“There is no better time than autumn to begin forgetting the things that trouble us, allowing them to fall away like dried leaves. There is no better time to dance again, to make the most of every crumb of sunlight and warm body and soul with its rays before it falls asleep and becomes only a dim lightbulb in the skies.”
- Paulo Coelho, from his novel, Adultery
No matter what the temperature is or what the weather conditions are, my husband always says, “It’s 78 degrees and sunny.” When people questioned our sanity about moving to a place where the winters are snowy and frigid – when everybody else our age was heading south – he would say that it didn’t make any difference because wherever we are, it would be 78 degrees and sunny. I’ll see if he remembers that come February (isn’t that called the cruelest month?).
But right at this moment – it’s about 73 degrees and sunny. I am sitting on our deck overlooking a golf course in the distance and the lovely Mt. Peg. The leaves are just a smidgen past their peak color and several trees are almost bare. The sun is shining through the trees in the woods next to the deck turning the colors into an almost neon version of themselves – especially lovely on those leaves in mid-air floating to the ground.
On these precious days, it’s hard to get any work done. I want to take full advantage of gorgeous days and soak up their beauty so that when the real chill comes, I’ll have some beautiful memories.
I don’t know what it will be like this winter for me because I’ve never lived in this type of cold before. And everyone I meet gets around to asking me the question as to whether we’ve been up here in winter and are we planning to stay throughout the year. Like we’re wusses or something. I’ve been through some pretty cold Mid-Atlantic winters and endured years of beyond hot and wet in Houston – both extremes. Plus, I’ve done my winter gear shopping. I am ready.
What I’m really interested in is living with the change of light – getting darker about fifteen minutes earlier than the Baltimore area and those gray skied days. It’s so beautiful right at this moment with all the colors around me looking like nature’s most gorgeous oriental carpet and the warm sun shining – what will be it be like in a month or two?
I’ve talked to several people recently here in Vermont and back in Maryland who struggle with the darkness and slide into sadness and in some cases, mild to severe depression when winter arrives. I’ve felt that sadness at times for a day or two during winter and my heart truly goes out to those who suffer year in and year out, just waiting for the light of spring.
Knowing that this will be the year I start to navigate my way through a “real” winter, I’m looking forward to it. It’s the perfect time to give myself permission to slow down, take it easy, rest, and look inward. It’s the time for some ultra-nourishing self-care. It’s the time to give myself a break and lay off the demands and the “shoulds”. I am thinking this could be a valuable time of discovery – uncovering and excavating what is ready to come to the surface.
So, I am already preparing for the nurturing self-care. In the midst of house painters being with us starting in November and lots of furniture that needs to be picked out, I have a list of things I know will help me feel warm, fuzzy, loved and taken care of. I’ll be adding to this list as I go along, but so far:
- Plenty of tea and a new cup to celebrate winter
- A beautiful fireplace all ready to go – with gas logs that light up with a push of the button and warm the entire room
- A lovely throw right next to my favorite chair and ottoman
- Taking naps when so moved
- Getting plenty of sleep – it works for bears
- A supply of red wine to sip by the fire
- A freezer full of food and a gazillion new recipes to test
- Fragrant soaps, essential oils, and epsom salt for long soaks in the tub
- Several bottles of champagne to toast whatever needs toasting
- A new journal to record my thoughts – I plan on writing and writing
- A stack of books to read
- A selection of audio books
- The yoga and pilates class schedules – oh, and going to the classes!
- And more… gathering new friends in our home for meals and conversation and taking advantage of cross-country, snow shoe and dog-sledding activities, and dare I say, curling???
So, this will be a new type of winter in a new place, but I’m headed in wide-eyed and bushy-tailed in my exploration mode. We’ll see how it goes, right? After all, I am not a wuss, except about heights and going to the dentist.
And, you… how does winter come for you and how do you enter and pass the season? How do you nourish yourself? And, if you live in a warm climate, do you notice any difference internally with the passing seasons? I would love for you to share.
We can have different ideas about what a scaredy-cat is, but I have always been one to some degree, especially when the sun goes down. I can pretty much tackle anything that comes my way during the daytime, but come nightfall, I feel as if I’ve lost my super powers. And, now that we are in the spooky month of Halloween, I’m on high alert.
Where did this come from? It started when I was little. I always thought “things” were under my bed, in my closet and I actually had night terrors – keeping up everyone in the house with my crying and screaming. And, as suddenly as they came on, they left after several months, but they lived up to their name. They were terrifying.
Also, I was raised by a scaredy-cat mom who turned on all the outside lights and closed all the blinds at dusk… because there could be people out there looking at us. For real – in our tiny, little town? Yep… and, I believed her.
When I graduated from college and moved to Houston, I took my scaredy-cat self with me. All of a sudden, I wasn’t in a town of two-thousand people anymore. I was in a city of well over two-million and the evening news reassured me that there were plenty of spooky people out there. When I read Stephen King’s, Salem’s Lot, I could hardly walk my dog at night knowing that there could be vampires hanging around on window screens.
And then, within a year – still in Houston, three very scary things happened. The first happened when I was walking my dog one morning before daybreak. A man who had just robbed a convenience store was running from the police and jumped over a six-foot fence just as I was walking by. I’m not sure who was scared the most, but thankfully, he kept on running and the police were close on his coattails.
The next thing happened when I got up one morning and went to take Nauzer the Schnauzer out for a walk and I couldn’t get out of my front door. As I walked around the house, I found that all of my doors were damaged and that window screens had been pulled off lower windows. Someone had tried to get into my home during the night and neither my dog or I had heard them! I had double locks on all the windows and deadbolts on the doors, so it must have been too much trouble for them, although they gave it a good try.
When the police came they shared the comforting news that when someone breaks into a home at night and a single woman lives there, they are usually after her and not her TV. They advised me to get a gun – after all, I lived in Houston – or better yet, a shotgun, so I could just stand at the top of the stairs and pump it. Whoever it was would leave when they heard that. I didn’t follow through with that suggestion.
And, then when I was thirty-three years old, the scary event happened that forever changed my life and anything I felt or thought I knew. The proverbial boogeyman abducted me from a grocery store parking lot and assaulted me, letting me know that he would finish me off before the evening was over. But, he didn’t, and I was able to get away. He was caught and because I had not been the only victim, he will be locked up forever. But, that nightmare stayed around for years and still rears its ugly head occasionally, although it no longer controls me.
Needless to say, I became hyper-vigilant about walking, driving, parking lots and being at home alone all locked up with curtains drawn. When I moved to D.C., Baltimore and Charlotte – I was extra careful. Big cities with lots going on, too, and you can never be too careful.
When Bob and I got married and bought a home outside of Baltimore City, the whole backside of it was glass. A veritable fishbowl. I wanted curtains drawn and outside lights blazing at sundown. Bob kept saying, “Who do you think is standing in our backyard looking?” I had no idea. Probably, a bunch of deer, but I wasn’t taking chances.
The alarm system was always on and stayed that way for several years until it started acting up. It got to the point that every time a fly farted, it went off, and sort of like the kid crying, “Wolf,” we lost confidence in it and just turned it off for good.
I also stopped closing the curtains at night. After all, who was out there except the deer eating all of my hostas? I felt safe.
So, about a month ago, we moved into our new home in Woodstock, Vermont. After living in major cities all of my adult life, I felt I was back to my roots, living in a very small town – about a thousand people in the district where we live, and another thousand or so in the town of Woodstock surrounding us. Vermont, itself, only has a population of 627,000 – smaller than most of the cities I’ve lived in. The crime rate is next to nothing in the area and the state is considered one of the safest in the nation. Bob said that’s because nobody lives here.
Well, the first thing I noticed was it’s very dark at night and it’s very quiet. For the first time in ages, I can walk out on our deck on a clear night and see all of the stars in the sky. No street lights to cause interference and there’s no noise… at all. Dark and quiet.
We have no window coverings at this point. We do have an alarm system that we are reluctant to use. We have porch lights on timers. And, we have motion detector lights on all corners of the home. Pretty well covered for a town like Woodstock.
But, old fears can live deep beneath the surface and can be easily aroused in my case. One night, I was watching TV in our new fishbowl without curtains and the motion detector lights near the French doors went on – several times. I froze and every horror story ran through my mind. Someone was out there. I just knew it. Even in a little town with no crime… the boogeyman had ended up in my backyard peering through the windows. Visions of Jason and Freddy Krueger were fueling my imagination. I hollered for Bob to come down and check it out. He told me to tell him when they were on the deck and then he would come down. Yeah, my husband, the hero. I finally decided I wasn’t going to be bait for any scary people and headed upstairs to the safety of my hero.
The next morning when I walked out back, it looked as if a deer convention had taken place in my newly, cleaned out garden beds – hoof prints in all sizes. They were probably wondering where all their goodies had gone and resigning themselves to the fact that they would have to wait until next year to get anything out of that garden bed. It also occurred to me that the motion detector lights had picked up on these intruders and that Jason and Freddy weren’t there after all. Just Bambi.
Without growing entirely complacent about possible dangers, it also occurred to me that my horror stories from the past and the fear they had generated within me didn’t need to control me in our quiet little version of paradise. The backyard is big enough for me and the deer… until they start eating the hostas.
A question I have been asked recently and devoted serious time to talking with women about is the time of transition when a woman’s ovaries start to slow down the production of hormones. This time is better known as perimenopause.
A woman can experience perimenopause in her thirties, or it may not be until sometime in her forties or even her fifties. Regardless of when the symptoms begin, actual menopause may still be years away. That’s a long time to be “in transition.”
So, what to expect? First, you should know that no two women’s experiences are exactly alike. Just because your best friend had one set of symptoms doesn’t mean that yours will match.
This is exactly what I am experiencing. Yep, I am in the “transition” at 50 and fabulous. Well actually, I was thrown for a loop over the past few days with dizziness and hot feet! Not what I was expecting or what most women have shared with me over the past weeks. Not my head… but my feet! Can you believe my feet were on fire? After researching, I found that dizziness and vertigo are systems of perimenopause that are not often talked about, and so are hot feet.
To my amazement I found thirty-five common symptoms of perimenopause. I could not believe the list was so extensive. There were my symptoms: dizziness, vertigo, light headedness and episodes of loss of balance. At the very least, I felt validated! I did consult with Dr. Andrew London, GYN, co- founder at The Maryland Center for Sexual Health (MCSH), and over the phone, he shared that each woman experiences various levels of discomfort and varied symptoms.
MCHS is participating in this phase three trial. Currently, recruiting women, between the ages of 40 and 65,who are experiencing discomfort from the first signs of sweating to persistent sweating and/or months or years of experiencing hot flashes. Recently, I wrote about the “burning bed” and until now I have been interviewing women and “talking the talk” about low sex drive and menopause. Now, I am walking the talk on perimenopause. It was inevitable, right? I am grateful to have a resource in Baltimore that has innovative treatments and safe options to help navigate women through these transitions. As I asked Dr. London questions, I felt validated as he listened and offered options and first steps in my journey through perimenopause so that I can live an active life and not be miserable!
After talking with Dr. London, I requested to have my hormones tested. While he agreed to see me the next day in his office to discuss options, he also stated this is just a borderline test to show hormone levels and not very effective at age fifty! Women’s hormone levels fluctuate daily, monthly and yearly in various stages of our lives. While the Follicle Stimulating Hormone Test (FSH) is a great test for other issues that present in women (i.e. infertility), it would not be a valid test for most women in perimenopause, especially for me since I am still experiencing monthly menstruation cycles. My purpose is to be pro-active versus re-active to savor the next 50 fabulous years! So I am excited to meet with Dr. London and find out how to navigate.
To learn more and stay up to date on topics, trends and additional studies Click Here. MCSH conducts an extensive range of therapeutic clinical drug trials, evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of new drugs for the treatment of numerous sexual problems with women in various stages of menopause in Baltimore. Substantial financial compensation is awarded for your time to participate. From what I am learning and hearing from other women, the rewards just might outweigh the financial return!
So for tonight, on a beautiful autumn evening in Baltimore – moderate temp – my air conditioning is turned on high! I am in preventive mode to avoid another night of “hot feet”. I am excited to see Dr. London and eager to learn more about the ever-changing, wondrous female body that continues to amaze me. Stay tuned!
Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet Beth Terrence
Beth Terrence’s vision is to support others in living a heart-centered, balanced and joyful life through discovering the healer within. She is a Shaman, Holistic Health & Wellness Practitioner, Speaker, Writer and Recovery Coach.
Beth believes that her own life journey has served as a catalyst for the message she brings to the world — that at our core, we are all beings of love, light and peace — we just need to “remember”. She shares about her journey in her stories in Inspired Voices: True Stories Of Visionary Women and Harmonic Voices: True Stories Of Women On The Path To Peace, both Heal My Voice collaborative books.
Beth’s blog, The Heart Of Awakening: Searching For A New Paradigm, offers an online resource for transformation and healing.
People would be surprised to know that: About ten years ago, I was at a crossroads and having difficulty making some big decisions about my life. At a friend’s suggestion to do something that I was afraid to do, I decided to take a “leap” of faith and go skydiving. The experience was terrifying, exhilarating and liberating! Afterwards, I felt like I could do anything and my decision-making was easy. I totally recommend the experience of skydiving or perhaps some subtler way of facing a fear as a way to gain clarity and confidence about life choices.
The WTL 5:
What’s the conversation that changed your life?
I just finished writing the Foreword for an upcoming Heal My Voice book, Tender Voices, where I share about an experience I had about a decade ago that really changed my life. The “conversation” took place during a year-long spiritual healing program I attended called University Of The Heart. That year, I learned that everything I believed about Love was distorted based on my life experiences and I began to see how those misperceptions kept me from living the life I desired. What came next was writing a new blueprint for love and my life based on a deeper truth.
What are you most conscious of today?
I really see life on earth as a school. We come to learn and grow; this is the journey of our lifetime. We may be trying to get somewhere or achieve certain goals we have set for ourselves, but often life has its own ideas. I try to stay very conscious of the need to be open and willing in each moment — to surrender to the path of life as it unfolds. Even if it is totally different from what I may have envisioned, the present moment is where the true blessings of this life are to be found.
What part of you have you yet to give voice to?
I am still working to give voice to aspects of my inner children. Healing from the trauma of growing up in a family with mental illness and addiction has been a big part of my journey. Ultimately, it led me to my path as a shaman, healer and recovery coach. Today, I find there is more that my inner ones need to say. I see this as part of the spiral of healing. Loving and accepting oneself is, in my view, the key to change and healing ~ as I deepen in this, more of my voice is able to flow!
What’s the conversation women need to be having collectively?
It’s only in the last few years that I have been able to enjoy connecting with women in community. I never really felt safe around women in groups until my experience with Heal My Voice, an organization that empowers women and girls globally to heal, reclaim their voice and step into greater leadership. Similar to learning about love a decade ago, I needed to change my blueprint around women that was based on my life experiences. I know I’m not alone in this. I think women need to talk about how we can build trust with one another and in community.
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
I have recently completed training as a Recovery Coach and Certified PEER Recovery Specialist. There are lots of changes going on in the field of Recovery for addictions and mental health. My passion around this comes from wanting to support individuals and families to know that recovery is possible — they don’t need to stay hidden anymore. Having grown up in a time when all we knew to do was hide, feel ashamed and perpetuate the cycle of pain, now is a time we need to speak up, to be open and honest about our experiences and begin to end the stigma that has been an obstacle to Recovery for so long.
Thank you, Beth, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live
During the 80’s, one of my favorite television shows was Newhart, a sitcom about an author and his wife who escaped New York and moved to a rural town in Vermont to own and operate an inn. Any of you who watched it knows it was a show full of colorful, eccentric characters that we still remember… like the brothers, Larry, Darryl and Darryl.
When Bob and I took our first biking vacation, we came to Vermont and one of the inns we stayed at for two nights was the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury. Imagine my surprise when we pulled up and I recognized it as the Stratford Inn from the Newhart show. It was the idyllic New England inn and housed many mementos left over from the show.
Often when we came to Vermont and travelled near Middlebury, we would stop by or at least ride by the inn – still there and looking lovely and no doubt, carrying the memories of all of those oddball television characters.
Now, we’re settled in our own version of a Vermont farmhouse on a quiet lane and we have assembled our own cast of characters who are a part of our life right now. The ones who are over here the most are our version of Larry, Darryl and Darryl. Only they are Steve, Steve and Steve. Two electricians and a handyman who are better than gold and feel like part of the family already.
As I am writing this, they are in and out, doing their thing, chatting with us, talking about recipes and favorite restaurants. Who woulda thought? They’re local guys who know everybody in town. They come and go and even Minkey and Weasel are thinking they are the new strays that are part of our group.
Bob and I have been amused by all of this. Not sure – no, I am sure – that we never had this type of “relationship” with our repair people before in our nineteen years in Baltimore, with the exception of Jo Ellen, our ToolBox TomGirl. It feels good and warm and funny. I know that sounds silly… but it’s a part of life that I’m beginning to enjoy in our new hometown.
Can’t wait for the painters to show up. They’ll add to the “family” after spending almost two months on the upcoming paint job with us, and when they are done, we can really get unpacked and put away.
Life is running at a different tempo right now. And, that’s just fine.