05/08/2012 03:12 pm ET Updated Jul 08, 2012

50 Shades of Grey Hair

I read two books recently, both of which were gratifying in similar yet completely opposite ways. The first book was 50 Shades of Grey, recommended by my 30-something friends, and the other was The Wisdom of Menopause, placed on my office desk by my wise, 50-plus co-worker. One reminded me of what it felt like to be young and in heat and the other advised me about being old and in a different kind of heat.

Both books triggered a hormonal response in my body and both left me wanting things to be different.

The curse and the blessing of being 50 years old is that I remember very well being the overheated 16-year-old in the back of the band bus. I also know that being 16 was also overrated.

I am wiser now. Ask anyone who knew me at 16.

But arriving here at the gateway of female mid-life is unique. I don't feel too bad as it could be worse; did you know that orangutangs do not have menopause and that all other mammals maintain the ability to get pregnant until they die?

Still, I am missing my estrogen. I am having hot flashes (even after finishing Shades of Grey) and there seems to be an interruption in my body chemistry that occasionally feels like a stirring in my chest, like that creature from Alien, threatening to rise up and roar.

So in response to that, I thought I would be proactive and make a few observations that are based on my own experience so far:

  • The thing about menopause is that it happens inside your body and you can't get out. That might sound obvious and not being able to get out is obvious. because menopause is something I see happening to other women, older women, lesser women, desperate women who are cranky and wrinkled, who yell at kids to get off their lawn, loonies who fan themselves in church, who don't drink because it disrupts their sleep. (In other words, me.)
  • As anyone who'd been fat and then been thin can tell you and as anyone who's been rich, then poor can testify-thin feels better. So does rich. And now I can tell you, as someone who is getting old, young feels better.It just does.
  • I have intermittant days where I think I need a Bruce Willis character approaching me at the end of the day -- walking one step at a time, ever so slowly, with his hand outstretched, palm facing downwards, as if to say "Calm down. Everyone stay cool. Give me the gun. Let's talk about this rationally." Like a hostage mediator. My hormones have taken me hostage.
  • A 15-minute walk is underrated. It can fix a LOT of problems that 16 minutes ago, seemed unsolvable.
  • During life's rough patches, comradarie softens our misery. So does laughing at ourselves.
  • 5 a.m. is not as bad as it used to be. It is no longer the middle of the night. 5am now feels expectant, like it is waiting for the day.
  • Dogs are the key to happiness.
  • Every night of good sleep from today forward is pure gravy, unadulterated, cholesteral-laden heart attack-causing scrumptious gravy.
  • Money matters, but not as much as we think. Not as much as estrogen.
  • Family is key. So are friends.
  • Envy is toxic. So is regret.
  • We are imminently adaptable.
  • We survived the Ice Age, we can survive anything.