aging · health · menopause

AARPing

9.23.18.jpgYesterday, I got the chance to continue reading the AARP magazine I’d liberated from my building’s mail slush pile.  One of the major articles was about menopause, and… it gave me pause.

I texted my mom to ask when she’d gone through “the change” (although I’d asked for details before, I can never remember), as it’s generally accepted that whatever your mom experienced, you can anticipate you’ll experience something similar.

She replied that she was 51.  I’m about to turn 37.  That’s 14 more years of ovarian churning; 24 years of their production line have passed.  That’s a lot of years!

And yet, it feels like such a short period (no pun intended!) between now and the anticipated change.

The article went on to report that a vast majority of doctors, even ob-gyns, have little experience or familiarity with how to help a woman going through this utterly predictable and common experience (51% of ALL earthlings!).  They report that most ob-gyns focus on in/fertility and delivery — where the big money is at.  There’s not yet much bank in “the change.”  The article further states that, while the overall cause is the same, women’s experience and symptoms vary wildly so there’s no “one size fits all.”  There’s more of a need to listen, interpret, and adjust one’s approach, which is also not something many doctors like to wade through.

It’s fascinating to me.  There is a gargantuan industry for media and products aimed at anti-aging: the serums I buy for my face, the water I drink for my organs, the sleep I attempt to get for my brain function, and the workouts I try to maintain for my bones.  And yet, I haven’t once read an article aimed toward someone like me looking for ways to improve my experience of menopause, even from this long a landing approach.

What was news to me was the fact that around 30 years old, muscle-loss comes into play, and at about 35 or so, we begin to lose .5 a pound of muscle mass per year, and that can increase to a pound a year as we progress through this life-span thing.

My metabolism, I’ve noticed, began to slow down earlier this year, almost as if it had hit some kind blaring neon mile-marker (our bodies are brilliant time-pieces!).  My night-vision on the road has been on a decline for a few years, the brightness of headlights bothering me much more than it used to (no doubt partly in response to the new LEDs).

Plus, my body has never been one to maintain muscle mass without regular, near-daily (probably daily!) attention to weight-bearing exercise.

This aging thing is such a journey!

But I know, curious cat that I am, that the more I learn, the more prepared I’ll be and the more I can assist this vessel in its continuity, not its “decline.”

(Awed shout-out to my bad-ass, cancer-survivor sisters who’ve had to go through the change way earlier than ever expected.) ❤

 

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aging · curiosity · self-care

A Silver Fox with Twinkle Toes.

8.18.18I moisturized my toes last night.

Perhaps like you, I don’t give much thought to the care of my feet or toes, but as I was preparing for bed last night, Creme de Corps in hand, I figured why not.  They’re looking a little … well, wrinkly.

Last week a friend came by, and due to some sudden weight loss and new “in our 50s” naked time happening, she’s concerned about the crepey-ness of her belly skin.  (Hmm, I don’t usually moisturize my belly either!)

Reading Druckerman’s There Are No Grown-Ups, I reflect on the French ideology summed up as, “Être bien dans sa peau” — To be good in one’s skin.  To feel comfortable, confident, at any age. 

I’ve picked up copies of More magazine, geared toward women over 40, for a decade.

My first memoir was Anne Kreamer’s Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters.

To say I’ve had my eye on how to age in a way that feels humble, appreciative, and graceful would be accurate.  To say I still fall into thought-traps about body image would also be accurate!

My friend is not scared of her aging, but aware that it’s different.  I’m aware I can’t eat dessert every day without seeing it on my body the next.  I’m aware there are more lines, more crepes, more gray on the lady carpet.

I’m aware of an excitement, too.  What will it be like next?  What new feature will I notice?  I like to age.  It’s a constant, every-day science experiment!  (And as a cancer survivor, it feels like a blessing to “get to” age and discover at all.)

Aging is ultimately something I can’t choose to do.  But it is something I can choose how I relate to.

Which is why I’ve gravitated toward learning from others what it’s like for them, their experience and their coming to grips.  Like most things in life, it’s all a matter of perspective.

enjoyed massaging cream into my toes last night.  I liked paying minute attention to who and how my body is, this lifelong partner, passenger, and driver.  This body houses my entire ability to be here, and I want to witness it with awe.

(And, sure, I wish my butt held any “cushion” at all but, “If wishes were horses…”!)

I don’t mean to sound Pollyanna (though I know I do, and that’s okay), but embracing my body and its aging—nay, development—is like embracing Time: it will happen.  Full Stop.

What kind of a person do I want to be when it does?

 

adulthood · aging · authenticity · confidence · femininity · joy · life · self-acceptance · self-love · vulnerability

"Only Her Hairdresser Knows For Sure!"

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I am likely not the only woman to tear up at the sighting of
a gray hair on her head. But I may be one of the few who wells up with tears of
gratitude.
Yesterday, during my morning primping, I noticed a gray
hair. I usually don’t pull them out; this isn’t the first I’ve noticed. But
this one, I decided to.
About 5 inches of silver, shiny, light-catching hair. 5 inches
that have grown back since it all fell out from chemo in late 2012.
Call me crazy, but I’ve never been scared of going gray. I
had none at all before cancer, and several now. But, even before then, I always
thought of it as a rite of passage. As a crowning achievement, really. You’ve
made it
. You are alive to go gray at all. You are passing into the stage of life that
is for richness, boldness, satisfaction, self-esteem and a greater degree of self-assurance.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from reading about aging
generations, it’s that so much of our self-questioning begins to fall away once
we reach “a certain age.” We begin to think less about how others see us, and
more to question what we want to leave as a legacy. And this brings with it so
much reflection and truth-finding.
Who wouldn’t want to
age into that category?
Surely, you don’t have to turn 50 to begin to assess your
values and your desires for the remainder of your years. Like me, and surely
others, you can do that at most any age. But it helps to have some experience
behind you to make those choices from a place of peace, not fear.
The first memoir I ever looked at, I didn’t read.
I saw it on a shelf in Borders (when it still existed) about
7 or 8 years ago. I noted the title, looked at the flap, and went on with my day.
But I never forgot about it, and last year finally picked it up to read.
The title? Going Gray:
What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and
Everything Else That Really Matters
. A
woman’s exploration of what that means to “go gray” in our culture and society.
A lifelong hair dyer, she made the decision to give up the illusion, and embrace
whatever lay under the chemicals, for better or worse.
Author Anne Kreamer looks at the history of dying our hair;
goes “undercover” as a woman trying to reinvent herself to re-enter the
workforce to see if image consultants will tell her to dye her now growing-out
grays (none do); and comes to discover that with her new look comes a new clothing
color scheme, and a new confidence.
She also doesn’t purport the superiority of letting her hair
grow out. She talks with successful women who do and don’t dye, and let’s them
have their experience. All she can speak to is her own.
Surely, it helps that she goes gray in a “nice” way, with
silvery and dark chrome strands. Which is much the way I anticipate I will.
With my dark coloring, I imagine that I will go silver,
instead of stale gray, or as my mom describes her (dyed) fading blond: dirty
dishwater.
So, that “beauty in the beast” helps my acceptance, I’m sure.
But what brought me to tears yesterday as I stood there,
admiring this newly-found strand, now plucked and held like a precious object
in my hand, was the reality and giddy reminder I feel every time I find one: I made it. I am alive to have gray hair.
I’m alive to see what will happen with it: if they’ll turn out
all spidery texture and I’ll lament I ever praised finding them. If I’ll
consider dying it after all. Or if I’ll love every single thread of life these gray hairs represent.
I tear up when thinking about this, because it’s true.
Because, like someone admiring a sunset, or their sleeping child, or the taste
of a food never eaten, it means I’m alive.
Which itself means I have a chance and a choice to make my life whatever I want
it to be.
My gray hair represents possibility, transformation, and
authenticity.
Who wouldn’t rejoice? 

adulthood · aging · family · home · love · selfish

SOLD

What the hell – might as well admit it…
So, each time I’ve read my Tarot cards lately, (which I heard
once you’re not supposed to do, but the book I have says it’s the best
way to learn. Who knows – so I just don’t do it too often). Nevertheless, I have been doing it mildly
frequently over this past month in an effort to “figure it out,” and darnit, if I don’t keep getting The Devil
card. This card represents a lot about materialism, the bondage of self, and
self-obsession.
And nothing leads me more to self-obsession than being
broke, so I’ve been pretty much all I think about lately. Not a very lovely way
to live. This morning, … in meditation (I can’t believe anyone still reads this
stuff!), I realized that I’ve cut myself off from a lot of my connectedness
through my contracted and constricted thinking around money, jobs, my life, my purpose,
etc.
I have been reaching out more for help, but feeling actually
calm, centered, connected, all is well? Well, that’s felt a little out of reach
for me. Fair enough, it happens. But, it’s nice to notice that although I’ve
been availing myself of more resources and networks and connections this time
(only when I’ve thoroughly exhausted my self-propelled resources!), it’s still
so Molly-centered, and gimme gimme. It feels icky.
An assignment that I’ve had since Monday is to pray for
others’ happiness once a day for two weeks. Some specific others, but sure, it
could apply to everyone. In doing this, I realized how much I’ve been focused on
myself. And also, how depleted I am internally from working in that closed
circuit. I haven’t “filled the well” in a long time. My well is dry. And others
need me to get some moisture up in here.
Connecting back to sources I know that are nurturing, and
getting back onto a schedule for myself will help (I was up till 1am applying
to a job – not the best time…but I won’t have much time as the family all pours
in from the corners of the eastern seaboard) are some ways to refill the well.
Perhaps this then sounds like another path of self-obsession, thinking about
how I can feel better, and maybe it can
skew that way, but I’d like for it to skew in the way to help others – to
refill so I have something to give. So I can actually have energy to put behind
my prayers for others’ healing.
Specifically, last night, I had dinner with my Dad and his
fiancé. They’ve come in for vacation/my graduation, and came to see me at
school, and we went to dinner. They are planning on moving to, and have a house
all ready to go for them in Florida. It occurred to me last night how much
older they both have gotten.
I see them, and my mom and brother, maybe once a year, but
usually every other year, and it’s been that way since I left for Korea in
2004. So, I don’t get to witness the slow aging process; I see them, and I’m
beginning to notice the slower pace they walk, the much grayer hair of my dad, and
the general aging look of them both. It’s startling a little to see so much
change from visit to visit.
They are moving to Florida to retire, like good Jews, into a
house in a “senior community” (I half envision Jerry Seinfeld’s parents in
Boca… And I don’t think that’s half off!) She is older than my dad, and my Dad
is 65, not “old,” but there’s a lot of aches and pains and aging issues. I can
tell that he’s sad that he’s not as vibrant as he was. They “courted” by going
to lots of dances and on motorcycle rides and kayaking and whatnot. They were
very active, at some type of dance or other nearly every week.
Last night they said they don’t really go anymore.
In order to move to Florida, however, they need for my
childhood home to sell. I’ve done a lot of work on letting go of this house, I
burned sage when I was there emptying it last Fall to help let go of all it housed and witnessed, and in meditation, I’ve
tried to do the same. To differentiate my identification with the house too –
having seen it for a very long time as a neglected beautiful thing that could
be so much if it only had enough love. I’m come a long way with that, and feel
ready for it to go, feel ready for it to be owned and loved by a new family.
But, the house does need a lot of work, and it’s not
selling. We all know what’s happening in the economy, so I decided every little
bit of help counts, and this morning in meditation, I went to the house. I
asked it what it needed to go to another family, and it said it needed Love. (Yes,
really.) So, I tried to sit in a room in the house and radiate love out to it,
so that it could radiate love and attract a new family.
Problem is, I’m running on fumes, and that’s how I
recognized this this morning. I sent someone else in, a teacher/source I know,
to illuminate it, but no dice. I need to work on receiving some light, to get
back to being a channel, rather than a closed circuit running on
self-propulsion for me to have anything to give.
Will it help the house sell? Dunno. Will it help me to feel
more connected to those around me? Likely. Will it do me some good to think
about others’ happiness and how they are? Definitely.
And, if you would be so kind, could you maybe send a little
love to the house too? Envision a “Sold” sign on the lawn? Help my Dad and his
wife move to a better place?
Thanks!