I Just Don?t Feel Like Me Anymore

Will I ever feel like myself again? That is the second most frequently asked question I hear from midlife goddesses.

"I just don’t feel like me anymore," could well be the universal mantra for the menopausal woman. I’ve yet to meet any post-menopausal goddess who claims to feel like she used to. It seems that we have actually morphed into someone new. This could be good. It might be bad. But one certainty exists: we have no choice. Kicking, screaming, bitching, whining or resigned, we are traveling the paths of menopause and midlife. While there are assuredly losses, as we continue on this forced journey we find that we may actually like some of the changes.

Positive changes include speaking our minds, giving up pleasing as a lifestyle, accepting the perfection of non-perfection, feeling tolerance and forgiveness, and becoming comfortable in our own skins, no matter how baggy or saggy.

We’re changelings. We can’t go back to the women we once were, but we might learn to embrace the scary, exciting process of becoming a new "Me".

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Menopause – Dear Goddess, When Will It End?

The question I hear most often from menopausal goddesses are these. Will my symptoms ever get better? Will this ever end?

The answers are Yes and No, respectively.

Every woman’s menopause is different. Still, the worst of the symptoms seems to last about two years. The mental fog banks dissipate into light, patchy fog. The ass-dragging fatigue makes way for more energy and vitality. Memory and sharpness return, though rarely to pre-menopausal levels.

Hot flashes lessen in frequency and severity, libido actually returns (though again rarely reaching pre-menopausal lust levels), and emotional highs and lows change from tsunami proportions to small wavelets.

However, there doesn’t seem to be an actual destination on this journey. New changes unfold each and every day, whether due actually to the Big M or growing older. Rae-Venus is fond of saying that menopause is a process and it helps to approach it as such. We need to continue to ask questions and to look actively for answers. Embracing the process, even when it sucks.

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Some days, I feel like I’m living in a bizarre reality show as I slog through menopause. I can hear the little announcer in my head with the commercial:

Announcing a new season of SURVIVOR – MENOPAUSE ISLAND, the reality TV show where contestants (all female) are forced to participate. This is the most difficult and harrowing SURVIVOR to date. Life altering challenges await participants around the corner of every new day. Flaming ‘flashes’ of heat, palpitations, drenched sheets (and not with passion), dry everything else, lost libido, palpitating hearts, emotional tilt-a-whirls, bone-crushing fatigue, and a host of other horrific hurdles have become part of midlife womens’ daily life. The only way to keep from flipping out during a stay on this hormonally challenged island is to LAUGH and commiserate with our ‘team’ of sister goddesses. (Because the kicker is – you can’t be voted off the show. Even if you desperately wish it.)

SURVIVOR – MENOPAUSE ISLAND – coming soon to each woman near midlife. Stay tuned.

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A Pregnant Pause

Whew! The first draft of Venus Comes of Age, The Wit and Wisdom of Menopausal Goddesses is finally complete. I’ve been feeling like a pregnant woman whose delivery is a month overdue. Finally, the labor is over and the Venuses are the proud moms of a bouncing baby manuscript. 4 lb – 11 in long.

My husband is delighted to see the first draft finally finished. He hopes that the worst of menopause will be over now that I am not immersed in all things hormonal. I sincerely hope that he is right. For now, I’m going to do what all women do after giving birth: SLEEP! Expect the blog entries to be more frequent now that the ‘baby’ no longer requires my undivided attention.

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A Weighty Problem

I broke my toe the other day when I tripped over the wrought iron coffee table legs. The doctor has admonished me to keep weight off my left foot. And no hula or power-walking or golf is allowed for 4-6 weeks. My first horrified thought is that I’ll be as big as a house if I don’t exercise, thanks to the menopausal side effect of weight gain.

In the midst of all the changes wrought by Menopause, we goddesses find ourselves in dire need of succor. We turn to our favorite comfort foods for solace and healing. Alas, we cannot splurge without paying a fearsome price these days. Food sticks to our ribs, our thighs, our hips, and our buns. Our metabolic rate has slowed to a crawl. You would think that this slowdown would be more than offset by calories burned through our hot flashes. Literally. And those goddesses who suffer 30 hot flashes per day should be wasting away, regardless of caloric intake. But in seeming defiance of all natural law, the scale tells us we are getting heavier. We look at our favorite fatty, sweet, carbo-loaded treats and we gain weight. We eat "healthy" food and we gain weight. We don’t change our eating habits at all and we gain weight. Some of us starve ourselves and we gain weight. We diet fiercely, trying to shed extra poundage. South Beach, Medifast, Ornish, Atkins. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystems., Weight Watchers. Among the Venuses, we have collectively tried ALL of these at one time or another with varying (read not permanent) success. And each year, it gets harder to fit into our skinny clothes.

Oh yes, we goddesses divide our wardrobes – not into summer and winter garb, but into fat clothes and skinny clothes. We may get into the skinny clothes, but we are not dumb enough to throw away our fat clothes. Because those pounds are always lurking out there somewhere, hoping to come home. And it is just too freaking hard to get rid of them. Anybody know any exercises I can do without putting any weight on my left foot?

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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.

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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.

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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".)

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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

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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.

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