Menopause is in the air for over-50 women. Despite that fact, it’s rare to find anyone who’s talking about the change with honesty, humor and grace, which, let’s face it, would make it a whole lot easier to deal with. Recently, we discovered a voice of menopause that speaks to us all through music: Ellen Bukstel, a Florida based singer-songwriter who tells it like it is.
Ellen also writes and performs songs about tough topics like domestic violence and politics but, we have to admit, what speaks to us most is her menopausal music on the track “Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Me?’. Never before have mood swings, loss of libido and hot flashes been so openly discussed in the universal language of music.
Ellen says, “Those of us who have reached a certain age know just what I’m singing about. The funny thing is, in the five years since we wrote it, it’s become more culturally acceptable to say the ‘M’ word in public and have open and honest discussions about it. Women in general have become more outspoken about it, celebrities like Sally Field talk freely about it and drug companies advertise products to alleviate symptoms. Also, the old myths about things like women losing their libido have been debunked in the meantime. I think the song resonates because even those people who have not experienced it personally know someone who has.”
We were able to chat with Ellen to ask her some questions about her work including her latest release, ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’. Here’s what we wanted to know, and what she had to say about The Big M.
Viva Fifty.- Some women just don’t want to talk about menopause or even hear about it. Do you meet such women? What about the men?
Ellen Bukstel.- I wrote the song “Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Me?” over 10 years ago in 2003 with my good friend Nancy Wuerzburger after commiserating for three years with friends about our “hot flashes,” “cold sweats” and everyone’s concern for their libidos (my libido being very much intact, thank goodness!). The moment after I performed the song for the first time, it became immediately evident that the subject resonated with just about everyone, including men and partners who were very directly affected by it. The song soon become one of my most requested songs and most memorable lyrics to fans.
I have never met any woman who did not want to talk or more accurately, commiserate about her menopause and the effect that it has on their life, relationships and family.
VF.- Aren’t you scared that will pigeon-hole you or does that not matter at this point in life?
EB.- Not scared at all and I do not worry about being pigeon-holed. I would rather say that I have a reputation for writing songs that make people think, laugh and cry and sometimes all at the same time. I write many topical songs and menopause is just another interesting phenomenon affecting the lives of half the population in most parts of the world.
VF.- What would you say to women who are reaching midlife and are scared, because they feel they’re running out of time or haven’t fulfilled their dreams yet?
EB.- The truth: “We are never too old to have a happy childhood!” I have been a graphic designer for 40 years and a musician on the side. I am now, at 62 years young, a semi-retired designer and pursuing my music with a vengeance, writing, performing and without hesitation, speaking my mind and sharing five decades worth of growth and wisdom through my songs. Every day we wake up it is a new opportunity to do something special or important for ourselves and for others. Seize the singular special moments in life and live them to the fullest, like each day was the last.
There is a line in my song called “Real Woman” that says. “There is no such thing as middle age… cause in the book of life it is just another page.”
VF.- We love that! What would you say to the male partners of menopausal women during this time in their lives?
EB.-Get a good grip and try hard to be loving, compassionate and understanding of your partner – get educated about it and most of all, don’t fight over the thermostat. Just buy a winter coat!
Ellen’s lyrics are irreverent and edgy while maintaining a unique humorous truth we find endearing. If you’d like to listen to ‘Is It Hot In Here, Or Is It Me?’ pick up a copy of her new CD ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ or find her live as she plays venues and events across the country.
Watch Ellen performing “Is it Hot in Here”: