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Menopause Goddess Blog: New Directions

Dubrovnik Walled City © lynette sheppard

Dubrovnik Walled City © lynette sheppard

It has been over a month since I posted to Menopause Goddess Blog – mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. How did this happen?

Well, for starters, I traveled to Croatia and Slovenia including a side trip to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina with five girlfriends of a certain vintage. Yep, Dewitt was calling us the Menopause Vagabonds. We sampled history, stunning beauty, and some of the best white wines we have collectively encountered. Hmmmm, vagabonding. We may be on to something here.

Recovering from jet lag has proven to be an arduous process but I am finally on Hawaii standard time and my molecules have rejoined me. (They were spread across two oceans for a while.)

The holidays took another bite of time – Thanksgiving celebrations, Christmas parade, tree trimming, gift buying. Whew.

Now, for some big news. Menopause Goddess Blog will be changing in 2016. No worries, we will continue to bring you the latest news and reality checks about the menopause journey. In addition, we will be expanding our focus to Life after the Pause – how will we live a vibrant, joyful Second Act?

A fabulous menopause expert and coach will be joining me as a principal writer of the blog. She will be illuminating all things pausal and I will be exploring “what comes next.”  I’ll introduce her to you all before the end of the year. Stay tuned for new perspectives, new insights, new visions.

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Feel Fab After 40: A Webinar for Menopause Goddesses

Flame On © lynette sheppard

Flame On © lynette sheppard

Health and wellness company Root Fitness across the pond is offering a free webinar with help for menopause goddesses on Wednesday 22nd Oct. at 13:30  (1:30 pm) Pacfic Time.  To sign up, just click here.

This ‘Feel Fab after 40’ webinar gives ladies the opportunity to understand what causes and exacerbates menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, weight gain around the middle, poor sleep and irritability.   They then follow up with NATURAL solutions to keep these exhausting symptoms at bay so that women can go back to gliding through life with energy, vitality and confidence!

For more information about their program, Hot Flush Free  visit https://www.facebook.com/hotflushfree or www.hotflushfree.wordpress.com

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Healthy Heart Talk for Women

Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women. And a woman’s symptoms of heart attack often vary greatly from the classic symptoms that men suffer such as crushing chest pain radiating down the left arm. Women are much more likely to suffer jaw or neck pain, pain between the shoulder blades, or shortness of breath with sweating (heck that’s me every day on my run). There may be stomach or chest pain, but heart attack may also present as fatigue. Speaking as a former coronary care nurse, I can also add “feeling of impending doom” associated with any of the symptoms as a red flag. Don’t be stoic, get to an ER right away and get checked out. Oh, and if you have that feeling of impending doom? Call 911. I personally know a number of women who did and didn’t that suffered heart attacks. Getting medical help pronto saved heart muscle.

But better than getting treatment is prevention. Our pals at University of Florida shared this helpful infographic about the ins and outs of heart disease. Of course, prevention can be boiled down to a few simple interventions. A nurse friend of mine who also happens to be a hospital administrator has her own three point plan: eat well, destress, and keep moving. I couldn’t have said it better.

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For more info, click here.

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Regain Bladder Health with AZO

maypole London

Having to go urgently is truly uncomfortable and can be embarrassing as well. I remember several years ago visiting London with my husband. We had had a glorious time photographing children in fluffy dresses and ribbons dancing around a maypole in the shadow of the Tower bridge. We wandered over to a patch of tents selling all manner of crafts and even bought a stuffed bear named Pipkin. (We still have him – he lives on our bed – ok, too much information.)

The upshot of all this is that we both urgently had to urinate. And there were no public restrooms to be found. We hobbled across the bridge, thighs pressed tightly together, groaning and wondering what the penalty might be for public relieving. As we left the bridge walk, we came across a convention center draped with a 10 foot high banner proclaiming “Overactive Bladder”. We were laughing so hard we almost didn’t make it to our hard won goal of the restrooms inside.

For those who suffer urgency and frequency, though, it is no laughing matter. Remember those good old UTI days? Well, some of those symptoms can occur as we age. How sucky is that? I used to have a coworker who could not be 2 hours out of bathroom availability.

So when Menopause Goddess blog was offered a free sample of AZO Bladder Control to try, I contacted one of our satellite goddesses who suffers urgency and frequency to evaluate it. She used it for two weeks before she began noticing relief. After a month, she was delighted to report that her symptoms had eased so much that she felt “normal” again.

AZO

AZO Bladder Control is a drug-free, natural product with the active ingredients being pumpkin seed extract and soy isoflavones. Pumpkin seed extract supports bladder muscle integrity while the soy isoflavones help relax the muscles and maintain muscular strength in the pelvic floor.

Best of all, it’s available at your neighborhood drug store or grocery store. AZO has a range of other products that promote urinary and vaginal health that we didn’t try, including AZO Bladder, AZO Cranberry, AZO test strips, AZO Urinary Pain Relief, AZO Urinary Pain Relief Maximum Strength, and AZO  Yeast.

Find out more on their website:  www.azoproducts.com or follow AZO on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/AZOproducts

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New Treatment for Vaginal Atrophy: Mona Lisa Touch

Prism Heart © lynette sheppard

Prism Heart © lynette sheppard

Vaginal atrophy affects 4 out of 10 women after menopause. (I’m surprised it isn’t more.) We’ve had a number of posts regarding lubricants and other remedies that can help with this often painful condition. Everything from avoiding sexual intimacy to discharge to daily pain unrelated to activity has been a symptom of this all too common malady.

Recently, the FDA approved a laser treatment designed to rejuvenate the lining of the vagina. Now I am always a proponent of the least invasive remedies for any condition. Still, for women who suffer despite HRT, lubricants and the like, this may be life changing.

The treatment involves 3 office visits where the CO2 laser is inserted into the vagina and emits the treatment to the wall to stimulate collagen growth. It is painless and lasts only 5-10 minutes. The only caution is that sexual intimacy be abstained from for 24 – 48 hours after the treatment.

I spoke with Holly, a 49 year old woman who was having symptoms including dryness and itching. After one treatment, she noticed immediate improvement and says that her tissue feels “more full.” Full disclosure: Holly works for Medical Aesthetics of North Dallas, where the procedure was performed.

Holly relates that many of their patients have had worse symptoms than she and have enjoyed relief after the first treatment. Some women prefer this for the convenience factor – not having to mess with creams or gels.

They know of no side effects so far. The treatment has been done in Italy since 2008. It’s pricey – approximately $2700.00 for the series. Alas, insurance does not cover the procedure yet.

It’s good to know such an option is available. Would I do it? No, I don’t mind the inconvenience of vaginal estriol and good lubricants. For me, the least interventional option that gets me the desired result will always be my go to remedy. For those where nothing else works, who cannot take estrogen, or who are really bothered by the creams and gels, this might be a viable possibility.

For more info, check out Medical Aesthetics of North Dallas and this article from Medical Daily.

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Is It True That Tomato Juice Can Ease Menopause?

 

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Enjoy this thought provoking guest blog post by health writer Evlin Simon. I’m off to the store to buy tomato juice?

Is It True That Tomato Juice Can Ease Menopause?

Menopause brings multiple changes to our bodies. While it is a natural stage a woman will undergo, menopause symptoms are unpleasant. It brings hot flushes to the body and irritability. With the right nutritional intake and lifestyle change, menopause can be treated. Women have to undergo this stage in life when they grow older, but they don’t have to suffer the symptoms that come along with it.

You can treat menopause symptoms with tomatoes. Yes, this delicious treat is a very effective menopause treatment. To get the benefits, it would be best to drink its juice than to eat it whole. Drink a glass of tomato juice a day to combat menopause symptoms. According to research conducted at Tokyo Medical University, drinking 200ml of tomato juice twice every day for eight weeks can treat menopause symptoms, lower cholesterol, and manage anxiety.

How the Study Was Done

In the study, 93 women ages 40 to 60 were made to drink tomato juice. By the end of the study, their anxiety, irritability, hot flashes, and other menopausal symptoms halved. The study tracked the women’s cholesterol level, blood pressure, and heart rate. After drinking tomato juice for four weeks, the women who had triglyceride levels higher than 150mg/dL saw a significant decrease to only 70 mg/dL. Their menopausal symptoms dropped to a very low 16%.

Reasons for the Benefits

One of the major reasons why tomatoes can greatly benefit women suffering menopausal symptoms is its high content of bioactive components. One of these is 13-oxo-ODA, a fatty acid that prevents metabolic syndrome. Tomatoes also have esculeoside A, which supports the heart health. Tomatoes have a high content of lycopene, which reduces menopausal stress. The heat activation during the canning process of the tomato juice gives it plenty of antioxidants, which is very beneficial to a person’s health.

According to Los Angeles-based obstetrician and gynecologist Steven A. Rabin, MD, the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is another substance abundant in tomato juice. It helps relieve hot flashes, reduces stress, and treats other menopausal symptoms.

If you buy tomato juice in the market, you might not see these nutritional values on the label. It would be best to buy the unsalted tomato juice, according to one of the leading authors of the study, Masakazu Terauchi Ph.D. It would also be a great idea to add tomato juice to your diet. There will be no side effects to it, and it won’t taste bad.

Tomato has its own type of Estrogen

There has been research in the past about how tomato juice can help relieve menopausal symptoms. Tomato juice has gamma-aminobutyric acid, which has the same effects as estrogen. Taking hormone supplements is one of the most common ways women treat menopausal symptoms. Tomato juice is like a  hormone replacement therapy that helps bring back the lost estrogen that occurs during and after menopause.

Over-the-counter estrogen supplements may help relieve menopausal symptoms, but there may be dangers associated with it. Studies in the past suggest that taking prescription estrogen can lead to higher risk of stroke, heart disease, blood clots, and even breast cancer. Artificial hormone supplements may not be a very good idea, especially as you are growing older.

Why bother with prescription supplements, when you can choose to take in tomato juice? Since tomato juice can give you the natural estrogen hormone benefits you need, it would be ideal to choose it over supplements. Fight menopause naturally with tomato juice.

Other Tomato Benefits

Besides relieving women of menopausal symptoms, the tomato has many other benefits to your health. If you include tomatoes in your lifestyle, here are some of the advantages you can get:

  • Reduces cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease
  • Rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorous
  • Treats damages caused by smoking
  • Naturally enhances flavours
  • Rich in phytonutrients like flavonones, flavonols, carotenoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, glycosides, and fatty acids derivatives
  • Filled with phenolic compounds
  • Improves digestion and prevents constipation
  • Prevents kidney and gall bladder stones
  • Keeps hair, skin, and bone healthy
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Increases fat burning capacity
  • Restores biochemical balance among people suffering from diabetes
  • Reduces risk for prostate cancer
  • Reduces risk for breast cancer

References:
https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/health-center/
http://theheartysoul.com/natural-menopause-treatment/

Evlin Symon

Author Bio:
Evlin Symon is an experienced health writer who has been at this for more than 5 Years. She is an expert in health, fitness, weight loss, nutition and beauty. When she is not writing she can be usually found hitting the Gym. Connect with her on Facebook and Google+ .

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My Story of Menopause and the Fifty Decade

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I loved guest writer Inge’s personal menopause story and her inspiring work, culminating in – wait for it – Menopause Retreats in Thailand. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did. And hey, maybe we will see each other in Thailand.

My Story of Menopause and the Fifty Decade
By Inge Sarathulsingh

My earliest memory of anything to do with menopause was my mum having a hysterectomy in her early 40’s. She must have experienced menopausal symptoms. But nothing, absolutely nothing was talked about, how she was feeling, how it made her feel having had the hysterectomy, what symptoms she was  experiencing and how she was coping. It seemed like a very taboo subject.

My next memory of menopausal women goes back to 1967. I was 14 years old and I was working as a receptionist for a GP. He generally put menopausal women on Vallium, it was just too much for the poor husbands to deal with such neurotic behaviour, so he would say.

Later in my twenties I trained as a physio therapist and worked in Germany’s largest rehabilitation centre.  Again, I got to work with many menopausal 50+ women and again, I was surprised by the amount of stress or emotional pain, they were going through. Later on, I worked in private practice, but the experience was the same:  middle aged women, menopausal and struggling to keep things together.
There was no support for menopausal women whatsoever, on top of what they were going through they were labelled being neurotic. I have no idea how they managed to cope. Still to this day I deeply feel for the women and the incredible struggle they were – and still are going through – completely on their own.

Life continued on, I immigrated to Australia. I also got married and had children, got divorced and I did what we all do, I looked after the family, gave up on my own desires for the best of the family, I served my darling children, I was there for them every step, I cooked and I washed,  just like we women do.

Since I had no recognition of my German physio in Australia, I had re-trained as acupuncturist, thinking acupuncture is more holistic and I could address any symptoms on a deeper level. But I learned soon that wasn’t the case. I was able to help people with their symptoms and make them  feel calmer, but I wasn’t able to address and release the emotional pain that is causing the physical symptoms. Because in the end our physical symptoms are just a message that there is something going on in our hearts, something is hurting us and we need to find out what it is in order to release our symptoms.

Having dealt with so many clients in different professions that is the main point I have come to understand:   It’s the unresolved emotional issues that cause our physical symptoms. Menopausal symptoms are no exception.  Dr. Christine Northrup talks about it in her book:  “The Wisdom of Menopause”.  Dr. Northrup is saying that your body is giving you messages in form of symptoms, if you ignore the messages, your body will intensify the symptoms!  Louise Hay also talks about it in her book: “You Can Heal Your Life”.

But it wasn’t until I hit the fifties that I experienced for myself this extensive emotional distress. Oh my goodness, it was so intense, so incredibly intense. I didn’t experience many menopausal symptoms, but that internal pressure – which is caused by the incredible raise of the reproductive hormones FSH, LH and GnRH.  According to Dr. Christine Northrup author of: “The Wisdom of Menopause”  These hormones surge to their new highest levels ever  and stay that way to drive the changes taking place in the midlife woman’s brain.”

She says that scientific evidence is mounting that the reproductive hormones are driving the changes in our brains.  These changes in our brains give us the drive to go for our needs, go for what we want,  after years and years of service to the family. This drive can be very strong, suppressing it and not following it will eventually lead to physical symptoms. Menopausal symptoms are one of the symptoms that are coming up, cancer, heart problems, digestive problems often arise as well.

For me, the fifties were a very difficult time. It  seemed like all my past experiences were being brought to my attention. I had lots of healing sessions and I searched for a technique or tool that would help to release EMOTIONS, my emotions. I have observed menopausal women struggling for so long,  first my mum, than as a doctor’s receptionist, then as physio,  and lastly as an acupuncturist and now it was my turn –  I was experiencing the intensity first hand!  And I did not like it one bit!

That’s when I found EFT, Emotional Freedom Tapping. I felt the immediate relief after the sessions.  I trained in EFT and I treated friends and clients. I was absolutely impressed how amazing this gently tapping on acupuncture points in the face and on the upper body just releases the issues!  It certainly made the last few years of my fifties so much easier!  And everybody I worked on felt that incredible relief too.

Finally after years and years of searching I found my tool for helping women to release their emotional pain, release all the stored up emotions, the guilt, the shame, release all the physical symptoms AND the menopausal symptoms. I cannot describe in words how much that meant to me and still does. I have watched women suffer for as long as I can think and finally I found a way to help – OMG, talking about being over the moon? Talking about having found my life’s purpose – YES, I have finally found it! I cannot help my mum anymore, as she has moved on, but I can help so many other women!

Over the last few years I have become very experienced in helping women to release their emotional distress, as well as their menopausal symptoms or any other physical symptoms! I absolutely enjoy working with the women and we are having a lot of fun together.  I feel honoured to be sharing this journey with them.
Having talked with so many menopausal  and 50+ women I realised, besides the hot flashes, the night sweats, the broken sleep or whatever symptom they might be experiencing there is one point most of the woman are talking about: the incredible isolation they are feeling.

I had the tools, I had the expertise – there was nothing to stop me from creating a wonderful solution for this problem. In fact it’s been something I had been talking about for many years, so I finally went out and created it. May I present my 4 day

Menopause & Stress Relief Retreat in Thailand
Or
Menopause Sisters in Retreat

Just  for a moment –  imagine – you are on a beautiful exotic and tropical island, the food is divine, the people are friendly with big smiles and willing to pamper you, all meals are served, you are with a group of like-minded women, your sisters,  sharing your meals,  spending your days talking about yourself and your issues, your symptoms and your problems.  Learning how to identify and release your symptoms and issues.

Together we cry, we laugh and we hug and we love, ourselves and everybody around us!

 

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You are having fun! You are releasing your emotional  issues, you are re-connecting  with yourself, you are reclaiming yourself. You are enjoying the love and the support, the deep connections you are making and the tools you are learning.

In between there is plenty of time for some well deserved relaxation.

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And of course some fun in the sun !

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And some more fun.

cooking class
And some time for reflection.

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If you are menopausal and you are struggling with  menopausal symptoms and/or stress in your life, PLEASE do not try and be superwoman and do it all on your own. Superwoman does not exist and you don’t have to try and be one! I would love to support you through this challenging time.

For more info about my retreat, please go to www.embracingyourfifties.com/retreats. Dates for my next retreat is scheduled for 31.3.16 – 4/4/16.

For more info about my private coaching programs please go to embracingyourfifties.com

To book a free session with me click here: https://www.timetrade.com/book/CB2NC

 May I also present my new webinar:

The 2 Steps To Relieving Menopause Symptoms

www.embracingyourfifties.com/webinar/

or just email me: embracingyourfifties@gmail.com
Have a joyful day ☺!

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MenoPower: Menopause at Twenty Six Never Looked Better

Kaleidoscope Rose © lynette sheppard

Kaleidoscope Rose © lynette sheppard

Menopause usually happens around early autumn of a woman’s life. Erin Kaiser’s guest post gives us a glimpse of menopause in the spring of her life. Her story is inspiring – she embraces change with all the verve in her being. I’ve often said that wise women come in all ages – please enjoy Erin’s wisdom and encouragement.

MenoPower: Menopause at Twenty Six Never Looked Better
By Erin Kaiser

In August 2013, I was a twenty five year old Austin, TX transplant, wildly reveling in freedom, madly in love, and newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After months of severe symptoms, ranging from constant vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, and abdominal distention, I was finally given the medical attention I needed in order to receive an accurate diagnosis. Without health insurance, I tried to go about finding medical help without expensive measures, such as ultrasounds and CT scans, which inevitably prolonged and worsened my condition. After finding a team of doctors to work with, we decided to remove the tumors, while leaving as much of the ovarian tissue as possible in hopes of preserving my youthful fertility. Little did we know, this decision would lead to the gradual removal of my entire reproductive system over the course of the next two years.

Fast forward to March 2015. While at the beginnings of a month long Costa Rican backpacking trip, I began to have symptoms, yet again. By this point I still had my uterus and right ovary intact; the left ovary had been removed during my second surgery 7 months prior to the Costa Rica trip. I was fortunate to have family in Costa Rica who got me into a private hospital, where I received the scans to detect the tumors, and was urged to have emergency surgery to remove them, along with my remaining ovary as soon as possible. My month long adventure of spiritual healing in the rainforest quickly morphed into a much more immediate and physical path to wellness. While in the midst of the surgery, the doctors found many lesions throughout the abdominal cavity, including the uterus. It had to be removed, without my consent.

I awoke from surgery in a foreign country, with just my parents by my side. I knew as soon as I came to that my uterus was no longer with me. I was heartbroken. My beloved fiancé had to hear the news over the phone before I even awoke from surgery. Worst of all, I had not been afforded a proper goodbye to a part of myself that I very much respected.

I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist with specialty training in fertility and pregnancy massage. Over the past four years, I have formed a profoundly deep connection with my feminine essence. I’d been giving myself regular uterine massages and keeping herbal tincture and supplemental regimens just for my reproductive cycle. I literally had conversations with my uterus, and then she was gone. Sure, I had already come to terms with the imminent possibility of infertility, but I had not prepared myself for (gulp) menopause. What were my options? Freak out in hysterics, flail my arms around and scream over something that cannot be taken back? No, I knew all I could do was accept and grow. Of course, there are still tears shed. Tears will be shed for years to come, but with all that has been taken from me, much has been given.

So, here I stand! Twenty six years old, still madly in love with an endlessly supportive partner, thriving in a loving and fully accepting community, and enjoying the freedom that comes with a life centered around the potential of each new day. Indeed, I am just now starting to feel the pulse of menopause as its presence becomes more apparent. The hot flashes are REAL. I thought that term would always be some sort of fictional character looming in the latest chapters of my life story. No, it’s a truly daunting feeling, like I’m temporarily morphed into a tea kettle 5 times a day.

My tumors have proven to be estrogen sensitive, so any kind of HRT is out of the question. This brings on quite a challenge both physically and mentally. However, I see this dilemma as yet another opportunity to break the mold of the great doom of menopause that society has held over our heads. I have become the only regular with dreadlocked hair at the local University athletic facility where my fiancé attends graduate school. My physical upkeep focus has shifted from animal friendly eating and leisurely activities such as yoga, biking, and hiking to weight lifting, paleo/alkaline diet, and strict supplemental intake.

I started incorporating the color red into my earth tone privy wardrobe to increase a subconscious focus on my vibrant sexual nature. I continue to thoroughly enjoy my sex life, no way that’s going anywhere. I refuse to read anything negative or self loathing about menopause because I absolutely believe in the power I hold as a woman; in ALL stages of my womanhood. I connect with the ancient beliefs that the end of fertility in a woman’s life marks a time of greater wisdom and elevated state of consciousness. I feel my womanhood more now than ever before, because I’ve fought for it.

I am elated and filled with excitement for my future and the opportunities now afforded to me. I can’t wait to keep learning about myself and my feminine power as my journey continues. I hope to share a message of pride and empowerment brought with this stage of the feminine nature. This is not a time of mourning, but of celebration! Please join me, as our journeys are surely not ending. If we move through this passageway with a step of ambition and wonder, we have only beautiful beginnings ahead.

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Sleepwear to Guarantee a Good Night’s Sleep

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One of the many trials of the menopause journey is waking up drenched. First you are hot, then as the dampness wicks away your body heat, you become frozen. This can happen several times a night.

Most of you know that I am a sleepwear junkie – I love fabrics that wick away moisture so that I don’t even wake when those HOT moments strike.

Goodnighties has some wonderful gowns and pjs that do just that. The great folks there sent me a gown to try – and it worked like gangbusters. And a bonus? I walked out in it to watch TV before bed (gotta keep up with American Idol) and my husband said, “Hey, that’s cute.” So the anti frump quality is pretty great too.

One of the qualities of the Goodnighties fabric that really interested me is that it has negative ions built into the fiber structure itself. (Negative ions are those wonderful mood elevators and physical wellbeing enhancers found at the bottom of waterfalls and in sitting by the surf.)

Their Ionx fabric has been shown to actually help with healing by increasing blood flow to achy muscles and joints. (Oh yes, yet another symptom of the Pause.) I definitely went to bed achy last night from too much hiking and chiropractic work. I meant to try and notice how it worked but I slept too well. Guess it worked really well. Oh, and I bounced out of bed this am – no aches or pains. Woo hoo.

Check out these cool pajamas and gowns on their website:   goodnighties.com

Don’t miss out on sleep due to night sweats or nocturnal hot flashes. (And they are great for travel, too.)

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A Change Is Gonna Come

Comedy © lynette sheppard

Comedy © lynette sheppard

Lisa Hartman generously allowed me to reprint her fabulous, funny essay about the Big M. It reads like she was at our first Menopause Goddess gathering. Enjoy!

Open Letter to Women
A Change is Gonna Come
by Lisa Hartman

You are not, or were not, prepared. It is likely that your body, without your knowledge or consent, will, or already has begun to, upend your perception of yourself and the universe. It will, or already does, suck.

They prepare you for your driver’s test, your SAT. There is a plethora of relationship and sex advice. How to cook, garden, use your computer, parent. Classes and books, whole sections of libraries and bookstores devoted to unraveling the mysteries of life. Why, then, the dearth of guidance and information when it comes to mid-life – the “change” – that more than half the population will face? Oh, sure, it’s out there – books, articles, even talk shows will address peri/menopause – but the event, rather, the slow unfolding process, is a sneak attack in our youth-obsessed culture. You don’t seek information or educate yourself before the fact, when it could help you. No, you seek it at 3 am, in a panic, and devour it in the hope that something, anything, can save you now. No one will prepare you, and on the eve of your commitment, your mother will say, “Now that you mention it, it was difficult at times. I do remember crying for days on end.” Thanks for the heads up, Ma.

The female body is an amazing piece of work. It has ferried you this far, with its cycles, its ebb and flow. Perhaps it has given you children, the miracle of life, and nourished them. You have nurtured and loved, children or not, and built a life on the foundation of this body. A brilliant machine – I get it. But what is all this noise about “intelligent” design? Really? There is intelligence in these screaming, chaotic hormonal fluctuations? Intelligence in the crippling of my sanity? Sometimes, it seems more like a freshman design project. At a party school.

Here is what will happen:

Your teen daughter will look at you, hand on cocked hip, head in that “Girlfriend?!” tilt. Eye rolling will increase, as will stomping and slamming. You can’t blame her, of course – she is having her own design issues at the moment and you are useless.

Your young adult sons will also look at you, as if you have sprouted a third eye. Then they will leave. You will weep and gnash your teeth, like a madwoman, in spite of the fact that their departure makes your life much easier. All reason has fled.

Your husband will be a rock. He will shop and cook and still love you. You will catch him, however, muttering, rolling his own eyes and blowing air. It will really piss you off.

You will wake in the wee hours, drenched in sweat. You’ll strip, towel off and sleep again. In the morning you’ll recall this and think, “Hmm… must’ve been hot last night.” In February — in the northern latitudes.

There will be nights when you don’t sleep at all and you feel madness creeping in. Or maybe rushing in. You will drink Rescue Remedy and chamomile tea and toddies and you will somehow survive, but you will never forget just how close you were to the abyss. It will temporarily cripple you.

You will make appointments and say “yes” to parties and dinners, calm and lovely, but you won’t make it to half of them. 11:00 Friday morning? We don’t know what that looks like yet.

You will weep over everything and nothing. You will feel sad and silly, hopeless and giddy all at once. It will make not a lick of sense.

Your doctor will look at you, a 45-year-old woman with night sweats, insomnia, anxiety and crazy eyes, and say, “No, it can’t be perimenopause if your cycle is still regular.” She will be wrong. You will hate her.

You will see the world, by turns, as a glorious Eden full of unlimited possibility and a dark dead-end hell full of worst-case scenarios. You’ll be right on both counts.

You may find previously mundane tasks, like driving and waiting in checkout lines, maddening and nearly impossible. And you must not venture, too often, into the depths of brightly lit, big-box stores. I am noticing now, when I dare to peek, that these places are filled with young parents, retirees, and men. Where are my sisters?

You will look at the people in your family and wonder, “Who are they? Why are they here? What do they want from me?” Keep this to yourself.

You will want to be alone and you will want to do nothing. Chase it. You will also want to turn the world upside down with the creative storm in your head. Chase that too.

You will reconnect with old friends and you will overshare. It will be a relief and a delight when they do the same.

You will see another doctor who, after an hour wait and a 10-minute visit, will hand you a prescription for an antidepressant. You will hate him.

You will find sex alternately mind-blowing and non-existent, emphasis probably on the latter. This is because your brain vacillates between two messages – “Take me immediately,” or “Touch me and die.” – emphasis probably, unfortunately, on the latter. Your body may scream, “Take me immediately!” when, and if, you ovulate because biology wants you to propagate the species. Clearly, there is no real link between biology and common sense – I have propagated the species four times now and am currently just trying to keep everyone alive, myself included.

Your joints will be like those of a crone. Your hips, thumbs, knees will all complain. You will Google this and read entirely too much.

You will begin reading obituaries, which will remind you of the great sport you had, years ago, ribbing your Grandmother about this same activity. You will feel guilt and remorse.

Your good dog will sense your new vulnerability. She will place a gentle paw on your lap and gaze into your eyes. Your bad dog will crank up the stress with his incessant barking and toxic stench. Note the genders.

You may, for a time, ignore the messages from your body. You will cook, clean, chauffeur, cater large events, stay up too late, and nurture everyone’s happiness. And then you will fall down. Your body will stop asking, suggesting. It will keep you down until you tend it.

You will sniff rose oil and tape dried beans to the acupressure points on your wrists. You will drink foul Chinese concoctions and slather wild yam cream everywhere.

You will, at times, hear the voices around you as a cacophony and you will want everyone to shut up. Don’t tell them.

You will become unhinged. You will suddenly, bizarrely, love all romantic comedies.

You will want to drink. A lot.

Here is what you do:

Read Susun Weed. She’s odd, but she’s right.

Go easy on the caffeine and the alcohol. Drink tea and a glass of wine with dinner, if you must. Leave the espresso and the tequila to the grad students.

Find a fabulous acupuncturist with supplementary degrees in nursing and nutrition who happens to be married to a guy who does cranio-sacral massage. Do everything they tell you.

Eat fish pills. My acupuncturist said so.

Walk. Don’t stop. Everyday. I have recently noticed, now that I am one, the hordes of middle-aged women walking, everywhere. Mostly alone. This isn’t the chatty stroll with friends and strollers of days gone by. This is a purposeful, “walk to save my sanity”. You can see it in the eyes, the set of the jaw. It works, better than anything else.

Have your Vitamin D levels checked, especially if you live north of the 40 degree latitude line. Supplement accordingly, immediately.

Keep a journal of the madness. You’ll see how it tracks with your cycle, somehow, and at least be able to anticipate the worst.

Eat really well. You know how. Just do it.

To those of you on the early side of this ride, those in your 20’s and 30’s, take heed. This train is runaway and headed straight for you. If I knew now what they should have told me then, I would’ve armed myself. If the body is in great shape when this design flaw kicks in, it will be a much easier wave to ride.

I have spent almost three decades building, birthing, nursing, and nurturing four children –and I’m still not done. I’ve earned my crazy pants and deserve a break, some respect, and some space. Our culture doesn’t know what to do with us. We need a mid-life version of the “Red Tent”, perhaps a year or so of escape, where the women who have made this journey can lend a guiding hand, maybe a lantern – or a drink. I’m told that there are great things on the other side of this bridge. Until then, keep in mind the positives:

Menstruation will eventually stop. Looking forward to that.

Your family may remain a bit wary of you. This can be useful.

You will, hopefully, prepare the young girls and women for the ride. If we don’t, who will?

I hear that there is a calm, present power that comes after menopause. We learn new things about ourselves, and our priorities shift, supposedly. It is a rich, complicated thing, this mid-life journey. Meet it with a smile and drink it up – or just kick its ass.

For more of Lisa’s writing, click here for the essay and she assures me that it will be easy to navigate to more from there.

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