reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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a beginning. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

no book on menopause or post-menopause – that i have read thus far – really prepares us. i haven’t found a steponesteptwostepthree-handbook on how to sort this. the phases of a mom’s life intersect and overlap and are messy and as full of emotional upheaval as they are full of gratitudes for blissful. every piece, in my own messiness-of-this, is sticky and pulls at every other piece, like marshmallows in hot-off-the-bonfire s’mores. no matter the professional pursuit, the hobby, the exercise, the diet, the zen-yen, it is all interwoven with the loss of mom-identity, the constant babystep-by-babystep redefining of relationship with one’s children and one’s self.

of early days of motherhood, anne morrow lindbergh in “gift from the sea” wrote essays sparked by seashells, “eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.” she is the “still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities.” in a metaphoric nod to the shell argonauta, anne paints the picture of the mother argonaut floating to the surface and releasing the young, then floating away to a new life. sailors, she says, consider this shell “a sign of fair weather and favorable winds”. yet, she muses, “what does the open sea hold for us? we cannot believe that the second half of life promises ‘fair weather and favorable winds’.”

it is a total reorientation. it takes time to re-find the center of gravity. true center. even with a child of 32 and a child of 29, i find this not to have been or be instantaneous. one does not click off the light-switch, or touch the base of the 1980s brass touch-on-touch-off lamp, turning off the questions of identity. it’s the yarn of a new cape, from mom (and all the other titles) to woman (and all the other titles).

“whether we’re talking about giving up baby clothes, toys, artwork or schoolwork, the issue is not mere sentimentality. it’s about letting go of our children. […] we think that keeping all of those things will let us keep a little of each child who left us.” (claire middleton – “the sentimental person’s guide to decluttering”) i would guess that, even in my intentional attempts to set wind for their sails, my children would cite my fierce hanging-on to them. at the least, they would attest to my quiet weeping at their leaving, each time they leave.

i clean out the house, clean out one thread of four decades of career, glance at my piano – always whispering to me “don’t forget this is who you are too”. i write, i cartoon, i write more. and then, more. i think about composing – new simple feathers of music, pieces that would float in breezes and find center. i sit in quiet. i wonder.

is this an identity crisis?

“but there are other beaches to explore. there are more shells to find. this is only a beginning.” (anne morrow lindbergh)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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in the quarry. does my butt look big in this? [saturday morning smack-dab.]

a rock and a hard place. he is wedged between them and help-me-i’m-wedged-and-i-can’t-get-out he can’t escape. there is no choice but to say the wrong thing. go either way and he has sunk miserably to the levels of pond catfish, carp at best.

in these days of changing-changing-changing bodies and expectations of ourselves, we peer in the mirror and are astounded at what we see staring back. menopause and “men”opause (whatever on earth that is called) – in all its glory – has taken its toll on our metabolism and our hips and someone with a line-defining pen has carved on our faces while we sleep in the night. and those jowls. let’s not forget them.

so while i want him to understand – to really get it – to grok it at a cellular level – to feeeeeel my pain, he is thinking, “she’s beautiful” and tells me so. ohmyheavens, seriously? can he not share in my astonishment, couple with my what-do-i-do-now-ness, sympathize in a big-big way, help me pick out jeans in the next size?

there is no winning here.

it is the perpetual “does my butt look big in this?” question. over and over. forevermore.

he can “pretend” not to notice, which undermines his believability factor and, ultimately, leaves him stranded with no credibility when i am facing down the mirror. he can acknowledge and discuss the merits of aging with me, leaving me incredulous that he would suggest that i am aging. he can try to play long ball – riding the fence – acting like he can’t hear me – changing the subject.

no matter what, he will find himself in the rock garden.

eh. who am i kidding? it’s more like a deep, dark quarry.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️2022 kerrianddavid.com


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uh-huh. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

there is no such thing. “too tired to snore.” uh-huh.

there is also no such avoidance as “i just won’t sleep on my back.” or “i don’t snore when i turn my face to the left.”

sometimes, snoring happens.

and before you get all up-in-arms about my picking on him, i, yes, sometimes snore too. though naturally, it is delicate whilst in sweet slumber and sounds a bit like a beautiful melody floating over our pillows, wrapping us in a symphony of joy. uh-huh.

there is nothing worse in the middle of the night – pre-menopausal-menopausal-post-menopausal and wide-awake, ruminating over life and all its stuff, desperately trying to go to sleep, staring at the moon out the window, hot-flashing and then freezing, covers-off-ing-covers-on-ing, mushing and re-mushing the pillows, trying to relax through the tiny aches and pains catching up, hungry and thirsty and ignoring the tinkle-urge – than having the person next to you start snoring. like a semi coming through your bedroom. uh-huh.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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plush, jammy, untamed & unbound. [two artists tuesday]

i will, henceforth, describe myself as “plush and jammy”. i also like “untamed and unbound” but i fear that my children would scoff at me, their almost-63-year-old mom “untamed and unbound” making them roll their eyes, but only for a moment or two so as not to waste too much time thinking about it.

plush and jammy sound like menopausal words so i pretty much adore their use on a lovely bottle of apothic. to be real, jammy, the opposite of earthy, refers to the fruit-forwardness of the wine and plush…well…it’s polished and opulent, soft, silky, round. earthy wines remind one of fall leaves, wild mushrooms, the forest floor aromas – which sort of sound like me (or the me i want to be), while jammy brings forth a syrupy sweetness that is not acidic, berry goodness. i may have to reconsider my descriptors.

untamed and unbound are the joey coconato words, er, the joey-coconato-wannabe words of wine. it is not necessarily a perfect pairing of words and merlot, but apothic stands in righteous pride with the words and i respect that. you have to LOVE those tags. it’s what everyone wants. it made us buy the wine. and, the wine was delightful, though we artists are not wine snobs.

we have all been subjected to questions like: what words would you use to describe yourself? we wrack our brains, trying to come up with adjectives that are accurate, responsible, fun, creative, that give clarity to who we are without being trite.

mine…i’m going with: a plush and jammy, aggressive and earthy, fermented and generally non-acidic, untamed and unbound logophile.

*****

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in it together. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the up-north gang makes plans that feature rest rooms. we travel distances – often caravaning – but we know that we will be stopping. no ifs, ands or buts.

the drive to cedarburg is not long, but the last thing any menopausal woman OR – let’s-face-it – man wants to do upon arrival anywhere is to desperately look for a bathroom. there is no time for that. no one wants to feel imperiled by the call of nature.

it feels somewhat irresponsible to be writing about paper bags and tic-tacs and mini-mart restrooms while russia invades ukraine and people’s lives are in jeopardy. it feels a little like it could be interpreted as not-paying-attention. we sat with our coffee this morning and talked about families packing up a few things and leaving…just leaving…with no place to really go, not knowing what to take, separating from the men in the household who have been ordered to stay, conscripted. it is nothing shy of terrifying and we wonder, yet again, how it is that this world is so conflicted and broken. yet we look around and we see evidence of division and suffering and methods of control everywhere.

and so, last weekend, our little field trip to cedarburg’s winter festival was exactly the right thing to do. we stopped at the gas station we always stop at. they had added two new restrooms, good news for a bunch of 60plussers on the move. less waiting that way. we watched the sled dogs race, we wondered about whether the river had been frozen the day before for the bedraces. we wandered in and out of shops and finished our day all together in the tiny bar of a bed and breakfast there. faces reddened from the wind, laughter up and down the table.

our up-north-gang mini roadtrip was before the invasion. i would choose it again, though. because we need to be reminded – over and over – that those are moments not to be taken for granted. the silly oh-my-gosh-i-need-a-restroom-right-freakin-now shared times of this gang as we age and age. the familiarity and ease of people you have spent time with, people you are in menopause with, people who talk about utterly anything. presence is not to be underestimated.

we are fortunate. and we know it. and as we give thanks for all we do have – including people we love and new mini-mart restrooms and winter festivals and freshly fallen snow – all under a sky of freedom – we also lift up those in a land not really so far away. and we hope for their safety, their very lives and an end to conflict they did not choose.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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spiffy-doo-dah suggestions. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the chasm between women and men widens post-menopause. i mean, it’s not exactly a divot before that. theyyy – meaning men – love to solve for things. everything. no matter what. weee – meaning women – sometimes just want to talk or vent or express how we feel. we are completely capable of solving-for when we want to be. and we are also completely capable of asking for help, asking for advice, asking for solutions…when we want them.

but, ahhh….that chasm. there are moments i start a conversation and announce, “i just want to vent.” it absolves me of guilt when i start growling if he starts to solve for the issue.

as we all know, many – and i won’t say “most” here, to avoid generalizing – many men can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. in mere seconds after placing his sweet problem-solving head on the pillow, d will be sleeping. down and out sleeping. meanwhile, my head is on my pillow, pondering life and all its idiosyncrasies. i find it flabbergasting how quickly time passes in the day and how slowly 2am – 5:30am crawls. or 12:30am – 3am. or 1am – 4am. it’s a goulash of wee-hour-clock-combinations.

so, while changing diet and exercise and patterns all seem like spiffy-doo-dah ideas, when one wants a little sympathy, one does not want spiffy-doo-dah suggestions. just sayin’.

not that i’m speaking from experience or anything. 😉

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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sleepynightnight. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

there is no question – whatsoever – that i lay awake inthemiddleofthenight waaay more than he does. i ponder and wonder and fret and worry and perseverate and plan and make lists and sigh and re-start the cycle over again. i lose sleep over things that are troubling me and during times of discontent. it is impossible for me to not carry these concerns into sleep – it’s disquieting and, most definitely, interruptive.

on the other hand, it takes david about six seconds to fall asleep and – perish the thought – stay asleep. there is little to no tossing, turning, blankets-on-ing-blankets-off-ing, staring-at-the-ceiling, looking-at-the-clock. somehow it is possible for him to empty-his-mind-of-all-troubles and just sleep.

how annoying! 😉

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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ghrelin’s fault. [saturday morning smack-dab]

here’s something to consider:

“as estrogen declines in perimenopause and menopause, appetite ramps up. … hormone weirdness can impact your sleep (night sweats, for example). insufficient sleep can further elevate sensations of hunger.” (gennev.com)

and this additional news:

“the decline of sleep-promoting hormones including estrogen and progesterone is one big reason for disrupted sleep. and the other symptoms of menopause—from mood swings and anxiety to night sweats—also contribute to sleep problems for women. production of another critical hormone for sleep—melatonin—also decreases with age, which can compound sleep problems for women during menopause and beyond.” (psychology today, m.j. breus, phd)

shocking, isn’t it? it makes you want to sign up, doesn’t it? huh?huh?

as one who is smack-dab in the middle of this estrogen/progesterone/post-peri-full-blown-meno fun, i know i am not alone. there is nothing like lying awake in the wee of the night, filled with swirling angst-filled thoughts and lists and no shut-eye, listening to david gently snoring and dogdog running in his sleep, blanket on-blanket off-blanket on, grateful-for-each-moment-crabby-as-all-get-out, melatonin-deprived and starving. i can’t count the vast number of bananas and bowls of cereal we have eaten smack-dab in the middle of the night.

“levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin increase, a reason why many women find themselves frequently hungry during this phase.” (psychology today, m.j. breus, phd)

i blame ghrelin.

and david. of course, david.

during menopause and beyond.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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youwannabanana? [d.r. thursday]

smack-dab in the middle of the night. like every night. i lay awake listening to the peaceful, gently-breathing sighs and sounds of him sleeping. sleeping! the gall!

and so, smack-dab in the middle of the night, i wake him up. since, smack-dab in middle-age, we decided to share our lives, it only seems right that we share our non-sleep moments as well as our sleep moments.

we are not alone. it would seem, especially in these times, that there is a lot – a hell of a lot – of insomnia going on. it is likely i could, should i choose to, have a texting conversation with most of my friends in the wee hours. we’d all be completely and utterly awake, completely and utterly coherent. perhaps more coherent in the wee-wee hours than in the day, when we are weary from the night.

when one lays awake at night and ponders all of life, one uses up much energy. and thus, i get hungry. and not just a little. in the ‘olden days’ (read: when we first married) we used to get up and make pancakes. there is nothing like midnight pancakes to soothe the weary soul. but we have cut to the chase these days and choose, instead, a shortcut to satisfying midnight hunger pangs. and so i poke at his shoulder and ask, “youwannabanana?”

post-banana we sit, happy lights turned low, and chat. there are no real rules to this. sometimes we watch a trail and joey coconato ultimately tucks us back in to sleep. sometimes ‘grace and frankie’ make a middle-of-the-night cameo appearance. eventually, and it’s heavy on the eventual, we settle back in and sometimes i end up snoozing in-between hot flashes and heaving blankets and pulling blankets up and moving pillows and removing pillows. it’s exhausting. but somehow, it is not sleep-inducing.

i don’t know much. but i do know this: we’re smack-dab in the middle of middle-age. and by golly, we are going to celebrate THAT.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY** – as we introduce SMACK-DAB

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

** and, by the way, i don’t REALLY “guffaw”.


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play. [two artists tuesday]

hand shadow.jpg

we sat on schoolhouse beach, in the middle of the (figurative) storm around us, and made shadow puppets.  giggling, we fell back on the rocks, the healing beginning.

when i think back over the last decade or so, i am struck by how many things my menopausal brain can’t remember.  even though today, in a little shop, abba’s song Fernando came on and i sang along to every word, the last time i heard this song maybe 4 or 5 years ago….maybe, but i can’t recollect.

the things i remember over the years are the things that stood out.  moments of despair, of loss.  moments of confusion, of great pain as i sorted them out.  times of many tears.  times my stomach and the sides of my face hurt from laughing so hard.  times of hard work.  even more importantly, times of play.  ralph waldo emerson said, “it is a happy talent to know how to play.”

even in the midst of everything else, we must remember to play.  for that will carry us far.  further than grief will.  further than withstanding searing pain.  further than the sobs that make you lay on the kitchen floor.  further than hard work.

for in play comes laughter.  and in laughter, the release of great love.  love is everlasting.  it is patient and kind.  it does not envy or boast.  it is not proud.  it does not dishonor others nor is it self-seeking.  it is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.  love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  it protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.  love never fails.(I Corinthians 13)

so.  play.  and love.  together, those -in the rest of life-  will endure anything.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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