Posts made in December, 2008

Wednesday Bubble: More inspiration from Patti Digh – Patti’s Gems

Posted by on Dec 10, 2008 in Inspiration, menopause | 4 comments

In my first two posts in my series about an interview I had with Author Patti Digh , I reflected on two key life lessons: 1) the importance of taking care of ourselves before we are truly able to take care of others, and 2) the need to go deeper than the symptom to discover who we are and what we truly want out of our lives. These sentiments are linked to two essays and several exercises in Patti’s 37 Days, which, once again, I encourage all of you to read.

The third and final post I am calling “Patti’s Gems.” (If you are reading this Patti, I’m not talking about your girls, although I am quite certain that they are the first thing to come to mind when you see the word “gems!”)

So, what do I mean by the phrase “Patti’s gems?”

When I first read ’37 Days,’ I felt that  in some respects, the evolution of the lessons throughout the book echoed the transitions  we make as we move through midlife. And more importantly, that certain chapters truly spoke to transitional “soul changes” to  propel  midlife divas forward in a positive and affirmative way.

I asked Patti  if certain essays were more applicable to this time in our lives than others.  “Yes…there are some that speak to part of the fear [about] what I’ve done with my life,” replied Patti.  I had a very good resume when I started writing [37 Days]. From all external measures, I was very successful. And yet, I did not feel that internally and it [wasn’t] the work that I needed to be doing in the world.”

It wasn’t the work I needed to be doing in the world.

Are you doing the work that is feeding your soul, the work that you need to be doing versus what you are being told you need to be doing? If the answer is “no, maybe or I don’t know,” take heed; you’re in good company!

Fortunately, there are a number of gems in the book that Patti revealed with a wee bit of prodding, gems that might help to jumpstart those creative juices…

Gem number 1: Don’t stop to wave, you’ll drown.

Channeling the wonderful Eve Ensler, Patti writes that Eve once asked “why are women immobile? Because…they are waiting for permission….” She goes on to pose the following questions to the reader:

Are you waiting for permission to have and express your point of view? Are you waiting for an audience before doing the work you “must do?” Are you asking the questions and truly listening to the answers as if they really matter? Do you care too much about if people are going to like you if you speak your truth?

And at the moment you’re waving, wanting to be acknowledged for waving, be seen, praised…are you really drowning?

Patti tells us to “keep moving, keep seeing, keep knowing and keep saying what you know to be your truth.” Give yourself permission.

Gem number 2: Bust your toast rules

I’d prefer to let you read this essay yourselves because it’s priceless – just think Jack Nicholson in ‘Five Easy Pieces.

Here’s a challenge – take a close look at the rules you set for yourself, and ask yourself if you set them to serve “some social norm that is itself made up,”  or to serve another person or a group?

Aren’t rules simply made up? Are some rules  so ingrained in us that we can’t see them for what they are?

Have you made rules, set boundaries for yourself, followed patterns that you can’t see the forest for the trees? Do those rules make sense? Better yet, do the rules still make sense?

As Patti writes “concentrate on surfacing [your] patterns in order to change them.”

Gem number 3: Burn those jeans

Okay – be honest. How many sizes are hanging in your closet?! And why are you still holding on to the  hope that one day, you will fit into those [fill in the blank]?

Patti writes to “replace the word ‘jeans’ with the albatross hanging around your neck, following you around through life, diverting your attention from the real goal, setting you up for failure.” Then ask yourself if the golden egg that you are pursuing is something that you’re setting yourself up for to feel badly (about not reaching it), instead of “good and right and strong.”

So, why are you putting your life on hold to reach the unattainable, unreasonable, un…goal? Do it now rather than “when….”

Gem number 4: Unpack your boxes

This metaphor, for a marriage that begins to unravel and the decisions that arise with regards to whether or not to leave or stay, or better yet, when to leave or stay, has a deeper meaning for many of us.

Patti writes that “piles of boxes are metaphorical architecture — they tell a story.” Unpack your boxes, stay awhile, she suggests. Commit to the swim, or go.

Are you staying in a marriage, a relationship, a job, a career, stagnating because you are afraid to unpack your boxes?  Patti quotes Elisabeth Kubler-Ross..”As with migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown.

Gem number 5: Trust only movement.

During our conversation, I asked Patti what she meant when she wrote “trust only movement.”

“I’m coming more and more to recognize…that the abstractions we use aren’t very helpful to us in times of need. Could I have a more intense connection with my life by saying yes? Open up for other people to be as full a human as I am? Integrity to speak up? Can I stand tall for what I believe but also open up the possibility that someone else’s belief is as valid to them as mine? To love more, to love myself more in order to love people more, to trust myself and pay attention to my gut in a significant way. And finally to slow down. Moving from abstraction to something that is embodied is really important.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about focusing, doing, fully engaging,  feeling, and  feeding, nurturing and acknowledging your soul.   “Risk your significance” says Patti.

Risk your significance.

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Guest Post: Careening towards midlife – how to make the transition

Posted by on Dec 8, 2008 in Inspiration | 13 comments

I can’t think a better way to start the week than with a guest post from one of my favorite business bloggers – Productivity Expert Kris Rowlands. Kris writes Fresh Focus and produces the enewsletter the Inner Sanctum.  If you’re having difficulty organizing your time or getting things done, Kris is the guru to turn to.  Thanks and say hello to Kris!

Liz and I chat on Twitter almost daily, and she invited me to do a guest post here at Flashfree. Thanks, Liz!

So, you’re careening towards midlife. The kids are out of the house and you are suddenly faced with the fact that you are no longer needed as you used to be. What do you do to make that transition easier?

If it was me in that situation, I’d sit down and make a list of all the things that I’ve wanted to do in life, but never had the chance. I’d also revel in the fact that I have every day to make a contribution to either myself, or someone else.

When you have made contributions into your own family for such a long time, it can leave a hole within yourself when you are no longer contributing as much. You suddenly realize that you have time to take care of yourself and maybe you’re not quite sure where to start. So let’s take a look at the areas of self that you’ll need to address.

  • Body: You can now work on anything that you’ve wanted to do with your body. You can rejuvenate it by exercise, pamper it by going to the spa, or just really listen to what your body tells you, and take your direction from there. You’ve been so long listening to others and hearing their needs that you may need to tune back into your body to be able to hear it once again.
  • Mind: Feed your mind! Go back to school, take some classes or seminars that have always interested you, or read to your hearts’ content. There are so many things to do to feed your mind nowadays that the options are endless.
  • Soul: Get in tune with your soul. Depending on your beliefs, you could get involved in your church, join a support group to help others, or get your chakras aligned.  You could also volunteer at an organization helping others or animals. The options are endless! Do what makes you feel good.

Most importantly, get back in touch with your “self”. Re-discover who you are and what your goals will be with the newly found time that you have on your hands.

What are you going to do or have you done to go through the transition? Let’s chat in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Kris Rowlands is a Professional Productivity & Organization Coach. You can find her daily on her blog, As well as blogging to the world, she also does private coaching and consultation, always with the utmost confidentiality. Her thoughts are new, unique, and with a fresh focus on Getting Things Done.

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Awake again…naturally

Posted by on Dec 5, 2008 in sleep disturbance | 4 comments

[Pablo Picasso, Sleeping Woman]

When was the last time you slept through the night? Depending who you are, the stage of menopause you’re in and well, your symptoms, the answer to that question can vary. Add stress to the mix and it adds up to a lot of lost zzzs for some of us.

Experts continue to be challenged by the “s” word when it comes to the transition, with numerous recommendations ranging from yoga to hormone therapy to black cohosh to exercise to deep breathing. But again, whether or not these steps work depends on you.

I decided to delve a bit deeper into this issue and what I’m finding are many studies that don’t necessarily jive with each other. One of the latest bits of research comes from Brazil and is published in the November issue of Maturitas.

In this 6-month study, researchers examined two postmenopausal women with insomnia. Each woman participated in indivdiual therapy programs involving 1.5 hours/biweekly sessions comprising stretching, strengthening, massage and relaxation.

One woman experienced significant increases in REM and total time spent asleep, while the other had a reduction in the time it took to fall asleep and enter the initial stages of sleep (non-REM).

Both woman reported overall improvements in their insomnia.

Now mind you, I know a few women who have suffered insomnia most of their adult lives. So, I’m not certain whether or not exercise and/or relaxation truly improves overall sleep patterns when hormones and symptoms are wreaking havoc.  At the same time, however, I continue to see studies extolling the benefits of exercise and relaxation on sleep patterns, with very few reporting negative findings.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and what works or doesn’t work for you.

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Wednesday Bubble: Rebranding Menopause – Guest Post

Posted by on Dec 3, 2008 in menopause | 1 comment

Today’s Wednesday’s Bubble is written by my BBFF, Amy, blogger extraordinaire and author of ‘I could cry but I don’t have time,‘ ‘Leaving the zipcode,’ and a Wednesday blogger at ’50-something Moms.’

Honestly, if you haven’t checked out Amy’s work, you’re missing out. So I am very happy and honored that Amy agreed to burst the bubble about Menopause, the brand. You’re in for a real treat!


Let’s face it, there is nothing cool, glamorous or fun about menopause. Oh sure, there are some who think so, and they would be the creators of the ever ridiculous Menopauseland website. (you do have to love the music on this site, though)

Pre, peri, post… it all rings of irrational women aging not-so-gracefully.

This idea of rebranding started when speaking to a dear (male) friend that I have known for many years. We were at a big party and it seemed more than one woman asked to have the AC turned up. Which always seems to turn the conversation to menopause. My friend said he thought that the name was the problem, bad branding if you will. Let us dissect it for a moment. Men (bad start) O (extraneous letter) Pause… hmmm what does that MEAN?

Being the wiseass that I am, I asked “What should we call it then? Irrational bitches that sweat too much?” His answer was charming, “A better name would be – I will see you next Tuesday.” Cute, right?

What name would better describe menopause with more dignity?

Let’s think about this. Is the problem really in the branding? Or is the assumption that, not unlike when women are younger and everything is blamed on ‘being on the rag’, that a woman of ‘a certain age’ is always in the hot seat (no pun) when her behavior is erratic because she is doing ‘The Menopause Thang!’ (was this a James Brown song?)

Let us get back to the rebranding idea. I once worked on a pitch for an erectile dysfunction drug. A pharma co. spent a million dollars on a focus group exploring the idea of renaming erectile dysfunction. What these geniuses came up with was that it was not, in fact, the name that was the problem, but more the condition itself. DUH!

So, my friends, I think it is safe to say that renaming anything that basically sucks does not change its level of suckage.

Now you will have to excuse me, I need to go and turn the AC to the temp of a meat locker so I can sleep tonight.

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Posted by on Dec 1, 2008 in sexual health | 1 comment


The mind is a powerful thing when it comes to….sex during menopause.

Dr. Christian Northrup suggests that the mind plays as much a role in the ability or inability to experience pleasurable sex during the transition as estrogen and other hormones.

Indeed, a study recently published in Menopause Journal supports this supposition.

Researchers asked 200 Brazilian women between the ages of 40 and 65 to fill out a questionnaire on social/demographic factors, symptoms, behavior, reproduction and partner-related factors with the goal of determining things that influence painful intercourse (dyspareunia).

Overall, almost 40% of women surveyed experienced pain during intercourse, with study findings demonstrating that this was much more common in women who reported nervousness or depression.  Conversely, factors that offered some protection against painful intercourse included the frequency of sexual activity.

The findings support Dr. Northrup’s contention that more is, well, more — that it is essential to incorporate healthy, sexual thoughts into our lives and engage in self- and partner-exploration often.  Most importantly, we need to do things that keep us in touch with our life force, and cultivate inner pleasure in exchange for stress and emotions that accompany it.

Clearly, our minds and bodies are well connected.  Take good care of both and that should help take are of any pain.

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