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Things here continue to be in flux, with the town considering buying and scraping my little white house, and challenges with figuring out how MKL and I are going to merge households. Add to that the possibility that our long plan trip to a remote island is in grave jeopardy due to his work, and what do you have? Me. Fragile. Having fantastic dreams of tornadoes and devils and destructions. But still standing. Trying to find my places of gratitude and power, while letting go of the things I cannot control. My brain does have a tendency to ruminate on things, making them worse than they are. At least I recognize that, and I can work with myself on it.
We did have a lovely day on Sunday, taking Sophia the BMW over Guanella Pass to see the change of seasons. Here’s an image that reflects the transience and fragility of nature. And yet, each season marks a return to a new sort of beauty and strength.
Guanella Pass, Colorado.
Quote of the day: “One can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.” – Lemony Snicket
The red-tailed hawk on the telephone wire, sun shining through his tail feathers
EPA workers protesting the government shutdown
That it was good coffee, even if I did spill it all over my shirt
The shine and dance in MKL’s eyes when he looks at me
A dog to pet outside the grocery store
Beneath the Snow
Somewhere far beneath the cold and snow,
A bloom waits patiently,
Curled within a tender shell of green.
The ice of winter
Always gives way
To the hope of spring.
Three Yellow Balloons (For Boston)
Three yellow balloons drifted away.
This city that took much of my naiveté
Lost some of its own innocence today.
My old city shines and celebrates.
This day is a vacation day, a play day.
Everyone is your new friend,
The chill of a New England winter
finally shaken off our shoulders.
Music plays at the bandstand,
And the Charles sparkles with
Little jewels from the sun.
It is Race Day.
Runners start far away, but still
the streets are lined with people,
cheering on strangers.
We set up chairs on the roof of a brownstone,
Bask in the almost-forgotten sunshine.
Skip class. Skip work. Skip under the blue sky.
Runners start arriving
At the foot of Heartbreak Hill.
We yell and shout and clap and encourage
and find our favorites to root for.
The runners struggle on with an end in sight,
Worked for and earned with sweat and time and pain
In an instant
In a blast
In leftover puddles of blood.
three yellow balloons
drift into the air
above it all.
Released by the hand of a person whose life will never be the same.
You probably fall into one of two categories: male or female.
If you are female you will:
a) think these things can never happen to you
b) relate and have your own random comments
or c) remember what I’m talking about
If you are male, you will:
a) turn away from this page immediately for fear of Too Much Information
b) forge ahead and learn something about the women who may be in your life, now or in the future
It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been experiencing hot flashes – one of the stars of perimenopause and beyond – for over four years now. And sadly, I know that the end is not in sight.
Do you know what a hot flash is like? It’s like being flamed with a sparkly blowtorch all over your body. It comes from the inside out, and it comes on suddenly and unexpectedly. It’s very Chuck Norris-like. There’s nothing you can do to fight it off, to defend yourself. If it’s there, it’s already won. It lasts as long as it’s going to last. And then it’s gone.
And then there’s the bleeding – or not. It’s either a tsunami or a leaky faucet. And like the hot flash, you never know when it’s going to strike. But unlike the hot flash, there are repercussions from this unpredictability. When you’re used to a regular cycle of 28 days or so, you know when you need to be prepared, And so, you travel prepared. With perimenopause, it’s always a surprise. Bleeding episodes can be six months apart. Or 39 days apart. They can last for three days or for three weeks. But the biggest disability is that damn flow. You can stand up from your desk, and suddenly discover that you need a new pair of jeans. My bottom file drawer at work always contains an extra pair. Lesson learned.
That whole unpredictability thing is the hallmark of perimenopause. You just never know when to expect what. And it’s as if your body is completely confused. It doesn’t know what to do. So it just…. does everything. It has mood swings. It gets bloated. It cries uncontrollably about nothing for days at a time. It has nightmares. It has PMS – but without the M. It’s like getting your period, but not getting your period at the same time. It’s a giant fake-out. Poor body.
But there are some good things about perimenopause that, in the spirit of gratitude, I feel compelled to share.
There are some things that ease the symptoms. Black cohosh (an herb). Estroblend, an over-the-counter herbal pill. Evening primrose oil. Soy products (or so I’m told – I haven’t tried them yet, because I’m not really a fan). And of course, ice cold San Pellegrino, hand-held japanese fans, and frozen bodice coolers that you can pick up at any Renaissance Festival.
It definitely keeps me warmer in the winter. This is strange for me, because I’ve always been a cold-bodied person. Now, I can comfortably keep the house at 60 degrees no matter what the outside temperature. (Unfortunately, my niece and MKL cannot live like that.) And sometimes I drive with the truck windows down in the depths of January.
I’m saving money on winter clothing. I mean, really, what’s the point of wearing sweaters to work if I just want to strip down to my skivvies every other minute? As it is, I’m in sleeveless tops and have the little desk fan going for half the day, with an icy beverage close at hand.
It helps me accept change and unpredictability. Let’s face it, it’s not called “the change” for nothing. This experience has helped to reinforce for me that life within this body is anything but predictable, and that just because things are one way one day does not mean they will be the same the next day. You just never know. So you might just as well enjoy the ride.
It is a hallmark of the wisdom gained from life. In some cultures, women who have experienced menopause are allowed into traditionally male bastions from which they were previously banned, as a sign of respect. If one has lived long enough to move into a new cycle of life, then wisdom must be one’s companion on the journey.
I like to think of it that. Between hot flashes.
So, if you’ve read this far, congratulations. If you have yet to experience this transition, and have questions, ask away. If you are in the throes and have positive feedback, comments, perceptions, or suggestions, please share. And if you’re past it and have stories to tell, I’d love to hear them.
Today’s guest poet: Edna St. Vincent Millay
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning, but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
The Coming of Age
Creeping like those cats with
three-inch long legs,
It steals upon you
in a whisper.
Your time is
– and not the good kind of shortening –
You look into your own eyes,
observe the lines
that life has drawn,
all right then.”
I don’t think this is quite the right title for this post, but I’m struggling with how to express myself this time.
I am lonely for my daughter.
I am not generally lonely. I have a wonderful fiance. My niece is a great roommate. Thunder Cat is a good snuggle companion. I have friends (if I ever reached out to them). But the loneliness of a parent for a child is a unique animal. And the sense of missing a family unit is sometimes quite poignant – another kind of loneliness.
I have always been the one in the family who worked. My ex was always the stay-at-home parent, even when I didn’t want it to be that way. I missed a lot of Kelsea’s day-to-day growing up. I tried to make up for it by spending as much time as I could with her when I wasn’t working – except for the solo vacations to try to save my own sanity.
Now Kelsea is a teenager. We are going through the to-be-expected separation period. She spends most of her time with her friends. We still have some small time together, but she stays at her Dad’s most of the time, because he’s closer to school, and getting her there doesn’t work very well with my getting to work. Some people say I should push to have her stay with me more, but that’s just not how we operate. We talk and text every day. She will be driving in a few months, and is so looking forward the her freedom. I remember that from my own teenage years.
But I miss the kid stuff. I miss our dedicated play time together. I miss our “famous chats” and our reading and snuggles and watching trashy TV and talking about anything and everything. I guess this separateion from the parent is a normal thing – just what happens when teenagers grow up. It must be preparing everyone for that day when they leave home and forge their own life, the one that you as a parent have been readying them for since the moment they were born.
Once you are divorced, and one parent is not with the child as much any more, the sense of a family unit dissipates like a wisp of fog. Gone also are those dreams you had, of being the proud parents seeing your child off to various milestone events, or attending school plays hand-in-hand. I am wise enough to realize that those visions, like many others I had, were more fantasy than lost reality – I know that by looking at the reality of my life within my marriage for almost 20 years.
Maybe I miss dreams that I never had a chance of fulfilling. Then again, I was always trying to fulfill those dreams on my own, even in my marriage, and not as part of a team. My ex and I, in hindsight, were never a team, never partners. That feels sad.
The tragic events that have happened recently in Colorado have made me all the more sensitive about how precious my daughter is, and how quickly someone dearer to you than the moon can be snatched away forever. In the blink of an eye.
I know Kelsea misses me sometimes. I know I miss her often. I know she sees the texts and Facebook messages I send her daily, even if she doesn’t respond, so she knows that I’m thinking of her always. We still have our mother-daughter traditions (she loves traditions) and we still carve out time for special things. But the days of being her best playmate, of her sitting on my foot and clutching my leg when I had to leave the house, those days are gone. And I miss them.
I loved spending what time I could with her in her childhood. It was like having my own childhood all over again.
I guess we all have to grow up. Eventually.
The Mixed Emotions of a Coming Winter
I am scared.
The gray of the sky overburdens me,
Swamping me in a soft blanket
but one in which
I can’t indulge.
I muster my strength to throw off its
and push through,
giving birth to myself each morning
from another cocoon of dreams.
I am choiceless.
Now, the green grass still lies splayed
A maiden no longer,
She shows herself fully,
a last gasp before her faded beauty
dies for another season,
smothered by a soft, frozen fatal whisper.
I am coddled
by the lowing clouds
That catch me up in a drowning
Embrace of cool sadness,
Pushing on my eyelids
As the earth
Balks and wavers
And hunkers down to suffer through
Paths always lead somewhere – through doorways, in circles, or to a turning point.
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Quote of the day: ”You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Ten hot air balloons in the morning sky
Spending some extra time with Kelsea today
The Tattered Cover Bookstore
The approaching Labor Day weekend
Warning for some: TMI ahead.
Perimenopause. The prefix “peri” is from the ancient Greek, and means “near”. Near is a relative term. I am near the Caribbean when compared to someone in Juneau, Alaska at this moment, but that does not make me as near as someone in Miami, Florida. “Near” is a hedge word.
However, if we check in with our friend Wikipedia, the word “Peri” means the following:
In Persian mythology, the Peri are descended from fallen angels who have been denied paradise until they have done penance. In earlier sources, they are described as agents of evil; later, they are benevolent. They are exquisite, winged, fairy-like creatures ranking between angels and evil spirits.
I like that definition of “Peri” much better. And it really describes who, how, and where we perimenopausal women are.
The highs and lows of perimenopause are meni and veri. See what I did there? Yea, get over it.
I say “Get over it” to myself many times each day, as I am perpetually awash in a slippery tangle of hormones.
This thing they call perimenopause – in laywomen’s terms, pre-menopause…do you mean it’s actually WORSE once you hit ACTUAL menopause? I’m still technically not menopausal, yet I have all the symptoms – and I try to view them as positively as possible. Hot flashes are just short private vacations to a tropical island. Mood swings are experiences of the rich depths of my mercurial personality.
Based on my research, I fail to see where the actual differences between perimenopause and menopause lie, except that I guess you never get a period again, instead of having one that lasts three days once or twice a year. Or one that lasts twelve days when you are on a vacation in the islands. Maybe that’s part of perimenopause – your body has gotten smart enough to wait to release the deluge until you are in the exact place and time when you don’t want said deluge to occur. Perhaps your body is giving a giant Bronx Cheer or having a last hurrah before your reproductive system gives up the ghost altogether.
Regardless of it’s motives, it feels like my body is not playing fair.
Don’t tell me to “own it”, to gracefully accept this change in life. I DO own it. I’m not treating my body as separate from me. In fact, I’m totally on board with this change of life. Let’s just go ahead with it, okay? No more of this dinking around. Right now, my body is like, “Oh, okay, I’m done with periods. (Significant pause.) JK! LOL! LOVE YA! “
I’m in a pretty happy place these days. Got a wonderful love, got a cozy house, got a decent job, got an amazing daughter. But the unpredictable tide of hormones can have me going to bed smiling, and waking up in tears, wishing I could just stay in bed all day eating Slim Jims and sugar cookies with a bottle of rum, watching Jerry Springer.
MKL and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary on Friday, and I feel for him. It must be hard for a guy who has been single for a while to find himself involved with a woman who has several different personalities. He never quite knows who is going to show up. In the olden days, couples had been together for a long time before the peri/menopause days hit, and so the man knew who the woman was, and could recognize “the change” as an anomaly in the woman he’d lived with for years. In a new relationship, I imagine it’s more along the lines of the old game show “To Tell The Truth” – will the real Seasweetie please stand up?
I am blessed that MKL has the wisdom to look beyond the mood swings, and see the true me. I am blessed that he just hugs me when I’m having “one of those days” and asks if I want to talk, but doesn’t insist on it. He doesn’t try to talk me up or down or out of wherever I am. He just loves me, steadfast and true and stable. (OK, enough gushing about MKL.)
As (almost) all women do, I just have to wait until this plays out. I have spent my life (as many women do), blaming my hormones for a variety of moods and behaviors. I don’t know why I’ve been blaming my hormones, as my hormones have been fluctuating since I was 13, so really it’s just my normal state of being. I guess I expect that once menopause hits, my hormones will calm down. But I think the only way that could happen is if they went away altogether, and they’re not going to do that – and if they do, I think someone would give me drugs to simulate them. And besides, if they were completely gone, or if they were simulated, that would just be another thing for my body to adjust to. It all just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
It comes down to “I am who I am” and there is no need to make excuses, blame internal or external factors, or expect change to follow some logical, predictable, orderly sequence.
I can just be here, right now, somewhere between angel and evil spirit, waiting for the next deluge that may never come.