For the three-dimensional joy of it: As we’ve celebrated all week, this year’s Olympics featured many midlife women, and some who are inspired by them. In the Washington Post, Jill U. Adams writes of being  drawn back to the balance beam, inspired by today’s winners as she once was by Olga Korbut:

The girl I was then is long gone, faded into a two-dimensional past and packed away in file boxes. Yet for a couple of years I visited her in an adult gymnastics class, where I relived the three-dimensional joy of throwing my body into the air, connecting midlife back to adolescence — and discovering who I am.

As a 40-something mom, I was just trying to get some exercise. And yet the exhilaration I felt in this class went beyond the successful coordination of sensory and motor operations. I knew where I was, up there flirting with the tops of things, because I had been there before. This time, my achievement was unmarred by teenage feelings of unworthiness, and it brought me sheer pleasure.

The problem that rarely speaks its name still gets some attention. Most of us remember our first spider or varicose vein: that moment of “oh no!” And for a number of midlife women, those veins turn into something quietly serious.

“I was always in pain. I wasn’t comfortable standing up or sitting down,” shares the United Airlines pilot, who often flies a Boeing 777 from Washington, D.C., to China. “You think you can do something to get more comfortable, but you never are.”

Tired of the pain and discomfort, Wheeler headed to her doctor, but he didn’t have the experience or a solution to help her. Instead, he referred her to Dr. Michael Wolk, a vascular surgeon, who diagnosed her with venous reflux disease, a condition that causes varicose and spider veins.

Wolk, who runs the Practice Restoration Vein Care at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Campus in Ann Arbor, discovered that Wheeler’s veins weren’t shutting properly. Normally, small valves in the veins don’t allow blood to flow toward the feet. In her case, the malfunctioning valve was allowing blood to flow toward her feet, causing the vein walls to stretch and leaving visible bulges. He recommended a catheter-based intervention, a procedure called the VNUS (pronounced vee-nus) Closure, a ground-breaking surgical procedure that takes less than an hour and allows patients to jump off the surgical table and resume normal activity within 24 hours — as Wheeler did.

Some more inconvenient truths
: Diane MacEachern, founder and CEO of the
green-lifestyle company Big Green Purse,  writes that she’s impatient
with politicians’ tendencies to limit their environmental platforms to
energy issues. She has a few words of advice to both political parties as they assemble their priorities:

Eye makeup.
Consider our exposure to toxic substances. From the water we drink to
the soaps and lotions we slather on our skin to the toys that entertain
our children, we face a daily assault from chemicals that wreak havoc
on our reproductive system, cause cancer, and increase our likelihood
of contracting diseases like asthma, blood poisoning and heart failure.
Right now, the cosmetics industry regulates itself, which is why many
manufacturers of lipstick, make-up, shampoo and perfume continue to
include phthalates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and unnecessary
antibacterial agents in their formulations.

Protecting wilderness is
another area of critical concern. Both candidates Barack Obama and John
McCain would safeguard the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil
drilling. But what about other sensitive ecosystems? Any serious
presidential environmental agenda should embrace proposals like
creation of the Yellowstone-to-Yukon wilderness corridor and the
addition of several million acres to the national wilderness system.


Now take a minute to consider the migratory songbirds in your backyard,
along with the tropical plants that provide the basis for 25% of all
disease-fighting pharmaceuticals. I’ve just returned from a trip to the
Amazon basin, and I can tell you, the rainforest is still being burned
down to make way for cattle ranches that supply fast food restaurants
and soybean plantations that power ethanol distilleries. It should be
at the top of the next administration’s agenda to lead a global
campaign to ramp up protection for rainforests and biological diversity

— Chris L.

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