Menopause Mondays: What Aging Gracefully Means to Me - Ellen Dolgen
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Menopause Mondays: What Aging Gracefully Means to Me

Forget 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 symptoms associated with menopause—most of which I had never heard before.  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 to help you manage your health and symptoms. .

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.”

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!

Remember:  Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!



31 thoughts on “Menopause Mondays: What Aging Gracefully Means to Me”

  1. 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!

  2. 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!!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

    1. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!!!

  11. 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!

  12. Prajakta Khadilkar

    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..

    1. 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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