“It’s the pause that refreshes, part of the cycle—without the spin…”

menopause imageFORGET Menopause. If you think that’s what growing older (and this blog) are about, I’m going to disappoint you. I’m not going to address this subject in the way you might be expecting because that’s a health book, a psychology book, but not this little lesson about growing older. Every woman goes through menopause… we have since the beginning of time. It’s part of the cycle of life and it’s not gonna go away. Don’t let it become a crutch and a catchall excuse to be lazy and evil about everything else.

Way back before the dreaded “M-word” was used in polite society, (do not confuse polite with politically correct) they called it The Change.  You know–in the same way your menses are called your “Friend,” “Auntie Flo,” or “Cousin Red.”All terms that is completely spineless and namby pamby and quite honestly-stupid!

BUT “Change” it pretty apropos…because things definitely change.Lydia_Pinkham

For some lucky ones of us The Change is gentle—a gradual, barely perceptible physical transition and one day you realize you haven’t had to make a trip down the “Feminine Hygiene” aisle (why our natural bodily functions are still acquainted with lack of cleanliness in the 21st century is still a puzzlement to me) in the drug store for months. Since you haven’t had sex in equally as long, you know you’re not pregnant and presto! You are done. Changed. Finito! TaDa! Adios!

For others, which includes most women I know, it’s a hard, hot slog through bad moods, the blueswet sheets, underwear ruined by a “visitor” you thought long-gone.  meno6And then there is the ever popular, unexpected  “change-of-life-9-month- surprise.” I personally witnessed the latter when I was in high school and to their everlasting embarrassment, during our senior year, three of my friends’ mothers got pregnant, well past the time when anyone thought they would, or could.pregnant and 50 Even worse it meant these middle-aged mothers were—you guessed it—having S.E.X., also well past the time when anyone thought they would or could. Egads! It didn’t matter that the S.E.X. was with their fathers—no that only made matters worse and implicated both parents in this untoward, inappropriate, appalling behavior. And at the end of nine months, each of my three friends had a brand new baby sister to wave “Bye-Bye” to as they headed off to college. My own parents, younger than I am now by a couple of decades, were quite probably also having S.E.X. (at least I hope so), but thank goodness, I had no new siblings to show for it.

Yep, life is full of surprises, but menopause isn’t one of them.

So after 30 or 40 years of monthly bleeding, deducting time off for good behavior, the occasional missing monthly and pregnancy, that’s roughly somewhere between 350 and 500 periods. Don’t you think that’s enough?! Look at the end of your menses as a reward— and think of all the money you’ll save in THAT aisle. feminie hygiene aisle Don’t get hung up on some outdated notion that your womanhood is something you’ll lose if you’re not reminded of it every 28 days. Or, that no longer being able to bear a child diminishes your femininity in some way. Even with the departing red sea, you are still you. And the only way you can lose you is to GIVE UP. Surrender yourself to a self-fulfilling prophecy that you allow to steal the “girl” in you right from under your own nose? Why would you let that happen just because your period stopped?

Because of some serious medical issues which I began battling at 19, my menopause was surgically imposed and started when I was only 32 years old . Forty plus years later, it’s still not over, that’s a lot of years—and I’m still counting folks.  I admit it gave me pause when my doctor patiently explained what would be happening to me. But I didn’t let early menopause stop me then, and it’s apparent endlessness (for me) doesn’t stop me now.  (My mom was still having hot flashes well into her 80’s!) Like many other life stages, this is a transition from your past to your future. Yes believe me you still have a FUTURE. Besides, you know what they say about one monkey not stopping the show!


Stop complaining.

See your doctor and discuss treatment options—drugs, herbs, exercise, nothing.

Talk to your friends.

Complaint department

Stop complaining.

Talk to yourself.

Come up with a plan and with your physician’s guidance—follow it.

Stop complaining.

Then forget the M word get on with life–YOUR LIFE!




Buy yourself something red.

Wear it when you feel lonely without your period.

Wear it when you don’t.

I practice what I preach!

Me wearing red  (but not missing my period!) at various ages and weights…




Why Me?…Why not me?!

Why Me?…Why not me?!

For most of my adult life, particularly in the last twenty years, friends and strangers—younger, older and contemporaries—have come to me for advice about everything from hairstyles and vacation ideas to whether they should dump “him,” quit their job or lie to their mother. And quite by accident, I found myself an unofficial, middle-aged, new millennium guru. Now don’t pretend you don’t remember the ethereal, otherworldly, Zen seeking, sandal wearing 70’s spirit guides in their gauzy, diaphanous garb. MaharishiMaheshYogiThey wafted down from some exotic, contemplative mountain retreat on a cloud of inner peace to scatter their long-considered wisdom on us—the unguided and uncentered masses with our misaligned chakras and road-blocked chi. And if you don’t remember gurus, Google will.

While my mission and even my audience, may be similar to these seventies masters of serenity, worry not, my delivery (more tough love than love beads) and my wardrobe are decidedly different although a floaty white dress and a pair of strappy Manolo sandals are, in my book, perfect garden party attire.jimmy-choo-flynn-gold-strappy-sandalswhite EternityMaxiBlack1344_1_white


But lest I delve too deeply into matters that will be addressed in a future lesson, I’ll return to the subject at hand.

My particular seekers of enlightenment marvel at my inexplicably upbeat attitude about aging — about my lack of worry about being fat and single—about my absolute conviction that I’m as deserving of a good life as Oprah, Gaga or Beyoncé or any other members of our pop culture royalty. What I figured out, is that what those who ask my advice, AND those who think I’m “full of it” and secretly miserable, really want to know, is what I know—what’s my secret?

“You’re unmarried, overweight and overfifty!”  (I don’t know which of these three happiness-defying adjectives is perceived as the most pitiable.) Now of course they never actually say that (out loud) but I see the fleeting consternation on their faces as the questions cross their minds.  “Can you possibly be that happy?” “How can you be so positive so convinced that life is wonderful? How can you be so thrilled to be here—or anywhere for that matter when everyone knows (because the media never stops reminding us) that the best part of your life is over and done?” “Why aren’t you home in fuzzy-slippers-for-women-fwngwfuqcyour fuzzy slippers with a magnifying mirror examining your wrinkles, removing chin hairs and watching the life you wish was magnifying-glass-clipart-transparent-background-9i4LRa6iEyours on the tube, like any other respectable middle-aged woman?”


Thanks to genetics and attitude, I don’t look, or act my age—or the way folks think “my age” should look and behave. My weight isn’t (nor has it ever been) a problem for me—I’m healthy, active and I have more male attention than I can handle (Not true—I actually handle it quite well, thank you.)photo 4

Yes, I am happy.

Yes, life is wonderful (mostly).

Yes, I still think my future holds wonderful promises, joy, love and adventure.

I don’t own fuzzy slippers.

And while I may not live as large as the aforementioned Oprah, Gaga and Beyoncé, my life is rich, full and extraordinary.

From the moment I turned 48, when the subject of my age arose, I would gleefully say “I’m almost FIFTY.”

I was fifty when Donna Grant (my writing partner and long time best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world) and I had a book, Far From the Tree, our third novel, on the New York Times Bestseller List…yes it was the “extended list” —but our book was still there. Hot damn! Fifty was looking pretty good!

me dark hair tryin tour
Me at 49

Because of a brutally honest and accurate comment from my bestie, Donna, I cut my shoulder length dark brown hair into a very short

far from tree v&d-cover
Me at 49

style and dyed it blonde. Fifty was getting better and I was feeling adventurous.

At forty-nine, and long before the term “cougar” wormed its way into our daily lexicon, I started dating a man 16 years my junior. He was my second younger beau, and not only was he even younger than the first—he was not American and he was of a different race. Together we traveled—a lot and to my delight he taught me much about myself and about perceptions—and I hope I taught him a few things as well. Fifty was definitely not feeling old.

I decided to celebrate my FIFTIETH year from 49 to 51—and did. Taking the lead from those advertising strategies with wording like “in our fiftieth year,” (which 49 actually is) or “after fifty years in business,” (which took care of 50-51).  I wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to celebrate for two solid years

At my fiftieth birthday party, a young friend who was all of twenty-two hugged me and giggling said, “I want to be just like you!” The “when I’m your age” was not spoken, but I heard it loud and clear.  Champagne glass firmly in hand, the bottle in the other, I responded “Darling you can be! But you can’t start at forty nine!”

Over the years since that fiftieth birthday, as I’ve talked with friends and strangers about aging (mine and theirs), those words have come back to haunt me. I started to realize as I listened to myself spew wisdom, that if my big 5-0 birthday declaration was indeed correct, the advice I was so earnestly dispensing to my friends nearing the “F” decade, was in a word, useless. And that if I was right, it was too late for them to embrace their advancing years with grace, style and good humor. So now that I’ve landed in the  “S” decade, I’ve decided that I was wrong… It is never too late (or too early for that matter) to change your outlook and you really don’t have to be beautiful, rich, thin, or YOUNG to live a life you love and love the life you live.

These lessons are “little” intentionally. I’m not preaching a sermon, trying to stress you out, or give you a beat downalthough if some of the lessons feel like that—well then you just may have earned one! Read the lessons carefully. Read them again. Make them a part of your regular routine, like brushing your teeth, saying your prayers, taking your vitamins. Let each message sink in—into your head, into your heart, into your spirit. Do your homework—seriously, before moving on to the next lesson.

These are bits of wisdom that have served me well. Some were passed on to me from my mother. Some came from other women who have been an influence in my life. Some I learned on my own. And several of these lessons are about doing exactly the opposite of what I have observed too many women doing. But these lessons are my only secret weapon, my answer to aging and being sexier, more joyful and more graceful than you’ve ever been. They work for me, and if you’re as smart as I think you are, they can do the same for you.



Cute Will Always Count

Don’t let them fool you one more day. You DON’T have to be beautiful, rich, thin, or YOUNG to live a life you love and love the life you live!

The “lessons” I will share here, and the homework that goes along with them, are intended to help you learn how to enjoy the best time of your life NOW.

In spite of yourself…In spite of sagging breasts and jiggly thighs…In spite of ads that depict the golden, glittering, happy, hard-bodied glory of “X/Y/Z” generation as the zenith of life and the sad, achy, wrinkled, dried up, incontinent, constipated, impotent woes of the “OLDER” generation, as life’s nadir.

Be SEVENTY, SIXTY, FIFTY, Free, and Fabulous………..Even if you’re Old, Fat or Single or…horror of horrors—all three!!