This past Monday, I asked readers to peruse the archives and choose a post from the year that resonated most with them. My goal was to pay forward some of my good fortune and gratitude, not only for an audience who returns to learn and share about the trials and tribulations of aging and being a woman, but also, to give thanks for the ability to help someone who has not been so fortunate. Margaret Chaivez commented that this post from April of this year, one in which I responded to a reader who called me an ‘old bag,’ spoke to her, adding that she has ”realized that make up and clothes can help me morph into something folks like Jimbo may appreciate. Yet without the confidence and self awareness, it means nothing.”
As women, we are often expected to live up to an ideal that is either unrealistic or unreal. And yet, the pressure that is placed on us to do so often comes from within. Ironically, the title ‘menopause’ has caused a lot of women to turn away from Flashfree, not realizing that the time to start embracing is earlier than the ‘pause, and the time to start preparing is the same.
I want to thank Margaret for taking the plunge and having the courage to embrace her beautiful self. And mostly? For helping me help others.
Happy New Year!
Are you an ‘old bag?’
Evidently if you are over 40, you are at risk of becoming one, especially if you are not ‘nice to men.’
I was struck and a bit stunned by a reader comment that I received this week. The comment was in response to a post about the Cougar Convention, and made a point to denigrate women as much as possible.
This is what Jimbo wrote:
Yes, most all women are desparate. Look how they dress. Look at the makeup. Look at what they show off. It is obvious. They are desparate for sexual attention. Yet, they want the attention as if they are in control and giving themselves as a gift. This is a none truth. Women need to get real and look at themselves and their own behavior. They are desparate for sex and men.
When women get to be 40+, they start to get honest. Heck, there is not much time left to pretend. They need to find a man and be real nice to him before they turn into old bags.
A number of readers have responded to Jimbo’s comment, obviously taking offense. I chose to leave Jimbo’s comment up up for the very reason that I don’t censor; afterall, Jimbo is entitled to his opinion. However, I would like to leave Jimbo with this:
40 year-old+ women are sexy, beautiful and self-assured. They have lived long enough to have gained the wisdom to allow them to feel comfortable in their bodies. And have a tendency to embrace who they are, sometimes even more than their younger peers. Nevertheless, in all fairness, you responded to a post entitled “Pimp your hide,” in which I referred to certain women attending a convention that encourages them to use their sexuality to attract a younger man. This however, is the exception and not the rule; the majority of women I know do not have fake boobs or plumped lips and have not done liposuction. While many color their hair (present company included), don’t be surprised if you find them out and about without makeup or wearing jeans and a tee shirt. Or better yet, out with men their age or older. Yes, Jimbo, women don’t always ‘dress to kill.’
So, Jimbo, I’d like you to see what a soon-to-be 49 year-old looks like – at the gym and home, with or without make-up. I can assure you; I am not an old bag nor do I ever intend to be one.
What does your 40+ look like? Comment or send me a photo and I’ll post! Let’s make Jimbo eat his words.Read More
2011 is soon going to be a distant memory and for some of us, that timing is none too soon. For me, this was a year of challenge and upheaval — emotionally, physically and relationship-wise. And yet, I am grateful to be here with a roof over my head, friends and family who I cherish, two cats who drive me crazy but are the sweetest companions one could ask for and some guaranteed work heading into the New Year. I have had loved ones go through difficult times with their health and emerge stronger and healthier, while others that I know are about to go on the merry-go-round once more. And yet, I remain faithful that this too (whatever this is), shall pass.
A few weeks ago, a colleague gave me a gift unlike any other I received this year, one that reminded me that regardless of the stress and turmoil that has formed daily life through the last quarter of the year or health challenges that I have been facing, that there is always someone less fortunate than I. The gift was the gift of love and charity, one that enabled me to select a cause near and dear to my heart and contribute. Mind you, I give throughout the year so the donation was not what made me stop but rather, the reminder. And for that, I am grateful.
So, I want to extend that gift to you, dear reader, because we are only as strong as the weakest among us. I am challenging you to peruse the 2011 archives and tell me in the comments which post made you stop and think, caused you to pause or resonated the loudest. At the week’s end, I will place the comments in a hat and send one reader a $50 donation card to the online fundraising site Razoo, where she/he too, can make a small difference in someone’s or some organization’s life.
Won’t you help me spread to word and pay it forward?
I would be truly grateful.Read More
peace, love, light and joy to you and yours’.
See you on Monday!Read More
Today’s Bubble is a doozie that can one of two ways: in the yes(!) column or in the no (!) column. I’ll leave it to you to decide.
DHEA is the most abundant sex hormone in circulation and is mostly secreted by the adrenal glands. Research has shown that low DHEA levels in pre- and postmenopausal women may negatively affect sexual functioning, while ample blood levels may enhance sexual functioning, cognitive functioning and wellbeing. Yet, whether or not DHEA really works continues to be controversial. And the reason behind the burgeoning interest is the quest to find a suitable replacement for HRT. The thing is? There are lots of suitable, evidence-based replacements that are not broadly accepted by many medical professionals and many of these are discussed regularly on this blog. Nevertheless, here’s what researchers have just discovered about DHEA.
The researchers, from Pisa, Italy, followed 48 healthy, postmenopausal women for a year. During this time, they divided 36 women who were experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms and requesting hormone replacement into three groups:
- 12 women who received 10 mg daily of DHEA
- 12 women who were given combined HRT
- 12 women who received the synthetic hormone, tibolone, daily
The fourth group was comprised of 12 women who did not wish to use HRT. They received daily vitamin D (400 IU) and calcium to help combat osteoporosis.
At the start of the study, all of the women reported similar sexual activity. However, after a year of treatment, women taking DHEA had significant increases in sexual interest and activity scoring almost 14 points higher on a questionnaire used to measure sexual interest, satisfaction, vaginal lubrication, orgasm and sexual partner. The women taking HRT experienced similar benefits, and women in both of these groups reported engaging in more sexual intercourse compared to women taking Vitamin D and calcium. Women taking the synthetic hormone also had increased sexual interest scores but they were not as high as the other two hormone groups. The magnitude of improvements in menopausal symptoms was also similar between the DHEA, HRT and tibolone groups.
The reason for this improvement appears to be the effect that DHEA has in terms of improving blood levels of the hormones estradiol and progesterone, both of which decline during menopause. It also appears to positively affect adrenal functioning.
What to think? Well, the study didn’t include any information on side effects. This is what Mayo Clinic has to say in that regard:
“No studies on the long-term effects of DHEA have been conducted. DHEA can cause higher than normal levels of androgens and estrogens in the body, and theoretically may increase the risk of prostate, breast, ovarian, and other hormone-sensitive cancers. Therefore, it is not recommended for regular use without supervision by a licensed health professional.”
Another important fact, acknowledged by the researchers, is that DHEA was only studied in 12 women, hardly enough to draw any firm conclusions. But they do believe that the findings, albeit preliminary, are encouraging, especially for women who “may have problems in taking more conventional HRT.”
Personally, I believe that it’s waaaaay too early to even consider DHEA as an alternative to HRT and in particular, to androgen therapy for sexual health. I want to see more information on side effects before it’s even on the radar. Meanwhile, I would love to hear what you think:
Have you heard of yerba mate? Made from dried, ground leaves and twigs of a tree indigenous to South America (Ilex paraguariensis), yerba mate is a caffeinated beverage that is steeped in hot water and drunk through a metal straw inserted into a dried gourd. This method of consuming yerba mate is known as mate cebado. Like coffee, tea and colas, yerba mate contains a stimulant (xanthine), and on average, contains about 330 mg of caffeine for every (1.5 quarts) consumed.
Why the interest? Well, coffee and consumption of caffeine have been linked to lower bone mineral density, accelerated bone loss and increased fracture risk, all major red flags for women as they age who become increasingly at higher risk for osteoporosis. Conversely, beverages like green and black tea, both of which have considerable caffeine content, are reportedly protective of bone. So, what about yerba mate and your bones?
In study upcoming in the January 2012 issues of Bone, researchers looked at the effect of yerba mate in postmenopausal women who drank at least a liter per day (prepared as mate cebado) for five years. These women were sedentary, did not smoke or also drink more than three cups of coffee or tea daily, were not on HRT or bisphosphonate therapy and used alcohol moderately. Yet, when they were compared to women of similar age and menopausal status who did not drink yerba mate, they were found to have higher bone mineral density levels at both the spine and hip. And, when researchers delved deeper, they found that only one other factor — body mass index — similarly and positively affected these BMD measures.
However, yerba mate contains high levels of xanthine, the same stimulant implicated in coffee’s detrimental effect on bone, implying that it wouldn’t be bone protective, right? A possible explanation for these positive bone effects is that yerba mate contains organic compounds, such as in particular, polpyphenols (antioxidant chemicals), flavonoids and alkaloids that may confer these positive benefits.
Before you start changing your caffeine habits, there are a few things that you need to know. Yerba mate has been linked to esophogeal and oral cancer and cancer of the larynx (although this may be associated with the temperature of the drink as well as the compound itself). Because it contains such a high level of stimulant, it may not be safe for people with high blood pressure who are especially sensitive to caffeine or who are taking blood pressure medications. Finally, there is some indication that in high doses, yerba mate can negatively affect the liver.
Me? I’m going to stick with my coffee habit and counteract any negative bone impact through weight bearing exercise. Still, it’s good to know that yerba mate may be an alternative worth looking into.