INTRODUCTION

From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Introduction

People like you and I, though mortal of course like everyone else, do not grow old no matter how long we live . . . [We] never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.

Albert Einstein

Since I am the only female coauthor on this title, Jack and Mark agreed it was appropriate for me to pen the introduction. Smart men!

Creating this book has been different from the other titles I have produced with Jack and Mark, and for one primary reason: In reading the hundreds of stories submitted by people like you for this book, I had an epiphany—I was in menopause!

Prior to starting this book project, I was experiencing a great mystery in my life, just like the one Albert Einstein (one of my all-time favorites, next to Mark Twain) refers to in his quote above. Granted, you can interpret his quote in many ways, but I like to think that, as adults, we have the ability to retain a child-like exploration and curiosity about life. I’ll never get old, I always happily said to myself.

Well, that fantasy came to a screeching halt in late 2005 when I had to hold a restaurant menu at arm’s length! I was confused at first as I tried to focus, blaming my blurry eyesight on the fact that I had been working hard on the final manuscript for Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul. I knew there was just no way that I could have problems with my eyes—I was the only one in my entire family who had perfect vision, and I teased my siblings and parents about it, a lot.

Then I started to get my kids’ names mixed up. I called my teenage daughter Lahre by her younger brother’s name, Shawn, and vice versa. Huh? They were just as confused, but more so when I started doing it more often, also calling them by their dogs’ names—Shilo and Coco!

Next, my thought processes started to slip, and for the first time in my life I was at a loss for words. (If you know me, you’re probably laughing because you know I can TALK!) I was giving a live, on-air radio interview for Entrepreneur’s Soul from the comfort of my home office when I totally forgot the name of an entrepreneur from the book who started Famous Dave’s restaurants. Again, the chain is called Famous Dave’s. The answer is Dave Anderson, an amazing man and friend of mine. I stammered and stalled, then said, “Oh, we have many other wonderful entrepreneurs in the book,” trying to steer the interview in another direction. When I hung up, I turned around and, lo and behold, on my desk was Dave’s latest cookbook that he had sent as a gift. His smiling face and printed name were staring back at me.

By this time, Lahre and Shawn were onto my memory lapses and started with the, “Don’t you remember, Mom . . . you said I could stay up past eleven?” or “Mom, you promised we’d have pizza tonight!” I would just stare at them, then look to my hubby Ken for back-up. His memory’s worse than that of anyone I know, so he wasn’t much help!

But the most upsetting thing was that I was hot (and not in the way Ken enjoyed most). I’m naturally cold due to my low blood pressure, but all of a sudden I was hot— really HOT—all of the time! And sweaty, too, and it wasn’t only after my Jazzercise classes or treadmill workouts. What in the world is wrong with me? I worried, and often.

That’s when I had my epiphany. I started reading all the wonderful stories sent in for this book—stories from vision problems and memory loss, to confusion and chin-hairs (I didn’t want to share that personal story, but I do borrow Ken’s electric razor every other day), to weight gain (another story I left out, on purpose) and hot flashes. Many of the stories mirrored my life and my maladies!

“Whoa, wait a minute,” I proclaimed from my office chair one day when reading a menopause story about losing one’s mind, “This is happening to me!” I startled my sister Shayla, who is our assistant extraordinaire. Never mind that she’s nearly ten years younger than me and as beautiful and youthful as any thirty-something should be. She just laughed and said, “Lynnie, maybe you’re starting menopause—you are in your forties!”

Menopause. The word hit me hard. Then I smiled, thinking of my childlike curiosity about life, my curiosity to explore new things and revel in new experiences. That’s when I picked up the pile of submitted stories and read like crazy, learning from the women who have come before me. Thank you for your contributions to this book. I am forever grateful.

Dahlynn McKowen

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