Flashfree – End the “shhh” and embrace the conversation

Posted by on Jan 7, 2011 in Inspiration, menopause | 11 comments

I am discovering a pattern: when women learn about Flashfree, they inevitably tell me that they wish that they had a sounding board, someone to talk to about the aging-symptom paradigm, more exchange, more discourse. When I started this blog four years ago, I wanted to become a conduit for that conversation or at the very least, an inspiration. And I know that I’ve been inspired by the interest and the support.

Lately, it’s become so apparent that we need to talk more, listen more, explore more. We need each other.

The following was written during the early days of Flashfree and it’s as relevant now as it was then. So, in a bold move, I am reprising it, in hopes that it will begin that spark that I would like to see carry us through the rest of this year. It’s been a challenging one for many of us. And every day becomes a reminder of what’s most important and what is really not so important. Mostly though? I hope that this space continues to be as much yours’ as mine.

I was talking to a colleague/old friend the other day about this blog. She is a few years older than I and we got into this great conversation about generational gaps when it comes to discussing health issues. Perimenopause and menopause in particular have been huge taboo issues for women for decades.

Take for example, an episode from ‘That 70s Show,’ in which Kitty learns that she is not pregnant but rather, has entered menopause. When she asks her mother (played to a T by none other than Betty White) about her experience, she’s informed that she never went through menopause and has always been “healthy.” It’s funny and sad simultaneously. And definitely well worth the watch. (Fast forward to timecode 3:59.)

As the last of the baby boomers enter middle age, their appetites for health information appear to be ever more insatiable. And yet, some of the savviest and most practical women I know confess that they rarely, if ever, discuss their symptoms, moods or concerns about the changes that they are going through with their friends, let alone their mothers.

I’m fortunate. I have a mother who is pretty open about these sort of topics. And although she’s 70+, she tries hard to maintain an open attitude about certain things. When I approached her a few months ago about what I was going through, she was very forthcoming about her own experiences. And while her experiences were not exactly like mine (let’s face it; no two women’s experiences will ever be exactly the same), being able to talk about it was very liberating, even if I didn’t find “why” behind my own symptomatology.

Janine O’Leary Cobb, a former professor at Vanier College in Montreal, author of Understanding Menopause and founder of ‘A Friend Indeed,” once said that “it seem[s] to be one of the last things women talk about because it’s so entangled with aging and we don’t want to talk about getting older.”

And yet, research suggests that when we do talk about “it” and about getting older, hopefulness and positivity dominates, even as we acknowledge the more negative, i.e. loss and bodily changes, at the same time. And there a majority of women in this study who said that they feel a greater willingness to embrace personal growth and opportunities being presented to them with ease and sense of self as they age, a liberation, if you will.

So, what’s my point? Well, I’m not suggesting that we embrace the sugar-coated version of perimenopause and menopause that many advertisers would lead us to believe. But if we start having conversations with our gal pals and our mothers and colleagues, well, maybe we can begin moving towards removing the stigma that surrounds the “change” and aging once and for all.

Knowledge and exchange are certainly positive, powerful aphrodisiacs for growth.


  1. 1-7-2011

    Good Post Liz. It’s not just about “the changes” that people have to open up and talk about. It’s about sex and drugs with kids, as well as other “taboo” conversations. It’s a hold over from past generations, and will slowly change, but it’s not until people like you push for change that it happens!

    • 1-7-2011

      Thanks Matt. Actually, I do believe that the conversation has to be all that and more. If we dont talk to one another, we can’t move forward. Appreciate you taking the time to read the post!

  2. 1-7-2011

    I love your blog and the opportunity you provide for getting the “big” topics out on the table. If more of us would begin to embrace ‘healthy aging’ perhaps we could raise a
    passionate voice against our “youth is everything” culture.

    When I was in college, I remember one evening when every woman in the dining hall climbed on top of the table and danced to Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar.” While that sounds a bit hokey now, the dynamic, the energy and the joy was contagious.

    Damn, we’re good.


    • 1-7-2011

      I am Woman. Damn! You just aged yourself! ;-p Seriously, the exchange is exciting and addictive. In some ways, I wish that this forum was more interactive to promote some of the energy. Thanks for the support Jody!

  3. 1-7-2011

    I agree, talking about it. My mother was never one to talk about thing and I am very different.
    So I went to a book that I found comforting called, 40+ and Fabulous. It’s written by Sondra Wright and really enjoyable. There are a lot of testimonials from women and men too which doesn’t limit this book to just women. Men can read what women are going through too.
    It’s a sassy book and really pumps you up and makes you proud of being 40+.
    But I agree, take time and talk about it. I wish I had that 🙂

    • 1-7-2011

      Thanks Chrissy. Appreciate your feedback and the book referral. It is so critical that we start talking and sharing our experiences. It’s the only way that we can move women’s health forward.

    • 5-24-2012

      Sorry you aren’t feeling your best yet. I have been on the honrome protocol for over a year and still feel bad. I guess I feel a bit better but I am suffering with depression which I was hoping it would help with and it has not:(. I never had the hot flashes but I did suffer from insomnia and I still do. Some people find such great relief and some don’t. Hope you feel better soon.

  4. 1-17-2011

    Oh I am so thankful for frank discussions and this blog! Whoo-Hoo!
    I’ll be keeping up, adding on and learning.
    I am woman hear me roar…rage…cry…be still…and always, wonder.
    Take care-

    • 1-17-2011

      Thank you Terry! Welcome to Flashfree and reach out anytime. So happy that you found us!

  5. 1-24-2011

    Great post Liz.

    I’ve found that my friends feel comfortable talking about almost anything, but this topic seems to make them uncomfortable. It’s one of the reasons I found your wonderful blog, looking for answers and what others are going through.

    Thanks for helping to make sure these conversations happen!

  6. 3-4-2011

    My mother too said she had no symptoms and she was on the pill until she was 55. She died 3 years ago at 65 from breast cancer. I’m 49 this year and trying to go through perimenopause and trying to get through my grief about my mom and my fear that I will end up like her. The symptoms of perimenopause feel like there is something very wrong. Bleeding all the time emotions and mood all over the place. Not to mention the so called doctors (especially young male ones) who either don’t know anything or don’t care to. Too much for them to understand. I hate this and there is no conversation. I’ve always been the outspoken one and never tried to hide what I’ve been going through. But it feels now like very few want to hear it, and even less care. Even the internet offers little in the way of answers only the cold comfort of an anonymous post. Well I guess it’s better than nothing but it really doesn’t make it any better.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *