Day 14 of 365: Midlife Health Reboot

Sharon’s succulent skull.

Two weeks into my Midlife Health Reboot and my back has gone out, I’ve experienced some really low days, done more exercise than usual, employed some DBT skills to drink a little less, still drank way more than stated goals, have eaten too much cheese but otherwise have been eating really well and healthily.

Today I weighed myself and have gained 1 lb. I’m choosing to see this as inspiration to keep moving forward. On the plus side, my scooter jacket fits a little better than it did last summer when I bought it.

Chillin with my birds makes me happy. Beijing and I watched an episode of Scott and Bailey.

My chicks, my dog, my regular cats, and my foster kittens have collectively represented quite a lot work this past week but I love animals so much that I view it as work worth doing. Still, my senior dog spends an awful lot of time entering a room then freezing in place and staring at me as though I must have the answer to why she ended up standing there OR that obviously I haven’t fed her in weeks (2 minutes ago) and I find this constant intense staring at me unnerving. She also barks at me incessantly some mornings starting between 4:40 am and 5:15 and ending when I feed her at 6am. Or earlier if I reach the end of my patience. But I get it Chick, being old is weird and painful.

Berkeley and Emery’s diarrhea has returned and is really bad. They’ve started medication again. My chicks aren’t doing anything requiring particularly challenging work but I’ve been spending a lot of time holding them to tame them.

Philip and I have been working on their coop and run because chicks grow up in the blink of an eye.

I’ve gotten out in the garden again and it felt FANTASTIC.

Look what I found in my garden: miner’s lettuce! An enchanted wild edible from my childhood.

I didn’t plant this. Finding it when I was weeding was like running into a loved old friend or a favorite forgotten treasure. I weeded around it and am hoping it will thrive and then re-seed itself. I love tiny flowers! Super tiny flowers are so sweet, they lure you into a lilliputian world of magic. I don’t really believe in magic in the literal sense but in the sense that these tiny flowers can pull a giant down to examine and delight in their delicate forms is surely practical magic?

When I was a kid we had miner’s lettuce growing under a very old tree in the very back of our back yard, right across the path from our chicken coop (which is now an apartment) and I would take my barbies for picnics under that tree and I’d take pictures of them dressed in their smarmy late 70’s best attire and I would occasionally eat a few leaves of miner’s lettuce. I remember that tree being a walnut but I realize now as an adult very familiar with walnut trees that that can’t be true. I’ll ask my mom.  Anyway, it gave me such a rush of pleasure to find that volunteer in my garden last night. So add that to my master list of “pleasant events to do or remember doing”: FINDING MINER’S LETTUCE IN MY GARDEN.

We’re drinking some hibiscus rosehip tea with astragalus that I chilled in the fridge and next up is this fine spring brew:

Cleavers, peppermint, and calendula spring tonic tea from the bottom.

I’ll be chilling this to drink as iced tea.

Before I close this post, to keep myself accountable to myself, I will now do (for the first time in about a billion years) exercises I’m supposed to be doing to support my arthritic knee and hip… (save this space).

Okay – I did 5 exercises. That’s the first time in ages and it must become a building block to this health reboot of mine. I can’t help my circulation and heart health if I can’t move due to arthritis pain. I’m told that doing these strengthening exercises will alleviate the pain even though the cartilage in my left knee is half gone (1/2 of knee is bone on bone). It seems so hard to believe but until I actually do it for a long period of time – how will I know? And any kind of body strengthening is going to be great for my over-all health even if it doesn’t do what they promise it will do.

I’m going to log out now and clean up my kitchen and eat some cottage cheese with pineapple and watch murder documentaries and hold my chicks and drink iced chai that I made.

 

Menopause is Punk

the beautiful eggsWomen make eggs from puberty until middle age, like hens, except our expelled eggs don’t make for good eating.  For years we are in the human-production zone.  Sex has a biological purpose whether we let it express itself or not.

My human-production facilities are packing it in, a moment I have been waiting for for years and I want to CELEBRATE!

So the first thing I wanted to do was announce the news that I’m perimenopausal through the gramophone of social media so that everyone would know.  I’m not embarrassed to discuss life stages.  Why should I be?  People announce their pregnancies constantly expecting everyone to be EXCITED and JOYFUL and CONGRATULATORY because it’s such a great moment (if it’s a moment you actually want in your life.)  Everyone is so happy for you (unless they are crusty old baby-hating Angelinas*).  Everyone cuts ribbons and pastes puffy hearts to your name.  I can count the number of times I’ve heard people announce that they are beginning to go through menopause.

Big fat fucking ZERO times.

Why?  Are women embarrassed to tell others that their womb is shutting its doors to make room for other possibilities in their lives?  Do they think it’s too private an event?  As though announcing that you had sexual intercourse that resulted in the creation of a fetus in your womb isn’t super private?  I guess if you can’t hide your pregnant state you may as well announce it to everyone but since menopause doesn’t give itself away we should be silent when it comes?

A friend of mine pointed out that many women don’t make their menopausal state public because they’re up against agism when seeking employment.  She makes a good point that deserves validation.  I can respect a woman protecting her ovarian status if it might hurt her opportunities.  There are few enough of those for us as it is.

But I say that being at this stage of life makes us more valuable assets to practically everyone and to hide ourselves under a shimmering ambiguity of age is a crime.

I say FUCK THAT STUPID SHIT.

Menopause is PUNK

I want to throw a menopause party.

I guess there is this idea that when a woman goes through menopause she loses an essential part of her womanly power – the power to make babies.  I find this perplexing.  My power isn’t really anchored in my ability to make babies.  I made one single baby and I’m happy that I did because I love him best of all people but he is not the thing that defines who I am.  He is an important part of my life but isn’t what makes me purposeful, full, or complete.

I make myself complete.  Period.

Period.  Haha!

I have resented and hated having periods since the very first one on my 14th birthday discovered by some girl in the Junior High locker room while I was changing into my gym clothes and later amplified by my parents who may as well have announced the arrival of my menses on the local Ashland radio station.

I have referred to my “MEN – STRU – A – TION” as being “on the rag” for as long as I can remember and someone was recently shocked when I used that expression.  What?

Oh.  I’m SORRY I don’t like leaking blood.  Rags is what women have used to soak up the flow for a couple thousand years until we got industrial.  Most mammals don’t drip blood during their reproductive cycles anyway.  How have humans not evolved to do this thing better?

I have been looking forward to the end of my cycles for exactly 29 years, 5 months, and 28 minutes.

Menopause is PUNK

I’m only at the very beginning of it all.  When I was 15 I planned to kill myself.  The thought of turning 30 seemed mystical and improbable because I mapped my death as carefully as a cartographer measures mountains and valleys.  I wasn’t even going to see the windy side of 20.  I think suicidal ideation can be a gift.  It teaches you things if you live through it.  If you live through it again and again.  It teaches you the impossible.  It teaches you the power of hanging on.  It teaches you detachment from outcome when the chips are melting into one heap of toxic plastic in the devil’s barbeque.  Every day you don’t kill yourself has the potential to be a blessing.

To have been a suicidal 15 year old and become a 43 year old peri-menopausal woman is something to celebrate.  To have experienced suicidal ideation at the age of 41 and 42 and once again manage to wait out the darkness long enough to still be alive is something to celebrate.  Having to grapple periodically with suicidal fixation gives me a detachment from living that is sometimes uncomfortable but has the side effect of giving me an appreciation for very small details.  I don’t live for large concepts, I live for the sound of mourning doves on warm mornings.

Once you’ve skirted suicide for several rounds it’s hard to believe menopause has real teeth.

I’m the one with the real teeth.

Young girls have nothing on me.

Menopause is PUNK!

*This Angelina loves babies as long as they aren’t hers and though she understands you continue to be excited every single time you give birth, she just can’t get worked up over any baby but your first because she is pretty  much PURE EVIL.

In the Middle of It All

third and D

There is power in reaching the middle of a thing.  Of a life.  Of a thought.  Of an experiment.  Of an epic project.  It signifies the moment you have finally gotten to the heart of it all.  To the core.  To the answers.  To the conclusions that will change the world.

Young adults think all the power is in their skin, their dewy fresh emergence from familial protection into the harder edges of independence.  Young adults think all the power is in starting out because that’s when everything seems possible.  That’s when you still believe that poetry can change people, that the sun will never burn out, that pot won’t degrade your memory or your ambitions.  Young adults, even the wonderfully self possessed, are still posturing, trying to discover their best side, their strongest punch.  I know well the feeling that there is nothing I can’t do, that the world is mine to climb and claim.  I remember believing that I was going to rule the world with design and would be so famous that it might actually become tiresome.  There was no shame in dreaming bigger than life.  It was our stake on the planet, these declarations of lofty intention.

Real power moves quietly through sleeping tigers.

Real power is when you have stripped yourself of infinite possibility and accepted plausible deniability and then, long after all your bones have betrayed you, you rise again and  build muscle you never had before.  It’s when you let go of ego that you come to the middle of everything.  Some people find a crisis in that letting go.  Others deliver their own bones to the devil and are freed from the tyranny of flesh.

I’m getting at the heart of it all now.

I wouldn’t turn back for anything.

This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life.

This story unfolding today.  This hour.  Right now.

I might never sleep again because I don’t want to miss a thing.

The middle of everything is where it’s all happening.

The young are right – poetry CAN change people.