Mentalpause

My hard drive crashed this week. Kaput. DOA. Am I angry? Not at all. I have a great deal of empathy for my poor computer. My own brain augered in months ago with the advent of Mentalpause. And unlike my Mac, I am definitely past warranty.

Some days I can barely remember anything. I lay my car keys down in the store and walk out with out them. I forget what I went in the room for. I forget the thought that just popped into my head. And I forget words!!! Words that I know!! In my native tongue!! That I’ve been speaking profusely if not well since about 1 year of age. I’m reduced to drawing diagrams in the air to describe the word that stubbornly resists my best efforts at archival retrieval. "I need the…" (squeezing motion with hand)" "Scissors?" asks my husband. "Yes, of course," I snap. "I knew it all the time."

And then there’s "menopausal dyslexia". Prior to the Change, I NEVER transposed numbers nor did I forget how to spell words. And I could read a map – in fact, I was a darn good navigator. Now sadly, I feel like a poster child (okay poster crone) for dyslexia. I flip numerals, maps look like incomprehensible squiggles to my tired eyes, and thank the computer gods for spellchecker or you might not be able to make heads nor tails out of this blog.

My sister goddesses are going through the same distressing mind changes in Mentalpause. We are talking, laughing, and weeping about them. Some days, that’s my only comfort.

Comments { 2 }

Hot Flash Prevention – Avoiding the ?Triggers?

A number of external stimuli can trigger a hot flash and most health ‘experts’ recommend avoiding them to decrease amount and severity of your hot flashes. Caffeine, chocolate, and alcoholic beverages are three of the main culprits associated with hot flashes. You may choose to decrease your consumption of these substances or avoid them altogether. The Venuses as a group felt that giving up these three pleasures was tantamount to living a life without sunshine. After all, we had already relinquished so many of the pleasures we once took for granted: sleeping through the night, having a sex drive, and a firm, youthful body. A couple of our goddesses already avoid caffeine or alcohol, but most of us think we’d rather give up our health care consultants than our wine, chocolate, or coffee.

Other hot flash inducers include but are not limited to: warm weather, tight clothing, synthetic clothing, hot beverages, anything touching your skin, movement, sitting still, hot food, down pillows or comforters, and breathing. Some of these you can avoid, others you just have to live with Unfortunately. If your discomfort is still an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, you might want to avail yourself of a remedy. Among us, we’ve tried them all! We’ll share our best info, advice, and cautions in succeeding blog entries.

PS to all you goddesses out there. What topics are most pressing to you right now? Perimenopause? Heavy bleeding? Hot Flashes? Decreased libido? HRT vs herbal vs bioidenticals? Emotional changes? Mental changes? Midlife – where do we go from here? Let us know either in the comments section or by clicking on contact us at the top of the Home page so that we can make this conversation most relevant to you.

Comments { 3 }

From Hot Flash to Creative Fire

I remember hearing in the distant past that fire is necessary for growth, that redwood seeds are ignited to grow when fire moves through. Perhaps our hot flashes have germinated the creative seed that lies within each of us. Or maybe I’m just trying to find SOME good reason for the enervating bursts of heat that inflict us menopausal goddesses.

No matter the reason, all the Venuses have felt the creative urge increase in intensity as we poise on the brink of the midlife that menopause signifies. The desire to ‘make’ something, to create, collage, or cultivate an artistic endeavor feels like an itch that we just have to scratch. We take up beading, musical instruments, knitting, photography, painting, calligraphy, pottery, gourmet cooking, poetry, handmade books, fabric arts, dance, stamping, and scrapbooking. Rae-Venus and I began creating one-of a kind art cards. They sell in the Moloka`i Fine Arts gallery. (a sample of today’s work/play is the photo for this blog entry.)

Giving in to our creative urges, in whatever modality or art we choose, is a nurturing, fulfilling process. Schedule an "art day" soon, alone or with a best girlfriend. (adapted from our upcoming book "Venus Comes of Age".)

Comments { 1 }

Changes in Latitude – Body Parts In Southerly Migration

Gravity may have its good points, like keeping us from flying off this sweet blue orb in space. But it sure isn’t kind to us midlife goddesses. I remember the day Theresa and I realized that even if we exercised 6 hours a day, we would never have the trim, tight physiques of our 20’s. Heck, forget the 20’s, even our 30’s were impossible dreams. We could lift weights ’til the proverbial cows came home and still have bingo arms if we waved the wrong way. We were prepared for the eventuality that our breasts would drift lower, but our buns? Or worse, the skin around our knees? Nothing prepared us for the fact that fitness doesn’t necessarily mean firmness. No wonder we are no longer told that we "look great" without the suffix "for your age" as a qualifier. Is that even a compliment? We don’t think so.

So all we can do about the egregious effects of gravity is to laugh! Otherwise, we’d cry for about a kabillion years. Suzanne Shea Reed, a fabulous songwriter/musician who looks really good (and not just for her age) offers comic truth for all menopausal, midlife goddesses in her song "Tatas to Baja". Check it out on her site at www.myspace.com/suzannereed

Comments { 1 }

Time Out for Menopausal Goddesses and Midlife Women

What do midlife, menopausal women want most? Not jewelry, not flowers, not fame, not even a romantic dinner. We want TIME!

For the majority of goddesses, our fondest wish is for "time to ourselves". Having spent so many years being nurturing, attentive and productive, we now wish to spend time with ourselves. Alone. We want to revel in time, to bathe in it, to pour it over ourselves like honey. Unstructured time. Quiet, contemplative time. Time to read, sew, paint, daydream, listen to music. Time to listen to our own inner voices.

I’ve just returned from a mini-vacation on my own island. I don’t know why I never did this before! I left phone and computer behind for a couple of nights at a resort, where people took care of my every need. Days stretching lazily before me, luxurious with hours uncommitted, were treasures without equal in my experience. I may still be "hot" (as in flash, not as in sexy), but I now feel like a new woman. I urge every menopausal goddess to go away for a tiny retreat. It will truly result in re-creation.

Comments { 1 }

Mates of Menopause: An Open Letter from the Goddesses

It’s not personal. It’s not that we don’t love you any more or find you attractive. If we are remote, weepy, cranky, or so hot that we can’t stand to be touched, it’s not about you. Even though it affects you. We are just doing our best. Imagine if you went from 16 to 60 hormonally in a matter of months. I know it’s hard to conceive of such a drastic event – your changes happen over decades, hormone levels sloping gently downward. We women are pushed abruptly off a hormonal cliff. It’s like puberty….without the good parts. Small wonder that we are almost crawling out of our skin at times.

We are not only driving you fruity, we’re driving ourselves crazy. Like in puberty. And it feels like there’s nothing we can do about it. Awareness only comes to us when we talk to other menopausal women and we find out that this process is NORMAL.

You just want the girl you married to come back? Guess what! So do we, but right now she’s nowhere in sight. The good news (according to our wise woman girlfriends) is that this transition will ease and things will get better.

What can you do? Please try to be patient, understand us and be kind. You can’t fix this, though we dearly wish that you could. Little gestures mean a lot, as illustrated by the following story:

Tori-Venus and I were sitting in her kitchen with our husbands, deep in discussion. Suddenly, the fire from inside began building – hot flashes struck both of us at the same moment. Without a word or break in the discussion, Tori’s husband stood up, wet two towels with cold water, and handed them to Tori and me. As we mopped our faces with the blessedly cool cloths, I asked him "How did you know?" "Your faces turned beet red, and I just knew," he answered calmly. Small gesture – huge help. His empathy inspired our deepest gratitude. This whole thing sucks…..and our mate cares. That’s all we really want.

Comments { 1 }

Burn It Again For The First Time, Menopause Goddesses Escape The Tyranny of Constrictive Clothing

While I didn’t actually burn my bra the first time back in the late 60’s/early 70’s, I did so symbolically. I simply refused to wear one in honor of the emancipation of women. Of course, I caved later when I entered the workplace, strapping myself into my 34B harness every day. It didn’t bother me all that much at the time. Now with the advent of menopause, a lot of us are ‘burning’ our bras. (Okay, not really – we don’t want to contribute to air pollution.) However, we are saying good-by to discomfort, binding, and entrapping clothing. Maybe it’s also time to let go of uncomfortable and constricting ways of being. We can break free – just like we did in the 60’s.

Comments { 0 }

Menopause Brain Strikes Again

For the past three days, I planned to write a humorous and helpful blog entry about……..I forget. Menopause brain has warped my ability to think, remember and carry out simple tasks. So the only thing to do is write about the FOG.

Perhaps the most prevalent of the menopausal mental changes is also the most disconcerting. Virtually overnight, a bank of fog seeps into our minds. It fuzzes and blurs our cognitive functioning. It’s as if our synapses, which previously struck with the sharp accuracy of lightning bolts have morphed into heat lightning, flickering from brain cell to brain cell randomly, without completing the intended circuit. Eventually, impulses seem to trickle down to a usable thought, but the overall thinking seems to be fuzzy, slow, and thick.

This mental torpor makes it difficult to focus on tasks requiring mental clarity and concentration. Even simple things we’ve done for years such as balancing our checkbooks or paying bills seem like Herculean efforts. Tasks we used to do easily and quickly turn laborious. We make more mistakes. None of it is easy. Every menopausal woman we’ve talked with has said "I just hope my brain comes back."

I’m off to drink my gingko biloba tea…..if I can just remember where I put it!

(adapted from our upcoming book "Venus Comes of Age")

Comments { 2 }

Oh Libido Where Art Thou?

Some women actually experience increased libido during menopause. If this describes you, skip this part. (And know that the rest of us are so envious of you! Victoria-Venus is an exception, since she is one of you.) Decreased libido is a much more common function of menopause than the converse. It’s not that we don’t want to have sex, it’s that we just don’t think about it. At all. The hormones that stoked the fires have diminished to the point that we’re lucky if we have a pitiful little ember of lascivious desire glowing somewhere deep inside us. Our mates may worry that we no longer care for them or find them attractive. All the Venuses were clear that this was not the case; we still loved our spouses and thought they were empirically attractive. We just didn’t have any drive to act physically on that attraction.

If sex was once 50% mental (or emotional), it seems that now lovemaking is at least 98% governed by our head and heart, rather than our physical sexual organs (at least until things get rolling.) So the Venuses were in agreement that they needed to find ways to stimulate mind and emotions to remind them how much they enjoy intimate physical closeness.
Rae-Venus reads romantic books or watches chick-flicks to get "in the mood." Then she ‘remembers’ her own passion and is able to fully engage sexually with her husband.

One of our honorary Venuses likes to make sensuality ‘dates’ with her husband to make sure that physical intimacy is shared. It seems to be working well for them in maintaining their sexual connection. Sensual lingerie, candlelit dinners, music, and dancing are all great ways to get in the mood for sexual pleasure. It’s been the experience of each Venus that once physical contact is initiated, the tiny ember of lust she carries within soon blooms into a full blown romantic fire. But you may have to mark it on your calendar, because if you wait for your hormones to signal that it is time for sexual intimacy, it may never happen.
(excerpted from our upcoming book "Venus Comes of Age: The Wit and Wisdom of Menopausal Goddesses")

Comments { 1 }

Menopause – Good Grief!

Nora Ephron’s new book of essays entitled "I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman" underscores the need for real wisdom from real women when going through the the transitions of menopause, midlife, and aging. "There are all sorts of books written for older women," she writes. "They are, as far as I can tell, uniformly upbeat and full of bromides and homilies about how pleasant life can be once one is free from all the nagging obligations of children, monthly periods, and in some cases, full-time jobs. I find these books utterly useless, just as I found all the books I once read about menopause utterly useless."

The goddesses would have loved her and welcomed her into our group like a sister. Because that is how we feel about the changes thrust upon us. Perky and upbeat doesn’t work unless and until we can go through the appropriate stages of grieving. Losses are occurring each and every day for us. We’d be crazy to be happy and excited by them in the beginning, maybe ever.

The stages of grief that we goddesses have gone through in the time we have been meeting are pretty much the same as the stages of any loss. Denial was broken through as soon as we found ourselves sweating like pigs, crying for no reason, and unable to sleep through the night. Depression, anger, and bargaining are continual themes in our lives just now as we help one another move toward some semblance of acceptance. Small wonder we can’t face either optimistic, cheerful tomes or dry medical renderings of physiology, symptoms, and treatment.

While these may have value, they do not speak to our experience. The upbeat, "menopause is such a great opportunity" books may be useful once we are accepting what is happening to us, but initially, we feel like we are ‘doing’ menopause wrong, because we don’t feel like it is a great opportunity. Yet. We just want to be understood and to understand, first. And honestly exploring these changes in a community of supportive women is the first step.

Comments { 2 }