Category Archives: menopause

Victorian State Election – a call for Gender Equity

With the 2018 Victorian election nearing, we need to ensure that women’s equality, sexual and reproductive health and freedom from violence are on the agenda. I am emailing to ask you to commit to these key priorities, including your support for the continued development of a sustainable peak body.

Victorian women and girls experience significant inequality. Women are underrepresented in senior leadership roles and continue to perform the majority of care and domestic work (paid and unpaid). Women continue to face barriers to accessing safe, accessible and timely sexual and reproductive health services and intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death, disability, and injury for women between the ages of 18 and 44 in Australia.
We can stop this violence before it occurs by promoting state wide gender equity strategies and providing long-term funding to make information and services accessible. A number of social, economic and geographic barriers prevent women from accessing evidence based information and services. These barriers can be even worse for women who are Aboriginal, who are older, come from migrant or refugee background, experience a disability, or who are LGBTI.

Gender Equity Victoria is coordinating state-wide action across current and prospective members to promote GEN VIC’s Priorities for Victorian Government Action 2018-2021.

The priorities are to:
• Advance Gender Equity
• Promote Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health
• Prevent Violence Against Women
• Support the Development of a Sustainable Peak Body that can coordinate community action to advance equity, promote health and prevent violence.

I urge you to pledge support for Gender Equity Victoria’s Priorities for Government Action 2018-2021 and listen to evidence, research and women’s voices.

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My year in review…..

What three words best describe your year?

Challenging, exhausting, inspiring

What achievement(s) are you most proud of?

  • Continuing to nurture a creative, free thinking and reading child
  • Graduating Uni (again!)
  • Securing a permanent ongoing job in an Academic Library
  • Marched the Streets of Ballarat in the Reclaim the Night, with my dear family.
  • Securing the role of a judge in the Aurealis Awards.
  • One of my students winning an Australia wide prize for her Book Review.

What are you most thankful for?

My love of my life: the rock that I hold onto when we enter treacherous waters, who always steers us clear. My friends who are my family – they are the ones I choose to have in my life and I will treasure forever.

What new thing(s) did you learn about?

  • Library Advocacy
  • Library Research
  • The fact I am a survivor.
  • Menopause is not a life sentence.

What new thing(s) did you do?

  • Entered my school for a book review competition – and one of my favourite students won!
  • Networked like there was no tomorrow
  • Joined a committee to become a better Library advocate – ALIA Children’s and Youth Services
  • Designed my son’s hat for his school performance of the Lion King (I can be artistic…)
  • Volunteered at School Libraries (giving back to the communities)
  • Research library website accessibilities.
  • Took part in an interview about menopause for a PhD student’s research
  • Took my child to his first midnight movie opening, and having him say to me I’ve found my community – Star Wars fans of Ballarat I love you!!!!

What activities made you lose track of time?

  • Doing creative projects – knitting
  • Reading
  • Gardening
  • Hanging out with my family

What was the year’s funniest moment?

My son bursting into Let it Go! in his Lion King performance – he got the laughs and I was so proud of him for choosing to sing it and singing it….

What little things made you happy on a day-to-day basis?

  • My family
  • My cat Venom – the great smoocher of cats
  • My dog Rhoady – friend of all, and the best friend a child can have
  • My friends
  • My garden
  • Wearing clothes from op-shops
  • Picking fresh produce from my garden
  • Having a strong body that continues to weather menopause with me
  • My lovely friends
  • Good books
  • Libraries

How was your head? What was your most common mental state?

How am I going to fit this all in and still be the mother, lover, friend that I need myself to be?

Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?

Will I be able to finish all my goals this year? Yes I can, but only when I stop procrastinating and get on with it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

My stomach – oh the joys of low Fodmaps, gluten, dairy, soy, yeast free living. Everyday I’m not sure what will happen, and each day I try to be more mindful of what I eat. So introducing a mantra I say each morning – May I be mindful of what I eat today.

What was the biggest problem you solved?

How can I eat out – it’s hard for me being unable to just choose items off a menu, without going can’t eat this, can’t eat that. So I’m now focusing on what I can eat, and letting everything else get sorted.

What was your year in review?

Season’s greetings and thanks for being with me on this year of discovery!

Going on

So the past week I’ve been down with a cold, which means I slow right down……and it gives me a lot of time at night to ponder on the big issues, while I can’t sleep. (Colds and Menopause – who knew this is like chronic sleep deprivation for the non HRT me?).

I thought a lot about how I coped in the aftermath of the losses I’ve experienced so far. Of how I shut down at first by the first waves of grief, of how getting out of bed, eating right or even exercising seemed things too far away to cope with. Of sheltering in the grief as it pounded away at me.

Then there comes a day when you can get out bed, with your box of tissues, and though it’s not easy, you get through a day. It’s no longer getting through that initial hour by hour loss, but it’s a day. Slowly you learn to live in this new world that has been created for you by the loss, and your feelings of loss. You adapt, because you have to. If you don’t you stay mired at the point of loss, and forever swim in that tragic grief.

It’s not easy – the first year, all those firsts you have to weather. And our western society expects us to put on a brave face and get through them, even when all you want to do is crawl backwards into bed. For me it’s justifiable, that’s how I grieve, I wail, I gnash, I sob, and I want to do that by myself, in the safety of my own room. (Door closed, tissue boxes lined up). It’s not fair that we’re expected to hide this part of who we are now. But it’s part of what society expects. (A cruel expectation especially in that first year).

So you weather that first year, and you’re faced with the second, the third years, and I will say for me, they did get a little easier to deal with. But that’s because I allowed myself to grieve at my own pace and in my own fashion. I was kind and gentle to myself, and not taking on the stiff upper lip attitude when my heart had been broken and it felt like the world as I knew it had ended. (Even when it was obvious the rest of the world kept going, oblivious to the gaping hole now in my life).

So I’m now at sixteen years passed the death of my beloved mother. I can now think back on what we had, on what we shared, and also on her flaws. She’s no longer a saint, but a human being, that I loved dearly, even though we did argue, bicker and disagree on major issues. I can for the most part (last week excepted) talk about her, and share her with my own family now.

But it took a long time for me to get through looking at friend’s sharing moments with their own mothers without tearing up and crying. For the loss of what might have been, could have been, had been.

During these sixteen years, I’ve lost my Dad, friends, relations, and each loss has changed again my world subtly at times, or in the case of my Dad, forced me again to re evaluate what I wanted, what I needed to do with the remaining years of my own life.

So for me, going on after a loss of any kind, is a simple fact of just getting through the grief, to feel it wash over you, acknowledge it, and then be kind and gentle until you’re ready to start living the new life, the one that was formed in the temple of your grief. It’s hard, it’s bitter, it’s full of anger and rage at times, but it’s a process that we have to go through, to get to the new phase.

Grief

So here I am on the phone in an interview for a survey on my reproductive health – I know, but I love surveys and helping out surveyors from Universities seems the least I can do if it helps my sisters gain better access to medical treatment and support.

Anyway we’re discussing the influences on my own decisions, and bang, I’m overwhelmed at the thought of the influence my own mum had my decisions. I start crying. Now my Mum died when I was 28 – a lifetime for me ago now. I’ve been so good, being able to talk about her now, and really embracing her life and all that she contributed.

But right there on the phone, I was hanging there, overwhelmed and shaky of voice for what I had lost, and for what she had given me – the power to choose my own reproductive health. She had empowered me – even though we disagreed on a lot of issues, but she had given me the gift that I now embrace.

So I choked on my grief, felt that burn that comes with a wave of my own grief, for what I have lost, what has been lost by her death. I feel for everyone who is experiencing the raw grief now, and those of us who have moved past that and into the grief that comes out of nowhere and catches us out. But it’s a sign of how deeply an impression that person has had on our lives, that makes this grief appear.

I finished the interview, and the interviewer was so very kind to me, as I blubbered quietly, and drank my glass of water to get me back on track. I’d mentioned to her that grief is another one of those issues that isn’t spoken about, just like a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive choices. It’s a taboo, and so when it does appear, we all scurry away from it – all of those who aren’t embracing it, and accepting it as part of who they are.

Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Lactose Free

Okay so I’ve been missing in action – it’s been a busy few months for me, but ten days ago I decided I’d had enough of an addiction that I’ve been battling for decades.

So I’ve started down the route of reducing and eliminating sugar from my diet. I have been eating fruit – two pieces a day, but apart from the sugar in the Soy Milk I drink, that’s it. No sugary sweets or desserts, and what a difference I’m finding.

As you might know, I’m also menopausing – after undergoing the big operations in the previous two years, and I’ve found eliminating both excess sugar, and gluten has had a benefit of reducing my horrendous night sweats and hot flushes.

It’s hard, I’m not saying giving up a lifetime addiction is easy, I can easily be distracted into looking at super sweet desserts or pondering what I’m going to chew on while writing my assignments for University….But it’s going to be worth it in the long run.

Some books that I found really helpful in my decision included:

Sweet Poison by David Gillespie and I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson.

Sweet Poison author David Gillespie

I Quit Sugar

Three Things

Image

I’m always one for a list, and this one I first saw on the amazing Jena Strong post, and followed it back to http://www.listsandletters.com – there is something about change that frightens folks, when I see it as the opportunity to get rid of the old ways and instil some better ways of living…..so here’s my list…..

1. I’m now going through the last change in my reproductive life – yes Menopause. Brought on by the loss of both my ovaries, my uterus and a couple of masses that grew up out and all over. This is the biggest change I’ve ever gone through – including puberty. This is a one way journey which I will emerge from stronger, healthier, and full of life.

2. I’ve given myself the freedom to turn off the negative voice, to no longer heed it’s dire warnings. Living without the fear of failure, is something I need to change in myself, and accept that the only way I do learn is to fail, and by picking myself up and continuing, only then will I know I’m actually a winner….confused????

3.By daring to open myself up to others, and to be able to give compassion and empathy, without depleting myself in the process. A huge ask I know, but one that I’m learning can help and be helpful to so many people.

Work placement – the life of a menopausal change of career student….

Ah as I wrote the title, I wondered how I would fit in with a marketing survey, as I don’t really fit any of the usual roles that someone my age would be experiencing.

It’s day one, of my work placement at the Ballarat Gold Museum. I loved it! The museum is a small one, but it’s filled with a dedicated group of volunteers and professional staff. The folks were all super friendly, and the collections were very interesting…..

I spent the afternoon in the stacks, sorting out the library collection – which has been moved twice and is need of some tender care…or at least some sorting.

I’ll be back again on Friday for my next session, and hope to enjoy it even more – as they’ll be giving me training on using their information systems…….

The only drawback? The fast paced walk between the Museum and my child’s school to make sure I’m there in time for school pick up….

I am so grateful that I took a chance and emailed them about a possible work placement. I think I’ll add this to my list of things I’m grateful for. Enjoy the rest of your day!

The countdown

My days fly by with a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, and my time draws closer. More and more I stress, and grump and cranky around the house. I snap at my loved ones, because I’m tired, and so weary of this chronic pain.

I weep from the loss of what I was, and what I will be after the surgery. I hope in those dim dark hours of the night, that I will be clear of it all, after the surgery. That which lies within me is just benign, and can be cleared out.

And so my countdown begins and passes, and the 5th of December draws closer…..

Round Two

The fight is back on – and I’m back to where I was little under a year ago. Another mass has grown inside of me, and my right ovary is busy producing cysts. The mass burst and began to hemorrhage away last Sunday night (it’s still doing it….right now as I type…) – the pain was like a contraction – that doesn’t end. And I ended up again on the bathroom floor – thinking this is it, this is how I go….on the bathroom floor with the cat next to me……

But here I am – a week of bed rest and painkillers that leave me full of cotton wool and just take down the ache to something manageable. I’m off to the boss of the surgeon who operated on me last October, tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be able to negotiate the removal of the mass, the right ovary and anything else that is looking like it wants to mutate.

I’ve been through my stages of grief – this last week, that’s what bed rest will do to you – gives you time to think, contemplate, rage and cry….

I’m determined that when they pull this sucker out it will be benign = and that I’ll make another recovery, better than the last. And then I will be back to enjoying a life without the chronic pain.

So know that I may not be posting, I’m still here – battling my own little war, against genetic mutations.

I wish you joy and happiness in each of your days

Life goes on

Just when you think you can do no more, a little something comes along and you go oh why not?

I’ve joined the Women’s Wellness study through QUT – and am loving it. It’s hard work – imagine having to put yourself first, and making a conscious effort to ensure you’re managing the fruit, veggie, calcium components of the diet every day – but it’s fantastic. I’m exercising each and every day, and though I have some bad days when all I can think about is sugar, it’s a great program. Best of all – I’m contributing to the scientific research into women of a certain stage…and that’s got to be of benefit for all the women who will be experiencing early onset of menopause….

 

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