by Ellen Sarver Dolgen

At age two, I strutted like a four-year-old.
When I was eight, I tried to act sixteen.
When I was sixteen, I tried to act twenty-one.
When I was twenty-one, I matured myself to thirty.
When I was thirty, I tried to look like I was twenty.
When I was forty, I tried to act thirty again.
When I was fifty, I realized I could act any damn age I wanted to!

It’s 2012! We’ve got resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, start fresh, do less A, do more B, and stop C all together. It’s hard to keep everything straight! Inevitably, we will all turn a year older (even those born on leap year!). Take my motto and celebrate every day like it’s your birthday.

This year I propose something new — the “Age of Gregarious.” Surround yourself with worthwhile people; you are the age you act, and you can act any age you want! If you were looking for permission, there it is! Now, I’m not saying you should go out and buy some coveralls and start braiding your hair again with a soggy stuffed animal in hand, but if you’re going to focus on any one resolution, resolve to value yourself, not a number.

How to kick off your very own, sumo-free “Age of Gregarious”:

Change up the routine! Life feeling a little Leave it to Beaver? Invite a little change! Routines are comfortable, we know they work, and they make things easy, but most of all they become boring! If you normally have chicken for dinner, try steak. A candle centerpiece? Try flowers! Normally run? “Bar Method” is a great way to tone up. The little movements focus on muscles you didn’t even realize you had.Yoga is another terrific, healthy excuse to reserve an hour for yourself. You can relax, stretch, breathe, and it can even help with your menopause symptoms! Here are some more exercises you can do for a little relief.

Have a healthy outlook on a healthy diet. Sure, everyone wants to lose a little weight in the new year. With the onset of menopause, the metabolism-appetite ratio seems to be inversely proportional. Fish oil is good for your heart, and women often take it to help with painful periods, breast pain, and high blood pressure. You’ve heard this so many times before — drink lots of water (I know, it’s so easy yet so hard). For a super refreshing enhancement, add slices of cucumber and escape to your mental spa for a while. If you’d like to take your sweet tooth to the spa too, a delicious alternative to apple pie with ice cream — deliciously low-fat, too — is frozen chocolate coconut water. Stick it in the freezer for a couple of hours, remove it when your craving comes, cut open the box, and enjoy it in a bowl, knowing you’re keeping your figure. And please, don’t beat yourself up if you’re craving a peanut butter cup. If the desire won’t subside, just have one, satisfy the craving, and be OK with it!

Rejuvenate your mind. The mundane routine can find a comfortable spot in your brain, too. Kick it out along with your sumo wrestler — they’re not paying rent! Teach yourself something new. Learn a new language, learn how to play the piano, read up on Spain and leave the door open for a possible trip in the future. Reserve an hour a day for journaling. Experiment with a new recipe. Fill out a crossword, try a Sudoku puzzle, or take an art class! Think positive and reform the way you think. When you get ready for bed or start counting sheep, ask yourself, “What was the best thing that happened today?” I do it to this day and it has become second-nature. It helps me focus on the positive, and when you look for positivity, believe me — you can find it! Let the sun shine!

Age used to be a number. Make it an idea this year. Let 2012 mark the dawning of the “Age of Gregarious,” when you start patting yourself on the back, find the help you need in your life, stop the self-criticism, andbe the age you want to be! Surround yourself with the people you like to be around and enjoy your life! You are unique and wonderful in so many ways.

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
“E” is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness — a cut-to-the-chase book on perimenopause and menopause, filled with crucial information and hilarious and heartfelt stories. It condenses a confusing, daunting medical topic into an easy-to-understand, purse-sized guide which can be used as a reference throughout your PM&M experience. Reading Shmirshky is like getting a big, comforting hug from a dear friend, who happens to know a lot about menopause!

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