Night sweats. Mood swings. Vaginal dryness. September is Menopause Awareness Month. If you knew that already, you are lucky enough to have retained some of your memory and cognitive functioning (more on that later, I'm having trouble following more than one train of thought.) But we don't need a catchy calendar title to remind us about the physical changes associated with menopause, do we?
Just listen to any conversation among boomer women at any given moment: "I can't remember shit," one will complain. "A three-inch hair grew out of my chin last night," another will grumble. "I haven't slept well in a year," a third (me) will whine. For some, menopausal symptoms are simply annoying, for others, they can be a living hell.
But could it be that we're just not looking at menopause the right way?
Inspired by the lessons from the founders of Life is Good, my rabbi told us the other day about reframing how we think about our every day lives in order to feel more grateful. He suggested turning the "I have to's" of our lives into "I get to's". He gave us some examples of how we might do that:
I don't have to go to work, I get to go to work, if I am lucky enough to have a job.
I don't have to go grocery shopping, I get to go grocery shopping, if I am lucky enough to have the resources to shop for groceries.
I don't have to make dinner for my family, I get to make dinner for my family, if I am lucky enough to have a family.
Lately, because of this well received sermon, I have been overhearing the pre-menopausal young mothers I know (yup, I still know a few) saying that they GET to drive the carpool across town at 10 p.m. after their kid's dance class ended. No complaints, and it's so refreshing to hear.
But that got me thinking (which is sometimes dangerous these days) that we need to reframe menopause in the same way.
We don't HAVE to go through menopause; we GET to go through menopause! And we GET to go through menopause, if we are lucky enough not to be dead. I feel better already.
Reframing menopause isn't all that hard. Let's try another. We GET to go through menopause, because we save money on tampons, pads, pain relievers and birth control pills, and can spend our money instead on a great pair of Jimmy Choos. Just the thought of this is making me happier. I think I'm on a roll....
We GET to pack on the pounds at midlife, because skinny, shriveled up old women look absolutely horrific!
We GET to be testy, because we are lucky enough to still have our middle fingers to flip the bird at people who piss us off.
We GET to sweat like pigs, because it's fun to jam our heads in the freezer and experiment with interesting ways to use popsicles.
We GET to be up in the middle of the night, because we have so many more productive hours in our days to worry about stuff.
We GET to be filled with anxiety, because we can suck down dark chocolate and red wine to calm ourselves down.
We GET to have a loss of libido, because we are lucky enough to have a credit card and the Internet where we can experiment with all sorts of fun things to fix that.
We GET to have dry Va-Jay-Jays, because that is just the price that we happily pay not to worry about getting pregnant, ruining our pretty new underwear or having PMS.
We GET to have crushing fatigue, because we now have an excuse to say no to things we really don't want to do.
We GET to have those disturbing memory lapses, because now we have a really good use for all those Post It Notes we have laying around.
We GET to have hair loss, because we never really liked waxing down there, anyway.
We GET to have newly-acquired facial hair, because we always wanted to know if we really looked like our dads.
We GET to have mood swings and sudden tears about our empty nest, because we also get martinis and ice cream for dinner.
We GET to have osteoporosis, because those chocolate calcium chewy things are awesome and we can now soak up that sun for a bit of much-needed Vitamin D.
We GET to change our underwear after we sneeze because... because....hell, I had an answer for this one, but I forgot what it was.
Here's hoping that you are now done complaining, and can truly see the good in menopause. Go buy a pair of shoes, and feel grateful you're not dead.
Read more from Better After 50:
The Destination Anniversary Party
Lift Weights To Stay Young
Lessons From a Cancer Scar: Facing Up To Shame
5 Steps to Finding Hormone Happiness This Menopause Awareness Month