Health, life lessons

ON A BENDER

A slight bump in the road occurs, occasionally, when I go off the deep end and slide into sugar and wine oblivion. Sometimes it is just a slight curve and I put my hands on the wheel and do a quick course correction. Then there are the times when I head straight down the bank and end up in a ditch hoping someone will find me before it is too late.

This sounds dire. I sound like there is a cause for an intervention. It is not that bad. Really. Because the one thing I know about me better than anyone is my own slippery slope. I used to blame it on PMS, but I can’t do that anymore since there is no more of that. There is definitely a time limit on using the C word too, coming up on two and half years already, I think I have used that excuse for going off the deep end enough. “Enough already,” I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head say.

So what is it? Why do I have this constant yo-yo where I can feel so incredible and unstoppable, not drinking any wine or eating any sugar that it causes me to almost self-sabotage, like there is some force greater than me saying, “Oh yeah? You feel this good? We’ll fix that.” I know every time I break my flow with “just one glass of wine” or “just one brownie,” I am off and running. Before I know it, I have eaten like an entire cake and drank way too many bottles of wine on the front porch.

Why does this happen? A normal person (if there is such a thing) would say, “Well, Alayne, if you know this is your pattern, then why must you incessantly rewind, repeat?” Sounds so simple. I am a smart successful and generous entrepreneur. I “live life to the fullest” following my brother’s instructions from his death bed like there is no tomorrow. I know better. But yet, I slide.
I have worked incessantly on myself for years trying to understand this pattern of mine.

The funny thing about twists and turns is that I only realize the ‘why’ part after the deep dive. During the dive, when it would be most advantageous to catch myself, is too late. I am ALL in. Whipping up blueberry cake, chocolate babka and cheese-ladened Mexican lasagna filled with dairy that surely would make my breast cancer doctor wince with estrogenic pain.

What I have realized with this last wild ride is that this happens when I am stressed. It is not some self sabotage at all. In fact, I like myself, I am happy with my world, why the hell would I need to sabotage this life I have made with my own two hands? But yet here I am. The weekend after too much wine and too much babka.
Stress.

Cortisol.

High stress=High Cortisol levels.

High cortisol levels=constant fight or flight mode. But there is no fight and there is no flight except to the refrigerator and thus the fatigue subsides as soon as the first sip of wine or the first bite of cake.

It is immediate. And it is satisfying- this temporary fix that no amount of self talk can persuade otherwise. Cortisol is pure power. It is what has made humanity sustain itself. But humanity, these days, is not the same as it was when survival was literal. Survival these days is dealing with the stressors that our bodies and minds could never be prepared for. On top of this, there is the constant brain workings of my mind with thousands of ideas and trying to execute many at the same time.

My mind holds the ideas, but what I lack is the reality of how much time each idea is really going to take. This is where my stressors are. So much work, SO little time. I am convinced that as much as we talk about nutrition as being a precursor to cancer, my gut tells me it is cortisol’s constant production in my system. This is why I exercise and meditate- to attempt to create tools to wind down this overactive brain of mine. And it really helps.

But sometimes I just need to eat cake and drink wine. This really helps too. Except that after a few days of it, my heart starts to race and my head starts to think negative thoughts that were definitely not there before I did my deep dive. The effects of meditation and exercise and healthy eating are cumulative. The effects of wine and cake are immediate and sometimes I just need immediate.

AGING, Women

MAN-O-PAUSE

“You definitely need to workout in nature outside, often,” my dear and beloved fitness trainer, Kathy M., said to me after we finished an ass kicking workout yesterday.

We were speaking of menopause. Again. This is the hot, (pun totally intended), topic these days. It seems like every woman I know is talking about menopause. Maybe this is such a hot button issue because we are seeing the benefits of women entering the medical profession over the last twenty years. Finally, we are seeing the results of their influence.

Women are talking about menopause like it is, in fact, something. No kidding. Something indeed. We are actually saying the words, vaginal dryness, out-fucking-loud in daily conversations with other women. Hallelujah!

Nature is my solace for my post menopausal brain. No matter what is happening in my spinning washing machine cycle head, as soon as I go outside and smell the air, I am better. Going through menopause is one thing, but like a mastectomy and reconstruction, it is what happens after the dust settles where the real psycho body and mind shit starts kicking in. This is when we need to be talking and walking. Now.

I don’t mean to keep repeating the obvious, but since my grandmother never said the word, vagina aloud ever, I do so for any woman who lived before me in hot and dry silence. Vaginal dryness, belly bloat, weird crepey, saggy skin that is starting to creep in, cellulite and flab, no matter how many protein shakes and push ups. Seriously, when I smile now, my upper lip seems to stay back before it bounces back. My hair is on speed dial causing a full time date with the morning light and the magnifying mirror I previously vowed complete celibacy to, never mind looking in the rear view car mirror. Wouldn’t matter anyway since I can’t see anymore. I envy when women say, “hair barely grows on my legs anymore.” In my dreams.

Since I now need a magnifying mirror, this comes with its own set of warnings, like the magnification of every brown spot and line that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I just noticed the other day in that unfortunate light that my eye lid is starting to head south, like over my eyeball. Thankfully I have stopped wearing makeup so at least the mascara won’t land on my cheek. My mother taught me good skin care early on, and I actually listened, since moisturizing regularly has certainly paid off. I have pretty good skin, but since this has been my profession, I suppose it better be good.

Then there is the sitting in my beach chair and looking down at my stomach that belongs to some other woman. Where did the rolls come from? And I am not talking rolls because I am overweight. I am just speaking of my skin that now just rolls. How and when did they arrive? I swear, five minutes ago I was strutting around in a bikini, a real bikini, not a tankini, not a skirt, and now I am here at the beach thinking maybe my two piece life is actually really over for good.

I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with a foot or a leg cramp that jolts me out of bed reminding me that I need to be more regular with the magnesium. Then there are the conversations about all of this happening like we chicks are the first ones to ever experience any of this, (of course writing about all of this doesn’t warrant talk about flowers and shopping, I get that). Well, we are surely not the first, but we may just be the first to actually say it loud and proud, like it is some badge of honor instead of some hysterical Freudian hallucination.

I look at the young mamas with their babies and fifteen hundred dollar strollers prancing around with their latte in the cup holders that now come with said strollers. They walk with their phone in one hand adorned with their athletic wear like having a baby these days is some type of fashion show. I am so happy I am past that point of no return. Way too much technology these days distracting these parents from the present moment. My friends and I can’t help but live in the present moment of hot flashes and night sweats that came without warning taking over our bodies. And our minds.

Sometimes I don’t even know how my brain works each day. I am thankful for nature, meditation, working out, and connection. Connection is what keeps me sane these days. Connection with myself, my body’s new reality, and my friends and family. (And wine, but more on this later.) This is all we have. And we, in our circle of fifty something chicks, seem to be realizing this wholeheartedly.

This is the good part of menopause, it reminds me with each and every flash to wake up, pay attention, that time is moving along and I might want to start that bucket list or project I have on my endless to do list. (To do lists becoming more necessary because of the memory lapsing that I will add here as another end result of menopause.) Better yet, as Arianna Huffington said in a great interview, “You can also just simply take the to do off of the to do list and call it a day.” Amen. Just saying that feels liberating.

Instead of calling it menopause, maybe we should call it, Man, do I pause. Because if menopause has taught me anything, it is to pause. It is to take notice and realize that these hot flashes, that have finally slowed down, are to remind me that I am ready for the next phase. No more babies, no more adolescents, college graduation looms large this upcoming year for my only child and I am realizing that have my whole life ahead of me.

Man, do I pause, because the only person left standing is me. I get to choose the next part. I have my man, sure, but I am solo by choice in the sense of decision making, life ahead and wonder and creativity abounds. This is a great time to pause. I am done here, but not there. The there is next. Let’s just hope for a little moisture in the there, is that too much to ask?

Lines, greying hair, white hair in my eyebrows, man-do- I-PAUSE.
NATURE, WOMEN'S HEALTH

IF I DIDN’T

I decided to head out for a walk on Friday morning instead of the gym because I was reminded while reading information by a new practitioner I just met. She wrote about the equal importance of outdoor fitness- connecting with nature and your body- along with gym workouts. I know this to be true because there is nothing like nature to settle my overactive brain. Working out at the gym does this too, but in a much harder way. The vigorous pounding and accelerated heart rate, literally, beats it out of me.

Nature is the opposite; it is settling, calming and acts more like a slow, steady paddle on a calm morning. It is the yin to my souped up yang. Souped up yang as my heart lately has been racing, my brain has been in overdrive and all of this leaves me with feelings of inadequacies and not good enough thinking that makes me feel super shitty.

Is it the full moon? (yes), the approaching intensity of the glorious summer solstice? (yes), is it the fast approaching seventeen year anniversary of being in business? (I hadn’t thought about that, but YES). Yes to all because I can feel a big, bad ass shift happening, but I haven’t figured the ‘it’ out yet. Me and not figuring ‘it’ out is an awkward dance that creates undo stress. I don’t like not knowing. Which is exactly why I am here. Not knowing is where I am supposed to be and this is something I definitely know.

Ironic. My grandmother would say, “Alayne, sometimes no decision is the best decision.” I don’t know why this gives me an immediate sense of comfort, but it does. I bring the need to make decisions on in a way that causes pressure on this overachieving mind of mine. This is the challenge of a creative soul, for sure. Always moving and shaking and if things are not moving and shaking, well, then I must move and shake them.

So the counter balance is to cease and desist, not completely, but to use nature as my guiding light as the opposing force to settle my ass down in a chair and stare. To walk on a path by the water with no phone and no companion except my beating heart and my Serena strong legs to propel me along the beauty I get to call my place on this earth.

The first step is usually the one that causes me procrastination for no apparent reason other than the call of my house. Writing, cooking, typing, organizing, working, are all little parts of the why I may not always make time to go for that casual stroll alone, but I did anyway.

If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have seen an elegant shimmery white egret fly over me, full spread wings, headed for his landing pad of the harbor. The sound of his movement was what caused me to look up and stop in awe to watch. While I was looking up, I heard the familiar sound of the Osprey who has the prime real estate address of Poppasquash Rd. in Bristol, Rhode Island with his family and saw him carrying a fish. What a sight! Like the sounds of cardinals, I can always recognize the Osprey’s high pitched whistling sound. This is a rewarding lesson that keeps giving as their majestic wing span soaring over my house is a sight to behold.

If I didn’t take that walk, I wouldn’t have noticed the baby bunnies foraging for food, looking so vulnerable as they learn the ropes of finding nourishment. I wouldn’t have had the conversations with my friend, Greg down at the harbormaster’s office as I passed by on my way towards the path along the water about the new ferry service from Bristol to Newport to Providence. I wouldn’t have picked up the schedule to learn the times that it runs and subsequently made plans yesterday to head into Providence on the new ferry service. This led me to be part of the all inclusive and heart warming welcoming to all who come in peace, Pride Fest. I found my way to a brand new vegan, but you would never know it, restaurant called Plant City.

On my walk, I saw people out doing the same, business owners getting their storefronts ready for business. I enjoyed the rich aromas of the glorious seaside town I get to call home and feel and hear my heart beating because of my pace. I felt the bay air and wind through my hair and on my skin as I got a nice sweat going from the speed in which I am privileged to keep my legs moving forward with. My olfactory system would have not smelled the beginnings of the summer roses opening, coupled with the aromas of flowers, herbs and freshly cut grass as the good people of Bristol are in their happy place, getting their homes ready for July 4th.

I wouldn’t have noticed the bird with the bright red breast and the grey head on the top of the pillar on my front porch after my walk was complete as I took the time to sit there with a nice cup of coffee. I had never seen a bird like this and though it pained me to break from my trance of just simply admiring without having to take a picture, I went in to my house and got my phone to capture him or her. It wasn’t for posterity as much as curiosity and being able to remember the description so I could find out what bird this was. She let me take a picture almost posing and we had a lovely connection before she flew away.

This brief encounter caused me to open up an Audubon bird book collecting dust on my shelf that some dear friends of my grandmother had sent as a gift to my son. I spent a half hour looking for a picture of this bird to no avail. a few days later, I walked next door to ask my bird loving friend, Dottie, and she didn’t know either. This caused me to head yesterday on my quest to find out the name of this bird to a new favorite spot, The Redwood Library in Newport, RI to look for some bird books and see if I could get to the bottom of this little sweet bird’s name. I couldn’t find a picture that fit the exact description, but while perusing the shelves, I come across a paper thin book of poetry by Audrey Silcox, a poet who lived from 1890–1944, she died at the age I am now. This was next to another book by Ruth Whitman called The Testing of Hannah Senesh. Hannah Senesh was a famous heroine of WWII who was captured after parachuting into Yugoslavia because an informant turned her in. She was executed after spending nine months in a concentration camp at 23 for trying to save her Hungarian Jewish friends and family.

This book of poetry captured my attention and I became so ensconced in the writing that I ended up sitting there for two hours to finish it. Yesterday at the library was like a live version of internet surfing except I was sitting in the sunlight at my back in a comfy old dark green leather chair with the only sounds being the crinkling of the opening and closing of library books instead of the tapping of the keys and the bings of text messages at every second.

I know that the actual reading of a real book of poetry, a real walk in the rain on the way home with my umbrella that my partner reminded me to take and the time it gave me to be myself was significant for my health. I don’t know the science of why, I am sure there is science, but I don’t really need this because I go with the feeling. Surfing the internet vs being in nature gives me two completely different feelings, the latter always soothes, awakens me from my slumber and calms that nothing else can compete or compare with.

If I didn’t go outside for that forty minute or so walk a few days ago, I wouldn’t have known what I might have missed, but I didn’t miss anything because I said yes to me. I walked and glided along and kept the promise to myself to get outside and enjoy the day. All of this nature took me on a weekend journey I hadn’t anticipated, but I allowed its guidance.

Nature never disappoints and it always rewards me. I don’t know why I would even procrastinate ever again. Though I didn’t find out the name of the bird until I texted the picture to my friend, Julie, who knows all things birds. I realize the irony of this and what humbles me is that, perhaps, I can allow room for both. Nature and technology. There are some time saving aspects to the brilliance of the Google search, for sure. I just have to make sure that I am in the drivers seat instead of letting it take me for the ride of incredible time wasting- looking down, missing what’s up.

The cardinals were with me on almost the entire walk this past Friday, egging me on, telling me that this is always the best remedy for a busy mind. My life and my brain is calmed, my world feels better and I am ready for my day. All because I did instead of didn’t. And by the way, the bird according to Julie is a house finch. “Yep, that’s a lovely little house finch,” she texted back. “They’re beautiful color and have the best song. They’re common, but really special.” #luckyindeed.

Breast cancer, life lessons, Women

DECONSTRUCTION OF RECONSTRUCTION

I look in the mirror and I am unsure of the image staring back at me. It has happened; my body is shifting in a way that despite the workouts there is a reorganization of sorts happening. I did not see this coming when I was in the decision phase of replacement parts for the breast tissue that would be removed. I say breast tissue because I have learned that this is really what a mastectomy is. It is a scooping out of all of the stuff that makes your breasts stare back at you and in need of a bra. If it were anything other than this, the skin would not be there and the breast surgeon keeps this so the plastic surgeon has the shell to work their magic on. This is why saying, take them off is incorrect. Scoop them out is more like it. But that sounds disgusting compared to take them off, so take them off seems to be the go to phrase.

This is what they did with me. Worked their magic so that when I woke up from my surgery two years ago, I would get the joy of having something similar to what was there before. It seemed like a great idea at the time. So much so that I never considered the alternatives as I wrote endlessly during that time how much I liked my breasts. And I did. And I do.

Sort of.

The reason, (that seemed obvious at the time), I chose reconstruction was that I didn’t want nothing. I never even imagined this as a possibility because I just couldn’t see myself with no boobs. I had a definite identity with them; they defined my shape, my femininity, my sexuality, my sensuality. When the doctor was reviewing all of the bells and whistles that make up a successful reconstruction surgery, listening to the details of this was not my priority. This is shocking to me in retrospect, since I am the annoying woman at the grocery store analyzing every label, driving endlessly to all of the specialty stores to buy bio dynamic wine, but I can understand why. At the time there was so much going on in learning how to remove the cancer, that the removal and replacement distinct details of post surgery were almost insignificant.

Getting diagnosed with early stage breast cancer twice in a two year span ensured my mental focus on removal of all things cancer. I didn’t ask the detailed questions about the silicone that would soon be replacing the real live breast tissue or the long term effects of having fat liposuctioned from the lower part of my abdomen so the breasts would have a more natural shape. I didn’t ask why this would even be important down the road and what it would ultimately do to my very flat stomach. Because honestly, life vs keeping my flat stomach was really not in my radar as a priority. Seems silly to even write it, frankly.

Let me preface the remainder of this piece today with the full realization that I am talking cosmetic surgery. I am aware that I am alive, that a simple mammogram saved my life twice and two years later I am a happy chick. I am humbled and am deeply grateful for the experience and the survival. I am not supposed to complain about these weird post observations. I am supposed to be happy I am alive and it feels selfish that I speak out about this. But this is typical of women’s issues. There is this unwritten law to not complain, to not speak up and out, to instead smile and be grateful. This is why this is a struggle to write about the reconstruction experience two years later. I don’t want to complain and sound like I am anything other than thankful for being alive. At the same time, I am starting to see the post surgery for what it really is and the impact that it has on my body.

I hesitate in even writing this because of all of the friends of people who were just diagnosed reading this and thinking immediately, “I have to forward this to my (insert female name here) right now since she is just getting ready to go into her surgery tomorrow and she needs to read this.”

Please don’t forward. This won’t be helpful. It will just create stress and confusion for an already stressed and confused time. Elective cosmetic surgery is already loaded with guilt ridden thoughts. It is saying aloud that I care a lot about how I look to the world and to myself and whether you choose to do reconstruction like I did, or you didn’t (like sometimes I wish I had) the choice is one you get to literally live with. My plastic surgeon doctor said on more than one occasion, “Alayne, remember, this is elective surgery.” This always cracked me up because it wasn’t him sitting opposite of me deciding whether or not he wanted his penis cut off and not replaced or replaced. Easy for him to say.

right after reconstruction hard to believe this was two years ago. holy time travel.

The getting used to part of reconstruction is that weird paragraph left out of the conversations in the intensity of planning a mastectomy. In reflection this part would likely not be helpful at the time, but now seems, in hind site seems like it would have. That is the learning curve of hind site, isn’t it? This is all a fantasy world that I live in though, because no matter how much anyone tried to explain the part about living with silicone implants as a new tenant in my body, nothing anyone could have said would have prepared me for the feeling of them. No conversations, no analogies, no sharing of stories from other women who have them. Implants from reconstruction have to be experienced to really appreciate what I am talking about.

They are not bad, they are not good, they are just there. Living in my body reminding me that I am here and this is good. They are also reminding me that there is always a chance I won’t be and I suppose this is good too. The possibilities of not being here create a sense of urgency in my soul though that can often debilitate me into freezing on decisions instead of moving at the speed necessary to get the plans of action done in a time before the next thing comes at me.

The post time of reconstruction surgery is when the conversations need to be happening. This is when the dust has settled and there are no more frequency of doctor’s appointments to feel like someone cares about the trauma your body just went through. We are numbers in the world of reconstruction unless there is a problem or another diagnosis, we are on our own to figure out what all of this emotional roller coaster of feelings is about.

I am lucky. I have many resources. I know how to talk, to write, to take care of myself and my needs and I have the means to do this. There are thousands of women who don’t. Who are struggling with these rocky and uneven paths they have found themselves on and don’t realize they are not alone. GloriaGemma.org, in Rhode Island is a worthwhile and deeply authentic source. My new friend, Kristen Carbone, has just started a website for this very dialogue, brilliantly.co, because she chose to have preventative surgery and, she, too, realizes the need for conversation.


What I do know is that we need to talk about this. Often. Problems or no problems. Choosing reconstruction or not choosing it. Boobs are getting scooped out left and right, silicone is getting placed inside our bodies with a vengeance and as more and more women say yes or no to this, we need to stick together and TALK. Just to be sure that what we are all experiencing is moving up and out and not going down and under. Down and under creates stress. Stress creates cancer and we all know we don’t want any more of that.

Health, self love, Women

NOT DRINKING (TODAY)

We drinking chicks love our wine and our cocktails. We love our rituals of choosing the perfect bottle of Proseco knowing that the front porch on a warm summer eve calls us at 5pm for that first sip of sparking delight. What is it about that first sip, the tiny sparkly bubbles headed from your tongue to your throat that automatically cause a big happy sigh? Or a robust red on a cold winter night after a long day sitting by fire recapping the events from work or life with your partner?

For so many women I know, drinking and its box of rituals have been the norm. We talk about it, we plan around it , we gather together to imbibe with it. Cocktails take the edge off. Off of what? I don’t know because in my circle of acquaintances for the most part, the edge we speak of is life coming at us. Besides the inevitable twists and turns that make up what life is, our edges our pretty mild.

We, of course, have our struggles, but no one said life was supposed to be anything less. Struggles are what make us rebound, strengthen and stand taller. No one wants them, but for a majority of the pain give or take extreme situations, we usually can look back and say the struggle was worth it. With the exception of losing a child, or a person in your life who is far too young to die there aren’t extremes in the world I get to live that causes a pain so deep one can’t climb the mountain. But this is me. And most of my friends. We were raised resilient and we power on.

I have had my share of struggles and have had my share of wine. I have quit drinking on more than one occasion and one time I quit for a full seven years. This was one of my proudest accomplishments because it wiped all of the cobwebs from my foggy brain that I didn’t know what foggy and allowed me to think clearly about my future. Drinking puts a (pun intended) cork in the ability for me to flourish and make serious decisions. Drinking alcohol allows me to put off those decisions, keeping them at bay and removing the emotions that sometimes have to come with those decisions. But none of this is even in my radar at the time. I only have this wisdom when I cease and desist.

I was walking along looking for somebody, and then suddenly I wasn’t anymore. – Winnie the Pooh

You know when you have a plugged drain? But before it gets to the point when you have to call the plumber, you see that the water is taking more time to leave the sink and go down the drain? You let that happen for a few weeks hoping that it will miraculously just go down with a few plunges or some Draino. But we all know that this is highly unlikely. At some point the problem of the clogged drain will need to be solved or else you simply will not be able to use the sink. The residues of toothpaste and face cleanser will leave a circle of film in your sink and the need to clean it will become an almost daily grind because you didn’t take care of the clog when you first noticed it.

This is what drinking is like for me. I come from a family of alcoholics as so many of us do because drinking is just so much damn fun. It is so much easier to pour a glass of gorgeous Brunello instead of sitting on a mat and meditating. Life is short, right? Enjoy the wine. Fuck all these self imposed rules and regulations, right? Just eat the cookie and drink the frickin wine, right? Well not so fast, though I have a lot of friends who can just have one glass of wine and sip it slowly, this is not my gig. I wish it were. My grandfather has two glasses of red every single night at five pm. Without fail. And he is 101. Some people can just have the wine and call it a day. For me, I have the wine and I want more wine. Then the next day I want it again. And the ritual turns into a self talk garble and each day I get foggier and less clear about my purpose. The cobwebs re-enter at a slow barely noticeable pace until one day a few weeks in, I just don’t feel good. I feel imbalanced and emotionally unsteady. I find myself questioning my core. I never do this when I am not drinking alcohol. So I decided the day after my son’s 21st birthday, that I would apply the one day at a time mantra to giving up drinking today. My friends say, “are you drinking or not drinking?” Instead of the black and white yes or no, locking me into the corner,  I say instead, “I am not drinking today.”

Because this is true. Today is all I know. And what I know is that when I don’t drink alcohol I feel a sense of inner power and direction that allows me to get the creative juice ideas headed in the right direction at the speed of light. With no detours and dead ends. I feel good, great, better when I don’t drink. So I am not drinking today. And as life comes at me and the universe tells its story to me the way it is supposed to I come across the article yesterday about this “movement,” this new “thing” called elective sobriety because God forbid everything doesn’t have a branding possibility. Women are consciously not drinking alcohol and cutesy names are popping up all over the place. Mocktails. Soberinstagram. Sobercurious hashtags and websites and pop up gatherings are apparently now a trend. Because in our world we live in, everything seems to need to be something. But in this case, I wholeheartedly agree. Why do we feel the need to escape from our luscious brilliant selves? As Glinda the Good Witch said, “You’ve always had the power, my dear.”

The more we connect with our own true selves and learn who those selves really are, we march forth rather than stay stuck. Sometimes staying is stuck is necessary as it is part of the discovery process, but drinking for me keeps me there. Keeps my foot in the quicksand and the other foot trying to run ahead.

So for today anyway, I make my own mocktails, drink my hot tea by the fire and figure out ways to enjoy the festivities of holidays and gatherings without feeling the need to mute the edge. Because when my edge is sharp, it makes cutting a tomato way easier than trying to use a dull blade. I like the sharpness the gift of not drinking gives me. This alone is what makes the day be the next one and the one after that. So for today, I try again because I have always had the power.


This is the article I read that prompted this writing today. Great post. Thank you @Virginia Sole-Smith

https://elemental.medium.com/the-rise-of-elective-sobriety-8989550afbcb

Breast cancer, Health, Women

MY ANXIOUS HEART

Simmering and hiding in the closet are where all anxieties sit and wait. And Wait. Wait while I drink my cocktails, eat my cheesecake, fry up endless grilled cheese sandwiches on a range of delicious breads and binge watch Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Last week, last month, the last three months, frankly, the free for all that I greatly enjoyed in going south with my health has come out of the closet and begun its bubbling over. This is the direct result of my cease and desist this past week of all fun food and drink. Yes please roll your eyes, (again), total permission. Truth be told, I had to do this. My joints were aching beyond belief, the tightness I felt in my mastectomied reconstructed upper body was causing me great discomfort and the only solution based on numerous prior experiences was to stop the inflammatory insults I was directing at my body.

There is so much confusion over health, what to eat, what not to eat. A glass of wine every day is good for the heart, wine is bad for cancer, sugar causes cancer cells to multiply, meat is bad, meat is good, dairy is necessary for calcium so our bones don’t break off like a delicate shell on a sandy beach, dairy is filled with estrogen so therefore shouldn’t be eaten if you have had estrogen positive breast cancer. Vegetarian, paleo, low fat, full fat, grains and bread, no grains and bread, intermittent fasting or eating every three hours. You go to the doctor for any ailment and are never asked what your diet is like. You speak to a nutritionist or a dietician and your answer will depend on the directive from who their boss might be.

Then there is the internet. And health podcasts and magazines. Everyone has their own take. But where is the science? Like the law, there seems to be broad interpretations of science as it relates to nutrition. After studying on my own for over twenty years, what I do know is that we are all unique and no one food is good for all. What I also know is that when I am not eating certain foods, I have no joint pain, I have reduced tightness in my chest and back and a mental clarity that is unstoppable. Here is what I also know, that the deep dive down the rabbit hole is an excuse to numb out from stress and anxiety-life coming at us in whatever form has vestiges of stress. Just trying to read one article on the internet and getting slammed with five ads in between every paragraph is a form of stress, minor yes, but distracting. This seems like a silly example but pile them up and they are significant. A glass of wine at the end of a day really softens the blows of life, but with my personality, as I have written about on numerous occasions, I am just not a one glass of wine kind of gal. For me it is all or nothing. So when I stop, the simmering pot gets turned up on high heat and boils fast. My heart starts to race, crazy thoughts begin darting and my energy feels unleashed. All part of the detox process that I am completely comfortable with because I have been down this path many times.

The stuff I have been trying to escape or numb out from jumps out of the closet, but the upside is that the joint pain goes away.This in itself is worth the flying monkeys in my head because I know that those flying monkeys only have their power for the first week of my detox, then they head back out to torment someone else. Having a mastectomy and reconstruction, almost two years later, has a set of issues that I hadn’t considered. I have spent the first full year healing and getting used to this new addendum, but now the reality of it is a daily reminder in my back, in my arm and my breasts. I don’t want to feel joint pain or numbness. I don’t want to feel my lower back tweaked every time I do a vigorous workout. I know that certain foods cause inflammation in my body and I know this because I am in tune with my body. Inflammation in my body shows up as heartburn, swelling, bloating, and joint pain. I know that sugar, dairy, wine and pretty much anything delicious causes inflammation in my body. I know this because when I stop eating these items, all of the problems go away in my body. I don’t think this is a coincidence because I am my own science experiment. I am also not willing to give my life over to Big Pharma. I refuse. Many people I know who struggle with inflammatory issues are not willing to give up the foods they love and I totally understand this. It is hard to say pass to the delight that dairy, sugar, bread and wine gives to us. But I also know I feel so fabulous when I am free from the role they play in my life.

January 1 every year is that glorious date that cleans the year before. I mean every day is a new year when I think about it, but there is something about NEW YEARS DAY. That chance to get it right again. It is neat and tidy and filled with hopes and dreams. When I did my reflection on what was missing this past year, I decided it was spirituality. I have definitely been slacking in that department. I am speaking of daily consciousness to a power greater than myself. The While the Coffee Perks meditation has been a glorious awakening for my spiritual self and once that pandora’s box opened, I am jumping in full steam ahead to see what other cobwebs I can clean out of this old soul. It’s only Jan 4, but I am confident that this New Year will be a pleasant one and one I very much deserve.

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SIDE EFFECT: SKINNY

SIDE EFFECT: SKINNY

There it was, in the cookbook section of the small independent bookstore I have made my way to every year for the past six in the stunning fall foliage of the White Mountains. I had found myself with some alone time, meandering through the small shops of North Conway, New Hampshire and decided to visit my favorite store for the second time this week. My partner was back at the condo reading and resting, I was out on Main St. trying to support the local New Hampshire economy like a good tourist. I don’t really buy books any more. I relish using the library now, the smell, the neatly covered books with their plastic protectors, the interaction with the librarians and volunteers. But here I stood in the aisles among rows and rows of glorious possibilities and found myself scanning the cookbooks.

One book almost impossible to take out of the library is a cookbook. First of all, a cookbook needs its butter smears and gravy drippings on its pages, eliminating it immediately from being a library contender. For a while I was taking books I had purchased to the beach rather than the library book I had taken out for fear of getting it greased with sunscreen. Now that I am a seasoned library book borrower however I have graduated myself to a successful beach outing with the loaner. But cookbooks still don’t really fall into a successful library book borrow so here I was gazing. I surely don’t need another cookbook, I have plenty I haven’t even made my way through yet, but there she was in her aerobic clothing, midriff bare like a teenager, hair coiffed like Farrah Fawcett, perfectly blonde feathered bang, lovely and firm cleavage gazing out at the camera as if she were posing for seventeen magazine in the seventies. Except the difference was she wasn’t seventeen. Unless she got married at thirteen, she had to be at least forty- five since her bio on the inside jacket fold said she had been married for twenty five years with two teenage daughters.

The person I am speaking of was or rather is Denise Austin of famed workout DVD kind, like Jane Fonda fame. I have never worked out to a Denise Austin video, but I have seen her on morning talk shows back when I was a young mother and she was too. She is a successful famous woman who made a business and a name for herself in the fitness boom way before YouTube and Amazon TV. I picked up the book somewhat startled at myself for doing so. I am not generally interested in books like this screaming at me that skinny is the desired word of choice for my future body. Skinny coming from who has a six pack and her real breasts, probably still has her ovaries too for that matter. But for some reason there in the independent book store filled with my peeps and their natural hair color and birkenstocks I bent down and picked the book up. As my fingers made their way to lift the book I did look out the corners of my right and left side to see who might be witnessing because this book was a bit embarrassing to be seen with. Its cover not only screamed SIDE EFFECT: SKINNY, it had a disclaimer on the bottom. WARNING: Reading this book may cause thinner waistline, toned tummy, slender thighs & a sudden burst in confidence.

I laughed a loud. Denise, really? Did you just come from a time warped seventies Cosmopolitan magazine? For some reason I found myself opening the book to the peruse its pages filled with “Denise’s Tips for the first time!” Words like long awaited and redefining the word skinny showing us that “you don’t have to be rail thin to look gorgeous and live healthier.” I stood there speechless, but enamored with her in a twisted sort of way in what seemed like a very dated message. If I don’t have to be rail thin to look gorgeous, then why is she showing her rail thin scantily clad body as an example? She got my attention. As I read on in this granola book store , she, just in the jacket cover alone, used the word tummy and trim making me think I was reading a Good Housekeeping magazine article on keeping my man happy.

I decided to buy the book. I don’t know why. Something came over me as I read her encouraging yet dated words of wisdom. I felt like I was cheating on my entire female tribe by buying this book so I slithered over to the counter purchasing a second book that I could place on top so as not to be discovered by the gender neutral person at the front desk. Did she just roll her eyes at me? Did she think I was to be pitied for having the type of personality and self talk to warrant the purchase of this book? I wanted to let her know I was buying this book as more female research than as a diet book. I don’t believe in diets or diet books I wanted to say, but I didn’t because actually turns out I didn’t care what she thought about my purchase. What a relief.

When I got back to my room, I opened the book and began reading. I can’t remember the last time I read a book like this if ever, but I loved her enthusiasm for skinny, flatter tummies, smaller hips and yes she even used the word sexier (Helen Gurley Brown would have been proud). Her tips and lists of how to start this seven day fat blast diet (which by the way is twenty one days) is really designed for women or ladies as she likes to call us to motivate us with her cheery words who have a lot of time. Her Super Splurge lists on the mandated “cheat day” on the seventh day of each seven day run are foods I wouldn’t let pass my lips even on a dip into the dark side. Kit Kats, Hershey bars, “You may have anything you want on Super Splurge day as long as you keep it to under 1500 calories!” She proclaims like this is some anointing of goodness coming our way. Am I reading a Saturday Night Live skit? For some reason 1500 calories and Super Splurge seem to be on opposite ends of the reality spectrum. I forge ahead though for some reason I am sucked into Denise Austin’s approach despite its warped sense of reality. If my new gal pal Denise was sitting down on the couch next to me she would likely be saying, “Alayne, did you try any of it before you criticized my theories?” My reply would of course be no Denise, I haven’t, but I am open to giving you a try.

I really enjoy starting new food plans, I love the beginnings of them, the shopping to fill up my cabinets and fridge with all of the allotted foods from the convenient grocery list provided at the back end of the book. I love the Sunday prep day cutting and dicing and slicing the inordinate amount of vegetables to get my little plastic baggies ready for quick on the go snacking when I am running late (or starving because I have been eating vegetables for twenty one straight days whatever comes first). There is hope and starry eyed dreams of the twenty first day where the promises of flatter tummies and slimmer hips await. Her advice is counter intuitive to all of the Whole 30 advice I have worshiped mainly because it has worked for me.

Ditch the mirror, the hell with the scale, figure out what foods make you feel shitty (sugar, wine, carbs) and bask in the glory of not having to worry about how you look (because as a feminist and modern woman, looks shouldn’t matter) but how you feel, this is the desired goal. Denise on the other hand aims for us ladies to look skinny, to have flat tummies, which in turn will give us a sense of confidence we didn’t know we were lacking. She wants me to weigh myself at the same time every other day. I can’t remember the last time I got on a scale (which by the way could be the reason her exclaimed Side Effect: Skinny title got my attention. I don’t have to weigh myself to know I have gained weight since my surgery and let’s face the truth here, there is only so long I can use surgery and recovery as a scapegoat for my gain). Excuses and more excuses, but I read through her fat blasting plan with its prescribed daily commitments like morning stretching every day, Denise Austin’s super slimming seven minute walking training every other day and countless other lifestyle changes that require a full time job. But Denise manages to fit it all in and she has a multi million dollar fitness empire, so anyone can!

She has countless ways for us ladies (I am not exaggerating here when I say every time she uses the word ladies to motivate, I have a vision of Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale coaching her lovely handmaids to ready themselves for their “celebration nights” with their commanders in Gilead) to move even when we weren’t aware we could be. When we are talking on the phone, (walking the length of whatever room you are standing in), standing in grocery store lines (five tummy tucks), brushing your teeth (leg lifts of course) and about ten other possibilities I was completely unaware of until Denise and I met in her book. Denise in her happy blonde and sparkly way has made me realize that fitness and food planning can be a happy choice we make for better lives for all!

She believes in low fat everything. Has she read the sugar content in all of this lowfat? This is a bit of a shift from all of the otherwise rationale nutrition thinking I have been reading about since I had my first diagnosis almost four years ago. She believes in egg whites mostly, rather than those very fashionable egg yolks that have caused me to buy four dozen eggs at a time from my local farmer (6.00 a dozen thank you very much) She believes that Super Splurge days aka cheat days should consist of an array of shitty candy and fast food which she gives the calorie counts for. Two tablespoons of m and m’s, 1 reeeses, 2 small Halloween candy size Hershey bars, 1 small Wendy’s chocolate shake. Even when I have done a super splurge BD (Before Denise) it surely wasn’t with m and m’s. And even if it were, does smiley Denise think I am the type of woman who would eat only two Tablespoons of m and m’s? As I said though, I am going to give this a try to see if all of the promises deliver. The one thing about me is when I park my mind on a new food plan, three weeks is easy. Who knows, maybe I will be fifteen pounds lighter, thinner hips and flatter tummied. I don’t think a diet is going to make me more confident, though, I think building my own business empire, buying a 3900 square foot historic building on my own, three breast cancer surgeries in three years, not to mention two fabulous new tits, have secured my place in the confidence checklist.


Denise and Alayne hanging out together in beautiful New Hampshire Mountains. Confidence Indeed.
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GET THAT MAMMOGRAM

GET THAT MAMMOGRAM

“Look at that arm flexibility,” Kathy exclaimed in my workout class today. (Dear reader, note the absence of the much used exclamation point and instead the use of the word, exclaimed. You see, I am trying to live up to my new 1941 Royal Typewriter’s writing standard by the use of an expansive and vivid vocabulary rather than the 2018 version of writing in symbols and emojis to express myself. Doesn’t the word exclaimed remind you of a Nancy Drew book?)

Kathy, my fearless workout mentor, was commenting on something I, too, had been noticing in my recent workouts- the lifting of my arms especially my left one straight up over my head each hand carrying a fifteen pound weight. This is a big feat for someone who could barely straighten her arms, but because I like a good challenge, have now succeeded in this movement that used to be so natural for me. I can also place both arms above my head while lying in a prone backside position and can almost touch the back of my hand to the floor. Almost. Slow and steady, the stretching. And each time I get closer to both of them being even, I am in awe of my progress since I am two months shy from a one year mark of my final surgery. It feels longer, but maybe because the first surgery was a little less than a year and a half ago.

Sitting at the beach next to my dear friend, Karen, the subject of my boobs came up as it is often a topic since it is quite obvious to us that the two protrusions coming from my upper body are not the natural ones coming from all of my friends. Mine are straight out, zero sag, firm and sculpted like I have been working on chest presses and push ups on a daily basis for my entire life. There has to be some benefit to a double mastectomy at fifty-two. “Do you have feeling in them?” She asked. “No.” I replied affirmatively. No feeling, but that is not to say no pressure or awareness. It is hard to explain, but if you have ever had an epidural, there was an awareness, a pressure, that you were pushing a 6 pound baby out of your body, but not a feeling. I would compare it to that.

Now that I am blessed with the wisdom of retrospect, kind of like childbirth, it wasn’t that bad. Well that may be pushing the envelope, the time leading up to the double mastectomy was awful, unlike a pregnancy where you actually end up with your future little bean, this time you were waking up with a big minus on your upper half. But now that I am alive and cancer free for now anyway, I can say that it wasn’t that bad. This all leads me to my title today, GET THAT MAMMOGRAM.

Women have a fear of outcome when it comes to mammograms. Add to the recipe the confusion by our illustrious health care leaders on the guidelines as to when to get them and who should be getting them creates an outcome that leads to many women not getting them like they should.

Mammograms aren’t full proof. But is anything foolproof? Not getting a mammogram isn’t full proof either, but catching breast cancer early is the best outcome compared to putting our heads in the sand and pretending like it will go away if you do nothing. It won’t. Breast cancer is a bummer, a major life inconvenience in our endless lists and chauffeuring our children and our lives like we are the organizers of a world leader summit, but there are so many solutions to save a life that are available now compared to even ten years ago. None of us know how much time we have. I write almost daily because it is my therapy on dealing with the stresses I call my own life. My outcome was as positive as it could have been with a diagnosis after playing Russian Roulette in mistakenly not getting a mammogram for four years prior. I am lucky. This is why I am going on trips, buying and learning how to use old school typewriters, baking babka and enjoying my every day.

I refuse to use the words gift and journey as I have stated numerous times, I don’t wish cancer on anyone or any health crisis for that matter. I know that when these crisis’ do hit and it is inevitable that something will hit someone you know if not you personally, it is what we do with the experience. I chose rather than lie down face planted on my pillow (though I did have many of those days) to stand up and look up, arms high above my head towards to glorious sunshine and enjoy the view. This is because I had a mammogram that supplied me with information to make choices that worked for me and me alone. The one month a year that is “breast cancer awareness month,” where the entire world seems to turn pink is not enough. Every day is breast cancer awareness month for me when I look in the mirror grateful to be alive as these two new silicone objects stare back at me. Getting a mammogram is a choice, but know that it doesn’t have to be bad news even when it is. I am living proof of this and for this I feel like one of the lucky ones. Imagine that.


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A WEEK OFF

A WEEK OFF

I sit here this late morning hour of 7:30am having slept until 7:00 this morning, a virtual record for me. And sleep I did, what a deep REM awesome sleep, almost meditative. I sit her in the electric sunlight, birds chirping, barely a breeze, surrounded by a manicured lawn of an eighteen hole golf course in two lawn chairs my partner plopped in the driveway basically looking like the Clampetts from the Beverly Hillbillies. But I don’t care. This is yet another super wealthy neighborhood and no one is outside, barely a player on the TPI golf course my grandfather’s house sits on in sunny and magnificent Siesta Key. I have been coming here for respite for over twenty five years and it feels like my own winter home by now and as a matter of fact, visiting my grandfather is like visiting a parent that I never had, there is comfort. I can freely roam in the house, in the kitchen, help myself to cooking and cleaning out the fridge like my fantasy world I should have lived in with my mother who I may have had a solid relationship with.

My many writings have sung the praises of my connection to my Grandparents and especially this past four years since my Grandfather had his stroke, the relationship as grown to a deeper level I never thought possible.

Last week was an unintentional week off from writing- it just kind of happened. The pattern of almost daily writing has been like a security blanket coating me with fluffy protection soothing my mind and allowing me the gift of full escape. Writing has become a deep friendship and writing solidly for over a year gives me my morning meditation to start the day.

Last week I began working on the piece THE WORD WEIGHT and for the first time since I started writing on Medium I came to a screeching halt, well opposite of the screeching halt, I couldn’t stop the piece and I couldn’t end it, it just kept going, yet it was unfinished and winding, taking detours all over the place as the words entered and exited my swirly brain. The piece wouldn’t finish. On the outside, I was too busy, overscheduling my week before my trip with an inordinate amount of appointments and work related paperwork. Owning my own company provides a great freedom, but it also requires a lot of extra attention when I decide to take a break from it. Like cleaning your house before you go on vacation, there are those loose ends that must be tied up in a neat Type A little bow so when you return, relaxed and refreshed there are no dishes in the sink to confront you.

Training a new team, meetings with leadership, placing orders, paying bills, making sure that all entries are in and updated, not to mention the books I was trying to finish so I could return to the library and the Jewish Film Festival I wanted to get to in the pulse of the week. Oh and did I mention I decided to do a weeklong detox in the midst of all of this. The only extra part of my regular routine that saved me was that the detox didn’t want me to do any vigorous exercise for the week as it was partially reparative or something like that. I just listened to my body and the instructions and was a better student because of it. I can say I didn’t have the time to write, but since I regularly wake up at five am, there was plenty of time in the wee hours of the sunlit morning to bring my pen to paper. I started THE WORD WEIGHT and for the first time since I climbed on the magic carpet writing ride, I became a bit stuck.

Writing forms its own story. I may start off with one idea and as I move through the piece, allowing the words to find me, the story and what I am trying to say unfolds and presents itself often surprising my initial first paragraph where it all started just a short time before. I have developed in my writing over the last year and a half; my skills have sharpened, my vocabulary and use of words have grown and I am a much more confident writer. There is a definitive rhythm to writing, a feeling in a sentence, in a period or italic placement that makes writing feel like a unique piece of art. Writing has become my personal yoga meditation, my zen space. It has helped me become more disciplined as the free formed words start to unveil themselves and find their way into some sense of colorful order. Some writings are one hundred piece puzzles and some are one thousand pieces taking more time to patch together.

This week of detox got me thinking about body image and self talk. The title began as something different, instead of THE WORD WEIGHT, It was THE WORD FAT. It didn’t feel right, as I thought about it, I decided the use of the word is offensive bringing up a dictionary full of words that basically make people feel bad. I surely didn’t want to offend anyone by implying there is any negative connotation if in fact they were overweight as defined by anyone who had any consciousness about their own struggles with their weight, no matter what the scale says. Once I changed the title, the story took off down a briar filled path with thorns and snakes at every turn. One thought led to another and before I knew it I was four pages in without saying much on the surface, yet coated with layers upon layers of what festered underneath. It was not pretty, but raw and vulnerable and embarrassing and frank. It sat in my laptop beckoning me in one breath and exhausting me in another and I struggled to clean it up, to make it lighter, kinder, but it had a mind of its own and simply wouldn’t allow me to sugarcoat. The story is undeserving of this, it doesn’t require Mr. Clean to come in and dig the dirt out of the grout, those pesky black flecks that sit stubbornly in the porosity of the tile like the raw truth in a woman’s mind filled with over forty years of jibber jabber of weigh talk. I had to put the proverbial pen down as each sentence came rolling off my tongue. The word came barreling out like eating a bag of chips while perusing a website and before you know it the bag is gone and the only thing you can recall is the salty goo on your fingertips.

Weight talk is the startling reality of many in my peer group. And it is becoming a startling reality in their daughters peer groups too. The talk about weight, food, scale, diet though the frequency of it is often unspoken, it sits there pulsing inside until someone pipes up the words and the cat is out of the bag.

I did finish the piece and posted it before this one and my writing has started up again proving that when something needs release, it is the process and the patience with it that often moves it upward and outward. This is the joy of my own writing process, my own therapy and growth and I am never tired of the end result of the work despite the time it took me to get there.

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OH SHIT IT HAPPENED

OH SHIT IT HAPPENED

As clear as a bell I remember the nanosecond moment when I delivered my son and the energy in the room shifted from a couple to a family. It was a momentous experience, one of those nuggets that almost felt like the description people give when they almost leave us, but come back. The image of the three of us taking a gigantic step across the line and turning to wave goodbye to what was. This is life, those spectacular moments drizzled into the mundane to keep you alert and awake. There isn’t an abundance of these which is what makes them all so special.

So I am at the gym last week, biking as fast as I can to Kathy belting out some crazy Kathy order that she must think of when she is drinking the night before to torture us. The music is loud and pulsing and so was my heart. I am sweating and I just can’t believe that the rest of the lineup is going faster than I am, but they are and they do and I don’t give a shit. No matter how much I work out and how clean I eat and how much alcohol I no longer drink, I realize loud and clear that I will never be them. This is fucking liberating and if I were drinking I’d drink to that. At the end of the spin, as we all tried to catch our breath and wipe the water dripping from our faces called sweat, I said one of my favorite quotes taken from my friend, “Like hampsters on a wheel.” The two lovely slightly overachiever type blonde ladies to my left turned their heads in agreement and laughed. I continued with, “It never seems to get easier.” Then they took the conversation baton and began talking about the weight topic that I am happy to be free from frankly. I asked them how old they were so I could commiserate with our similarities in not being able to eat whatever whenever anymore. “32!” they chirped. OMG 32. I quickly calculated and realized that I was just getting ready to deliver Michael when I was 32. I could be their mother! “I’m 52.” I said trying to stay a part of the conversation but knowing that it was a lost cause. We likely didn’t have much in common as we got off of our spin bikes. “52?” they exclaimed! “You don’t look 52, you look great!” (Must be the tits, I wanted to say, but didn’t, so proud of me).

What does that even mean? What does a 52 year old look like? I know they meant it as a compliment because I know I look good. I fucking better. I spend exorbitant amounts of money on a boutique gym rather than a monthly membership at the Y where all the classes you could ever want (but don’t) are included. I mostly take care of my insides, therapy, stretching, roller classes, meditation and organic eating as often as possible. I am bored reading what I just wrote because frankly I don’t do any of it for how I appear outwardly. It is all for my mental state. Like about 90% of it is for my mind to settle down from its non stop yapping. This notion was a revelation for me when I unknowingly made the jump from working out to look good to working out to feel good. As we inspected each other, warning here, I tend to look at women’s skin because no matter how much they work out, if they don’t take care of their skin all the tight asses in the world will not do much to lessen the damage, I realized that I crossed another one of those invisible lines to say goodbye to.

This did not leave me feeling a loss or any sadness, but gratitude that I don’t have to deal with my 32 year old head trying to live up to the fantasy of “perfect mom, wife, employee, human.” ever ever again. Hallelujah! Don’t get me wrong, I loved that part of my life, but I am one of those moms who loved every single age of my son and still do. I don’t miss any of the ages, I don’t wish for their return and I love watching my son go through his self discovery stages. I welcome the present and the future and am grateful for the past. Though I do miss the four year old little hand in my hand age and the early morning smell of my baby, nothing ever like that again for sure.

Then I realized another line crossed. I am the 52 year old who I used to look at and semi admire when I began doing low impact aerobics in the eighties at the Newport Athletic Club, after Jane Fonda lost her zazzle in my living room. I started to tell them about how I remember being their age and being able to eat whatever I wanted and then give it up for a few days and bounce right back to the five pounds lighter. I lost them as they likely began to roll their eyes at the mom trigger and they continued on with their conversations about the latest Pottery Barn catalogue or something. Just kidding, they weren’t talking about that, but they could have been.

The oh shit it happened list is endless. I don’t know if it is because the surgical menopause is catching up with me almost three years later, but hair is sprouting at a rate that I can’t describe and not on my head. That hair, that luscious mane has now decided that it wants to look like it is perpetually flat ironed. Lynn, my current hair dresser let me know that the zero humidity in the air could be playing a role, but also, yep she said it, age too. Then there are those weird lines forming around my upper lip that when I catch myself not smiling it feels as if my cheeks are sinking into my mouth causing my lips to disappear. My hair is so white now that when I look at a picture of myself even from three years ago, I look so much younger because of the color. To even contemplate coloring my hair, which I never would, is hilarious since the growth of it would cause me to have to color my hair about every three days. There is the perpetual wake ups throughout the night. There is the forgetting where I put my keys, my phone, my 18 lipsticks. Then there is the deep need to feel comfortable all of the time. Shoes, pants, underwear, socks, I have moved to the place of feeling tortured if I am not in comfortable clothes. I envy my friends who wake up and get dressed in actual real clothes and look like they enjoy it. I don’t except if I go out to dinner or something, but even then I still go to comfort first these days. Then there is the pee factor. I sneezed the other day and I swear, I can’t even say it aloud. I wish I had done more kegels like Cosmo told me. Is it too late to start kegels now? Then there is the puffiness, the bloating, the change of body shape. Holy shit, I realize could I be turning into my mother’s body? No way, she never worked out, she smoked and she was and likely still is a daily drinker. This is not me. I am not her. Whew. Well at least in all of this natural change that happens when we have the privilege of being alive is just that.

The next phase. It may be happening at the speed of light, but I seriously am not complaining at all about it. I think it is kind of amusing and I love the perch that I sit on as I knowingly watch the 32 year olds try to keep it together in their young mama phases. I march forth as I move into my mid fifties at the blink of a smaller eye (yes this happens too, where did my nice big brown eyes go off to?) I watch my dearest friend get ready to turn 75 and wonder if she feels the same way about me like I do about the 32 year olds. Just like you can’t tell any first time expecting mom about how her life is going to be changing in her fantasy world she gets to live in for nine months, a 52 year old woman with brand new 36ds can’t tell a 32 year old about what is to come. This they have to find out for themselves and this is what makes aging fun. The knowing that this too will pass on to something different and as long as I am alive, I will rock whatever time I have.

yes.