More Confessions of a 54-year-old Rocker

by Miriam Queensen

I took up drumming at age 50 (Confessions of a 54-year-old Rocker) and I love every minute of playing all kinds of music. I also sing backup.

Singing backup vocals from the drum kit has its own challenges: remembering lyrics while making complicated rhythms, listening carefully to the lead singer, and not knocking out my teeth when I get close to the mic.

People at “Rock Camp for Dads” (where I have most of my music adventures) tell me I do a good job with vocals. I always enjoy singing, mostly in my car, but I’m nervous singing in public unless I can hide in the harmonies behind the lead singer and musicians.

Somehow I got it in my head that I wanted to stand out in front, singing backup vocals only, no longer hiding behind the cymbals that separate me from the audience.

Did I want more attention? Maybe.

Playing the drums is noisy, but not super visible. But being up front means worrying about all kinds of new things: what to wear, what to do with my hands, remembering lots of lyrics, and of course – learning how to sing out loud and strong!

Memorizing the lyrics and listening to the songs a million times to figure out the backup lines is not the hardest part. My band for this singing experiment is performing the songs of George Michael, which I’ve always loved, so that’s not too tough.

Getting over my anxiety about singing in public is a lot harder. Rehearsals aren’t too bad, since I know the nice folks in the band and everyone is really supportive.

I do have to work on increasing my volume and learning to move a bit and let loose. It helps that I have a tambourine – it gives my hands something to do!

But I’m constantly worrying about everybody looking at me. Part of me wants that attention, but part of me is afraid to get it. (Am I alone in this?)

My confidence about my appearance has never been strong, and I wish that getting older meant overcoming that insecurity. I’m happy I found a dress that looks pretty good on me and suits the occasion. 

However, stepping up on the stage, I’m self-conscious standing up front, knowing that everybody is looking at me AND listening to me.

My glasses purposely left in my purse, I attempt to avoid thinking about everyone watching me.

So I step up on stage, at first busying myself with setting my water bottle in the mic stand, adjusting the mic height, smiling nervously at my fellow singers and musicians.

Then I dare turn and look out at the crowd in the bar. 

The audience is a big blur! I’m unaware of individuals staring at me, although I can hear them and know they’re out there. Not wearing my glasses feels weird though, making the entire experience seem unreal. It’s like I’m on cold medicine; I feel a little out of it. Next time maybe I’ll be brave and keep the glasses on.

I enjoy singing harmony with other people, and I love the feeling of hearing our voices together. That’s when I’m most confident.

Reminding myself to keep smiling and looking out at the blurry crowd, I suddenly know it’s time for my solo!

Automatic pilot is my friend, but only to some extent -- I hear myself flub an entire line of lyrics, substituting the words from a different part of the song. Hopefully nobody outside of the band notices.

I get through it! When we start singing the last song together, I finally feel a surge of relief and sense of accomplishment.

Miriam (in red) Takes a Chance & Fulfills a Dream (Video by

When I watch the video after the gig is over, it’s not terrible. I don’t sound too bad in some places, though I’m not crazy about how I sound in others. The important thing is that I appear to be fully engaged in the moment. I smile, I look at the other singers, I play my tambourine, I move around. 

My biggest fear was that I would stand there frozen like a block of ice. That didn’t happen!  So while I may not be either Gwen Stefani or Janis Joplin, at least I faced my fear and tried it!

I did something scary and new! That’s what life is all about. Do the things you want to do, while you still can. If not now, when?


To join the Hot Flash Sisters, download the free app now:

7 Stages of Perimenopause

By Miriam Queensen

In the latest WTF News, a friend sent me this supposedly hilarious video about menopause:


It’s not that I find it offensive—I just don’t see myself or my friends reflected in the image on the video.

This picture implies that any woman past childbearing age immediately jumps into the “granny” category.

Most of my friends in their 40s and 50s reach a point when they experience a surge in energy and renewed focus on getting what they want out of life!

The only thing resembling a cane most of us own is a vibrator.

For those with children, when they grow up (and out) and depend less on us certainly helps. What also happens for most women is the realization that we care less what others think of us, and care more about what we think of ourselves.

And the honky tonk piano music? Like becoming a woman over “a certain age” magically transports us to the previous century?

Then we’ve got the 7 Stages of Menopause: Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful, and Psycho-–Sounds like a really bad remake of the 7 Dwarves!

Is it accurate? Not if it’s meant to be an actual progression of 'stages.' And does every woman experience every one of these symptoms?

The whole experience of perimenopause is unique to each of us, but many symptoms are common and shared.

If you do experience enough discomfort that it’s interfering with your daily life, speak up! Some of these symptoms are normal responses your body is going through due to hormonal changes. You can use the hotflashsisters app to track your symptoms, and to recognize changes and patterns in your experiences of night sweats, itchiness, brain fog, difficulty sleeping, or anything else.

Awareness of your symptoms can help in your discussion with your doctor, who may suggest ways to reduce your discomfort and bring you back to your fabulous, energetic self again! You can also share your experiences and get helpful advice from your sisters in the discussion forum.
Apart from the real symptoms this graphic is trying to describe, the word choices here are mostly judgmental in nature.

Is 'Bitchy' how you feel, or how others might label you? How do you feel on the inside, when others think you are bitchy? Are you irritable and frustrated? Annoyed that despite all your best efforts to run your household and/or manage your job, others are ignoring your wishes and not helping out? Maybe everybody pitching in and treating housework and living in a home together as a collaborative venture in which everyone plays a valuable role for the wellbeing of all would be one way our families could reduce our 'bitchiness?'

Does 'Bloated' mean how you feel inside, or is this a poorly veiled judgment about our weight gain or difficultly losing weight (if that is our goal)?

And 'Psycho?' What is that trying to say about how we’re feeling and behaving? Maybe if we didn't bury our frustration for decades for the sake of being "The Good Wife" or "The Good Mother" or "The Good Friend" it wouldn't all come pouring out in a torrent when our hormones change.

Instead of focusing on how we appear to others and stigmatizing this stage of our lives, let’s focus on how we’re LIVING! Let’s talk about what we’re doing well, and how strong we are for getting through this, just like everything else we’ve faced in our lives.

Let’s come up with our own definition or labeling of Stages, shall we? How about: Courageous, Adaptable, Fiery, Adventurous, Exuberant, Witty, Resourceful, Persistent?

How would you redefine some of them? Let’s hear your ideas.

To join the Hot Flash Sisters, download the free app now:

When Anxiety Says No, Say Yes

By Cynthia Cloutier

I wake up every day terrified of something. Whether I’ll meet that day’s work deadline. Whether the last thing I wrote was crap. Hell, I worry about getting the girls to school on time.

You’d think that since I’ve never missed a deadline and never been fired by a client and consistently arrive at school so painfully early that we have to cool our heels in the parking lot so I don’t have to pay extra for before care – you’d think that I’d get over these worries. But history of success is no match for my brain’s ability to envision the worst case scenario.

This is what it’s like to live with anxiety disorder.

I used to crave a day when I would wake up calm and reasonable – what I imagine life is like for people who seem to ease through their days unscathed by worry and fear. But I’ve given up hope of that.

I’ve accepted that anxiety will by my constant companion, my fellow traveler through life. And so I manage it like one might manage diabetes.

With medications, yes, but since the only real “cure” would be to mainline benzos or smoke a ton of weed, I manage my anxiety mostly with thought control.

Over the past two years, since a nervous breakdown left me unable to shower on the regular, what I’ve learned to do is the opposite of what my brain tells me.

Now, if my brain tells me to stay under the covers, to not bathe, to eat Eggos and chips for breakfast instead of real food, here’s what I do instead: I force myself to get up, to make the bed, to wash myself, to fry an egg.

And if my brain tells me to stay timid, to not raise my voice, to give up at freelancing and seek a day job that would be much easier on my nerves than this constant hustle, then I send out more pitches, reach out to more contacts, dive into new projects.

Because to hunker down is to die.

At one point, that death could have been quite literal, as suicidal ideation was my mind’s favorite hobby.

Today, giving in to worry would represent more of a figurative death: Death by letting anxiety keep me from living a bold life.

And in 2017, my goal is to live the boldest life possible.

So I’ve been doing the opposite.


Just this week, fate-like, a friend from twenty years past reached out to me with an offer to fill in for a drop-out on her Grand Canyon rafting trip at the end of March. A trip that will end with me hiking ten miles out of the Canyon with a mile gain in elevation.

I’m not a hiker, not a wilderness camper, and I’ve never rafted. I can’t tie knots, I don’t cook, and I cannot overstate how out of shape I am.

“Irregular yoga” would describe my exercise routine for the past year. As in, sometimes when my back hurts from writing all day at the computer, I’ll do child’s pose on the mat behind my desk for like thirty seconds.

I said yes.

I mean, I have a tattoo on my wrist that tells me to do just that: Say yes. To do things even though they terrify me, even though I absolutely hate doing things I’m not good at, hate the thought of letting people in a group down, cried through a humiliating ski trip years ago with experienced skiers, broke my foot getting out of the bathtub, and passed out at Universal Studios and spent the rest of that vacation in the Disney World hospital recovering from heat stroke.

I said yes. Even though I spend my days anxiety-ridden about the smallest of small stuff, even though I battle imposter syndrome on the daily, even though I don’t particularly like being wet and/or cold, even though I make a thousand decisions every week simply to stay sane.

Because I will not let anxiety defeat me. I will do the things that scare me – the big things and the little things. And I will no doubt wake up the next day still terrified of something, and I will do it all over again.