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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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Black Friday Comes Early This Year

Tangled Turkey © lynette sheppard

Tangled Turkey © lynette sheppard

Slumber Cloud, one of my favorite product websites is having an early Black Friday sale – up to 40% off! Here’s the link – sale lasts from now until Nov. 28. Don’t miss out – we menopausal goddesses NEED a comfortable, restful night’s sleep.

Here’s the link: http://try.slumbercloud.com/black-friday-cyber-monday-sale/

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. We are grateful for all of you! Together we will not only survive, we will thrive. (And no, I’m not going to share diet tips or workouts – let’s just enjoy a lovely holiday without guilt. Besides, it is such a wasted and wasting emotion. Say it with me: Gratitude, not guilt. Gratitude, not guilt, Gratitude, not guilt. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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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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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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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 https://www.facebook.com/PerimenopART?__mref=message_bubble

 

 

 

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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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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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