“Dammit … It IS Menopause!” Excerpt: Holding a Space for Grieving Losses & Gratitude

I’ve covered the importance of gratitude. Gratitude leads to acceptance. Most of the time, it takes discipline for me to get into gratitude. Yet, I willingly do it because the benefit is so great. It changes me for the better on every possible level.

Lately I’ve been learning the importance of grieving. Not my favorite pastime, I’ve tried to avoid it if possible. Thank you, Big Love, for this growth opportunity. I would even venture to say that for whatever reason, this last six months has been a super-sized season of grieving losses.

As with all loss, there have been chapters ended. There have been chapters ended by the Universe and those ended by me. I’ve grieved the loss of my father, my second marriage, and even friendships. Of those chapter endings initiated by me, those took great amounts of courage to consider what was in my own best interest as the top priority.

I’ve also grieved about things that didn’t even happen within this...

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“Dammit … It IS Menopause!” Excerpt: Poplars and Pointillism

I love poplar trees. My love for gazing at poplar leaves began long before I knew to take note of things that made my heart sing. My earliest memory of them was in my teens. There was a fancy outdoor shopping mall near my home and the entrance to the mall was lined with a huge semicircle of very tall poplars. I remember loving to watch their delicate, paper-thin leaves quake and flutter freely in all directions in the ocean breeze. It made my heart sing. I don’t really know why; I love to watch poplar leaves quaking in the breeze. It’s something about the way my brain processes visual events. 

But if I had to guess, it’s something about the way the sunlight hits the leaves as they move freely. The leaves are all moving simultaneously, but independently, in endless combinations that cause a light show of color juxtaposition between the blue sky and the green leaves.

Another thing that made my heart sing was looking at paintings created using the technique known...

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“Dammit … It IS Menopause!” Excerpt: In Search of Fiddlehead Unfurling

I love ferns. They are all over my backyard. I am fascinated by the journey of each individual “fiddlehead” of the fern. A new fiddlehead unfurls itself toward the sky to join the existing fully developed fronds to increase the collective beauty of the plant as a whole.

Each unfurling fiddlehead reminds me of a human spine as it articulates out of flexion and into a beautiful upright posture. The new fern fiddlehead represents the spine of a confident, courageous woman who is transitioning and articulating into her full upright potential in life. I am so moved by this growth process that I based my business logo on ferns. 

My parallels between robust, flourishing ferns and robust, flourishing women continues. Many ferns are so hearty that with the proper care, they can withstand both winter cold and summer heat. With women, it is the same, and women need water and the right balance of sunshine and shade.

Every so often, fern fronds turn brown and they look a little...

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[QUIZ] Is it … menopause? Is this community right for me?

The Varsity Menopause Quiz

I’m so happy you found your way here—to a community of women who have experienced menopause (and yes, survived all the emotions, physical symptoms, ups and downs) and have made a decision to make it a Varsity Menopause experience

But, how do you know if this is the right place for you? And … is it even menopause anyway? I’ve put together a quick YES/NO quiz to help you determine if what you’re experiencing is a hormonal shift, perimenopause or menopause, and if this community is right for you. 

  • Are you experiencing overwhelming physiological symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, erratic periods, cramps, breast pain, waking in the middle of the night, inability to stay asleep or go back to sleep, body odor, dry skin, itching that wakes you up, night sweats, hair loss)?
  • Are you suddenly more forgetful than ever in your life? 
  • Have you experienced “brain fog”—trouble finding...
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My Story: How I Overcame Disordered Eating & Maintained a 35-lb Weight Loss, Even through Menopause

Around the age of 10, my mother put me on my first diet. She had only the best of intentions. But, looking back, I realized that my weight had made her uncomfortable. I had been fine with it. The body that made her uncomfortable was functioning just as it needed to be in preparation for the onset of puberty. 

Years later, I have made peace with my cherished anorexic mom, knowing that she loved me as much as a mother could love a child, and was merely passing on what was taught to her at my age. I am grateful for having the right mom for me.

Nonetheless, this began my 14-year spiral deep into the world of what I refer to as “diet mentality,” which included endless dieting accompanied by dangerously rapid weight fluctuation and progressive weight gain, perfectionism, compulsive exercising, people-pleasing and negative self-talk in an effort to feel good enough and thin enough to be lovable. You name it, there was not a diet I hadn’t tried between 1969 and 1984....

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Healthy Aging through Loving Your Liver

Advice on what we “should” be eating abounds. Eat only protein. Fast intermittently. Be vegan. Eat high fat. How does one decide? As someone who has been maintaining a 35-pound weight loss for more than 30 years—without dieting—I am keenly aware of food talk and recommendations about eating. Working in the Wellness and Fitness field, I hear talk about diets almost daily. However, I have not participated in a fad diet for 35+ years.  The philosophy that enabled me to lose weight and keep it off has always been to eat all things in moderation. 

Still, my observations about the nutrition mindsets of my clients is that they continue to focus on “what food plan is the current rage” and “which food plan offers the quickest results.”  Meanwhile, current scientific research shows that high-fat, high-protein diets are not the best option for many adults over 50; especially menopausal women.

Women’s Healthy Aging Researcher,...

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About the Book of Meditations: “Dammit … It IS Menopause!”

Dammit … It IS Menopause! I was SO hoping it was just a hangnail or something. This was my first response when the menopause symptoms began at age 45. Apparently book titles are super important. Who knew? This being my first book, I had no idea. Never gave it much thought. Having said that, I’d like to give some backstory of my journey, how and why I wrote “Dammit … It IS Menopause!”, and how the book got its name. 

It Began with PIES—The Secret to Loving My Body at Any Weight

My original book title was “How to Avoid Basketball Stomach.” Why? I have maintained a 35-lb. weight loss without dieting for more than 30 years. That said, when I began my perimenopausal journey in my mid-40s, my biggest fear was gaining a disproportionate amount of weight in my midsection. My thinking was, “I have spent ten years loving living in this body. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna lose it now.”

I consider myself a former...

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Mindfulness Technique: Diaphragmatic Breathing for Posture & Back Pain

Mindfulness. Mind/Body. Intentionality. Mindful Eating. Body Scanning. Meditation. We hear these terms everywhere these days. Sources continue to extoll their benefits. So, we are probably all in agreement that mindfulness is a good thing. But how can you work it into your already jam-packed schedule? And which discipline is right for you? Pondering these choices can actually be so overwhelming that one becomes even MORE stressed, and less mindful!

Diaphragmatic breathing is a simple mindfulness activity that not only combines breath and posture awareness but can also help reduce back pain. Plus, you can do it while walking.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragm tightness can lead to low back tightness and pain.  Try this diaphragmatic breathing technique to help ease back pain and improve posture.

  1. While walking at a comfortable pace, bring your awareness to your breath. Breathe in through your nose as if smelling something delicious. As you inhale, feel your ribcage expand...
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