A Survival Guide to Menopause

Years ago, one of my former co-workers decided it was time to tell her teenage children about menopause. She sat them down and when she was done telling them about the mood swings and weight gain and irritability and sugar cravings, her seventeen-year-old son asked, “Should we hide the knives now?”

At the time, I thought this was hilarious. But deep down inside, I was terrified. My own mother had been irritable to the point of insanity … although in hindsight, it may have been the three teenage children living under her roof that were driving her nuts. :)

So I tried to prepare my husband for the inevitable. Mostly I told him, “When it’s that time, just lock me in a padded cell.”

Fortunately we have resources today that we didn’t have back in the day when my mom went through menopause. Like the internet, where we can talk about our problems with people who are going through the same thing. Like naturopaths and health food stores and a host of other remedies designed to fit the individual user’s needs.

Thanks to years of preparation for The Big Moment, I find I’m sailing through these years without a padded cell in sight. Sure, there’s the odd sleepless night, the occasional moment of teeth-baring confrontation, and the daily hot flashes. But for me, the most outstanding menopausal side effect has been the lack of creativity. Pulling story ideas and words from my brain is akin to building a space shuttle, an impossible task for one as mechanically challenged as I am.

But it’s getting better. And now the awesome PJ Sharon (Young Adult author of Wanning Moon, Book 1 in her latest series), has written a wonderful post on menopause. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or just someone who’s looking for help on dealing with this tricky time of life, check out PJ’s Survival Guide to Menopause.

Make sure you read through the comments for more helpful suggestions. I’ve found a few tips to help me get back my writing mo-jo.

And remember to follow PJ’s advice to do your own research and to see a doctor to discuss your options.

Enjoy!

Happy Anniversary To My Beautiful Husband

You may have noticed the revamped logo at the top of my website … or not. This week, we’re celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary. It makes me sound old, doesn’t it? But we were young when we got married, practically babies, and because of that, we had to grow up together. I’ve learned a lot from my husband:

1) How to wash clothes: The washing machine was THE ONE THING my mother didn’t let me touch. So when I moved out of the house, I didn’t have a clue how to wash clothes. Fortunately, my husband – at the time he was my boyfriend – knew a thing or two. He taught me how to wash clothes, mixing colors all together so I can run through as few loads as possible. It was years later that I discovered this wasn’t how women washed clothes but it was too late. I was hooked on the fast, easy method. Yes, sometimes all of the white socks in the house are pink but at least they’re clean.

2) How to cook a roast: Although I could bake anything, my pre-marriage cooking skills were limited. My specialty was chili, fire hot chili. My brother used to say we could eat my leftover chili without bothering to heat it up. Needless to say, the first time I wanted to cook a roast, my husband had to show me how. For years I struggled. My roasts were so tough, they were like chewing leather. I resorted to cooking them twice and our kids actually grew up believing everyone cooked their roasts twice. Eventually, I left the roasts for my husband to cook and every time, he would patiently instruct me on his method. Frozen roast in the pan, a little water in the bottom, 300 degrees for 3 hours. How hard could it be, right? I finally caught on that it’s all in the direction you cut the roast. My roasts still aren’t as tender as his and I still have to confirm with someone that I’m cutting it the right direction, but at least I no longer have to cook them twice.

3) How to build almost anything: Okay, so I’d never actually build anything on my own because it would be terribly crooked but my knowledge now covers a wide area. After building two houses on our own, after years of always living in a house that’s under construction, I’ve learned enough to get me by. In a pinch, I can even change the bathroom taps, although they might leak a little … I’m just saying.

4) How to commit to one person: When we got engaged, his father told us that there were a thousand and one people out there who were right for us, but it was our responsibility to make sure we found THE RIGHT ONE. Years later, I finally understood what he meant. Our dreams, desires, and values mesh. My husband may have a trait that I can’t tolerate in another person but in him, it makes up the whole of who he is and I love all of his good qualities and bad.

Happy anniversary, babe! May the next 37 years be as wonderful as the first 37!

Every Once In A While, I Falter, Then Fall Down

Yesterday morning, I woke up to a gray sky and an even grayer mood. I grabbed a cup of coffee, started a fire in the fireplace and sat down to write.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It’s not like this is anything new. All writers occasionally come up empty. But this was annoyingly familiar…

As I sat there, toasty warm by the fire, it occurred to me that I’d been mopey and sluggish and generally all around blah for quite some time now. I could feel the ideas in my head. They hovered in the dark, waiting, watching, seeking an escape route from the unchartered territory of my brain. But they were trapped…locked behind a month long diet of ice cream bars and Twizzlers.

I’ve been blaming my lack of ideas and glum mood on the fact that I don’t get out much or see a lot of people. But as I considered the lethargic state of my brain, I knew there could only be one explanation.

There’s no lock on the pantry or freezer doors.

Sugar is my weakness. It overloads my brain and puts every idea on permanent hold. Coupled with the fact that I’d stopped exercising in the spring because I was so busy in the yard, the over indulgence of the past couple of months had finally caught up with me.

I’m in good shape, healthy, usually mindful of what I eat and do. But every once in a while, I falter, then fall down. If I’m not careful, I end up flat on my stomach, one hand clutching an ice cream bar, the other hand filled with red Twizzlers, my nose pushed into a bowl of richly buttered popcorn.

This junk food isn’t just clogging my arteries and promising to cover my body with an extra layer of warm fat for the winter. It’s frying my brain, killing my darlings…oh, those wonderful ideas that come from the mysterious depths of our sub-conscious.

After I finished whining into my cup of java, I made a few healthful decisions. Resume those daily walks. Cut out the daily sugar and save those junk food extravaganzas for a Saturday night movie fest. Focus on those delicious brain foods – fresh vegetables, fruits, and salmon. Half a day without sugar and already, my mind is humming along and the Idea Fairy is chasing her children out into my world.

I know I’ll fall down again. It’s in my genes. My dad always knew exactly where my mom hid his favorite go-to treat, the supersized bag of chocolate chips.

So what foods make you falter, then fall? And what snacks or foods do you reply on to keep you and your brain in premium condition? Busy minds need help to stay sharp. 🙂

Originally published at Women Unplugged.

 

When Thunder Rolls

I’m over at the Women Unplugged blog today, talking about last night’s storm and wondering, what both terrifies you and fascinates you?

Last night, we had a series of thunder storms pass through our area. In the middle of the night, we stood on our roof covered deck while lightning flashed around us and thunder boomed in our ears.

I don’t recall having storms like this when I was a kid. But ever since a tornado swept through our area in 1987, killing 37 people, injuring hundreds more, my awareness of storms has increased.

And I’m fascinated by them. On hot humid days like yesterday, I check the Weather Network because they almost always have a weather warning in place. And then I watch the sky.

Crazy storms like last night’s make my heart pound and my stomach churn. The lightning flashed like those disco strobe lights from the 80’s, blinding if you looked at it, impossible to avoid. It flashed so often and so quick, there was no time to close my eyes or look away. It rained so hard, it pounded on the rooftop like hail, while water filled the gentle curves and valleys on our property.

We stood there for nearly an hour, spellbound by the powerful, dangerous storm. Across the farmer’s field, two power transformers blew. The shockwave from a boom of thunder set off our neighbor’s car alarm, his headlights flashing on and off in the distance, the alarm barely distinguishable over the sound of the storm. A few minutes later, another shockwave turned on the light on our automatic garage door opener which was inside the closed garage.

After the storm blasted through, we climbed back into bed. Lightning flashed in the distance and thunder rumbled through the open bedroom window, bringing with it a cool breeze on my face. It was cozy and peaceful and put me to sleep.

Since ’87, we’ve had numerous tornadoes rip across the Canadian prairies, some with deadly consequences, others with only property damage. But when the threat of one is in the air, am I smart enough to stay indoors or hide in the basement? Apparently not.

How about you? What dangerous thing fascinates you more than it terrifies you?

Originally posted at Women Unplugged.

The Middle of Summer

While Christy faces The End of Summer, up on the Canadian prairies, we’re smack in the middle of our summer season. And it’s been a hot, humid summer with temperatures close to 90 degrees F (30 C).

I know. Some of you are laughing at me right now. But to this Canadian, the 90 degree temperature is as bad as minus 40 in the middle of a winter blizzard.

This year on Seabrook’s pond, there’s no time to dilly-dally and hide from the heat. We decided to spruce up our duck pond by adding a fountain.

Except we discovered the trees we’d planted 19 years ago blocked our view, so we needed to move them. The man with his head in the tree mover is my husband. His self-assigned job was to ensure no branches were lost in the process.

Then we figured we needed a viewing area, somewhere closer to the pond than our back deck, a place we could sit and watch the ducks and their ducklings without frightening them into their hiding spot in the trees. We filled in the tree holes, built a wooden border, and started digging.

The plan had grown from installing the fountain and moving two trees to visions of flowerbeds, benches, and a tiny gardening shed surrounded by cedars and shrubs.

Sometimes in the middle of summer, when the temperature and humidity are soaring, and I’m standing on the top of a ladder sweating my butt off, I really miss winter.

So what do you dislike most about your favorite season that makes you long for the days of your least-liked season?

Originally published at the Women Unplugged blog.
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