The Name Game

I was at a birthday party recently for a friend’s son and there were a few pregnant women there.

Besides the usual topics of discussion like how they were glowing (they really were!) and how these pregnancies compared to their other ones (they are both on their second children), people wanted to know what they were naming their babies.

Both said they had chosen the names, but that they wouldn’t be sharing them until their babies are born.

A few people were surprised by this, but I can’t say I blamed these moms-to-be. I think anyone who has ever been pregnant can attest to the fact that revealing the name of your unborn baby can get a pretty strong reaction from many people.

A name… the first gift you give to your child. And one of the only gifts (beyond love, of course) that will last a lifetime.

When I was pregnant with my 4th son, I sometimes dreaded telling people the names we were thinking for him because, well, sometimes it just welcomed other people’s unwelcomed opinions.

It always surprised me that people had no problem telling us that they didn’t like certain names.

When my husband and I first found out we were having another boy, our first reaction was “What are we going to name him!?”

Our first son William was named after my maternal grandfather.

We chose our second son Alexander’s name because we both just loved it. And we chose his middle name, Dimitri, after our dear and beloved friend who was, sadly, killed in action in Iraq.

My husband always loved the name Benjamin, so that was an easy choice for our third son.

But it took a little longer to come up with a name for our fourth son that both of us loved… and one that could stand strong against his brothers’ names.

I have always loved to look at the meanings of names. And I have always loved names that are timeless and full of history.

Some of the names we considered for our fourth:

- Oliver (this one got the most criticism, which kind of shocked me)

- Matthew (my husband thought on boy #4 he might want a Junior!)

- Nathaniel (my husband was in a cab in NYC, and his driver was named Nathaniel James… all of a sudden, he loved the name!)

- James (after my Ob/Gyn from NYC, whom we just loved)

- Andrew (but this is the name of one of my nephews, and we wanted him to have that special name)

We ended up naming our fourth son Henry. My husband and I both loved the name, and felt it was unique but timeless, just like his brothers’ names.

And Henry, who just turned 3 years old last week, is such a “Henry!” The name really just fits him perfectly.

Now, if we were to ever have a 5th child who happened to be a girl, we’ve always had one name and one name only for a girl… so she would be easy to name!

There’s Something About Menopause

I’m not a flamboyant person. Never have been. But the older I get, the more bold I’m willing to go… both decoratively and (I would discover) in personal style. Take my choice in art as of late (translation: since menopause). I now find the human body more celebratory and, actually, more fun. My husband and I found an incredibly interesting and entertaining artist, William Cantwell, at the Scituate Art Festival a few years ago, an artist who celebrates the human form. We bought a few prints, framed them ourselves and hung them in our lavette. These prints are the talkof any guest who enters… and a constant form of entertainment for our 9 grandchildren.

"Natural Blondes"

"The Blonde Leading the Blonde"


And to give equal exposure to the men…

"Wild Turkeys"

The lavette entertainment!

Equal opportunity for the men!

I love it. We also found another artist, Greg Stones, also at the Scituate Art Festival… an artist who certainly has fun with art. We picked up a couple of his pieces and each time I see them, I enjoy them more. This one is wonderfully quirky and called Penguins, Flasher, Bigfoot…

"Penguins, Flasher, Bigfoot"

Yep, here’s a close-up of our “Flasher” who continues the nude theme…

The "Flasher"

Oh, so quirky...

Copper switchplate... Etsy "Topless Mermaid", of course!

Again, endless entertainment for guests, grandchildren and ourselves. The discussions I find myself having with my grandchildren about these artistic expressions are truly priceless. And lest me forget the piece entitled “Tuscany” by Tony Palladino… a magnificent Artist’s Proof of a wine label. Barry and I fell in love with the calm purity of this lovely lady with her grapes. We have this print hanging in our wet bar, adjacent to our family room. Our Tuscany lady, and her grapes, get lots of well-deserved attention…


Our lovely Lady...

Ah. The female form. In fact, just this past weekend, 4 of my grandsons were being Christened and my cousin Debbie came to stay with Barry and me and to attend the service and festivities. Debbie mentioned to me that Barry and I have lots of nude artwork in our home. Yep. That we do. “How about it with the grandchildren?” she laughed. “It certainly gives us stuff to talk about,” I answered. “And anyway, there’s something about menopause in all of this freedom,” I added. And it was Debbie, too, who looked at my jacket as 25 family members sat down to a celebratory Christening dinner at West Valley Inn… and mentioned, “Did you know that your jacket has nude ladies on it?” I looked. I laughed. No, I didn’t know this. Until then. Debbie and I laughed like school girls at the nude ladies on my Versace jacket that I had gotten years ago and never worn until that day… the jacket I had worn in the church, to my grandsons’ Christening, on the altar and in Christening photographs with my grandchildren and my entire family. Ha! Here I am with my daughter Audrey, her husband Matt, their 4 Christened boys and my husband Barry. Do I look like I wear nudes? Well, I guess I do. There is something about menopause that has made me nude immune

Check the jacket's left design...

How could I NOT have noticed?

I must say, I love it! Art. Clothing. Life. Quirky. Hilarious. Eclectic. Creative. Fun. Beautiful. Interesting. Free. Just like a woman who’s been through it all and ended up in menopause.

Full-Circle Moments

Two years ago this August I met Brian, the man who is now my fiance.

We met in Rhode Island, became friends, started dating… and less than two months later I moved to New York City.

I didn’t move because I wanted to get away from him. On the contrary, I really, really liked Brian. In fact, by that time I knew I was in love with him. But I had been planning my move to New York City for months, since before I had even met Brian. I was going through a divorce and needed a big change. (Certainly I wasn’t the only person who had ever set her heart on the Big Apple for similar reasons.)

I had made up my mind to leave and start a new life, and nothing was going to stop me. Brian never did try to stop me, either. Even though my plan was to stay in the city for at least two years, Brian told me he wanted me to go and stay for as long as I needed. To find myself. To be happy. We were a very new couple. He would wait for me while I was away.

He even helped me move in to my new city apartment. My parents, Brian and I piled all my furniture, clothes and other necessities in to two vehicles, a box truck and my mom’s SUV, and drove to NYC. They helped me unpack my belongings, arrange my furniture and hang curtains… and then they left. And it was just me in my tiny studio apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, excited about the big city possibilities, but wondering what my future with Brian held.

Two years in the city. That was my original plan. But that was before I had met Brian. Now, two years seemed like an awfully long time to live away from him, even if we were able to visit each other often.

And trips home, initially planned once a month-ish, quickly became weekly occurances. Riding into Providence on the bus each Friday night started feeling more and more right… and driving to the bus station to go back to NYC each Sunday evening began getting harder and harder.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t really like visiting Brian… I wanted to be with him.

So I came back to Rhode Island, and to Brian.

The thing is, while I was in the city I was living alone in Manhattan, and a big chunk of my paycheck went to paying my rent. I didn’t save much money at all. So when I came back home, I technically moved back in with my parents in order to save up some money. But most of the time I stay at Brian’s mom’s house. Where he lived.

We were together, but not really ever alone together. And we didn’t have our own space for over a year… until a few weeks ago, when we moved in to a new apartment. Together. Alone together.

As my parents, Brian and I were once again unpacking belongings, arranging furniture and hanging curtains in the new apartment, I couldn’t help but think back to September 2009, when we had done all those same things in an apartment in New York City.

Except this time, after everything was unpacked, arranged and hung, it wasn’t just me alone in my apartment. I had Brian with me. And now he wasn’t my new boyfriend. He was my fiance.

It was one of those full-circle moments. And it made me so very happy.

Which thoughts was I willing to entertain?

One of the most profound things I’ve experienced through menopause is the awareness of how powerful my thoughts can be. After years of being willing to entertain whatever thoughts entered my mind, I found I was more sensitive to my thoughts (and their accompanying emotions). Like unwanted guests overstaying their welcome, criticism, doubt, fear and judgment no longer came and went easily in my mind; during menopause they packed an emotional punch that could undo me in an afternoon. I got to the point where, unless I wanted to climb out of a depressive hole on a regular basis, I needed to take a look at what thoughts I was allowing to take up precious space in my mind.

With some help from my therapist and my coach, I began to identify the wide variety of thoughts I gave my attention to: positive, inspiring, uplifting ones as well as negative, depressive, that-will-get-me-no-where ones, and I began to choose which ones I wanted to entertain. Yes, choose. Because utilizing my power of choice allowed me to selectively focus more on those positive thoughts which produced positive feelings. And, of course, feeling positive feelings led to increased motivation, movement and, with practice, a renewed passion for life.

The strong, sometimes out-of-control emotions laid bare by the onset of menopause were a blessing in disguise. With help, I was able to change my thinking, shift my emotions and begin to learn how to make choices about my life experience. And it all began by paying more attention to which thoughts I was willing to entertain.

Are women different? Yes, and these ladies have fun explaining why.

What makes women different? Breasts? Inner strength? Beauty? All that and more….