Tag Archives | lynette sheppard

A Paleo Diet May Help With Menopause

Ginger Mint Shrimp © lynette sheppard

Guest blogger Allison Thompson shares her experience with the Paleo diet to relieve symptoms and make the menopause transition easier. Enjoy!

Foods I Enjoy That Help Deal With The Menopause

Hi there, my name’s Allison and I have been going through the menopause for almost 4 years now.  In fact it came as quite a surprise to find out I was in the peri-menopousal stage. I had a friend who thought I was having problems with my thyroid.  So she suggested that I see her doctor.  Before he even prescribed anything I had to had several blood tests carried out. Once he had received confirmation he prescribed some natural treatments.  Along with iodine that I needed to drink in a glass of water, he also prescribed a natural progesterone cream.  This I had to apply each evening before bed.

I decided to do as he suggested for a year.  But then I made a decision that I wanted to see if a change to my diet and lifestyle would help me more.

About this time my husband was looking for ways to lose weight.  Again my friend came to the rescue by giving us some books relating to the Paleo diet.  So I decided to give it a try.

It was difficult at first. I couldn’t find much about Paleo for menopause.  Even so I decided to stick with it even though I wasn’t as strict with my diet as some others are. During the past 4 years I have learned more about what to include in my diet.  But I don’t rely on food alone I also take some supplements.  The ones I take have been suggested to me by reading up about menopause online.  The main ones I include in my diet are Red Clover and Magnesium. But what I want to share with you now are the foods I eat on regular basis. These are the ones I include, as I’ve found they help me deal with the menopause effectively.


Broccoli

I actually love eating broccoli.  I either boil it for a few minutes or steam it.  Occasionally I love to at it in to stir fry’s.   The reason I eat so much broccoli is because it contains calcium, that my body can use. Like me, you are probably aware that during the menopause your estrogen levels have gone down.  But including foods that contain calcium will help to reduce the risk of bone loss.  Of course including dairy in your diet is another great way to get the calcium your body needs.

Flaxseed
I love adding flaxseed into smoothies as well as putting it on top of some fresh fruit with yogurt.   Not only am I getting more fiber in my diet I’m also getting a food rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.  So it’s helping me to keep my heart and arteries healthy. But one other benefit to be gained from this food is that it contains certain estrogen compounds that our bodies need.

Almonds
As I follow a Paleo lifestyle I like to include almonds along with other nuts into my diet.  I tend to use almond flour in place of conventional flour when making baked goods or pancakes.   The great thing about almonds is that they contain a type of fat that can help to slow down the aging process.   Plus for women going through the menopause, these nuts are rich in magnesium and Vitamin E complex.  Both of these help to reduce the symptoms often associated with the menopause. The only problem is that I don’t eat enough of them.  To help me further, I take a magnesium supplement each evening.   By doing this I find that I sleep much better at night.  Okay, I may still wake up occasionally with the night sweats, but not that often.  In order to help combat this situation, I take the Red Clover supplement I mentioned earlier.

Eggs
My husband thinks I eat too many eggs, but I don’t agree.   Not only do eggs provide me with a good source of protein, they also provide me with a good source of Iron.  I include them in my diet as I am still quite active.  In fact this morning I started a HIIT class close to where I live and will be doing the same twice a week.

Fish
I love all types of fish. I’m especially fond of salmon, cod and sardines. The great thing is I live in Spain and we have some really wonderful beach bars close to where I live. So we often take time out to visit them and enjoy fresh sardines.  These are ones that they cook over hot coals. Eating this fish ensures I am getting sufficient amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids in my diet.  Not only is it helping me to keep my skin in shape but it helps to keep my energy levels up.

Liver
I love liver and enjoy cooking it on a regular basis. I tend to opt more for cow or lambs liver as they don’t have such a strong taste. But I also like to use chicken livers to make my own pate.   Liver is rich in Iron and also Vitamin C complex. I’ve found including this food in my diet helps to reduce menopause symptoms.

One thing I think I should mention relates to eggs and meat. If you can, try and opt for meat where the animal has been fed on grass.  As for eggs, then go organic. If you cannot find grass-fed meat go organic.  Also make sure that you choose the leanest cuts you can. All of these will help you to stay in shape and will provide you with essential fats that your body needs.

BIO:
Allison Thompson, a mother of 1 daughter who has been living in Spain for the past 12 years.  For the past 4 years, she has been following a Paleo lifestyle that has helped her to deal with the effects that going through the menopause can have on women, without the need to use any kind of medication.

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How to Get the Government to Care About Women’s Health

Caduceus I © lynette sheppard

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog over the years know that I am endlessly frustrated about the lack of research on women’s health issues, particularly menopause. Cassie, RN and ehealth informer gives us practical steps in this call-to-action guest post. Let’s go for it!

How to Get the Government to Care About Women’s Health

As a woman, you’ve almost certainly experienced gender bias in some form in your lifetime. One place you probably don’t think about experiencing the adverse effects of gender stereotypes is with your health care provider. Unfortunately, gender bias is a real concern that is harming women’s health in definite ways.

The gender bias problem in health care means women often don’t receive the same level of attention and consideration from their medical providers as men. This can lead to women unnecessarily struggling with chronic pain, with enduring needless procedures and being incorrectly diagnosed with anxiety and other mental health disorders. Gender bias also means issues related to women’s health receive less attention and funding than health problems experienced by men.

Since the idea of gender bias in health care was recognized in the 1970s, advocates for women’s health have been documenting and researching the ways women are discriminated against in health care.

By understanding and recognizing gender bias in health care, you can help protect and improve access to nondiscriminatory health care services for yourself and all women.

Speak Up

As women, we are often taught to be deferential to authority figures, such as medical professionals. If a doctor tells you your symptoms are related to anxiety or psychosomatic in nature, it can be tempting to accept the diagnosis and attempt to live with the discomfort as best you can.

Remember, you know your body better than any medical professional. If you’re sure there is something wrong, then stand your ground. Refuse to be put off by a diagnosis that doesn’t relieve your symptoms. Keep asking for tests and referrals to specialists until someone discovers the source of your problems. Don’t allow yourself to be convinced you don’t know your body.

By pushing back against medical professionals who attempt to minimize your symptoms, you will be more likely to get the care you need.

Contact Your Representatives

Though you might not realize it, the government has a lot of influence over medical research. Through the Food and Drug Administration and various grant programs, the government directly influences research across a wide spectrum of the medical industry.

Currently, much medical research skews toward primarily understanding how diseases and medications affect men. As women, though, effects of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease present very differently in women than they do in men. Inequality in research means treatment for serious diseases is focused on what works for men, leaving women to utilize treatments that may be less than effective for our gender.

To help effect change, you can reach out to your congressional representatives and let them know you support legislation requiring government-funded medical research to include gender considerations, such as the Research for All Act. As more women let legislators know we are aware of the problem of gender bias in medicine, and we support fair and equitable research practices, representatives will be more likely to take up the cause. Representatives can draft legislation requiring researchers to give equal consideration to the ways women are affected by medical issues to receive state and federal funding.

Support Women’s Health Organizations

Organizations such as the Sex and Gender Women’s Health Collaborative, the Stanford Center for Health Research on Women and Sex Differences in Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Office on Research on Women’s Health are all working to improve the gender bias in the medical community. Some of the organizations are working with medical schools and nursing programs. Others are working with legislators to change the laws governing approved methods of medical research. NIH has changed the requirements for grant funding to ensure researchers are testing effects on both male and female subjects to ensure the results of any research apply to both genders.

You can support the organizations working to end gender bias in medicine by joining in discussions and events, volunteering your time or contributing money toward their efforts. These organizations are contributing many resources to promoting equality in health care, and they need our support to continue their important work.

Don’t Give Up

If you are fighting a battle against gender bias in your personal health, it might feel as if it’s one you can’t win. Hearing your doctors tell you the symptoms you’re experiencing are “all in your head” can be frustrating and demeaning. The important thing is not to give up. Insist the doctors listen to you and review all of your records. Keep insisting until you find someone to listen.

Organizing all your medical records in one place so your providers can see your complete history, including the results of any tests, the details about your condition and the dates of treatment will provide undeniable proof of your symptoms.

You can get an app such as My Medical or ChartSpan to record everything related to your medical history. If you are concerned about privacy issues when accessing your medical history on a mobile device, consider using a Virtual Private Network to encrypt your network connection and protect your medical records.

In our modern world, there is no reason women’s health care should be subject to the antiquated gender bias that currently exists in our system. We all need to speak up and demand to be heard and treated for our actual symptoms instead of being told we are imagining our illnesses. As human beings, we all deserve quality medical treatment, regardless of our genders.

Author bio: As a woman and a nurse, Cassie loves writing about women’s health and wellness issues. Helping women live healthier, pain-free lives is her dream come true.

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More Visions of Retire Meant

Flower Spiral © lynette sheppard

We received so many great responses from you all – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I wanted to make sure that these visions didn’t get lost in the comments, so am posting them in this blog entry. Be sure to read to the end, where R shares some concerns about retirement. We all learn from sharing our wisdom with one another, so thank you again!

PK wrote:  

I’m 64 now. I’ve been working since I was 10, at one gig or another. Can’t say I was dedicated to most of those gigs – they were a way to make a living, to support my other interests. Some of them were more intrinsically interesting than others, and one aligned with my higher purpose and felt really satisfactory. For the last 6 years I’ve worked from home primarily as a virtual office manager for a company based on the mainland. I’ve investigated the Social Security retirement plans and am staging a 2-year withdrawal from this company. However, my husband may get a full-time college professor job this year – and then I would retire almost immediately. What would I do with myself? I can think of about 1000 things – but first volunteer with children, be the full-time artist I’ve wanted to be all my life, garden, bake, be a domestic goddess, raise chickens. I look forward to it.

JM shares her own vision: 

Aloha Ladies, I am 61 and still have a 17 year old son at home. He is a jr in high school. Im still so very active being a mom and a grandmother to 11. I teach hula 3 times a week plus work. Being a photographer I can pick and choose my work times. I get a little sad thinking that one day coming up my son will be moving on. I see his excitement and dont want to dampen his enthusiasm for moving out of moms house! So this has been good for me to read as most of you have already passed this point years ago. I am not sure exactly what I will do, but Im sure traveling will be in the picture! Hula keeps me thriving so Im thinking of moving into taking classes to become a Kumu Hula. The older I get the more important relationships are, all relationships including my ancestors. I personally feel there is a whole new world waiting for me.
Yes I have sleepless nights, yes I still get too hot and then too cold. I just giggle and dont let myself get caught in any drama over it. I feel very alive and healthy.

K is looking forward to retirement too:  

As I approach retirement from about 3-1/2 years out — I think about it more and more often.

Right now, I feel like I am in kind of a transition or rehearsal phase. When I take a planned day off from work, I try to mimic what I would do if I didn’t have to report to the grindstone ever again. What would I do if I had my time as my own?

Most times, I try to spend some time in nature, taking a short hike on a trail I haven’t walked before and really open my eyes and drink in the textures, smells, and sights I will have the time to savor in the future.

I think a lot about the type of retired grandma I want to be. I want to be an active and a fun one to be around. One of my daughters is not too domesticated, so I’d like to expose her daughter to some of my favorite pasttimes (embroidery, sewing, gardening) that she otherwise doesn’t get to experience. (I’ve already begun that, but want to continue if it’s something she wants. I learned so much of this kind of thing from my grandmother).

Since the out-of-doors is important and nurturing for me, I would like to share that with my grandkids and continue to with my husband as long as possible. I see camping and many local hikes in the future. There’s a wonderful group of older women who maintain trails and camp together; I’ve been dreaming of joining them.

I branch out my thoughts to the dark times, winter and days when the driving rain keeps me indoors. I like to think I will busy myself finishing long-abandoned projects, starting new ones, taking classes on old and new hobbies. There are many groups who meet in our library system for conversations on local issues, arts, hobbies, travel, foreign language practice, and of course, books! I look forward to accessing those.

So, I guess what retirement means to me is that it is a trigger for the next exciting life series! I’ve done the rest—here comes the best! It’s a time of becoming enriched and enriching the lives of those you love. Of not letting life simply pass by, but enjoying and savoring every moment.

Still, not every woman is looking forward to retirement. R, a menopause Goddess sister from Portugal shares her concerns. I suspect she is not the only one of us caught in some conflict about these changes. Here’s her heartfelt musings:

I’ve found Menopause Goddesses blog by chance, sometimes I read it with the most attention, and sometimes not I have to say.
Retirement subject is not very close for me yet, I’m a Portuguese 55 years woman living near Lisbon our capital and this year the allowed retirement age as come to 66 years and 3 months, or 60 years age and 40 of discount career for pension found, this last option with 6%/year tax and a sustainability tax of 13,8%, resuming, too much limitative for us to think about it, unless you think to live your retirement begging. Situation in Portugal is not friendly for those that think retire sooner than official age.

Although the approaching of that stage of live for my husband, that is 5 years older than me, scares me a lot, besides work he always count with me next to him for everything and I’m afraid to feel myself under a dominance I’m not used to.
I know that in US young people leave their parents’ home when they went to university but in Portugal we have not that tradition, only the students that have less score classifications go to universities outside their residence area.

My 2 daughters with 33 (the older is a journalist and actually is working as public relations) and 26 years (she’s a nurse) have study near and they’re still living with us.
The difficulty to rent or buy a flat in our country is huge for young, and the salaries sometimes are not enough to face their responsibilities sooner, they are now both thinking to rent a flat and share expenses, this situation is causing me the feeling of empty nest, the past 35 years I’ve been first a mother, a wife and less a woman so I’m feeling lost and I don’t know my role any more, I’m beginning to feel also the weight of menopause literally (both: body weight and feelings).

Sorry if I extended myself too much but we still feel this subject as banned in our society, the women don’t like to show their disability to face this stage of mind and always try to show themselves very open mind, with millions of activities, dressing as teenagers sometimes acting if their daughters were rivals.
Thanks for sharing with us.

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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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Maniacal – Pause, A Humorous Menopause Poem

Tropical Toast © lynette sheppard

Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s make 2017 a year we thrive rather than simply survive. And what better way to begin our posts than with a good laugh (we sure need it.) Author Tracey Maguire shares her humorous take on the Change. Enjoy!

MANIACAL-PAUSE
Written by Tracey Maguire (Author of ‘THE WORKER IN ME’)

She’s a hotbed of volcanic blasts
And often has the blues
She’s red and raw and sweaty
And always wants a snooze

Her husband doesn’t know her
There’s a certain kind of pall
It wasn’t always like this
He’s been driven up the wall

It’s a waste, and a futility
To think that there’s a cure
For nature takes the best of us
And steals our whole allure

It’s a time, a place, and milestone
Don’t share it with a crowd
The secret curse of menopause
Just silent suffering allowed.

What’s all the fuzz about?
Why the fluid retaining?
It’s transformation to old age
While tummy weight is gaining

She fights alone her hormone hell
She doesn’t want to boast
No puberty or change of heart
But a slow and steady roast

She buys a fan, nudes up at night
Her husband, he gets chancy
Her heat is high, she’s burning up
Cold showers are her fancy

It’s basted and it’s burning
A bitter pill to taste
When everything is said and done
A mid-life change is faced

Tracey’s book The Worker in Me goes on sale April, 2017. Watch for it.

 

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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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The Magic of Menopause

magic-of-meno

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
www.sirenapellarolo.com

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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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