Friday, December 20, 2019


When my daughter got her period a few years ago she introduced me to an app called Clue. It tracks your period. You input your symptoms (happy, headache, ovulation, tender breasts), your mood (happy, sensitive, sad, PMS) and your flow (light, medium, heavy, spotting). The majority of my friends report by the hundreds of days when their last period was. The word on the street is that, once you don't get your period for a full year you are officially in menopause.

I still get my period every month but I've noticed my period has changed drastically in the last several months and so I've reengaged with my Clue App to see if I can get a handle on what's coming. This past month my period lasted for thirteen days. I only had one or two heavy days and the rest were just spotting. Annoying and unpredictable spotting. So I'm not in menopause yet, but I am definitely perimenopausal or periodopausal as I have started to think about it.

I get irritated with the constant drip system that has become my body. I hear myself complaining to my family, "Oh my GOOOD. I still have my period!" It must get old, hearing crazy Laura go on again about how many days it's been. I'm know I'm not unique or special. I am totally aware of the fact that, at age 51, I am in good company with lots of other women who experience a similar period surprise party every month, never knowing exactly what to expect.

There is a part of me that feels grateful to still get my period. I get to share the period supply closet with my daughter and it makes me feel like I'm still kind of young. My period is familiar. I've been experiencing it every month for over thirty-five years. The other day at dinner my daughter, complaining of her own period woes said, "Mom, if I live to age 95 like GeeGee, if you calculate all the days of my periods, it comes to twelve years. I will have bled for twelve whole years of my life." That's a lot of bleeding.

My period has not always been thirteen days. I have a feeling that it will slowly start to creep back down until it disappears entirely. So what's all this complaining about? What's the lesson? I'm  attached to my period. I am holding on tight to this natural process that I've experienced for the majority of my life.  While it comes out as a complaint, when I look back and think about it, I can detect excitement and satisfaction, "I still HAVE it!" vs "I still have it!"

When my daughter got her period I wrote her a letter. I bought her eight different boxes of pads and panty liners. I bought her special padded period panties and I cried as I told her how much I loved her and always would. Getting the period is a big deal. And not getting it is a big deal too.

There should be a ritual for this moment. I wonder what it should be. It should be a ritual moment acknowledging this twelve years of periods in our lives. I don't know what it is yet, but I know it should be special, it should be something that feels like saying hello and goodbye at the same time. And, if you want to know what the ritual is, you can always come to one of our Put Some Claws in Your Pause retreats. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Little Help from my Friends

A few blocks from my house, there is an abandoned boat in Lake Washington. It has been there for several weeks. I can see the boat from where I am sitting now, leaning slightly more towards shore than it was yesterday. It's raining, but not enough to raise the level of the lake and maybe help that poor boat off of the land where it ran aground.

Everyday I walk my dog to that boat to look at its status. There were several days when the boat first ran aground the the owner made attempts to move the boat. One day, very early in the morning, the man who I'm assuming was the captain of the little ship, put on a wet suit and waded out to the boat. I watched him climb aboard to do some kind of boat related fixing. Another day I saw a little raft and some big white barrels, but no man. Some days I'd see him sitting in his purple car in the parking lot, motor running, watching the boat. For a time there was a generator and I could see water being pumped out of the hull.

My family teases me about my obsession with this boat. My daughter Lucia rolls her eyes as she tells my partner Nancy, "I heard about the boat again on the way home from shopping." I am obsessed. I think about that boat everyday. But why? Last week I did a writing exercise designed to tap into our subconscious thoughts to try to explore my overwhelming interest in the boat and I uncovered a few things.

I'm worried. I'm so worried about that man who is sitting on the sidelines just watching as his boat tilts a little more everyday. There is a big pile of debris on the shore--tools, a  bike, a blue tarp, random pieces of wood, different lengths of rope---abandoned from the attempts to right the boat in the water. Has the man moved away and left all that stuff along with his boat or will he be back when he has another idea? I worry about the geese and the coots and the cormorants, and the turtles and otters who hang out there. Is this trash slowly infiltrating their habitat?

If this man has abandoned hope, why? I think it's because he needs help. He made a mistake. He took his boat into waters that were too shallow and he got stuck and now the man needs help. When I am down by the boat, watching it, waiting for something to happen-- the man to reappear, the coast guard to come help, a miracle of heavy, heavy rain---I hear people walking by and commenting: "This is a disaster." "If we were in North Seattle, this boat would be gone by now." I cannot believe how irresponsible this boat owner is." But even when the man was there, working on saving his boat for many days in a row, he was alone. None of the passersby, including me, reached out to the man and asked, "How can I help?" I feel bad for not offering help, even just checking in with the man. I saw him as a problem, unrelated to me and I watched like a voyeur, waiting for someone else to be the one to help, waiting for him to figure it out. This is not what I want for my community or my planet. It's so sad to think about this little microcosm of our world-- his boat, not my problem.

I understand now that sadness is where the root of my obsession lies. I am heartbroken at the aloneness of this man and his boat. I cannot believe that, in this community of boat owners and people who live along the lake (including me!), there has not been a groundswell of energy and support, a little group of boat movers, like the Amish barn raisers, who gather together to give a big literal or figurative community push to save the little boat.

It's pouring now and I wonder if the rain will help the man and his boat. I haven't seen him in several days. There have been lots of comments on our neighborhood blog about what to do about the damn boat. Call the police, some people say. Call the mayor.  I finally piped in yesterday adding that I think the man needs help. I hope the man reappears to save his boat one last time. If he does, I will ask him if he needs help.

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