We’re familiar with Nancy Blair’s artistic work. She’s the creator of the Goddess Amulets and Goddess in a Box, which contains a book of daily meditations and a sculpted goddess. Some years ago, she owned Star River Productions and produced sacred jewelry and sculpture.
Like most members of the baby boom generation, Nancy is going through The Change. Used to be, we never said the word “menopause” aloud. It was a disease. Great-grandmother was locked up because she’d gone crazy and there was no cure. Before that, women wore out bearing babies and working on the land or in the factory and didn’t even live long enough to pause. No, we never talked about sex, blood, or anything that had to do with “down there.” Nowadays, however, menopause is Big Business. We get those coy ads on TV for super vitamins and super pads. More ads for creams and lotions and Botox so we—hopefully—will never look like we’re old enough to be in menopause.
Nancy Blair’s newest book blasts a hole right through old ideas and old marketing and brings menopause screaming and roaring into the 21st century. Thank You, Your Opinion is an honest book that takes the form a one-year diary during which Nancy doesn’t get nearly enough sleep, has hot flashes that would power the rockets at Cape Canaveral (she lives in Florida and might as well put those “power surges” to work), and diligently practices her yoga, experiments with new forms of art, learns to breathe in and breathe out, refines her diet, either yearns for better sex or loathes the very idea of sex, maintains her garden, and reflects on her past. As she tells it, it was a memorable past. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Oh, and in addition to all of this, her step-father is dying of cancer, her mother is losing her memory, and her marriage is failing. Nancy spends her menopausal year as a 24/7 caregiver. No wonder she’s in a snarky mood.
Sometimes it gets her down. Some days she is totally bummed out. Toward the end of April, she makes a list of things to do. “Turn off your TV. Better yet, take it for a walk to the end of your driveway for garbage pickup.” “Make love.” “Breathe.” “Hold your own hand.” “Plant seeds.” “Dig a small hole in the backyard and fill with wishes” (p. 85). She’s sleep-deprived. Many of the diary entries are made in the wee hours of the morning when she’s been rousted awake by a hot flash and can’t get back to sleep. (Can anyone identify with that?)
But just a few days later, she reaches into her wisdom. “There’s no such thing as groundlessness,” she tells her husband at 6:30 in the morning. “Yeah, sure, shit happens. … It’s because we don’t understand groundedness and what being rooted (and eventually rotted) in the Earth really means. Groundedness simply means that shit happens. We live, grow, and die. That’s the garden doing what it does: blossom, rot, and decay” (p. 89).
Thank You, Your Opinion is full of humor and sagacity. Maybe our opinion means nothing to the menopausal artist, but her opinions will mean a great deal to her readers. Whether your meno is pausing or not, this is the book to buy, read for yourself (plan ahead if you need to) and share with friends who are there. As Nancy repeats throughout the book, Change is good.
~review by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.
Author: Nancy Blair
Element Books, 2004