“Little Juli” Has Her Own Wisdom to Share…

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching, especially towards the end of this past year.  I am NOT the same person I was in my thirties, or in my twenties, or in my teens.  I have bean gleaning wisdom from the little child I once was, the little girl who liked to play with dolls, who dreamed of doing amazing things one day, who imagined that ANYTHING was possible.  That little girl believed that everything you could ever want to learn about could be found in a book.  You didn’t have to imagine things from scratch.  You could build on the information that was already there!

Back in the day, Little Juli thought the library was the most important and magical place on the planet.  (Still do.)  Sooooo many books.  Soooooo many subjects.  It was all there, the WHOLE WORLD!  All I had to do, is get on my bicycle, do a lot of peddling, and this world was mine for the borrowing.  For a young girl who hadn’t had much experience with travel or adventures, my small town library was a sanctuary.  It was my safe place.  The adults in that place treated me with respect.  If I saw another kid in there, they didn’t look down on my for being a nerd-girl.  I was reading books in the adult sections of the library: Mysteries, Science Fiction, and Fantasy.  Sure, I still read books by authors like Beverly Cleary.  But unlike the other little girls my age, I read MORE than just the Ramona Quimby books.  I read everything my library had available by this author.  I read “Fifteen” and “Sister of the Bride.”  I read one of her memoirs.  (Although now, I can’t remember which one.)

When you haven’t had enough life experience, anything and everything seem possible.

And then…adulthood sets in.  I wanted my first car.  I barely made it out of highschool and it’s time for college.  There’s dating.  Marriage.  Career.  House. Pets.  Family.  (Not necessarily in that particular order, but all important stuff.)

I’m not saying I have regrets.  I LOVE my life.  I LOVE my hubby and kiddo.  They are AMAZING.  I just wish that I’d stopped more along the journey, that I’d paid more attention.  The last 20-30 years slipped by like a blur.  I was so busy and yet…I don’t feel like I have enough to show for it.  Most of my “busy” had been wasted on unimportant things:  work, cleaning, and the day to day drudgeries we all experience.  I don’t think I consciously took enough time building memories with my family.  I was floating through life.  The best parts of my childhood were mostly forgotten.

So here I am, in my middle-years thinking, Is it too late to take up new skills?  Am I too old to try new things?  If not now, then when???  Little Juli was hopeful, yet afraid.  I am no longer that child.  Mature Juli is confident, yet pessimistic.  Mature Juli has resources available to her of the variety Little Juli could only fantasize about.  The Internet?!  That’s like something straight out of Science Fiction!!!

I think if I could just tap into Little Juli’s spirit and combine that with Mature Juli’s wisdom and experience…the next few years could be really, REALLY interesting.  And FUN!!!

via Daily Prompt: Float

Living with Perimenopause: Part One

Before we get started, I should probably make this clear.  I’m not a doctor.  I’m not a nurse. (I’ve had lunch with a nurse, but that doesn’t count.)  I don’t work in the healthcare field or industry.  I’m the “thing that reads a lot,” a woman with an obsessive yearning for knowledge.  I may not have all the answers, but I can spend hours and hours reading stuff written by those who seem to know what they’re talking about.  I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert in anything.  I will share what’s worked for me.

I’ve only had a title to go along with my varying and progressively confusing symptoms for a short time.  I knew there was something wrong.  I knew that I didn’t feel like I did in the past, both mentally and physically.  I knew I needed to do something to “fix” me, but I was grasping at straws, trying to figure out why my emotions seemed to be in the driver’s seat.  I’ve fought depression on and off most of my life, but lately I’ve been all over the place.  I’m happy.  I’m sad.  I’m angry.  I’m sleepy.  I’m an entire fleet of ineffectual, melancholy dwarves.  And while I’m pale enough to be Snow White, and see nothing wrong with intelligent conversations with animals, I’m not ready to embrace the Dysfunctional Princess lifestyle.  Not yet!

I’m perimenopausal.  This means I haven’t hit menopause, but my body is going haywire while prepares to shut down the dairy sections of my body.  No more eggs.  No more milk. We’re turning out the light.  Bub-bye!  From my understanding, I’ve got another 2-10 years before the shut down is complete.  That’s a lot of warning time, when you think about it.  So, I suppose I should be grateful?  Thanks???  In the meantime, my brain has felt like I’d popped it in the blender.  Puréed synapses, anyone?  I’ve got chunks of time missing.  Conversations have vanished from my memories.  Poof!  Gone.  I’m been more achy than usual.  I’m retaining fluid in my legs.  Gaining weight.  Experiencing hot flashes. Yeah…I’m a mess!

Or…I was a mess.

I’m feeling so much better than before.  I can’t even explain the differences properly.  It’s like trying to function on 3 hours sleep.  EVERY DAY.  You might be able to plow through your first day, but it’s not pretty, and the more sleep deprived you are, the worst it gets.

Now that I know what’s going on, I can make different choices. I can help my body through its changes.  I feel like I’m in control again.  I have my life back.

So, what have I been doing to help myself?

#1 WALKING

We’ve all heard this before.  It’s not mind-blowing.  Get outside and walk!  A half hour of walking everyday would be ideal.  So far, I can only manage to go out walking every-other day.  Seven days of walking is too hard on my “bad knee.”  (Plus, the weather isn’t especially cooperative in Michigan.)  I can mange 3-4 days of walking per week fairly well.

I started walking a few months back, before I owned the title: Perimenopausal.  I figured since I didn’t know what else to do, or how to fix my symptoms, I should start with the basics. Drink water, exercise…blah, blah, blah.

Perfectionist Juli does NOT like to exercise because she tends to make everything harder than it has to be.  Perfectionist Juli would insist that we can’t exercise because…we don’t belong to a gym.  We don’t own a pedometer.  We don’t own the latest gadget.  We don’t have time.  We’re too busy.

I’m going to make this easy.  If you have a sidewalk or street in front of your house, you can probably go out walking.

I live in a small town.  I feel comfortable in my neighborhood.  I don’t have a legitimate excuse for regularly avoiding exercise.  Your situation might be different from mine.  I don’t know.  I’m sharing what’s worked for me.  I’m not giving you orders.

This is what I did when I first started my walking routine:

  1. I took my cellphone with me and set the alarm to go off in 15 minutes.
  2. I picked a direction and started walking.
  3. When the alarm went off, I turned around and walked home.

That’s it!  Pretty simple.  I didn’t worry about steps or speed.  I figured, as I improved, I’d go farther and faster.

I try not to get on the scale too often.  I can’t control the scale.  I can only control my own actions.  If I lose weight, great.  If not, oh well.  My weight isn’t the most important thing.

Have I seen any benefits from walking?

Yes!

While my weight hasn’t really changed, my jeans are fitting better.  My sleep pattern seems to have imprived, probably because I walk in the morning.  I have more energy.  (Vitamin D, perhaps?)  My “bad knee” isn’t quite as bad as it once was.  Go figure!

On a side note, I really enjoy getting out of the house.  I didn’t expect that!  I don’t know why, but writers often wax poetically about the silence of the great outdoors.  They couldn’t be more wrong!  It’s NOISY outside, especially if you live close to nature.  Birds, frogs, insects, squirrels, things crashing around through the trees and scrub…sometimes, you can hardly hear yourself think!  I spend too much time in my head, so it’s nice to have all the commotion going on around me.  I love the beauty of nature, but my brain needs the break walking seems to provide.

If you’re able to go walking, great.  I’d suggest you wear a supportive pair of shoes.  Bring a cell phone with you, just in case.  Use a timer.  Pick different paths, so you don’t get stuck in the same routine, and for safety.  And don’t push yourself too hard.  Walking shouldn’t feel like work.  If it feels like work, you won’t want to do it long-term.

Sometimes, I like to bring my camera with me.  It’s mounted to a monopod that doubles as my walking stick.  Here are a few photos from my walk this foggy October morning:

 

If I could change only one thing, I would have started walking outdoors sooner.  In the past I usually exercised indoors, if at all.  However, I saw immediate mental and physical benefits once I started walking outdoors.

Take care and more posts to come…

XO Juli

 

 

 

Seventy-Nine Days

I’ve been away from WordPress for a while. Seventy-nine days, to be precise.  Over the years, I’ve struggled on and off with my pet demons: Depression, Procrastination, Fear, and Perfectionism.  They’re nothing new to me.  They are the enemies I’ve known so long, we should probably get matching coffee cups.

shake-it-off-mug

*Like this one from The Hillywood Show.

(I don’t know anything about your pet demons, but I’m sure mine drink lots of coffee!)

That said, I’ve known for some time that something else was going on, something I couldn’t quite grasp.  Vague symptoms have been popping up; little stuff that could have been anything, but all together add up to something.

I’m in my middle years, in my forties.  I’m not a kid anymore, but I’m not quite ready to look at retirement villages either.  Honestly, for a minute there, I REALLY enjoyed being in my forties.  I liked the idea of finally being in a place in my life where I didn’t care as much about random opinions.  I could focus on me.  My body wasn’t young anymore, but I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.  Being in your forties is like being in the middle of the herd.  It’s safe. It’s a good place to be.

Until it wasn’t.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like something wasn’t right, like I didn’t know my own body anymore, especially over the last few months.  I’ve had memory lapses, entire conversations…GONE!  Mood swings. Bouts of depression that have left me confused, because they’re not like the ones I’ve had in the past.  My body is achy, then it’s not!  I’ve had difficulty sleeping, like every sound is being magnified.  I’ve gained weight, but I’m active and I’m not overeating.  Sometimes, I get symptoms that vaguely seem familiar, symptoms that remind me of being pregnant, and yet I am most certainly NOT pregnant. I’ve been worrying over everything, almost to the point of paranoia.

For a while, I thought that maybe Depression was morphing into something else, something darker.  But there was no consistency to it.  I’d feel depressed, then BOOM! Now, I’m fine.  Oops!  Now, I’m not.  That’s not how my bouts of depression usually work. I usually slide slowly into my depression, then gradually pull myself back out.  But lately, my brain is all over the place.  I’ve been feeling like I’m losing my mind.  I was plagued with thoughts of dying, but NOT of suicide.  It’s more like I thought maybe there was something REALLY wrong with my body, that it was finally failing me for good.

I’ve been grasping at every straw I could think of, trying to figure this all out, trying to make myself better.  But I couldn’t put it all together.  Aches and pains are common.  Lack of sleep happens to all of us, from time to time.  Everything I’ve been experiencing seemed so random and unrelated.  Plus, my symptoms were inconsistent.  I’d feel like I’d lost my mind, then I’d feel like me again.  Sometimes, I’d feel BETTER than old me, more focused than old me.  So what does that mean?  It’s still a symptom, even if it’s a positive one.

It means…I am NOT crazy.

I’m NOT dying.

(Okay, technically I am dying, because we’re ALL dying, but not right this second.)

I’m going through PERIMENOPAUSE, the time in a woman’s life BEFORE menopause hits.

For the record, I consider myself a reasonably intelligent woman.  I honestly didn’t know this was a “thing.”  My mother had Multiple Sclerosis.  She died in her fifties.  My maternal grandmother passed away a few years ago.  The matriarchs of my biological family are mostly gone.  The only assumption I had about menopause is that it happened to women in their fifties.  That, and yay!  No more periods.

I didn’t know that a woman’s body goes through changes five-ten years before menopause hits.  I had no idea this was normal.  I thought I was losing my mind!!!

I think Magnolia’s The Perimenopause Blog has more information out there, in one spot, than just about any other place on the web, but her post: The 35 Symptoms of Perimenopause, was especially eye-opening.  I have 27 out of 35 possible symptoms listed. So…umm, yeah.  That says a volumes.

Is this too much information to share?  Maybe. I didn’t get into all my personal gory details, but I felt like I had to say something.  I wanted to get this information out there because I KNOW I’m not alone.  This is a thing.  It’s a natural part of a woman’s life.  It effects the lives of everyone around me.  Plus, there are things I can do to help myself, now that I know what’s going on.

I’ve already made some small changes in my life, and I’m already seeing some benefits, but I’ll share that information in another post.

In the meantime, check out The Perimenopause Blog.  Learn something new.  Do stuff.  And thank you so much for ALL the kind words!

I appreciate you all so much!

xo Juli