Menopausal Beach Body Blues

I’m a middle aged menopausal woman who has put on a fair few inches around the midriff over the last couple of years. “Thickening” is the official term for it. It’s another of the many crap things that Mother Nature decides to throw at us as a reward for surviving decades of periods.

Now, I exercise daily, I don’t smoke, rarely drink and I eat healthily, bar the weekend when I do allow myself a cake or pudding. Well you’ve got to have some vices, haven’t you? “Everything in moderation.” “A little of what you fancy.” Yep they’re my mantras. “Life’s too short not to eat cake!”

I think I have the right balance, but I cannot shift this tummy or the fluid retention or the cottage cheese effect that is the cellulite on my legs. I hate it! I feel repulsive! However, I do not let it rule my day to day life because I don’t often choose to look in a full-length mirror. I try to put it to the back of my mind but there are times in your life when you  just can’t avoid it. Now is one of those times, the mindset of the Menopausal Beach Body Blues!

Every year my friends and I join 1000s of like-minded music lovers for a beach-based  festival. Every January I am determined to get a beach body. Every June I acknowledge that it’s not going to happen and feel like I’ve totally failed.

Then of course I start trying on the clothes that I think I’m going to take, urghh further despondency! Nothing looks nice, I wonder if that dress might work if I buy really big knickers, and so many things just don’t fit anymore!

This week on Facebook, I see that many of my female friends, and friends of friends, young and old, slim and larger, are all facing the same struggles, having the same negative thoughts, and some are even contemplating not going (yes that was me last year too). It’s not attention seeking, it is a very real phenomenon. The responses to those posts, from male and female alike, are all positive. It seems we can appreciate the beauty in others, but not in our ourselves.

When will us ladies give ourselves a break? I look back at photos of my younger self and think “wow I was actually quite slim then”! Of course, at the time I thought I was “fat”.  Do you think that when we are 75 we are going to look back at our 50s and think ” well you actually weren’t bad for a middle aged woman“? I think we probably will, and I think that when we are 75, we will wonder why on earth we wasted so many years worrying about the outside of a body when it’s really the inside that matters.

Men don’t seem to have these hang ups do they? I’m trying to think like my husband. The one upshot of getting bigger is that at aged 51 I finally have boobs. He says “no-one’s going to look at your stomach or your legs, they’ll just look at your boobs”. So every cloud  does indeed have a silver lining.

So I’ve put those dresses that don’t fit away and if they don’t fit next year then I will get rid. I’m not going to torture myself anymore. I’m going to look forward to a wonderful time in the sun with my husband and my friends. People who love me for me. It’s about time we focus on the good things ladies. We really do need to love ourselves  now.

cloudy sunset sandy seal beach

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Natural Born Carers and Healers

I’ve recently written about a series of books I’ve read by Debbie Johnson called the Comfort Food Cafe. The owner of the cafe and matriarch of Budbury is called Cherie Moon.

I don’t know about you but when I’m reading I can often identify certain character traits with people I know in real life. My real life Cherie Moon was called Joan and I last saw her about 10 maybe even 15 years ago. Joan was one of life’s natural born carers, someone who would wrap you up and make you feel safe and looked after.

Joan lived around the corner from my parents so I had vaguely been aware of her from a young age but didn’t get to know her until I was in my 20s. She’d had a tough life, lost her husband early and single handedly brought up her disabled daughter and cared for her aged mother who was in ill health too. But she never felt hard done by, she was always happy, always giving and always putting others first.

I got to know her as she offered a reflexology service from home, charging just a few paltry pounds for a treatment. She just wanted to help people and the small payment would top up her pension as by then she was in her late 60s.

To look at her you’d think she was much younger. Like Cherie Moon she was of stout build with encompassing bosoms. Kind of like a softer Kim Woodburn (from Kim and Aggie duo). Always immaculately turned out even though all her clothes were from charity shops or handmade. Her hair was always in an up do. She cut and styled it herself although you’d think she’d just stepped out of a high end London boutique salon.

Somehow I ended up going to see her during my depressive years. I believe she had a sixth sense and somehow drew you in. She was incredibly spiritual, not in a ‘shove religion down your throat’ way, but a nurturing, healing way. Not only did I  get reflexology, but a lovely visualisation journey, a bit of shoulder massage and a realignment of my aura. She was like a counsellor too, never offering advice but listening and asking questions in a way that would lead you to come to your own resolutions.

I’d spend a couple of hours at Joan’s every fortnight and loved to hear her stories of how she’d taught English to children in foreign lands when she was younger. And how she was at that time a governor and helper at the local Infant school. Of course, all the children loved her and she’d tell me of the funny things they’d say. She went out every week to concerts or dancing with friends, I think she could be quite the party animal when she didn’t have her teacher head on!

I kept visiting Joan for several years and she continued to ‘work’ into her mid even late 70s, when she decided to move to Portsmouth to live near her sisters. A big loss for us locally but I’m glad that she was finally going to make more time for herself.

I don’t know if Joan is still with us. I’m sure she will live to a ripe old age and carry on living life to the full to the very last breath. I’ve been thinking of her a lot lately so thought I’d share ‘our story’. She is someone who made a big impression on me and aided my recovery greatly. I’d love to have the opportunity to tell her just what an impact she made on me and no doubt many others during her life. I’ve no way of tracking her down but I have a feeling that she’s out there somewhere and will just know.

Have you ever had a ‘Joan’ or ‘Cherie Moon’ in your life? Do you wish you could tell someone what impact they had on your own life but feel too embarrassed to do that? It’s such a British thing isn’t it, leaving it til it’s too late! Feel free to share in the comments below.

You might like to read my review of the Comfort Food Cafe series HERE or buy them on Amazon by clicking on the banner below

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I’ve been published in The Lady!

I come from a working class background and would never had thought in a million years that I would ever have any connection with The Lady magazine.

I picked up a copy at the airport recently and was surprised to find that some of the articles interested me. (Obviously the classified section where people were advertising for a Governess and Housekeepers were way above me but fascinating none the less.)

One particular article was written by one of my favourite authors Jane Green, a Brit who’d moved to the USA. As I was holidaying in California at the time I could totally identify with it, and wrote a response to the column by email.

Imagine my surprise to get a response saying they were publishing my letter. Of course I shared my joy with my family, but they just laughed and said I shouldn’t be getting any ideas about joining the ranks of the Upper Class just yet, owing to the subject matter. What was it? Oh yes, only I could get a letter published in The Lady about public toilets haha!

tea and cake for the soul the lady magazine

* The letter had been edited considerably and shortened but tickled us none the less.

Children of the 70s – Where’s the joke?

Our entire household is struck down with this horrible flu bug. “New Year New Me” has clearly gone out the window as we are all existing on Lucozade, fruit sweets and paracetamol. I particularly crave treats from my childhood when I’m ill and the freezer is now loaded up with ice lollies. Earlier I happily munched through a Fab enjoying the cooling effect it had on my throat and turned the lolly stick over to look at the joke, only to find there wasn’t one there! When did they disappear? It’s a bit like finding a cracker with no paper joke inside. No matter how groan-worthy they are, I feel cheated. That’s another part of my childhood erased. It’s the little things isn’t it!

(Note to any readers not born in the 60s or 70s. All ice lollies had a joke printed on the stick with the question on the visible part and the answer revealed as you had eaten the lolly. These were also times where ice lollies were only bought from the Ice Cream Man or the Corner Shop’s as a treat. Home freezers were not commonplace. It’s hard to imagine just how different things were back then.)

 

Fifty and feeling it!

Yesterday I was attending hosptial with my 75 year old father who was having some tests. I’d already thought that the Dr looked about 12 so was kind of feeling my age. A lovely young Nursing Assistant (she was around 18 I guess) came up to do dad’s observations and we instantly thought that we’d met before. We ruled out every possible place where our paths could have crossed and we shrugged it off that we didn’t know each other after all. She then innocently said “Do you have grandchildren my age?” I was a bit lost for words! Whilst I am not a trendy Quinquagenarian, I thought I looked ok for my age.  Of course everyone’s had a good old laugh about it. Out of the mouth of babes eh? 😉

fifty and feeling it