10 Reasons to Go Gray

July 22nd, 2010

The truth is that most of us will eventually gray – like it or not. As we age, many women begin to question the time and money spent on keeping the gray at bay – and yearn for a more authentic expression of who they are…now.

I was recently interviewed by Nancy Hall – a freelance writer for Woman’sDay.com – to provide input to an article she was writing on gray hair.  Like many maturing boomers, she decided to stop coloring her hair and allow her gray to grow in. In her own words – I waved goodbye to my beloved L’Oreal “Brioche” three years ago, and now, at 53, I love my hair more than I ever have in my life, and feel confident and self-assured (I just got my first-degree black belt in traditional Okinawan karate).

Now, we can’t say her sense of empowerment is because of the gray hair – but letting her hair go gray was part and parcel of her new found authenticity.

You can read her article titled “10 Reasons to Go Gray” online. We’d love to hear what you think! FYI – the photo in the article is not me – or Nancy. It’s simply another Amazing Gray – looking radiant.

Remember, Amazing Grays come in all colors – blonde, brunette, red, black, white and silver.

YOU get to choose which color works best for you. We’re just saying…

Season of Compassion

December 15th, 2009

This quote gave me pause, as it’s easy to jump to judgment when we see someone behaving “badly”. By the time we have reached midlife, most of us have gotten off our high horse and understand and appreciate the beauty in imperfection.

Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears as bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone. ~ Miller Williams

Most of us are carrying around wounds from the past, facing challenges in the present and harboring concerns about what lies ahead. Remember this when you are gathered with family and friends during the holidays and take the opportunity to add the perfect seasoning to any gathering – compassion. We have no idea what ghosts people are wrestling with. By honoring their struggle, we give ourselves permission to honor ours as well.  After all, this season (this life!) is about gratitude, compassion and connection – which is all too easy to forget. Happy holidays!

Mammograms, Thermograms, Radiation… oh my!

November 19th, 2009

I’ve long been a proponent of reducing the amount of radiation a woman’s breasts are exposed to, so I am actually pleased at some recent Task Force recommendations that low risk women wait until age 50 to begin getting mammograms, and then only every two years. They provided several reasons and  statistics for their recommendations – but I suspect that they were not able to fully address the radiation issue because of the potential for lawsuits – from women, doctors and perhaps even the manufacturers of radiation based devices themselves.

First let me say that I am not medically credentialed – I’m just a woman who is forever searching for more healthful options to maintain my quality of life.  It’s important we all be proactive in exploring what’s best for our own body. On this issue I simply want to be one more voice that suggests that there is a safer way to know what’s going on inside your breasts. Take a peek into the future – which is now!

Ever heard of a Thermogram? It’s a breast exam using an extremely sensitive heat-sensing infrared camera that can spot cancerous cells up to 8 years before they would even be detectable on a mammogram. There is no squishing, no radiation, no pain.

According to the Great Smokies Medical Center website: Breast thermography detects patterns of heat produced from the increased circulation produced by abnormal metabolic activity in cancer cells. Thus, thermography is a physiological test. Thermograms are interpreted by thermologists.

In her Road to Health Newsletter Bonnie O”Sullivan writes:

People often wonder if a Thermogram is better than a Mammogram or vice versa. Though both tests are used to detect breast cancer, each test has a different purpose. The Thermogram is used to detect subtle changes in the heat of the breast and information on any abnormal function in the breast while a mammogram is used to detect actual mass in the breast. By the time a mammogram detects a solid mass the cancer has been in the body for at least 5 years. The most effective way to find breast cancer is to use both exams.

  • A Breast exam alone diagnoses 61% of cancers
  • A Mammogram alone detects 84% of cancers
  • A Thermol Mammogram and conventional Mammogram detects 95% of cancers

95%! Rather than see this as an either/or situation, perhaps maturing women could get Thermograms every year or two, and mammograms only when they find increased “hot spots” during their thermal imaging. No need to throw out the baby with the bath water. Please ladies, check out the availability of Thermograms in your area. Your doctor may not be well versed about this option – so educate him or her. Used in conjunction with a mammogram, we can be well informed about our breast health without being over radiated! Caveat: this new field of opportunity is ripe for those who don’t have adequate training or certification – so do your homework!

I had my first Thermogram last year – no hot spots thank goodness. Many healthy breast advocates (and don’t we need more of those!) suggest following up your first Thermogram with a second one 3 months later to establish a baseline. Makes sense. Currently most Thermograms are not covered by insurance and, on average, can cost anywhere from $175-$300 each. Small price to pay for peace of mind – don’t you think? To learn more or to find a Thermography center near you visit breastthermography.com or breastthermography.org.

Click here to read another great article explaining how a Thermogram is administered and the science behind the process.

If you’ve had a Thermogram or are considering its use – share your story with us.   Just like our quest for more natural hormone replacement options – we women are going to have support one another in making healthier choices as well as  demand better and safer alternatives for breast health.  Ask questions. Get educated. Make some noise!

Midlife Wisdom – I trust

November 16th, 2009

Anyone reading my blog can see that I’ve not been very consistent. Something newsworthy happens and I mull it around for awhile – until the news cycle passes me by and my input becomes irrelevant!

Then, just the other day, I found myself looking through a list of over 700 quotes I have collected over the past couple of years. They come from a variety of sources and tend to be pithy comments on the human condition – many of them a source of midlife wisdom. Never irrelevant!  mmmm.

Idea!  Once a week, I will select a quote sequentially from the list and write whatever comes up from the mindset of a midlife women intent on aging with grace, gratitude and gusto -  allowing for the occasional kicking and screaming! My wish is that all you midlife women tuning in will leave your impressions or comments on the quote, or my response to it, as well.

Here goes:

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. Judy Garland

The obvious take on this message is to assume that it is about one person trying to emulate the life of someone they admire… and falling short. We’re so programmed to be the person we learned we “should” be that many of us haven’t discovered the fullness of who we authentically are.  So we put on airs, adapt someone else’s style, and become an actress in a play called our life. Unfortunately, trying to “pretend” to be the person we would like to be takes its toll. We minimize ourselves, we’re always on guard, secretly fearing that we’ll be found out. There is little authentic intimacy in our life, as we aren’t intimate with ourselves. I know this because I lived it, as I suspect have many of you. It took me years to pull apart my “shoulds”, challenge them, and then sit still long enough for the real me to bubble up. It’s still bubbling.

The less obvious response to this quote is that many of us midlife women are still trying to emulate the life of the young woman we were – and falling short. We hold on to roles that we’ve outgrown, clothes that no longer flatter us and jobs or relationships that have become unfulfilling.

Truth is, we can only ever be a second-rate version of the younger woman we were. And I say halleluiah!  It’s time to stop pretending we’re still 30, grieve the loss and let her go. It’s not that our looks become unimportant. It’s just that in midlife we have the opportunity (and some would say the responsibility) to take the focus off our packaging and redirect it to our essence. We get to celebrate who we really are and become a first-rate version of the woman we’ve become! Beauty-full.

Now, if I could only sing like Judy Garland. :)

On Being Single in Midlife

July 7th, 2009

My midlife friend Allison Allen posed a question that got me thinking. In Amazing Grays, I write about the importance of grieving various life transitions, and the real or perceived losses that often accompany them.

Her question was: For midlife women not in a committed relationship, how do we come to grips with what might be lifelong singleness? How do we grieve that?

Turning that question over and over in my mind, I was once again struck with how much misery we can unintentionally create for ourselves by wishing things were different than they are. We often miss the opportunity of the moment because we get tripped up by what we think is “supposed to be.”

You can read my response to her question at womenbloom.com. I’d love to hear your take on the issue!

Who you calling a Senior?

June 15th, 2009

While enjoying a lovely Sunday afternoon listening to jazz at our local winery, Mary, a lively 76-year old woman at our table mentioned that she recently attended her first “senior” exercise class. Upon entering the room, her first reaction had been “but…but… these people are so old!”  Then it hit her – so was she!

We both laughed, but hasn’t that happened to you? Sometimes, I am out and about and catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or window. I am still surprised to see a silver haired woman reflected as “me“. It doesn’t jive with how I see myself. I feel energetic, engaged, enlivened and downright youthful!

Mary reminded me of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns who wrote:
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

Okay, in American English that means: how great it would be to be gifted with the power to see ourselves as others see us.

But wait! Perhaps there comes a time in life when we can turn that on its ear and wish for the power to have others see us as WE see ourselves! Rather than have others focus on our wrinkles and softer bodies and make all the common assumptions that typically surface around an aging person – wouldn’t it be great to have them see past the stereotype and notice the contented smile, self composure and sparkle in our eyes? Really SEE the woman we’ve become.
Is it enough just to see it for ourselves? It takes time to change a stereotype…and the only way to change it is to challenge it. How are you challenging it?

A Midlife Birthday Gift

April 28th, 2009

What if the best birthday gift you could give your midlife self was time away – on your own… in silence? Sound interesting? Or just crazy? I recently returned from a weeklong silent retreat, celebrating my birthday from the inside out. No one there but me even knew it was my birthday.

I began the day by setting an intention to be happy and in-the-moment – no matter what alternative the “voices” inside my head were trying to sell me. I spent the day in silent reverie punctuated by spells of sitting meditation. Throughout the day I enjoyed delicious vegetarian meals, eaten in shared silence with the other retreatants. (And not believing the “voices” insistence that it would have been better with a birthday cake!)

On my walks I witnessed nature’s resurrection. The majesty of the verdant sun-kissed rolling hills, the leafing of trees large and small, wildflowers vibrating in the breeze. I inhaled the aromas of a world waking up from deep sleep. (When the “voices” tried to point out that there could be wild animals waiting to attack me I refused to be taken in by their fear tactics)

During the cool, sunny afternoon, I assisted with readying the organic gardens for the spring planting. After several days of rain (before I arrived!) the weeds yielded easily to a gentle pull, releasing the pungent odor of fresh earth. Who would have thought dirt could smell so good! (When the “voices” insisted I was getting my clothes too dirty, I simply turned my attention back to what I was doing)

As I lay my head on my pillow that night I thought to myself that this was truly one of the happiest birthdays I had ever had. I realized I had given myself a precious gift – the present. (And I ignored the “voices” that insisted it would have been better if I’d had a party!)

Anyone who has ever spent time in silence will tell you it’s not really all that quiet. The voices INSIDE our heads are constantly chattering away. These are the voices that tell us we’re not enough, there is always something wrong and we’ll never get it right. They will run (and ruin) our lives if we give them free reign. They could have spoiled my birthday if I had let them. Give yourself the gift of silence and discover that these voices are not really YOU.  It’s the only present you will ever need.

Am I a Midlife Twit?

March 31st, 2009

The worlds all a-twitter, and I have to ask… WHY? Why do we care so much about what someone else is doing right now? And right now. And right now.

Is twitter one of those “everyone is doing it” things so it just seems like the right thing to do? Frankly, who would possibly be interested in the fact that I just put out an online press release (my book won an award!), planted some snapdragons in my garden (those big, tall, buttery yellow ones), updated my web site (check out the red feathered showgirl)  and then ran to the grocery store! (Soy milk, Vegenaise and berries)

What am I missing here? Can someone tweet me in?

The Cost of Beauty at Midlife

January 26th, 2009

Calling all midlife women -  without judging yourself, can you assess how much of your time and energy goes into making sure you are “looking good” by wearing the current fashion, driving a “hip” car, living in a designer inspired home, or looking like a younger person?
It’s a great way to gain some perspective. Add up the amount of money you have spent in the last month in your effort to maintain your appearance. (Hair appointments, waxing, cosmetics, beauty products, surgery, clothing, etc.) Multiply times twelve to get an idea on what you might spend annually.
Again, without judgment -  notice what comes up for you when you see that number… and let me know!

Boomer Alert – Life Is What You Make It

January 14th, 2009

As an aging baby boomer myself, I sometimes find myself complaining about people who are rude, inconsiderate, or clueless.
I’m reminded of a story about two travelers on a ferry crossing a large body of water between two distant lands. One strikes up a conversation with the ferryman and asks him,” What are the people like on the far side of the water?”
The ferryman screwed up his face and inquired, “What are the people like where you come from?
The traveler, with utter disgust replied, “Greedy, nasty, selfish and mean spirited. That’s why I’m leaving!”
The ferryman shook his head and said, “I’m afraid you’ll find the people on this side of the water very much the same.”
Later, a second traveler wandered over and asked the ferryman the same question, “What are the people like on the far side of the water?”
Again, the ferryman asked, “What are the people like where you come from?”
The traveler smiled wistfully and responded, “Kind, compassionate, supportive and generous. I’m sad to have to leave them behind.
The ferryman smiled and replied, “Cheer up. I think you’ll find the people on this side of the water are very much the same as those you left behind.”

How are the people on your side of the water?