The Magic of Menopause


Lorraine Miano, an Integrative Certified Health Coach, sent me her new book: The Magic of Menopause, A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back. I admit the title set me back a bit – after all, it used to be that books on menopause were either dry medicalese or overly perky treatises that only served as a further irritant during the throes of menopause.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lorraine didn’t shy away from all the suckiness of the Change. She freely shares stories of her transition as well as that of others. Then she moves on to offer helpful options and solutions for beginning to survive and then thrive during the Big M. With humor and heart, she offers a guide to beginning to indeed “get your happy back”.

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Beyond Hesitancy: A Midlife Leap of Faith To the Unknown

Sand and Sea © lynette sheppard

Sand and Sea © lynette sheppard

Sirena Pellarolo shares an inspiring story of how to create a vibrant Second Adulthood in this wonderful guest post. Enjoy!

Beyond Hesitancy: A Midlife Leap of Faith To the Unknown

Guest Post by Sirena Pellarolo, Ph.D.

“Over and over I’ve watched peri-menopausal symptoms resolve in women who’ve had the courage to negotiate the rapids of their midlife transitions consciously and in an empowered way in which they finally give their own needs high priority” (my emphasis).

Christiane Northrup, M.D., The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change. New York: Bantam Books, 104

I’m finally rocked by the magic murmur of the Ocean. It’s soothing and sometimes haunting. I’ve been yearning to live by the ocean for decades, and I always thought it would be impossible. Who would have thought the solution was right in front of my very nose? I just needed to change my perception and open up to the possibilities. As an appointed Sirena, I knew that my Oceanic Mother Iemanjá wanted me close to her healing waters. Now I am, and I feel that each day that I spend in her presence, I’m closer to my own core, my aquatic essence. It took me courage to push the hesitancy aside and just do it.

The story I’m sharing is an exemplary tale of how we can make positive and self-supportive changes at midlife. By telling my story, I wish to convey to other women that it’s safe to listen to our own intuition and follow our deepest dreams. As midlife women, we’ve lived too long making sure that those around us had everything they needed, be they family members, co-workers or bosses. It’s our time now, time to pay attention and listen when our soul beckons us to release more life, be more of who we really are without apologies. The more we do it, the closer we’ll be to our own self-expression and fulfillment.

Take my case. I spent a whole lifetime of obligations as a single mom. Strayed away from my own artistic, mystical inclinations when I migrated to the US with my family of two baby daughters and an artistic husband who refused to give up his own art no matter what happened. Although what I am going to share was probably a biased perception, at that time I felt that I was the one who had the sole responsibility to anchor my focus on the day-to-day survival of the family. I created a life crisscrossed with duties, and although I did pursue a career that was close to my heart, the freedom and creativity that I craved became repressed and acted out in ways that –I see now–, could have been avoided by just letting out some steam and addressing the longings. Too much rational work as an academic thwarted my poetic nature until I hit peri-menopause at forty-five, and it then became unavoidable to shed the masks I had donned to perform the victim role that didn’t fit me anymore.

In a recently completed chapter titled “The Masquerade is Over: Shedding Masks at Midlife,” included in the collection Menopause Mavens, from Mayhem to Mastery, I recall the incredible transformation that I underwent fifteen years ago: the opening of the path that has brought me where I stand right now. Prompted by a series of psychic upheavals and deeply symbolic events, I ended up renaming myself and changing the course of my life forever by simply acknowledging my deepest desires. However, looking back at that transformation, in the mentioned piece I acknowledge that I wasn’t able then to fully “embody the greatness of la Sirena,” as I did not dare to “cross completely the threshold” that separated the old version of myself with my magnificence.

In her comments, the editor of the anthology addresses my hesitancy, “this feels like your next book topic – how to fully embody the new you and releas[e] the hesitancy…. how to explore what the blocks [we]re, [in order] to really embodying her.” I truly appreciate Jane’s feedback for it propelled me to start working on a book guided by my own process of identifying and overcoming my inner fears. In turn, I use this acquired self-knowledge to guide women who have been holding on for too long to old limiting belief systems and behaviors and discover at midlife that they can feel happy, creative and fulfilled.

After my peri-menopausal wake up call, I slowly but surely started to pay attention to the stirrings of my soul and allowing my intuition to move me, tentatively at the beginning, with more courage and heart in recent years. At fifty-five I underwent another turning point when I retired from my position as a professor to pursue my passion and calling as a healer. But the real pivot happened in the past six months, during the last of a five-year transition from full employment to retirement, as I was building my practice as a certified Holistic Health Coach. I plunged into the revamping of myself by listening closely to my yearnings towards service, as I knew I had so much to offer other women by just sharing what I had learnt in my own healing experience.

During those five years, I had consciously embarked in the process of stripping myself of the accoutrements of my old profession, by deepening my spiritual practices and learning everything I could about how to become a heart-centered health practitioner. I knew that this last year of my semi-retirement, was going to be crucial to catapult myself into my new career. Interestingly, several external events inspired me to take a radical leap of faith toward the unknown.

My younger daughter Violeta and her husband decided to leave Los Angeles and move back to Boston, where Andrew and his family are originally from. They were also expecting a baby, my first grandchild! In my various visits with them–and more intensely when BB James was born in July–, it became very clear to me that I had to move out of Los Angeles and start a new life elsewhere. I didn’t know where, but it became crystal clear that I had to let go of a city that had ran its course, and de-clutter my life from old stuff that didn’t serve me anymore.

“I renounce everything to have it all” became the theme for this process of letting go. The admonition haunted me, I repeated it as a mantra, and its meaning helped me move forward. I breathed it, I prayed it, I dreamt it. As soon as its profound meaning became flesh and I stood in the power of that calling, I willingly started selling or tossing everything that I felt was cluttering my life. The more I got rid of, the freer I became. I was feeling lighter and ready to tackle the next stage of my life with a clean slate.

This was the time when my older daughter, Paloma–who had been living with me and was the original instigator of this process of decluttering–, decided to leave Los Angeles too. Wow! I was alone now… Why would I stay in this city past December, when I would be fully retired? It was a perfect opportunity to let go of a place and a lifestyle that had had me running around trying to be productive, spinning my wheels to provide for others and really slow down, catch my breath and recoup all those dreams I had put in the back burner twenty-five years before, like writing and traveling.

These past six months have been the most liberating of my life, as I got rid of things, situations and places that were imbued with the clingy energy of self-limitation and frustration. As I released, I was making space for the new to sweep me up ad move me forward.

In my need to simplify my life and focus 100% on my healing practice, the calling for travelling and going back to the simplicity of Latin America, where I’m originally from, started to haunt me. I wanted to visit my aging mom in Buenos Aires, and spend time in my beloved surfers’ beach of Santa Teresa in Costa Rica.

In mid December, after I posted the grades of my last classes, cleaned up my office at school and sent the 30 day notice to vacate the rental place I had lived in for the past five years, I still didn’t know where I’d go come mid January. However, I was certain I’d receive guidance and stayed in trust that the right place would reveal itself in due time.

Sure enough, one morning in meditation I got a download to reach out to an old friend who had been my grad school classmate from the early 90s, and ask him if he had a room available in his beautiful ocean front home in Baja California. I knew this was a long shot, because my friend is very private and really cherishes his aloneness and is content sharing his ample home with his four cats. In addition to that, he rarely checks his email and doesn’t have a cellphone. Very difficult to get in touch with him!

By the beginning of January, I still hadn’t heard back from him and already assumed that my request had not been well received. Until one day I finally got an apologetic email about the delayed response, where he assured me of his delight to have me share his home with him. I was elated at this and speeded up the process of packing up, storing and getting rid of my last belongings.

As I look back, I really don’t know how I did it, how I found the courage, determination, patience and persistence to go through this protracted process of letting go and trusting the intelligence of the Universe in the process of moving towards my next stage in life. But the fact is I did. Now that I’m settled in this beautiful home, facing my beloved ocean, allowing myself to be rocked to sleep by its continuous cadence, I look back and take stock of this experience that can serve as an example of how to change around our lives at midlife.

Sirena Pellarolo, Ph.D.
Midlife Midwife and Holistic Healer
Co-author of Menopause Mavens: Master the Mystery of Menopause

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Vaginal Dryness – Affects One in Three Women

High Sierra Flowers © lynette sheppard

High Sierra Flowers © lynette sheppard

Wow. One in three – that is a lot! (There are a lot of us baby boomers that have come of age.)

Menopause brings many changes and one that really affects our intimacy is vaginal dryness. The folks at Genneve are committed to helping with this with their special lubricants designed to mimic our natural moisture. They sent me some samples (and since, yes, I am one of the one in three), I will be testing it. In the meantime, enjoy this video that brings the topic to light.

You might want to check out the blog on their site too – lots of great info: click here

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Drink Wine, Lose Weight

To Your Health © lynette sheppard

To Your Health © lynette sheppard

I love a glass (or two) of wine in the evening. But I’ve felt a little guilty – I mean all those extra calories. I was sure they flew right to my hips, thighs, and buttocks. At 125 calories a glass, it adds up. I already have sufficient padding, thank you very much.

Now I’ve consoled myself (read rationalized) that  the health benefits of wine balanced out the caloric devilment.  I loved that wine decreased my risk of heart disease, provided antioxidant anti-aging resveratrol, not to mention offering  significant psychological benefits of mellowing me out after a stressful day. But never in my wildest dreams did I conceive of wine as a weight loss adjunct.

Oh happy day! Three recent studies show that regular wine intake can prevent obesity and may even help women lose weight.

Harvard University studied 20,000 women over 13 years and found that those who drank two glasses of wine per day were 70% less likely to develop obesity than their non-imbibing counterparts.

A University College Medical School of London study of 43,500 female participants over eight years  found that those who drank a couple of glasses on a daily basis were 24% less likely to put on weight compared to those who abstained from alcohol.

Finally, our own CDC conducted a study on wine intake.  Of the sample size of 7,230 people, the drinkers gained less weight than non-drinkers. Conclusion: alcohol intake does not increase the risk of obesity.
And if that isn’t enough incentive to drink your wine, another study found that red wine increases HDL – the good cholesterol in your body AND can improve type-2 diabetes thanks to its ability to metabolize simple sugars into energy.

Why does this work especially well for women? Apparently, enzymes required to break down and use wine are present in lesser quantities in women than men. So we may actually use more calories to metabolize the wine than we are taking in.

OK, ladies. Join me in a toast to science, wine, and weight loss tonight!



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Change of Season

Squirrel Tail Barley © lynette sheppard

Squirrel Tail Barley © lynette sheppard

Greetings dear readers. Summer is nearly over, autumn is on the horizon. It’s time to take stock of things. Changes are part of the season and part of life. Change has come to the blog as well. Ashley has taken a full time holistic health position, which leaves her little time to contribute to Menopause Goddess Blog. We wish her well in her new endeavor and hope to hear from her in the future.

That said, Menopause Goddess Blog has been around for 15 or so years. In that time, we have covered just about every physical, mental, and emotional symptom of the Big M. If you want to know more about any manifestation or remedy, simply put it in the search box and all blog posts relating to it will show up. Really. Examples might be:  anxiety, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, research, natural remedies. heavy bleeding, and so on.

Rather than repeat these topics, I’d like to focus on new research, products, and remedies as they surface. Also, I will post on how we create a vibrant Second Adulthood and grow into the elders we wish to become. Posts will be at least once per month, sometimes more often as needed. As always, we welcome your thoughts, comments, insights, and questions. Women sharing wisdom, that’s what we are all about.

Stay tuned for our next post where I share the latest research on wine as a weight loss aid. No joke.

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Menopause Medley

painted aspens 1 © lynette sheppard

painted aspens 1 © lynette sheppard

This week we offer a medley of natural, simple helps for menopause symptoms. (And good advice for us post-menopausal goddesses too.)

Exercise for Hot Flashes

Strenuous exercise may reduce hot flashes. That’s right, two new studies published in the Menopause journal and the Journal of Physiology found that jogging or bicycling 30 – 45 minutes 3-5 times per week resulted in as much as 60% fewer hot flashes. That’s good news. Still, it might be worthwhile to train carefully and slowly increase your exercise tolerance to avoid injury. I’ve done brisk walking for years and recently decided to add a little jogging to my regimen. I ended up injuring my hip, which took a few months to heal.

My preference is always for low impact, aerobic exercise. Swimming might be a great option – you can get moderately strenuous workouts while in a cooling environment. (I’ve never had a hot flash in a pool or the ocean, just sayin’).

Superfood Bars for Women 40+

Bar and Girl Naturals have created some yummy  mini bars that help regulate hormones while providing nutritional support. Their bars contain maca root (which I profiled a couple of weeks ago). They also contain turmeric, flaxseed, nuts, and coconut oil. Check them out in the Menopause Marketplace.

Chocolate for Health

Dark chocolate is probably a major food group for menopausal women. Serotonin in chocolate flavenoids helps with irritability and mood swings. (Remember those major cravings just before your period? You were in dire need of serotonin.)

There is evidence that chocolate is beneficial to cardiovascular health. Those little flavenoids exert a protective effect on your heart and blood vessels.

The antioxidants can protect against free radical damage to your skin.

And last, but certainly not least, chocolate improves focus and brain function.

Eating a bar per week of dark chocolate is a necessary adjunct to a menopausal woman’s treatment plan. Yum.

Humor by PerimenopART

Kirsty Collett, a menopause goddess sister from New Zealand has created some wonderful cartoon musings on the menopausal condition. They are hilarious – and so true! Here’s a sample that she sent me:

© Kirsty Collett

© Kirsty Collett


Laughter and sisterhood may be even more important to surviving the Change than chocolate, exercise, or superfood bars. Luckily, we don’t have to choose just one. You can follow Kirsty on Facebook at




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Do Your Clothes Reflect Who You Are?

© meri walker

© meri walker

In my closet are a number of outdated outfits that I don’t wear, that take up space, that I’m saving “in case”. In case of what? That I might go back to speaking to businesses sometime? That the beloved relative who shares not one iota of my taste bought and I might wear just for him/her one day? That I might lose the 10 (okay 15) extra pounds and squeeze back into it even though I have no place to wear it? Every day I look in my closet, hoping for the intestinal fortitude to  get rid of all the clothes that are not reflecting “me” right now.

One of my favorite iPhone artists, Meri Walker, posted a fabulous piece on Facebook and the Joy of iPhoneography website. It was like she was talking right to me. She has given me permission to post it here as a guest post. The photo is hers as well.

Read it – you won’t be sorry. I swear this week, my closet will be purged of clothes that don’t suit that woman I am today.

“I Get That Some of You Just Don’t Get Me” She Said. © 2016, Meri Aaron Walker, iPhoneArtGirl, Talent, OR. All rights reserved.)

In response to my report yesterday on Facebook that my latest “creative action” has been a deep exploration of my clothes closets, a talented mobile artist, Kate Zari Roberts, wrote that every time she opens her closet, she wonders who bought those clothes.

I replied to Kate that I’ve been doing that for years! Like five years. Until last week.

Since moving to Talent, I have been wearing a very few things, mostly clothes I folded up and stacked on the trunk at the foot of my bed or hung on hangers in the door to the bathroom that I’ve been using as an art materials and medical supply storeroom instead of a master bathroom. Quirky wierd, I know. And it’s been my best effort to date. It was way too confusing after I bought a house in a tiny town where none of my big-city clothes made sense anymore. And besides, I started calling myself up on my iPhone all the time, making some crazy new kind of art. I could do that in jeans or my bathrobe. And I have been.

But something flipped in me last week. As I watched President Obama embrace Hillary Clinton on the stage at the DNC, and then heard her make a straight-up acceptance speech as the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, it felt like a San Andreas fault moved deep in me. And it moved a lot.

Not because I’ve been a long-time Hillary fan. In fact, quite the contrary. I have had sincere respect for her as a PUBLIC public servant who has remained focused on improving the welfare of women and children for over three decades. I have been inspired by her persistence and resilience in the face of relentless attacks by the Congress and the press and conservative political activist groups while she proposed new ways of doing things that had stopped working. I haven’t agreed with everything Hillary has done any more than I’ve agreed with everything any politician has done, including our current President, who I can’t help but love and honor at the same time that I’ve watched him take some executive actions that I believe are harmful.

But, something deep flipped when I heard Hillary say with simplicity and grace, “I get that some of you just don’t get me,” and then go on to make the case for her desire and competence to be President of the United States. That line, and the tone of voice with which she made the reset of her remarks, allowed me to welcome – in myself – who I have become as a woman while I’ve been treated like a third of a person for 66 years.

The immersion in my own creative process with my mobile devices for the last five years has reorganized my psyche. It hasn’t changed who I am but it has allowed me lightning fast access to capture, shape and share my personal, creative responses to my actual life experiences anytime and anywhere with a lot of people. Powerful, portable, affordable mobile tools – and the ease with which I can freely express my thoughts and feelings – have reprogrammed my “freelance shooter” mind to attend, full-time, to my own experience. After a lifetime of working “for the man,” these days I focus my attention on telling my own stories – with images and a few words – instead of hunting for evidence for others’ stories.

On this trip with my phone – from tiny Talent – whatever I was wearing has been fine as long as it had pockets and allowed me to move freely. This cut out almost all the big-city clothes I brought with me from Texas after a lifetime as a “stay-at-home Mom,” “working professional woman,” “female community activist,” “tango and ecstatic dancer,” “mid-life jock,” “nature lover,” “culture diva,” “sexually liberated feminist,” “printmaker,” and on and on.

What I had accumulated in my closets were either trophies or fresh, unworn armor – “fabric guns” – that had protected my tender woman’s heart against the blazing, unconscious, systemic misogyny that I have stepped into every time I left home to do something that mattered to me. I collected clothes the way men collect guns – to help me get what I needed for myself and my children and to keep the predators at bay – because I’m not a subservient woman.

And I’m far from the only American woman who has lived – or still lives – this way. There are all kinds of women in the world, not just cookie-bakers.

When Hillary simply acknowledged with grace and humor that some men – and women, too – “just don’t get her” because she’s wants to play big in the world, she shifted my understanding of how to hold the resistance I’ve felt about being an American woman for 66 years.

I realize that’s a funny thing for an American woman to say who’s had a big education, a big career and been a life-long feminist activist. And it’s simply true.

In the days since I watched Hillary speak, I found myself opening the closets, pulling out everything, and physically re-experiencing what each of my different fabric guns has done for me. Living in the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” when you’re a woman, you’re always, always, always in danger – and more so if you’re a woman who resists being treated like a third of a person. I started sewing my own clothes when I was seven and I have loved creating and collecting clothing that would help me take care of myself as a woman. I put the sewing machine away when I went back to graduate school. But it’s out now on the kitchen table where I’m looking forward to redesigning some pieces I love that still have happy-potential.

At this point, there are piles everywhere like the one in the picture above. They’re going to consignment shops and battered women’s shelters because I don’t need them and there are plenty of women who do.

I’ve been laughing my head off, putting what I am keeping together in brand-new ways to cover my now aging, sagging flesh in fun ways. I’ve been shrieking aloud when I come up with a new outfit from old pieces, delighted that I have had all the experiences I’ve had, and that I no longer need to keep clothes as trophies of battles won – or lost – or armaments I’m stockpiling to defend me in years to come.

The jig is up: we’re women. And there are a lot of people who just don’t get us. Dressing for success – so we look good enough to eat (attack) – is just too much goddamn trouble. And it cuts out the fun of being a woman who loves clothing because it’s beautiful.

Regardless of whether or not I agree with her every time, Hillary Clinton has made herself a model of strength as an American woman: a woman satisfied to continue her quest to build a safer and healthier world for women and children – even when so many “just don’t get her.”

Well, me too – I’m with her. Wrinkles and saggy arms and asses and all.

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Maca Root: Natural Support for Menopause

Daisy Chain © lynette sheppard

Daisy Chain © lynette sheppard

In keeping with Ashley’s most recent post about plants and their healing properties, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite remedies: maca. Maca comes from Peru, a veritable paradise of wonderful grains and healing plants. (Including the much maligned coca leaf, but that is a story for another time, girlfriends.)

Originally eaten by the Inca for strengthening and increasing energy, recent studies have found maca root to be helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms and returning our sexual vitality. Side effects? Virtually none, save occasional reports of gas with the raw version. (It is available in raw powder, capsule, or elixir.)

Maca root seems to work by balancing hormones and the entire endocrine system. Believe me when I say that our hormonal systems are interconnected and all of them need balancing after the Pause, not just our estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone.

I took maca root early on in my menopause journey – then I ran out and “forgot” to order more. Menopause brain, I suppose. Luckily, the wonderful folks at The Maca Team contacted me about trying it again. They sent raw red powder, gelatinized powder, and elixir.

Two of our goddesses have tried the powder and both are reporting better energy. One was suffering hot flashes again after losing fat and adding muscle mass. (Yep, fat is a great place to store hormones it seems.) Her hot flashes have decreased using the maca root and she is once again sleeping through the night.

I opted for the elixir and love taking it – I get lazy when it comes to powders. I know, ridiculous but true. A couple of droppers full three times a day and my vitality has definitely risen. Placebo effect? I don’t know, since I can’t split myself in two and conduct a controlled clinical trial, but any way I can feel strong and healthy works for me.

So many reports are anecdotal (stories by women like us) but more studies will likely bear out maca root’s health benefits.

Synchronistically, just as I was working on this post,  I got a note from ethnoherbalist Kevin Curran about maca and its role in relieving menopause symptoms. To learn more about this wonderful plant medicine, please visit Dr. Curran’s site .   It’s fascinating!

For more information or to order maca root supplements, visit The Maca Team website. Let us know how maca root works for you. We learn by sharing our wisdom and experiences with one another, so don’t be shy.

Interesting side note: Every time I try to type ‘maca’, autocorrect changes it to ‘mama’. A message or sign? Maybe not. Then again, maybe.

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Plants talk about menopause: their simple message

Plant people

Know me by name

I’ve always been intrigued by plants ~ every since my mom began pointing out flowers and announcing their majestic, exotic names: “hyacinth”, “agapanthus”, “hydrangea”.  So it wasn’t a leap for me when I started to learn about the medicinal properties of the plants ~ that people had been using them to treat everything from bruises to insecurities since time immemorial.

Modern herbalists come in all shades. My yearly dive into plants happens at the Northern Californian Women’s Herbal Symposium where practitioners teach about herbal traditions from all over the world – including Ayurveda (India), Traditional Chinese Medicine, European, Western (Native American). Then there are the ethnobotanists, nutritionists, sea weed specialists, Mayan uterine practitioners, and more.  Common to each is her appreciation of the symbiotic relationship we’ve been having with plants since time began.

I want to share with you, my menopausal sisters, my take-away from the blend of these century-rich traditions and modern scientific explorations.  As with any distilled wisdom, it’s really simple.  The key to a healthy perimenopause, according to Sarah Holmes, co-founder of The Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine, is to support our body’s natural tendency to maintain homeostasis as our bodies are always trying to stay in balance.  In other words, our task at menopause is to focus on balance.

Balance is a continuum

As we come into this next phase of our life cycle, balance starts with coming into a compassionate relationship with ourselves.  We accept this is happening, we bitch and complain about its inevitability, we mourn and regret ~ and then we put on our big girl panties and figure out how best to navigate this turn of the tide.  Identifying how to bring more balance is the first step.  But we’re going to need a good store of resilience and flexibility to maintain that balance.  Step two is to expand our range of balance, that is, to actually increase our cache of balance. Similar to having bolsters in the hull, so to speak, when it comes to keeping ourselves upright no matter how choppy the waters get.

Okay, got the metaphor. But how does that translate into what’s happening now?  What do the plants say about these fluctuations that are turning me into someone I don’t recognize?

Patterns of balance and imbalance

Since our bodies speak, we notice, in our bodies, emotions and spirits, repetitive patterns that are pointing to imbalance.  Herbally speaking, the task at hand is to support our bodies until balance is restored. (This approach is in contrast to the pharmacological way of taking over or suppression the functions of our bodies, until balance is restored).

Let’s break that down a little more: When we experience inflammation, pain or heat (that includes hot flashes and being pissed off) that’s imbalance.  When we don’t rest or spend time with friends, that’s imbalance.  When we don’t pay attention to what our body’s trying to communicate to us, that’s imbalance. 

If our task at menopause is to show up, become our true selves and be in our power to be examples for the younger generations, balance includes: resolving our unresolved trauma and family stuff; stepping away from outgrown jobs or environments, especially ones where we’re disrespected; and being brave and trusting enough to look at those shadowy areas that we’ve hoped would go away by now. It’s time for us to figure out how to a good, wholesome, healthy human in this day and age.  No mean feat, mind you.

That’s where the plants want to help out.  Using herbs to support our bodies until balance is restored can occur in many forms: it can be making dietary changes; it can be mixing your own herbal teas (infusing flowers and leaves in hot water overnight or simmering roots and berries for 4-8 hours); it can be consulting with a herbalist in your area; and it can be growing your own plants and being ‘fed’ by your relationship with them. There are wonderful resources, books, websites to explore outside the scope of this overview of plants at menopause, many of which you can find in our archives here at MGB.

Herbalists have introduced me to perspectives that seem so simple, but as I mature they guide me with renewed depth and wisdom. Their message: we are an integral part of nature, over the millennia our bodies and the plants have evolved together, the plants are our allies and our healing is intimately linked with and dependent on them. 

Thank you, Mom, for introducing me to them by name.

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Menopause and Intimate Relationships

Distressed Love © lynette sheppard

Distressed Love © lynette sheppard

More than just a decrease in libido can cause significant strain in the most loving, troublefree relationships during Menopause. In this blog post, we examine irritation and feeling disconnected from our intimates.

My husband once remarked that it was a wonder that more couples don’t get divorced during the  Big M transition. And certainly it’s true that if we who are undergoing this forced journey don’t understand much of what’s occurring, our mates and loved ones are left completely befuddled.

The combination of physical changes and emotional changes can put a strain on the most loving relationship. Loss of libido, depression and apathy, irritation with everything your loved ones say and do, fatigue, hypersensitivity to noise, temperature, and touch are just a few of the manifestations of this hormonal rollercoaster ride.

Christiane Northrup, author of The Wisdom of Menopause, starts her book of 500+ pages with this sentence “It is no secret that relationship crises are a common side effect of menopause.”

Okay, well it may not have been an intentionally kept secret, but I sure never heard anything about this. (Or any other of the myriad manifestations of the hormonal sh*tstorm we call the Big M.) And I’m a registered nurse for pity’s sake.

Dr. Northrup goes on to elucidate that whatever is wrong or dysfunctional in your relationships will be greatly exacerbated by menopause. I think that is true.

However, in all my talks and sharings with menopause goddesses and their loved ones, I’m finding that a huge amount of upheaval can exist in the most functional relationships.

The Venuses spent a significant part of every meeting focusing on our primary relationships. Suddenly sexual desire disappears. We may not have leisure time interests in common with our spouses. The kids are no longer a focus.  How then do we connect with one another?

And now our intimates want to spend more time with us (the men are changing, too, don’t forget.) We are just beginning to explore our creativity and may want to spend more time alone or with girlfriends  How do we reconcile these needs with our desire to be connected with our loved one?

It has been all too easy to assume that every freakout or episode of bitchiness is hormonal – “oh she’s just going through menopause”  rather than a legitimate reaction to circumstances.

Additionally, deeper difficulties may be brewing or problems long ignored have just come to the surface.

However, it is just as deluded to assume that this sea change isn’t hormonal. Especially if the change is fairly dramatic, seemingly without warning.

Theresa and I found that we went from zero to sixty on the irritation meter in seconds during the worst of our transition. Talking with the other Venuses showed us that we were not alone.

It became clear to us that we needed to ascertain when our anger was a legitimate problem, a true trampling of our boundaries versus a hormonal side effect. Let me tell you truthfully, it can really be hard to discern the difference.

Looking backward, I can offer this advice. Proceed with caution and take it slow. We found that irritation might flare up in a circumstance that we could certainly rationalize as being justifiable anger. But we often decided not to act or say anything right away. We mused. We waited. We paused.

If we were still pissed off in a few hours, we reevaluated and decided on a plan of action for confronting and discussing the problem. If our irritation had literally vanished, we knew that hormones might have played a part. And we let it go.  No harm, no foul.  Especially no harm. To us or anyone else.

(A little history sidenote here – none of the Venuses is a shrinking violet, unused to sharing her feelings, including anger. If you have always contained your anger and irritation, this may not be the best plan for you. You may need to let some anger out. After all, some Change is good!)

And some good news.  The worst of the emotional and hormonal upheaval seems to last around two years, give or take a year. So be patient. Get to know your irritation levels; when they require intervention and when they don’t. Warn your loved ones when you feel especially out of control so they won’t take it personally. Best of all, they can support you. They love you.  They want to help.  Let them.

(Part of this post was adapted from a previous entry in 2009. It’s still relevant. More about this in the next post from me in two weeks. Ashley will post next week.)

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