Menopause Mondays: What Aging Gracefully Means to Me

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Menopause MondaysForget youth. I want to get old.

It’s a gift that I added to my life’s wish list at the age of 13, after my father had his first heart attack. He was in his mid-forties.

Watching my father’s declining health—interspersed with medication and surgeries—caused me to be unusually concerned with illness and early death. My father passed away at the young age of 58 from heart disease.

But with the right perspective, I believe good can come from the hardships of life. For me, the good was learning to value the precious time I have here on Earth with the people I love—and doing everything in my power to ensure myself as many days filled with fun, love, and laughter as possible. As Ralph Waldo Emerson believed, “The first wealth is health.” And in striving for health, I have gained the wealth of vitality, happiness, and peace. To me, that is aging gracefully and wisely.

So when perimenopause came my way, I wasn’t going to lament the aging process. However, if hot flashes were going to be part of the gift of aging, then I wanted to hit the return counter ASAP. I took a proactive approach. I consulted with specialists, I read all I could on the subject, and I began to learn about the more than 33 symptoms associated with menopause—most of which I had never heard before. That was when the concept for my book-to-be, Shmirshky: The pursuit of hormone happiness, was born. Understanding my body—and all of the incredible changes it goes through—has allowed me to feel happier and healthier in my own skin.

During menopause, many women become self-critical, striving to look like the prepubescent teen models you see in glossy magazines. Instead, I focus my efforts on my health and wellbeing. And while I have long ago banned horizontal stripes from my closet, and on occasion have looked in shock at the morphing skin on my aging knees, I know that expecting myself to look like I did in my twenties would just be setting myself up for disappointment. It would cheat me out of the joy I deserve. Every day we are alive, we age. Age and time provide us with more opportunities, not less! As we age we have more of a chance to love and be loved. The longer we live, the greater the opportunity to expand our vision of the “possible” and reach out and grab it.

Ready to feel your best? Here are my top tips for aging gracefully during menopause:

1. Be an information sponge. Remember that “knowledge is power” mantra? It’s cliché because it’s true. The more you learn about menopause and your health, the more power you have to control the way you look and feel. Find a menopause specialist near you to help you manage your health and symptoms. You can also sign up for my Menopause Mondays newsletter and receive a free downloadable menopause symptoms chart. I don’t care what you do; you won’t be good unless you first feel good.

2. Love yourself. You are beautiful just the way you are. So start telling yourself that! As Vivian Diller, Ph.D., a ballerina and model turned psychotherapist and author of Face It, recently told me in an interview, “Women who maintain an internal dialogue with themselves and their mirrors that is kind and gentle can maintain high self-esteem at any age. They are less self-critical and more accepting of change.” I suggest keeping a gratitude journal at your bedside. Each night before you go to sleep, write down what you experienced and achieved that day for which you are grateful. By focusing on the positives of the aging process, you can start loving your aging self more.

3. Shed your inhibitions. “Women always try to tame themselves as they get older, but the ones that look best are often a bit wilder. Thinking about age all the time is the biggest prison women can make for themselves,” Miuccia Prada once said. And I don’t think that could be any truer. At this point in our lives, we have earned the right to go wild. So let your hair down and stop worrying what is “age appropriate.”

Reaching out is IN! Suffering in silence is OUT! Aging has become something of a four-letter word to women. Ask me what it stands for, though, and I’ll tell you “G-I-F-T!” Aging with our friends and family is the greatest gift for which we can ever ask. But unlike jewelry and flowers—a long life is a gift that only we can give ourselves! And now’s the time to start shopping!

 

Generation Fabulous



After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

31 Comments

  1. Cathy

    March 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Embracing life as we grow older is living life openly and fully. Dr. Christiane Northrup once said we have to embrace menopause as part of the process of getting older. Fighting against is not only fruitless, but it’s a waste of valuable time. Great post, once again Ellen!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you Cathy! Your participation adds greater value to the discussion. I always look forward to reading your comments.

  2. SHELLEY R ZUREK

    March 25, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Shed your inhibitions. “Women always try to tame themselves as they get older, but the ones that look best are often a bit wilder. Thinking about age all the time is the biggest prison women can make for themselves,” Miuccia Prada once said. And I don’t think that could be any truer. At this point in our lives, we have earned the right to go wild. So let your hair down and stop worrying what is “age appropriate.” Wow that is just the truth of it all. Look at the women in their 80s and 90s on the blog ADVANCED STYLE. They all dress without rules and are are Fabulous!!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      Sing it, Shelley! Thank you. I hope many women read and embrace what you have written here!

  3. SHELLEY R ZUREK

    March 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I am going to use the above quote that I highlighted in a Google Hangout! I just adore it!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      Yes you should. Please keep the community in the know for your hangout so the community can participate.

  4. Denise Danches Fisher

    March 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Sounds like I am on track…I am just enjoying being be. Although, I must admit, I would love to afford a bit of a nip and tuck. However, that being said, I am forging ahead content to like myself as I am. The biggest thing I can do for myself now, is live a stress-free life and get a good nights sleep. And oh yes, have FUN lots of it!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks Denise! It sounds like you’ve come to a fabulous place in your life of acceptance, and that is one of the biggest keys to aging gracefully. Hugs, Ellen

  5. Karen D. Austin

    March 27, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Oh, it’s just deadly to compare yourself to the twentysomethings. I like your three points, especially shedding inhibitions. I’m tired of being afraid of disapproval. Bah!

  6. Beverly Diehl

    March 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    So far (besides those occasional chin hairs) I’m not getting pounded too hard, hormonally. I think I’ve had 5-6 hit flashes over the last three years.

    BUT, it’s early days yet, and I am doing what I can to arm myself, in case that gremlin doesn’t turn out cute and fuzzy after all.

  7. Shannon Bradley-Colleary

    March 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I’ve decided I haven’t quite blossomed yet. I expect to blossom around 60. That’s my goal. xo

  8. Ginger Kay

    March 28, 2013 at 1:18 am

    I’ve been telling my husband since before he became my husband, “I look forward to growing old with you.” No turning back the clock here; the best is yet to come.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 30, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Thanks for sharing with us, Ginger. Growing old with the person you love is the best! Hugs, E

  9. Cynthia

    March 28, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Thank goodness I am past all that. Wish I had found you when I was waking up all night long and feeling like removing all my clothes in public places.

    To all of you still going through it…it too shall pass. The 60s are great!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      Cynthia, Thank you so much for the nice message and I’m glad you made it through it to revel life in your 60s! You go girl!

      Now it’s up to us to pass on our knowledge and experiences to the sisterhood who is about to go through and are going through perimenopause & menopause

  10. Caryn/The Mid Life Guru

    March 28, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Loved your thoughtful introspection, Ellen.

  11. Pam@over50feeling40

    March 28, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    My post is exactly about how the hardships of life can actually give us the right perspective. We can learn volumes if we avoid the bitterness of unforgiveness. Thanks for an excellent post.

  12. Pat

    March 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Ellen,
    So sorry for the loss of your father even though it may have been years ago. My dad, too, also had his first heart attack in his 40s, but fortunately, he is still living & fighting heart disease. Your post has not only reminded me to take good care of myself, but also to remember to appreciate the precious time with loved ones.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 30, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you Pat. I hope you’re having a great holiday weekend with filled precious moments with your loved ones.

  13. Walker Thornton

    March 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Love your attitude towards aging. Knowledge is so powerful in restoring control and helping us be proactive.

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 30, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you Walker. I love your attitude too. You are a role model. I read your piece on aging gracefully and your confidence is contagious.

  14. Lee Aldrich

    March 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Churchill said “when going through hell, keep going!” I kinda think perimenopause is like that. Lord, it gave me a run for my money! Your point about shedding inhibitions is spot on. Although I’ve never been accused of being a shrinking violet, I love having been able to dump the shell of pretense along the way and be unconcerned about what people think of me. Thank you for sharing a great piece of writing!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Thank you, Lee, for this beautiful response. And what a witty analogy on perimenopause.

  15. Barbara Coleman

    March 29, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Spot on! My philosophy…learn how to manage the physical & mental symptoms of menopause and it’ll be the best time of your life…after all you’ll never have your period through an entire vacation again….and you don’t have to shave your legs as often!!!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 30, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      That’s looking at the bright side. Atta girl! Thanks for the comment Barbara!

  16. Bonnie

    March 30, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Such great advice, Ellen. As always! My husband lost his father, and all his uncles, at a young age too. His generation is the first to have all turned 50. When he turned 50 he celebrated. We all should!

    • Ellen Dolgen

      March 30, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      Thank you, Bonnie. I’m sorry about your husband’s family. I’m glad to here he is doing well. Every day is worth celebrating!

  17. Prajakta Khadilkar

    May 29, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Nice Article..
    I am 53. Hope i will be as healthy as I am in future too.
    Looks was never a concern for me. Health is of prime importance in my view. Looking beautiful is a by product of being healthy…..
    Do you agree gals?? :)
    Enjoy Life..
    Love Life..
    Love Yourself..

    • Ellen Dolgen

      May 30, 2013 at 5:16 am

      Thanks Prajakta – I agree looking beautiful on the outside is a reflection of how you feel on the inside. If something is out of sorts inside you – be it with your health, spirit or mind – you can see it on the outside. Keep taking care of yourself, going to the right doctors and staying up to date on the latest health information on my site and it should lead you in the right health path. Hugs, Elllen.

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