“Killer Whales Go Through It” with Darcey Steinke
S1, E5
December 27, 2022

Meet Darcey Steinke, American author and educator. Her most recent book is  Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life. In it, Darcey writes frankly about her own experience with menopause and weaves together her personal story with philosophy, science, art, and literature.

In this episode, Darcey shares what humans can learn from killer whales when it comes to aging, menopause, and leadership. Plus, she gets into how coping with sleep loss and hot flashes allowed her to access a deeper understanding of herself through journaling, solitude, and introspection.

Join Robin, Christine, and Darcey’s conversation on what Darcey calls “graduate school for the body,” how she draws on wisdom from trans friends to celebrate hormonal changes and transitions, and how our aging bodies can teach us empathy.

Learn more about the nonprofit Let’s Talk Menopause: www.letstalkmenopause.org.

Download a symptoms checklist here (lista de síntomas aquí).

Check out Robin’s Comedy & Funny True Stories at www.robingelfenbien.com

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Thank you to Always Discreet for sponsoring this episode of Hello Menopause. Always Discreet because we deserve better.

Christine Maginnis (00:00):

Hey, friends. The views of our guests do not necessarily reflect the views of Let's Talk Menopause. Let's Talk Menopause does not provide medical advice. The content in this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions that you may have.

Robin Gelfenbien (00:23):

How would you describe the stereotype of an older woman?

Speaker 3 (00:27):

Ugh. Okay.

Robin Gelfenbien (00:28):

Buckle up, people.

Speaker 3 (00:29):

Washed up.

Speaker 4 (00:29):

Not so good of a driver.

Speaker 14 (00:30):

Less joyful.

Speaker 4 (00:31):

Grandma baking cookies.

Speaker 3 (00:32):

Are dry down yonder.

Speaker 11 (00:34):

More conservative.

Speaker 6 (00:35):

A hot flash is feverish.

Speaker 7 (00:38):

Maybe a little nausea.

Speaker 8 (00:40):

You get hot.

Speaker 12 (00:40):

It's like you have this inner...

Speaker 4 (00:41):


Speaker 12 (00:42):

... that spreads out.

Robin Gelfenbien (00:43):

Do you think any animals experience menopause?

Speaker 3 (00:46):

Any animal that menstruates, I would think.

Speaker 4 (00:48):

Probably most mammals.

Speaker 13 (00:49):


Robin Gelfenbien (00:50):

What would you think if I told you that whales go through menopause?

Speaker 9 (00:53):

That's a way to normalize what we as human go through.

Christine Maginnis (01:01):

This is Hello Menopause, podcast where you'll hear real menopause stories from real people.

Robin Gelfenbien (01:06):

Whispering behind closed doors? Not here.

Christine Maginnis (01:09):

We promise it is not just in your head.

Robin Gelfenbien (01:12):

And you are not alone.

Christine Maginnis (01:13):

I'm your host, Christine Maginnis.

Robin Gelfenbien (01:15):

And I'm your other host, Robin Gelfenbien. Let's talk menopause.


At the top of the episode, we heard our Menopause on the Street segment. Now, for those of you who don't know, this is a segment where I go out on the streets of New York and ask total strangers about menopause. I love this one so much. There is so many funny things that came out of this one. We talk about it all the time. I talk to all these people, but when you isolate these little tidbits, it kills me. It's so freaking funny. Seriously, out of the gate, it makes me laugh. Because when I ask what's a stereotype of an older woman, this woman's like, "Ugh." You already know.

Christine Maginnis (02:07):

That's what got me, too. It was like these two words that said everything. She goes, "Ugh. Okay." Like, where do I start?

Robin Gelfenbien (02:18):

Buckle up.

Christine Maginnis (02:21):

She was priceless.

Robin Gelfenbien (02:22):

Oh, yeah. And then everything that they said was just your stereotypes. The one that really struck me was "not a good driver," because I feel like that's such an antiquated thought. But I was like, well, I guess some people still feel that way.

Christine Maginnis (02:37):

Thought about that, too, like the washed up, bad driving, cranky older woman. But I'm really curious. Did people say anything positive?

Robin Gelfenbien (02:46):

Not that I remember. I think maybe a couple of people did. But I truly don't remember. Then I do remember talking to these two pharmacists. I think they were from Macon, Georgia. One of them is the one who says dry down yonder. Just the down yonder part kills me because that's also such a throwback term.

Christine Maginnis (03:07):

I also think it's because people can't say vagina.

Robin Gelfenbien (03:09):

That's a good point. We should do a whole person on the street where I ask people what they call a vagina, and then you just get everybody's euphemisms.

Christine Maginnis (03:18):

Right. When you were growing up in your house, did people say vagina?

Robin Gelfenbien (03:22):

I'm trying to remember what we said.

Christine Maginnis (03:24):

My mother, I don't think the word has ever come out of her mouth. I also found it really interesting how people reacted to a hot flash. I'm curious, I kind of wonder what people who've never had a hot flash imagine a hot flash to be. I thought they were pretty close: the idea of a furnace and the notion of it spreading. A lot of times it makes your heart race and makes you feel panicky. I was glad to hear that people on the street got a lot of that.

Robin Gelfenbien (03:51):

Mm-hmm. Yeah, that was one of the questions I asked them. I can't remember which one of our guests, but I feel like I've heard the term furnace used before to describe what a hot flash feels like.

Christine Maginnis (04:02):

Oh, yeah. That was interesting, that the notion, the stereotype of an older woman was you grow more conservative. That's not true for me. But I wonder if it's true for other people.

Robin Gelfenbien (04:11):

I don't know. I could see why some people might say that, but it's definitely not, I don't think, a universal thing.

Christine Maginnis (04:18):

Yeah. I don't know. I feel like the longer you live, the more you've seen it all and you're like, "Okay..." You're more tolerant. "Okay, whatever."

Robin Gelfenbien (04:24):


Christine Maginnis (04:25):

Well done.

Robin Gelfenbien (04:26):

Oh, thanks.

Christine Maginnis (04:28):

Without further ado, let's get into our conversation with our guest for today.

Robin Gelfenbien (04:36):

We are so grateful to speak with American author and educator Darcey Steinke. Darcey has written five novels and three nonfiction titles. Today, we're going to be speaking to her about the topic of her most recent nonfiction book: Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life. In Flash Count Diary, Darcey writes frankly about her own experience with menopause, and elegantly weaves her own personal story together with philosophy, science, art, and literature. We'll be talking about the experience of aging, hormones, and even whales. Yes, whales. Here is our insightful and absolutely delightful conversation with the wonderful Darcey Steinke.

Christine Maginnis (05:28):

Thank you for joining us on the podcast today, Darcey. Do you mind introducing yourself to our listeners?

Darcey Steinke (05:34):

Sure. My name is Darcey Steinke. I'm a writer. I wrote a book called Flash Count Diary, which was about my own personal menopause journey. It's also about the fact that female killer whales also go through menopause, and it's about a lot more, too.

Robin Gelfenbien (05:50):

Awesome. Well, we are so excited to talk to you about that book. It is just rich with wonderful information and personal stories, so much research. But before we do that, we wanted to hear more about your menopause experience. When did you first start experiencing perimenopause and what was the first change that got your attention?

Darcey Steinke (06:10):

I don't really have a lot of memories of perimenopause because this was now 10 or 15 years ago, and there really was hardly anything about perimenopause then. I do remember some crying in weird at weird times, some anxiety, some sleeplessness, but I really didn't know what it was. I was still menstruating, so I was just like, I didn't know what it was. But then I really noticed fluctuations in my periods and having trouble sleeping and all these things really started around 50. I think by 52, I was done menstruating and then I was in the hard part of menopause. I think of the serious hot flashes, the sleeplessness, for three to five years. I still run a little hotter, but I don't have those nuclear meltdowns like I did then. You know what I mean? Thank God that's over, you know?

Christine Maginnis (07:03):


Robin Gelfenbien (07:04):

So you were talking about sleeplessness. How did that affect your day-to-day life, working, family, all of that?

Darcey Steinke (07:11):

The hardest part for me was when it started, the sleeplessness sort of wears you down. I started to just feel lost and confused. I had a lot of trouble getting information. Even my own doctor. She's this wonderful French woman. I can remember telling her some symptoms and she's like, "Well, I don't know. I'm not sure what it could be." She didn't even guess that it was menopause, which is just so crazy. I was left to sort of Google it out alone like so many women are.


For me, it was a feeling of isolation and loneliness, I think. Those were my main things. The hot flashes were bad; the sleeplessness was a drag, and also all the negativity around it. There was really no way to understand what was happening to me in ways that were about a transition of power, which is what it actually is. You know what I mean? It was all negative. Now you're going to become a dried up hag. It was really depressing, too.


I was reading things and looking for things. Being a writer, I try to understand the world a lot through books, so I was looking for books that might help me, and I found very few. I just feel like there's so much negativity around even the details, like the physical details, you know what I mean?


Then the real thing was when I found out that killer whales go through it and the fact that they become the leaders of their pods once they're 45 or 50 and they've transitioned. Then they go on to become leaders. The fact that a lot of scientists are thinking that maybe why we go through menopause is that at around 50, we become so valuable to our communities that there needs to be two groups of women, one group to have babies and do the incredibly important work of mothering, and another group to be leaders. That was the first solid positive thing that I had heard. That started my sort of upward, feeling like it wasn't the end of the world, feeling like there was hope, and also giving me the idea to write my book Flash Count Diary, that I should write a book about it. I should write the book that I wanted to read myself that didn't really exist.

Christine Maginnis (09:19):

Yes, right.

Robin Gelfenbien (09:21):

Definitely. We talked about the whales, and the whales are endlessly fascinating. I definitely want to address that. But just going back, and I don't want to dwell on all the negativity because you actually do have such a positive perspective on it, that it really is so hopeful, just in terms of hot flashes and how the fact that it's so hack to just reference hot flashes and...

Darcey Steinke (09:45):

It's so annoying.

Robin Gelfenbien (09:45):

It is annoying. So it's like, why do you think that's the brunt of the joke? Is it because there's just this lack of information about menopause or is it just because women are always made to be suffering regardless? What do you think the origin of that is?

Darcey Steinke (09:59):

I think that we live in a patriarchy. Men are afraid of the female body. They're particularly afraid of the female body that no longer... There's a powerful thing in being a little bit separate from the life of mothering, the domestic sphere and whatnot. I think that's intimidating to men. There's nothing for them in menopause. There's something for men in puberty. We become sexual beings. There's something for them in birth. We give birth to their children. But I think they think it's a separation. So many men said to me, and it was sad, "She doesn't care about me anymore. She doesn't love me like she did."


Then I've thought a lot about why women pick this up, too. Women will make fun of their flashes. On like Etsy, there's all these buttons or T-shirts you can buy, "Watch out. I'm flashing." I just think it's ridiculous. Why are we making fun of our own bodies? I think we have to face the fact that it's boilerplate misogyny. I think we just have to really face that. I think if we face that directly, then we can maybe build back up from it. You can't soft sell it. It's just shitty. You know what I mean?

Christine Maginnis (11:06):

Yeah. Yeah. I think there's three real transitions. If a woman has a child, if a woman becomes pregnant. You go through puberty; you can go through bearing children; and then you go through menopause. The first two, even though they come with painful symptoms and side effects, it's viewed more as a positive. "You're going through puberty!" I remember with my daughter, getting her little period kit and hiding them in her locker, leaving little notes. We all knew it was a transition, but we kind of celebrated it. In menopause, that transition has no party. Not yet. Why do you think that is, Darcey? Why do you think...

Darcey Steinke (11:42):

I think that culturally it's diminishing. Women are still valued mostly for their sexuality and for their ability to be mothers. We're not valued for being 60-year-old badass women. I value women for that. I value my friends. That's one of the things that I value the most. But culturally, are we there? No. We have a long way to go. A long, long, long way to go.

Christine Maginnis (12:13):

Yeah. I loved your book. I really, really loved it. I had to laugh when I got to the part where you compared yourself to the Incredible Hulk. You said, I'm going to paraphrase it, and I hope I get this right, that you said it really wasn't just this, "I'm having symptoms." It was like, "I'm having this violent change." Just to say, "I'm feeling this symptom," reduces it. How did that feel?

Darcey Steinke (12:40):

Part of writing my book, and it really helped me to go through menopause and to be working on the book as well, and to talking to other women and doing research, and part of the work of the book was to weed out those things for me that I was just talking about, the negative things from the culture. The hot flash was interesting because after a while, they're so terrible at first, and you're like, "How am I going to live with this?" It's like a swamp. After a while, I was sort of like, well, it's almost like graduate school for the body or something. My old self is actually burning off. For me, it was recontextualizing some of these things.


I sort of accepted it. I was like, "Well, I'm up at night. Maybe I need to think a little bit, do kind of a reckoning with my past, what my life's been like." So I would do some serious thinking. I would get up, do some thinking, do some journaling. That turned into kind of a hopeful and meditative space. Rather than fighting it and being mad that I wasn't sleeping, I decided to be like, "Well, you're probably up because you need to think deeply about some things." Many of the things that are considered bad, I try to think, okay, what is my body actually telling me? How can this be not negated, but made into something generative?

Christine Maginnis (13:56):

For many years, I had that feeling of I was kind of desperate to get the old me back. I just remember always thinking, "When am I going to feel myself?" It took me a number of years to say, "You aren't going to be her. There's a new you." Because I heard you say that, I wonder how true that is for other women who go through menopause, if they have this feeling of reinvention?

Darcey Steinke (14:19):

Yeah. That was really true for me, the thing you're saying. I felt like, who am I? I'm not the person I was. I felt the same way. Should I go back to my old self? Who was that old self? Is it a person worth going back to? But then you realize to stay the same is not really a very good strategy. It doesn't really work. So you sort of are like, "No, I'm going to be a new person now, and I have to try to figure out what's it going to be like to live into this life."


Also, I mean, the sexuality part, I think, is really a part that no one ever talks about. That's the part that's hard, where there are sexual changes that are tricky. My feeling has always been I want to have a sex life that's true to my body. I don't want to do things that make me go back to my fertile sex life. There are things that I don't like now that I liked then. There are new ways to be together, and I really want to embrace that. I think if you can be honest and embrace that, that can be quite powerful. But I think that's a pretty big transition, too, that people don't talk about.

Christine Maginnis (15:21):

In the book, you talked a lot about how you relied on the trans community. Can you tell us about that for people who haven't read the book?

Darcey Steinke (15:27):

Yeah. Well, as I was at the beginning of this thing, I was like, I have some trans friends. I was like, there's something about their transition that is very familiar to me right now. My hormones are also dropping out. But rather than in the menopausal model, like, "Oh, no, it's a big tragedy..." Transitioning people are sort of excited about where they're going. Their hormones are changing, but they're like, "Wow. I'm going to be a new person with a new life." So I was like, "Okay. Well, let's see what's there." So I read a lot of the trans memoirs. It's extremely inspiring. I find the trans community so inspiring. The idea that a hormonal transformation doesn't have to be this big sad thing, it can be actually something that's quite exciting.

Christine Maginnis (16:13):

I don't know how to quite say this. I don't quite have the words for it, but when I read that in the book, I really empathized with what you were saying, like the whole gender bending notion. I don't know. You see yourself through a different lens. I'm going to quote you to you. You said, "Defeminization is not on the list of menopause symptoms. Even if un-gendering were listed, it would be framed as a negative rather than as the rare opportunity it is to finally slip out of the brutal binary system."

Darcey Steinke (16:40):

Well, it's hard. It's hard to be a woman. There's so much crap you got to do. I'm less interested in looking feminine, and I'm more interested now in looking interesting.

Christine Maginnis (16:49):

Definitely, I'm female and I feel female, but I feel less feminine, if that makes sense. I don't ever question where I am. I'm female. But I am so much less feminine. Especially when your kids get older. Can you explain the grandmother hypothesis? Is that what it's called?

Darcey Steinke (17:05):

Well, the whole idea that menopause is, to a lot of scientists, a evolutionary puzzle because most creatures, they procreate till the very end of their lives. So there's been a lot of confusion. Why do we, in midlife, just stop having children? But one of the reasons, which is sort of connected to the whales, is that, again, around 50, we get so valuable that you're rather risking our death in more pregnancies. It's better for us to just lead. Also, we can help with our grandchildren. We can help with our daughter's children.


I feel like that's been a little bit minimized into we can be grandmothers. But I don't think that's what it really means. I think what it really means is we can help and lead the whole community. We can help the younger generation. I don't have any grandchildren yet. I'm sure I'll be crazy about them if I ever get them. But it's not just about that. It's about a general richness that we are needed in the community for that, for our general richness, our wisdom. It's important to remember that before technology, when you needed to know something, you would go to the 90-year-old lady in the town. She would know, after the tsunami, the plants you could eat again. Knowledge was kept in human beings. And that's part of the grandmother hypothesis as well.

Robin Gelfenbien (18:32):

Speaking of grandmothers, we keep alluding to the whales, but you had an experience with a whale named Granny. I wanted to have you share what that story was like when you went out to visit Granny.

Darcey Steinke (18:46):

Granny, that's her nickname. Her official science name is J2. She's passed now. But she was 105 when she passed.

Christine Maginnis (18:52):

I'm actually really sad to hear that.

Darcey Steinke (18:54):

Yeah. She's passed. I got obsessed with these whales. They're called the Southern residents. It's the JK and M pod. They live in the Salish Sea off the coast of Washington state. It's from studying them that they found out that postmenopausal females are leaders. I'd gone out a couple times, and I think maybe it was the third time I'd gone. I remember we went out. We went in for lunch. When we came back out, almost immediately, somebody in the group said, "I think I see whales." So we looked down and we saw these sort of whales. Killer whales have this really beautiful black and white sort of yin yang looked at them. Way off on the horizon, we saw them jumping and spouting and doing all the things they do after they eat.


We see them coming. They're coming up the coast. Two or three go underneath our boats, and they are very beautiful under the water. But then two go in front of us, and this one comes very close to me. I would say, I don't know, maybe just six yard, six feet away or something. Really close. I mean, really close to the front of the boat. As the whale comes up, I see the big eye. The guide is in back of me. And he says to me, "It's Granny. I see the notch." I'm like, "No way." The one whale that I wanted to see the most has come right up to my... I almost started laughing. I was like, how could this be happening? But it was very powerful in that it wasn't a soft focus moment, like a rich lady in her elephant. It wasn't like that. It was like Granny had a very censorious look, I would say. The look was really, like, "What the frig are you guys doing?"

Christine Maginnis (20:33):

Do you think she wanted to know if you were a friend or foe? Do you think she was checking you out for danger?

Darcey Steinke (20:37):

No. I think she knows. A whale like that, they know people. She's seen people for her whole life. These are creatures that have brains that are four times bigger than ours, and they also have spindle cells, which is empathy cells. This is a creature that's brilliant. So she knows exactly what a person is. But the look was really not... It wasn't mean. It was very, very intelligent. It was kind like, "You should get your shit together." That's what it was like. I guess going into it, I thought, "Oh, I'll have this experience with the wild. It will be amazing, and I'll feel like a goddess and everything." But it was very powerful in its realness. It was very real. She was a real leader. So to see her was just... It helped me more than any other aspect of my menopause, to see a post-menopausal creature doing her life at the top of her ability and really surviving and just being so incredible.

Robin Gelfenbien (21:36):

Yeah. I do a lot of writing, not to the same degree that you do, but I know that it can be a really lonely endeavor at times. So I wondered whether it was seeing Granny or just knowing that these creatures existed who were experiencing something similarly to you... Do you feel like the whales maybe helped you feel less alone when you were writing your book?

Darcey Steinke (21:59):

I think in some ways my struggle has not... Because I love to write and I sort love to be on my own. I think my struggle has been more to honor my own solitude and to feel like it's important. You know what I mean?

Robin Gelfenbien (22:14):

Sure. Yeah.

Darcey Steinke (22:15):

So I feel like in some ways the whales and just the whole menopausal journey, I think, helped me with that a lot. I am not just for my helper things. Not just for my female helper things. But my own solitude and me just being with myself, it is really important. I want to find ways to honor that and to really live into it. I always remember someone said to me once, I think it was Maggie Nelson, she said, "Loneliness is a solitude with a problem in it." Loneliness is not great, but solitude is amazing. I think that's been a menopausal plus, actually, is me being able to sit in my solitude and feel like it's okay to do that and that it's a valuable thing.

Christine Maginnis (22:59):

Yeah. We here at Let's Talk Menopause, and Robin and I, and almost every single person, I think every person we have sat down to talk with so far, say people feel alone who are going through the transition. But the second thing we hear is that during perimenopause, not so much after, people feel a sense of invisibility or being less seen. Does that ring true for you at all?

Darcey Steinke (23:23):

Now it's doubly with COVID, right? Because you actually aren't being seen. I did this really funny thing on New Year's Eve, is I was invited to just like a family dinner with a family that had kids. But I wore my leather pants and my fringy thing and my silver boots. As soon as I got there, I realized the mistake I had made. But I so much want to be out. I'm not even out that much. But I want to be out at a literary event and I want people to see me. I want to be talking.


I've noticed that it's more important for me that my partner sees me during this time because I think I got more affirmation from the culture when I was younger. But I think now I sort of only really care if I'm sexually attractive to my partner, which is a great feeling. Then also, it doesn't really bother me when I move around. I remember when it started to be less. I would move around on the street and I'm like, "Well, no one's really looking at me anymore." Earlier, you were talking about that there's no rite of passage for menopause. But I'd say if there is one, it's the girl weekend. It's the 60 birthday, let's go out. Let's go have a weekend somewhere with your girlfriends or something. I think that's the thing.

Christine Maginnis (24:32):

I find from so many, among my peers, my age, but also because I was a teacher, I'm in touch with the younger generations, they too talk about this notion of wanting to live with the Golden Girls at the end of their... They have this notion of wanting to be surrounded by their girlfriends.

Darcey Steinke (24:46):

I hear this all the time. I have to say, all my friends are like, "Well, when we get rid of all of our..." I guess they mean spouses. I guess. We're just going to live...

Christine Maginnis (24:55):

We don't come out and say that, but yes.

Darcey Steinke (24:57):

No one actually says it, but that is what people are thinking, I guess. It's amazing how present it is, though. I completely agree with you.

Christine Maginnis (25:05):

I'm surprised to see, though, that my former students who are in their 30s, I see them joking with each other and I think, "Oh, this is almost a universal for women," the sense of we'll get back together again.

Robin Gelfenbien (25:15):

Well, I think there's obviously a bonding. There's just the camaraderie of going through... Like we were talking about earlier: puberty, bearing children, all these things that we can all relate to in some way, shape, or form. Because you were talking about this boilerplate misogyny, where we are not really allowed to talk about these things in pleasant company.

Christine Maginnis (25:38):

Menopause is the third, and if you're going to be honest, it's the final stage. I think that's why a lot of people struggle with it, this notion of is this it? Is this the end? Instead of focusing on a beginning. We live on average 30 years after reaching menopause. Studies show that women are the happiest they've ever been. I think that that gets not a lot of press time. But I guess I just want to ask, for you personally, how has your aging experience been? How do you feel about growing older?

Darcey Steinke (26:08):

There's parts of it that I really like. I like having an adult relationship with my daughter. That's been extremely amazing and fun. I like having more time to walk in the park, to do the kind of things that I want to do. I like that a lot.


I'm a human. I feel scared about living in a body that's aging, for sure. I've had my issues with my back and whatnot. And that's scary. I think as a younger woman, I'm always been interested in theology. I used to love the idea of diminishment, that learning new things, it can help you. That's one way toward knowledge. But also unlearning can also help you. So, I think that that may be the key in aging, that there's going to be a sort of unlearning and sort of a diminishment that there may be some wisdom in there. There may be some things about life that you can realize that you couldn't really realize if you had a perfect 21-year-old body.


I have a few things I tell myself. One is I can't be young, but I can be new.

Robin Gelfenbien (27:07):

Oh, I like that.

Darcey Steinke (27:07):

Okay.Tthat's one. Then I don't think of myself as going to the end. I think of myself as trying to reach a height. I have a ways to go, still, to reach the place that I was meant to reach in my life, which I feel like I have a very interesting destiny and I want to reach that. So, I try to think of that.


Then I also try to think of the empathy that can be created in a body that's not perfect, the empathy I have for other people. I've been in pain now because of my aging body some. I can feel more empathy for others. That's a very important expanded viewpoint, which I think is an important part of the end of life, is being able to join more with other sentient creatures with this idea of pain, the body, aging. Those things seem really important to me.

Robin Gelfenbien (27:58):

Mm-hmm. Just what you were saying about the unlearning, Brene Brown probably has the most popular TED talk about the power of vulnerability. But she also talks a lot about the first few decades of your life, and this particularly applies to women, is about embracing certain behaviors, and then the next few decades is all about unlearning what you have learned in order to come into your own, reduce any kind of shame. I think that's a really wonderful perspective that you have on aging. I feel so empowered just listening to you. I could absolutely picture you being wide awake and then just finding the positive in that and going to journal rather than have this unhinged brain going out of control.


Just wanted to find out, can you tell our listeners where can they find out more about Flash Count Diary? Where can they find you online? And what do you have coming up next that we can learn more about?

Darcey Steinke (28:54):

The main thing is to really read Flash Count Diary, which would be in most bookstores. It would definitely be on all the online platforms. Wherever you want to buy it online is fine with me. I prefer maybe the lesser, more independent ones. But if you could get the book, that would be really helpful. If you like the book, if you could write about it on those Good Reads or whatever, that would be amazingly really helpful for me.


Then I have a bunch of projects. I wrote an essay about the painter Agnes Martin. She's very inspirational to me. That's coming out in a book of essays about her in the spring. Then I have a project that I'm working on. It's kind of a continuation of Flash Count Diary, but it's about the body pain and faith, or spirituality. Not any specific faith. It's sort of about the sacredness of the body, particularly the body in pain. So I'm just starting that now. I'm just a few months into that. So that's going to be the next project. It's another journey that needs to be parsed out and thought about and looked at. I'm interested in doing that.

Robin Gelfenbien (29:59):

That's great. Thank you so much, Darcey, for joining us. This was a really incredible conversation. I will not look at whales the same way ever again.

Darcey Steinke (30:09):

Well, thank you. Thank you for your important work on the topic. I really appreciate that. There's a lot of work to be done, so I'm glad we're all in there doing it.

Robin Gelfenbien (30:17):

Absolutely agree. Thanks so much.

Christine Maginnis (30:18):

Thank you, Darcey.

Darcey Steinke (30:19):

Thank you.

Robin Gelfenbien (30:26):

Well, I am just so moved by that. I feel like there have been so many of our conversations that every guest is so different. I would say I was surprised at how empowered I feel. She's done so much research, and the topics that she covers are so fascinating, like the whales and the trans community and all of the parallels there. I just find it very refreshing to look at things in a more empowering way. I think she just nails that.

Christine Maginnis (30:57):

I love that she was failing to find a lot of positives in the human world, so she sought it out in the animal kingdom. I think there is a growing movement of women saying, "We are at our best after menopause. Step back. Here we come." I do think there's going to be more and more of that. But I find it interesting that, at the time she wrote this book, she was able to show us the story of how these killer whales do it. I found it really inspirational, too.

Robin Gelfenbien (31:24):

Yeah. Well, and I also like that it's not just your standard orca. It's the killer whales. There's just energy and power behind that. It's like, "Yeah, we're killer. We're coming at you." Kind of like Granny was like, "What are you doing? Out of the way." I think because for so long, for so many generations, women have been silenced in so many ways. So it's just this unleashing, in a way, which I think is really, really awesome.

Christine Maginnis (31:54):

I'm still chuckling about turning into the Incredible Hulk, which is just this radical transformation where you all of a sudden have to... You're not going to keep quiet anymore, and you're going to tell people what you think. I thought, what a great comparison to the Hulk, to a killer whale.

Robin Gelfenbien (32:07):

Totally. Also, I liked when she said the thing about wearing her leather pants and wanting to look interesting.

Christine Maginnis (32:13):

When she said that, the song playing in the back of my mind was, These Boots on Made for Walking, when she was describing her outfit? And I thought, "Oh, here she comes."

Robin Gelfenbien (32:20):

Mm-hmm. Yeah. It's just the tip of the iceberg. I know you read the book, and we want to encourage our listeners to absolutely read it because there's just so much that she really explores. I think we just scratched the surface today.

Christine Maginnis (32:35):

Yes. The book is called Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke. And yes, I highly recommend it.

Robin Gelfenbien (32:43):

Yeah. More to come there, and thank you all so much for listening. We hope you had a whale of a good time. Oh, it's terrible. It's terrible.

Christine Maginnis (32:54):

Don't be a blow hole.

Robin Gelfenbien (32:55):

Woo! Yeah. Thanks so much. See you next time.

Christine Maginnis (33:00):



Hey, listeners. If you enjoy this podcast as much as we enjoy recording it, we'd love it if you could help us out.

Robin Gelfenbien (33:10):

All you have to do is rate and review the show, and it will help us reach more listeners. It only takes a minute, and it makes a huge difference.

Christine Maginnis (33:19):

It really does. And if you want to follow the show while you're at it, we won't mind.

Robin Gelfenbien (33:24):

No, we won't. And don't forget to tell your friends to check it out, too.

Christine Maginnis (33:29):

Our mission at Let's Talk Menopause is to give people the information they need so they can get the healthcare they deserve. Please, visit our website at letstalkmenopause.org for a wealth of menopause information, including a symptoms checklist, information about long-term health risks, how to navigate menopause at work, interviews with health experts, and so much more.

Robin Gelfenbien (33:51):

This episode of Hello Menopause is sponsored by Always Discreet: makers of liners, pads, and underwear for bladder leaks. Always Discreet, because we deserve better.

Christine Maginnis (34:02):

Hello Menopause is a production from Let's Talk Menopause made in partnership with Frequency Media. I'm your host, Christine Maginnis.

Robin Gelfenbien (34:09):

And I'm your host Robin Gelfenbien.

Christine Maginnis (34:11):

Ida Garcuccia is our supervising producer, and Alana Hurlings is our producer. Laura Boyman and Catherine Divine are our associate producers.

Robin Gelfenbien (34:20):

Sidney Evans is our dialogue editor and Claire Bidigarri Curtis is our sound designer. Hello Menopause was concepted by Jessica Olivey, Jill Diseshik, and Becca Godwin.

Christine Maginnis (34:32):

This podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and wherever podcasts are found.

Robin Gelfenbien (34:39):

So check it out.