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Retire Meant: A Few More Thoughts

Blossoming © lynette sheppard

It was a delight to hear so many optimistic, exciting visions for retirement from goddesses in answer to our query. I decided to look up the word “retirement” in the dictionary. Here’s what I found:

noun
1.  the act of retiring, withdrawing, or leaving; the state of being retired.
2.  the act of retiring or of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age
3.  the portion of a person’s life during which a person is retired
4.  removal of something from service or use
Those are some wornout, even depressing definitions. Luckily, we are creating our own definitions and making it up as we go. Most of us baby boomers started out rebelling against the status quo and I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. So here is a my definition of retirement: “a phase of life where one’s own priorities and desires dictate contribution to the whole.” In other words, we decide how we thrive and give back – whether it be gardening, mentoring grandchildren, or volunteering. And give back need not mean externalizing – I met one goddess recently who moved to an island to find and create her own “Walden Pond” to her family’s surprise. She follows her passions of writing and living primarily outdoors. So how does she give back? By simply being fulfilled. It’s a joy to be around those who are following their dreams and modeling living comfortably in their own skins.
I’d love to hear your definitions of retirement – post them here in the comments or email them to me at lynette@9points.com.  Here’s to our next great phase!

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Retire Meant – Menopause Goddesses Share Their Visions

Sunrise or Sunset? © lynette sheppard

Several of you responded; others are still thinking about and crafting their replies. Here are some of the visions shared by our readers. Enjoy! I surely did!

MB shared:  “I am not retired yet. ( I am soon to be 56 years old. ) BUT, I’m in college now, dual enrolled for two professions, pursuing a dream to work on my own terms and from home using all the experience I’ve gained working for the healthcare industry for the last 30 years in customer service.  I am 2 semesters away from my first college degree!  And 3 months away from a new credential!

So retirement to me looks like a home office, my dog next to me, my husband running our video game store at the local mall, and being on call for my second job as a Clinical Medical Assistant to get my “people” fix when I need it!

I am glad I’m at this place in my life- hot flashes, weight gain, no- filter -mouth and all.  It’s trying at times, but it’s my life and I’m making the best of it!”

BT responded with these thoughts:  “I enjoy your blog posts very much and just had to chime in about my thoughts regarding retirement.

Recently I had to really give this thought as I realized I had many emotions around it. I’ll be 54 in July. Recently, my 57 year old neighbor retired from a job she worked at her entire career and off to a warmer climate she and her husband went for a few months. While yes, I’d like a little more time in the sun, perhaps doing less at times, I couldn’t help but think what it must feel like to have devoted your whole life, often working more than forty hours a week, to now not working.

It brought up those transitional periods in our lives when we can feel lost, as I’ve felt a few times in my life. I wonder how it is affecting her as she was very devoted to her work. I’ve also been with women going through transition from a job they were very dedicated to until what is deemed “retirement age” and now not sure who they are anymore – as if they lost their identity and sense of purpose.

As I sat with the many feelings, I realized how it’s important to me to keep making an impact with my tribe that I continue to build. And how making a difference is so important to me and leaving a legacy, not necessarily as what I do, but in hopes that I help people (especially women) feel good about their lives and find meaning in them. I don’t see as that ever ends, but something that is so important to me and my own vitality because it feels good to my soul to make a difference where I can.

So thanks for the question and asking for  feedback. I’ll be curious to read what others have to say!”

CH offered these gems: Retirement (“the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work”) . . . well, to me
who had a wake up call in my late 40’s that there was more to life than my narrow
perspective of my job, I think perhaps there is a more enlighten way to view this
transition. Leaving behind the work schedule allows us to connect with life in a whole
new way . . . discovering the opportunity to connect with passion.

I am amazed at the narrowness many view retirement . . . travel. I am reminded of my
soul sister in the NW (Anne Fangman who published her memoir: Mustard Every Monday:
From Secluded Convent to International Travel) responds to those wondering at her
retirement party if she was going to travel? “Been there, done that! I’m going to
stay home and enjoy life.”)

Opportunities abound once we don’t clock in and clock out. Watching friends nearby has
been a wonder to watch as they grapple with the time on their hands and how they
discover ways of connecting with themselves, others and “nature.”

I am looking forward to your posts on retirement!!!

CR shared her experience:  “Time is both your friend and your enemy … you do not have to get everything done today because yes, there will be tomorrow,
you do have time if you choose to have coffee with friends which was not possible very often when you are working..
but you also have funerals on a much more frequent basis …
I find I make it a priority to go to the Y several times a week
both for fitness but because sometimes those are the only people I see all day or all week.
I have started cleaning out my house I have lived here a very long time.. so when something happens My son will not have to do much…
I now have time to learn things i have always been interested in
and not be bothered with stuff I just don’t care about… there are things you do for others because you care about them , but I am much more selective about them.  Time is the most valuable commodity in the world .. and when you retire you realize it is more valuable than you ever realized . I make time to be with people that make me laugh; that has not always been an option .. now it is.
I look at retirement as a gift … and I am lucky to be here.”

BeFabRevolution is retiring on her own terms: “Hi Ladies, I am soon going to leave my nearly 25 year career as a corporate consultant. I have loved it. It has been interesting and often challenging, but I’m just over it. I’ll be 58 later this year and have had an overwhelming need to reinvent myself.

I am “retiring” from a strict schedule, but am too sharp and energetic to not have a new, more interesting challenge.

I have been laying the groundwork for nearly the past 2 years to launch a new business, catering to women age 50+. I launch the business next week. Woohoo!

Lynette, I need you as an expert speaker for 2017!!! I am so excited! I guess my “retirement” comes in being my own boss and being of service in a very different way.”

And a very treasured response comes from my own mother:  “As an 82 year old, find that life is what you make it. For me life is great as i have a great daughter and son-in law. Love is so important !”
Betty    AKa mom

Vibrancy comes to mind when I read these visions. Any other thoughts, insights, ideas? Put them in the comments or send them to me at lynette@9points.com  I look forward to more wisdom, questioning, input. Thank you so much to those who shared so generously! Virtual hugs to you all!

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Retire Meant

Flying Free © lynette sheppard

Fifteen+ years ago, Theresa-Venus and I had one of those life altering conversations. We were going through perimenopause and wondered if something might seriously be wrong with us. No one told us that all these horrifying symptoms and maladies were going to come with the Big M. We thought that maybe we’d be a little warm once in a while and never have to worry about wearing white pants again.

That conversation spawned the Menopause Goddess Group, our book “Becoming a Menopause Goddess”, and this blog. On average, we have 35,000 visitors each month. That reinforces the fact that we are not alone. We’ll keep this site going – well, as long as we keep going.

Theresa and I had another of “those talks” a couple of weeks ago. A few Menopause Goddesses we know are retiring this year and looking forward to it. It got us to thinking, though. What does retirement mean to each of us? In what ways will we create a vibrant life after “work”? What does it look like to each of us to “retire”?

Before we share our thoughts and feelings, we’d like to hear from you – how do you envision retirement? Or if you are retired, what fulfills you? Is the reality of retirement different from your initial vision? What would you share with your sisters about retirement?

We look forward to hearing from you – write your answers and musings in the comments or email lynette@9points.com  Don’t be shy – this site is about women sharing wisdom – we want to hear from you.

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New Year’s Intentions

fireworks for blog
I don’t make resolutions anymore.It’s too freaking stressful to make them and subsequently break them. I do make intentions, however. Intentions for me are large global visions of how I want to live for the next year (and maybe longer.)

I am in the habit of drawing an angel card each morning. The one word on each card serves as a daily focusing, a mantra if you will, for noticing or expressing a certain quality throughout 24 hours.

For example, today, I drew Kindness. Musing on kindness throughout the day allowed me to slow down when my cat was walking all over my keyboard and just pet him for awhile, rather than push him away. Work could wait. And it did. I was nicer to the people I met in town and even to myself, usually last on the list.

Similarly, I’ve found intentions to be helpful for me in focusing on a larger scale, on defining what might be important to me to notice and embody for the coming 365 days. Under each intention are ways in which I might accomplish it, but I am in no way absolutely wedded to them as goals.

That said, here are my intentions for 2017:

Notice and follow Beauty.
Photography
Prose: read and write
Butterflies – follow them.

Artify
Become an Art Activist rather than a politics watcher
App and paint photos
Write

Nourishment
body: exercise, yoga, eat healthy most of the time
mind: Scrabble, reading
spirit: solitude, music, time in Nature

Connection
Spouse: quality time, shared pursuits and adventures
Family: spend time w kids, parents, pets
Good friends: spend time

Celebration
Being on the top side of the dirt (that’s big!)
Each moment
Celebrate What’s Right With The World site

Give Back
Blogs
Healing Images
Art Activism (see above)

I will re-view these throughout the year – maybe find that some are easy to focus on and others need more attention. I use them as a sort of fuzzy logic compass to give my meanders through life a sense of direction and purpose.

I will eventually set goals as I focus more on my intentions – for example, within the intention of music, I want to learn to play ukulele. I’ll need to set a schedule of practice and lessons as well as determine how far I wish to go in this pursuit.

Your intentions may echo some of mine or they may be completely different. I offer mine only as a template and you may find a better way to define your New Year visions. Please share them if you do. That’s how we become Menopause Goddesses – growing and sharing. I wish you all a peace and joy filled New Year.

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Forever Painless – Is That Even Possible?

forever-painless-cover

Pain. It’s part and parcel of aging. We need to learn to deal with the various muscle aches and joint creaks as best we can. Unless that isn’t really true! What if we could indeed be “Forever Painless”?

That’s the title and premise of this new book by Miranda Esmonde-White. Author of Aging Backwards and host of the PBS show “Classical Stretch”, Esmonde-White lays out a simple, clear program of the right exercise for the specific problem area you are experiencing.

There are specific workouts (gentle stretching workouts) for areas such as Foot and Ankle, Knee, Upper Back and Shoulder, Hip, Lower Back and more. In addition, there are workouts for Connective Tissue, Arthritis, Stress, and Immunity. Even if we are not presently in pain (hallelujah), most of us experience stress and/or immune system decelerations. These exercises might also keep us in good shape if we are already there.

One of my favorite parts of the book was her take on our fascia – that webbing that was thought to hold our muscles, joints, and tendons in place. Like most health care professionals, I was taught that it was a matrix, a static structural part of our bodies. Esmonde-White writes about it as a fluid, dynamic system that also needs exercise and strengthening.

My intuitive self slapped my forehead when I read this. “Well, DUH!” I admonished myself. I saw my human architecture in a whole new way (I’m embarrassed to say that it never occurred to me.)

I love the stories of those who were able to heal themselves of pain that preface each chapter. While some of them detail some pretty significant difficulties, one can also see how these exercises can help those of us less afflicted. I love the gentleness, too – like Tai Chi, Chi Gung or Psoma Yoga.

Pain is draining. Pain can interfere with our quality of life. Pain can depress us and rob us of vibrancy in our later years. If proactive exercise – the right exercise – can alleviate pain and keep us actively healthy, sign me up.

I haven’t been this excited about a book in a long time. And you can bet that I am doing the exercises for hip tightness and immune function right now. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Here’s where you can get your own copy:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

About Miranda Esmonde-White
Miranda Esmonde-White is one of America’s greatest advocates and educators on healthy aging. She is best known for her PBS fitness show Classical Stretch, which has been on the air since 1999. A former ballerina, she designed the Essentrics technique, which uses low-intensity strength and stretch exercises to relieve pain, prevent injury, and slenderize the body. Esmonde-White works with professional and Olympic athletes and celebrities, and teaches classes to thousands of students worldwide each year.

Follow Miranda on Facebook

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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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Cultivating A New Relationship with Ourselves

Ferntasia © lynette sheppard

Ferntasia © lynette sheppard

One hard lesson we learned – possibly the most valuable of this transition – was that the pivotal relationship we needed to cultivate was with ourselves. When it seems that virtually every molecule in our body has changed, it shouldn’t surprise us that we need to get to know our new selves. That truly is the first step in creating new relationships with our intimates. Oh sure, we all thought we knew ourselves but further examination made us completely rethink that premise. Here’s how we started the process.

Me – meet Me

The mantra of midlife women “I just don’t feel like ME anymore” serves as an call to awakening.  Who WAS I?  More important,  who AM I now?  Perhaps our increased need for time alone has a purpose.  We need to become acquainted with the changeling emerging from the upheaval of our bodies, psyches, and beleaguered spirits.  We must question ways in which we have known ourselves prior to now.

We identify ourselves by the roles we’ve played in family and society.  We also have ideas of what describes us – quiet, outgoing, sensitive, impulsive, etc.  Identities and descriptions make up much of what we think of as ‘myself’.  These roles and ways of being are familiar and comfortable, if not exactly the dreams we thought we would live.  In getting to know a new SELF, we must first relinquish these familiar identities.  We need to let go of them however much they may resemble a life preserver tossed upon the stormy seas of so much change.

We addressed this in one of our Menopause Goddess gatherings with the following exercise.

“Letting Go of the Old Me” Exercise
Cut up heavy unlined paper or cardstock into pieces big enough for one or two words to be written.  (approx. 1/2 inch by 3 inches each is a good size.)  Give each woman 30 pieces of paper and a pen.  In silence, each Venus writes down one role or description on each piece of paper,  eg.  homemaker, nurse, artist, spiritual person, wild woman, sister, daughter, mother, and so on.  When finished hold all your roles and identities in your hands.  One by one, put them down, feeling the sensations and emotions of letting go of each one.  Take as long as needed – noticing how it feels to shed each identity.  When all your papers have been relinquished and your hands are empty, just sit quietly and notice what is left.  How does it feel to be without your roles?  Without your descriptions of who you are?  Don’t forget to breathe.

After 5-10 minutes of sitting quietly in this fashion, slowly begin to pick up your roles and descriptions one at a time.  Notice this time how it feels to reclaim each identity.  Are there some that are easier to take back?  Some that are burdensome or seem irrelevant?  Are there surprises?

If you’ve done this exercise in a group, (definitely the preferred way), those Venuses who wish to may share their experiences.  This serves to deepen and validate the experience for all.

For some in our Venus group, this exercise was deeply emotional, with great pain experienced on ‘giving up’ some of our most cherished identities.  Others were equally surprised at the ease with which some roles dropped away, like burdens laid to rest.  We found ourselves re-thinking the roles we have adopted until now and contemplating releasing those that no longer serve us or others.

The most important epiphany of the exercise involved feeling what was left when we let go of all our supposed roles and identities.  “Something” essential still remained.  An authentic being with value apart from what she does or how she is perceived exists when we give up all our identities.  Each goddess might be well served to acquaint herself with this essential ‘she’. Our ‘aha’ discovery of Self without proscribed identities led us into a discussion centering on another relationship that we wished to cultivate in midlife: our spirituality. We’ll touch more upon this in our next blog post.

This post was partially adapted from “The Big M” by Lynette – ebook version is called “Becoming a Menopause Goddess.”

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Forging New Relationships with Intimates After Menopause Part II

Fractured © Lynette Sheppard

Fractured © Lynette Sheppard

Love Will Keep Us Together – But How?
Closeness in intimate relationship is more than just physical. It’s emotional and mental as well.  What constitutes connectedness on a day-to-day basis?  Shared interests and tasks create an atmosphere for feeling connected.  For some Venuses, the children once provided such a focus.  However, the emptying of the nest means new linkups need to be found.  Other Venuses have been focused on helping their husbands with business or work projects, yet now are questioning whether they wish to continue in these endeavors or to search for interests of their own that stimulate them in new, creative ways.  The first questions for midlife goddesses, who have traditionally as family nurturers (womb-men) been absorbed in the lives and interests of their loved ones, are “what do I really want?”  “What are my interests and desires, independent of others?” “ If I weren’t trying to please, what would I do, try, be?”

We invite you to join us and listen in on the initial conversation:

Theresa-Venus – “It’s hard when your  partner is so into physical activity.  I feel like if I don’t engage in physical pursuits with him, we’ll lose some of our connection.  He’ll just do those things with other friends, and we’ll drift apart.  We’ll lose some of the connection that comes from shared interests. And I also don’t want him looking at me thinking, ‘Boy she’s getting old, she’s slowing down.’”

Beej-Venus – “I tried to learn golf to be with my husband more.  Yet he won’t try ballroom dancing or some of the things I’m interested in.  It seems to me that we better have SOMETHING in common for our golden years.”

Jane-Venus – “I go skiing to spend time with my husband, because he loves it.  But if I’m really honest with myself, I don’t want to ski the runs he enjoys – it’s scary.”

Lynette-Venus- “So where’s the balance between doing what we want vs spending time with them?  How much is quality time and how much is based on our preoccupation with disappointing them?”

Wow, big questions!  We realized that we might have to ponder these and others for a while.  Are we spending time together to strengthen and nurture our relationship?  Do we even enjoy the things we are doing with our spouses?  Are there other ways to connect?  What do we really want?

Sandy-Venus claimed that she has been less plagued by this issue.  “I always knew how to balance my own needs and interests with my spouses.  I’ve only dated four men in my life,” she quipped.  “Of course, they were in thirty seven different bodies.”  The Venuses snorted with laughter.

Courtney-Venus was especially quiet during this interchange.  “What if you’re not sure you want to forge a new relationship?  What if it’s not meant to be?”  The rest of the goddesses turned their full attention to her.  “I’ve been with this man for 5 years now, and at first it was really great.  Most of the time, it’s still good.  But he doesn’t like my children.”  A chorus of “He’s outta here.” “It’s over.” ensued.

After the hubbub quieted, she explained that her children were grown.  Only recently had one moved back home, coming and going “like a ghost”,  still managing to annoy him by being in his ‘space’.  “Holidays are painful, because I love a big family get-together for Thanksgiving and Christmas – and he hates it.”
Okay, Venuses are about support and the search for truth.  We asked her to verbalize the pros and cons of remaining in this relationship.   Although as a group, we felt that the kid issue was non-negotiable, a deal breaker, the decision to go or stay was Courtney-Venus’s and hers alone.  Our job was to help her find a little clarity.  The more she talked, the more she defined what wasn’t working.  “I feel like I’m always guessing.  What did I do now that I didn’t know about?”  “Still,” she sighed.  “ A lot of the time things are stable, even fun.”  Finally, Bobbi Venus asked a pointed question.  “How do you feel when you come home and see his car in the driveway – are you excited or disappointed?”  Courtney’s eyes widened, “I feel sick to my stomach.”

There wasn’t any more to say.  In this way, the Venuses were able to support one of our own in a difficult examination of her life and where it was headed, through listening, prodding, and caring.
Exhausted, we went to bed.

This post was partially adapted from “The Big M” by Lynette – ebook version is called “Becoming a Menopause Goddess.”  It’s interesting that one isn’t ever really done working on these questions – we spent time in every meeting revisiting aspects of relating to our intimates. Over time, we’ve gotten better at creating time and space for ourselves while creating that new relationship (or in the case of two of us, moving on.) One of the things that helped, weirdly enough, was actually reading the book out loud to our mates, so that they could see how universal our questions and symptoms were, how they and we were not alone in working to start our relaionships anew. No longer was it “Why are you like this?” or “What’s wrong?” but how can we address this unplanned change together. It opened a real conversation rather than a disagreement and paved the way for understanding – on both sides. Stay tuned for more on this important topic.

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A feminine take on menopausal hormones – part 2

Two weeks ago (in part 1) I put my faith in your body’s wisdom. I suggested that “by changing how you see your hormones, you can actually change the way they make you feel.”  What? No discussion about bio-identicals? Or phyto-estrogens? Or progesterone decline? Or (name your hormone) gone awry?

Okay, let me just say this from the get-go. This is not your run-of-the-mill balance your menopause hormones conversation. Instead of discussing what to take to get those darned hormones to balance like they did in 1999, I’m offering what the women I counsel find far more helpful for their long-term health and sanity: 1) the real cause of menopausal symptoms and 2) some pointers to lifestyle and attitude changes that can sustain hormonal balance for the rest of your days.

When hormones become symptoms

Menopause, when defined by its symptoms, is bloating and mood-swings, heavy bleeding and insomnia, hot flashes and foggy brain, desperate irritation and parched hoo-ha’s. How are these seemingly interminable and highly unpleasant symptoms connected to your hormones?

Simply put – when your hormones are out of balance, you get symptoms.

However, the culprit isn’t your hormones …  it’s stress that turns ‘hormones’ into symptoms, not the
hormones themselves. This is really important to understand. Your hormones aren’t to blame.  When you ‘develop’ symptoms, it’s not like developing an illness or catching a virus. That’s why unless you address the things that are stressing you out, ‘treating’ your hormones won’t bring about the fundamental balance you’re looking for.  Put another way, your symptoms have one message for you: “CHANGE!” they say. “Tend to things that are stressing you and you’ll get symptom relief.”

Of course, I’m not saying don’t try and make your life more comfortable as you go through The Change.  From homeopathic suppositories (to make me juicy down there) to Lugol’s Solution (to boost my thyroid), and all kinds of things in between, perimenopause has turned me into my own walking laboratory. Wait, I think I might always have been a little adventurous when it comes to natural remedies, but things feel a little more urgent now, don’t they?  Clearly, by tending to the larger picture of the things that make you feel anxious, stressed, furious, helpless or discouraged your hormonal balance will find its life-sustaining, cruise-controlling sweet spot that feels so good.

How to support your hormones: step one

[Spoiler alert: step one might be the hardest part].

To apply a more feminine approach to supporting your hormones (see part 1 for more on this approach), you first need to align your attitudes about a smooth menopause with your intention to support your body.  This is easier said than done, as it means changing some very old habits when it comes to how you treat yourself. Here are some pointers:

  • Cultivate a trusting, open relationship with your body. Learning to listen to your body is the most important step in owning your health.

           Some ways to do this:

         ⃟   tune into your body when you exercise (instead of scoffing down People magazine on the treadmill)

         ⃟   pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods (feeling bloated is a really helpful sign of discord)

         ⃟   be guided by a ‘body whisperer’ (somatic counselors or body workers who collaborate to bring you back into authentic communication with your body)

  • Love yourself. I know we always come back to this one, but this is true hormonal balance therapy. Choose things that attainable and nourishing and, most importantly, enjoyable!
  • Expect accountability from yourself. Stay clear about your intention – you’re wanting to feel better, have more energy and more fun.
  • Get involved with your health. Wean yourself off relying on ‘experts’ to know what you need to make way for an intimate dialog with your body.

Here’s the good news. When you make these changes, your body responds and your hormones shift from imbalance to balance, without needing to ‘fix’ them. It’s kind of alchemical –  how changing one area balances something elsewhere.

Tending to the larger picture: step 2

Your hormones respond to your whole life. How you experience your daily life, things like love, respect, sensibility, regard, comfort, appreciation, gratitude, and self-love – these keep you humming along.  I know you see this over and over again, but these are your best hormonal balm:

  • healthy food (eating well is crucial to stable hormones)
  • rest, relaxation and sleep
  • family, friendship and support
  • pleasure, laughter and fun
  • spending time on you – especially if you’re tending to others’ needs a lot
  • self-care and nourishment sisterhood and community
  • healthy emotional boundaries – and the best medicine of all – love, gratitude and integrity

What does “hormone love” look like

Here’s what you have to look forward to as you come home to your body:

  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you’re not afraid of them. Instead you know how to listen to them to make adjustments (the language of your symptoms)
  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you aren’t ashamed of them. Instead you get excited about the sensitivity and diversity and understanding you now have access to as you transform into your full-womanhood or wise-womanhood.
  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you don’t feel controlled by them. Instead you reap the huge healing benefits of collaborating with your body.
  • When you’re in a loving relationship with your hormones, you notice what’s making you uneasy in your life and you reduce stress to bring it back into balance

We’ve most of us got the memo by now.  Apparently, menopause isn’t for the feint of heart. Maybe that’s why it comes along when you’ve gathered some life experience, a little insight into how the world works and hopefully some self-reflective skills to boot.  With your big girl panties hiked way up high on your hips, you bide your time in the chrysalis, being guided by your hormones to find your balance. Until, one day, you burst forth – emboldened and empowered …

Adapted from Ashley’s upcoming book, The Conscious Menopause Survival Guide.

Want to chat live online with me and other women this Thursday, April 7 @ 9-10am PST? Symptoms and Stress – the link to relief is our topic. Sign up details are here.  (If you can’t be there in person, you can watch the recording in your own time).

Ashley offers Conscious Menopause coaching in San Rafael and via Skype.

You can read more on her website ashleyjeanneross.com.

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Elderhood: Embracing New Values

 

Opening © lynette sheppard

Opening © lynette sheppard

After menopause, aging can jump to the top of the concerns list. Aging comes with a multitude of changes. Some of them are disconcerting in the extreme: droopy skin, aches, jowls, invisibility, hot flashes and the like.  These changes require adjustment and acceptance. They are here to stay.

However, some of the changes are nothing short of marvelous. If I were offered the return of my physical youth in exchange for the wisdom accumulated atop my wrinkles, I’d turn it down. Oh, I’d think about it for a minute or two, to be sure. But it seems to me that the gifts far outweigh the losses; at least so far.

One of the biggest gifts has been a change in the values that are most pivotal in my life. I sat down to make a list of how my values have morphed over the decades.

Value harmony and understanding more than being right
Being right is not all it’s cracked up to be. Being right means someone else is wrong and these days, it just doesn’t seem worth it. I’d rather find common ground or try to understand another viewpoint than be right.

Value silence as much as discourse
Actually, I value it more. When quiet, I can feel others and connect on a more elemental level. I have found that presence and togetherness do not require spoken word. Silence is no longer uncomfortable to me, but a soul satisfying cloak that I can wrap around me.

Value kindness more than mental acumen or braininess
I used to be wowed by those who were smart, quick, clever and strove to be like them. These later years have me admiring and emulating kindness and compassion more than accumulated knowledge. I am deeply drawn to those with emotional intelligence.

Value presence more than accomplishment
Our culture perpetuates doing to the exclusion of being. Small wonder that so many of us feel guilty when we aren’t accomplishing (yes, I fall prey to this all the time, but I’m working on it.) I am in awe when I meet those who make no apology for being, who relax in their non-doing moments.

Value plain more than fancy
I love plain food, comfortable clothes, just hanging out with friends and family rather than big excursions or amusements. The fancy or complicated things feel like they sap my energy rather than filling me up. Less really does feel like more these days.

Value learning more than teaching
This is weird. We elders have a fair amount to impart and may take this responsibility quite seriously. Yet, as I age, I am struck also by how little I really do know and can revel in the pure joy of learning without putting pressure on myself to “do something with it” or succeed. As far as I’m concerned, we get an A just for trying.

Value self deprecating humor over sarcasm
I’d rather laugh at myself or the human condition in all its sweetness than indulge in snarky humor. Besides, when I look at myself, there is just so much comic material that I need never stop chuckling.

Value internal peace over external validation
While I still check Facebook for the number of “likes” that Menopause Goddess Blog receives, it matters to me less and less. When I feel that I have given my best with an open heart, I feel centered and peaceful, less craving feedback from others.

Value communion rather than nomenclature
I really don’t care as much about the names of birds, plants, butterflies as I once did. What really thrills me is just hanging out with flora and fauna, feeling a part of the oneness of existence. OK, it’s a little challenging with cockroaches and centipedes, but they too have a certain quirky beauty.

Value taking time over time management
In the autumn of my life, I find that I just don’t get as much done. I’m not as productive or efficient. Many items on my to-do list are carried over for days, even weeks. This bothers me less and less as I surrender to the bliss of just taking time for myself. Daydreaming, writing, reading, walking are all as important as getting my chores done. Weirdly enough, the chores seem easier when I’ve taken time to just re-create myself.

What changes might yet be in store? I don’t know but I’m looking forward with curiosity, excitement, and some trepidation. So far, I like what I’ve discovered on this life’s journey.

Perhaps you also have values that have changed – share them here in the comments.  We learn so much from one another, so please don’t be shy.

(I originally wrote a version of this post for the Celebrate What’s Right Blog. I’ve found that during this time when so much can be wrong, celebrating what is right can ease the more daunting passages.)

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