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

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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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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.

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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.

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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")

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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")

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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.

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A Pause Felt ‘Round the World

Menopause is a singularly unifying experience for all women. It transcends social, cultural, economic, language, and other barriers to bring us together in a flash. Literally. Case in point: I climb aboard the Budget van at LAX to ride to the rental car lot. Our driver is a gorgeous fiftyish African-American woman with heroically long fingernails and beaded tresses. She looks really good (for her age.) As I embark, she asks me if the van’s temperature is too cold. In fact, it is nearly arctic – and feels just fabulous to me. Before I can voice my opinion, however, she eyes me critically. "Oh, I don’t need to ask you." she told me in full voice. "I know you understand how it is. I’m hot all the time these days, so I have to check to see if I’m freezing my poor passengers with the A/C cranked up so high."

We bond emotionally, instantly, recognizing each other as fellow changelings. My husband follows me to the front, content to observe our cameraderie. He doesn’t mind the cold; he’s had to live with the human furnace lately. Three other passengers in their 70’s mumble that they are fine and sit in the rear of the bus. She shares immediately, "I could not figure out what was wrong with me! I was hot, sweating all night. It was awful. My mom told me ‘honey, you’re just goin’ through the Change.’ Well, I never expected this! What do you do for it? And how long is it going to go on?" HRT wasn’t an option she wanted to consider, at least not yet. I tell her about natural progesterone cream. "It will save your sanity by letting you sleep." She writes down the recommendation while continuing to drive down Sepulveda Boulevard, seemingly steering with her knees. She roars with laughter when my husband chimed in "It saved MY sanity! I have to live with her." She shows me a cute little fan that she wore on a string around her neck, and I have to get out my pen and notepad. Horror stories are swapped. We discuss clothing and herbs and trade tricks (eg. sticking one’s head in the freezer for a few minutes, during the worst of a flash). Bras? "Can’t wear ’em no more. Just can’t stand ’em" she says. I lifted my shirt up high to show my pink cami top, proclaiming "You have to get these – to wear as your bottom layer, so you can strip down and still be decent." "Got ’em! In every color!", she rejoined.

We are menopausal goddess sisters. Are we different? Sure. She’s a city girl. I live rurally. She works with the public and I am a solitary entrepreneur. She’s African-American and I’m Caucasian. But we are both women going through the biggest life transition we’ve ever encountered. And we can’t help talking to each other about it. We embrace like family at the rental lot admonishing one another to ‘Stay cool’. As we step off the van, the lone woman in the trio at the back smiles and nods at both of us. Her male companions simply look shell-shocked.

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A Case of The Menoblahs

Menopause is not a disease, but it sure feels like one sometimes. One with no end in sight. Today, I have the "menoblahs", a sort of undefinable lethargy that has struck all of us goddesses at one time or another. We joke about taking short personal vacations in the tropics (hot flashes), however it’s less humorous when you actually live in the tropics! And working on this book, it seems that my life revolves around the Change and the changes it has wrought. But I know that this is NORMAL and I know that this too shall pass. Most important, I know that I’m not alone; that my sister goddesses offer support, understanding, and chocolate when they are most needed.
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The Heat is On – And We Can?t Turn It Off

PMS. The bloating, the cramping, headaches and irritability – who could have known that it was the barest hint of what was to come?? Who imagined that we could and would feel so so so much worse? Hot flashes may be the most intense of physical changes symptomatic of the Change. When your body temperature goes from 98.6 to 3098.6 in the space of a heartbeat, your attention becomes solely fixated on that HEAT! No matter what clever euphemism is chosen to describe these incendiary bursts: power surge, short personal trip to the tropics and the like, the fact remains that they peg the discomfort needle well into the red zone.

The word "Flash" is actually a misnomer except in relating the intensity and speed of onset. It can be likened to a strike of a lightning bolt. Flash conjures up images of "short", "burst", "over with quickly". But alas, that is rarely the case. A flash can last 5-15 minutes, or more for some of us. A menopausal theory of relativity applies here. (As so much with womanly experience, this is scientifically unproven, but anecdotally FACT. Just ask a group of midlife women.) As we approach the heat of light, time slows down and that five minute hot flash seems like a blazing eternity. Telling us to go to hell is an empty threat. Been there, done that.

Our Goddess group ultimately have agreed that the next person who tells us that they think of hot flashes as wonderful ‘power surges’ gets the full brunt of our fury. Power surges are a serious hazard. Ask any electrician. We need industrial strengh surge protectors – we are frying our circuits!

(excerpted from the upcoming book by and about the Goddesses.)

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