I made this book short and easy, but
if you skip ahead, you will not know a
shmirshky from an erlick!
My BFF (Birthday Friend Forever), Marcia, whom I first heard use the words
, was an amazing woman. She was vivacious, chic, and endlessly loving. In 2002, Marcia was diagnosed with cancer at the age of seventy-two. Toward the end of her battle, she was home with amazing hospice care. It was her birthday. I wasn't sure what to do. Should I celebrate it or not mention it? I knew it would be the last birthday of her life.
We decided that it was the perfect time to celebrate. I will never forget that October day. When we arrived at Marcia's condo, we were told not to go into her bedroom, but instead were directed to the living room. This was odd; usually we found ourselves flopped on her bed talking and reminiscing about happier times.
Today was different. Marcia was wheeled out with a huge smile on her face. We hadn't seen her out of bed in several months, so this was an amazing sight. We showered her with presents that she immediately wrapped herself up in, and just for a moment, she looked like she was ready to go to a party. Boy, did she love to party!
Marcia was very weak, but her eyes sparkled and her smile was big and beautiful. I still see her in my mind. With joy in her eyes, she left us one last monumental piece of wisdom:
every day your birthda
y. Her message was so powerful; I felt it in my soul. Those of us in the room will never forget it.
With Marcia's wisdom in mind, my friends and I will sometimes randomly send each other a birthday cake. When I receive one on a day that's not my birthday, I feel loved. Simply hearing “Happy Birthday!” makes me joyful and lighthearted, especially when I'm going through a tough time.
Thank you, my dear sweet BFF. Your spirit and wisdom have helped me through many hard days and lonely nights.
Because the pagination of this electronic edition does not match the print edition from which it was created, any references to specific page numbers should be ignored. Instead, to locate a specific passage within the text, please use the search feature of your e-book reader.
Got a vagina? Know someone who does? If you don't have one yourself, odds are you have a wife, girlfriend, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister, daughter, friend, mentor, co-worker, or boss who's got one. Vaginas are everywhere!
Vagina, vagina, vagina. What a strange word! It's a word you only hear doctors and awkward sex-education instructors using. All the women I know call it something completely different. My BFF,
Marcia, called the vagina
) and the penis
). I love these names! I use them not only to refer to specific parts of a person's anatomy but also the respective sexes that possess them. All women both have and are shmirshkies, and all men have and are erlicks.
I am a shmirshky, a shmirshky who has struggled with perimenopause and menopause. I'm not crazy about these terms either. What a mouthful. Let's call perimenopause PM and menopause M. I like to call this entire time in our lives PM&M! That reminds me of something sweet and wonderfulâway more fun.
Now you can have a serious and private discussion about menopause, vaginas, and penises and no one within earshot will have a clue what you're talking about. For all they know, you could be talking about a great restaurant or the friends you had drinks with the night before. I once threw a party with
monogrammed on the cocktail napkins. Marcia and I laughed hysterically all night long as the other guests tried to figure out what this meant. Eventually, we told everyone and all laughed together. Welcome to the PM&M, shmirshky, and erlick secrets!
There are over six and a half billion people in the world, and about
of them are shmirshkies! By the end of 2008, around fifty million American shmirshkies reached M. That's approximately 18 percent of the U.S. population. And by 2010, nearly
of the adult female population in the United States reached age forty or older. That's a lot of shmirshkies in PM&M.
Since I'm not a doctor, researcher, or scientist, I don't have professional expertise to recommend or not recommend different remedies and procedures. I do, however, have a shmirshky and have experienced PM&M firsthand. I know how hard it can be.
I began writing this book because I was afraid to talk with people about my experience (and I really love to talk!). So the computer became my friend. I'd sit down in the morning in my bathrobe, with a cup of coffee, and sometimes finish late at night with a martini. All the while, I was chatting away with my computer about PM&M.
shmirshky party alert!
Eventually I worked up the courage to invite my girlfriends over for a drink and began talking about my experiences. I found that throwing a little Shmirshky Party is a great way to share and hear stories with the shmirshkies in our lives. I'm including some of those stories in the pages that follow (Shmirshky Party Alerts!). These girlfriend stories are good reminders of how powerful and helpful the sisterhood can be when we share information and support each other.
When you're in PM&M, you've got to think
the box! That means think about how you feel, listen to your body, and recognize your needs. When I think inside the box, I'm prioritizing and trusting myself as a shmirshky. Sometimes the erlicks need to think inside the box as well (albeit in a different way than they usually do).
Once I started to think inside the box, I realized I had a whole lot to say, so I've turned my writings, research, and conversations into this small book with a BIG story, so my daughter, my friends, the Sisterhood of Shmirshkies, and the erlicks in their lives can all have an easier time with PM&M. I know you're crazy busy, but you can read this while getting your hair done, in between meetings, on the potty, on a plane, at your desk, in a doctor's waiting room, on your cell phone, or in between carpooling your kids.
To help make this little book nice and easy to read, I included some “tickle-your-feet notes.” They are kind of like footnotes, but way more fun. This way, you won't have to flip to the back of the book to get fun facts and definitions. For more detail and easy reference, there are a bunch of resources and citations in the back of the book along with a list of Shmirshky Fun Terms and Shmirshky Not-So-Fun Terms.
Okay, enough housekeeping, I think we're ready to jump right in. Be sure to hold on to your shmirshkyâyou erlicks are always holding yoursâand let's get started!
When I was fourteen, all I wanted was to get my period. My girlfriends got theirs years before I did. They also had boobs. Apparently, I stepped out of the boob line for a minute and missed my allocation. I was probably in the cupcake or raw cookie dough line. (Thank God for the padded bra.)
I became obsessed with getting my period. After all, when you had your period, you were “in,” and more important, you got excused from taking a shower in PE. Standing in the shower with a soaking wet towel plastered over my
chest while trying to camouflage my raging embarrassment was no day at the beach. The anticipation of taking that communal shower each day twisted my stomach into knots. I badly needed to be excused. So one day, I woke up and decided that it was time to take action. It was time to fake my period.
Every week, I walked confidently up to my PE teacher and announced that I needed to be excused. Unfortunately, I really didn't understand the menstrual cycle; all I knew was that I wanted a period and the boobs that came with it. Eventually, my teacher pulled me aside to tell me I could only be excused for one week every twenty-eight days. I had overused my excuses! I solved this problem by copying a friend's period cycle. Whenever she got her period, I pretended to get mine. This worked great, but I still had period envy for almost two years.
Then, one day, it actually came! I was sixteen years old. The fabulous period had arrived, and I was sure that I was going to be “in” now. I knew guys would start flocking around me. I was ecstatic. I had been dreaming of this day for such a long time.
I reached into my purse and pulled out my
belt and pad. (Yes, we had belts in those days, and I don't mean Gucci.) The pad I carried in my purse for years was all shriveled up and yucky. (For you erlicks, this was similar to the condom you carried around when you were fourteen, hoping at any minute that you would get laid.) I put on my belt and pad and waited to feel something magical, something extraordinaryâeven orgasmic!
As I left the bathroom, my head was pounding and I was still waiting. There was no euphoria. The only thing exploding was my pulsating headache. Did I really have to walk around with blood dripping between my legs onto this huge barge in my crotch for seven days every month of my life? Was
what I had been praying for? Are you
me? By the way, what about those cramps and the pulling on the inside of my thighs? What's up with that? I looked down at my breasts. It was clear that I still didn't need a bra; a couple of Band-Aids would have done the job just fine. A loud, angry voice inside my head kept yelling, “
where are my boobs? I thought this was a package deal!
Do you know any shmirshkies who love getting their periods or look forward to drowning in a sea of raging hormones? Do you know any shmirshkies (or erlicks for that matter) who can't wait for the monthly PMS,
the bloating, the constipation, the cravings, and the sore, exploding breasts? Isn't the emotional roller coaster such a blast? Nearly two weeks out of every month, you and the poor souls around you are stuck in the MTZ (Menstruation Twilight Zone). Not to mention the many hours in your lifetime dedicated to picking out period paraphernalia. Yikes! You've got your heavy, your light, your scented, your long, your wide, your thong, your miniflow, your maxiflow, your gold, your silver, and your bronze. How about the applicators? Cardboard, plastic, environmentally friendly, or the string only. Oh, my favorite is the pad with wings! Wings? I don't want wings when I'm on my period, I want ice cream.
We spend most of our time wondering where our period is, when it's going to come, and when it will go away. It's less like a period and more like a question mark. The only thing consistent about my period was that it always seemed to join my husband and me on our vacations (including our honeymoon!). Of course, everyone wants to take their period with them on vacation, right? I packed it a bag, bought it a pair of sunglasses and some wings, and off we went. My husband, David, my period, and I have been to many fun places over the past thirty-four years. It's no wonder that from the moment I first got my period, I was sure I'd never miss it once it was gone. And why would I? I figured PM&M would be a piece of cake . . . mmm, cake!