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Transformation © lynette sheppard

Learn more about menopause and what’s ahead. Check out this interview I did for Katharina Wallenborg on her blog:  Women’s Portraits Fifty Plus

She titled it “It Hits Us All”. That pretty much says it all. And while you are on her site, you might want to read more of her portraits of women fifty years and older. We’ll take all the inspiration we can get!

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Opening © lynette sheppard

Our good friends across the pond at Cucumber Clothing have been super busy. You might have seen my review in April of 2018 of their lovely loungewear/pajamas. (Click here if you missed it!)

Their wicking clothing is perfect (read darn near necessary) for menopause goddesses who want to keep cool. And their loungewear is suitable for just about anything: working at home, going out to dinner at a friend’s home, and sleeping cool.

They have a whole new line of clothing, including new ‘cool’ cashmere mix fabric jumpsuits that have all the same thermoregulating and moisture wicking properties of their other loungewear.

Cucumber clothing’s soft, silky wicking fabrics in lovely colors move moisture up and away from us, so we can remain cool and get dry quickly. Antibacterial technology eliminates odor and keeps the fabric looking new despite repeated washings.

They let me try a rose V neck nightdress which I have absolutely fallen in love with. I can wear it all day – to work at home (including being seen on Skype and Zoom), off to the post office for the day’s mail, having friends over for appetizers and wine on the front deck, and finally to bed for a blissfully cool sleep. And I live in the tropics so this fabric gets a real test of its cooling properties.

I think I’m going to ask my husband, Dewitt, for a set of their new shell button pajamas for my birthday – they look so comfortable. And cool. Cool in both senses of the word – temperature wise and style wise!

Cucumber Clothing is based in the UK – however they ship to most countries. Find out more and order on their website:  Cucumber Clothing.  Right now they are offering 10% off when you join the Cucumber Community. Be sure to check out their blog while you’re there, too.

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Metamorphosis © lynette sheppard

My mother has suffered from severe osteoarthritis. It recently became resistant to standard drug therapy and she lost mobility to the point of being unable to get out of bed. She had heard about CBD cream in the treatment of joint pain and asked me to get some for her. I am happy to report that she is now able to walk, go to the store and beauty parlor, and enjoy life again.  This guest post by Areyo Dadar illuminates at least five ways CBD can help with the menopause transition.

5 Menopause Symptoms CBD Could Help

by Areyo Dadar

CBD is known for its pain relieving properties and for its use in fighting anxiety, however there are many more conditions that can be treated with CBD, including the symptoms of menopause. Unfortunately, most women only start managing menopause once the effects become unpleasant; which of course isn’t the only way to go about it.
CBD is now being used throughout the health sector to treat all manner of ailments – and that includes some of the most common side effects of menopause. Let’s see what exactly you can get up to with CBD:


1.  Treatment for Aches & Joint Pain

Post-menopausal women often experience pain in the joints as the body stops producing estrogen. This results in a higher number of inflammatory cells. This is why pain and aches are common past 40. CBD can help by firing up cell regeneration, numbing pain, and reducing levels of inflammation. Another way you can fight inflammation and joint pain is by eating foods that have high antioxidant activity, performing low-impact exercises, and being otherwise mindful of your diet.

2.  Genitourinary Syndrome (Vaginal Dryness, Atrophy & Bladder Control)

Bladder control becomes an important area of sexual health after menopause.This happens because the lower estrogen levels affect the amount of blood reaching the pelvic region. This lower blood flow in turn affects the tissues in the surrounding organs, including elasticity of the urinary tract. Women can improve bladder control by paying more attention to their pelvis section and doing things like yoga to improve blood circulation. CBD oil can be massaged into the pelvic region and because they are extremely powerful vasodilators, they help by improving blood flow. Topical CBD is also great for reducing inflammation and vaginal dryness, and it can be bought in the form of lubes and ointments.

3.  Sleep Disturbances

If you find it a challenge to sleep through the night, either due to anxiety or some other condition, then CBD can help by relaxing the body and mind to allow rest, and also by balancing hormones such as melatonin and others that are responsible for managing sleep. Menopause causes sleeplessness for a number of reasons: anxiety, depression, or night sweats. All three can be targeted with CBD – but talk to your doctor if one or more of these three conditions are severe. Due to CBD’s influence on neurochemistry, it can be used effectively against insomnia and night sweats.

4.  Mood Swings & Depression

Changing hormones also cause a strange pattern of mood swings which on the outside, doesn’t seem to have a trigger. Having low estrogen levels means that neurotransmitters like serotonin become more erratic and may sometimes plummet, leaving a person’s neurochemistry changed forever. CBD can stop this process by creating a harmonious balance of neurotransmitters that fall under the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which include serotonin and other natural mood adjusters. The fall in estrogen would then have less impact on mood, and a cheerful person can keep their neurochemistry, or personality, if you like.

5.  Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the most common symptoms of aging, but medical research suggests that memory loss can be delayed in the majority of people, if certain nutrients are made available in the earlier years. CBD contains antioxidants that are able to reverse many of the effects of cell degradation and the loss of proper functioning in the hippocampus. When estrogen levels are restored or improved, the cells in the hippocampus are renewed and things like memory, learning, and emotion function better. CBD is believed to facilitate synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection, meaning it keeps the brain younger for longer.

If this is your first time hearing about CBD, then the resources at CBDCentral.com would be a good place to start to learn what it is, how it works, and the research supporting its use. It’s also worth mentioning that quality CBD comes from reputable dealers; so watch out for scammers online. CBD can be consumed in many ways so you might want to try delivery methods such as vaping devices, oils, or drinks to see what works best for you.

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Serenity © lynette sheppard

It’s the beginning of May. I’m five months into my sabbatical. And it really does seem to be a state of mind and being. I still have to respond to small “crises” here and there (eg. broken water pipe, dead car battery, sick kitty), but they no longer cause my heart rate to ratchet up or my jaw to tighten. I feel like there is time to handle the small hiccups of life instead of the stressloaded pressure that filled my day(s) previously.

I had a book on my bookshelf for years that I never read. I bought it in 1999 when it was first published, fully intending to read it when I tucked it up on my self help- spirituality shelf. (Yes, I shelve my books by topic or genre.) I can’t believe it took me 20 years to read this wonderful book, but clearly I wasn’t ready until now.

It’s called “Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest” by Wayne Muller.

And I am delighted to report that it is still in print. If ever I needed affirmation that we need periodic time-outs, I found it in this lovely tome. I may read it again. And again. With humor and heart, Muller illuminates why taking time away from work, chores, technology, and busyness are necessary for our health and well-being. One of my favorite bits referred to a practice that his friend named “slotha yoga”. I am so dedicated to such a practice.  Speaking of which, it’s time now for my practice. Stay tuned for more.

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Girlfriends © lynette sheppard

Our dear friends at genneve wrote this inspiring guest post. Enjoy!

After menopause, are you the woman you were?

The quote “Change is the only constant” has been attributed to the philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus. I’m guessing he borrowed it from some menopausal woman in his life.

As the content person for genneve, a company focused on helping women have an easier menopause, I hear a lot about the changes women go though in midlife. Almost none of the changes, it seems, are welcome, maybe because they strike at the heart of something we’ve spent 50ish years (on average) developing: our very identity and sense of self.

Categories of change
There are changes (small “c”) in life like getting a new job or moving to a new city that may change our circumstances but don’t really alter us in any profound way.

There are Changes (big “C”) like marriage, divorce, kids, health crises, or loss of parents that may change some aspects of our identity very deeply: wife to singleton or vice versa; person to parent; well to ill; offspring to orphan.

Then there’s The Change (big “T” big “C”) that changes everything: menopause. Our outer appearance, our inner workings, our identities as “woman” can be utterly new and different.
How we navigate that change is, some say, within our control, but many if not most women in menopause know that during this transition, very little seems “within our control.”

If everything changes at menopause, from our waistlines and hair to the ways we cope with problems and our attitudes towards nurturing others, are we the same women we were before?

Menopause as loss
So here’s the problem with trying to define a post-menopausal identity: all the current options suck.
In much of popular culture and opinion, menopause equals “loss” – it’s a time of things being taken away (energy, perky boobs, fertility) and of things that must be given up because they’re no longer “appropriate” (short skirts, long hair, self-confidence).

The good news is, we’re not stuck with the current definition.
In a culture where fertility is your #1 value prop, of course menopause is going to be a crap option. Fertility isn’t just being able to reproduce, it’s all the properties that go with it: thick, shiny hair and a narrow waistline but also the ability to put up with other people’s nonsense, keep a lid on rage, and maintain a desire to nurture others at the expense of self.

Women after menopause may have none of these, and some may define that as a loss. Even more, if “mothering” is a woman’s primary purpose (and our culture certainly seems to think so), then once that possibility is gone – and even the instinct is diminished – so is a woman’s very identity.
Nonsense.

If menopause is like a second adolescence, I’d argue you have the same opportunity a tween does – the life ahead of you is yours to define, and there’s plenty of it.

Menopause as gain: from reproductive to productive
Sure, Mother Nature taketh away, but she also giveth: generously, even lavishly. We just have to learn to value the gifts we’re being given as much as the ones we lament losing.

Creativity. Maybe your new self is part Georgia O’Keeffe? Freed from the cycles of procreativity, many women feel a surge of creativity in this second chapter. As one who previously taught at the community college level, I can tell you hallways were teeming with mature women taking classes in everything from Photoshop to creative writing to dance to political science. Margaret Walker wrote her first novel, Jubilee, at age 51. How about the woman who created more than 1,700 works of art, starting when she was 68 and continuing for the next 20 years. Finished? Dried up? Done? Tell that to Mary Delany.

Attitude. Perhaps second-chapter you is a little Dorothy Parker? A lot of women in our community spend time apologizing for being a little “sharper” and not as nurturing as they previously were. We say things we once would have swallowed. We push back where we formerly would have gone along. We’ve learned to say “no” and mean it. The trick is to embrace all these things and not apologize for them when no apology is warranted.
Sexiness: Does your post-menopausal identity have a touch of Mae West? Women over 50 (heck, over 40) complain about suddenly feeling invisible, and with good reason. If you want evidence that mid-life women are underrepresented, try finding good images on a photography site sometime. Women over 50 generally aren’t represented as sexy, sexual beings, which may be why so many don’t seek help for the vaginal dryness and limp libido that can come with menopause – who needs ‘em? But check out Rachel Peru, who started a modeling career at 46! Mature women are vibrant, gorgeous, adventurous, and experienced, often with a new confidence and sass that Mae West would appreciate.

Time. How about a little Madonna Buder in your post-menopausal mix? Menopause isn’t the signal that it’s “all downhill to death” from here on out, far from it! The average woman in the US can expect decades more time. And if she takes care of her health, eats well, walks or does other exercise, those decades can be a joyful time of exploration, discovery, and growth.

Menopause and the years after get a really bad rap, and sure, there’s plenty to complain about when you’re dealing with hot flashes, poor sleep, vaginal dryness, and headaches. But we’re starting to see menopause being redefined for the modern woman. Women are embracing their gray hair, celebrities are speaking out about their menopause journeys, women are starting to have conversations about menopause in the workplace.
Your years from here on out may be more your own than any you’ve had so far, and you have more freedom and possibility to define your own identity than any generation before. This definitely isn’t our mothers’ menopause.

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Serenity © dewitt jones

Aloha, goddesses. As promised, I am reporting on the progress of my sabbatical. Spoiler alert: It’s glorious.

Day 1 of sabbatical – Jan. 1 2019

I heard once that whatever you do on the first day of the year, you will be blessed/doomed to do that most of the year. Magical thinking has always worked for me, so I plan carefully how to create the perfect day.

so today, I played 7 holes of golf with my beloved on a course with not a soul. I used only one club and reveled in the gentle trade winds as I gazed out at ocean on two sides.

OK, fun and exercise, check!

Next – I took down all the Christmas stuff and cleaned the fridge. I was looking for my special tweezers – first time in about 10 years that I have tweezed my too wispy eyebrows. Drawer was such a mess that I ended up cleaning it out. Nesting – check!

Tweezed brows, shaved legs and pits, polished toenails. Self care – check!

Made a new iphone art piece – creativity – check!

Read the Sun – loved it. Reading – check!

Cooked meatloaf and was flexible enough to also prepare quickie apple sausages and corn and salad so handsome hubby could go photographing stars and set up before nightfall. So tomorrow’s dinner is DONE!

Writing this – writing – check!

Listening to new CD by friend Richard Johnson – music – check!

Got email from a woman that I believe wanted me to rescue her – I told her to stand up for herself. Feel great that I did not give in to my rescue default. Whew.

All in all, a great start to my sabbatical year.

Day 3 of sabbatical
Yesterday was laundry and bill paying. Still, I found – strike that – MADE – time for reading and making art. I listened to music while I wrote checks morphing the experience into a pleasant interlude rather than something I was rushing thru to get to my “real life”. And it rained on the clothes I hung on the line,

This morning, I felt myself speeding up, falling prey to the fallacy that if I just get everything done, then I can relax. I know better and still….

So I slowed my walk and glided through the house. Trusting that I won’t forget the words in my mind before I get to write them down. I am in no rush. I can inhabit each moment as a single, perfect note in my sabbatical symphony. (Probably it’s more like a Jimmy Buffett song than a symphony, but what the heck.)

Days 4 through 80

Pretty much a repeat of Day 1 and 3 as I become more comfortable (read ecstatic) with my self imposed sabbatical. I am beginning to realize that a sabbatical really is often a state of mind for me. I’m relaxing into my life.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Powerful © lynette sheppard

Katarina Wilk has written a terrific guide to perimenopause – what it is and common-sense ways to deal with it. I actually believe that this ought to be required reading for any woman over 40 years of age. Why? Because perimenopause is coming if it hasn’t already started and being prepared can make a huge difference in your transition.

In plain language, perimenopause and menopause are demystified. What’s happening and why become clear and understandable. And her simple guide to dealing with symptoms is a lifesaver. We wish we’d had this when we were approaching the Pause.

The biggest complaint I’ve heard over the last 15 years (and am still hearing) is that women were shocked by the symptoms and changes in their bodies that herald the Big M. I’ll agree, it’s shocking. But it doesn’t need to be. Katarina’s Perimenopower: the Ultimate Guide to the Change can help you take charge of your menopausal journey. Read it today:  Perimenopower

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Kokoro Health was kind enough to send some samples of their natural hormone balancing creams for us to try. Their products are new to us, but they’ve been around for 20 years. We are glad we know about them now.

One of our satellite goddesses tried the Balance Creme Natural Progesterone and loved it. She is sleeping better and suffering fewer hot flashes.

Since much of the Big M is thankfully in my rear view mirror, I opted to try the Platinum FLS Fine Line Support. I REALLY love this. Of course, as I am of a certain vintage, I already use Vitamin C serum and a moisturizer. This product really helped even more decrease the fine lines (particularly that pesky frown line which drives me bonkers because I look worried or upset even when I’m not.) I’m sold!

I sent their Balance Creme PMS support blend of herbs to one of our younger readers (yes, we have readers who have not faced perimenopause yet, but they have moms and aunts and older coworkers they wish to support.) She has not tried it for long enough to know how it works – she will keep us posted.

Click here to go to their website.

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As most of you know, I am passionate about research into women’s health issues. We are just beginning to learn how important orgasm is for health generally. Let’s all participate in this study for us and future generations.

The University of Ottawa is currently conducting a study on how orgasm evolves through life and is seeking  participants! In order to take part in the study, participants must be 18+ years old, fluent in English, and have experienced an orgasm either alone or with a partner.

You will find the link below to the online questionnaire.

https://uottawapsy.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0Iimq9MLoRXsPgV

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As you know from my most recent post, I am on “sabbatical” this year. But what if you can’t take a year? Or six months? Yet, you desire to make a change and find out who you are to be for your Second Act. Tania Carriere of Advivum Journeys has designed the Radical Sabbatical with just that in mind. This April 2019 retreat in England will allow for re-creation and re-visioning. And get this: she is offering the retreat at 50% off for Menopause Goddess Readers. So instead of paying $4900 US, you pay only $2450. This includes the 5 day workshop, workbooks and coaching sessions, accomodation, and food. (Full description here:  https://www.advivumjourneys.ca/england-retreat .) I’ve been involved in two of Tania’s retreats here in Hawaii and I can promise you that this will be life changing and life enhancing.
Here’s what Tania is offering in her own words:
This retreat is both a pause and a quest. It has the intention of being a playground in which you can architect the next stage of your life and rekindle a sense of wonder, excitement and commitment to the passions that matter to you most. This a time to pause, take stock, reflect and reorient. Who do you want to be now? What is the direction you will choose to take for this next phase? What dreams still await to be discovered or answered?
And because all of our retreats also include creative discovery and travel we will also:
  • hike and get in touch with nature – using footpaths which are centuries old  (...cross the field to the brow of the hill, keeping the crop of trees on your right…) reflecting, noticing your beliefs and decision making style along the way. Your strengths and challenges orienteering likely mirror your patterns in your career, life planning and pursuit of purpose!
  • Step back into history and see the real England – Be inspired by living in Goodnestone manor as Jane Austen did when she wrote Pride and Prejudice, warm yourself by the fire in the Griffin’s Head pub that was built in the 1200’s, get back to nature while wandering through an award-winning English garden and learn from her 4 full time gardeners or the 400 year old trees!
Who is it for?
  • if you are wondering “what’s next”. Time for a new path in life? Recommitment to the one you are on? Pitstop and get your bearings? Arrive a little lost, leave a little found!
  • if you’ve promised to find life balance –  be intentional and present, reconnect to whatever matters most. Rejuvenate and finally breathe deeply.
  • if you need to re-energize. Have you lost a little of your enthusiasm? Day to day demands, success and focused effort can leave you a little depleted. Come refuel.
Will you join me?
Will you send one of your team and have them return recommitted their sense of possibility and direction? 
Is there someone who you want to come with? 
If not now, when?
This work is my passion.
I asked myself, “if I could create something that tapped into all the things that I love most – discovery, people, travel, what would that look like?’ and this is the answer.
I would love to share this journey and my gifts with you,
Can we set up a chat?
Tania
Get more information here:  Advivum Journeys

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