Just One More Night

It’s been every night for the last 5 nights.

Tossing and turning.

Quilt on, then off.

Burning in heat one minute and freezing my backside off the next.

I’m sleeping in just a vest top and knickers to feel more comfortable in bed.  Big nana knickers, because my humongous rear refuses to compromise anymore, its knickers two sizes bigger than I am and that’s that.

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And then I lie awake terrified CB will be turned off by my spreading belly (which is strategically hidden under my oversized unglamorous underwear), thunder thighs and now even bigger pendulous breast.  There comes a point when large breast aren’t in the least bit attractive and mine have without question past that point months ago.

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The lack of quality sleep really does interfere with my ability to maintain a balanced outlook on this whole [pre]menopause thingy.

Why is it just a woman thing anyway?…………..what I’m really asking here is, why not men?

To fully understand what were going through, our brothers, boyfriends, sons and husbands need to experience ‘the change’ too.

There’s a little part of me that feels jealous that men don’t have to deal with any of these

life changing experiences

Okay, I admit it I wish men were going through ‘the change’ and not us. Periods, pregnancy and birth is that not enough! No wonder our bodies cry out in protest………….oh no not again, pleeeeeeease.

As you can tell, the positive symptoms of [pre]menopause have bypassed me totally this week. Even my sense of humour has decided to put up a warning sign, BEWARE OF THE………. [crazy cat lady].

If things weren’t bad enough already, with irregular periods, sore breasts, weight gain, mood swings and memory loss. And now I can add sleep depravation to the long list of symptoms.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day. Maybe the temperature spikes during the night will take pity on me and give me a longer break between the waves of heat and chills.

Or better still, take the night off altogether.

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11 Months of Gray

The subject of hair is a huge one for this [pre]menopausal woman and I don’t mind putting my hands up.

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Yes, I personally struggle most days with the subject of hair, gray hair, as well as thinning, dull and lifeless hair.

Well, just about anything and everything to do with hair.

As you know I am embracing……………..did I say that?

Because in reality, I am struggling with the going gray gracefully concept.

I would have an easier time accepting advice from a pot smoking, drunken Chinese Herbalist that the best way to deal with bad hair requires cutting it all off with a pair of scissors blessed by Buddha, burning it in a fire made of Autumn leaves while reciting the Lords Prayer and then offering the ashes to a Hindu deity – incase you are wondering this is a ritual I made up.

On a good day I am happy to be taking on this challenge

on a bad day I just wish this two year long marathon was finally over (11 months in and I’m running out of steam already).

Today is one of those days, where I am seconds away from racing out the door with the speed of Mo Farrah and a towel over my head to hide my shame, into the first shop I see to buy my next bottle of toxic waste.

I have at least one of those crumbling surrender ‘ok you’ve won’ moments every week as I look with despair at my reflection. My family were right, unflattering long gray hair makes me look old.

That’s it I’m coming back as a man next time. Life is just so unfair.

“Have you heard yourself?”

followed by

“You sound ridiculous.”

Even the ‘crazy cat lady’ was sick and tired of hearing my moaning and would go to any lengths to knock me right off my soap box.

I agree, my complaints are trivial and the sensible thing to do is accept it is what it is and deal with it gracefully (there’s that word again, gracefully).

I can’t wait for the day I stop agonising over my hair and my going gray not so gracefully stage. For now I am happy I managed to dodge another bullet and my hair saga continues for another day at least.

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Premenopause Priorities

The Change - 6 Powerful Steps

So here’s the thing.

To make [pre]menopause an easier ride, it’s time to move your emotional well-being up the ever-increasing long list of priorities (somewhere between getting a good nights sleep – very important for your sanity and eating a healthy diet – very, very important for preventing your body doubling in size during the hormonal big dipper) and treat frustration, irritability and grumpiness like your bestest best friends, with

Compassionate, Gentle Understanding

Why?

Because you will be hanging out with the FIG Team (frustration, irritability and grumpiness) a lot more often than your real female/male mates.

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Get used to unexpected visits, long boring conversations and bad advice because these emotions (new best friends) will rudely interrupt you at some point day or night.

Having recognised that when I do the look (a cross between a perplexed puppy and Cruella De Vil’s evil eye), followed by a head tilt kinda thing. It’s usually because my irritability levels are skyrocketing into orbit, taking any rational reasons or kind thoughts with it.

Now (for me) this can happen without any warning and does not follow any particular pattern, making any pre planning or preparation impossible.

Before I know it, I’m thrown into a storm of conflicting emotions and just want to get out of everyone’s way and dive under the duvet before I erupt for no good reason.

Luckily for me (and others) I’ve not lost my head over three different hairdressers, on three different occasions in the space of 3 months making a complete mess of coloring my hair (just one of the reasons I decided to go it alone on my going gray journey). I have managed to keep calm during debates about Brexit and quietly walked away from negative environments and people.

Even, and this is a biggie………….disagreements with my husband Colin during the Andrew Marr Show have failed to break my run of good behavior during ‘crazy cat lady’ moments.

So far,

I’m proud of my self-control and for not letting my raging emotions get the better of me. For how long this will continue, I’m not at all sure. I’ve been way too close to the tipping point a few times in the last couple of months (hands up in the air, as I plead to the Gods, “please how much longer before this [pre]menopause thing is all over and done with).

Every day (not quite every day, it just feels that way) is like some sort of endurance test.

Each team mate turns up in all their glory with matching T-shirts to show solidarity, dig their heals in, fully prepared and ready to camp out for hours. Silently waiting to spill their guts on any unsuspecting passersby.

So what do I do?

I ignore them (with compassionate, gentle understanding intentions, of course).

In the hope that without any drama, they will get bored, pack up and leave!

And it works.

Adios, Ciao, bye, bye my friends.

I would much rather share a ride with joy, gratitude, love and peace.

Paying attention to what you WANT

means you have less or no time for the things you don’t want in life.

Useful resources  to help with identifying and managing [pre]menopause symptoms.

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Midlife, Menopause & Madness

On our way to catch a water taxi we were now 5 minutes late for, I heard the words run.

Followed by, don’t walk. Run!

My son Craig spoke with the authority of my old school head master as we approached the second bridge and pushed our way through the crowds.

With my body burning in heat from a hot flush and the panic of possibly missing our slot for the taxi back to the port I replied in silence with a look that said it all (can’t he see I’m trying to calm the “crazy cat lady’ and stop her from breaking into a rehearsal of the next big TV drama scene). In a flash my [pre]menopause symptoms transported me back into the sea of pain and struggle.

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That morning it took me way too long to get ready for our day out. I hated the way my clothes were just about strangling me (a few days ago my favourite trousers fitted me well). My hormonal bloated ugly body crying to be free, pleading to move comfortably.

My head in a world of negative thoughts, all screaming at me at once (the hate committee just happened to have a full agenda that day, not wanting to be interrupted under any circumstances). I hated the way I looked. I hated the way I felt even more. I hated the way this dam change of life was interfering with my peace of mind!

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To top my morning off, the hairstyle I had imagined the night before was not the one staring back at me from the mirror. After 20 or so minutes (okay, it was at least 40 minutes) trying to make myself look and feel better I admitted defeat (after 51 years I know myself well enough now and accepted that this overwhelming feeling of ugliness was only going to get worse if I continued to look in the mirror and pick out every flaw for this years Oscar winning performance).  

“Step away from the mirror” in that soft familiar tone, gently resonating through my body in an attempt to get my attention.

Followed by

“Give Yourself a Break”

Easier said than done! I spat back angrily and at the same time feeling ashamed for responding with too much negative emotion and acting so self absorbed. I quickly pulled myself out this internal battle between my head and my heart and took at deep breath.

I can now laugh at my internal tug of war games, it’s like watching a episode of the worlds strongest man in the style of Bridget Jones. It’s also quite entertaining to see how quickly people and situations effect my responses during ‘crazy cat lady’ moments. My [pre]menopausal experiences would make a great script for a new comedy series; Midlife, Menopause and Madness.

The symptoms of [pre]menopause come and go as they please and can knock us totally out of balance but only if we allow them to. If you’re having a difficult day and know that you aren’t feeling your best try switching off the TV drama going on in your head and

“Step Into Your Heart”

Remember the symptoms are temporary and knowing where we are on the menopause map will help us to plan a better route.

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To Dye Or Not To Dye

To embrace [pre]menopause wholeheartedly and mark my acceptance of the transition from maidenhood (those years before middle age and menopause) I decided to stop dyeing my once dark curly hair and let it grow gray naturally.

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For months now, I have managed to stick it out. Honestly though, I am ready to cave in at any moment. My two-toned (which is actually three not two) hairstyle resembles a dried out, old toilet brush dipped in silver, yellow and copper paint!

The ‘crazy cat lady’ swings back and forth from,

don’t do it, you’ll regret it (no dye)

to

Please……for goodness sake just do it (dye)

My daily mantra “it will look much better in a few months, it will look much better in a few months” is starting to wear a bit thin, as are my reasons for wanting to be au-naturel.

Maybe I’m taking this whole natural gig a bit too far!

Do I really want to be a “proper Nana”, looking “much older” than 51 with “long unflattering gray hair” – Just a few of the nicer comments made by my family when discussing the subject of gray hair.

Friends have a bet with each other on how long this particular quest will last and I am sure CB is secretly praying the ‘crazy cat lady’ leaves quietly so that he can resume a normal life, with a normal wife.

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Right now, I just want my natural gray hair to feel and look nice. It’s not a lot to ask but my goal seems light years away and today, as I look in the mirror for the hundredth time, impossible to achieve.

A multi coloured mangled hairball is not quite the style I had in mind for my 50’s, so any advice out there from [pre/post]menopausal women who have managed to go gray gracefully would be very helpful and kindly received.

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Older, Wiser & Freer

The change 6 Powerful Steps

Following a date with my faithful and constant companion, otherwise known as a camera.  Visiting what started its life many years ago as a weekend retreat I am able to share with you this image.

I was drawn to take a photograph of the American Slave Statue because for a brief moment it prompted a memory of the restrictions forced on me by society as a young girl.

“Girls are seen and not heard” and “girls should only speak when spoken to” are recorded and replayed over and over loudly, ringing in my ears like church bells with full force to make sure I’m listening and giving these statements my full attention.

Each word doing a great job of making sure I conform and remain obedient to the expectations of what it means to be

a good daughter,

a good employee,

a good wife,

a good mother etc – Quiet, invisible, non-confronting and voiceless.

Or…..it……did.

Until.

The ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ showed up unannounced with way too much to say for herself and demanding to do what the hell she likes, whenever she likes.

Crazy creative things like doodling, painting, personal development workshops, day dreaming, meeting old and new friends for lunch, nurturing plants, long woodland walks, reading for hours on end and writing crap about crap and thoroughly enjoying it all.

Yes, I know, how dare she!

freedom is a positive symptom of the change

and one I value highly.

The hand chains also reminded me of my own mental chains that kept me from living a life without fear or imposed limits.

Every negative thought an untruth and yet for the first 50 years of my life I believed these lies wholeheartedly and as if my life depended upon it.

Suddenly, out of nowhere and without warning, my worldview changed.

The landscape of my life became a foreign land, my ‘norms’ both imposed and imagined started to make me feel pinned down.

Breathless and gasping.

That’s when I decided to stop fighting to hang on to what has now passed (my old life…the younger me) and embrace the new road ahead.

To step into the power of what some enlightened women call the Crone (the Crone is a symbol of wisdom; a wise and confident spirit).

Hello and welcome to the older, wiser and freer me.

Reflecting upon this image now, makes me feel small minded and selfish because the American Slave was lawfully denied, restricted and abused in the most inhumane way.

I imagine her most dominant thoughts were about freedom and her every day experience lived in REAL stomach churning fear.

My first experience of oppression now feels inconsequential and petty.

And sharing my original thoughts, exteremly inadequate in comparison to the narrative of the American Slave.

But getting back to the point of this post (my heart heavy with sadness from the realisation that women around the world are still being treated very badly and going through unimaginable suffering).

It’s so important to liberate ourselves from all those things that hold us back and shake off the fake shackles for good as well as welcome the changes ahead with open arms.

Hands up,

all women who no longer want to be chained up or held down by the expectations and standards of others. In the next stage of our life, lets sing and dance all the way to the end in true [insert your name] style.

Demonstrating that its okay to be a ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ and rock out your own ‘Style’ in any way you choose.

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The Change

 “Now I really appreciate my maturity as a woman. My depth of spirit and soul and my understanding of who I am and what’s important to me” – Elle Macpherson (52)

This change of life malarkey has got me into some deep thinking about who I am and what am I here for! I have been on a bit of a self-discovering journey lately and the further I travel along the lands of adventure, the more I enjoy my wayward trek into the unknown.

It’s turning into the tale of the good, the bad and the ugly.

So far, I have been down the path of awakening, shock and bewilderment.

When did I get so old?

Seriously.

When? And how did that happen?

The Good

Aside from all the physical changes forced on me, it’s the internal changes that have me questioning just about every area of my life. The spiritual part of me begs for attention similar to the way a toddler pleads for their favorite toy and it’s nowhere to be found. Only louder and with a lot more whining and wailing! Both unable to accept the words no, not now or later.

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[Pre]menopause, so far has been a bit of a game changer in every sense of the word. I am literally changing from the inside out. I see things differently, I feel things differently and I am much more in tune with my happy vibe.

The Bad

As I navigate my way through this strange thing called [pre]menopause, I have chosen the name “Crazy Cat Lady” (with some thought, I’m sure I could come up with a better name but I’m sticking with it for now) to describe my nonsensical and rebellious side.

By the way I don’t own cats of any kind and have no plans to either.

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No offense to all the [real] Crazy Cat Lady’s out there, this is just my way of discussing the subject in a light-hearted humorous way (more for my own amusement but there is a genuine need for me to process some of what’s happening both internally and externally). I hope by sharing her victories, temporary roadblocks and setbacks this will help other women who find themselves exploring new territory on the [pre]menopause path.

The Ugly

My ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ moments make me smile and laugh out loud on a good day and shake my head in total disbelief on a not-so-good day.

These moments are usually when I do something ‘Deborah’ style. Following many conversations and the occasional colourful and carefully worded debate on alternative methods of approaching Menopause. I have my daughter Kristie to thank for pointing out to me that I do indeed have a style of my own.

For example, ignoring directions to a known conventional route in search of undiscovered roads and highways and writing about my experiences during the change of life. This has the potential to get very messy (ugly) at different stages because I have no idea where my [pre]menopause adventure will take me next.

To climb the blue mountains of thinning hair?

Explore the volcanic islands of memory loss?

Swim the great lakes of hot flushes?

More information on [pre]menopause

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Please post your comment below.

I would love to hear about your experiences, please get in touch if you want to share!