Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review - Between a Rock and a Hot Place

Between a Rock and a Hot Place by Tracey Jackson
Harper, 2011
Why? This is my first review for TLC Book Tours and because this book sounded just like me :)
What Now?  I'll keep this one handy for the next 7 or so years...a chapter or two whenever I'm feeling down about getting older should do just fine :)

Golden Lines

***I marked so much of this many golden lines to revisit again and again...but the one I chose here, I think, is a perfect example of Jackson's writing style and her humor in dealing with touchy areas :)

Here is the thing about these militant stands on certain, shall we say, aids or helpers: it's very easy to say, "I won't touch a hormone" until you find yourself in the corner sobbing for no reason, sweating profusely, unable to sleep, have sex, or even get through a conversation.  I was one of the women who was not going to get an epidural when I had my kids, I was going to have my children naturally - a position that lasted for about two contractions, at which point I would have swallowed botulism toxin if they'd told me it would alleviate the pain.  I love the women who say, "I want to experience the glory of the pain of childbirth."  I say, "No you don't - there is not glory in the pain of a nine-pound human being ripping through your insides and shooting out of your vagina."  There is glory in the pain of the lyrics to a Leonard Cohen song, but not in giving birth; giving birth is messy, painful, and miraculous especially if you get through it without drugs.  In my next life I think I will start the epidural when the pregnancy test comes back positive.


Tracey Jackson takes a look at the whole idea of aging from a woman's viewpoint.  She particularly takes to task the notion that for women today, turning 50 is really the new 30.  Not so, says Jackson...and if we don't look at aging realistically, we're just deluding ourselves and setting ourselves up for disappointment.  Growing old gracefully, however, does not necessarily involve sitting by and watching ourselves decay.  Today's woman has a whole host of opportunities toward making herself look and feel younger.  It's a conscious choice each woman makes, and Jackson encourages all women to pay attention to her body, self-image, outer appearance, financial matters, and her relationships in order to enjoy the 2nd half of their lives.

What I Liked

Humor - This book is funny.  And, I don't mean just funny.  Jackson is laugh out loud while you're reading till other people ask you what in the world is so funny.  I read portion after portion of this book out loud to my co-workers both male and female...and they laughed out loud right with me.  

The chapter on sex.  I don't talk about sex with my gets mentioned from time to time but as far as specifics, my husband is the only one who has that conversation with me.  But, there are things about a woman's life...changes taking place...that men don't know about and logically cannot be expected to understand.  Let's be honest, ladies.  They'd probably really rather not know about all our ins, outs and all abouts...unless, of course, it involves them.  ;)  
Jackson handles the subject of sex with startling (at times) clarity...there were times that I know my face turned red...I giggled a time or two and was asked, "What's so funny?"  Then, I blushed more bc if the person asking only knew what I was really laughing about...
But, it's a chapter that needs to be written...and read.  So many of us don't have that conversation...we all suffer the same symptoms but since no one wants to talk about it, we all think we're the only ones.  Thanks, Tracey Jackson for opening up this conversation!

Tidbits of history - through her mother and grandmother, Jackson presents the history of nutrition, sunscreen, exercise, and facelifts in an entertaining way...through narrative tidbits about 2 previous generations of her own family and her intimate knowledge following their experiences...and Jackson equally considers the pros and cons of both the grandmother who was content to "let herself go" and the mother constantly fought to stay ahead of the aging process...even flying to Transylvania for some state of the art treatment.

Menopause or Menostop - besides the chapter on sex, this one is the chapter than really convinced me I'm not crazy.  I've experienced some of the early symptoms in the last year or so, but it honestly seems like I woke up one day and lost my mind completely.  Jackson describes the estrogen in a woman's body as a "chardonnay drip that allowed you to keep it together."  
Oh. My. Goodness.
A woman can literally wake up one day and find that Mother Nature has removed the drip in her sleep...and woe to those who get in her way...and/or to the dishwasher that breaks and won't get itself fixed :p

HRT/Bio-identicals - I think at this point we are all scared to death of hormones thanks to all the media drama.  Jackson presents a realistic look at both possible solutions to keeping the estrogen flowing...again, very effectively through her own mother, grandmother and her own experiences with both.  Jackson doesn't lean one way or the other and constantly encourages women to make the best choice for themselves weighing all the realistic odds.  At this point in my life I'm not interested in the synthetic meds, but am going to be scouting out some of the more natural hormone therapy solutions.

The Biggest Pink Slip - "A mother never clocks out"  
"Nobody and nothing prepares a mother for what it is like when her children eventually leave home"
I think you can only understand this chapter if you've been through this stage in your life.  As a mostly non-weepy person, I stunned myself by becoming weepy when my firstborn graduated from high school and then began packing to move into the dorm...on the campus where I work :/
I still have the big move ahead of me...when she actually moves out of the town in which we live...and the middle daughter will be right behind her...but I think I'm a little more prepared for the partially empty nest than I was this time last year.  
Jackson was her most sentimental in this only a mother can be :)

What I Didn't Like

***For this particular book the things I "didn't like" are simply things I liked less, not really a dislike.

The chapter on men.  This chapter is for those who find themselves alone (by choice or not) at 50.  I'm not alone although I realize that realistically the possibility is one that must be considered given that anything can happen to anybody.  The experiment with was fascinating though and kudos to Jackson's husband Glenn for being secure enough with himself and their relationship to support his wife's research...even if that research includes her pretending to be single and looking for love online.

The chapter on money.  If you know me at all, you know I am not a money manager.  I've done better this past year than ever...and I am still learning.  But, I still wish there was enough money not to have to worry about it.  I appreciated Jackson's honesty...she's not a money manager either...and has a fancy for shoes and expensive coffee :)  But, besides the obvious, Jackson talks about how difficult it is to manage money with children...

...if you have kids you know that they truly are ATM's in sneakers.  They are constantly pushing your "withdraw cash" button.

THANK YOU, Tracey Jackson.  Yes, I have a hard time managing my money...and yes, the answer is very simple: Spend less than you make and Save...BUT that very simple concept is difficult for even those of us who are not out blowing our nest egg on fancy shoes or diamonds...or any other "luxury" items.  Kids are hell on the budget.  Can I get an Amen?

Overall Recommendation

Women over 40 and/or those who have just begun to experience some of the symptoms of peri-menopause will hoot through this book just as I did...and finish it up feeling much better about themselves. 
We are soooo not crazy!

***I received a copy of Between a Rock and Hard Place free of charge in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Other stops on the tour: 
Tuesday, February 21st: Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, February 22nd: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, February 23rd: Peppermint PhD
Monday, February 27th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies
Thursday, March 1st: For Such a Time as This
Tuesday, March 6th: Boarding in my Forties
Wednesday, March 7th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, March 8th: My Book Retreat
Monday, March 12th: I Read. Do you?
Tuesday, March 13th: Silver & Grace

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wanna Be More Organized Wednesday

Less than 2 weeks away till Ireland...the firstborn and I are the wait till the last minute type and we waited till the last minute to order our passports.  We waited so last minute that we had to have them expedited...Oy.  The wait caused a few skipped heartbeats, but the day I opened the mailbox and saw those beautiful priority mail folders from the US Passport Agency, I officially became excited.  
The firstborn turned her passport in to her coach to keep for the trip and I jokingly said I thought I could keep up with my know, since I'm an adult and all.
Of course, I then promptly lost said passport.  
Right about the time this past Sunday evening when I was literally ready to upchuck, I found my passport right where I had safely tucked it so I wouldn't lose dayplanner.

The dishwasher is still not fixed.
I did buy one of those little contraptions that plugs up the sink since mine disappeared into never never land a long long time ago.  Amazing how many more dishes I can wash when I'm not forced to wash out of the top of a cake travel container.
The Head of my Household did wash dishes tonight though...without even being asked.

I made chili and cupcakes last night for our college's Wesley luncheon today.  In true "I Don't Know How She Does It" style, I was icing cupcakes at 8:15 a.m. (I have an 8:30 class on Wednesdays), and Layla was licking the floor right under my feet bc cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar don't stay in the bowl very well when you forget to soften them to room temperature before you make the icing. 
I made it to school somehow but did have icing on my pants.  Oy.
Wesley is The United Methodist Church's campus ministry.  I've been trying for 3 semesters to get my schedule situated where I can be a part of this group, and the stars finally aligned this semester.  Our group was small at the beginning but has steadily grown each week.  The students are getting to know each other and really opening up with the last couple of weeks having the very best conversations yet.  Wednesdays are my most difficult and harried days, but when I can end the morning at Wesley, everything is back in perspective.
I wish we had Wesley luncheons every day.

I'm reading an incredible book called Between a Rock and a Hot Place for TLC Tours...and I'm loving it.   Turns out at 43 there are a lot of other crazy women out there like me...sweating and freezing...screaming and crying...holding on and letting go....reinventing and holding on to the past.
The best news of all...I haven't completely lost my mind...and this too shall pass.
My review will be up tomorrow.  

I've also finished Gentleman's's hard for me to put into words how I feel about this's one of those books whose subject matter makes it feel weird to say that you "liked" it.  I'm hoping this review will be ready by Friday, but it will totally depend on whether or not my brain has been able to process it all by then.

I'm officially announcing that I need to lose about 20 pounds.  Middle age has hit me's like I woke up one morning with a tire around my middle :(  I'm cutting back on sugar and carbs first, and I'll be adding in some much needed exercise...specifically some cardio and ab work.
Yuck :p

Still have papers to grade...but I'm plugging away at them a little at a time...
I so much rather read Deja Dead though.