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The more I write about the menopause, the more I discover groups or individuals who are trying to assist men and women going through the mneopause. One such person is Heather Resnick. I read about Heather and her group on yorkregion.com. It seems she is also trying to help women get through this time of our lives with a smile on our faces. She wrote a super poem entitled Menoclaws and kindly gave me permission to use it here Menoclaws by Heather Resnick

I invited her to write about her support group so without further ado, here’s Heather:

Menoclawsal Maniacs was going to be our group name but I didn’t want to feed into stereotypes. So we became Mavens (tag line Hot Chicks Who Yearn to be Cool!) because a maven is someone with experience and wisdom that she can share. So where the heck did menoclawsal come from? Years ago I read an animated, hilarious book called Menopaws {The silent Meow} by Martha Sacks, Illustrations by Jack E. Davis. (They also did one called Male Menopaws {The Silent Howl} by Marty Sacks (is she like George Elliot?) Over a decade of being in menopause from chemotherapy for a second metastases of breast cancer in my lymph nodes (I have since had cancer a third time six years ago. I collect cancer points. I can get into jail for free next time!) I considered my myriad of symptoms that had dug its claws in me. A poem came to me as fast as I had lost my period. Menoclaws was born.

After years of living a stressful life of cancers, disability employment advocacy for my daughter and her peers with intellectual disabilities, my mother’s death, other responsibilities, I was on the verge of collapse and depression. My Oncologist nurse suggested that it was time that I had fun in my life. How will I have fun and fulfill my life purpose of servicing people?

My 2014 New Year’s resolution was to start a Meetup group for menopausal women. We had some speakers, but the group of 18, half of whom I had never met was not responsive to my emails or registering for events. I had to externally network to fill the room for at least 3 seats for the speakers.

This past fall, I decided to change strategies. We were going to have fun, stress-busting events that would help women chill-out. Working with a coach, we developed a karaoke party for 2015. A local charity Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada generously provided the space so that they could get the word out about what they do. I found a karaoke rental place and made arrangements with a local restaurant to provide the food. No alcohol! Imagine that! I connected with local businesses that wanted a plug and could not make it to the party. They provided their products or services as prizes.

Almost every single woman who decided to come emphatically stated that they” could not sing and would not come up to the mike.” I asked them to submit 3 songs that they would want to sing or hear. When they arrived, fear consuming them about the possibility of being humiliated, I congratulated them for taking the first step in overcoming their fear by simply ‘Showing up’. I talked about the life- threatening fear of having cancer and that sometimes we manifest fears that are not really important in the scheme of things. Nevertheless if that is a fear they have, than that fear is negatively impacting their lives. I proceeded to say that I am about destress not stress. “I will read out the song not the person. If you want to come up and sing, great, if you want to come up with a partner great, otherwise we will sing all the songs together.” I brought props – tinsel hair, wigs, hat, blow-up guitar… (from the years of my kid’s bar and mitzvah celebrations- why being a hoarder can have its perks.)

One of the women who loves to sing started us off appropriately with Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which we sang together. Within 20 minutes every single woman who said they wouldn’t sing or come to the mike, (even my friend whose husband had recently died) many donned props, sang. These courageous women became entertainers, rock stars, air strumming the blow-up guitar. We sang, laughed and danced together for two hours in a frenzy of joy and exhaustion! It gives me goosebumps to think of the transformation these women displayed going from FEARFUL to FEARLESS!

Hot Chicks Who Yearn to be Cool (The name we may become if that is the name the women want, because it is funny, has a double meaning and is more inclusive just in case women had /have not been through menopause or our past it) goal is to give women the tools to joyfully age by doing stress-busting fun activities that will help us recharge for life’s challenges. Fun is the first thing we remove from our lives when we get busy because we think it is not important. Fun is in fact brain and heart smart. I also want to arm the women with knowledge to overcome our challenges, encourage them share their experiences and create new friendships.

Heather Resnick, Founder and Organizer at http://www.meetup.com/Menoclawsal-Mavens/ FB page https://www.facebook.com/menopausewithclaws h.resnick5@gmail.com