I'm Lost (& the Magic Fairies are Angered)

by Cindy Moy (founder of Hot Flash Sisters)

There’s supposed to be a video on the HFS Facebook page of blogger Miriam Queensen playing the drums during her band’s recent performance. Don’t bother looking for it. Getting the video clip for the page was my job and I didn’t arrive in time.

I wish I could give you a great and valid reason for this but I can’t. I was late because when I walked into the bedroom to get ready I had what I can only describe as ‘A Moment.’

A moment when I sat down and decided to not leave. Ever.

Not a panic attack or an anxiety attack. Simply a moment. The world could go on out there while I stayed in my bedroom.

Then I pulled myself together and drove to see Miriam. I’d missed the band’s set and there would be no video but she would be hanging out watching other bands and I wanted to hang out with Miriam, whom I’ve known for more than a decade.

When I told her about The Moment she didn’t judge or chastise me.

Instead she said something that made me laugh out loud: “You always seem like you have it all together.”

Her comment reminded me of a conversation I’d had with my friend (and HFS blogger) Katrina Woznicki a couple of weeks earlier. Katrina and I are both trying to help teen daughters navigate in a social media obsessed culture.

We talked about how people have two selves: the real self and the possible self (the person they want to be), and how they show the world the possible self on social media. Except other people think the possible self shown on social media is the person their friend is all the time—the real self.

Katrina talked about the importance of showing her real self more on social media as an example to her daughter—words that came back to me while talking with Miriam.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I told Miriam. “I’m barely getting through each day an hour at a time. But next month I’ll get video of your band doing the George Michael set. I promise.”

Don’t bother looking for a video of Miriam’s band doing the George Michael set on the HFS Facebook page. I didn’t get it. Granted, I’d just had minor surgery and was taking narcotic pain medication but still, it was a broken promise.

My possible self doesn’t break promises. My possible self—the one I show on Facebook or sitting in church or even when I run into people at the grocery store—is nothing like my real self.

Do we want to show people our real selves? As my grandmother used to say, ‘Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.’

There’s no need to run around telling everyone our problems—people have enough problems of their own and don’t want to hear about ours.

But it’s also ridiculous to pretend that we have no problems—that our marriages are always happy, our children are brilliant and popular, our friendships are all intact and our homes are spotless and company-ready.

Here’s a few unvarnished truths about my real self:

I have two therapists. (Don't you feel better already?) One to help me get my act together after being out of the professional world for a number of years and one to help me navigate what I'll simply call 'personal muck.'

I’m estranged from half my family.

One of the best moms I know once told me to figure out which page my kids are on and meet them there. I have no idea which page my teenage daughter is on. I don’t even know which book she’s in. Hell, I don’t even have a map to the library she’s at.

My birth mother refused to meet me, stating she prefers to think of me as dead.

And things get worse from there.

Despite that, life is good. The kids are healthy and amazing and refuse my offers to get them therapists of their own to counter any damage I'm convinced I'm doing. (See 'Family History'^^)

My sister is my best friend and my other friends are like sisters. (Except the men, who are now the Frostbite Bros.)

There’s a roof over our heads, food on the table and clean water coming out of the tap. Those 3 things alone are more material riches than most have in the world.

I may not know what I’m doing but I’m not complaining.

Life hands us enough challenges—let’s cut each other and ourselves some slack, shall we? Less judging, more supporting.

Let’s be real, Sisters. The next time you see me post, say, a video of cathedral bells while visiting Newcastle upon Tyne and think that I--as my friend Rebecca recently said to me--'live an incredibly rich and intellectually fulfilling life,' [insert hysterical laughter here] please remember that I managed to get lost while following the sound of those bells.

And while using the map app to get back to my hotel I somehow managed to anger the magic fairies that live in my phone and was slapped with a $25 roaming charge. Flagging a taxi to drive me back would have cost me the equivalent of about $5.

Seriously...No. Clue. What. I'm. Doing. But that's not going to stop me from moving forward.


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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.

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