Friday, September 19, 2014


Michele Happe MA Certified Health Coach
September 19, 2014

I was a late bloomer.  Menopause started for me at 60.  It was a long hard slog up to that point.  The final stages were very difficult with excessive bleeding and feeling exhausted most of the time.  It was also a time when my weight ballooned totally on it own accord as I was very disciplined about my food.  So I was exhausted as well as very self critical about the heft that I was trying to carry around.  I was always the nurturing type to the point of being codependent in all of my affairs.  Thankfully I had begun working on my codependency issues in my thirties.  I am convinced that estrogen played a role in my codependency.  

Then my huge periods just suddenly stopped!  I was left with the excess weight, joint pain, and meno brain(which means that I would walk thru a doorway and be clueless on the other side what I was walking toward).  It became hard to pull up common nouns and names.  It took about two years for meno to stabilize and for me to begin to adjust to the changes.  Then last year I took on my weigh after my dear obese sister died suddenly from a heart attack.  Now the weight is off and my joints are normally 64 year old stiff which I can accept.  I still have the brain glitches but I have adjusted and realize my IQ is still intact.  I could not have done this during that two year transition because it took all the energy I had to adjust to the emotional changes I was finding myself going through.  

I like to use a phrase to define how menopause effects us emotionally.  In a nut shell it is, “make your own eff’n dinner!”  As my estrogen depleted I started noticing that I did not really care as much about what others were going through.  I experienced a kind of detachment that all the years of CODA had tried to teach me.  In a flash I was able to still be loving without all the anxiety of the sense that I needed to fix this somehow.  All of my Buddhist philosophy kicked into place.  At first I thought I might be turning into a sociopath or something.  Now I realize I just live with more equanimity.  It is easier to ask myself what is best for me in this situation without feeling guilty or selfish.  

I have come to believe that estrogen is a very bad drug.  ;).  I know it is necessary to put up with all the rigors of motherhood and wifehood.  But now it is so good to be off of it.  I can focus on my work and my creative endeavors without a bit of guilt.  My husband is learning to adjust to this “new me”.  But he is actually getting it and benefitting accordingly.  He is more free to do whatever he wants to in his free time because I have become so freewheeling and independent.  I don’t have a sex drive but really enjoy sex when he can talk me into it.  Our intimacy has improved because in order to want to, we need to be in a really good place together so we both work harder on our relationship.  

So all in all menopause is a WIN WIN.  Look forward to it and remember to work on your codependency issues in perimenopause so you will have a more seamless transition…until then

Be Well!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Michele Happe MA Certified Health Coach  

September 15, 2014

I think it is harder to recover from food attachment than alcohol and drug addiction.  We now know that our brains are a bit different regarding the reward center whether it is food or substance we are attached to.  It is important to accept this from the beginning in order to have success.  If we don’t we will compare ourselves to others who don’t have the issue and we will become resentful and defiant.  With substances we can abstain completely, but not so with food.  With food our ultimate challenge is to learn moderation. 

Another mind change we need to implement  is that DISCIPLINE is a necessary part of our lives.  This is true in so many areas such as spirituality as well.  The more we can accept a disciplined life the better our results will be.  This may involve keeping  track of our food in writing.  We also should weigh in but not too often.  I recommend twice per month while loosing and once per month once maintenance is achieved.  During transition from losing to maintenance expect to weigh more frequently.  

Regarding the type of food we eat, the more natural, the better.  Fresh organic, non processed foods are always best.  When we eat these types of foods we actually develop a taste for them and then come to prefer them.  FOOD PLAN  is very important.  It must be defined and committed to.  It may be like mine, 5 100 calorie snacks with one meal(lean and green) or it might be a certain calorie intake or the paleo plan or gluten free plan.  Once you have a plan, let others know what you are doing so you can turn to them when you struggle.

We also need to look at much broader more PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES.  Why do I want to be at a healthy weight.  If your primary desire is to be healthy, you are more likely to have success.  When it is about looks or size, once we reach goal weight we are often still not satisfied with how we look.  For instance, my arms are now a very good size, but I still have a belly and my arms are all saggy.  I am 64 this year and if I was too attached to how I looked I would just want to give up and eat.  But I know that I am healthy and my cholesterol is way down and my muscles are strong, even though my skin has  gone south.  Ultimately we all need to value our life and have enough self regard to care properly for ourselves.  

MOST IMPORTANTLY we need to rely on OTHERS for continued success.  Whether we are part of a chat group, anonymous meetings, have a health coach or just a buddy we can share with who is on a similar path, we need others.  I do all of the above and since I am a health coach, my commitment to maintaining my health is even more deep.  Helping others is rewarding of itself but it also helps me to stay on track.  If you think you can do this on your own, give it a try.  If you fail then try to open your mind to joining others on the path.  

So join others on the path so we can achieve health and happiness together.  

Be well

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Obstacles and Obscurations


Michele Happe, MA: Mon, Jan 31st 2011

In the Buddhist way of thinking, we are all The Buddha. The Buddha is the state of being fully awake and enlightened. The reason most of us do not express this Buddha Nature is because it is obscured by attachment to the ego or the "monkey mind". The ego is a double edged sword. On the one hand, as Freud said, it is the "reality principle". It keeps us grounded and responsible. On the other hand the ego "edges God out". It is deluded and self important and wants to be in control at all times. The egos need to control is what keeps us from enlightenment and ultimate health and happiness.
going around an obstacleSo what creates these obstacles and obscurations? As I just explained, the egos tendency to think it knows gives rise to attachment and aversion, two of the primary causes of suffering. The other reason for obstacles and obscurations is Karma. Karma is the result of the egos insistence that it is in control. Whether Karma ripens from this life's past misdeeds or from previous lives misdeeds is not important. What is important is that the simple cause and effect from Karma creates obstacles and obscurations to our true Buddha Nature. Karma can ripen as illness, emotional disorders, accidents or any other less than enlightened condition.

Our job as humans who desire to be enlightened is to clear away these obscurations. We do this through discipline. Our effort is to transform everything to compassion. We first train our mind to let go of our tendency to grasp so that we can convert our poisonous emotions(mental illness) to compassion. Just the intention to this discipline reaps immediate rewards. For instance jealousy and envy are transformed to admiration and respect. Anger is transformed to sorrow which warms the heart to self and others.

Another, even more potent method is through practice such as meditation and specific practices handed down from previous masters. There is a meditation practice called Tonglen which has a very powerful effect of clearing away obscurations. In Tonglen we breath in suffering and breath out love, thereby purifying the whole universe as well as ourselves. There are other daily practices called Sadana's that are also very potent. If you are a Buddhist a qualified Lama can teach and recommend these practices.

If you are not a Buddhist you can still clear away obscurations and obstacles by practicing the Golden Rule or as the Dalai Lama recommends, make your religion kindness. We must actively set our intention to be ethical and kind every day. We must actively reign in the selfish concerns of the ego. It is best to find a qualified teacher or a mentor who might be a therapist to aid us in our commitment to clear away our obscurations so that we can come closer to our Buddha Nature and achieve happiness and well being.
Be Well