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Menopause – The Truth And The Surprise Ending

“Your boat is on a very choppy sea,” said Maryann knowingly. She is one of the select older and wiser women in my life, who got me through a turbulent period, back there.

I was recounting my story to her with my head in my hands. Life had suddenly become very confusing. Continuing the travel analogy, one minute I was cruising a marvelously lit highway in a 4×4. The next, without noticing, I had taken a wrong turn, I was bouncing down a dark dirt track in a banger.

“How did I get here,” I kept asking, “and,” (more to the point) “how can I get out? ” I was used to problem solving and multi-tasking with executive efficiency. As a journalist and broadcaster working in the fashion industry for over 30 years, while raising a family, running a business and campaigning for a variety of women’s issues in my daily practice, I had not signed up for this chaos. I quickly became anxious about what each new day would hold.

Every woman’s experience of the menopause is different. It’s a process of oestrogen and progesterone withdrawal and it will impact you in a unique way, because you are unique. Everyone I have spoken to laments the taboo nature of talking about what to expect, but perhaps we could all feel less ambivalent about the forthcoming rite of passage if we knew menopause delivers a mind-blowing mid-life recalibration – one with a valuable message of growth and expansion.

For me it started with Titanic sinking feelings, which amplified the tension and discomfort of unresolved problems in my life. I was working hard in a career I loved but one minute I’d be up, the next I’d be wearing a cement straight-jacket hurtling to the bottom of a murky abyss accompanied by the voice of condemnation. “You really are finished,” it would say.

Then there was the brain fug that convinced me I was going down with early dementia. Industry knowledge evaporated and I found myself unable to remember names, events and dates. My vocabulary shrank too. I would have to script myself to within an inch of my life to feign work-place competence. At home, both daughters would play ludicrous guessing games to get me to the end of my sentence and my youngest still reminds me of the day I forgot her name.

There were minimal physical affects however. I dutifully utilised insomnia to fit in extra work and I could tolerate the mild heat surges any day, but I know some women are driven to distraction by the intensity of night sweats and day-time hot flushes. I asked my mother and an older girl friend for insight. The words ‘Plain Sailing’ and ‘out the other side in no time,’ were bandied about. My GP said I sounded alright to her.

Meanwhile, I was medicating myself with generous amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon each evening. Anesthetising anxiety and panic attacks this way helped me limp on for a bit longer, clinging to the remnants of my previously ordered existence. Then I made an important decision. I stopped and stood still. “What do I need to understand?” I asked myself, having read enough to realise that female bodies are powerful intuitive barometers and mine was trying to tell me something. This is what I learned.

I routinely put others first which meant racing through my life over-achieving and under-prioritising me.

The voice was right: I was finished. But an ending of the way I had been living would be a very good thing. Since leaving Uni I had put in very long hours building a career. As a dedicated parent and partner, I routinely put others first which meant racing through my life over-achieving and under-prioritising me. Exhausted and running on empty, letting go of my expectations of me would be the first positive move.

In menopause our body roars. All these years it has put up and shut up and now will not tolerate abuse or disrespect any longer. This commotion is simply a demand by your newly awake self for quality not quantity, for re-evaluation and re-balancing. Perhaps (when your time comes) you plan to put your hands over your ears? Think again, there is nothing so primal and immediate as your body’s hormonal call to action.

I listened. I cut myself a break. As a result I’m no longer buckling under the stress of numerous projects running concurrently. I’ve made other changes too. I attend less time-wasting meetings, engage in much less unwaged work and collaborate more selectively. I’m thinking about the bigger picture as I celebrate my strengths and focus on the positives, while gracefully accepting my limitations… finally.

Now, for the first time, free of hands-on child-wrangling (the final child, birthed at 41, is 16) I’m in an intense relationship with myself. It’s a joy, as the voice inside me grows stronger and more enquiring of new perspectives. I have grown my hair and grown out my colour. Shedding old ways and reframing people’s perceptions of me, I left the People Pleaser behind. This has been an act of common sense.

“She’s let herself go.” A deliberately pejorative judgment reveals disapproval of maturing feminine appearance. The assertion that we could try harder to cling on to our youth supports every unrealistic beauty claim for anti-ageing balms and unguents and every marketing prompt for hair dye. I’m not buying it. Let’s get one thing straight: our gender has been groomed to self-objectify while beauty corporations grow rich and prosperous. In the process of consuming femininity as a set of unrealistic appearance goals, perhaps we have become blind to our internal exquisiteness and it’s time to open our eyes.

I love fashion and self-styling and I have great fun with my image, but I don’t play the patriarchal game of defining myself as decorative dressing in a man-made world. Maybe this has helped me to embrace the thrill and privilege of age with its intellectual and experiential gifts. I do believe that if we can stop focusing solely on exteriors and start embracing personhood, post-menopause becomes a position of status and composure.

For the record… We do not let ourselves go, just the flotsam and jetsam of an earlier existence.
The mirror becomes less important in the most fundamental way with the realisation that age does not equal atrophy and that we are not diminished by the passing of years. Instead we are intensified, our force amplified and our knowledge expanded.

I’m not pretending life miraculously becomes uncomplicated and undemanding – challenges await every age and stage. Women, however, are great facilitators of others so in menopause we can and must reclaim our time and assets for ourselves. This is not selfish, this is smart.

The simple truth is that just like the adolescent surge of hormonal activity providing an exciting gateway to adult sexuality, menopause, (the process in reverse and in withdrawal) enables an additional and equally compelling portal into yet another selfhood. Step towards this doorway with confidence that once out the other side you will be renewed. Unlike me, you might prepare yourself mentally and physically beforehand by choosing less stress, more sleep, a healthy diet and supportive friends. You are not powerless, when you choose to surrender to something bigger than you. Treat yourself with kindness and tolerance as the bio-chemical make-up of your body re-arranges itself. It will be an education so expect enlightenment.

Post-menopause needs renaming and reclaiming for what it truly is, a magnificent time of curiosity, creativity and rank. It’s not surprising that some societies have been threatened by this natural female evolution to leader and mentor. In Pagan times of Goddess Worship, female tribal elders were respected and celebrated but with the introduction of Christianity came the brutal persecution of middle-aged women as witches and heretics. As feminist history explains, older women were simply channeling their menopausal force to intervene in an oppressive culture that undermined female wisdom and equality.

Hundreds of years later the quest for gender parity and fairness remains and growing old without self-reproach is one deliciously subversive act all women can embrace. Use everything the fashion and beauty worlds offer but bring these products into your life on your terms. There is no need for any woman to feel ambivalent, even fearful of ageing, in fact with the right physical and mental health supports, we can thrive. Having roused the ancient mystic, healer and tribal elder in me, I am on the journey towards Cronehood, and I love it.

Here are a few practical tips to get you through…

Getting physical and emotional support

I was introduced to bio-identical hormones and unlike the one-size fits all HRT from the NHS, BIH is a bespoke system that can be tailor-made for each woman. There is a cost but it was the best £500 I have spent. Dr. Lynette Yong read my blood test and prescribed DHEA. This hormone can be converted to whatever is needed by the body. My memory improved instantly. The progesterone cream I would later take would act as a calmer to alleviate anxiety and stress. I now pay a fraction of that to repeat my prescription every couple of months.

Systematic Kinesiology

Francesca Topolski uses muscle testing to tell which minerals the body is deficient in and can restore the body’s balance with dynamic effects. My magnesium levels were low and my adrenal glands were stuck in fight or flight mode which in turn created insomnia (this would have also caused memory problems.) She helped me to make small changes with big impacts.

Counselling

Make it a post-menopausal woman and a wise old sage. Since menopause amplifies emotions, you will find unresolved issues become more urgent to look at. Be prepared to take responsibility for your own contribution to the areas in your life that aren’t working and be ready to take action. My Maryann was recommended by a good friend – you need someone in your area who comes through the same channel. Ask for recommendations or look through a directory but check testimonials.

Reading

The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup. This was my bible. Dr. Christiane gives advice on every stage your body will go through and how to alleviate the many symptoms. She cites medical studies in support of your femininity, intuition and power that will thrill you while combining spiritual and personal stories of herself and other women to help you get to calmer waters.

Bio Identical Hormones By Dr. Uzzi Reiss, will help you understand your symptoms and get involved in your meds!

The Crone – Women of Age, Wisdom and Power By Barbara G Walker, invaluable for your re-calibration – unlearn what you have learned.

Women’s History of the World By Rosalind Miles. Celebrate women and their amazing grit, determination and ingenuity.

Fitness

Now is the time to begin Yoga or some other regular and calming activity. 20 minutes most mornings will create a new and focus headspace as well as a supple and strong body.

Clothes and fashion

I love dressing up more than ever. Quality and good design is key to promote modernity and sophistication. I love wearing clothes by emerging designers and I prioritise up-cycling and sustainability.

Beauty and skincare

Organic products like Liz Earl and Weleda keep my skin supple and perfume (my current favourite is Atkinsons 24 Old Bond Street) gives me a true lift.

Hair

Make sure you are working with a knowledgeable hairdresser to achieve your chosen natural tone. Matthew at Charles Worthington helped me over a period of years to grow out sections of coloured hair first and then create high and low lights around the crown to disguise change-over

Talk

Explain to your loved ones that you are evolving. My daughters understand the changes that have taken place and I’m happy they are now better prepared for their eventual menopause than I was. My husband was kind and considerate. Sharing my vulnerabilities and challenges strengthened my relationships and my honesty was appreciated.

Winter Darkness, Season Depression

Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. But researchers agree that people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are particularly sensitive to light, or the lack of it.

 

A wistful feeling comes over us in late autumn, as the last remaining leaves drop, morning frosts cover the ground, and the sun sets earlier each day. Hot cider and the warmth of a favorite old coat may be all you need to face the coming winter with good cheer, but for many people, fall melancholy deepens to winter depression.

Winter depression is still a mystery to scientists who study it. Many things, including brain chemicals, ions in the air, and genetics seem to be involved. But researchers agree that people who suffer from winter depression — also known as “seasonal affective disorder,” a term that produces the cute acronym SAD — have one thing in common. They’re particularly sensitive to light, or the lack of it.

Many studies have shown that people with seasonal affective disorder feel better after exposure to bright light. It seems simple enough: In higher latitudes, winter days are shorter, so you get less exposure to sunlight. Replace lost sunlight with bright artificial light, and your mood improves. But it’s actually far more complex. Alfred Lewy, MD, a seasonal affective disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, says it’s not only a matter of getting light, but also getting it at the right time. “The most important time to get light is in the morning,” he says.

He thinks seasonal affective disorder is due to a “phase-shift” of the circadian rhythm. The wall clock may tell you it’s time to get up and at ’em, but your body’s internal clock says you should be resting. Bright light in the morning resets your circadian clock.

This is relevant to the “fall back” time change, which happens in places that observe Daylight Saving Time. You might think that setting back the clock one hour would make seasonal affective disorder symptoms worse, because the sun sets one hour earlier. “Actually, I think it’s the opposite,” Lewy says. “The problem is waking up before dawn.”

Lewy says he suspects that “true winter depressives,” the people whose problem is biological and not related to other factors, might feel better after the time change. But the improvement would only be temporary, as days continue to shorten.

Arctic Winters

In Fairbanks, Alaska, in the dead of winter, less than four hours separate sunrise and sunset. With so little sunlight, it seems like no one could escape winter depression; but in fact, many Alaskans fare just fine. One study found that about 9% of Fairbanks residents had seasonal affective disorder. That’s about the same percentage another study found in New Hampshire.

Mark D., who lives near Fairbanks, says he doesn’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder, even though he rarely sees the sun. He pulls 12-hour shifts working in a power plant.

He stays active in winter, so “cabin fever” isn’t a problem for him, either. “If you sit around the house and do nothing all day I suppose it could eat at you,” he says. “But there is always something for me to do — snow-machine, cut firewood … or just going into town and have a cup of coffee with friends at the cafe.

There are people, though, that will have a ten-yard stare in a five-yard room,” he says. Some seek comfort from a bottle, too. “In lots of the smaller villages, that does happen. Drinking is a big problem.”

Seasonal affective disorder researcher Michael Terman, PhD, at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, offers some possible explanations for why seasonal affective disorder isn’t more common in the arctic. For one, people with seasonal affective disorder may be genetically predisposed to clinical depression and light sensitivity. Most people, in any place, wouldn’t have both genetic traits. “Another way to look at it is that those are the people who are still in Alaska,” he says. People who can’t cope might not stay.

But not everyone affected by seasonal changes has full-blown seasonal affective disorder, so estimates of how many people do have it may be low. “Winter depression is a spectrum of severity,” Lewy says. You may have trouble getting up, have bouts of fatigue during the day, or feel compelled to overeat, without feeling depressed.

These symptoms can be treated with the same therapy given to seasonal affective disorder patients. Bright light — generated by a special light box that’s much brighter than a normal lamp — is the first option. It’s proven to work, but not for everyone. Also, the right time for it differs from person to person, Terman says. For a night owl, taking light therapy too early could make seasonal affective disorder worse.

New Ideas

om Wehr, researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, has proposed a new explanation for seasonal affective disorder: It may stem from too much melatonin. When the brain‘s pineal gland starts pumping out melatonin, we get sleepy. During winter, animals secrete melatonin for longer periods than they do at other times of the year. Wehr discovered that people do, too — but only those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

Light therapy would still work if melatonin were the main culprit, because light controls melatonin levels. Researchers are also testing a drug called propranalol, which they hope will improve seasonal affective disorder symptoms by curtailing melatonin flow in the morning hours. Lewy is studying the effects of small melatonin doses given in the afternoon, hoping that they will adjust circadian rhythms.

Raymond Lam, MD, researcher at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and others are studying the role of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. “We know there are interactions between the serotonin system and the circadian system,” Lam says.

Some antidepressants like Paxil and Prozac work for some seasonal affective disorder sufferers. But Lewy says he prefers light therapy to antidepressants, which he says “are probably more of a Band-Aid,” because they’re not specific to winter depression.

Terman has been testing yet another new way to treat seasonal affective disorder. This therapy involves aiming a stream of negatively charged ions at a person sleeping on a special conductive bed sheet. The discovery that high-density negative ions (not the same ions produced by home air filters) helped people with seasonal affective disorder came accidentally from a previous study. A second study, which will end later this year, has also found a beneficial effect.

The air is full of negative ions in springtime, and not in the winter. But that doesn’t explain how ion therapy works. “We don’t yet have an answer to that question,” Terman says; nevertheless, “We’re now convinced that it’s real.”

What is blood cancer? The symptoms and treatment you need to know

 

Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer and third biggest cancer killer in the UK, yet it can still often go undiagnosed when patients visit their doctors with the initial symptoms. Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas is now campaigning to raise awareness of the disease following the death of his wife Gemma, who passed away just four days after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in November.

Sharing a tweet from cancer charity Bloodwise, Simon told his followers: “Acute Myeloid Leukaemia took my wife Gemma and Ethan’s mum just before Christmas aged only 40 years and just three days after being diagnosed. This is so important.” He added: “Three times my wife Gemma went to the doctor in six days and three times she was sent home and told to rest. Four days after her final visit to her GP she was dead. We have to help and train our GP’s and to detect #bloodcancer earlier. @bloodwise_uk is doing this. #hiddencancer.”

What is blood cancer?

Blood cancer happens when something goes wrong with the development of your blood cells. This stops them working properly and may prevent your blood from doing what it normally does to keep you healthy, like fighting off infections or helping to repair your body.

What are the symptoms of blood cancer?

Each specific type of blood cancer will have different symptoms, but there are lots of common symptoms such as:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Repeated infections
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Easy bruising and/or bleeding
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Itchy skin
  • Lumps or swelling in your neck, head, groin or stomach
  • Bone and/or joint pain

How is blood cancer diagnosed?

Many blood cancer symptoms are shared with illnesses like colds and flu – for example tiredness, fever or an infection. Lumps are a common symptom of lymphoma, but other, less serious illnesses also cause lumps. Because of this, see your doctor if you have symptoms or groups of symptoms that you think are unusual for you, or last for longer than normal.

The most common types of tests for blood cancer are blood tests and biopsies, but the tests you have will depend on your symptoms and what type of blood cancer is suspected.

What is the treatment for blood cancer?

The treatment you receive will depend on the type of blood cancer you have, but may include chemotherapy, stem cell transplant or taking drugs that encourage your immune system to fight cancerous cells.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Visit your GP with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.

How to give CPR to a baby and toddler

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have recently highlighted the importance of taking baby and toddler CPR lessons on their respective Instagram accounts by revealing that they had both recently taken a course, and urging fellow parents to get involved.

 

Blake, 29, wrote alongside a picture with showed her with several training dummies: “ALL MAMAS AND DADDIES OUT THERE– I can’t recommend this enough, I took a CPR class with with a focus on babies and toddlers. Google “infant CPR class near me” and you’ll see lots of listings. For those of you who haven’t done it, you will love it. It’s so helpful by giving you knowledge, tools, and some peace of mind.”

The couple, who are parents to two daughters, know the importance of first aid – Ryan, 40, revealed in his post that he had helped save his nephew’s life thanks to a past CPR lesson, but was taking a refresher course focused on infant and toddler CPR, to further enhance his knowledge and skills.

With research showing that 74% of parents say the first aid emergency they fear the most is finding their baby unresponsive, St John Ambulance has issued first aid advice on what to do if a baby or child is unresponsive and not breathing.

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How to do Baby CPR (under the age of one)

If your baby is not responding to you and they are not breathing, follow these steps to perform CPR:

  1. Call 999/112 for emergency help: If you are on your own, give 1 minute of CPR before calling on a speaker phone.
  2. Give 5 initial puffs over the mouth and nose.
  3. Give 30 chest pumps using two fingers at a rate of 100-120 pumps per minute.
  4. Repeat: give 2 puffs followed by 30 pumps. (30:2)

What’s the difference between depression and burnout?

 

 

The difference between depression and burnout is not always easy to see. There are even certain diagnosis tools which do not differentiate between them and therefore not see burnout as a separate disorder. If we were to compare burnout to other mental disorders, it is most similar to depression. Therefore, the difference between depression and burnout is not always evident.

What do the psychiatrists say?

Even though diagnosis tools do not consider burnout to be a separate disease, psychiatrists do state that burnout is a separate disease. Burnout is generally defined as an extreme exhaustion after the body and mind have been exhausted and pushed too far, according to them.

Is it therefore easy to differentiate between depression and burnout? Definitely not. Depression and burnout namely are very similar to each other and are often seen together, too.

Difference between depression and burnout: the symptoms

Depression and burnout are very similar to each other. Here, there are symptoms which match the both of them. The following examples are among them:

  • Concentration issues
  • Memory issues
  • Sleeping issues
  • Exhausted feeling

The symptoms above apply to both depression and burnout. If psychiatrists then want to set a diagnosis, they will often notice that the same tests can be used for both the diagnosis. The results, which are then found in the tests, can thus point at both depression and burnout.

So you see that it is really difficult to define the difference between depression and burnout. In the following paragraph we will give clear differences, so that you get a clearer picture of the symptoms.

The clear difference between depression and burnout

The first difference between depression and burnout is that depression is more general. Depression will namely affect several parts in life and can also develop from different parts in life, such as:

  • Your family
  • Your friends
  • Your hobbies

Burnout is generally work related. Of course the stress which you experience at work can affect your relationship, but in depression this is often more clearly seen. Furthermore, a burnout tends to develop from a work situation, while depression can develop in a more general way. A burnout can eventually also influence other parts of life, like a depression, but this is more likely to occur in a later stage. (Iacovides, Fountoulakis, Kaprinis & Kaprinis, 2003). Depression on the other hand, can have a quick and large influence on several parts of life, while burnout will limit itself to work for a longer period of time.

Difference between depression and burnout: occurring together?

Depression and burnout can also occur together. It is not unlikely that a severe burnout can also cause depression symptoms.

6 Weird Reasons To Wear a Menstrual Cup That Aren’t About Saving The Environment

 

 

 

By Gabrielle Moss

I’m sure that you’ve heard all the virtuous reasons that you should switch from tampons or pads to a menstrual cup — you’ll save money, you’ll help the environment, you’ll get to know your mysterious little lady flower a little better — but you might be surprised to find out there are some other, weirder reasons to make the switch. Because while all those usual reasons are valid, they also make menstrual cups sound like the kale of the period product world — something that’s good for you, but not particularly convenient or fun. This stereotype could not be more wrong, my endometrial lining-shedding friends — menstrual cups are convenient, comfortable, and ideal for the laziest and most absent-minded vagina-havers around. They are truly the ultimate in slacker period products.

If you’re rolling your eyes and/or doing the “jerk-off” motion while you’re reading this right now, know that I was once like you — I used tampons. I’d struggled with tampons since middle school — they seemed to always leak and irritate the inside of my vagina, no matter what I did — and never quite figured out how to wear pads in public after skinny jeans became a thing. But I thought a menstrual cup had to be a thousand times worse — if I was struggling with a tiny piece of cotton, how could shoving a contraption that looks like half of a turkey baster into my sexy bits be any better? I thought it was just another kooky health trend that my hippie friends were into, like avoiding refined sugar, or chiding me for eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos before 11 a.m.

But about six years ago, I worked at a store that sold Diva Cups, and saw how utterly devoted every woman who came in to buy one seemed to be. Surely they couldn’t all be deranged, right? I used my employee discount, tried it for my next period, and never looked back.

Here are the six practical reasons you should consider switching over to a menstrual cup — and none of them require you to squat over a hand mirror, I swear.

 
 

YOU DON’T NEED TO REMEMBER TO PACK AN EXTRA

 In my pre-cup life, I was the woman who was constantly wandering the halls of my office like a traveler who had lost her way, accosting any woman who crossed my path to see if she had a spare tampon. Because I was too scatterbrained to remember to pack a tampon half the time, and the office tampon machine was always broken (I have found that pretty much all tampon machines are usually broken), the first day of most of my periods were characterized by a hurried lunch hour trip to CVS, or an improvised pad made out of a quarter pound of layered office toilet paper. Neither option was a great way to start what was already the most annoying week of my month.

But with a menstrual cup, there’s much less to remember. Since you wear a menstrual cup continuously throughout your period, and remove it only to empty and clean it every few hours, there’s no chance of forgetting it when you head out somewhere where it will be hard to acquire or change a tampon (like, say, the beach, or a Van Halen concert). You only need to buy a new one once a year, so there’s no need to run out and pick up a new one at the start of every period; and since you reuse it, there’s no chance of getting your period early and being caught without anything to sop up your crimson tide.

YOU ONLY NEED TO CHANGE IT ONCE EVERY 10 HOURS


I am phenomenally lazy. Like “I am wearing stretch pants right now because I thought buttons were too much to deal with on a Monday” lazy. And cups are perfect for the lazy menstruator — on regular flow days, menstrual cups only need to be changed 2-3 times a day, and can even be left in place for 10 hours without leaking. On heavier flow days, they need to be changed a little more frequently, but they still hold one full ounce (around 28 grams of blood, which is a lot — we usually only produce two ounces of blood during an entire period). Your average tampon holds 6-9 grams of blood, which means a lot more time in the bathroom, trying to pull something bloody out of your vag.
Since I am such an outspoken evangelist for cups, I get a lot of questions about whether they’ll spill if you actually leave one in for ten hours. There are two parts to this answer: 1. you produce way less blood in any given day than you think, so the times that you actually fill your cup to the top are extremely few and far between; and 2. yes, if you get distracted and leave it in for ten hours while you’re on a very heavy flow, the cup will fill up, and you toilet will look like the elevator from The Shining when you empty your cup out. But in six years of cup usage, this misfortune has only befallen me twice, and believe me when I say I am the most distracted person alive, and way worse at paying attention to anything than you are. So while a cup brimming with blood can be a risk, it’s not a huge one.

IT WON’T DRY OUT YOUR VAGINA

 It seems totally counter-intuitive that your vagina could feel dry while liquid is pretty much continuously pouring out of it, but that’s what always happened to me with periods. The hormonal changes that occur during your menstrual cycle — primarily a drop in estrogen levels right when your periods starts — can lead to a dry-feeling vagina. Tampons can irritate a dry vagina, too — I spent many a pre-cup day wincing in my office bathroom, pulling out a tampon that seemed stuck to the walls of my vagina. Since a menstrual cup is made of silicone rather than cotton, it is less likely to feel “stuck” to the walls of your dry vagina— and since you change them less often than a tampon, it also cuts down on the irritation of taking things in and out of a dry vagina, too.

IT WON’T LEAK IN YOUR SLEEP

If you take the sheets off my mattress, it looks like someone committed a very sloppy and poorly planned murder on it. I’ve had it for about ten years, and in the first few years that I had it, nearly ever part of it got speckled with blood from tampons and pads that leaked while I slept. I’m a tosser and turner when I sleep, which meant that pads usually ended up balled into the back of my underwear, giving me a wedgie and letting blood drip through the front of my panties. And my tampons leaked through nearly every time I slept with them, even when my flow didn’t seem that heavy. It seemed like no matter what I did, I was doomed to live a life of scrubbing blood stains out of my pajama bottoms in my bathroom sink at 7 a.m.

This is where I am most devoted to my cup — it cut sleep leakage out of my life. Since a cup works by creating a seal inside your vagina, in my years of using one, I have been spared the indignity of having to explain weird mattress blood stains to gentleman callers and/or waking up most mornings of my period with bloody underpants. Ugh, I feel gross even typing that.

IT MIGHT MAKE YOU FEEL LESS SELF-CONSCIOUS WHILE HOOKING UP

 

As a tampon user, I was extremely uptight about the idea of fooling around while I had a tampon in — the idea that the guy I was with might accidentally touch my tampon string while probing my lady bits just kinda weirded me out. Someone else touching my tampon string felt too intimate, but not in the good way — it felt more like the kind of intimacy based around bodily grossness that you have with your gynecologist. I would get distracted by the idea of it, and then would begin wondering if my tampon was leaking, and before I knew it, I just wasn’t horny any more. I generally avoided a lot of sexual contact during my period for this reason, among others.

My switch to menstrual cups has totally turned things around for me. Not having to worry about my boyfriend accidentally yanking on my tampon string — or getting his hand covered in tampon leakage — has loosened me up significantly on the “third base while you’re on your period” front. I do still take my menstrual cup out to have actual intercourse — although there is a line of menstrual cups that you can wear while having sex — but just knowing that I can jump into fooling around without having to worry about some weird hand-string contact (or take it out too soon and accidentally bleed into my underpants while we’re making out) has been a relief.

IT DOESN’T GET PUSHED OUT WHEN YOU POOP

Okay, I should specify that this is just based on my own personal experience, not any kind of formal research — I’ve seen a number of women online say just the opposite, that pooping seems to squeeze their cup out of place. So this is just one vagina’s tale. But, personally, using a cup has been a pooping-related game changer.

I used to constantly push my tampons out when I pooped — not all the way out, but into that awkward halfway-out position, where the end of the tampon is irritating your vaginal opening, and the top of the tampon is poking something sensitive, and everything is awful. That would lead to me then pulling out a half-dry tampon — which is also a special kind of ladybit torture — and then inserting a new tampon into my now irritated vag, making the entire situation a triple crown of vaginal unpleasantness. Since using a cup, I’ve had the rare occasion where I didn’t insert it correctly beforehand, and pooping squeezes it into an uncomfortable position — but when it’s inserted properly, I can’t feel it, it doesn’t move, and I can finally focus on the important things while pooping (i.e. reading a three month old issue of Us Weekly).

 

Spring is coming – Build up your abs

Spring is here, or nearly here, however you chose to see things.
Myself I have decided to ditch the winter clothes, and venture out in my white jeans and pretty brightly coloured tops. I must say it is still a tad cold, so I invested in a lilac fur trimmed faux leather biker jacket, keeping warm but still with the element of spring.
Ripped jeans are a big fashion piece for 2017, I myself love them, they go great with flat pumps, or stroppy heels, I can’t get enough
As we can see many celebs are loving them too, teaming them up with thin jumpers, or dressy belly tops.
This brings me to my recent discovery in the gym.
With all these fab high waisted ripped jeans and belly tops, I want to be summer body ready.
Great abs have always been in style, but I find this to be the area I find the easiest to work out.
So I rejoined the gym and enlisted the help of a trainer, for advice mainly (trainers can be very pricey, just try to get the basics and go it alone, or with a friend) he showed me the decline sit ups, where your head is further down the elevated work bench, and you sit up to be upright, with or without a weight plate (the weight plate really boosted my workout)
I have found these to be the most effective of techniques I have ever tried.
Being a mum, many of us share this same problem area, and the singer Kelly Clarkson, I really felt for recently had came under the dreaded Katie Hopkins wrath, for her weight gain after pregnancy.
Hopkins made (fat jibes) at the new mum on Twitter, in very poor taste I think.
When woman attacking one another for responding differently to pregnancy absolutely disgusts me. If Hopkins had of found her weight an issue she would never of poked fun at others, completely showing her lack of intelligence.
I mean come on, it’s like poking fun at a blonde because you’re a brunette! Absolutely pointless and pathetic, just like her.
She pokes fun at “talentless” people trying to gain fame, when she herself gets attention from bullying others! Madness she is even given air time.
Well that will be the only time I will give her any attention.
Any of you embarking on a new fitness plan for this summer, I salute you, and wish you all the luck. And remember, a good clean healthy diet is 80% of the battle.
Kisses Holly

So I rejoined the gym and enlisted the help of a trainer, for advice mainly
(trainers can be very pricey, just try to get the basics and go it alone,
or with a friend) he showed me the  decline sit ups, where your head is
further down the elevated work bench, and you sit up to be upright, with or
without a weight plate (the weight plate really boosted my workout)
I have found these to be the most effective of techniques I have ever
tried.

Being a mum, many of us share this same problem area, and the singer Kelly
Clarkson, I really felt for recently had came under the dreaded Katie
Hopkins wrath, for her weight gain after pregnancy.

Hopkins made (fat jibes) at the new mum on Twitter, in very poor taste I
think.
When woman attacking one another for responding differently to pregnancy
absolutely disgusts me. If Hopkins had of found her weight an issue she
would never of poked fun at others, completely showing her lack of
intelligence.
I mean come on, it’s like poking fun at a blonde because you’re a brunette!
Absolutely pointless and pathetic, just like  her.
She pokes fun at “talentless” people trying to gain fame, when she herself
gets attention from bullying others! Madness she is even given air time.
Well that will be the only time I will give her any attention.

Any of you embarking on a new fitness plan for this summer, I salute you,
and wish you all the luck. And remember, a good clean healthy diet is 80%
of the battle.

Kisses Holly

Learning how to Bounce! Resiliency : What is it? Why it matters.

 

 

 

Michael H Ballard Canada

Resiliency is starting to gather more attention. Personal resilience helps us stay healthier, do better in school, have happier relationships, experience more joy  and do better in our jobs. Family resilience also offers that and makes for better neighbours and safer communities. Resilience in the workplace helps with staff engagement and retention. The benefits of creating, having and nurturing a personal, family, organizational and community culture of resilience is very valuable.

But, what is it? Resilience is our ability to “bounce back” from adversity. Life’s BIGStuff events that we all have happen to us eventually. Death in the family, loss of a job, divorce, poor performance at work or school, chronic illness, having your house burn down you get the picture.

Resiliency is a set of key factors we can all use to assist us stay safer and move forward and often create more successful outcomes.  There are two major parts to Resiliency. Inner and outer resilience. Inner resilience includes the beliefs you hold to be true,  your problem solving skills, and the goals you’ve set for yourself. Outer resilience includes the values of the community you live in, teams you’ve built around yourself, the education you have, the support you have from family to name just  a few.

So how do we get more? Well to further develop and deepen our inner resiliency a key place to start includes: –  Our self control. Moderation is a very powerful factor in being resilient. Our resistance to temptation, our restraint to over doing things is a great place to start. Key skills to help us manage our inner world include: Diaphragm Breathing and Meditative Walking.  More on this in a future column.

To further develop our outer resiliency developing and deepening trusting relationships with people who treat us with respect, sharing time with others that have high expectations of us and them of us are powerful places to help us deepen and widen our ability to thrive. Setting boundaries and expectations with others politely and clearly make a difference.

Resiliency is a life long process. A key to me is that we have to set boundaries and  expectations of our self and with others.  Being resilient offers up life as a life long adventure.  It helps us stretch into life’s BIGStuff moments and issues keeping us safer and happier and often offering us much better outcomes.

So until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.

How do we deepen our Resilience?

Resilience, Resiliency, Positive, Positivity, Positive Imperative, Michael Ballard
By virtue of the fact you’re reading this tells me you have resiliency. A key question is how do we deepen, and widen our capacity to thrive?
 imagesFalsehoods and Lies – These can wear us down and hurt us, as like the half truths they are not all accurate.

  • Indicating that we’re what? Very Tall? Short?
  • Never mind the 79 – 197 hours your practiced,

Michael H Ballard is a SME – Subject Matter Expert on Resiliency. He consults and trains with individuals and groups, organizations and communities on how to develop and deepen their resiliency.

 Let’s start at the beginning.

A key component of being resilient is our ability to understand, manage and nurture our self-definition. What is self-definition you ask? Good question. 

Self Definition is a compilation of how we’ve knowingly and unknowingly defined ourselves based on many variables. These include our race, colour, creed, gender, physical traits, IQ, EQ, how we where parented, our health  extended family, neighbourhood, workplace, educational levels attained, the media, community and country to name just a few.
Where  should we start?
Let us start with you considering this concept about Self Definition.
If there was a picture of you in the dictionary; not just any dictionary but one that is confidential and only you can see. Your dictionary only! Now, let us take a trip inside this confidential dictionary to see what you’ll discover and uncover.
First realize that there are three key types of items and memories stored here.
The first are the truths about us. However some of the things we think are the truth in time are not always 100% accurate.
half truth, half lie, truth, positive, positivity, positive imperative, Michael Ballard
Half Truths – Half Falsehoods
~ These are beliefs about us that can confuse and misdirect us as we lack clarity because of them. I.e. You’re just like your (Place name here) and will never do well in math. When in fact perhaps you’re not going to be a Engineer, or a Physicist, yet could do very well as a business professional using business math.
What to do about these three categories?
Well, several years back I mentored a young gentleman who’d lived on the street for ten years. After several deep and meaty conversations he shared the phrase “Fearless moral inventory”. Great phrase. I’d suggest a slightly gentler approach. Consider something along the lines of a “Deep and wide honest inventory of how have I defined myself to date? Then, what should be adjusted? Added? Thrown out?
It is a process so it will not just happen over night. However if we have the courage to understand that we took years to get this way than real change can often happen in hours, days and weeks. If we keep practicing. The road to mastery is one built on excellence not perfection.

Positive, Positive Thinking, Positive Mind, Positive, Positivity, Positive Imperative

No where to be seen between Positive and Negative thoughts, half truths are the neutral way of thinking that is also negative.
So, how do these three key types of files in our private and confidential internal dictionary show up?
Generally people have them there as positive, negative and half-truths.
Words
I.e.
–          Stupid – Oh don’t be so stupid!
–          Amazing – It is amazing how you do that so well.
Phrases
I.e. –          You’re just like your …
Under weight? Over weight? Smart? Stupid?
Incredibly good looking?
–          You’re so lucky
the lessons you took and the mentor you had. You lucky? Not a chance. Luck favours the prepared. You prepared. You gained some mastery!
Pictures I.e. Images burnt into our brain of a very upbeat or very negative time.
Use caution of reviewing our failures and mistakes. Over time we run the risk of programming ourselves for more failures and mistakes.
Positive Imperative Positive thinking negative thinking
Mini movies and sound tracks
I.e. They play over and over and over again if we give them permission. They become burnt into our brain of a very upbeat or very negative time. They can influence our mood, our relationships our happiness and our success.
Replaced the negative ones with new ones. Write a new script! Act it out in the privacy of your bedroom or Living room.
 We need to stay vigilant against a society that works on a negative asset basis. We’re consistently feed messages that if we just “wore the right clothes, drove a certain car, lived in a certain area, attended a certain school, we’d be smarter, more successful and more likeable. All not true of course. Yet the cosmetics, fashion industry and many others do quite well with that pitch. Not that a new piece of clothing is not a good thing. Just not a replacement of the homework we all should be doing.
Well with over 80% of what we think and are told framed in the negative it is no wonder we have “issues” around resiliency. Feeling comfortable in our own skin and managing our Self Definition is a very powerful first step. Foundational work some of us would say.
So nothing like the present to start to walk the talk about resiliency.

What area of your Self Definition will you work on today? The time is now to take this on and start to build and rid of what blocks you as you house clean.

 

Resiliant Michael

How to get your mojo back – Get rid of your stress

Stress is a funny emotion; it stops us from thinking of new ideas or solutions and causes us to feel rather ordinary. Stress and worry blocks happiness, creativity and living life to the max.
I remember there was a time in my life for a period of about 2 years in which I lost my routine and passion for my life. I stopped exercising, I stacked on 10kg, was struggling with some emotional issues and it was the unhappiest time of my life to date. I was tense and stressing about everything. This was a first for me, for I am a very positive person and have been a keen exerciser my whole life. During this time however, exercise seemed like a chore, I was so exhausted all the time and I worried that I would feel more tired if I exercised. I also thought “what’s the point?” Apart from work I had no routine and nothing inspired me.
Then my therapist/energy healer, suggested I take up Salsa dancing to boost my “feminine energy” and believed it would be of benefit to me. She recommended a dance school, I contacted them and started Zouk classes- a Brazilian style of dance. At first I was quite stiff and worried about the steps a lot, my shoulders were tight and I was looking down trying to do perfect steps. However, the teacher, Alex, did me a big favour and reminded me loosen up, to let go of trying to get it perfect and instead give in to the dance and to dance with my heart and soul. I realised in class, that the way I was dancing Zouk was the way I was dancing in my life – stiff and trying to control everything, which is an impossible feat. Sometimes, we all need reminding, and Zouk was that for me, to let go, smile and embrace life again!
As I started to give in to the dance, I was connecting with me again, I found myself smiling with my heart and soul, trusting in me and it felt so good. I started going with the flow more in my own life, and trusting in the process without getting attached to a particular outcome.  As a result, it sparked my passion for running and gym (I even joined a gym on an 18 month contract – commitment?!), I’m feeling more creative with my work and positive about my future.
Inspiration and new ideas only come when the mind is clear and relaxed. The stress I was feeling previously blocked out all the good that I’m experiencing now.
I also learnt when you trust, let go and embrace life, something ignites inside of you that money can’t buy; others will want a piece and ask you how to get it and you simply say, “I let go of trying to control everything, I chose happiness.” Because when you do, more good things will come, like a beautiful ripple effect.
I recommend any style of dance for both men and women, it’s a way to connect with who you are and iron out the stiffness and stress that you may be holding onto. Is it time to let go?
Stay happy and healthy,
Eleni