Posts made in July, 2010

Writing your way through change. A guest post by Joanna Paterson

Posted by on Jul 30, 2010 in Inspiration | 6 comments

Are you a ‘Writer’ or a ‘writer?’ Join guest author Joanna Paterson as she finds a bridge between the two as they relate to midlife, a sense of self and community. You might be surprised at what you discover…

Heroes – in myth, literature, and real life – take journeys, confront dragons (ie problems) and discover the treasure of their true selves. Although they may feel very alone during the quest, at its end their reward is a sense of community; with themselves, with other people, and with the earth ~ Carol Pearson

Maybe it was leaving work in the corporate world as I turned forty, maybe it was having my son early and trying to learn how to deal with the transition to life post active motherhood at the age of thirty nine (five years on, still trying), maybe it was a deep-rooted need to spend time figuring out patterns and meaning before I moved properly into the second half of my life, maybe it was some or all of these, but in any event, learning how to navigate the midlife has defined and shaped my experience over the last seven or eight years.

I love the quote from Carol Pearson about confronting dragons, because to me it sums up so much of what the midlife is about.  It’s the invitation to take that journey, it’s having the courage to confront dragons including those that appear to be of your own making, and in essence it’s about discovering the nature of your true self.

For me, writing is a core element of that last bit, the discovering of the nature of yourself.  (It can also be a useful companion when you’re feeling just a wee bit scared of the latest dragon 😉

Getting started comes more easily with a bit of structure and support.  Even something as simple as linking your words to things you see when you’re out and about can help to get you into the flow. Currently, I’m teaching classes at the Mid Life Journal that will guide women into exercises that entail writing, walking and photo-taking to help them get used to reflecting on what they’re seeing, noticing, and writing about.”

But, what if you’re not a “Writer” but a “writer?’

Writing can take many shapes and forms and you don’t need to be a Writer with a capital W to get a deep sense of satisfaction from your words.  You can write just for yourself in a journal.  You can pen poems.  You can start writing short pieces of nonfiction from a chapter or just a moment of your life.  They might not go anywhere, you might not share them, but the act of writing can help you take stock, and gain perspective.

With the advent of blogging and social media you can also write some of your experience online.  Write it, and share it.  The great thing about this kind of writing is that it doesn’t need to be polished (in fact the more polished it is, the less well it works), it just needs to express some aspect of you, from the heart.

That’s where the magic comes in: from the sense of connection you can get not just to your own words, but to your own self.  And that’s also where the deep sense of connection with others comes from as you share your words, and a bit of your story, your self, your world.  It’s that reward Pearson talks about at the end of the quest: a sense of community; with yourself, with other people, and with the earth

It’s the reason I write, and the reason I coach and mentor others to tap into the power of their own words.  It’s also the reason I want to spread the word about writing: because I think it offers such a simple yet powerful way to get past the dragons, and then to make connections, with each other, and our selves.

Have you found ways to write your way through change?  I’d love to hear your experience – it’s a great way to connect!

About the author…

Joanna Paterson is a journal and writing coach who helps people tap into the power of their own words. You can find out more about creative ways to get through the middle of life at The Mid Life Journal.

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Wednesday Bubble: Are you an addict?

Posted by on Jul 28, 2010 in emotions, Inspiration | 6 comments

The other night, I came to an important realization, one that pretty much bursts the bubble that I’ve built around myself and who I think I am.

I have an addiction. I am an addict.

There! I said it.

I’m not addicted to illegal drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, prescription pills or sex.  I’m not addicted to clothes shopping, sweets, food or possessing the latest, greatest, newest, awesomest shiny object. I’m not addicted to drama (although some folks in my life may care to differ with that statement!). Rather, I have become addicted to the one thing I never thought I’d be addicted to:


I’m addicted to convenience to the point that when something becomes a bit inconvenient, I don’t function properly. I lose perspective and the ground becomes rather shaky under my feet. My head swirls and my emotional self takes over my intellectual self and it’s a race to the finish. Inevitably, the emotional self wins.

Like many folks in my neighborhood and surrounding county, the power source to my home failed this past weekend. It was hot and sweltering, the food in my freezer and refrigerator spoiled and ready access to the internet and entertainment was all but taken away from me, except via my cell and the kindness of friends and family. It became difficult to work and juggle my daily responsibilities. And for several days running, I found myself frustrated, aggravated and hot, heated to just under boiling point. Even more importantly however, for several nights I found myself in the dark…both literally and figuratively…until the wee hours of the night wake-up call when my lights were suddenly all ablaze and the fans a-whirring and my head, no long spinning.

Should I look at the restoration of power as a simple act of none other than Pepco?  Or, should I take it as a sign that it’s  time to wake up and acknowledge that I have gotten to the point of allowing my addiction to run my life, that little inconveniences, even when they pile up, are not necessarily worse than spilt milk. After all, folks in NOLA lost power, their homes and their dignity during Katrina. In Haiti, most still live in makeshift tents. Who am I to complain about a few inconveniences?

Midlife is full of challenges: aging, physical changes and financial issues. For women, these challenges can be exacerbated by yo-yo-ing hormones, so much so that small piles can easily look ginormous. But part of navigating the change is learning how to navigate the bumps and demons and small piles and emotional turmoil.

I’m learning, truly I am. But lifelong addictions can be difficult habits to break.

For now, simply admitting that I am an addict feels like a big step forward.

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Can early early life influence age at menopause?

Posted by on Jul 26, 2010 in Early menopause | 0 comments

Back in June, I posted about a blood test that can may be able to help predict when you start menopause. However, research suggests that there are specific early early life (i.e. while in the womb) factors that allow for such a prediction without the pin prick.

Back in the 50s and 60s, many of our pregnant mothers were prescribed a synthetic estrogen commonly known as DES (diethylstilbestrol). DES had been frequently used for at least four decades to prevent miscarriage and other common complications of pregnancy, that is, until it was taken off the market in 1971 after being linked to a rare vaginal cancer in girls as young as 8 years, called clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA). My own personal experience with DES and this cancer is that a very close friend whose mother used DES back in the 50s was recently diagnosed with CCA, and while she remains alive and healthy, she continues to battle the challenge of deciding whether or not to expose her uterine area to ongoing radiation and risk damage to organs other than her vagina.

So what’s so important about DES when it comes to menopause?

It appears that women who were exposed to DES while in the womb may actually speed up the rate that they are losing eggs by as much as a year. As I written previously, a woman’s egg supply increases from about 20 weeks after conception and steadily increases to age 14, and the declines steadily until menopause. However, exposure to DES while in the womb may cause an earlier than average (i.e. ~ages 50 to 51) menopause. Conversely, women whose mother who were 35 years or older at the time they were born may start menopause a little later.

Other factors, such as birth order, being exposed to cigarette smoke while in the womb or having been breast fed (or not) does not appear to influence age at menopause.

My friends at Reuters Health covered this story a few weeks and I encourage you to read their piece for more information. Quoting the lead study investigator, they note that this is importantly mainly because as we continue to unravel the mysteries of menopause, we are learning that there are many factors that come into play and that early life events, and not just behaviors during our adult years, can indeed influence what happens later, including timing.

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One a day…takes the menopause away

Posted by on Jul 23, 2010 in menopause, women's health | 1 comment

Did you know that One-a-Day has a menopause formulation that theoretically reduces hot flashes, improves mood and addresses energy issues? Interestingly, if you compare it to One-a-Day for Women 50+, the ingredients and the amount of each vitamin and mineral are almost identical.

So, what makes the menopause formulation so much more effective for menopausal symptoms? Evidently, the addition of soy isoflavones, which, studies have shown, may help alleviate hot flashes or promote bone health. However, increasingly, researchers are focusing on S-equol, the compound in soy isoflavones that actually appears to make soy effective in addressing menopausal symptoms.  So, based on the evidence, it’s fairly unlikely that soy extract in a multivitamin is going to provide the relief you seek.

I’m not certain that their sponsored blog, Menopause Live, is going to either. Granted, sharing experiences via Menoplay (a video blog) is an empowering approach, but you have to wonder about the fact that the site reserves the right to edit the videos. Or the subtle implication that these women are not taking medications but rather, a vitamin everyday to cure what ails.

Look, I’m all for multivitamins and supplementation, physical activity, emotional support and sharing. But I don’t appreciate the veiled messaging or false claims that are not backed by research and data. I don’t like to be hyped, duped or taken advantage of. And I don’t support the idea of using women “just like you/me/them” to push product.

Do you really think that your symptoms are going to go away when you take a vitamin and push “play?”  Doubtful.

Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear.

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Wednesday Bubble: A Different Kind of Hot Flash. Guest Post by Erika Napoletano

Posted by on Jul 21, 2010 in emotions, Inspiration | 0 comments

Every now and then you run across an awesome woman who demonstrates what it means to have the guts to provoke, educate, humour and intrigue. That woman is Erika Napoletano, a self-described writer, disruptive presence and devils advocate.

This week’s Bubble takes a look at a different kind of hot flash and one that most of us should aspire to.

Thanks Erika…. love this post!

Liz came to me awhile back and asked me if I’d be interested in contributing a blog post for Flashfree. Still a few years from menopause, I wondered exactly what I had to add for her readers (aside from my semi-patented f-bombs and unfiltered look on anything and everything).

Then yesterday, I had a different kind of hot flash:

I don’t need.

And no, there’s not a word missing at the end of that sentence.

Being someone who’s in complete opposition to affirmative action and “up with woman” bullshit, it’s hard for me to write a “I’m an independent woman” piece. Hell, you won’t find one. But I came to an moment during one of my training rides yesterday that I simply don’t need.

There’s nothing in my life that I can’t get (or haven’t) for myself. I have wonderful people – friends, family, clients – who populate my world. My home is comfortable, my car runs. My boobs remain perky (albeit, there’s a little Better Living Through Chemistry involved in that one) and I can still fit into the same clothes year after year.

I kinda don’t need anything.

I’m finally at a place in my life where I can look at my wants with loving eyes. Googly eyes that would get a construction worker slapped.

With so much crap going on in the world around us, I’m exhausted with the political pissing and moaning and righteous indignation that populates modern media. When’s the last time you sat down and looked at your wants and needs and came to a definitive conclusion about where YOU stand? Maybe it’ll hit you when you’re on a bike ride. Maybe the frozen food section at the grocery is your Dawning Recognition destiny. But do you truly need? Or are you wrapped-up in wants disguised (and mistaken) as needs? I’m betting you’re all taken care of, and if you can embrace that like a huggy little bunny (one that doesn’t crap pellets, of course), it’s gonna be a pretty kickass day.

While it might not be much later in life that I join Liz’s club of real hot flashes, I’ll take these moments of dawning recognition over a screwed-up flow of hormones any day. And I fully expect that Liz will mock me and giggle the day I tell her that I’ve succumbed to The Change.

Kinda likin’ the changes I’ve found this week, though.

About the author: Erika Napoletano is an online strategist based in Denver, Colorado. As the Head Redhead at Redhead Writing, she serves up sound yet snark-laden advice on life’s successes and foibles, social media, SEO copywriting and business strategies. Follow her if you dare.

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