so many of us resist change in general and at midlife in particular. A part of us rationalizes, “Why rock the boat? I’m halfway finished with my life. Wouldn’t it just be easier to accept what I have rather than risk the unknown?”

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“There is much, much more to this midlife transformation than “raging hormones.” Research into the physiological changes taking place in the perimenopausal woman is revealing that, in addition to the hormonal shift that means an end to childbearing, our bodies—and, specifically, our nervous systems—are being, quite literally, rewired … menopause is an exciting developmental stage—one that, when participated in consciously, holds enormous promise for transforming and healing our bodies, minds, and spirits at the deepest levels. Our hormones are giving us an opportunity to see, once and for all, what we need to change in order to live honestly, fully, joyfully, and healthfully in the second half of our lives … life is filled with possibilities … lots to do … but great respect for quiet, restful, self-indulgent times.” Christiane Northrup***

“Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.  Brene Brown**

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“Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for resting your body and your soul. And part of being an adult is learning to meet your own needs, because when it comes down to it, with a few exceptions, no one else is going to do it for you.”  Shauna Niequist “Present over Perfect”

*Aileen Weintraub, “This Is What No One Tells Women About What Happens To Your Body In Your 40s”
**Brene Brown “The Midlife Unraveling”
***Christiane Northrup, “The Wisdom of Menopause”
****Darcey Steinke “Flash Count Diary Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life” 

 

No more time or room for bullshit …

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Perhaps one of the best (or worst 😜) “side effects/symptoms” of perimenopause is my lack of tolerance for bullshit (my husband would say not “the best”).  At first I was horrified by my thoughts and sometimes actions … at one of my husband’s company parties we had made a promise, one might say a “vow”, (I wish it had been a contract and was signed AND notarized 😝) to leave no later than 9p, the party was an hour away and we both had to get up at 4a for various kid activities.  Looking back on it this was probably one of the first indications I was entering perimenopause.  Dinner was supposed to be served at 6p, by 8p no dinner, at 8:30ish I began indicating we’d had plenty of appetizers and I was no longer hungry and we should head home.  Over the next hour or so my husband kept saying “give it 5 more minutes”, 9:30p still no dinner.  After 3 hours of sitting across from his 25 year old assistant, not married, no kids & who by the way looks like a prettier version of Emma Stone, giving ME life advice (I was 44ish at the time, married 15 years, 2 children/36 hour labors each, a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that nearly killed me, and a terminally ill father), yet I had to sit there and politely nod and pretend to listen to her advice & life wisdom 🙄.  I was getting more & more angry by the minute, finally I said “I’m going to the bathroom, if dinner’s not here when I get back we’re leaving” and he said “what’s your problem?!” I’d passed my boiling point & hit the table with my fist and way too loudly said “the problem is … I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!”.  Needless to say it made for a very uncomfortable drive home & I seriously thought he might ask for a divorce 😯!

That was just the beginning, recently I stole $1.00 worth of screws from a local store, when I tried to check out (after trying to purchase these screws three days in a row and experiencing all sorts of incompetence & rudeness), the cashier said the screws were ringing up for $2.23 instead of .23 cents, I said “that’s fine, I’ll pay whatever, I CANNOT be in this store any longer, this is my third day in a row trying to purchase these screws”, the 25 year old cashier started to call his manager over and I put up my hand and said “no please don’t,  just please let me check out, I’m willing to pay 10 times what their worth!” The manager said “No you’ll have to go back to that aisle and have them write it up again” … as I’m walking back to that aisle about to call “bullshit” on their whole system and store and on the verge of a complete meltdown, I crumbled up the little brown bag of screws, shoved them in my purse, checked out, paid for my other items and marched right out (probably never to return again)!  My husband was horrified and said I could have gotten arrested, I replied “I don’t care because I made the right decision to steal the screws vs. people having to witness a 50 year old temper tantrum!”  He said “well, you have a point”.  I went on to tell him if I did get arrested I hoped it was on the front page of the local paper so I could tout the plight of the perimenopausal woman!  Don’t screw with me (no pun intended ;)) or waste my time (what there is left) with your illogical policies & procedures and rude behavior aka bullshit!

In HBO’s show “Divorce” the main female characters are all in their late 40’s early 50’s, (except of course the ex-husbands new young wife 🙄).  One of the characters is a therapist and in one of her sessions with a 20/30ish female patient, who is just rambling on and on … she abruptly interrupts her and says “… you need to find someone else, someone who has more patience for your redundant bullshit.”

“The Wisdom of Menopause” by Christiane Northrup

“This was one of those amazing volcanic eruptions that occur from time to time when the lid finally blows on the container overstuffed with things we know but can’t talk about because we are female and have been taught that in order to survive, we must keep quiet so that authorities (mostly men) will like us. Everything we’ve tried to ignore and struggled to keep beneath the surface bursts forth in all its unedited glory  … usually this is attributed to the crazy-making effects of the hormonal shifts occurring in a woman’s body at this time of transition. What is rarely acknowledged or understood is that as these hormone-driven changes affect the brain, they give a woman a sharper eye for inequity and injustice, and a voice that insists on speaking up about them.  In other words, they uncover hidden wisdom—and the courage to voice it.  As the vision-obscuring veil created by the hormones of reproduction begins to lift, a woman’s youthful fire and spirit are often rekindled,”  this has been me more times than I can count in the last few years and would have been me if I hadn’t chosen to steal the screws!

“As a woman in midlife today, I am part of a growing population that is an unprecedented 48.5 million strong in the United States alone. This group is no longer invisible and silent, but a force to be reckoned with—educated, vocal, sophisticated in our knowledge of medical science, and determined to take control of our own health … Menopause (like menstruation, for that matter) was not discussed in public. Today this is no longer true. As we break this silence we are also breaking cultural barriers, so that we can enter this new life phase with eyes wide open—in the company of more than 48 million kinswomen, all undergoing the same transformation at the same time, the same sort of circuitry update at the same time. By virtue of our sheer numbers, as well as our social and economic influence, we are powerful—and potentially dangerous to any institution built upon the status quo.” 

“It’s no accident that the current movement of psychospiritual healing is composed largely of women in their thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. We are awakening en masse and beginning to deliver a much-needed message of health, hope, and healing to the world.”

My high school friend sent me the following & here’s the texts that followed …

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This is 51! 😊 It sums it up so perfectly!! I had some friends who must have meant well but didn’t want to do what I wanted to for my birthday so I said ‘nope’ and had a lovely solo day!! It is so freeing not to deal with all the bs!!!! 🥰

No more room or time left for BS … 😯

Yes!!! It is the gift with purchase of our 50’s. We may have more wrinkles but we are way happier not dealing with the bullshit!!! 💕

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just to put a bow on it!!😘

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just to wrap it up!

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Happy Father’s Day …

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It is a curiously intimate thing shaving someone.  When my father almost died but was released from ICU, which almost never happens, in fact it happens so rarely, it took them seven hours to figure out the paperwork to have him discharged. My dad went from “he’s going to die” to “we’re sending him home” within 48 hours after having been in the hospital for a week.  And then there was an issue with finding a portable oxygen tank to send him home with, which caused a further delay.  Then an “angel of a nurse” snuck one out of a closet on another floor of the hospital because he could see how desperately my dad just wanted to go home.  My dad insisted on giving him a thank you, all the cash he had in his wallet (which I think was around $100).  He vehemently refused, and we vehemently insisted to the point he REALLY didn’t have a choice,  he was so grateful and said “today is my birthday and with this money I am going to take my wife out to a really nice dinner”.  

My dad was so happy to be home, but he was so week and dizzy from a week in the hospital and all the drugs they’d pumped into his system, he couldn’t even walk without help to the bathroom five feet away from his bed.  After a few days at home my mom insisted he shower and shave, she helped him shower and then I sent her away to run errands, or maybe just to have some time to herself, she hadn’t left his side in two weeks, I told her to go and I would help him shave, she replied ‘okay just make sure you do it in the bathroom so you don’t make a mess”.  My father was sitting in his chair in the living room and when she left he said “let’s just do it here in the living room, so I don’t have to get up, but don’t tell her”, and we both giggled like kids being naughty.  He had the common sense to tell me to put down some newspaper, I would never have thought of it, but then again I’d never shaved someone before.  I went and got all the necessary equipment and he guided me through the process, first with the electric shaver to get it shorter then with the razor, it was strange to be that close to him, to his face, and I had to be so gentle because his skin seemed like tissue paper.  I hadn’t been that close to him physically since I was a small child.  When we finished we were so pleased with ourselves, even though we missed a few spots, but it had worn him out so we let it be (and hoped my mom wouldn’t notice or comment, which of course she did), but we were content and satisfied with our results so it didn’t matter what she might say.  And when she did comment, he just winked at me.

Shaving him was a bit uncomfortable and awkward but so rewarding and sweet that when he passes from this earth it will be one of my best memories of him and I wouldn’t trade it for anything”.  I wrote this story shortly after that visit all those years ago in the “notes” on my phone so that I wouldn’t forget everything about that day, not just the act itself but how it felt.  I came across this story the other day searching for something on my phone, he passed away a couple of years ago and as predicted it is one of my fondest memories.  I love you dad and miss you every day.❤️

“Don’t grieve for what is lost it will come back to you, maybe in a different form”  Rumi* 

… this memory came back to me searching for something else on my phone

“If you experience sorrow or grief you will heal”  Rumi*

*Rumi … I think … again in my notes on my phone

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You CANNOT have it all …

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“Whereas I did everything in my life halfway, or worse.” “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald”  by Therese Anne Fowler

That is how Zelda Fitzgerald felt about her life … trying to be a wife, a mother, a dancer, an artist … she felt like she couldn’t do any of them well because she wasn’t “allowed” to do any of them full time and therefor felt like a failure at everything.

That is essentially what I told my employer when I went into his office to tell him I was pregnant .. AGAIN! That I could not do it all, I felt like I had just gone back to work and now here I was faced with having a baby and a 1 year old, I would not be coming back, I tried my hardest not to cry, but I cried because I knew that even if I did come back someday, I would never come back in the same capacity.  Even with one child I felt like “I was doing everything in my life halfway or worse”.  Things would never be the same, I would never be the same, it’s true, having children forever changes you … physically and psychologically.  Even if I had the energy and the stamina to work and have two babies, the cost of childcare wouldn’t even equal my income, it was illogical to consider going back to work. My employer/business parter was also a long time friend and we had worked long and hard to build up our business.  He said “if you want to come back we’ll make it work”, I replied that even if it were worth it financially, I just can’t, because after coming back part-time after the birth of my son I always felt like a failure, like I was doing everything “half-assed” not 100% mother, not 100% employee, not 100% wife, not 100% homemaker … failing at everything.

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“And so, accepting that we are choosing how to best spend our time, we can then accept that we have to let go of the rest. We can’t do everything. In fact, if we tried to do everything, we’d do everything poorly. We are owning the fact that we choose to do these things, to be fully there with them, and to do them as best we can, fully and with love”. Zen Habits Leo Babauta 

This all sounds great but what if it’s not that easy, when you’re a mother you can’t choose, you can’t always “let things go” with small children you don’t get to say no to trying to please everyone, because someone is constantly in need of you, you can’t say I won’t feed, bathe, provide for you … so sometimes when we try to “do it all” it’s because we HAVE to, we have no choice and then things get done poorly or not to the standard we hold ourselves to, it’s hard to let go of that feeling that we have to be perfect and everything we do has to be perfect.  Such is the life of every mother, working or not working because no matter what, you are getting pulled in a million different directions, a million times a day, “all while trying to look better than average” 😜. 

And what if what you’re doing isn’t what you LOVE? I didn’t love being a mother to small children … it’s frustrating, tedious, exhausting, thankless and lonely.  Don’t get me wrong I loved my children then and now, more than anything in the world. Also I wasn’t good at it and even if I had been “great” at it, no-one is going to give you an excellent “job review” along with a raise to validate that you’re doing a good job.  I didn’t always love working, but for most of my working life I was good at it — I got great job reviews and raises and promotions. VALIDATION!

When the kids were older and in school I went back to work part-time and it worked for awhile, only because I had a very flexible, understanding employer.  But then my kids lives got busier, my husbands work got busier, my parents needed me more and I got older (aka perimenopausal).  And again I found myself doing everything “half-assed”.  When my husband said with the two of us working and him working even longer hours we needed to hire a personal assistant.  Clearly the logical thing was for me to quit my job and “step it up” as a wife, mother, homemaker … the only problem is I’m afraid I’m not quite up to the task.  I don’t know if its because I’m getting old, or going through perimenopause, or bored, but I haven’t “stepped it up” much, if at all 😯!  You know that saying “if you want something done give it to a busy person”– it’s true but that’s another topic.

“We can’t have it all. what we have is good enough.”  Glennon Doyle “Love Warrior”. 

When I first I read her book I thought YES, what we have, what I have is good enough, but then I thought is it good enough to constantly be feeling overwhelmed and like you’re not good enough …

“Somewhere along the way women got the wrong information. Or, I should say, we got so much of the wrong information that we washed our hands of the whole thing. We live in an all-or-nothing society that says I need to look, act, think, and speak perfectly or just throw in the towel and stop trying altogether … you feel so overwhelmed by your life that you’ve given up. You’re a piece of jetsam being tugged along with the tide. It feels too hard to keep up with the game, so you’ve quit playing. Oh sure, you’re still here. You still show up for work, you still make dinner (or don’t if you’re me 😜) and take care of your kids, but you’re always playing catch-up. You always feel behind and overwhelmed. Life is not supposed to overwhelm you at all times. Life isn’t meant to be merely survived—it’s meant to be lived.” by Rachel Hollis “Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be” 

So many women feel like they are barely surviving, barley keeping their head above water.

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“That love would do what it often threatened to do … remind you that it is timeless, as if that were the entire story about what I thought I was supposed to do vs. what I actually want to do”

I read that somewhere, I didn’t write down the source or the author … but I think about it all the time and I frequently substitute the word life for the word love and fleeting for the word timeless

“That life would do what it often threatened to do … remind you that it is fleeting, as if that were the entire story about what I thought I was SUPPOSED to do vs. what I actually WANT to do.”

I didn’t read all of “Girl Wash Your Face”  but I think the gist of it is that we need to realize that for the most part “we’re doing the best we can” and while you’re in the throes of motherhood we all need to stop being so hard on ourselves and realize everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time  — things will feel and look messy and far from “perfect” most of the time and it’s OKAY!

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The time will come when you get to do more of what you WANT vs. SHOULD and it may creep up on you unexpectedly.  You may find its been so long that you’ll actually have to discover what you want, in the meantime it’s okay to let some things go …

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Elizabeth Gilbert’s book” Committed”,  researches the history of marriage, marital statistics, why some marriages work, why some don’t, why so many marriages that began in the 50’s ended in divorce in the 70’s (with the beginning of the women’s movement)…  

“I couldn’t help wondering what would happen to Phylis & Chad about 20 years down the road when the children were older and prosperity had been achieved and Phylis had no life whatsoever outside of the home and Chad would wonder why he had given up so much personal pleasure over the years to be a good & faithful provider only to be rewarded now with a frustrated wife, rebellious teenage children, a sagging body and a tedious career.” 

I feel like although it’s 2019 so many of us still feel this way to some degree.  People thought my husband and I were crazy to consider not having children, when my brother and his sister had adorable little babies and my biological clock was ticking, we took “the road more traveled” and settled into a different version of the the 1950’s marriage.  My husband started working with me because I was making more money than him, I was working longer hours, doing the grocery shopping, the cooking, the cleaning and the laundry and so it was the least he could do ;)). In his defense he would have been fine living his life the way he was and sometimes I feel sorry for him that he met me and then decided he wanted kids and had to get a REAL job and sometimes he probably feels like he turned into a Chad (except he does not have the sagging body☺️).

“And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?”  Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime”

Not to say we don’t adore our children, we do and my husband would tell anyone “you HAVE to have children – it’s the best!”  Me on the other hand?  I would say “it’s not all it’s cracked up to be” think long and hard about the sacrifices and concessions you will have to make, no matter how much money, time, patience etc. you have, because you CANNOT have it all.  Something has to give, especially for the mother (even if she’s not the “stay-at-home” parent — usually the brunt of parenting not to mention pregnancy, breast feeding and sleepless nights lands at the feet of the mother).

“But what about their own lives? Do these mothers feel fulfilled by the successes of their children—or resentful of their own sacrifices? Evidence suggests that the pattern is helping to produce a generation of very unhappy women. According to a 2009 study … women rated their own happiness at the lowest level in thirty-five years. (that was 10 years ago I 🙏 women are feeling better).  The survey includes a representative sample of fifteen hundred men and women of all ages, races, marital status, and educational and income levels, for a total of fifty thousand people so far. Regardless of whether they work or stay home, are single or married, have graduate degrees or high-school diplomas, women rated feeling bleak about the state of their lives. And overall, mothers had the gloomiest outlooks of anybody. By comparison, men responded to the same survey with downright giddiness compared to women. Women realize they are doing the same chores as their mothers. They scale back at work, or maybe even take off a few years, and before long, the women find themselves isolated, responsible not only for care of the children but for most details of their lives: trips to the doctor; combing through tangled braids on the lookout for lice; making appointments with the orthodontist. They didn’t plan it that way, but that’s how it happened. Resentment creeps up, imperceptibly, not the least of which stems from the fact that the closet full of size-six clothes don’t fit a size-eight body.”  Gabrielle Glaser “Her Best Kept Secret”

Or they have a closet full of beautiful clothes from their working days and no-where to wear them, it has taken me two years to give up just a portion of my work wardrobe.  I feel like if I get rid of them all I’m giving up yet another part of myself that I will never get back.

Elizabeth Gilbert interviewing her mom about marriage and kids, for awhile her mother had a job at Planned Parenthood that she loved, but when she asked her husband if he could stay home with the kids for two days (just two days after all the years of her staying home, mind you), to attend a conference he said “no”, it broke her heart and killed her dream of having a career and children at the same time (HAVING IT ALL), so she gave in (gave up) and decided she could NOT have it all and gave up her career all together.

“I can’t tell you how much I love it now that you girls are gone … to have your father to myself, to have my time to myself, but I do have to tell you something else … there are times that I refuse to even let myself think about all I had to give up in the early years of my marriage because if I dwell on those feeling too much I become so enraged I can’t even see straight.”  Elizabeth Gilbert “Committed” 

“Imagine your body is youthful, firm, a pleasure to live inside of—and you’re wise enough to know that this is fleeting, this body and its condition. It won’t last. None of it will last.” “Z” a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler

For better or worse “none of it will last” things are always changing and we’re always trying to navigate new chapters of our lives.  Hang in there … there is life after early marriage and small children … I promise.  My children are now close to 16 & 18 and I see a new chapter, however, what I didn’t see coming is how much I’m going to miss them and how it will break my heart to see them go 💔…

“You can’t always get what you want (or have it all) … but if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need” 🙏

That is my hope and my “prayer” that most of us, most of the time get what we need and I also hope and “pray” that sometimes you get what you want.

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“I could have used a heads up” … “keep fighting the good fight” …

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“This perimenopause is bullshit and how come no-one forewarned me how bad it could be?  I mean seriously I could have used a heads up!”  this from a girl (yes I’m still going to refer to my friends as girls … forever ❤️), she wasn’t talking to me directly and she doesn’t know about my blog or any of my personal perimenopause “bullshit”, but I overheard her and I laughed so hard, because yes … why weren’t we forewarned???  A heads up would have been nice! You have sex-ed in grade-school and middle-school, you have birthing classes and books when you’re pregnant “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, there are parenting books and classes (although none of them REALLY prepare you for parenting, but that’s another post). Seriously, why doesn’t someone tell you about the 2-12 years leading up to menopause?  Why isn’t there a “what to expect prior to never being able to expect again”?! Our mother’s didn’t forewarn us …

Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 4.04.33 PMin their defence most of them were on hormone replacement therapy and didn’t experience a fraction of what a lot of us are going through and some of them weren’t even aware they were on HRT.  Their doctors put them on birth control pills (at a minimum) to diminish what was sure to come, maybe partially for their own benefit?!🤔 It might prevent their 40-50ish year old female patients from becoming “hysterical” 🙄 in their office, or complaining about a variety of mental & physical ailments that accompany perimenopause and who want’s to deal with that?! Especially a male doctor!

Hysterical. It’s a word with a very female-baiting history, coming from the Latin hystericus (“of the womb”). This was a condition thought to be exclusive to women – sending them uncontrollably and neurotically insane owing to a dysfunction of the uterus (the removal of which is still called a hysterectomy).  Those women assuredly weren’t insane they were probably just perimenopausal!

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Here’s another:
Loony. Coming from lunacy – a monthly periodic insanity, believed to be triggered by the moon’s cycle (remind you of anything?). 😐

Spell check doesn’t even know what to do with the word perimenopause, it says it’s incorrectly spelled, but offers no correction or alternative … it doesn’t recognize it as a word!  Just like no one talks about it or acknowledges it, not even spellcheck 😔. Why isn’t it ok to talk about it & why aren’t women steered in the direction of a book or a class or a support group when they get close to 40, why don’t your older friends tell you what they went through?  Why is it taboo? At least now there’s the internet but it mostly just lists the symptoms, it doesn’t really say how awful it can be and that it can be worse for some than others.  I love my doctor and she’s great, but even she didn’t forewarn me how bad it could be, she did say there’s a scale of 1-10 and some women “sail right through” at a 1-3 and in a relatively short amount of time and then there are others who it can last for years, up to 10-12 and it’s AWFUL!  She recently told me I’m an 8-10! I found there aren’t many resources that are in depth and most importantly honest about perimenopause until the book …

“Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy” by Julie Holland

Symptoms of PMS include:  (7 symptoms)

cramps
mood swings
nausea
anxiety
depression
bloating
tender breasts

Symptoms of perimenopause include: (22 symptoms) Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 4.02.26 PM

  • vaginal dryness 
  • insomnia, trouble sleeping — (don’t EVEN get me started)
  • hot sweats and night sweats
  • headaches(migraines for us lucky ones 😝)
  • unexplained exhaustion(we’re talking the kind of exhaustion that feels like you’re moving through quicksand)
  • reduced thickening of the uterus lining, resulting in less regular shedding and menstruation(or super regular hemorrhaging 😝)
  • osteoporosis or loss of bone density and integrity
  • Declining hormone levels can lead to a number of symptoms(the “crazies”)
  • Irregular periods are often the first noticeable symptom for a woman in perimenopause.
  • fatigue(again moving through quicksand, sometimes I feel like I’m pregnant, I’m so tired and “fatigued” I can’t catch my breath, I have to stop & catch my breath & rest like an eighty year old)
  • Irregular periods (or unbelievably regular but ridiculously heavy that make it almost impossible to leave the house)
  • Discomfort during sex, lower sex drive
  • Urine leaking when coughing or sneezing —  (oh and you thought it was bad post pregnancy?!?🤣)
  • Urinary urgency (an urgent need to urinate more frequently)
  • Breast tenderness — (itchy breasts WTF???)
  • worse PMS
  • nausea — (like you’re pregnant)
  • dry, thinning skin & hair 
  • sudden overwhelming sense of heat
  • sudden unexplained mood swings (the “crazies”)
  • trouble concentrating (wait what’s the word for ???)
  • weight gain (yep!)

    OH and did we mention night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, unexplained mood swings, nausea and weight gain?!

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Oh but it is … I sent my two best friends from highschool the article from the Huffington Post …This Is What No One Tells Women About What Happens To Your Body In Your 40s HuffPost: https://apple.news/AsDcbZ9oXRpWKdPrbhXGKyA
here’s the text exchange that followed (Sandy is one of our moms ;)).

“Well that was depressing! I have had corneal abrasions and found out I have chronic dry eye and probably an autoimmune disease. I went to another eye doctor today and she said I also have cataracts. What?! She said this is all positive, you aren’t going blind. 😂 I am not complaining …  your back stuff sounds much worse, and I have a friend that is 51 and needs jaw replacement surgery! But I WILL complain that being 50 sucks! And we were not warned appropriately!!  Thank goodness for wine & friends.”

“Oh no! Sorry! 😔I have chronic dry eyes also, $300 a month eye drops 🙄plugs and nothing helps much. 😔I’ll never forget my grandma saying “this getting old is for the birds” she was right and perimenopause is no fun either! And yes no one warned us … APPROPRIATELY!”

Again a “heads up” would have been nice!

“It is terrible sounding!!!😳.  But definitely better than going blind!! In the famous words of Sandy at my wedding … “you better enjoy this because you won’t look like this forever!” I am sure she also meant feel healthy forever, too! 🤪. Girls, we have to keep fighting the good fight. I am finally feeling mostly like myself at 12+ weeks post back surgery. Still glad I did it even if I feel a permanent new surgically induced pooch!! 🙄. Love you both!! 💋💋💋”

“OMG! I wish I’d had that quote from Sandy for my last blog post 😂 & totally something my mom would say also! 🤣 yes girls, we’ve got to keep fighting the “good fight” that may be my next blog title 😘 I still get pissed about my ectopic pregnancy pooch … two vaginal babies and I end up with worse than a c-section scar/pooch, but we’re still here ‘fighting the good fight’!”

“Glad your back is feeling better! Sorry about your eyes! Yes, keep on fighting the good fight, while trying not to look average! Another great quote by Sandy!”

To all those girls (women) out there … keep fighting and hang in there and know that you are not alone! Getting older isn’t all fun & games, but it sure beats the alternative.

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So YES

“KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT” … while trying not to look average!

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Aging Gracefully …

 

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When I started this post it was with the intention of having a positive message about aging … “aging gracefully” and I hope parts are still “hopeful & positive”?  Ironically, when I decided to revisit this post and finish it, a few not so positive passages from books and articles crossed my path.  However, my mom just emailed me after “proofing/editing” for me and said “thank you for the compliments and by the way men do still look at you as you get older, it’s just they are old too.”  😘 It made me smile SO big — it made my day!  Thank you mom!

Here it is for better or for worse …

“Immortality” by Milan Kundera … “the difference between the male and female lot in life: a women spends much more time on discussions of her physical problems; she was not fated to forget about her body in a carefree way.  It starts with the shock of the first bleeding; the body is suddenly present and she stands facing it like a poor mechanic ordered to keep a small factory running:  to change tampons every month, swallow pills, snap the brassiere in place, get ready for production.  Agnes looked upon old men with envy:  it seemed to her that they aged differently: her father’s body changed into its shadow, it dematerialized, it remained in the world merely as an incarcerated soul.  In contrast, the more useless  a woman’s body becomes, the more it is a body, heavy and burdensome; it resembles an old factory destined for demolition, which the women’s self must watch to the very end, like a caretaker.  The only thing capable of changing Agnes’s reaction to the body for a moment … Excitement: a fleeting redemption of the body.  Her sister would disagree: “Only for a moment? For Laura the body was sexual from the beginning, a priori, constantly and completely, by its very essence. To love someone meant, for her: to bring him ones body. to give him one’s body, just as it was, with everything, inside and out, even with its own time, which is slowly, sweetly, corroding it”.

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Because this quote is about men (which in general I think age better than women) I hesitated to use it … but I love the fact that they ARE falling apart right in front of our eyes, they aren’t hiding in retirement and as far as I can tell they’ve always been honest and upfront about their various issues.  Mick Jagger recently had to postpone their tour due to health issues, he said “I need to have a heart valve replaced … I’ll be back”.  Keith Richards looked old even when he was young, his book “Life” it’s worth reading,  Rolling Stones fan or not …

“We age not by holding on to youth, but by letting ourselves grow and embracing whatever youthful parts remain.”
Keith Richards, Life

“It seems damn near impossible for a woman to grow old in America while keeping her dignity. Face-lifts, Botox, hair dyeing, mustache waxing—the upkeep is exhausting. It is a slippery slope once you head down that path. Botox needs to be maintained every few months, and synthetic fillers like Restylane start to move around over time. It’s hard to grow old gracefully in our changing bodies, but ladies, we have to. My rule for myself is just don’t start. No plastic or synthetic anything in my body. I will have earned each wrinkle and gray hair, and I want to “proudly display them like trophies of a life well lived.” “With experience and maturity comes sexual sophistication. Optimally, we know what works for us, and we’re more confident about sharing that information with our partners. Call it “authentic eroticism.” Maybe the reason MILFs are such a turn-on is that mothers simply make better lovers. As we blossom and ripen, nurture and mentor, we are likely more capable of integrating intimacy and spirituality into our sexuality. And that is deep, and hot. So go ahead and be sexy, Mama.”
Moody Bitches, Julie Holland, MD

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Here’s what you don’t want to become … trying too hard to look like your 25-year-old self (or some other 25-year-old) instead of aging gracefully into what I believe will likely be the best version of yourself.

DON’T

Ivana Trump looks like a cartoon.

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Most of the women I admire have admitted to skin treatments & some have admitted to “subtle cosmetic surgery or procedures” like Botox, but mostly they all agree that the key is good skin care, sunscreen at least on your face, neck, décolletage (if you’re lucky to have any 😉) and hands, continual exercise (keep moving),  good nutrition and sleep! I think they look great without looking weird … in this day in age and in “my book” they have aged gracefully as have my mom and mother-in-law, they look fabulous and not weird.

Jane Fonda was on my DO list when I started this post a year ago, but sadly she’s now teetering on the edge of the DON’T list 🙁 this recent photo is NOT good (and I think her recent “procedures” have maybe pushed her over the edge) and it’s not ok for an 80-year-old woman, or even a 60-year-old or 50-year-old 😯 woman to have that hairdo at least not “in my book”.

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Just because you can doesn’t mean you should 

 a good rule to live by!!!

Here she is a couple of years ago when she was on my DO list.

DO

Image result for jane fonda recent photosImage result for jane fonda recent photosImage result for jane fonda recent photos

Image result for jane fonda recent photos

Jane Fonda ages 65-79

She has said her biggest secret to aging gracefully is “most importantly keep moving” she has admitted to having “some work done” because she started realizing what she saw in the mirror wasn’t reflecting how she felt … I wish she had stopped before going maybe TOO far!? 🤭

“Go forward slowly, its not a race to the end”
“It doesn’t matter how slow you move as long as you keep moving”

another good “rule” to live by!

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Helen Mirren 73

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Martha Stewart 77 (with Snoop Dogg)

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Meryl Streep 69                       Ann Margaret 77                     Christy Brinkley 65

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Alana Stewart 77

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I LOVE that, rather than have elective surgery, ELECT to age gracefully!

Things that happen after 40 that no-one tells you about — that fuzz on your face, perhaps a mustache when you’ve NEVER had one before, droopy earlobes (along with droopy boobs), gray hairs in your eyebrows an inch longer than the other hairs (but you can’t see them because you can’t see up close so you have to wait until someone, usually one of your kids, or a sister, or a good friend points it out to you :)), sometimes spit flies out of your mouth when you’re talking, it’s a real thing!  I asked the dentist about it and he said yes that starts happening because your mouth starts to shrink and that’s one of the signs 😬😩, you start “watering down” your wine with club soda, just like your 75-year-old mother and her friends (who you used to make fun of when they would order a “white-wine spritzer” when you were young & they were “old” (my age now 😮) … this is where I left off when writing this post a year ago.  Yesterday my friend sent me this article and the night before I had literally googled “itchy breasts” …

“This Is What No One Tells Women About What Happens To Your Body In Your 40s” by Aileen Weintraub from the Huffington Post

“I started researching phrases like, “sex in your 40s,” “pissed at my family all the time,” and “left boob pain; am I dying?” The symptoms were subtle at first: insomnia, a racing heart, a lost word, sometimes a wrong word. But within months there was no denying it. Soon enough there were panic attacks, sobbing fits and that verboten emotion of middle-aged women ― rage. Just after my 40th birthday, I bled for 10 days straight.” (ME EXACTLY!!!)
“That was the moment I learned that before menopause, there is a completely separate, though somehow related hell called perimenopause. According to the nurse, this marked the beginning of a gradual decline in estrogen in my body ― and, “by the way,” she added, “it can last for years.”  I wipe away my tears, wishing someone would have mentioned I’d spend much of my midlife on the bathroom floor, crying ― I would have opted for nicer tiles.” by Aileen Weintraub

… if you’ve read my blog you know this is pretty much me … you are not alone, WE are not alone!  I wish I had the heart to reach out to her and tell her it could go on for another 10 years!  I laughed out loud when I read “related hell called perimenopause” — hell is correct.  And then I read the paragraph that made me cry …

“I have changed so much. I have stopped caring what anyone else thinks, have started claiming my time, growing my tribe, and trying so hard to hold onto the shits I have because I have so few left to give. I am more beautiful and confident than I have ever been in my life, while simultaneously becoming invisible to much of the world”. by Aileen Weintraub

Trying so hard to hold on to the “few shits I have” … I can’t tell you many times a day the words “I don’t really give a shit” come out of by mouth.

In a scene from “Girls” when Marnie is chatting with one of the artists whose photos are on display, she asks …“How do people not see that you’re taking pictures of them?” and the elderly wheelchair bound artist answers “It was harder when I was young, but now I’m old and no ones looks at me anyway. Getting old is the pits. I hate watching television because all the old women are shells of themselves and it hurts to be a shell” 😔 Thankfully, I think that may be changing … “Grace & Frankie”☺️???

I told my friend who forwarded the article that the paragraph about “becoming invisible to much of the world” made me cry and she replied “I think about it a lot when I see old people at a store or wherever, no body looks at old people and that’s going to be me (us) soon”

Is this why women go to these outrageous measures to look younger?  It makes me sad, I understand not wanting to age, and I for sure want to look my best, but my best for my age, do these women go to these extremes because they are trying to remain visible? Do they feel invisible?

I don’t want to be invisible but I’ll take invisible over “freaky looking” or “obnoxious looking” or “looking like someone else” ANY DAY!  I will take invisible if it means aging gracefully … older beautiful women, with their silver hair (not gray) and laugh lines (not wrinkles), who haven’t had any obnoxious work done, like my mom, my mother-in-law, my husbands aunts, quite a few of my friends mothers — YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE — NOT TO ME!  You are beautiful & graceful and

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Love ❤️ …

This is how it always is, or at least how I think it should be ... by shannon bennett

IMG_2482Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 6.10.40 PM“I loved her and it is the beginning and end of everything” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I feel like I’ve finally met someone I can stand still with.  Having a dog together means having a life together, all in, both of us.” — Masters of Sex
“We think about it, sing about it, dream about it, lose sleep worrying about it. When we don’t have it; we search for it; when we discover it; we don’t know what to do with it; when we have it; we fear losing it. It is the constant source of pleasure and pain. But we can’t predict which it will be from one moment to the next. It is a short word, easy to spell, difficult to define, impossible to live without.”
 by sayshaina August 10, 2005 Urban Dictionary
“It’s when they’re the last thing you think about before you go to sleep and when…

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