Operation Transition & Truth


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Operation Transition & Truth

(Having read and re-read what I’ve written, I implore you to read it to the end, as you may find some useful information in my first – but not last – post on this subject. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments. I, and many others, could use the wisdom of our collective experience).

June 5 – 14, 2018 – A very emotional week in the life of a 53 year old woman. Woke up at 8:00 am feeling ambivalent. Felt lost and uncertain about the course of the day upon taking those first breaths. Extreme irritability emerged as feet hit the floor. Sound of a trash bin lid slamming shut startled me beyond reason. Spouse entered the room with a loving smile and sudden rage at the intrusion overwhelmed my senses. Guilt for the rage followed quickly behind bringing on tears and great remorse. Logical desire to return to bed, pull covers over head and remain there for the rest of the day. It was 8:20 am. WHAT THE HELL?

I’ll tell you WHAT THE HELL, my friends. Peri-menopause. That’s WHAT THE HELL. Having talked to several of my girlfriends, some female acquaintances, and not a few strangers about this phase of life, I realize that although every single woman has or will experience this transition, not a lot of them understand that there’s a difference between peri-menopause and menopause. Nor do they often realize it when they are IN IT!

My first experiences with this transition were unexplained muscle spasms I thought were originating in my heart. Then I experienced two separate incidents of anxiety that I thought were heart attacks. They were not. These symptoms are directly related to the beginning phases of the Change of Life.

So – let’s start with simple: What is the difference between peri-menopause and menopause?

Perimenopause, or menopause transition, begins several years before menopause. It’s the time when the ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman’s 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier. Perimenopause lasts up until menopause, the point when the ovaries stop releasing eggs.”(1)

Menopause is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. It is the time in a woman’s life when the function of the ovaries ceases. The process of menopause does not occur overnight, but rather is a gradual process. This so-called perimenopausal transition period is a different experience for each woman.” (2)

During my recent emotional 8-day span, I experienced:

  • debilitating anxiety;
  • memory issues including short-term memory loss, an inability to focus or keep a thought, and confusion that led to anxiety attacks;
  • sudden, unexplained rage;
  • easily startled by unexpected, and expected, loud noises;
  • sudden, extreme fatigue;
  • slow-to-build extreme sadness; and
  • weeping uncontrollably, for no apparent reason.

Oh, and hot flashes, and night sweats.

I would gladly embrace hot flashes one moment followed by cold-to-the-bone the next, and difficulty sleeping, if it meant avoiding all that other stuff. Because, frankly, during that 8-day period I felt mentally unhinged. I felt insane – the thoughts that ran through my head were extreme, and the desire to take action based on those thoughts was STRONG.

“If I am experiencing theses many symptoms of peri-menopause,” I thought to myself, “then maybe other women are also experiencing this, too.”

September 2016: I overheard a couple of friends discussing women’s issues at a camp out and wiggled my way into that conversation. What I’d overheard was with regard to symptoms I recognized and possible remedies, and I wanted to hear what they were doing about it. This led me to a compounding pharmacist in February 2017, a saliva test, and several natural supplements that helped to manage the few symptoms I was having at the time.

October 2016: I began experiencing what felt like heart palpitations. Heart monitor for three weeks and not an inkling of a heart issue. My step-mom later told me that muscle spasms in the chest is an indicator of the hormones shifting.

November 2016: Realizing I may be entering what I thought was menopause (and discovered peri-menopause) I searched the internet for a book that could explain this transitional phase. I found one (ONE) out of print book titled Menopause & Emotions by Lafern Page. This book shed a lot of light on the emotional aspects of this transition, and a little more on the physiological aspect. I had hoped to find a LOT more written on the subject. There is the Internet, I know.

2017: Nothing major, Took supplements, rode minor roller coasters of emotion, had maybe three cycles (first one, in February, was very heavy and caught me by surprise; hadn’t had one in several months)

April 2018: Met with Women’s Issues Doctor to discuss a 3-day emotional roller coaster and the options I had to better manage the hormone change. The supplements were not working as well as they had been, or the change was increasing rapidly. I was offered Paxil or Bio-identical Estrogen and a synthetic Progesterone. I took the hormones. All my symptoms slowly improved.

June 2018: 8-day roller coaster and a cry for help. I searched on Psychology Today [Find a Therapist (3)] and made an appointment with a women’s issues therapist who was of an age that she’d probably already been through the Change of Life, and employed her assistance in providing strategies to weather the storm. I’ve had two sessions and here’s the most important thing I’ve gotten out of this so far:

“Women of our age were taught anger is not attractive, so we are unable to express anger. Bottled up for years, our only acceptable release of that anger is during PMS or during Peri-menopause. We blow up, then we blame the hormones.” I plan to return to deal with a lot of unaddressed anger.

All of this leads us to today, when I finally sat down and scratched the surface of a perfectly normal, natural transition that is rarely talked about. Well, I’m talking about it. I hope you found this first installment helpful. Please feel free to chime in.

In Upcoming Posts (not necessarily in this order): The Unsuspecting Spouse; Everybody’s Got a Remedy; Essential Oils – Hype or Help?; Those Who ‘Breezed’ Through It; What Mom Never Told Me; Supplements I Took, Still Take; Physical Exercise is Your Friend; Meditation for Relief

  • (1) https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/guide-perimenopause#1
  • (2) https://www.medicinenet.com/menopause/article.htm
  • (3) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists?utm_source=PT_Psych_Today&utm_medium=House_Link&utm_campaign=PT_TopNavF_Therapist1


Almost There


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Almost There

FF Prompt 2018-05-04 karen-rawson

Photo Prompt by Karen Rawson

“We’re almost there! 15 years have passed since I last stood in this spot. See that roof? That’s the cabin. That wasn’t visible from this spot, once upon a time. Not sure how we’re gonna get across the muck that was once a gentle, babbling brook. And those steps, once solid and surrounded by a forest of green, look pretty questionable now. That cabin was once a safe haven. My happy, hidden place. It’s not on any map. I hope it’s still safe. Take care and keep your head low, though. The world has changed. It might already be occupied.”

It’s been a while since I’ve made time for the Friday Fictioneers. Here’s my 100 words inspired by the photo. Thanks to Rochelle for keeping it going. Thanks also to Karen for the photo.

Catch Those Fleeting Moments


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Catch Those Fleeting Moments

DSCN5926 Barrel Cactus Bloom 2018-04

Small Barrel Cactus in Bloom. Kathleen Dixon (c) 2018

It’s so easy to miss those fleeting moments that cannot be retrieved. The small, still, memorable moments of joy. I’ve let so many slip away over the years… simply by allowing less important things to take priority.

Today, I make an effort to participate in those fleeting moments.

For example, about 10 days ago, I was preparing for an intense, four day motivation and education training. Planning and packing, checking lists… you know, getting ready to focus all my energy on this event I signed up for, that I wanted to participate in. And sometime during the planning and the packing, I heard those words. Fleeting Moments.

I immediately stopped what I was doing and I sent my daughter a text. My children are grown. My grandchildren are not. For the next twenty minutes, my husband and I video-chatted with our youngest grand-daughter. She is almost four. She is happy when she sees us. She smiles and giggles and shares her thoughts. She has grown from a toddler into a little girl in the past few months. And we are there for that. It was joy. We brought joy to her and she unknowingly returned it ten-fold.

This post was prompted by the accompanying photo. I tend to stuff my days with tasks, activity. I usually hold a one hour meeting every morning with myself and then I hit the ground running. I fall into tunnel-vision: how much can I get done today? Usually, too, I do a lot of busy work. And I forget to check in with my spouse. AND… sometimes, I put off his requests in favor of my busywork… stuff that could wait, even for the few minutes he wants to tell me something, or show me something.

I fight the voice inside me that says, “In a minute, I’m RIGHT in the middle of task number 187.”

Today, he called through the bedroom window. Asked me if I ‘d seen the barrel cactus this morning. And that voice spoke up… however, today I made a choice. I told the voice that we had five minutes, that the task I had just begun wasn’t going anywhere and that he was more important than gathering the week’s account balances.

You see, I HAD seen the cactus earlier this morning. It has some small, fuzzy, white fluff growing on it and I’d made a mental note to ask him about it. (My mental notes are also fleeting, by the way). I stopped what I was doing and I went outside to look at the cactus, to ask him about those fuzzy white puffs. And on that cactus I’d seen only an hour before was this delicate, hot pink bloom. As you can see, it is a spectacular little flower. It will only last a day or two, and it won’t bloom again for a long time.

I would have missed that bloom and my husband’s attempt to share it with me, if I’d listened to that little voice.

I am certainly grateful to know – at least for today – where my real priorities lie, and that the fleeting moments are the ones that make my life one worth living.

Nothing to Say


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Nothing to Say

If you read Sick, then you’ll understand this. I have bronchitis. I’m pretty sure that’s all it is. However, an aching head makes thinking more difficult, makes focusing a chore.

So today I did neither. We ate breakfast out and stopped by Costco, using all the energy I had in reserve. After we put away our groceries I dozed on the couch.

My loving husband and I played Cashflow 101. I got out of the rat race first, and I managed to increase my cash flow by $50,000 first to win the game.

More rest.

We built the remainder of a Lego Christmas train. The flatcar and the caboose. And all the tiny Christmas gifts. We ran it around the track a few times (we sprung for the motor accessory). It’s the coolest.

I coughed too long and too hard. I’m going to bed early. Too much effort to try and watch a movie.

Tomorrow I’ll visit Urgent Care at the request of my husband. Maybe the nurses can help speed up the healing.

And that’s about it. I’ll write something more entertaining tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.



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Fatigue. Stiff joints. Feeling cold in a warm room.

Deep in the ear canal, an itch I can’t scratch.

Dry, burning eyeballs. Nasal passages blocked.

Feeling the pressure build as the blood pounds in my temples.

Throat swelling shut, becoming difficult to swallow.

Benched indefinitely. Against my will. Without my consent.

So much to do. No energy to do it.

Snippity. Irritable. Cranky. Sorry.








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After midnight. Can’t sleep. That committee between my ears making all manner of ruckus. Funny the things that seem urgent in the boardroom of the mind. Rehashing unresolved regrets. Organizing tomorrows to do list. I toss. I turn. ENOUGH. Rolling quietly out of bed, grabbing my robe, I head to the porch with pad of paper and pen. The porch offers solitude and a beautiful view. The world is quiet, all sound absorbed by this mantle of pristine, unmarred snow. It covers everything. Setting pad and pen aside, I sit quietly instead, meditating on the streetlight’s glow. The committee disperses.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks to Rochelle for continuing to post the weekly 100 words photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers. Special thanks to Sarah Potter for her lovely photograph.

An InLinkz Link-up

She forgot her place


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She forgot her place

A 15 year old criminal, guilty of grand theft auto, placed in a home with other delinquent girls. Alone, afraid, no confidence. Her experience taught her no one was trustworthy.

But the girls reached out and slowly she responded. Shared a little of her story, allowed herself to be vulnerable. Still shy, quiet, and fearful, she knew her place.

The head girl offered the make over and the others encouraged her to accept. She tried to politely beg off but when the head girl expressed hurt, rejection, she gave in.

They accepted her, she thought, made her pretty, fawned over her, boosted her self worth. She hadn’t experienced this kind of sisterhood in a while, she liked the attention, the ego boost. She felt more confident, more worthwhile.

Her newfound confidence and happiness, a gift they bestowed upon her, somehow backfired, caused the other girls to feel threatened. They turned on her, called her a bitch, accused her of being stuck up. Confused and hurt, she tried to make it right, removed the make up, messed up the hair, but it didn’t help.

She’d simply forgotten her place in this world. That would not happen again.

How Well?


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How Well?

It’s easy to convince yourself that you really know someone. At least, speaking for myself, it was easy for me. Probably easier to believe that you know your parent better than most people you know – I mean, who else have you had a relationship with since birth, but your mom or dad? (If either one of them stuck around following the blessed event, of course)

I never gave it any thought growing up – did I know my mom? She was my mom. Certainly it should go without saying that I knew her, and well. When her ovarian cancer returned, I gave it plenty of thought. After reading a book about dealing with cancer I made the time, I interviewed my mom. My intention was to help her to realize her part in the grand scheme of things, to help her find a reason to fight harder to live. Instead,  I realized in taking the time to get to know her, I didn’t really know her as well as I thought. I also learned that she’d been dealt a pretty raw hand before she ever reached puberty.

After she died, all I had gathered during the ‘interview’ was all I had. Before she died, I liked to tell myself that I knew my mother better than my brother did – but I didn’t. How could I? I knew a few things different than he did, that’s all, but he spent his adult life being a part of her life and I didn’t. There are some things she and I had in common. And I did pay attention, much more attention in those last three years. I am grateful for the time we spent together, the wounds we healed, and the new memories we shared.

I realized that if I want to be a part of someone’s life, I have to do my part. I know the phone goes both ways. So does the mail, the email, the Facebook. I think I’d prefer to get to know someone better the old fashioned way – face to face, or on the phone – voice to voice. And be forewarned, I’ll be taking notes.

I’m just saying, if I think I know someone well, maybe – just maybe – I don’t. But I can change that. Starting today.

Savoring the Written Word



Savoring the Written Word

Usually when I read a book that interests me I devour it, like a person who feels better after several days of illness. Or a woman right before her monthly cycle, eating way more than her own body weight. When I read, I sprint through the pages, the content flying by my eyes, the words a blur. I’ve recognized that as I get closer to the end of a story, I race to that finish line, as if I am competing. Which makes the book entirely new to me if I read it again later, because I didn’t really absorb it.

This time I am reading a book slowly, deliberately. Savoring each word and digesting the author’s paragraphs, as if eating a bit of rich perfect cheesecake or an exquisite Belgium chocolate truffle. I’ve decided to read only a chapter each day, and her chapters are only three or four pages, but dense with wisdom.

I picked up the book I’m currently reading because I’ve read one other by this author: Anne Lamott. That other book: Plan B. That book was recommended by a friend who knows me well, and I enjoyed the light and humorous narration with some life experience thrown in. It’s my favorite kind of writing these days – real honest words, with a touch of comedy and no unnecessary drama.

My current reading -Bird By Bird – is Anne’s HOW-TO book for writers. And it’s not what one would expect. Well, it’s not what I expected. See, I took a few classes in college because I want to be a writer… like Anne. I signed up for American Literature, Creative Writing, and a third class I cannot recall. I dropped them all within the first four weeks. Because I wanted to relay my experience…I didn’t want to dissect books. ‘What was the author thinking when he wrote that piece? Which character was the protagonist? What was the meaning of the moon shining on the wheat in the winter at midnight?’ At the time, that was not what I was looking for. I’d rather enjoy the story – fictional or non-fictional – than think about why the author wrote it. Maybe I’m missing out on that experience as well. Instead, I am getting a different kind of education – that of the non-fictional and personal variety. And lessons I didn’t expect (another favorite of mine these days: lessons in the form of leisure entertainment. I believe you can find a positive growth experience in anything if you know HOW to ‘read’ it).

Anyway – I’m reading her book. Chapter by chapter. And I’m considering what I’ve read instead of immediately diving into the next chapter. And the words mean more, and the content sticks better in my mind. I read the chapter Perfectionism twice. So I could understand how better to let go of it.

So I wrote this, to practice putting down words on paper. Spew. Walk away.

I’ll also recommend On Writing by Stephen King. He also has some great suggestions mixed in with personal life stories.

That’s all for now.



Driver Safety: Using That Turn Signal


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Driver Safety: Using That Turn Signal

Happy New Year! It occurred to me while driving home in my rental car that I have a few pet peeves about other drivers. I imagine many of us do. I also believe that I am a pretty good, safe driver. I also imagine that many of us do.

I have almost 35 years of driving in Southern California under my belt. In that time, I’ve been responsible for four accidents – once in the rain when I was 17; once on a freeway on ramp when I was 24; once turning against a red light when I was 34 or 35; and, last Friday, when I backed up in a turn lane, into the gentleman waiting behind me. An average of an accident every 8.75 years.

I see traffic laws violated on a daily basis, on the city streets and on the freeway. I thought maybe I’d share my two cents (my pet peeves) about traffic safety and how to be a safer driver for all those folks around us on the road. I imagine some people have become complacent and just follow the examples others set, and others somehow got their licenses out of sheer luck, and just follow the examples other set. Maybe, if more of us set a better, safer example, there will be less stress on the roads and less accidents.

Lesson One: Turn Signals


Every car comes with a set. I think the manuals that come with the vehicles – cars, trucks, motorcycles – call it an indicator light. As in “let me indicate to you that I am going to change lanes or turn.”

How does one use the indicator light? Usually it’s like this: Left Turn, push indicator stick down. Right Turn, push indicator stick up.  You paid for the indicator system when you bought the car. May as well utilize it.

When should one use the turn signal? Whenever one wishes to change lanes, or turn a corner. My son-in-law visited from a less populated city, and mentioned that most people in Southern California signal in the middle of changing lanes, as an afterthought, if they signal at all. He added that allowing the turn signal to blink three times before executing a lane change ensures better odds that the cars around me will see that I plan to change lanes, allowing for a warning to them and an opportunity to respond (either to let me in or speed past me). He was right – that three-blink moment of pause does wonders for my sense of peace, and as a warning to those around me.

I generally use my turn signal every time I am going to change lanes – whether there are cars around me or not. It’s become a habit, and I am less likely to run into another vehicle if we both know what I am about to do.

I get annoyed when another driver doesn’t use their signal and bolts into the lane in front of me. More often I see small, fast cars who think they are in the Indy 500 darting in and out of traffic, endangering themselves and those around them, without use of that turn indicator. I get a small amount of satisfaction when I meet them at the red light ahead.

So – use the turn signals to indicate a lane change, or when turning into a parking lot, or when planning to turn at a signal. Fellow drivers may appreciate it and may even pay it forward.