The Crush Letter No 131: Conversations with my Father, Meno Babes

. 19 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 50+. Because midlife and beyond is so much hotter than they said it would be. Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.


Hello Crush,

Geopolitical Conversations with my Father. I spent the long week end at my parents’ home. As stalwart CRUSH Readers may recall, that’s where I was on February 24, 2022, the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. I wrote then about how The Crush Letter is meant to be fun, an escape, and though I didn’t want to get into politics here sometimes things happen in the world that we can’t escape. I wrote that I was born on a U.S. military base in Japan, grew up on military bases, that my Father, after retiring from his military a career, taught geopolitics at a small local college. I wrote that in 1991 I had rushed from a law school class at Georgetown to Dulles Airport to see my brother, an Army Green Beret, when he’d called to say his unit would be stopping there briefly on its way to the Gulf War. My only brother and my parents‘ only son, the only one in our extended family able to carry on my Father’s family‘s unique surname. (He came back alive.) I wrote that no war will ever feel ‘removed’ for my family.

I was at my parents again last Saturday morning, as the news of Hamas’ invasion of Israel was announced. I grabbed my coffee and settled onto the couch in my Father‘s study with my dog intertwined between my legs. My Father started flipping channels between CNN, Fox News, the BBC, i24, etc., as he does, to get every live update out there from every angle. My Father, an engineer by training, approaches all problems by walking through rational steps that include acquiring all available data, attempting to recognize and strip it of subjectivity and bias, and put the pieces together into an operable whole. He is driven by analytics to ends, not the other way around.

I joked recently with a friend who had learned Minecraft in order to hang out with his teenage son that when your parents reach a certain age you revert to a similar strategy. The best way to stay close is to dive into whatever it is they do. Geopolitics is the common language I speak with my Father, a language I learned from him. So it’s weird that I happened to be there, hundreds of miles from where I live, last Saturday after having also been there when war broke out in Ukraine. As the story in Israel unfolded, it became clear that we would be settling in for the weekend, my Father, my dog and me.

As I had last time, I asked my Father to give me a primer. Can we discuss, I said, the history of Israel, the Palestinians, Iran, Saudi Arabia, who is allied with whom, China’s stake in negotiating peace. What, really, is a ‘theocratic republic?’” I asked. Because he just turned 86 and who knows how long we‘ll have to share this common language, I ask now. He downloaded all the relevant notes from his geopolitics classes and we read through them together.

As it happens, the previous week I had gone to a lecture given by a former U.S. Ambassador, career foreign service in the Middle East, who after 9/11 had served on Bush‘s Anti-terrorist Task Force. The topic was (of all things) “What Does the Opening of Diplomatic Relations Between Saudi Arabia and Iran Mean for Security and Stability in the Middle East.” Note-taking was not permitted, but I took notes anyway, for my Father. I read them to him. The conclusion: “It is not believed that there is a current high threat from terrorist groups in the Middle East. My {i.e., the Ambassador’s} personal view is that Iran already has nuclear capabilities, and is engaging in the motions of negotiation as a charade. But that is not the prevailing view. The momentum and structures in the Middle East are moving toward stability.”

Chilling.

Later, I said, “Remind me about the details of the Yom Kippur War, Dad.”

“Oh,” he said. “This one will be very different. The Yom Kippur War is likely not relevant as precedent.”

“Why not?”

“Because the Yom Kippur War was an invasion by the Egyptian and Syrian armies. Armies don’t target civilian casualties; they operate in accordance with a code. Hamas is an extreme terrorist group, one of the most extreme. It doesn’t abide by military, or that matter, moral codes. Combine that with the fact that they do not, categorically, recognize their enemy as human and my guess is that what we‘re going to see are systematic, horrifying, targeted large scale civilian atrocities. Evil. The hope is that we have the clarity to recognize it for what it is.”

The reality was all as bad as he feared.

I moved my flight back and lingered in my Dad’s study a day longer than originally planned. Usually, I cook or garden with my Mother when I‘m home, but my dog and I rarely left my Father’s study over three days. I made his favorite soup and did trips back and forth between the kitchen and his study. A safe, cocooned spot in a dangerous, unruly world. I couldn’t bear to leave to return to my apartment, to have to digest the horrific news alone. Besides, he’s 86 and who knows how long I’ll have him to help me make sense of the world. Bring it into some semblance of order. Trying to make sense like our only defense. Speaking this common language with him has become our sustaining bond, and I’m all in. The security of his informed answers, his strict codes of conduct, his moral clarity made the unbearable weight of evil somehow bearable. The strength of somebody, something to lean against.

I know that this is not what you come here for, Crush Readers. But sometimes we can’t escape the world.

I hope you are all okay, and getting through it in your own ways.

If you'd like to share this story use this link. Got a reaction you’d like to share with me? Dish@PrimeCrush.com.


Moving on. To meno babes, no less. Before all that, I spent a week ago Friday with hundreds of meno babes. At The New Meno Symposium in NYC co-hosted by The Swell and Naomi Watts and her wellness company Stripes. I mean, they’re much more than babes, to be clear. The symposium had panels and talks with leading experts on menopause and it was enlightening (and frightening at the same time, because the medical establishment is sooooo far behind on this. On us.). Please - if you are a woman, or love women, read it. I implore you. But along with all the insight and frankly, not at all inconsistent with it, were hundreds of women literally rebranding what it means to be us. They were babes. Smart, hip, sexy women. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but — and I’m a little embarrassed by this (but only slightly) — my first thought when I entered was “Thank fucking god you look super fly today, Dish.” I hadn’t dressed for the symposium, I had dressed for my dinner afterward. Stroke of luck. But much (much!) more importantly, I am sharing with you the most important things you need to know about menopause, and life (and loving) with it. (I met Dr. Emily Morse of Sex With Emily and had a one-on-one conversation with her about YOU, dearest Crushes.)


Usher is getting hard. He has a new song out GLU. Very raunchy. Not into it. And as you know, Crushes, I’m not particularly prudish. But evidently Danielle Amir Jackson is into it. Can Usher Turn America On Again (to R.&B.)? she asks, in an article in the New York Times. And god.help.us. if that’s what we have to save us, is what I think. I strongly disagree. When it comes to R&B (and its derivatives) I was already saved. By Silk Sonic, a sound that is sex, as I wrote in Dish’s Crush on Silk Sonic back in April 2022. Having said that, though, Usher is a talent and I like some of his older stuff so as a call-out to his upcoming new album we’ve got Nice & Slow as our Song of the Week. This performance from Tiny Desks was one of their most popular downloads ever.

And other than that, and for obvious reasons, I am re-sharing a number of pieces from our archives on finding calm. Hope you find some, Crushes.


If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.


In This Letter.   +PrimeCrush Hotflash: The 5 Things You Need to Know About Menopause from The New Pause Symposium co-hosted by The Swell & Stripes By Dish Stanley The alarming message, reiterated throughout the day, was that most women (and there are an estimated 64 million of us over 50)  are not getting the best advice out there on menopause from our medical practitioners. +{Re-Share}: Calm App Review: “If I Traveled Or Worked In An Office, I Would Rely On This App Heavily” By Evie Arnaude In the background, I can hear the sound of ocean waves, an immediate dopamine rush, and for that, I am grateful. +{Re-Share}: 5 Books to Help You Chill TF Out. +{Re-Share}: Top Ten Jazz Albums To Soothe Your Soul. By Lisa Ellex +Social Media I Loved This Week   +Our Song of the Week Nice and slow


PrimeCrush Hotflash: The 5 Things You Need to Know About Menopause By Dish Stanley

from The New Pause Symposium co-hosted by The Swell & Stripe

Last week I attended The New Pause Symposium in NYC co-hosted by The Swell and Naomi Watts’ new menopause wellness company, Stripes. It was a day of insights about menopause, with panels on everything from the status of research (critically overlooked and underfunded) to the medical establishment’s current understanding (continuing to emerge, at best) of how menopause impacts our bodies and lives, to sex after menopause (more intimate than ever, if that’s what you’re into, which readers of The Crush Letter know I am - more on that, including my one-on-one conversation with Emily Morse of Sex With Emily below).

A lot of camaraderie, optimism and laughter were dished out alongside the wisdom from leaders in the menopause field, but the alarming message, reiterated throughout the day, was that most women (and there are an estimated 64 million of us over 50)  are not getting the best advice out there on menopause from our medical practitioners. Worse than that, many of us are getting the worst advice, that is, advice in direct opposition with the latest studies and reports published by The Menopause Society, the leading resource on menopause for medical clinicians in the U.S. It was only formed by the way, in 1989. (Evidently women didn’t go through menopause before then.)

One of the things that prompted me to attend the symposium was this quote I had recently read about treating menopause from Philip M. Sarrel, professor emeritus of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services, and of psychiatry, at the Yale School of Medicine:

Doctors are not helpful. They haven’t had training, and they’re not up to date.”

WTF? Scary.

The stats, according to AARP, are staggering: only 20% of ObGyn residencies in the U.S. offer menopause training, and half of ObGyn residencies felt they needed more education on menopause; 80% of graduating internal medicine residents felt incompetent to discuss or treat menopause. In contrast with the 64 million women in the US who are 50 or older, The Menopause Society had certified only 1300 practitioners as of a year ago.*

Despite those depressing facts, it was an uplifting, insightful and fun day, buzzing with the energy of forward movement and excitement over what is happening now. I felt as if I was in the hippest spot you could possibly be that Friday with the coolest people. Like I was at a resort in Tulum (circa the late 70’s when only the truly in-the-know knew) with women who were a mash-up of drop-dead serious, as well as smart, stylish and sexy. (I loved them all.) 

When all was said and done (including spicy margaritas, truth be told) though, there is critical information that needs to be further circulated to women, and everybody who loves us, more widely. Based on panels with leading experts in menopause, here are the most important insights you need to know:

1. Women need healthcare providers with specific training in menopause, who stay up-to-date with the expanding research. But it’s hard to find them.

It is shockingly difficult to find a medical practitioner who is educated on menopause. This is something I learned first-hand this year while searching for new doctors after a move. I hadn’t realized that my previous Primary Care Physician was such an aberration and, after a decade of informed care on my menopause symptoms, was utterly amazed to interview three separate PCP’s, all concierge doctors whose clientele were primarily women over 50, who cited what is now a widely debunked study on hormone therapy. “NEXT,” I thought after each one. Until I was in front of a PCP who at least owned her ignorance in what she referred to as a “developing area” and said, “But I will help you find an ObGyn who is up-to-date.”

Dr. Mary Clare Haver, an ObGyn who has published a nutritional and wellness lifestyle program for women in menopause called The Galveston Diet (which I have devoured), offers comprehensive information online around all aspects of menopause, including her Top Four Tips on Finding Topnotch Menopause Care. Most exciting, it includes a comparison chart for three new virtual providers of menopause care, Evernow, Alloy and MIDI, virtual options that may be the best route forward for any woman who does not live in a major urban area (or near a HerMD clinic, more on that below). I follow her Instagram account @drmaryclaire for help with all aspects of understanding menopause and have pre-ordered her upcoming book The New Menopause.

If you are lucky enough to live near one of its five locations, HerMD is a growing provider of comprehensive women’s healthcare that just announced that it closed an $18 million financing round to expand. If I lived near their offices I would sign up immediately, but I don’t so I follow HerMD on insta to stay on top of advances, such as EmpowerRF, a new technology to treat vaginal, vulvar and pelvic floor symptoms related to menopause.

2. Menopause is more than hot flashes, weight gain, vaginal dryness, fogginess and low libido. (As if that’s not bad enough!) Doctors are beginning to understand that the decline in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone that women experience from menopause is associated with a broad range of health issues, such as (but not limited to) heart disease, dementia, higher LDL (bad) cholesterol, osteoporosis, tinnitus and more. All of which should be considered distinctly for women through the lens of menopause (as compared to, for instance, men or non-menopausal women) in order to get the precise right care.  Menopause Matters lists 54 symptoms related to menopause.

Lower estrogen means lower bone density, which could mean bone fractures and osteoporosis, according to Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic and mobility expert with expertise in aging. “All musculoskeletal tissues have estrogen receptors, so it makes sense that menopause impacts your entire musculoskeletal system,” she says. Symptoms of menopause include loss of lean muscle mass, joint pain, rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s, and according to Dr. Wright 80% of menopausal women will have musculoskeletal symptoms. For 25% of those, it will be devastating. You can find an excellent far-ranging conversation with Dr. Wright on A Certain Age podcast episode 153 hosted by the wonderful Katie Fogarty “You Aren’t Crazy. Menopause Causes Aches, Joint Pain and Impacts Your Musculoskeletal Health.” Among other things, Dr. Wright recommends a rigorous strength training program to keep muscles strong, and you can find information on her own weightlifting routine on her insta account here.

Doctor Lisa Mosconi, author of a new book The Menopause Brain, says that we need to adopt an outlook that menopause is “a complex journey marked by changes in our brains, as well as our bodies.” Estrogen is not just an “ovary thing,” she says, it is a “brain thing too.” Menopause affects the structure, function and chemistry of the brain. Regular physical activity fortifies the brain against diseases like Alzheimer’s, according to DR. Mosconi. Follow her here.

3. Every woman should consider vaginal estrogen, as well as Hormone Therapy (HT) (previously referred to as Hormone Replacement Therapy). 

Whether you ultimately decide to do either, for anyone experiencing hot flashes, sleep problems, low libido, vaginal dryness, fogginess or any of the other menopause-related symptoms, gaining an understanding of your potential for relief, as well as the actual associated risks, is worth a conversation with your ObGyn. HT that is appropriately tailored to you as a result of careful consideration with your ObGyn can greatly improve most menopause symptoms, including ones you are not aware of, such as osteoporosis.

“Vaginal estrogen and HT are separate therapies, do not address the same thing, and many doctors are flat-out wrong in their understanding of the risks,” according to Dr. Robin Noble, a practicing gynecologist on the Board of the nonprofit advocacy organization Let’s Talk Menopause. “These treatments are vastly under-utilized and many women are suffering needlessly,” said Noble. “Vaginal estrogen is appropriate for most women, and reduces vaginal dryness, redness and soreness, feeling an urge to urinate and pain during sexual intercourse.” Follow Dr. Noble here.

“There are so many exaggerated risks around hormone therapy,” according to menopause expert Dr. Heidi Snyder Flagg, founder of Spring ObGyn in NYC. “The risks of an adverse event for most women associated with hormone therapy if you take it for 10 years after your final period or up to 60 years old  is 1 in 1,000.” (You can hear it yourself from Dr. Flagg here.)

4. You’re probably not exercising enough, consuming enough protein, or doing enough strength training.

Peter Attia, author of the blockbuster book on longevity, Outlive, was interviewed by Co-Founder and CEO of The Swell Alisa Volkman, on what women most need to know on longevity. As readers of The Crush Letter know, Outlive has become a bible for me ever since a friend gave it to me in May, so I was on the edge of my seat for this conversation.

“The benefits of exercise outweigh everything else you can do - nutrition, diet, sleep, etc.,” said Attia. “And then, because of anabolic resistance as you age, you need much more protein than you think you do.” And strength training for a lot of things, including your bones.

In addition, Attia said, there’s an under-appreciated danger for people 50+ with taking the new diet drugs Ozempic, Mounjorno, etc., he said. “It’s malnourishment. It’s extremely difficult to get the amount of protein that’s critical for building longevity at this stage of life while taking these.”

5. We really (really) need to broaden our appreciation of what sex is. 

The climax (ahem) of the day for me was that it underscored the importance of continuing to think of ourselves as sexual as we age. As readers of The Crush Letter know, when I say “sex,” what I am really talking about is physical and emotional intimacy. Feeling close. Feeling safe. Feeling wanted. Laughing. Fumbling without embarrassment. I am talking about affection (actually, I talk a lot about affection - its importance as a through-line to loving as physical intimacy evolves with our bodies over time).

I was heartened and validated that The New Pause symposium included panels on the intersection of menopause and sex. And thrilled that the discussions of sex discussed it in its broader sense, and included topics we often cover here, such as lube (Everything’s Better Wetter (but check your lube ingredients!) and toys (our Crush Readers test and review sex toys for us as part of our PrimeCrush Sex Toy Project).

But a personal highlight was meeting Dr. Emily Morse, host of the podcast Sex With Emily. She is a breath of fresh air, and our longstanding, recurring column AMPLIFY! The 12 Sex With Emily Episodes CRUSH Readers Should Get on Top of is a Reader favorite. Emily (as her fans call her) and I discussed our CRUSH series about her show, and she suggested further episodes — one on Sex + Life In Your 50s w/Dr. Wednesday Martin, another titled Best of: Orgasms & Oral (No Penetration Required), also Performance Anxiety & Performative Sex, and one with Esther Perel on Why Do Couples Stop Having Sex, as well as a couple on penis problems with urologist Dr. Edward Karpman (a written article that’s helpful is here). Also, just in, is an episode on How to Make Missionary Kinky. Highly relevant because according to our poll on Your Favorite Sex Position, it’s missionary. We will be expanding our AMPLIFY! column to include the above episodes.

Emily has a new book coming out Smart Sex, which you can order here. In the meantime, I want to encourage CRUSH Readers to ask Emily your own questions. Here’s how. Thanks Emily, we’re big fans!

And thank you to The Swell and Stripes, as well as all the other cool menopause warriors I met there, for an enlightening and exciting symposium. It was a day very well spent.


Here’s a list of the insta accounts of the menopause warriors mentioned in this article:

Dr. Mary Clare Haver - @drmaryclaire

Dr. Vonda Wright - @drvondawright

Dr. Lisa Mosconi - @dr_mosconi

Dr. Robin Noble - @robinbnoble

Dr. Heidi Snyder Flagg - @m_pause

Peter Attia - @peterattiamd

Dr. Emily Morse - @sexwithemily


If you’d like to support one of the nonprofits educating and advocating on behalf of women with menopause, check out these two:

Let’s Talk Menopause aims to empower women with the information they need to navigate menopause, and also advocates for the medical community to invest in additional education and better care for women through menopause.

In addition to the above, the National Menopause Foundation has announced a Women’s Midlife Health Policy Institute, which will engage policymakers on research and care initiatives. 

Both the National Menopause Foundation and Let’s Talk Menopause support the enactment of The Menopause Research and Equity Act of 2023 to bolster the study of menopause at the National Institutes of Health.

*According to the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Minnesota.

If you'd like to share this story use this link. Got a reaction you’d like to share with me? Dish@PrimeCrush.com.

{Re-Share}: Calm App Review: “If I Traveled Or Worked In An Office, I Would Rely On This App Heavily”. By Evie Arnaude

If you love the practice of using apps to quench anxiety or drift off to sleep you might—big “might”!—love using this one.

When I started the process of writing this review, I hadn’t realized I’d actually downloaded the Calm app years ago and never used it--quickly understanding why. I have a solid meditation ritual already in place, and am extremely discerning of “practices” you have to pay for. So, straight off, I have a bias.

What’s more, for some folks (and I am one of those, apparently) don’t align with apps for this kind of purpose. I find it slightly un-calming to take the initiative to open an app to achieve “calm.”

Financially, this isn’t all that cheap, either. You can apply for a free trial with consent to subscribe and “cancel at any time.” After a seven-day trial, you’ll be automatically enrolled. The price at the time of this writing is $69.99 per year or $14.99 per month. I opted for the yearly price.

Once you’ve put in some identifiers—so the app knows your goals, likes, and all about you—you’ll open the app, as I did today, and it asks, with an array of varied smiley and downtrodden emojis to choose from, and let it know how you’re doing. Today, I’m unsure, and I tell it so with hesitancy, mostly because I’m afraid of where and how exactly this information is being used in the world of app non-privacy.

Continue reading here

{Re-Share}: 5 Books to Help You Chill TF Out.

What’s disrupting your piece? We’ve curated a shortlist of books that might help you find it (and hold onto it).

How to Calm Your Mind: Finding Presence and Productivity in Anxious Times by Chris Bailey

These are tough times—this book is here to help. Bailey utilizes scientific-backed research to help you stay calm and productive, no matter what’s going on in the world around you.

Continue reading here

{Re-Share}: Top Ten Jazz Albums To Soothe Your Soul. By Lisa Ellex

From its origins in Creole and Dixieland, to its evolution through swing, bebop, Latin, Afro Cuban, Brazilian, straight ahead, and beyond, jazz comes in a variety of forms. Here’s my top ten list of the old faithfuls I spin when I’m in need of something soothing.

1.  Eliane Elias Dreamer (2004)

Legendary Brazilian pianist, composer, and vocalist Eliane Elias is one of the few remaining musicians of the Brazilian bossa nova movement. A protégé of Vinicius de Moraes (lyricist and songwriting partner of the movement’s father, Antonio Carlos Jobim), her music exemplifies the sound of the genre. The standard selections on Dreamer offer Elias’ most sultry singing and makes this recording perfect for quiet and relaxing moments. On tour right now, be sure to catch her if she’s performing at a venue near you.

Continue reading here

Social Media I Loved This Week

@jayshetty

@clairethomsonjonville

@jmstormquotes

@alan_robarge_pyschotherapist

@crazybitchprobs

@stay.positive.in.life

Song of the Week

Nice & Slow by Usher

Listen to the 2020 Live Performance here

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

Get Your Spy Thrill On.
Watch: My Favorite International Spy & Political Thrillers. By Dish Stanley
The Sex Position Report. By Dish Stanley
In a recent poll, we asked CRUSH readers to share their favorite sex position. STAND Up, Missionary. We see you. A lot of Readers candidly admitted that “it might sound p.v. {plain vanila}” but they love it as a staple. “Intense eye contact” was the most frequent reason given
The Rituals of Comfort. By lady Verity
“Comfort is an expansive word. There is day comfort, night comfort, bed comfort, couch comfort and certainly kitchen comfort and it goes on.”

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram.

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The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?


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Weinstein The Friendship Files By AKA Darla The Golden Bachelor The Hole. By Kiva Schuler The Holiday Anti-Checklist By Liza Lentini The New Menopause By Dr. Mary Claire Haver The Perfect Snowy Saturday. By Jeanne Bosse The Ritual of Comforts. By Lady Verity The Sex Position Report. By Dish Stanley The Solo Series Thee Timeless Travel Books. By Bob Guccione Jr. Things To Let Go Of. By Dish Stanley This must be the place To get all of us, subscribe. Top Ten Jazz Albums To Soothe Your Soul. By Lisa Ellex TOPIX Transitions Travel tips Treats: A Sex Toy Tester Update Under The Radar Series. By Dish Stanley Valentines day what dead to me taught me about family. Who Are CRUSH Readers Grateful For? Women of a Certain Age Whose Style I Admire You're My Medicine Your Big Green Heart. By Liza Lentini Your Love Is King & Queen, GQ Zits a poppin Zoning Out in Comfort. By Dean Christopher