The Almost-50 Assembly for Women
For those of you who missed the assembly, Christiane has been kind enough to post the transcript of the first day’s introductory speech, along with a few observations. If you know someone interested in attending next year’s event, Christiane is in charge of sign ups. If you would like to be a presenter or workshop facilitator, we are looking for volunteers. (Tina Boomerina)
By Christiane Marshall
Here's the transcript for the weeklong Almost-50 Retreat for Women, in case you missed it.
We discussed some important issues. But we don't want to be banned by Google in our written transcript, so we're going to have to replace some vocabulary with code words.
- Here is the key:
- B**bs = jugs
- V****a = private area
Intro, playing as attendees arrived, with slides of last year's retreat:
They arrived at the assembly in anticipation, wondering what this new decade will bring. What new surprises lay in store? What devastating possibilities lay ahead? Ever since the transition from elementary to junior high, there have been assemblies to help in major transitions.
Of course, after college graduation, or just high school for some, there have been assemblies for each decade.
These women were about to turn 50. Some had missed their Almost-40 assembly, so a little review was in order. And just as in junior high, when the main topic was for transitioning into puberty, here everyone was wondering about menopause.
Transcript: Retreat for Older Women
“Welcome ladies! Let's get some housekeeping out of the way first. Now about bathroom breaks. You're all adults, so use the bathroom when you need to. We know that some of you, um, have entered into a time of life where bathroom breaks are more frequent. Please be considerate when you see a fellow female doing a little jig in the bathroom. You know she needs the toilet more than you do, so let her go first. Don't forget about karma. That will be you one day.
Some of you may not know yet, but menopause often begins by giving you the worst periods of your life. You will think you are bleeding to death. They will become more frequent until one blends into another. Then you will go five months without one, and on an important day – most likely a job evaluation or a wedding, you will suddenly get a gusher.
- Pray that you are wearing a skirt that day.
Just in case that happens to you today, we have some clean sweat pants – one size fits all of course – and feminine supplies in the cabinets under the sink in the bathroom.
- Your period will no longer be predictable.
From this day forward and forever more, if you still have a uterus, you will need to carry a change of clothing and sanitary pads with you. Diaper bags are great for organizing these. Some women choose to simply wear a daily pad for 12 months just in case.
Trust me, the first day after the 12th month is when you'll get a gusher. And you will feel like a 6th grader going to the office and saying, 'I just got my period and I need some supplies.'”
Some women stared blankly. They were imagining their diaper bag and how they will arrange their supplies. Some had already experienced this and were nodding their heads. (If you looked closely, you would have seen that they were holding both a purse and a diaper bag.)
Others were grinning smugly as they no longer had a uterus. But they had paid their dues with the agony of surgery.
Presenter: Hot Flashes
“Okay, before we talk about hot flashes, I just want to give you a warning. It's something you will never think of on your own and the first time it happens you will wish you tuned in right now.”
[Note: The presenter noticed the smug grins and decided to jolt these women to attention. This was an urgent and important issue. “Oh, and this applies to women who have no uterus too!” It worked. The smug ones looked up.]
“Now, some muscles in the lower part of your body get weak as you age, just like every other muscle in your body. Depending on your age, heredity and lifestyle, the amount of muscle loss varies.
You can lift weights, run, and climb to tone and strengthen your body, but this area will begin to have challenges just the same. The private area will begin to act in strange ways when you least expect it.
- So here is the warning. If you have a cough and think you should go to work just the same – DON'T DO IT! Call in sick!
Letter for Older Women:
Here, let me read this personal account from a 50-something woman. I couldn't describe it any better myself:
I went to the clinic because I had a bad cough, congestion, and hadn't been able to sleep. While in the waiting room surrounded by a host of sick young people, I began a robust and extended coughing fit. I put a tissue over my nose and mouth to protect the others in the waiting room.
Suddenly, my private area began to clap with each cough.
Clap, thud, clap, gerp, thump, oh – and to my horror a little gas noise from the adjoining area.
Thankfully I was wearing my 'just in case a period' pad because with each cough I also leaked.
The clapping had never happened to me before. I found it both mortifying and fascinating.
I looked down at my iPhone and pretended I didn't notice the sounds. But even with my ears blocked I heard it. I knew deep down that the sound of my cough did not cover it up. Yet I needed to push that thought far far away.
It was like the day my purse tipped over in chorus in 10th grade and my tampons tumbled down the steps and under the chairs of other students, rolling to a stop at a piano leg for all to see.
I wanted the earth to swallow me that day.
So here, in the waiting room, I began to tell myself no one could hear, and that the snickering in the corner had nothing to do with me.
Please, warn other women at their Almost-50 assembly about this possibility. Tell them not to go to work, and to go to a clinic OUT OF TOWN where nobody knows them. Remind them about kegels. Oh how I wish I had not neglected my kegels!'
So, now you know. Do NOT go to work if you have a cough unless you have been faithful with your kegels, but even then, do a quick cough test yourself – in private.
- Go ahead, try it. It's weird.
Anyway, why do you want to go to work with a cough? There are no perfect attendance prizes in the real world!
- Use your sick time!
Now, a little note about the different break out groups and sessions you can choose from during this five-day retreat.
Today, in room C2, you will learn all about hot flashes. If you haven't experienced this life transition yet, you will hear from women who have. I hope you come out of that session hopeful about the different options for treating hot flashes, like bio-identical hormone therapy, herbs, traditional HRT and more. Please remember this is an important topic. You will have three opportunities this week to attend this session. Make sure you go to one.
Today your presenter will be Suzanne Somers. Hey, you'll get to see what she really looks like!
Do not be misled by the term “hot flash.” It is not a “flash” at all. It is more like someone threw you into the fiery furnace and there is no door. You can take all of your clothing off and you will still be roasting. You can sit under a fan and you will still be on fire. You can stick your head in the freezer and that will give you relief. But it's kind of uncomfortable. And no you can't sleep in there.
A hot flash can last an hour, give you a ten-minute break and start all over again. You will not sleep until you find your solution. And when you've been sleep deprived for a week, you will begin to forget that there are solutions. You'll begin to do things like set the thermostat to cold and fix it so no one can change it, search endlessly for a fan you can attach to your body, carry a spray bottle and constantly spray yourself.
So do yourself a favor, before you get the hot flashes, post a note on a kitchen cabinet or the coffee maker to remind you there are solutions.
Some women truly get little flashes of warmth and can sleep right through them. They will say to you in a sing-songy superior voice while looking down at you over their glasses,
“They're no big deal. I can handle them.”
Just know you are not alone. These women are fortunate. They are not dealing with what you are.
So if you're one of THEM, don't say THAT to your sister who is roasting in Mordor. Instead pray for her. Understand that she is truly suffering. Bring her a bucket of ice and turn the heat down in your house when she visits. Give her permission to open the window near her, even if it is below zero.
C'mon, just put a coat on.
In room C4 you will learn all about being a grandma. If you're already a grandma and you're dealing with a bad custody situation and need legal advice about grandparent's rights, go to C5. If you have custody of your grandkids, your session is in C9. If you're already a grandma and want to share some advice, feel free to tell the presenter in any of the sessions. Oh and in C10, you'll get all kinds of tips for coercing your kids into making you a grandmother.
Check your schedule for sessions on the different debilitating diseases that might be in your future, like Alzheimer’s. We even have people willing to share about Alzheimer’s. I just hope they remembered to come.
And don't forget. Everything begins to shrivel up if you don't exercise, including your jugs. So make sure you attend one of the “Fitness for fifties” sessions.
Okay, let's take a little break and meet back here after the sessions so we can sing your favorite camp songs.
About the Author:
Christiane Marshall is a writer, editor and special education teacher living in Southeast Ohio. She holds a BA in Writing from Norwich University, an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from Union Insitute & University, and an M.Ed. in Special Education from Grand Canyon University. She is also a mother of five grown children and two beautiful wee grandchildren. Marietta and Beyond is her latest project!
Click here for Marietta and Beyond and to see what Christiane Marshall is up to.
- Main Photo: EastexUK, prshots.com.
- Woman at Conference: uOttawa Alumni Relations, Flickr Creative Commons.
- Pray You're Wearing a Skirt: Penelope Felicity, Flickr Creative Commons.
- Female Reproductive System: Wikipedia, colored by Tina Boomerina.
- Hot Flashes Are No Big Deal: North Charleston, Flickr Creative Commons.
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