Shake this Mountain!

Today I officially became a Hill Walker. With the ambition of becoming a Munro Bagger. I have dropped my ultimate ambition of climbing Everest after watching Extreme Everest and finding out just how many dead bodies litter the final ascent. And also I just know the last words I would hear are ‘she’s taking too long – cut her free’ before I fell to my death and lay where I fell for all eternity with other climbers averting their eyes as they clambered past. And also finding out you have to wear a nappy thing as you can’t go to the loo or your bum will freeze off put me off a bit. I mean I have had a bit of practice with Tena Lady – but a full on nappy is a step too far! And though it may seem trivial I didn’t realise you would have to queue to get to the summit. I have been known on regular occasions to dump my basket of shopping and walk out of Tesco in a hormonal rage if the queue is too long – so I’m bloody sure I’ll be queueing to get up Everest!

Anyway I digress – back to today. I am still fat despite having joined every Fat Class and attempted almost every type of exercise there is. In fact I am fattest ever with a menopausal midriff that the Post Office are considering giving its own postcode. Hill walkers are always skinny – fact! So I will be too. It appears I am also low on vitamin D – and a bit of daylight should help that. Also – I really really want some great Facebook posts on my hill walking – my personal facebook is rather empty just now – as it would just be a sequence of posts saying ‘watching Netflix eating the selection boxes we bought for Christmas but don’t have the will power to leave them in the cupboard’. I also want the ‘hill walking’ in the interests part of my CV to be rather more factually accurate than it is now.

I did attempt GoatFell in Arran in Summer with a couple of good friends but tbh my circle of friends bond more over alcohol and take aways than outdoor pursuits. So it wasn’t a total surprise when it started to rain and we decided to abandon our efforts and just book into the Auchrannie resort and drank cocktails and wine and have a huge meal. But an acquaintance at work said I should try Dumyat first then work up a bit. And that she would accompany me – she does lots of Munros so I knew I was in safe hands and so am planning to make her a really good friend. I really prepared as have joined a lot of hillwalking Facebook groups where the inexperienced and ill equipped are soundly derided. So proper hiking boots, a lovely paramo windproof waterproof mac, proper hiking socks, walking trousers, a hat, gloves, thermal vest and a buff thing to go round my hair. The walking trousers are too tight as apparently fat girls don’t go walking so could not get my actual size – but a good tip – thread a hair bobble through the hole then use it to fasten the button – gives you another few inches give round the belly. I have packed my lovely new green high vis rucksack with various snacks, lunch, torch, foil survival bag, whistle and a map and compass which I can’t actually read. Total cost – about £700 but if you see my partner – £60 in charity shop – as they are still banging on about the £600 bike I went on once and now languishes in the shed and my £50 a month gym membership that I only use once a week when they have fresh scones in the cafe bit and the £200 worth of running stuff that is now stuffed into a drawer somewhere. But at least if Mountain rescue come out they won’t be able to release a statement about how unprepared people like me should stay home. And I do think hill walking is the new me!

It is a gorgeous bright day and I get there a bit early. It is not wasted time though as the sun shows all the hairs on my chin and I have time to eliminate all of them with my car tweezers before she arrives.

Then I see her – in jeans, trainers and a leather jacket. WTF? She pisses herself (literally which is some comfort) when she sees me. I am not that amused tbh. She explains it is 40 mins up and 40 mins back – just a stroll. Doesn’t look like a feckin stroll to me as I gaze to the top of the mountain. It just goes downhill from there onwards tbh. We start at a gate with a big sign saying pretty much that if your dog even looks at a sheep it will be shot. Sweet Dog looks rather anxious despite having zero interest in any other living creature. I reassure her and we set off.

She strides on then stops to wait for me – then strides on – then stops to wait for me. I am feckin knackered and far too hot. The thermal vest wasn’t really needed. Or the gloves or hat. I am becoming too acquainted with her arse striding on in front of me. And as she gets a good rest waiting for me she is full of energy to stride on as I get there.

I tell her just to go on without me in the end. And she pretty much runs off without a backward glance. I stride on a few more steps then fall to the ground and scream as something – I think a bird hits off the back of my head. I don’t see anything but decide to have a rest and eat my Crunchie.

A few more steps and I take some good photos for Facebook. My right heel is rubbing on the boot and my left hip hurts but no-one will see that on Facebook. Then bang – something else hits my head. FFS – it is my bloody rucksack – the bit that goes over and clips down. Except the bloody clip thing isn’t working so slightest bit of wind and it come up and bashes me on the head. FFS – I thought it was the Farmer aiming a shot at Sweet dog for minute.

Then I see either a small cat or maybe a big kitten just down below me. Oh no. I know mountain rescue don’t come out for animals. I look carefully – it is possible that it is dead – it is not moving. I feel the menopausal tears coming on. I have had to stop watching Paul O’Gradys Love of Dogs because it breaks my heart. And we had to watch Children in Need on catch up so I could whiz past the sad stories. Imagine dying on this hill all alone. But then it moves a bit – it’s a alive. I make a decision – I am calling the RSPCA – I am googling the number as I slide slowly down the hill to where the cat is. Fortunately I have no signal as it is unlikely they would have been pleased to have been called out for a black beanie cap swaying a bit in the wind. It is time for me to start wearing my glasses all the time – but I am railing against it for now. I have a bar of Galaxy before heading on a bit further.

A bit further on and I stop to have my ham sandwich and opal fruits for energy. Sweet Dog discovers a bottle of what looks suspiciously like urine and insists on sitting beside me happily chewing on it which is a bit gross tbh. But she won’t be parted from it.

I walk on a bit further and am now very achy and have pretty much ate all my supplies yet I am not at the summit – indeed the summit looks very very far away. I turn to look at the view and hear a loud ping. My phone!! I scrabble for it keen to tell whoever it is I am up a mountain. ‘Get the FUCK out the way’ I hear and look up to see six mental looking cyclists racing down the hill right for me. It wasn’t my phone it was their feckin bells pinging. FUCK OFF YOU FUCKING IDIOTS I scream as adrenalin and menopausal rage takes over. Why would you cycle down a bloody mountain when there are tons of cycle paths. One tries to turn to give me the finger and careers off the edge of the path which makes me a bit happier.

I then see my pal who might not actually be my pal for much longer come towards me. She has made it up and back down. She warns me there are a couple of bulls just a bit further up. FFS! I smile and pretend that is something me and Sweet Dog deal with on a daily basis and carry on. I look back occasionally wondering if she might slip in the cowpats I passed. And an hour later I am there. At the top. And it is amazing. I take lots and lots of photos at the summit and whatsapp/tweet/facebook and instagram them. I rest a bit longer and look at the chinese takeaway menu on my phone deciding what to order as after all this exercise I think I deserve it!

Have to go now as the chinese delivery will be here in ten – netflix is all set ready to go – and the wine should be really really cold now….

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Advice for the menopausal woman’s ‘significant others’

This post is for the HABPSO’s (Husbands and Boyfriends and Partners and Significant Others) of the menopausal women.

I get tons of messages from women saying their HABPSO’s just don’t ‘get’ the menopause and are being less than supportive!

So I thought I’d take things a step further and dedicate a whole post to the people supporting a women through their menopausal years.

One thing that can help is to live 24 hours
as a menopausal woman – this immersion will give you real insight into what it’s like and allow you to empathise more fully.

So this is how to have such a day:

* Start the experiment about 10pm – go to bed with a thermal vest, four jumpers with hot water bottles between each – and keep your electric blanket on full.
* Once you are soaked through with sweat, get up and change the bedclothes and yourself.
* Ensure you have a recording of all the things you are worried about. Set your alarm for 3am and listen to it for 2 hours.
* Just before you are about to fall asleep again – stick a bag of midgies or mosquitos in bed with you and lie itching and scratching for an hour or so
* Get up and wear clothes that are a size too small around the waist
* Before going to work tweeze your beard rather than shave
* Smoke 5 joints and take 2 sleeping tablets and a swig of nightnurse on your way to work. This will get you some way to understanding the ‘brain fog’ symptom
* Every couple of hours (ideally before a key meeting with your boss) get up and nip to the kitchen and stand in front of the industrial sized ovens for a full 10 minutes.
* Half way through meetings think of something very very sad and try to hold back the tears. If someone annoys you tell them to shut up and then worry about it for the rest of the day
* That evening allow your partner to rub your ‘joystick’ with coarse sandpaper for a long time

This will help you get a full understanding of what the woman in your life is going through. If this isn’t sufficient to get you to modify your behaviour around her – here are some really specific tips:

*If you arrive home and find said lady completely naked on top of the bed – DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT take this as an invitation to leap on her for some passion. The correct response is to say ‘hunni are you a bit hot – let me just get you some cold wine out of the fridge’.

*There are times when the lovely lady may tell you to ‘get to fuck and when you get there just keep fucking off and fucking off til you have fucked right off’. If this happens think very carefully if this is justified – perhaps you have maybe been breathing just a bit too loudly? Or returned from Marks and Spencer having picked up the cheese option, or worse the alcohol free option, from the Dine In offer? The correct response is ‘oh darling let me get you some wine and I’ll sleep in the spare room so you get some space’

* You may face a situation where you see some whiskers clearly visible on the ladies chin or upperlip. And you wonder whether to ask if she is taking part in Movember. Don’t. Just don’t. Just give her some wine.

*Some nights you may notice the woman sticking a leg in then out of the covers then in then out again. It is not the correct response to sing the hokey cokey at full volume. This isn’t even vaguely funny. Not even a little bit.

*You may be woken several times in the night with the woman suffering anxiety and wanting to talk about whether Joan at work meant anything when she looked at her funny last week. The correct response is NOT ‘oh don’t be stupid and let me bloody sleep’. You must say ‘let me get some wine and you can tell me all about it’. Even if she has already told you 18 times and forgotten about it.

*A particularly dangerous scenario is when your other half asks ‘Do I look fat in this?’. I would hope no advice is needed here. But just in case – the correct answer is NOT ‘yes you do a bit’ or ‘you’ll do’. You must look up from your phone and say ‘WOW you look AMAZING, let me get you some wine’

I hope this helps all you HABPSO’s.

Any other tips anyone would like to share??

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Wedding Blues

So I spent my 20s attending weddings. My 30s cuddling lots of lovely new babies. My 40s supporting friends through divorces. And as I enter my fifth decade it looks like attending 2nd weddings is the new black!

But it is a very different matter attending a wedding when you are a menopausal woman then when you are a young hot 20 something. Take my experiences of attending my friends marriage at the weekend.

Outfit Choice!! I used to look for the clingiest sexiest outfit possible. But not now. I had six months notice of this wedding and had planned to lose 20 pounds for it – a jump on the scales ;ast week revealed just 25 pounds to go!! FFS! I put this down to pre-minstral tension (yes I didn’t mispell that – – self medication on round circles of chocolate alleviates the perfect storm that is PMT and Peri Menopause). I am also a bit skint from menopausal poverty (ladycare magnets; supplements; holidays to cheer myself up and tena lady don’t come cheap) so really wanted to avoid spending money. My partner helpfully said there must be something in the wardrobe given it is so full that everything falls on your head when you open it. So I decided to have a good look.

Three hours later and I have said Fuck; Cunt; Bastard more times than I’ve had hot dinners. I am a bit drunk as my partner knows that when this language ensues then the only solution is Jack Daniels and Coke and has been passing glasses through as I try and ram my body into clothes that have mysteriously shrunk. I have rammed everything that doesn’t fit into black bags for the attic – to be brought down when I have lost four stone. I am left with three smock tops, three pairs of leggings, jeans that used to be very baggy but now look like skinnies and a couple of maxi dresses. All my lovely shoes are still there though – I love shoes – they don’t abandon you just cos you are a bit chunkier.

So the conclusion is I have to shop. Off I go a bit pissed and clutching my credit card. A few hours later and I have something that will do. As long as no one sees my side view. Not bad from front but arse and tummy need their own postcodes and so side view not flattering!! I am most depressed (seriously forget personal shoppers – put menopause counsellors in these changing rooms to provide support when the size 18s won’t feckin do up) but then I discover the Hats section. And the shoes section. Hats and shoes are nice. They are my friends. I get an amazing hat and some amazing tartan shoes and i am happy. Very skint now but the bride and groom said no presents and so all in all I think it balances out.

Off to the wedding and we try to remind ourselves of names of all the new partners that will be there. Menopausal brain fog means I find it hard enough to remember friends of 40 years standing let along new partners of a few years. We get to the hotel. My Hat!! My feckin Hat!! My glorious lovely Hat. It isn’t there. FFS FFS FFS. I have forgotten it – this forgetfulness is doing my head in. I start to cry. My partner doesn’t understand and refuses to drive 3 hours home to get it. So I cry some more til we decide if I get a nice updo at the hairdresser next to the hotel it will be a good compromise. Then even worse – I only have one bloody shoe. Hows is this even possible. Fuck it – I will wear my blue sketchers – I think I can carry it off.

The wedding goes with a swing. There is one close call where I meet a frienemy who cheerily tells me she is wearing the same outfit that she did on the brides first wedding. She laughs joyously as she says she thinks she might even be lighter than she was then. ‘how bloody wonderful for you’ I say as sarcastically as I can before being dragged away to the rather stunning buffet. I am relieved to see there are a number of other fatties -there was an array of fat bellys in the weddings in our 20s but normally they were baby bumps – they now are the result of the menopausal midriff. There are so many intolerants now (lactose/gluten/animal) mean that there is loads for the ‘tolerate anythings’ like me so I get stuck in – waste not want not and all that.

The first dance is a success – at the first wedding the bride was so pissed she ended up lying on the dance floor and ordering everyone just to dance round her. So this is a win.

Then it’s a bit of boogying for all of us. Ok so ‘Hot Stuff’ and ‘This Girl is on Fire’ have different connotations now – but I can still dance like no-one is watching. I start to wonder if the DJ is taking the piss when they follow that up with Katy Perrys ‘you’re hot then you’re cold’ and am about to address the issue when I am reminded I am a bit pre menstrual and we had come to an agreement I would not ‘address issues’ at these times.

At 10pm we have a quick debate whether that is too early to go back to the hotel and sleep. My social life is often planned to allow me to be in bed for 9.30pm as menopausal exhaustion kicks in then – these second weddings should really take account of this… maybe have brunch weddings or something. But then the slosh comes on – the song of all Scottish Weddings – so I dive in to lead the way – I am BRILLIANT at the slosh and the good thing is the more drunk I get the better I get at it!! We manage through to 11pm which is a huge win and stagger upstairs and are asleep by approximately 11.10pm.

Then it is time to head home – to find a forlorn tartan shoe on the driveway that is soaked through with rain. And a grumpy sweet dog who wanted to come too and is gutted to have been left behind. We snuggle up and look at the facebook pictures of the wedding and frequently have to email people to take the fecking pictures of me looking a size 18 down. I mean I am a size 18 but really – there are ways and means of photographing round that – mainly taking shots from the boobs up.

PS Happy Menopause Day to one and all!!!

PPS You can follow me on facebook – facebook.com/menopausalwoman

Or on Twitter: @gallopingcatast

 

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Six Menopausal Women Go Mad in Crete

So here we are … six menopausal women going mad(Der) in Crete! Twenty years since the last time we all went crazy in Greece!

And there are some changes! Twenty years ago our washbags bulged with cosmetics including the essential body shop face bronzer to contour those amazing cheekbones we all had but did not appreciate til the menopausal weight gain rendered them a distant memory! Now the essentials in our washbags are our tweezers! Not for our eyebrows as in a cruel twist of fate just as your chin gets hairier your eyebrows start to go bald!

Well I say all of us .. Joyce hasn’t got her tweezers as she was too tight to pay for her bag to go into the hold so they were confiscated as she took her carry on bag through security. The security guard was rather shocked by her reaction .. clearly never having got between a menopausal woman and her tweezers before! I think Joyce maybe over reacted by screaming that if she was going to “blow the fucking plane up I would have brought a fucking grenade along not a pair of fucking tweezers”
But we managed to get her away before she could be arrested by a promise of gin and a lend of our tweezers when we got there! I had a quiet word with her about maybe restarting the hrt she gave up a couple of months ago.

We also have a shit load more medications. Thyroxine.. statins … medication for high blood pressure all adorn the kitchen surfaces. And the hrt for some. Supplements for others. Personally I can’t see my symptoms being relived by dabbing aloe Vera on my temples but if t works for shazza then who am I to judge!

We have been splashing about in our bikinis in the pool. We worked out that between us we were about 14 stone heavier than last time but do you know how we managed to get bikini body ready? Yup .. we just put a fecking bikini on … and ta dahhhh that was it! Then we decided the seclusion of our villa meant an all over tan was a necessity. Suns oot taps aff as they say in my home town! We are a little more battered than before with scars from ops and tumbles. And gravity has taken its toll. And we bear more emotional scars from the inevitable lows that join the highs of getting older .. watching people we love get sick and die .. divorces… heartbreaks … disappointments. So you”ll excuse us for not giving a shit that the fashion journalists Decree a one piece more flattering to the over 40 figure. We just look over each other’s broken fences and admire the flowers in each other’s gardens

In the restaurants the waiters no longer ogle us … focussing on the young and the beautiful! But we wait patiently discussing the best use of our menopausal superpower of invisibility … we discount a bank heist but are still considering a shoplifting spree at John Lewis.

We wander off to our rooms and come back to ask what we went in for. We have conversations that are littered with “have I already said that?” And “am I repeating myself?”. We are half way through our holiday books before we realise we think we have read them before.

Our reading glasses now adorn various surfaces and we take turns to lose them and help others find theirs.

We are gutted to realise we are so shit with technology we can’t figure out how to get strictly on the iPad. So we do our own version which owes more to enthusiasm than talent! But who cares coz we are not getting judged and no-one is watching … we follow up with an xfactor competition with various cats that now live with us ever since the word got out that shazza dropped a bit of chicken on the balcony last night yowling in accompaniement! But Simon can’t hear us.

We nap in the afternoon and go to bed at the same time we used to head out to the clubs at. And we don’t care!

I am not sure if sunshine and being slightly pissed is helping our symptoms but they certainly help us give less of a toss about them!

Night night … bedtime for us all now … am thinking of the poem I like by Veronica sholsoff … “plant your own garden and decorate your own soul” … definately good advice for the menopausal woman!

THIS GIRL IS ON FIYAAARRRR…

Fancy winning a fabulous gift box of menopausal goodies from Andrea McLeans fabulous website ‘This Girl is on Fire’? (why can’t read that without standing up, grabbing my hairbrush as a mock microphone and singing “This girl is on FIYAAAARRRRRR…Oh she’s just a girl and she’s on FIYAAAAARRRRR” at the top of my voice Alicia Keyes style while throwing some fabulous shapes? (Note to self ensure curtains and window closed next time)

Or maybe you’ve always fancied seeing your name in print?

Well here’s your chance to go for it.

October 18th is World Menopause Day and ‘This Girl is on Fire’ is having a menopause month with lots of articles and videos on that very topic.

And their team have read the funny comments and stories that have been written under my blog posts and wondered if any of you would like to contribute.

You don’t need to be JK Rowling – just use your own lovely personal style – and it can be as short or as long as you like. They are looking for stories on the lighter side of the menopause – silly things you have done/forgetful things/maybe how coming through the menopause has changed your life for the better. We are all in it together – so this is a chance to share, discuss and laugh. Don’t be shy – you are among friends 😊

Have a look at the site: https://www.thisgirlisonfire.co.uk

Or email you story directly to: yourstory@thisgirlisonfire.co.uk

The best two will receive the wonderful goodie bag (the the slogan T shirts are my favourite – though with these feckin Amber weather warnings may have to upgrade to one of their slogan long sleeved tops soon!). I’ve read and reread Andreas fab book ‘Confessions of a Menopausal Woman’ – and a signed copy will also be in the pack along with a Confessions mug, notebook and tote bag.

So fuckit – writeit and sendit! Why not 🙂

You need to get it in by 28th September to be considered for the prizes – can’t wait to read all about it! (just had to jump up there and launch into ‘Read all About It’ Emile Sande Style ‘I wanna SCREAM til the words dry out’ – feck how many times have I wanted to do that since hitting the menopause!)

Good Luck.

Jen

xx

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Is it just me?

Menopausal Poverty

The term ‘fucker of a day’ was coined by someone who had a day just like the one I’ve just had! Last day of work before annual leave – I head off to Glasgow and am almost there before I remember today is a day for the Edinburgh office and have to do a fecker of a reroute back! It should be law that forgetful menopausal women can only work in one place! Also none of my colleagues seem to have got the memo that on the last day before your holiday you do very little apart from turn on your ‘out of office’ and give everyone a regular countdown throughout the day of how long it is before you start your holidays. No – my colleagues got some other memo that said irritate the fuck out anyone going on holiday by asking them to meetings to discuss how things can stay ‘on piste’ in their absence or how x project can ‘maintain its flightpath’. And I had to pretend to be interested in all the things that would happen while I was lying on a beach drinking cocktails. Finally I got to bugger off home and would have loved to have gone on a pre holiday spa – get my nails and hair done etc. But I am suffering from ‘menopausal poverty’ which is the fresh hell you get after years of ‘period poverty’. Having to spend money on things like magnesium supplements; tena lady; a bigger size of clothes every two months; new shoes to cheer yourself up; buying friends lunch to make up for calling their husbands tossers when in the midst of ‘menopausal honesty moments’; new glasses as your sight decides to give up the ghost as well as various other parts of your body; waxing and laser treatment for all the excess facial hair; dying the gray from your hair; getting the odd wierd skin tag thing removed; slimming club memberships all adds up There should be a tax allowance for menopausal women!! But the government is too busy stealing our pensions to think of that so instead of a lovely £400 spa I decide to have a relaxing bath with magensium flakes in it (£3.95 for a pouchful – Holland and Barrat); a large glass of red wine (£4.99 a bottle Aldi); and a mint club (£1 for a pack of 5 in Asda) while wearing a special face mask (99p superdrug) thus saving £390.95. I mean it’s not exactly Champneys but it will do. And it was quite nice til Sweet Dog decided to try and get in the bath with me for some reason that I will probably never fathom. In pushing her out I spilt my red wine and my mint club fell in the water. But there is no way I was getting out of that bath as the magnesium flakes were expensive and the instructions insist you stay submerged for 20 mins for maximum benefit! My partner comes in and screams. And I nearly jump out of my skin as I was just dozing off. ‘What the fuck is wrong with you? I am trying to relax’ I shout. But I kind of see where ‘the fear’ may have come from – I am lying with a mask that makes me resemble Hannibal Lecter in a bath that looks like it is blood with what they thought was a large poo floating beside me (not realising it was a melting mint club). I am a little disappointed as the HRT is boosting my libido but I suspect this isn’t the best foreplay and my luck may not be in! Anyway – they have bought the M&S dine in for £12 for dinner so I am a little bit happier. I decide to check Facebook while they cook it. It greets me with a premenopausal photo from 8 years ago looking young freshfaced and not the kind of person that considers stabbing people on a regular basis. I wonder if I can disable the ‘memories’ – oh look here is your dead granny from 10 years ago’/’oh remember your dog you adored thatis now dead? No? You had just got over it? Ha Ha – here is a picture to rub it in’… etc… And I check the fridge and am even more raging. Can I ask – who on this planet gets the cheese as the desert option in the Dine In offer? I mean really? The cheese? I know for a fact there was a profitorole stack and millionaire chocolate dessert as options. WHO PICKS THE BLOODY CHEESE OVER THAT? It is times like this that I wonder if we are suited at all and maybe we should just end it due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ in what constitutes a good pudding. But then I remember the other four mint clubs!! So not a complete total fucker of a day! And it is holiday time tomorrow. No more working for a week or two. We are going where the sun better feckin shine brightly and the sky better be feckin blue (to paraphrase Cliff Richard!) To follow my menopausal musings – scroll up click on my face and click follow Twitter – @gallopingcatast #menopause #menopausalmadness
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