How to Get the Government to Care About Women’s Health

Caduceus I © lynette sheppard

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog over the years know that I am endlessly frustrated about the lack of research on women’s health issues, particularly menopause. Cassie, RN and ehealth informer gives us practical steps in this call-to-action guest post. Let’s go for it!

How to Get the Government to Care About Women’s Health

As a woman, you’ve almost certainly experienced gender bias in some form in your lifetime. One place you probably don’t think about experiencing the adverse effects of gender stereotypes is with your health care provider. Unfortunately, gender bias is a real concern that is harming women’s health in definite ways.

The gender bias problem in health care means women often don’t receive the same level of attention and consideration from their medical providers as men. This can lead to women unnecessarily struggling with chronic pain, with enduring needless procedures and being incorrectly diagnosed with anxiety and other mental health disorders. Gender bias also means issues related to women’s health receive less attention and funding than health problems experienced by men.

Since the idea of gender bias in health care was recognized in the 1970s, advocates for women’s health have been documenting and researching the ways women are discriminated against in health care.

By understanding and recognizing gender bias in health care, you can help protect and improve access to nondiscriminatory health care services for yourself and all women.

Speak Up

As women, we are often taught to be deferential to authority figures, such as medical professionals. If a doctor tells you your symptoms are related to anxiety or psychosomatic in nature, it can be tempting to accept the diagnosis and attempt to live with the discomfort as best you can.

Remember, you know your body better than any medical professional. If you’re sure there is something wrong, then stand your ground. Refuse to be put off by a diagnosis that doesn’t relieve your symptoms. Keep asking for tests and referrals to specialists until someone discovers the source of your problems. Don’t allow yourself to be convinced you don’t know your body.

By pushing back against medical professionals who attempt to minimize your symptoms, you will be more likely to get the care you need.

Contact Your Representatives

Though you might not realize it, the government has a lot of influence over medical research. Through the Food and Drug Administration and various grant programs, the government directly influences research across a wide spectrum of the medical industry.

Currently, much medical research skews toward primarily understanding how diseases and medications affect men. As women, though, effects of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease present very differently in women than they do in men. Inequality in research means treatment for serious diseases is focused on what works for men, leaving women to utilize treatments that may be less than effective for our gender.

To help effect change, you can reach out to your congressional representatives and let them know you support legislation requiring government-funded medical research to include gender considerations, such as the Research for All Act. As more women let legislators know we are aware of the problem of gender bias in medicine, and we support fair and equitable research practices, representatives will be more likely to take up the cause. Representatives can draft legislation requiring researchers to give equal consideration to the ways women are affected by medical issues to receive state and federal funding.

Support Women’s Health Organizations

Organizations such as the Sex and Gender Women’s Health Collaborative, the Stanford Center for Health Research on Women and Sex Differences in Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Office on Research on Women’s Health are all working to improve the gender bias in the medical community. Some of the organizations are working with medical schools and nursing programs. Others are working with legislators to change the laws governing approved methods of medical research. NIH has changed the requirements for grant funding to ensure researchers are testing effects on both male and female subjects to ensure the results of any research apply to both genders.

You can support the organizations working to end gender bias in medicine by joining in discussions and events, volunteering your time or contributing money toward their efforts. These organizations are contributing many resources to promoting equality in health care, and they need our support to continue their important work.

Don’t Give Up

If you are fighting a battle against gender bias in your personal health, it might feel as if it’s one you can’t win. Hearing your doctors tell you the symptoms you’re experiencing are “all in your head” can be frustrating and demeaning. The important thing is not to give up. Insist the doctors listen to you and review all of your records. Keep insisting until you find someone to listen.

Organizing all your medical records in one place so your providers can see your complete history, including the results of any tests, the details about your condition and the dates of treatment will provide undeniable proof of your symptoms.

You can get an app such as My Medical or ChartSpan to record everything related to your medical history. If you are concerned about privacy issues when accessing your medical history on a mobile device, consider using a Virtual Private Network to encrypt your network connection and protect your medical records.

In our modern world, there is no reason women’s health care should be subject to the antiquated gender bias that currently exists in our system. We all need to speak up and demand to be heard and treated for our actual symptoms instead of being told we are imagining our illnesses. As human beings, we all deserve quality medical treatment, regardless of our genders.

Author bio: As a woman and a nurse, Cassie loves writing about women’s health and wellness issues. Helping women live healthier, pain-free lives is her dream come true.

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More Visions of Retire Meant

Flower Spiral © lynette sheppard

We received so many great responses from you all – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I wanted to make sure that these visions didn’t get lost in the comments, so am posting them in this blog entry. Be sure to read to the end, where R shares some concerns about retirement. We all learn from sharing our wisdom with one another, so thank you again!

PK wrote:  

I’m 64 now. I’ve been working since I was 10, at one gig or another. Can’t say I was dedicated to most of those gigs – they were a way to make a living, to support my other interests. Some of them were more intrinsically interesting than others, and one aligned with my higher purpose and felt really satisfactory. For the last 6 years I’ve worked from home primarily as a virtual office manager for a company based on the mainland. I’ve investigated the Social Security retirement plans and am staging a 2-year withdrawal from this company. However, my husband may get a full-time college professor job this year – and then I would retire almost immediately. What would I do with myself? I can think of about 1000 things – but first volunteer with children, be the full-time artist I’ve wanted to be all my life, garden, bake, be a domestic goddess, raise chickens. I look forward to it.

JM shares her own vision: 

Aloha Ladies, I am 61 and still have a 17 year old son at home. He is a jr in high school. Im still so very active being a mom and a grandmother to 11. I teach hula 3 times a week plus work. Being a photographer I can pick and choose my work times. I get a little sad thinking that one day coming up my son will be moving on. I see his excitement and dont want to dampen his enthusiasm for moving out of moms house! So this has been good for me to read as most of you have already passed this point years ago. I am not sure exactly what I will do, but Im sure traveling will be in the picture! Hula keeps me thriving so Im thinking of moving into taking classes to become a Kumu Hula. The older I get the more important relationships are, all relationships including my ancestors. I personally feel there is a whole new world waiting for me.
Yes I have sleepless nights, yes I still get too hot and then too cold. I just giggle and dont let myself get caught in any drama over it. I feel very alive and healthy.

K is looking forward to retirement too:  

As I approach retirement from about 3-1/2 years out — I think about it more and more often.

Right now, I feel like I am in kind of a transition or rehearsal phase. When I take a planned day off from work, I try to mimic what I would do if I didn’t have to report to the grindstone ever again. What would I do if I had my time as my own?

Most times, I try to spend some time in nature, taking a short hike on a trail I haven’t walked before and really open my eyes and drink in the textures, smells, and sights I will have the time to savor in the future.

I think a lot about the type of retired grandma I want to be. I want to be an active and a fun one to be around. One of my daughters is not too domesticated, so I’d like to expose her daughter to some of my favorite pasttimes (embroidery, sewing, gardening) that she otherwise doesn’t get to experience. (I’ve already begun that, but want to continue if it’s something she wants. I learned so much of this kind of thing from my grandmother).

Since the out-of-doors is important and nurturing for me, I would like to share that with my grandkids and continue to with my husband as long as possible. I see camping and many local hikes in the future. There’s a wonderful group of older women who maintain trails and camp together; I’ve been dreaming of joining them.

I branch out my thoughts to the dark times, winter and days when the driving rain keeps me indoors. I like to think I will busy myself finishing long-abandoned projects, starting new ones, taking classes on old and new hobbies. There are many groups who meet in our library system for conversations on local issues, arts, hobbies, travel, foreign language practice, and of course, books! I look forward to accessing those.

So, I guess what retirement means to me is that it is a trigger for the next exciting life series! I’ve done the rest—here comes the best! It’s a time of becoming enriched and enriching the lives of those you love. Of not letting life simply pass by, but enjoying and savoring every moment.

Still, not every woman is looking forward to retirement. R, a menopause Goddess sister from Portugal shares her concerns. I suspect she is not the only one of us caught in some conflict about these changes. Here’s her heartfelt musings:

I’ve found Menopause Goddesses blog by chance, sometimes I read it with the most attention, and sometimes not I have to say.
Retirement subject is not very close for me yet, I’m a Portuguese 55 years woman living near Lisbon our capital and this year the allowed retirement age as come to 66 years and 3 months, or 60 years age and 40 of discount career for pension found, this last option with 6%/year tax and a sustainability tax of 13,8%, resuming, too much limitative for us to think about it, unless you think to live your retirement begging. Situation in Portugal is not friendly for those that think retire sooner than official age.

Although the approaching of that stage of live for my husband, that is 5 years older than me, scares me a lot, besides work he always count with me next to him for everything and I’m afraid to feel myself under a dominance I’m not used to.
I know that in US young people leave their parents’ home when they went to university but in Portugal we have not that tradition, only the students that have less score classifications go to universities outside their residence area.

My 2 daughters with 33 (the older is a journalist and actually is working as public relations) and 26 years (she’s a nurse) have study near and they’re still living with us.
The difficulty to rent or buy a flat in our country is huge for young, and the salaries sometimes are not enough to face their responsibilities sooner, they are now both thinking to rent a flat and share expenses, this situation is causing me the feeling of empty nest, the past 35 years I’ve been first a mother, a wife and less a woman so I’m feeling lost and I don’t know my role any more, I’m beginning to feel also the weight of menopause literally (both: body weight and feelings).

Sorry if I extended myself too much but we still feel this subject as banned in our society, the women don’t like to show their disability to face this stage of mind and always try to show themselves very open mind, with millions of activities, dressing as teenagers sometimes acting if their daughters were rivals.
Thanks for sharing with us.

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Retire Meant – Menopause Goddesses Share Their Visions

Sunrise or Sunset? © lynette sheppard

Several of you responded; others are still thinking about and crafting their replies. Here are some of the visions shared by our readers. Enjoy! I surely did!

MB shared:  “I am not retired yet. ( I am soon to be 56 years old. ) BUT, I’m in college now, dual enrolled for two professions, pursuing a dream to work on my own terms and from home using all the experience I’ve gained working for the healthcare industry for the last 30 years in customer service.  I am 2 semesters away from my first college degree!  And 3 months away from a new credential!

So retirement to me looks like a home office, my dog next to me, my husband running our video game store at the local mall, and being on call for my second job as a Clinical Medical Assistant to get my “people” fix when I need it!

I am glad I’m at this place in my life- hot flashes, weight gain, no- filter -mouth and all.  It’s trying at times, but it’s my life and I’m making the best of it!”

BT responded with these thoughts:  “I enjoy your blog posts very much and just had to chime in about my thoughts regarding retirement.

Recently I had to really give this thought as I realized I had many emotions around it. I’ll be 54 in July. Recently, my 57 year old neighbor retired from a job she worked at her entire career and off to a warmer climate she and her husband went for a few months. While yes, I’d like a little more time in the sun, perhaps doing less at times, I couldn’t help but think what it must feel like to have devoted your whole life, often working more than forty hours a week, to now not working.

It brought up those transitional periods in our lives when we can feel lost, as I’ve felt a few times in my life. I wonder how it is affecting her as she was very devoted to her work. I’ve also been with women going through transition from a job they were very dedicated to until what is deemed “retirement age” and now not sure who they are anymore – as if they lost their identity and sense of purpose.

As I sat with the many feelings, I realized how it’s important to me to keep making an impact with my tribe that I continue to build. And how making a difference is so important to me and leaving a legacy, not necessarily as what I do, but in hopes that I help people (especially women) feel good about their lives and find meaning in them. I don’t see as that ever ends, but something that is so important to me and my own vitality because it feels good to my soul to make a difference where I can.

So thanks for the question and asking for  feedback. I’ll be curious to read what others have to say!”

CH offered these gems: Retirement (“the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work”) . . . well, to me
who had a wake up call in my late 40’s that there was more to life than my narrow
perspective of my job, I think perhaps there is a more enlighten way to view this
transition. Leaving behind the work schedule allows us to connect with life in a whole
new way . . . discovering the opportunity to connect with passion.

I am amazed at the narrowness many view retirement . . . travel. I am reminded of my
soul sister in the NW (Anne Fangman who published her memoir: Mustard Every Monday:
From Secluded Convent to International Travel) responds to those wondering at her
retirement party if she was going to travel? “Been there, done that! I’m going to
stay home and enjoy life.”)

Opportunities abound once we don’t clock in and clock out. Watching friends nearby has
been a wonder to watch as they grapple with the time on their hands and how they
discover ways of connecting with themselves, others and “nature.”

I am looking forward to your posts on retirement!!!

CR shared her experience:  “Time is both your friend and your enemy … you do not have to get everything done today because yes, there will be tomorrow,
you do have time if you choose to have coffee with friends which was not possible very often when you are working..
but you also have funerals on a much more frequent basis …
I find I make it a priority to go to the Y several times a week
both for fitness but because sometimes those are the only people I see all day or all week.
I have started cleaning out my house I have lived here a very long time.. so when something happens My son will not have to do much…
I now have time to learn things i have always been interested in
and not be bothered with stuff I just don’t care about… there are things you do for others because you care about them , but I am much more selective about them.  Time is the most valuable commodity in the world .. and when you retire you realize it is more valuable than you ever realized . I make time to be with people that make me laugh; that has not always been an option .. now it is.
I look at retirement as a gift … and I am lucky to be here.”

BeFabRevolution is retiring on her own terms: “Hi Ladies, I am soon going to leave my nearly 25 year career as a corporate consultant. I have loved it. It has been interesting and often challenging, but I’m just over it. I’ll be 58 later this year and have had an overwhelming need to reinvent myself.

I am “retiring” from a strict schedule, but am too sharp and energetic to not have a new, more interesting challenge.

I have been laying the groundwork for nearly the past 2 years to launch a new business, catering to women age 50+. I launch the business next week. Woohoo!

Lynette, I need you as an expert speaker for 2017!!! I am so excited! I guess my “retirement” comes in being my own boss and being of service in a very different way.”

And a very treasured response comes from my own mother:  “As an 82 year old, find that life is what you make it. For me life is great as i have a great daughter and son-in law. Love is so important !”
Betty    AKa mom

Vibrancy comes to mind when I read these visions. Any other thoughts, insights, ideas? Put them in the comments or send them to me at lynette@9points.com  I look forward to more wisdom, questioning, input. Thank you so much to those who shared so generously! Virtual hugs to you all!

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Retire Meant

Flying Free © lynette sheppard

Fifteen+ years ago, Theresa-Venus and I had one of those life altering conversations. We were going through perimenopause and wondered if something might seriously be wrong with us. No one told us that all these horrifying symptoms and maladies were going to come with the Big M. We thought that maybe we’d be a little warm once in a while and never have to worry about wearing white pants again.

That conversation spawned the Menopause Goddess Group, our book “Becoming a Menopause Goddess”, and this blog. On average, we have 35,000 visitors each month. That reinforces the fact that we are not alone. We’ll keep this site going – well, as long as we keep going.

Theresa and I had another of “those talks” a couple of weeks ago. A few Menopause Goddesses we know are retiring this year and looking forward to it. It got us to thinking, though. What does retirement mean to each of us? In what ways will we create a vibrant life after “work”? What does it look like to each of us to “retire”?

Before we share our thoughts and feelings, we’d like to hear from you – how do you envision retirement? Or if you are retired, what fulfills you? Is the reality of retirement different from your initial vision? What would you share with your sisters about retirement?

We look forward to hearing from you – write your answers and musings in the comments or email lynette@9points.com  Don’t be shy – this site is about women sharing wisdom – we want to hear from you.

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Maniacal – Pause, A Humorous Menopause Poem

Tropical Toast © lynette sheppard

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s make 2017 a year we thrive rather than simply survive. And what better way to begin our posts than with a good laugh (we sure need it.) Author Tracey Maguire shares her humorous take on the Change. Enjoy!

MANIACAL-PAUSE
Written by Tracey Maguire (Author of ‘THE WORKER IN ME’)

She’s a hotbed of volcanic blasts
And often has the blues
She’s red and raw and sweaty
And always wants a snooze

Her husband doesn’t know her
There’s a certain kind of pall
It wasn’t always like this
He’s been driven up the wall

It’s a waste, and a futility
To think that there’s a cure
For nature takes the best of us
And steals our whole allure

It’s a time, a place, and milestone
Don’t share it with a crowd
The secret curse of menopause
Just silent suffering allowed.

What’s all the fuzz about?
Why the fluid retaining?
It’s transformation to old age
While tummy weight is gaining

She fights alone her hormone hell
She doesn’t want to boast
No puberty or change of heart
But a slow and steady roast

She buys a fan, nudes up at night
Her husband, he gets chancy
Her heat is high, she’s burning up
Cold showers are her fancy

It’s basted and it’s burning
A bitter pill to taste
When everything is said and done
A mid-life change is faced

Tracey’s book The Worker in Me goes on sale April, 2017. Watch for it.

 

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New Year’s Intentions

fireworks for blog
I don’t make resolutions anymore.It’s too freaking stressful to make them and subsequently break them. I do make intentions, however. Intentions for me are large global visions of how I want to live for the next year (and maybe longer.)

I am in the habit of drawing an angel card each morning. The one word on each card serves as a daily focusing, a mantra if you will, for noticing or expressing a certain quality throughout 24 hours.

For example, today, I drew Kindness. Musing on kindness throughout the day allowed me to slow down when my cat was walking all over my keyboard and just pet him for awhile, rather than push him away. Work could wait. And it did. I was nicer to the people I met in town and even to myself, usually last on the list.

Similarly, I’ve found intentions to be helpful for me in focusing on a larger scale, on defining what might be important to me to notice and embody for the coming 365 days. Under each intention are ways in which I might accomplish it, but I am in no way absolutely wedded to them as goals.

That said, here are my intentions for 2017:

Notice and follow Beauty.
Photography
Prose: read and write
Butterflies – follow them.

Artify
Become an Art Activist rather than a politics watcher
App and paint photos
Write

Nourishment
body: exercise, yoga, eat healthy most of the time
mind: Scrabble, reading
spirit: solitude, music, time in Nature

Connection
Spouse: quality time, shared pursuits and adventures
Family: spend time w kids, parents, pets
Good friends: spend time

Celebration
Being on the top side of the dirt (that’s big!)
Each moment
Celebrate What’s Right With The World site

Give Back
Blogs
Healing Images
Art Activism (see above)

I will re-view these throughout the year – maybe find that some are easy to focus on and others need more attention. I use them as a sort of fuzzy logic compass to give my meanders through life a sense of direction and purpose.

I will eventually set goals as I focus more on my intentions – for example, within the intention of music, I want to learn to play ukulele. I’ll need to set a schedule of practice and lessons as well as determine how far I wish to go in this pursuit.

Your intentions may echo some of mine or they may be completely different. I offer mine only as a template and you may find a better way to define your New Year visions. Please share them if you do. That’s how we become Menopause Goddesses – growing and sharing. I wish you all a peace and joy filled New Year.

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Forever Painless – Is That Even Possible?

forever-painless-cover

Pain. It’s part and parcel of aging. We need to learn to deal with the various muscle aches and joint creaks as best we can. Unless that isn’t really true! What if we could indeed be “Forever Painless”?

That’s the title and premise of this new book by Miranda Esmonde-White. Author of Aging Backwards and host of the PBS show “Classical Stretch”, Esmonde-White lays out a simple, clear program of the right exercise for the specific problem area you are experiencing.

There are specific workouts (gentle stretching workouts) for areas such as Foot and Ankle, Knee, Upper Back and Shoulder, Hip, Lower Back and more. In addition, there are workouts for Connective Tissue, Arthritis, Stress, and Immunity. Even if we are not presently in pain (hallelujah), most of us experience stress and/or immune system decelerations. These exercises might also keep us in good shape if we are already there.

One of my favorite parts of the book was her take on our fascia – that webbing that was thought to hold our muscles, joints, and tendons in place. Like most health care professionals, I was taught that it was a matrix, a static structural part of our bodies. Esmonde-White writes about it as a fluid, dynamic system that also needs exercise and strengthening.

My intuitive self slapped my forehead when I read this. “Well, DUH!” I admonished myself. I saw my human architecture in a whole new way (I’m embarrassed to say that it never occurred to me.)

I love the stories of those who were able to heal themselves of pain that preface each chapter. While some of them detail some pretty significant difficulties, one can also see how these exercises can help those of us less afflicted. I love the gentleness, too – like Tai Chi, Chi Gung or Psoma Yoga.

Pain is draining. Pain can interfere with our quality of life. Pain can depress us and rob us of vibrancy in our later years. If proactive exercise – the right exercise – can alleviate pain and keep us actively healthy, sign me up.

I haven’t been this excited about a book in a long time. And you can bet that I am doing the exercises for hip tightness and immune function right now. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Here’s where you can get your own copy:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

About Miranda Esmonde-White
Miranda Esmonde-White is one of America’s greatest advocates and educators on healthy aging. She is best known for her PBS fitness show Classical Stretch, which has been on the air since 1999. A former ballerina, she designed the Essentrics technique, which uses low-intensity strength and stretch exercises to relieve pain, prevent injury, and slenderize the body. Esmonde-White works with professional and Olympic athletes and celebrities, and teaches classes to thousands of students worldwide each year.

Follow Miranda on Facebook

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Maca Root Superfood Black Friday Sale

Yellow Hibiscus with Waterfall © lynette sheppard

Yellow Hibiscus with Waterfall © lynette sheppard

I know, I know! After yesterday, we may never want to eat again. Except we all know that we will. So a heads up about the Black Friday  – Cyber Monday Maca sale starting today!

Maca is a superfood and for menopausal women it is so much more.

From today November 25 – 28, 2016, you can take 40% off all products in their Yellow Gelatinized and Yellow Raw Maca Categories!

Maca Root is a Peruvian plant that boosts strength and energy. It is particularly helpful in hormone balancing and revitalizing lost libido for menopausal women. Available in powder form or elixir, maca root has virtually no side effects (though a small # of women report mild gas with the powder version.) A couple of our original goddesses swear by it. For more info or to order, please visit The Maca Team. They source non-Gmo, organic maca root from Peru.

maca-recipes

Also, they have some really great recipes on their site – although, I know – we are never going to eat again.  Here’s the link:  Maca Team

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Black Friday Comes Early This Year

Tangled Turkey © lynette sheppard

Tangled Turkey © lynette sheppard

Slumber Cloud, one of my favorite product websites is having an early Black Friday sale – up to 40% off! Here’s the link – sale lasts from now until Nov. 28. Don’t miss out – we menopausal goddesses NEED a comfortable, restful night’s sleep.

Here’s the link: http://try.slumbercloud.com/black-friday-cyber-monday-sale/

dcf8fa96-homepage-banner-text-only_1130fr0qk0ee05901d

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We are grateful for all of you! Together we will not only survive, we will thrive. (And no, I’m not going to share diet tips or workouts – let’s just enjoy a lovely holiday without guilt. Besides, it is such a wasted and wasting emotion. Say it with me: Gratitude, not guilt. Gratitude, not guilt, Gratitude, not guilt. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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Creativity Blooms During and After Menopause

Hello Dahlia © lynette sheppard

Hello Dahlia © lynette sheppard

Myriad difficulties and symptoms arise during the menopause transition. And if you are searching for help or remedies, just put your symptom or need into our search box. After almost 15 years of Menopause Goddess Blog posting, you’re sure to find lots of information. Much of it is condensed in our book, Becoming a Menopause Goddess.

Now into Second Adulthood, I am finding so many women also interested in the positive changes. Once we stop flashing every few minutes and our moods stabilize, we ask ourselves “what next?” What next turns out to be a plethora of welcome changes. Who knew?

One of the most exciting of these changes occurs when our creativity gets its own power surge. We tap heretofore unknown wellsprings of creative juice. We overflow with inspiration and we aren’t afraid to fail. The “not afraid to fail” may be the most important piece. After all, the creativity police won’t come and take us away if we suck at something. And I can attest that if you find something you enjoy and stick with it, eventually you won’t suck.

But it really matters not if we are “good” at what we choose as our creative outlet. It’s important that we jump in with both feet, both arms, and a whole heart. We need it because it nourishes us. Right now, I am blessed to be part of a photography seminar here on Moloka`i. And yes, there are a lot of women (and men) celebrating Second Adulthood.

So dance, draw, paint, photograph, knit, write. Don’t wait – the house doesn’t need to be cleaner, dinner can be eggs, and the laundry will rest in the hamper another day. As poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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