"Have you been fingerprinted before?" asked the woman.
"Well...no...that's why I'm here." I replied, feeling my annoyance ratchet up another notch.
"Ok, put your thumbs here on the scanner," responded the doddering, gray haired woman wearing a delicate gold wedding band and blindingly white running shoes with ragged ankle socks. She didn't look like she'd be walking far without assistance, let alone running.
The heat of irritation rose even further. To have to be fingerprinted at age almost 51, in order to attend sporadic substitute teaching jobs was galling. To be fingerprinted at all, having not robbed a bank, or assaulted anyone- or committed any other crime for that matter- in my entire life, was vexing. Of course, the reality is that there are so many rotten, ill-behaved humans these days, decent folk have to prove their worth, instead of the nasty ones being shipped to a desert island somewhere to eat each other alive.
Hear the rankle? That's Menopausal Me speaking.
That kind of wisdom takes years.
Still, an improved ability to restrain my more impetuous tendencies doesn't always mitigate the impatience that also accompanies decades of life experience.
Cue the Grumpy-Old-Lady.
1. Sleep. For me, insomnia is part of menopause symptoms. Years ago, while my children were young, I suffered nightly, and for about 6 years, it was so bad I resorted to taking a sleeping pill every evening. I finally realized I was addicted, and stopped the medication immediately. But as many medical practitioners will say, countless physical problems manifest from the daily stress of our lives. Sleep is essential for our bodies to recover.
2. Eat. Food is the body's energy. Too often, Americans in particular see food as the enemy. It's my belief that if folks just eat as our grandmothers taught us - meals of meat, vegetable, starch- (as well as eating when we're hungry, and stopping when we're full) no one would feel hungry, and would in turn not have to fight weight issues. The deprivation of a restricted diet causes mood changes, which is already something menopause brings, so eating a normal healthy diet can help elevate the spirit.
3. Renew magazine subscriptions. Although on the surface, this seems odd, immersing myself in an interesting magazine returns me spiritually to a time before social media. The content of these journals is controlled, and parceled out professionally, which for me, leads to a sense of calm. Finding a shiny new periodical in my mailbox also gives me a little lift!
4. Reduce exposure to the internet. Enough said.
5. Spend time with other people. This is one I struggle with. In a mercurial, yin-yang sort of way, people drain me and invigorate me at the same time. However, if I invest the time, I find that being with other folks leaves me with a feeling of overall well-being.
6. Lay off the booze. In my younger years, I found that alcohol helped relax me at the end of the day. It also helped my sense of social and situational acceptance. But over the past decade, it's worked in reverse- interfering with a solid night's sleep, causing headaches and often fouling my mood. Fortunately, I don't suffer from addiction, so it was an easy habit to adjust.
7. Put the cell phone in time out. Until my mid-twenties, I'd never even heard of a cell phone. Then, it was only wealthy power players who owned them. It wasn't until I was 30 that I had a bag phone which I only carried in my car, in case of emergency. In my early 40s, my husband and I bought personal cell phones, thereby enslaving ourselves for all time. Although being constantly contactable has merit, I find it increasingly stressful to be perpetually connected to the world. I have to remind myself that I used to come and go without the "safety net" of a cell phone. I was a child, a teen, and an adult, all without a cell phone. I've come to see these amazing wee slabs of technology as a powerful hindrance to living in the moment, and just enjoying the gifts of a regular day.
8. Be outdoors. Despite my love for my home, a steady diet of 4 walls leaves me feeling detached from nature, which for me is a part of my spiritual conviction. Feeling closer to God is fundamental to my happiness, and when I'm among the trees, with the wind in my hair, His presence is palpable. Even if I didn't have a sense of the Divine, being close to nature is a reminder of what's important, and provides a sense of balance and perspective.