Menopause Killed my Inner MILF

Happy Monday, everyone! Please enjoy this funny guest post on menopause from my friend Vikki, and read how to win my book and others at the end.

Vikki

Vikki

Google “Benefits of Menopause,” and you’ll get 8,570,000 possible links. Over 8 1/2 million articles written on how menopause makes us stronger, sexier, more confident, and more at peace with our bodies and our sexuality. Not to mention the exhilarating freedom from periods, bloating, cramping, PMS, and the constant worry about pregnancy, however slim the chance.

What they don’t tell you in those same posts is that all that zen is achieved after menopause is over. It’s the prize at the end of a rather bumpy ride, during which you’ll start questioning whether you’ll ever be sexy again. Or if you’ll ever care.

Like most women, I like feeling attractive, sexy, desirable. I’ve spent more money than I probably should’ve towards that goal over the years, and although yoga pants and no makeup are my norm, I do clean up fairly well (which admittedly takes longer with each passing year). I have a tiny, but persistent, inner hot chick that still likes stilettos, little black dresses, and the appreciative looks from Hubs at my efforts. Menopause crashed my hotness with a thud heard in three states.

Suddenly I was more “Ma’am” than MILF. Men stopped whistling at me from the street and started helping me through the crosswalk. People no longer commented “You look so much like your mother” and started assuming we were sisters. One unfortunate store owner in town asked me if I was my son’s grandmother. (As soon as I figure out how to hide the body, he’s going to die.)

In retrospect, I’m amazed that Hubs made it through my menopausal years. He married a reasonably confident, arguably normal woman, and woke up one day to an overheated, moody, questionably sane female sobbing uncontrollably over the sudden appearance of cankles. My MILF was gone. How menopause killed it:

  1. Hot flashes. We were out at our favorite romantic restaurant, and instead of the coy flirting of our early years (“Gee, Big Guy, is it hot in here or is it just you?”), it became “Is it hot in here or what? I’mhot. Is anybody else hot??” Repeated requests to the uncooperative waiter to turn the thermostat down finally ended with a screeching “Can’t you turn the freaking heat down?!? It’s TOO FRIGGIN’ HOT IN HERE.” Hubs dragged my sweaty body out of the restaurant, and we haven’t been back since.
  2. Metabolism changes. Actually, mine didn’t change. It stopped. Weight maintenance was now limited to one Fruit Loop and a Diet Coke per day. Weightlossrequired colonic cleansing and fasting. And if you like wine, no carbs for you. Ever. Carbs plus wine make you blow up like a puffer fish, so you have to choose. I haven’t had a carb since 2009.
  3. Fatigue. I was tiredall the time. Bedtime went from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., effectively eliminating boogie nights on the dance floor, since it’s virtually impossible to find a band that starts at 5:30.
  4. Night sweats. Yeah, nothing turns a man on more than being whacked on the arm at 2 a.m., to “Get up” because we have to change the cold, wet sheets. Again. After the first six months, we both got used to just tossing beach towels over the sheets and crawling back into bed. Takethat, sex life.
  5. Day sweats. I quit going to the gym after realizing my clothes would be soaked, with visible sweat pouring down between my boobs and my butt crack, and I’d only been on the treadmill for 3 minutes. It took me longer to wipe down the machine than it did to work out.
  6. Incontinence. I’d laugh. A little squirt. I’d sneeze. Another little squirt. The actual need to pee? Now I’d be clenching my Kegals while I waddle-ran to the nearest bathroom, praying there wasn’t a line and fully prepared to bust into the men’s room if necessary. By the end of the evening, I smelled like Eau de Pee, sitting in wet undies, and wondering what the hell had happened to my life. Hubs, not surprisingly, was still not turned on.
  7. Mood swings. Some days, Hubs would come home to find me sobbing over yet-another Hallmark commercial about the son returning home at Christmas to his adoring little sister and happy, teary-eyed parents. Other days, any and all comments directed at me, from anyone in the room, on any subject, were met with “What the hell iswrongwith you??” accompanied, when the stupidity-level warranted it, by a smack up ‘long side the head. Hubs claimed later that every day was a crap shoot.
  8. Physical changes. Under-arm twaddle, boobs headed towards my knees, and hips widening, irrevocably eliminated anything sleeveless or low-cut from my closet and would forevermore require military-grade underwear. Menopause underwear is designed to git ‘er done, by pushing, lifting, and shoving defiant and migrating body parts back into their original shape and place. We no longer care about lace edging or cute bows. We need Kevlar underwire and the Spanx company on speed-dial.
  9. Body heat. More consistent than hot flashes, I was basically just hot all. the. time. We had the front door open year-round, and unless it was raining, I had the top down on my car. In December. I turned the house heat completely off every night and opened all the windows. Hubs repeatedly complained that he couldn’t perform in a meat locker. I reminded him once that it’s a bad chef who blames his utensils, but apparently he didn’t get my humor. Nobody got any that night.
  10. Hunger. Suffice it to say that I wasalwayshungry. And somehow, I have no recollection of craving carrots. I do remember threatening to bludgeon Hubs to death one night for eating the last of my Milk Duds. To this day, he’s never eaten another Dud.
  11. Evening conversations tended more towards chronic menopausal-induced IBS than our mutual plans for our next vacation through the wine country. Hubs, who’s never seen me pee (not oncein 15 years) because I want to maintain a modicum of mystery in our marriage, looked a bit stunned one night when I bent over and hiked up the back of my dress, asking “When I bend over like this, can you see cellulite on the backs of my legs?” He laughed so hard, he fell off his chair, but was smart enough to leave that question untouched.

Now, at the end of the tunnel, I’m approaching inner peace. But it was a humbling and often mortifying ride. And occasionally, when I’m doing my morning prayers and meditation, my thoughts will free-fall back to those years and I’ll ask God, “Really??REALLY??”

I’m still waiting for a response.

Exciting news: Vikki Claflin, author of “Who Stole the Cork Out of My Lunch?”, and I are co-sponsoring a fabulous new book giveaway called “The Big Booty Book Bundle Giveaway!” It’s FIVE books by talented female writers that will keep you laughing out loud. And it’s free! For details and to enter, click http://laugh-lines.net/its-here-the-big-booty-book-bundle-giveaway-edition-1

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Vikki Claflin writes the award-winning blog, Laugh Lines, where she doles out irreverent advice on marriage, offers humorous how-to lists galore, and shares her most embarrassing midlife moments. She shows us how to master midlife with laughter and common sense. Check out more of Vikki’s hilarious writing in her newest book, Who Left the Cork Out of My Lunch? Middle Age, Modern Marriage & Other Complications. Available at Amazon.com, B&N, and iTunes. You can also find her at http://laugh-lines.net

When Anxiety Attacks

Anyone who has anxiety knows it is a big bully.  Sometimes, though, anxiety gets drunk and takes on an even worse personality.  Instead of just going home and passing out, anxiety turns into a full blown panic attack.  If you have never had a panic attack, I’m jealous of you.  It is the most scared you will ever be without actually dying.  Here is how a panic attack generally works.

Completely out of nowhere, your heart starts beating on your chest like it is trying to escape and run off to the transplant factory.  You become alarmed by this, and then it gets worse.

Cue the “I just ran a marathon” breathing.  You pant.  You can’t quite catch your breath.  You definitely have trouble talking to anyone who may be witnessing this.

Then, you start to feel extremely hot, not sexy hot, menopause hot flash hot. If you are wearing a sweater, jacket, robe, or any sort of second layer, you start clawing that off because you are certain you are having a heat stroke.

The nausea hits next.  You get close to a trash can or toilet, usually sitting on the ground next to it because you can’t use your jelly legs. You just know you are going to barf, and that makes you more panicky because who really WANTS to barf?

But you don’t barf, usually, instead ice water starts pouring from your pores.  It soaks your shirt, if you are still wearing one.  It soaks your hair.  Suddenly, you are no longer hot.  Your breathing slows, and the pounding chest and marathon breathing slow to almost normal.  Once it is all over, you feel really weak and a little shaky.  You change your shirt and lie down if you are home.

I remember my first panic attack like it wasn’t 25 years ago. I was 19 and I had joined a therapy group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I never received counseling when I was a kid, and the guy I was dating at the time offered to pay for therapy.  I guess he thought I really needed it.  After doing a little research by calling different therapists, I figured out that individual therapy was really expensive, so I joined a group.  It was great to sit with people who knew how I felt for real.  I made friends with my group mates.  One of the women in the group got really sick and had to be hospitalized.  So, I visited her.

My boyfriend drove me to the hospital that day.  He waited in the waiting room and I walked down the hall to her room.  Everything was going OK.  I asked her how she was doing, and she basically told me she was miserable but getting better.  There was a lull in the conversation, so I started really looking at the tubes coming out of her.  There were the usual IV tubes and needles, but there was also a feeding tube going up her nose and down her throat.  For some reason, right after I noticed that, the chest pounding and nausea hit.

I told my friend that I had to go and walked out calmly. I didn’t tell her what I was feeling because I didn’t want to upset her.  I got out the door of her room and felt dizzy and weak.  I kept walking down the hall, staring at the floor, and having a conversation in my head.

Me: Just drop. Drop to the floor. There are doctors and nurses here.

Also Me:  Nope.  You will make it to the waiting room.

And I did.  I got back to the waiting room, sat down on the floor, and started hyperventilating.  I announced that I was going to puke.  My boyfriend was the only person in the room, which spared me a lot of embarrassment, and he brought a trash can over to me.  I kept panting and saying that I was going to die.  I dry heaved a few times into the trash can.  Then, in a few minutes, it all stopped and I was fine.

My second panic attack happened when I was type testing own blood in biology lab. Why do they make students do this? I looked around the room and saw everyone’s bloody fingers, and I got dizzy and nauseated. So, I went to the bathroom and had a panic attack. I never did figure out my blood type.

I had one in line at the post office when I was pregnant.  I still managed to sign for a registered letter from my dickhead landlord while hyperventilating and trying not to puke.  I’m certain the postal clerk thought I was on drugs. I’m glad my mom was with me and driving because I was shaky and very weak after the attack.

Since then, anxiety has attacked me at random times, all over the place.  I’ve been attacked on planes, at the store, and a lot of times just sitting around at home.  They seem to happen out of nowhere for the most part.  I’m a nervous flyer, so I can kind of understand why they happen on planes, but I don’t get why they happen when I’m sitting on the couch.

Other than daily anxiety meds, which make me a wee bit too foggy for my comfort level, I wasn’t sure what to do about these attacks.  Amy Wainright read my Anxiety the Brain Bully piece and reached out to me with an offer to try her Anxiety Relief video course. Overall, I found this video series to be very helpful.  Amy’s soothing tone, and repetition of the steps for each activity really helped.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of video courses.  I find I don’t have the attention span for them as I am more of a reader than a watcher.  This course held my attention, though.

The breathing techniques were helpful.  They helped me release tense muscles that I did not know were tense. Heck, I didn’t know they existed. Amy’s Four Step Protocol could be helpful as it takes the focus off of an impending panic attack.  During this part of the video, Amy tells the viewer to “accept the feeling” of anxiety. I can see how this could work because getting anxious about anxiety often makes things worse. Amy’s techniques are great for people who don’t want to take pills regularly.

I haven’t had a panic attack since watching the videos, so I haven’t had a chance to use the breathing during an attack.  I’m eager to see how it works.  If you have anxiety and panic attacks, what do you do to alleviate them? Have you found a medication or natural technique that helps?  Share it with me in the comment section.  I’m always up for finding new ways to beat this invisible bully that lives in my brain.

Photo by: Krysten Newby

Photo by: Krysten Newby

 

 

Social Media 101

Social media of some sort has been around for quite a while now so you would think that people would know how to use it.  But no.  No. Every day, or should I say every hour (I’m a Facebook Crackwhore), when I log on to Facebook, I see things that piss me off, and I’m not an irritable person.  OK. I’m definitely an irritable person, but still. How can we as a species not understand general netiquette in 2016?

Since this bugs the shit out of me, and since I am a Type-A control freak, and since I mixed Sudafed with my coffee today, I have decided to prepare a brief lesson on social media netiquette.  Get yourself a glass of wine, water, bourbon or tea and read these basic rules to remember when you are surfing the Net for selfies and cat videos.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle to read the rest.

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The Jordache Smell

“You’ve been wearing those same pants all week,” Dickhead (not his real name) said to me in front of everyone in the hallway right after sixth grade math. Until that moment, I had a crush on him. I looked into his smirking face and hated him and his dark good looks.

“Um, no I haven’t. I have a couple of different pairs, and anyway I washed them.” I stammered, trying not to cry.  This was total bullshit, as I had only one pair and we did not own a washing machine.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle and read about my middle school fashion disasters.

jordachecorporate.com

jordachecorporate.com

Anxiety: the Brain Bully

A lot of my friends are writers or other creative type people.  By being a creative person and hanging out with similar folks, I have learned that with creativity comes mental illness.  I’m sure not ALL creative types are mentally ill, but I have yet to meet one who does not suffer from some sort of disorder. Seriously, I have never heard of a perfectly normal and well-adjusted writer, artist, photographer, or whatever.  We all have SOMETHING that makes us a little different.  Most of my friends have depression.  I feel for them as I have had depression twice in my life, once after my son was born, and then while going through my divorce. I actually thought about killing myself during my divorce.  So, I get the whole “depression lies” thing because it does.  It tells you that you are worthless and that you should die.  It’s a horrible thing.

I don’t have depression now, though.  Nope.  I have it’s twisted cousin – anxiety.  Anxiety lies, too, but more than that, it bullies. Anxiety pounds you with horror movie thoughts like that mean 4th grader used to throw erasers at your head during quiet reading time.  Anxiety doesn’t give you a moment of peace, even when you’re sleeping.  It wakes you up to torment you.  Here is a recent midnight chat I had with anxiety.

Me: [sound asleep and dreaming about kittens]

Anxiety: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Me: [Sitting up in bed] What?

Anxiety: HOW can you sleep at a time like this?

Me: Why shouldn’t I sleep?

Anxiety: Your son isn’t home.

Me: I know. He went out with his friends.  He’s 18.

Anxiety: He could be dead.

Me: He’s not dead.  Wait? IS he dead?

Anxiety: He could be.  What if one of his friends murdered him?

Me: His friends are nice. They wouldn’t kill him.

Anxiety: You don’t know that.  Marty killed Bobby.  They were best friends.

Me: Marty is a psychopath.  My son’s friends are not psychopaths.

Anxiety: How do you KNOW that? You don’t know.  Plus, he could be dead even if he wasn’t murdered.

Me: [listening to my heart race] Huh?

Anxiety: Maybe he was in an accident. Maybe he’s trapped in his car at the bottom of a lake.

Me: No. There’s not much water around here.  He’s a good driver.

Anxiety: It COULD happen.  Anyone could be trapped in a car underwater.  It could happen to you, your son, your husband, your mother.  Anyone.

Me: [having trouble breathing normally]

Anxiety: You need to save everyone! You need to get everyone you know one of those things that can break car windows underwater.  EVERYONE.  Go on Amazon right now and order a case of them.  You also have to get something so everyone can attach the window breaker to their belt loops.  Other wise, the damn tool could be floating around in the car and no one will be able to reach it and they will still die.

Me: Oh no!  I hate water. Why do we have it? It will kill us all.

At this point, I give up and reach for my iPad.  My husband continues to snooze next to me while I sign in to Amazon, magnifying the tiny iPad screen to accommodate my old people eyes.  I search for the glass breaking tool and then Google “escaping a car underwater” 5,897 times.  After reading several articles, spending too much money, and even watching some videos that make my palms sweat, I tire myself enough to go back to sleep about eighteen minutes before the alarm goes off.

So, what about you? Do you have anxiety? Does it bully you in the middle of the night?

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Type A is Awesome!

There seems to be a sloppy mom trend on social media and I don’t like it. People are posting memes saying things like “A messy home equals happy children” and other such nonsense. Being disorganized, sloppy, and lazy has become something to boast about. Mothers who are neat, organized, and productive are referred to as cold or bitchy. I have had enough of this nonsense. I am a neat freak mom, and I’m here to tell you it’s called Type A because A lot of Amazing things start with A.

A is the best grade you can get in school.

You want to eat grade-A food.

Boarding line A on Southwest Airlines is the only way to get a non claustrophobia inducing seat.

Size A boobs don’t flop around when you jog.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle to read the rest. Look for me in the Laughing Section.

Holiday Shopping When You Hate People

7finalWell, it’s the “most wonderful” time of the year again. By “most wonderful” I mean stressful as hell.  It’s time for shopping and decorating and cooking and baking and gaining at least ten pounds and dealing with oodles of people.  Yes, the holidays are here.  I say holidays because there are a few of them at the same time; so don’t get all political/religious on me.  I hate all of the winter holidays equally because they involve going out in public and shopping with others.  If you’re anything like me, and you probably aren’t since I am pretty weird, you hate Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanza shopping, too.  So, I have prepared a list of holiday shopping coping mechanisms.

Try like fuck to find it on Amazon and avoid the whole shopping trip.  I know. I know. There are certain things you CAN’T buy online.  With my tree trunk legs, I have to buy boots in person because most of them don’t fit my sturdy calves.

If you just can’t avoid shopping amongst other humans, eat hard-boiled eggs and Brussels sprouts for breakfast.  Once you start dropping flammable farts, everyone will steer clear.

If you loathe salespeople like I do, avoid eye contact when entering store.  Just keep your chin on your chest and stare at the floor.

Want more tips?  Head over to the Knot So Subtle Laughing section and look for me there.

 

Crossfit Failure

 

I attempted a beginning Crossfit class recently.  I kept a diary of my progress. Here it is, for your enjoyment.

Day One – I breeze through my first ever Crossfit class at 44 years old. Well, I didn’t BREEZE through it exactly.  I got a touch out of breath during the burpees, and those butterfly leg, arms all the way up sit ups were no picnic. My couch pouch kept getting in the way. But I did it. I did the whole half hour class. Thirty solid minutes of sweating. I didn’t cheat with the lunges, either, even when the instructor was not looking.

As soon as I got home, I took a shower to get the gym floor dirt off of me. Did I mention the burpees? I pretty much ate the floor during those. So, I also did three loads of laundry to get the gym off of my clothes, carrying the full basket up and down the stairs with minimal tenderness in my thighs. I thought I was a warrior.

Want to read about what happens the rest of the week?  Come on over to Knot So Subtle.

crossfitfailure

To my Homeowner’s Association

Dear Neighborhood Overlords,

I just received your certified, return receipt requested letter regarding the color of my mailbox. I apologize that it is one shade too light. Maybe I should just set it on fire and start over with a new mailbox. I was going to paint it myself, but in your first warning letter, the one that was taped to my front door even though the bylaws prohibit the use of adhesives on doors, you stated that if I didn’t attend to my eyesore of a mailbox you would send a painter over and bill me for the work. This made me giddy. I waited by my door, with my checkbook in hand for that fabulous day when someone else would paint the godblessed box. He never showed up. I ate a bag of peanut butter cups to soothe my disappointment.

There’s more! Come on over to Knot So Subtle to read the rest of my letter to my cookie cutter neighborhood overlords. Look for me in the Laughing section.

IBS with Benefits

I have IBS-D. I specified the D because there are two types of IBS.  People with IBS-C have chronic constipation, whereas IBS-D sufferers beg Santa Claus for constipation every year.  Seriously.  Constipation would be a fucking gift to someone who goes five times a day on average.  Having IBS-D is like constantly reliving that one time you ate something from the roadside stand in Tijuana.

I’ve had IBS my whole life, so I’ve learned to cope with it. Even though shitting yourself silly can suck, there are some benefits to having IBS.

Never Obese – It’s like having bulimia, but they won’t put you on Intervention for it. I’m only mild to moderately overweight, not scooter level obese according to my doctor.  Just kidding. Doctors don’t talk to patients that way.  What I’m trying to say is I’m a little heavy around the haunches, but I’m nowhere near being on a Discovery Channel show or having Richard Simmons cry at my bedside during a Deal a Meal commercial. I eat enough to be bigger, but I just shit it out constantly.

Come on over to Knot So Subtle to learn about the other benefits to having IBS.

Now my bathroom smells like cinnamon spice and poop.

Now my bathroom smells like cinnamon spice and poop.

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