Phew! What a ride the past six plus years have been. And like everything that’s worthwhile, it’s important to know when to step away. And so, I must bid adieu to Flashfree to make room for new writing, new reporting and a new journey.
As an early adopter in the menopausal blogging space, I’ve watched a burgeoning interest among women who are entering or in the middle of the menopause transition. Mostly, I’ve received validation time and again that open dialogue and self-care are essential as we age. And while Flashfree has mostly stayed away from the personal, I have experienced my own growth in terms of gaining a better understanding of my body and the changes that it’s going through, my mental health and tolerance (or intolerance for stress) and the factors that are needed to live life to the fullest. I hope that you have likewise, gained knowledge and a sense of self along this ride that we’ve been on.
Several people who I know and love suggested that I leave you with a list of my favorite posts. I’d rather leave the Archives to you to discover and find them on your own. The Flashfree Archives will remain accessible although some of the information contained within may eventually become dated.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank you and others who’ve supported me along with way. And in particular, I would love to thank and acknowledge the multiple guest bloggers that have contributed to Flashfree: Bob LeDrew (who is heading on to broader pastures with Guyside) Danny Brown, Richard Becker, my brother, Andrew Scherer, Wendy Goldman Scherer, Patti Digh, Amy Zimmerman, Walker Thornton, Danielle Omar, Cyma Shapiro, Nina Perez, D.A. Wolf, Susie Hadas, Kelley Connors, Dr. Brian Hughes, Dr. Elaine Schattner, Alexandra Williams, Dr. Jen Gunter, Sarah Bowen Shea, Laura Bowman, Cherry Woodburn, Kathy Korman Frey, Sheryl Kraft, Dr. Barb DuPree, Joanna Paterson, Erika Napoletano, Jesse Mendes, Dr. Val Jones, Jonathan Black, Julia Beck, Jackie Silver, Carla Birnberg, Andrea Learned, Peter Koshland, Kris Rowlands and Elizabeth Alraune. If I’ve overlooked anyone who’s contributed, please know that I am appreciative of your vision and your knowledge.
Good health and good journey!
This is a bit of a valedictory for Guyside. After 54 happy posts here on FlashFree, we’re at the end of the road. Asking guys to contribute to a site about menopause was a bit of a courageous and audacious move, which fits this blog’s major-domo Liz Scherer quite well.
And as the writer of most of these posts, I am glad she asked me, and addicted enough to doing this that I’ll be continuing the Guyside tradition on another site, while the archives will always be available here, with my posts, as well as the other Guyside contributors Danny Brown and Rich Becker.
Want to know more?
Listen to this Skype conversation between Liz and I. Happy and Healthy New Year, and stay tuned for more!
Image: CC-licenced by Flickr user Mark RamsayRead More
At various junctures throughout Flashfree, I have run a series entitled ‘Reinventing Women.’ In it, I have highlighted the journeys or evolution, if you will, of women who are rediscovering their passion(s) in midlife, changing their focus from family and kids inward, exploring the next career path, or simply pausing for a moment to take stock. This past Summer, I became one of those women and if you check out Evolution Strategy Group or LizScherer.Co, you will see the ripening fruits of this labor.
2014 was a tumultuous year. Friends have come out of cancer remission, partners have severed ties, animals have passed suddenly, business contracts have been lost. By the end of May, I was reeling; by June, I was depressed and completely out of balance. Hence, I took the summer off, save for a few freelance writing gigs here and there to continue the flow of income.
I regularly preach how important it is to regain balance and take time for oneself. Truth be told, I rarely practice what I preach! And taking the summer may have been the biggest shock to my system that I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been working since I was about 12 or 13, first babysitting and then after school and summer jobs. When I graduated college and moved back in with my parents for a short while, I was given an ultimatum: find a job. It took me a year to land a professional job but I was hardly idle; I even paraded around in spandex selling health club memberships to Spa Lady. Can you imagine?! And so, when I decided to stop, take stock and figure out what would truly fuel my passion, I did.
I have learned that it is quite difficult to ‘not work’ when you’ve been working for 40-odd years. I have learned that my mind does not easily quiet. And I have finally learned that in order to grow, I have to give myself permission and more importantly, the space to do so.
So, I did.
And, it was not until the end of August, when my mind finally quieted and any semblance of a remaining business contract (and with it, cash flow) disappeared, that I was able to choose the next path.
What. A. Privilege.
I’ve been consulting since 1992, having spent the previous decade working in a field I abhorred. And that consulting has allowed me to accumulate a multifaceted skill set that framed my next step.
Those who know me best tell me that the next step isn’t really new; it’s simply an evolution of everything that I’ve done up until now. My business colleagues have told me that based on their experience working with me, this is a natural fit and that they can’t wait to see it come to fruition.
I’ve waited and worked and wanted this my entire life. I’ve put aside funds to make it happen. And now, I am taking a leap of faith and jumping off. I anticipate quite a few bumps along the way. But you know what? I’ve got this. It’s my time. It’s my evolution. And it’s my turn.
Reinvention? Heck, I’m just getting started with the reinvention.
Hope to see you along with way!
p.s. I am sad to share that Flashfree is not part of this reinvention. Next week is the last week that this blog will be active. More on that later. For now? Follow your passion, always.
I was watching my local newscast recently and heard about an innovative new treatment for “winter blues”, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. As someone who strongly dislikes 4 pm sunsets, I was interested enough to keep watching.
The treatment is a device called the Alpha LED Light Spa. This device, which resembles a tanning bed, offers a variety of programs that combine light, heat, and oxygen to treat a variety of symptoms. The owner of this particular device told the reporter that it was an effective treatment for more than 1000 disorders — and that REALLY got me interested. Here’s the list:
“Energizing Whole Body, Mind and Spirit, Cold/Flu, Sleep/Insomnia Improvements, Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Mind Clarity, Meditation, Pain Relief, Lymphatic drainage, Wound Healing , Immune Boost, Stress Relief, Detoxification, Weight Loss, Cellulite Treatments, Skin Care – Acne Treatments, Skin Care – Anti-Aging, Addictions, Balances hormones, Migraine relief, Soothes nervous system, Lowers cholesterol, Infertility, Psoriasis, Anxiety, Inflammation, & more.”
Unfortunately, there’s no links to evidence on the site. And I haven’t been able to discover any in my time looking around. There is little doubt that SAD, disruptions in sleep due to circadian rhythms, and depression can be treated effectively by light therapy. But on the face of things, it seems unlikely that this device would be able to successfully treat more than 1000 problems.
Claims like this need to be taken skeptically, not least because at the Ottawa spa offering these treatments, it’s $75 per session.
And there’s no shortage of claims that need to be given the side-eye. Also this week, an article in the British Medical Journal looked at medical recommendations made on the Dr. Oz show and The Doctors. In the case of Dr. Oz, fewer than half of the medical recommendations provided had any sort of supporting evidence backing them up; 1 in 6 were actually contradicted by medical evidence.
It’s easy to make a medical claim, and ones that fit into what we want to hear (eat this and your belly will magically shrink!) are much more readily consumed by us humans than ones that are a little more work (eat less, move more, and stop with the Big Gulps).
You owe it to yourself to ensure the actions you take to preserve and improve your health are ones that have a basis in fact.
For those who’ve just finished celebrating Chanukah, and for those who are anticipating a visit from Santa, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
(Photo is CC-licenced from Flickr user Yiie)Read More
Heads up! If you experience moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats, you may be at higher risk for lower bone density and in turn, a higher rate of hip fractures than women without these symptoms. These study findings were published online yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,
A bit of background…researchers prospectively examined data from over 23,000 women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative study who did not use hormones. The goal was to assess the association, if any between vasomotor symptoms, that is, hot flashes and/or night sweats, and bone mineral density. In turn, they collected self-reports of fractures (i.e. hip, spine, non-vertebral) on a semi-annual basis; these were subsequently confirmed by reviewing medical records.
The findings? Over an average of eight years, women who reported moderate to severe hot flashes or night sweats had almost twice the risk for developing a hip fracture over the time period of the study than women who did not, regardless of a younger age or higher body mass index, or other factors such as time since menopause, race/ethnicity or physical activity. And, while additional analyses did slightly reduce this risk, moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms remained a significant risk factor for hip fracture over the study course. Additionally, the findings demonstrate that women with more severe symptoms had lower bone mineral density measures over time in the hip joint and spine.
Although it’s unclear, the researchers note that lower estradiol levels may account for the association between more severe symptoms and lower bone mineral density (as, data have shown that women with higher estradiol levels during menopause tend to have lower rates of bone loss). Regardless, having more severe flashes and sweats should raise a few red flags for women and their practitioners and prompt greater attention to lifestyle strategies for preserving bone mineral density. This topic has been covered thoroughly on Flashfree, and strategiest include diet, weight-bearing exercise and adequate sun exposure.
When I was much younger – say, around 8-9 years old – I used to get in trouble with my school teachers, and other adults in positions of authority, regularly. Pretty much not a day would go by without my mother receiving some troublesome news about me.
I guess, looking back, I simply had an aversion to authority.
And while that continued until my early teens, when I learned what it meant to really show respect and understand conflict with authority was primarily in my mind, I also learned something at that young age that must have made an impression (even subconsciously) from my granddad.
Wisdom Has No Age Limits
I always loved my granddad. He was the safety net I’d cling to when everyone else seemed down on me. He was the one that would let me watch TV just that little bit later. He was the one who would let me read my comic under the bed with the flashlight, when everyone else would confiscate the flashlight.
In short, he was the one that would break the rules and let me be who I wanted to be. Except, not really.
Instead of letting me be an out of control tearaway, looking back he was actually guiding me to be a better person because of the trust I had in him. When he spoke, I’d agree and nod – even if I didn’t like it. And – usually – do as he said.
Whether or not my mother was in cahoots with him in this endeavour, I’ll never know. Perhaps, perhaps not. Either way, he made me stop and think of the things my mother was trying to teach me.
So, when I was having my brush with people in authority, my granddad pulled me aside, and said the following:
You might think grown-ups are bad, and stopping you from having fun. And, sometimes, they will. But it’s only because they love you. Now – you can choose which ones to listen to. And, I know not everyone is worth listening to. So here’s a trick – listen to the people who love you, every time. Your mum. Your sister. Me. Your grandma. Listen to your friends, but only the ones who don’t make you feel bad about yourself. And listen to your teachers who make you smile when you’ve done something. These people are all just trying to help you enjoy life. And that’s something not everyone will do.
Now, I know I’ve paraphrased some of his words. After all, this was almost 40 years ago (holy crap, I’m getting old!!). But the gist of the message is definitely there.
And it’s one I use today in pretty much everything I do, and you should too. Here’s why.
Living Life The Way It’s Meant to Be Lived
In a recent edition of TIME, there was a fantastic memorial article by David Von Drehle, about a gentleman named Charlie White. David and Charlie were neighbours, and David’s piece wrote about the lessons Charlie instilled from a life well lived. Charlie was 109 when he passed last month.
The article recounts passages of time from the turn of last century, and is a fascinating and warm look into a period of time most of us will never have known. Yet it’s also a reminder of how to live a life well lived.
Charlie’s “secret” to a happy life was the realization that you have to separate the things you can’t control from the things you can. This was a lesson he imparted to one of his daughters when she was having issues with someone that was frustrating her. Charlie’s advice?
You can’t change people like that. If I let people irritate me, I would have been dead long ago. Source.
The fact Charlie lived such a long and happy life has to have some part in this mindset. It’s the same mindset my granddad had, and is – essentially – the one I try to live to these days.
After all, let’s face it – how important are the words of others who actually have no real impact over who we are and what we stand for?
Those That Matter and Those That Meh
Back in April of this year, I wrote a post on why readers of this blog might want to unsubscribe. It was a post that shared the direction this blog was moving in, and a heads up that if readers wanted to subscribe to a purely marketing blog, this one wouldn’t be for them (and I recommended five other blogs to subscribe to instead).
I’d just become bored of only writing about marketing, social media, etc., and all that entails. We’re people, all of us – we’re not tied to talking about just business in life, so why should we be on our blogs (or other social footprints)?
After this post, I received a whole bunch of emails (as well as comments on the post itself) from others who felt the same, and were “glad” to see someone say it out loud, encouraging them do the same thing. And that’s the real beauty of blogging and content – even if you help just one person make a choice, that’s all that matters.
Arik Hanson, a PR and communications pro over in Minneapolis, shared his thoughts in a post entitled “Is the age of the independent PR blogger over?”. He looked at how many of the bloggers in his feed had either changed direction, or simply given up altogether to concentrate on, well, life and family and all that important stuff.
In the comments, social media guy Jason Falls left quite the entertaining diatribe (click image to expand).
When I got the update to the comment being left, it made me chuckle – because, really, who gives a crap?
It doesn’t matter what Jason thought (and I like Jason, he seems a decent guy), because it wasn’t for him (hence the dog picture reply). The original post was for the folks who said it helped them make up their minds to produce the content they really wanted to produce.
And that’s why we need to collectively take more of a “who gives a crap?” approach to comments, blog posts, social updates, etc. The people that moan and react usually aren’t the ones that either matter (from an audience point of view), or who have little relevance to you anyway.
If someone on Google+ calls you an idiot for having a point of view, who cares? The real idiocy comes from trying to stifle opinions with rudeness or ignorance. If that person has little effect on your bigger picture, let them stew in their own little miserable bubble.
Same goes for the content you produce. Own it, and be happy to own it.
Enough With the Egg Shells
There was a great post earlier this year from Marc Ensign, called “The Pussification of the Internet”. In it, Marc shares how the web has become this place where we’re too scared to have an opinion, because we’ll be jumped on by others, or called to task, etc.
Because of this, the web is in danger of becoming a sanitized version of what it should be – open, challenging, questioning and, most of all, bare bones honest. It’s a great – if not quite safe for work read – and well worth your time,. Because it’s true.
Last month, the Pew Research Internet Project released its latest report, and it made for some enlightening – and a little bit scary/sad – reading.
Entitled “Social Media and the Spiral of Silence”, it shared the answers of just over 1,800 adults and their thoughts on the impact of the Edward Snowden / NSA fallout in the US and beyond, and how that affected the way these adults conversed online.
There are many interesting takeaways from the report, but two in particular stood out.
- In both personal settings and online settings, people were more willing to share their views if they thought their audience agreed with them. For instance, at work, those who felt their coworkers agreed with their opinion were about three times more likely to say they would join a workplace conversation about the Snowden-NSA situation.
- Previous ‘spiral of silence’ findings as to people’s willingness to speak up in various settings also apply to social media users. Those who use Facebook were more willing to share their views if they thought their followers agreed with them. If a person felt that people in their Facebook network agreed with their opinion about the Snowden-NSA issue, they were about twice as likely to join a discussion on Facebook about this issue.
Now while these two points refer to unease on how the US government is monitoring the conversations of its citizens, it also highlights the growing issue of just going with the flow as opposed to taking a stand.
It’s a walking-on-egg-shells mentality that both limits our growth and inhibits our learning. If we were all meant to have the same point of view, we may as well quit now because there would be no need for us to be.
That’s not to say we ignore everyone else – far from it. But we do need to start standing up for ourselves and our opinions more, and not just be part of the herd.
Like my granddad said himself, think of who you want to listen to. Think of who you want to take advice from. Think of who actually matters, and whose opinion and feelings you wouldn’t want to hurt. And be respectful of those you disagree with.
For everything else – who gives a crap?
This post originally appeared on dannybrown.me.Read More
While the GLAM squad works to convince you that the only sensible option to treat vaginal atrophy is Novo Nordisk’s Vagifem (a topical estrogen agent), I would like to share that a highly effective non-hormonal option exists. The rub? It’s only available in Europe and Canada. The thing is, I have tried it and while I may be an n of 1 in scientific circles, I want to share that it’s pretty darn amazing.
Before I do the reveal, I would like to get a bit personal and share my story. After years of experiencing no issues with vaginal dryness or pain during intercourse, the tables turned this past Summer. And so, I did the most sensible thing that I could do (short of reading Flashfree!); I made an appointment with my gynecologist. And after a thorough examination and a few tests for infections, she recommended that I try Estrace, another topical estrogen in the same category as Vagifem.
If you are a long time reader of Flashfree, you are well aware of how I personally feel about hormones. However, what I’ve not shared on this blog is that I have always had an extreme sensitivity to hormones, a sensitivity that I discovered in my early 20s when I started using the pill. That, coupled with the fact that my mother had breast cancer at an extremely early age made me wary of any type of hormone. And years later, when I started this blog and read all the data I could get my hands on, I was convinced that hormones were not a good route, regardless of their efficacy in addressing menopausal symptoms. Yet, regrettably I chanced it…again.
I want to emphasize that my experience is only mine and is not necessarily reflective of others’. However, within a month of using Estrace, I gained 6 pounds, was bloated, developed severe acne, had daily headaches, and experienced significant and irrational irritability. But damn, my vaginal tissues were once again moist.
Not. Good. Enough.
And so, I started researching my options. And stumbled across Gynatrof.
Gynatrof gel is a natural topical agent comprised of microscopic beads (known as liposomes) are formulated to act as both a lubricant and a moisturizer. This technology helps to insure that the vaginal tissues remain moist between applications, and additionally, boosts hydration and elasticity. The gel contains several ingredients:
- Hyaluronic acid, a type of molecule found abundantly throughout the body’s connective tissue, the skin and the nervous tissues. Hyaluronic acid has the ability to store large quantities of water, thereby forming a natural, moisturizing liquid film when applied topically. More specifically, it helps to protect the vaginal skin from irritation and redness, itching and burning; enhances natural lubrication and may even help to aid healing of irritated vaginal tissue.
- Hops plant extract, which has weak estrogenic effects and may help promote lubrication and elasticity. Hops have also been shown to possess antibacterial properties and are sometimes used for leg ulcers.
- Vitamin E, which the manufacturer says reduces inflammation and prevents aging of the vaginal area. If anything, vitamin E is believed to be an antioxidant that may help prevent or treat disease. It has also been used for centuries to treat the skin and has been shown to penetrate both the outer and next layer of the skin (epidermis, dermis, respectively).
Available in Europe since 2006, Gynatrof has proven safe and there have been no reports of estrogen-related sensitivity. It is also non-toxic should it be accidentally ingested.
My personal experience? I have been using Gynatrof for a month now. And I have had stellar results – no side effects, no sensitivity and no issues during intercourse.
As someone who regularly colors outside the lines, it’s no surprise that I was able to obtain Gynatrof. But more importantly, when I contacted a local compounding pharmacy to see if they could obtain it for me, they called back after several hours to inform me that they could not.
This is an OTC product in both Europe and in Canada. It has been on the market for eight years now. And yet, we do not have access to it in this country. Moreover, it works, at least for me. And it is a safe option for women who either cannot tolerate hormones or choose not to use them.
Anyone interested in starting a petition? I cannot endorse this product enough.
[Disclosure: I neither contacted the manufacturer or its representatives nor did either contact me to review Gynatrof. It worked so well for me that I wanted to share it with my readers]