Meet professional speaker, paralegal, former Miss USA pageant contestant, and mother of conjoined twins, Emily Stark. Emily started experiencing signs of menopause in the midst of grieving the loss of her mother to pancreatic cancer.
Join Emily, Christine, and Robin as they talk about hot flashes, mood swings, thinning hair, and the similarities between grief and menopause. Plus, hear how Emily adjusted her idea of what midlife would be like and how menopause taught her to learn new things like how to build a yurt!
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):
Why do you think it's called menopause?
Speaker 3 (00:25):
Speaker 4 (00:27):
Speaker 3 (00:28):
I believe it was Albert Einstein who said that.
Speaker 5 (00:30):
It should be menostop because it's not just pausing, it's stopping.
Speaker 6 (00:33):
Speaker 3 (00:34):
Even women can't just have menopause be their thing, we got to make sure men are part of it.
Robin Gelfenbien (00:37):
Who in your life is going through menopause?
Speaker 4 (00:39):
My mom might be.
Speaker 3 (00:40):
My mom finished-
Speaker 6 (00:40):
Speaker 4 (00:40):
Probably all of my aunts but only one of them talks about it.
Speaker 7 (00:43):
That's not something women would share with a guy like me.
Speaker 4 (00:46):
She had to get a hysterectomy because-
Speaker 6 (00:47):
She didn't really go through the natural process.
Speaker 8 (00:50):
Some women like to take medication to help them deal with it.
Speaker 9 (00:52):
The ice to cool her down.
Speaker 10 (00:53):
They used to take a bath in the afternoon.
Speaker 9 (00:55):
Cautious about meals.
Speaker 11 (00:57):
I thought my life was over.
Speaker 12 (00:58):
Kind of a big deal.
Christine Maginnis (01:04):
This is Hello Menopause, podcast where you'll hear real menopause stories from real people.
Robin Gelfenbien (01:09):
Whispering behind closed doors? Not here.
Christine Maginnis (01:12):
And we promise it is not just in your head.
Robin Gelfenbien (01:15):
And you are not alone.
Christine Maginnis (01:16):
I'm your host, Christine Maginnis.
Robin Gelfenbien (01:18):
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.
Christine Maginnis (01:43):
Wow, that was a lot to unpack there, Robin. What'd you think?
Robin Gelfenbien (01:47):
I thought it was great, I was really delighted to hear what people responded to when I asked them why do you think they call it menopause because I expected everybody to say the same thing which is about men. But I just loved the creativity with the girl who said, "I believe it was Albert Einstein who said that." She's just saying it was so much authority and that really made me laugh.
Christine Maginnis (02:12):
It made me laugh, too.
Robin Gelfenbien (02:14):
And then I really appreciated the other girl who said, "Of course men have to get in on this. We can't have menopause be our thing, men have to be part of it too," which I thought was a pretty common response. But I just liked people's different takes on it, I thought that was cute. What'd you think?
Christine Maginnis (02:30):
Oh, that same line of thinking. I love the woman who summed it up in three letters, meh, meh.
Robin Gelfenbien (02:38):
Christine Maginnis (02:41):
I wasn't there but I could almost see the person shrugging while saying that. I also reacted to the question of who else in your life is going through menopause and there seemed to be a lot of uncertainty and a lot of guessing in those answers. My mom might be and probably all my aunts but only one of them talks about it and there seem to be a lot of I'm not entirely sure how to answer that. And I love the guy who says it's not something they would share with a guy like me.
Robin Gelfenbien (03:12):
Totally, yeah. That makes sense. It's like they can barely share it with their friends so why are they sharing it with their nephew or their son or whoever it is.
Christine Maginnis (03:22):
Robin Gelfenbien (03:23):
It's very telling, you know?
Christine Maginnis (03:24):
Yeah, I was about to say, I think it really shows that this is still such a hushed topic and I think there was a small sense of relief that he didn't have to hear that and I think that's part of what we need to change. I think I wanted to hear more from the woman who said that she thought that her life was over and I'm glad, from hearing her, that she seems to have rebounded but it made me want to know more what she was going through to say that.
Robin Gelfenbien (03:49):
Yeah, she was saying she went through menopause up until her 70s. So, I was a little bit confused by that but it seemed like she had symptoms for a really long time and so I think that was why there was relief in her voice.
Christine Maginnis (04:02):
Yeah, yeah. I found a couple people saying not everybody reaches menopause in this traditional natural way, that there's an awareness that it could be the result of a hysterectomy or surgery or a medical treatment and I was glad to hear that more than one person alluded to that.
Robin Gelfenbien (04:19):
Yeah, it is good, especially coming from a guy.
Christine Maginnis (04:22):
Robin Gelfenbien (04:22):
Just based on what we just said how men may not hear about some of the nitty gritty of what's going on so I thought that was refreshing.
Christine Maginnis (04:31):
Yeah. Well done, Robin, these are great. Without further ado, let's get into our conversation with our guests for today. We are so delighted to be joined by Emily Stark, a professional speaker who shares her journey of giving birth to conjoined twins. With the life lessons learned from her daughters, she speaks with audiences across North America about what it means to be truly connected. We are looking forward to learning more about her experience with menopause and grief and learn what she's learned along the way.
Robin Gelfenbien (05:13):
Thank you for joining us on the podcast today, Emily. We are so excited to see you and have you. Could you please introduce yourself to our listeners?
Emily Stark (05:22):
Good morning. Thank you for having me. My name is Emily Stark, I have a whole history of fun things. I am the mother of identical twin girls that were born conjoined, separated when they were seven months old and now are juniors in college. Yahoo. I have a 15-year-old son who is learning how to drive. I have been a professional speaker for a long time about inspiration and hope in sharing the story of my daughters. I am definitely a paralegal and I run a beauty pageant of all things. I am very, very creative and that's where my headspace stays as my husband and I are building an off-grid yurt in Southern Colorado.
Robin Gelfenbien (06:07):
There's so much here and it took a very unexpected turn, you nodded to it just a moment ago but could you just please share more of that story with us?
Emily Stark (06:17):
The interesting thing is my husband and I dated for seven years before we ever got married. I told him, "If you expect me to make dinner for you or have babies, I'm out. I don't want to do either of those things. Don't marry me if that's your goal," and he married me anyway. And so, we got married and then, about a year or six months into our marriage, I went, "I want babies. I want babies now," and he said, "Okay." And we ended up getting pregnant pretty quickly and then we found out, a few months into our pregnancy, that they were actually conjoined. And we were told they were conjoined somewhere in the lower region and, if we wanted to move forward and proceed with the pregnancy or what our path would be, and my husband and I were just determined that, if these babies were meant to be ours and our journey, we would have them.
And so, we continued with the pregnancy and we ended up having the girls about two months prior to their delivery date and we went home about a month after they were born and we just figured out and managed how do we do conjoined twins. We looked at it as a double wide singleton, ended up having them, we did all the preparation surgeries to get them separated and, about seven months after they were born, we separated them in a 16-hour surgery. They stayed in the intensive care unit for about nine days and we went home.
Christine Maginnis (07:50):
Robin Gelfenbien (07:50):
Emily Stark (07:52):
They have no ill effects from it except really cool stories, yeah.
Christine Maginnis (07:58):
Wow. Emily, that's remarkable. Okay, so I'm going to move us into menopause. So, in your blog post, Menopause Made Me Do It, you wrote about how grieving your mother's death coincided with your symptoms of menopause and I found that so intriguing. So, I want to share something you wrote. I expected hot flashes and no period, nothing more, less. What took me off guard was the other symptoms and mind mess that came along with this new phase of life. Here's my list of menopause symptoms. Hot flashes, sleeping issues, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, dizziness, weight gain, incontinence, anxiety, irritability, panic disorder and mood swings. I attributed these symptoms as a part of mourning my mother. Nope, menopause had me in its grips.
So, that had to be really difficult and, I have to say, very sorry for the loss of your mother. And I just want to ask what that time was like for you?
Emily Stark (09:03):
Thank you. My mom, for about a year and a half prior to her death, she had pancreatic cancer. And so, you have that journey along with someone who has pancreatic cancer because the odds are not good that they're going to stay with you. And so, as my sisters and I and my father went along the journey and then she passed away in the summer, it was a transition from we knew this was going to happen to, all of a sudden, the reality of she's gone and what you don't take into account is your habits and your daily routine. I spoke to my mother when I didn't know what to do, I didn't know how to parent. If I got stuck with a child issue or a friend issue, she was my human and, all of a sudden, she was wiped out. And so, it was extremely difficult to just sit and wallow, actually, is where I stayed in this period of just dark, I guess is a good way to put it. I just sat there for a while.
But unfortunately, you can't stay there too long when you have children, you just can't wallow in it because they're not wallowing with you and they still have their needs and expectations. And within the next month, one of the twins had a suicidal scare because we took her to a counselor because she said, "I'm just not happy," and we couldn't figure out how to, I don't want to say make her happy, but how to help her get the tools to make herself happy. So, it took us a little bit to find the right counselor that fit her personality who ended up being an 80-year-old lady. God bless her. And then I ended up where I had a lump in my breast that was the size of a nickel and I thought, "Now I'm dying."
Everything's a little more dramatic when you're grieving and I just stayed in this home tunnel vision while my poor husband was still trying to take care of the kiddos and live normally. I expected different things of him. Most definitely, I expected him and that relationship to replace my mother's. I expected him to act how my mother would've acted, I expected him to step up and say, "Em, how are you feeling?" which is not my husband's personality at all. And it was just this pig pile. I also expected a girlfriend of mine who had lost her mother a few years prior to swoop in and be that girlfriend that went I'm here for you. I understand, I feel your pain, I'm with you. And so, I expected her to swoop in and be that girlfriend and she didn't, she ghosted me essentially in that timeframe.
I never had a period again after my mother's death and so then I'm like, "I'm just dying." And then the hot flashes, I honestly thought you could see them. So, when I was in a business meeting, I could feel this thing happening.
Robin Gelfenbien (12:23):
Emily Stark (12:24):
Yes, and I'm like, "What is happening? Can you see what I'm feeling?" All these things are happening at once and I finally went in and was like the breast cancer thing was just a fatty pocket that dissipated, my daughter found the right counselor and that started to normalize, I started to have deep conversations with my husband who just couldn't figure out how to fix me and he wanted to so dearly. And we started to have those deeper conversations of I'm expecting you to respond like my mother, act like my mother and be that relationship that my mother and I had. So, we started having those conversations and then I went into the doctor's office and said, "What's wrong with me? Am I dying or am I in menopause really early?" And she did some blood work and said, "Well, you really are showing hormones of post-menopause." And I went, "So, am I done?" and I never really got an answer nor understanding and I left going, "So, do I just have hot flashes and no period ever and that's it. Did I sail through this?"
But what I had not taken into account is all the mental pieces that go with it that I just thought, all of a sudden, I'm a bitch, I am moody, I could cry at commercials. You say something wrong, especially about my mother, and the waterworks wouldn't stop and I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, I'm broken," until I started to realize all these things are more symptoms of menopause. But it was hard because my doctor's office went, "No, that's just menopause. Go on." It would've been nice to have a little more guidance and find a community and that's where I decided I have got to find humans that understand this, I've got to find some normalcy to this. If you go way back in time when I found out we were carrying conjoined twins, I searched previous conjoined twin moms, who else had conjoined twins, I wanted to find that connection with someone to make me feel okay, that connection, and that's what I started to do with menopause.
And then I actually went to a counselor and that was my moment of I have got to do things differently because I'm either going to stay in this grief and this menopause thing is going to just swallow me whole. I've got to find a new normal for this.
Christine Maginnis (15:03):
Right. I was so struck when I read this because I lost my father three years ago and, when I read it, it was almost like an epiphany. Having spent so much time learning about menopause and realizing menopause and grief are very similar, the symptoms really overlap. I took a minute to write them down. You've got brain fog, difficulty concentrating, that's menopause too. Mysterious aches and pains, you think a lot about death, increased anxiety, change in appetite, exhaustion like you've never known, impatience and you may feel invisible. They go into both camps and I'm sorry you had to do both at the same time, that must have been very overwhelming and lonely.
Emily Stark (15:44):
I don't think I've ever experienced the loneliness like that timeframe. With this grieving process, what I also didn't realize is, once I realized I was going through menopause and that had started and my period was gone day and night, it was there, I've never had it again. But then I started to grieve this is it for me. I've had the twins, I had my son, I tied my tubes, I made a decision a long, long time ago but this felt very, very final. And so, I almost grieved the loss of this is as big as my family is going to get. It's interesting, all the different similarities and that's where it was a little confusing at first to be able to identify those were also menopause and the grief of my mother. It's hard to be in a space with a lot of people, I have a lot of people in my world but feel so alone.
Robin Gelfenbien (16:46):
Well, it sounds like because you're responsible for so many people, so you're trying to take care of so many people. And so, when you're holding everybody else up and trying to hold yourself up, that's a huge burden. So, I can see why that would feel very isolating in a way.
Emily Stark (17:03):
Yeah, and I think, because I am a strong person, I've been through all these different things. I think people just thought she'll be just fine, she's a strong woman but there's times where you're not and I needed people to acknowledge that I'm not strong right now. And that took a lot because a lot of people would just go, "You're going to be fine. You're a strong lady, you do amazing things, you've been through a lot, you've got this," and I couldn't put that together for quite some time.
Robin Gelfenbien (17:34):
So, I was just wondering, was there a moment when you realized ... I know your doctor expressed to you, "Oh, that's just menopause," but was there a moment when you realized maybe this isn't all grief? Were you able to identify when that happened?
Emily Stark (17:47):
It took quite some time, a lot of time. I'm not going to lie, it took a lot of time. And then what I started doing is my husband and I went to couples therapy together to figure out because he couldn't figure out how to support me, he couldn't figure out why, if his family invited all of us over to their home for some celebration meal, I wanted nothing to do with it and it had nothing to do with them. I didn't want to play. I did my obligations and my obligations only. I didn't want to do anything with anyone else. They weren't acting how I needed them to act. And once you're in this tunnel space on your own and you feel so isolated, it's easy to go, "Nope, nope, not doing any of that stuff."
So, he and I started going to couples therapy and then what I started to realize is, over time, I could not speak about my mother's passing without just falling apart every single time. And so I thought, at some point, I need to dive into this and figure out why can I not let my mom go? What is it that I am holding so strongly to? And so, I started to see a counselor, a grief counselor, and her and I started to work through a handful of things that I had not realized. What it started to do, it started to bring up what was I holding onto with my mother because I don't feel like I said all the things I wanted to say to her when she was alive. And everyone said to me, "Say it, say it. Whatever you need to tell your mom, tell her before she goes," because I knew this disease would take her but I couldn't and I wanted to hear from her that I was a good mom.
That's all I really wanted to hear was you are a good mom because it's not instinctual for me and I just wanted her to acknowledge it. My mother said I love you, my mother was very supportive of me. She did tell me I was a good mom, I just wanted to hear it again but, the thing is, I didn't ask for those things before she passed. So, I had to work through those things with the grief counselor and, after working with the grief counselor and being able to let go of these pieces, those symptoms still were there. All these things are so different that I'm like, "Okay, my normal outside routine is now being shifted. My inside, it's foggy, it's messy, it's irritable." I should not be honking at people because they're turning left and I feel like I'm in such a hurry to get to Hobby Lobby, what's wrong?
But you start to transition and realize these are all not symptoms of grief anymore, these are really menopause symptoms and that's when I started diving in to figure out, all right, I cannot be the only person. And I had this stereotype in my head that, when I went through menopause, I would wake up with the blue hair at the end, that I would somehow go from looking like I'm in my 30s and 40s and then, poof, all of a sudden, I'd be old, sitting under a dryer with little purple ringlets. I missed that whole section that I can thrive and set new goals and do these new things. But it's been an adjustment in the process and it's hard when the doctors are pretty much I keep going back in to figure out hormone levels and I'm still not getting that piece. It's hard when you don't have any estrogen in your body, all these things are so wacky that you're still trying to figure them out and it's not fun to do alone.
Robin Gelfenbien (21:47):
Right. Did your mom ever say anything about menopause to you?
Emily Stark (21:51):
My mom talked about it briefly. Her symptoms were pretty much hot flashes. My mother was very much on the mindset that you don't add anything that's not natural to your body. But other than that, she really didn't and my mom made it look simple and easy and she had hot flashes and I'm like, "I can't see them on you so they're not all bad." Yeah, nothing else was mentioned.
Robin Gelfenbien (22:17):
Christine Maginnis (22:18):
Robin and I were talking yesterday about hot flashes and I was trying to explain how it's different from just being hot. How would you describe it? How does your hot flash move?
Emily Stark (22:28):
So, mine are very where, all of a sudden, you just feel this warmth coming from the inside out but then it automatically causes your armpits to sweat. It's this constant battle of, oh, my gosh, I hope I don't stink as all this is happening. When you have the flu and you go from super cold to, all of a sudden, you're burning hot, it's like the flu.
Christine Maginnis (22:53):
That's a good comparison.
Robin Gelfenbien (22:54):
Yeah, good analogy. And so, you competed in the Miss USA pageant and, after your girls were only 14 months old, you won the Mrs. Colorado State competition which led you to competing at the Mrs. America Pageant in Honolulu and you placed as a top 10 finalist. We are in the presence of greatness, Christine. I have never been in a beauty pageant but I can only imagine the pressure of competing in a beauty pageant and being judged for your looks and, of course, your talent for so long. But how has all of that pressure influenced your feelings about aging?
Emily Stark (23:33):
I saw my first pageant when I was young, I was a teenager and I went to the Miss Maui pageant with my mom and I was just mesmerized by the process. I thought someday I'm going to do that. And I was raised in Hawaii, I moved to Colorado to go to college, it looked fun, different, unique. And so, after I graduated from college, I had a boyfriend at the time that said you're just not pretty enough and I just did the, oh, did you just draw a line in the sand because I will step over that line and that's exactly what I did. I just signed up and I loved it. It's an opportunity which people don't realize to stop and go, "Who am I? What makes me tick? What makes me think who I am? What do I love? What do I not like?" Because it's an interview process about you and you have to be able to say, "Here's what's important to me, here's what I'm going to do," and it's community service. So, once you win, you spend time in the community making a difference or an impact.
And then, of course, you're in a swimsuit and half of that is who can act the most natural in an unnatural situation because you don't wear heels to a pool but it's a matter of can you wear heels and a swimsuit and walk that stage like you own it. I loved the process of it and that's the piece of this is that I loved the in-depth evaluation of myself and being able to tell others here's who I am and here's what I plan on doing with the opportunity. And I ended up winning and stayed in the pageant world. And then, once I got married, I'm like, "Oh, I can do another one now," and then that's how that evolved. But I do feel like we do need a set standard of we're not all going to look like we're in our 20s and then 30s and 40s and I get to define what I look like as I turn 52 in two months. What is Emily going to look like?
And the cool part is, during COVID, the normal beauty routines got paused and, essentially, I saw how much gray hair I had. I love eyelash extensions because it just makes me feel awake no matter what time of day it is but what I've started to realize is I don't need these things to be Emily but I want these things to be Emily. I like red hair, I'm not ready to be gray yet. I like sassy red hair right now and that is me and I love my eyelash extensions but what I've come to realize is how I apply things. I no longer can apply a ton of makeup because my skin just goes, "Oh, cool, we'll eat that," or you can't make real pretty lines of eyeshadow anymore and so you go, "All right, let's try something new." But it's that transition that I'm like, "Oh, my goodness, no one talks about your beauty habits have to also adjust, your hair, how you do things." My hair keeps thinning as I go. I'm like, "Okay, great. That's not cool. I barely had any hair to start with and now it falls out even more."
Christine Maginnis (26:50):
I was going to say, I think with declining estrogen, everybody thinks of how it affects you vaginally. But when you lose that estrogen, you do, you lose the elasticity in your skin, your hair changes, it does thin, it can also become coarse and dry but it's those things that you would never think about that that's part of ... I think we see it as part of aging but it is also part of going through menopause because you are now having drier, thinner skin and who tells you that, we don't know it's coming. I love your positive approach to aging, I really like how you're looking at it and I did read that you said, if you don't like your current, you should do something different. So, you had talked about, when you reach menopause, it is this wake-up call to saying I'm no longer fertile. And when that decision is in your hands, you're good with it. But when someone tells you that, okay, so that makes it official, it's a bit of a wake-up call.
It's definitely a feeling of this is an end of an era, it's an end of something. But I wish people knew more about it's also the beginning of something, I know from my own personal experience, once through menopause, I thought, "What's next?" Do you see it like that that menopause is a time for women to stop and look at their lives and evaluate where they are and who they want to be in this next round?
Emily Stark (28:06):
I think turning 50 is also one of those, oh, wait a minute. I've done X, Y and Z up to 50 and, hopefully, I'll have 50 more years what is that going to look like. But I also think menopause makes you stop and go, "Okay, I am now going into a new phase throughout this whole journey of being a woman, what is it going to look like?" and that's where Menopause Made Me Do It. When I started to write that, my whole thought process is what am I going to do and that's where I have now designed costumes. I have had more fun designing costumes and making costumes out of hot glue guns. I made a Jolly Rancher costume that just won an award, I took a wood turning class, I've taken an encaustic painting class, that I'm at that point where I'm like, "Okay, I need to try new things and find something different," and that's where my husband and I are building that.
It's a round wooden house that will be totally off grid trying to do different things but, man, when your head does not retain things nor remembers things, my husband's like, "All right, Em, the rafters up at the top," I'm like, "Those wood beamy things?" And he is like, "Oh, Em," and I'm like, "I know. I just can't keep it all in there." We did the underground plumbing together and it all is at an angle and it all has to go and it all has to marry up at certain and you're like, "Who learns this at 51 years old?" And I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to try it and do something different and find those new things that go, 'I really like this, I really don't like that,'" and being able to go, "Okay, I'm going to try it." Because as the kids start to leave, I am no longer in their daily routine. It's been fun to redefine what is the next 10 years going to look like, what's my next goal, what's my next thing going to look like and striving to try something new.
I don't want to stay where I am and look back and go, "I should have." I think everyone should try a pageant once and go, "Oh, that was not for me," or "Dang, that was fun." Or, try something new and go, "Yeah, I did it." My sisters and I live all over the United States and so we walk, we're on a virtual marathon right now in Scotland. It's finding these things that you go, "I don't like running," but I'm like, "I will walk on this marathon thing and it's tracking us as we walk through Scotland. Who knows?" But it's fun, it's different and trying new things is my thing.
Robin Gelfenbien (30:58):
I think that's wonderful, it's such a healthy approach to life. But I love that you have embraced all this change and being this, it sounds like, a lifelong learner and you've been through some really painful things in your life as you've told us. And I'm just wondering, because I did see that you love change and, to me, I'm like, "This woman's a unicorn." And so, I'm wondering how do you help others embrace the change that they're going to experience with perimenopause and menopause?
Emily Stark (31:31):
I think the biggest thing is I have always lived with the mantra of ... There's two of them. One, you can't eat an elephant in one bite. So, if you're going to make change, it's small, little things. And so, that's a key thing is to think of it. If there's some symptom of menopause that's driving you nuts, focus in on that and find the small, little things that you can change to make it better or more comfortable during that timeframe. The other thing is only deal with the reality that you have in front of you. So, I try not to do what ifs, I try not to do all the, oh, my gosh, if I do this, this could go wrong and this can go wrong and this can go wrong. My daughters are headed out to do a tour of the New York City law schools. One of them will head off to law school so she's headed out and both of them are headed out after their 21st birthday next month to go visit law schools for a long weekend.
And my instinct wants to go, "Oh, oh, no, no, let me come along and I can babysit and I can make sure you get on the subway correctly," and then I take a breath and go, "Nope, you're going to help equip them with knowledge and different things. You need a bus pass and here's an app that tells you when to get on where, I need you to just be very X, Y and Z," and it's only deal with the reality that's in front of you and not all the what ifs. I really want my friends and my family and the people around me that, if they say, "I want to study abroad in Spain," that I say, "That is so exciting. I cannot wait to hear your process of getting there, your experience being there and what changes it made in your heart when you come home."
I am one of those that those are two things that I have always done as change comes in little steps day by day. COVID weight did not happen overnight, menopause and COVID were not friends with weight. It took me a long time to add weight so it's not going to take me overnight to get rid of it. So, that's how I see things. And I think, as people embrace menopause, the more we talk about it, the more we share and the more we find community, the easier it is. Because when you hear, "Oh, I had these symptoms, here's what I did," and there was success in that, instead of me having to do all the legwork and trial and error, it's nice to go, "Oh, if that worked for you, let me just start with that."
Robin Gelfenbien (34:09):
I think that's a really healthy way to look at this transition in life. And I love what you've done, I can't wait to see this yurt that you're talking about.
Emily Stark (34:19):
Christine Maginnis (34:19):
Robin Gelfenbien (34:20):
This has been such a lovely conversation. You really truly are so inspirational from your girls to what you experienced with your mom and going through both menopause and grief at the same time and all of the wonderful empowering things that you're doing, not just for yourself, but for other people now. I just feel like you are a wonderful gift, not just to this podcast, but to the world and I know other people are going to want to find out more about you. So, where can they learn more about Emily Stark and everything that you're doing?
Emily Stark (34:50):
Thank you, thank you for having me. You can find me on emilystark.com.
Robin Gelfenbien (34:56):
Thank you so much for joining us, Emily, today, for being such a wonderful guest.
Christine Maginnis (35:00):
Robin Gelfenbien (35:01):
We really loved having you.
Emily Stark (35:01):
Thank you. I appreciate being on this today and thank you for letting me share my story.
Robin Gelfenbien (35:13):
So, I really enjoyed talking to her, I feel very calm. I feel like she has this very calming energy about her which carries through so many aspects of her life. And so, when it comes to menopause, I just really liked her approach to not getting overwhelmed by all the things that you're experiencing and just taking them one chunk at a time. I think that's a huge lesson. And then I also just love her perspective on learning and trying new things and life's not over, just keep it moving and build a yurt, go do your thing, you do you. What did you think?
Christine Maginnis (35:59):
I'm having a bit of an opposite reaction in that I feel pumped up from having talked to her. I agree with the idea of what she emphasizes as the power of perspective. You can be in the same situation but frame it in a more positive way and I'd love how she did that and how she managed to do that with the tsunami of grief and menopause symptoms at the same time is remarkable. And I think she's very pragmatic but I think she's incredibly positive.
Robin Gelfenbien (36:27):
Mm-hmm, absolutely. I also really appreciated the fact that she talked about finding your community when you're going through different things. Obviously, given any individual perimenopausal symptom, luckily, there are resources now and, luckily, there are organizations like yours, Christine, but I just thought it was really valuable to remind people that there is help out there and you don't have to feel isolated. And I know, for people who have a hard time asking for help, luckily, now there are ways to do it anonymously. There's just so many more opportunities and I think that's just a really good reminder for our listeners if they're starting to feel something or if they're feeling shame around anything or if they're just questioning anything that there are places where you can get help.
Christine Maginnis (37:15):
Right. And I love that she, before reaching menopause, thought, "Oh yeah, I got it. I'm going to have a couple hot flashes and no more period, next," and it's more than that. It's more than that, it's longer than that and I'm glad we can help spread that message.
Thank you so much for joining us today. We really enjoyed our conversation with Emily, we hope it made you feel less alone. Till next time. 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 (37:50):
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 (37:58):
It really does. And if you want to follow the show while you're at it, we won't mind.
Robin Gelfenbien (38:03):
No, we won't. And don't forget to tell your friends to check it out too.
Christine Maginnis (38:08):
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 (38:30):
A big thank you to Always Discreet for sponsoring this episode of Hello Menopause. Always Discreet, because we deserve better.
Christine Maginnis (38:38):
Hello Menopause is a production from Let's Talk Menopause made in partnership with Frequency Media. I'm your host, Christine Maginnis.
Robin Gelfenbien (38:45):
And I'm your host, Robin Gelfenbien.
Christine Maginnis (38:48):
Ina Garkusha is our supervising producer and Alana Hurlins is our producer. Laura Boyman and Catherine Divine are our associate producers.
Robin Gelfenbien (38:57):
Sydney Evans is our dialogue editor and Claire Bidagari Curtis is our sound designer. Hello Menopause was concepted by Jessica Olivier, Jill Bisheznik and Becca Godwin.
Christine Maginnis (39:08):
This podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and wherever podcasts are found.
Robin Gelfenbien (39:15):
So, check it out.