By Kim Brittingham, Uncorked Monthly
I remember an episode of The Golden Girls in which Blanche learned she was entering menopause. She felt shame and seemed to think it made her less of a woman. I was a teenager when I saw it the first time in the early 1980s, and I remember thinking Blanche was being silly. From somewhere or other (certainly not from my mother) I’d learned that menopause is natural. That all women go through it sooner or later. And saying farewell to menstruation for good? I’ll raise a glass to that.
I feel lucky that I can be so cavalier about menopause. For women who came before me, the stigma around menopause must have made it harder to endure. More mysterious and therefore more frightening; more shameful and therefore not a welcome subject in polite company, or even between some mothers and daughters.
I'll Drink to That
Mollie Openshaw, founder of Mood Swing Wines, remembers the unease. “Our mothers – my mother in particular – they were largely quiet about menopause. I think we’ve referred to it in many cases as ‘the silent passage’. It was really hard for them to utter to words, ‘midlife change’. But I think my generation has been breaking down those walls for some time. And when it comes to menopause, I think we’re very outspoken.”
Openshaw, 52, started Mood Swing Wines to provide refreshment on a platform of frankness, acceptance and even humor around menopause.
At Mood Swing Wines, Openshaw asks, “Why not celebrate, laugh at, and even make fun of the challenges that menopause brings? Why not enjoy life together and drink wine together, enjoying the ride? Our goal was to create a series of wines and wine-related products that highlight a woman in the midst of real life, struggling with a hot flash but taking it in stride.”
Openshaw has created a variety of wines to fit your mood-of-the-moment, including Memory Lapse Merlot, Covers Off Chardonnay, and Zin-O-Pause. All Mood Swing Wines originate in the beautiful vineyards of Lodi, California, and every bottle comes with permission to embrace and celebrate life your way.
Says Openshaw, “What you read (on my) website and what’s on my bottle, it’s about embracing life, taking life on the chin, enjoying every moment that you have. And if that means getting together with girlfriends, do it, and have a great time, and enjoy great wine in the midst of it all.”
Openshaw recalls how menopause first snuck up on her. “I noticed some visible weight gain and finding myself in the refrigerator at weird hours of the day and night.”
But she wasn’t about to forsake her sanity for some stringent, mind-numbing diet that would rob her of life’s joys and was likely to fail anyway. “Why would we give up anything that we enjoy?” She asks, sounding delightfully rational. “Maybe it has to be in moderation, but certainly not give it up all together. That’s not fair. I grew up with women of all shapes, sizes, and colors and placed no judgment on any. I think in our midlife, it is really, really hard. We do struggle with weight, but why should that become a focus?”
Sexiest Time in a Woman’s Life
In fact, regardless of where the pounds may fall, Openshaw thinks menopause can be the sexiest time in a woman’s life. “I feel really comfortable in my skin,” she says. “I feel happier and sexier than I’ve ever been…and certainly women between the ages of 40 and 50, I think we’re coming into ourselves again because we’ve put so much energy into being married, or raising children, or having a career…as women, we do so much, but we forget to take care of ourselves. Now we have that time to take care of ourselves and be everything that we can be.”
Openshaw isn’t a doctor, but I wondered what advice she might give to a woman suffering from hot flashes. Her recommendation?
“Drink more wine. You’ll forget you’re having them!”
This post is condensed, with permission, from an article that appeared in Uncorked Monthly, an online magazine dedicated to bringing wine industry people, their passion, and their stories to the world. For the extended article and podcast, click here.
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