Tag Archives | MenopauseGoddessBlog

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.

Comments { 5 }

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.”

Comments { 0 }

Forging New Relationships With Intimates after Menopause

Coupled Palms © lynette sheppard

Coupled Palms © lynette sheppard

Again, I want to thank all of you who let me know what topics you want explored as we step into our next phase of Second Adulthood. It didn’t surprise me that “forging new relationships” was a hot pick. We Venuses spent all of our second gathering and significant portions of our subsequent meetings digging into this part of our changing. With that in mind, here is Part I of what we discussed and learned.

Forging New Relationships With Our Significant Others
Next to ourselves, the people most affected by our midlife changes are our intimates.  Our spouses, life partners, and significant others are not sure how to relate to the entities who have seemingly taken over the bodies, hearts, and minds of their best friends.  They want the sweet, loving, sexual woman they used to know to come back.  Well, guess what, so do we.  But she’s nowhere in sight.

One spouse, when feeling amorous one evening, told his Venus, “Honey, I just want to make you happy.  I just want to give you pleasure.”   All the Venuses hooted and hollered when she shared this – we’d been there.  At this time of our life, when we are struggling with diminished libido, hot flashes, night sweats, and life-altering insomnia, pleasure seems an elusive dream. The first responses that had bounced into our heads luckily remained unshared with our well-meaning mates, but we voice them now.  “You just want to give me pleasure?  Then bring me a fan!”  or “Great.  Then just let me sleep.”

After the laughter died down, we set about confronting the real difficulties of reconciling the new us with the old them.  Oh sure, they may be going through their own changes, but let’s not muddy the waters with that just yet.  No, on second thought, we decided the waters were already muddy, so we’d better look at that too.

Leavin’ Libido Loca
One change that seems to surface with the “climacteric” (scientific name for menopause) in men is that they begin to “feel older”.  They confront their own mortality in a very real way.  No longer is death an abstraction.  Time is running out.  This can lead to questions (or obsessions) of virility.  It seems to us as if they believe that if they can still get it up and working, they are not old yet. Virility = youth. As a consequence, they may suddenly be wanting sex a great deal more.  “Hey, if I can do it 3 times a night, I’m still young.”  This increased interest in ‘doing it’  is in direct collision with our waning or hibernating sex drive.

While we were on the subject of sex and pleasure, several of the Venuses blasted the so-called sexual performance drugs:  Viagra, Cialis, and the like.   Despite the Hallmark-esque commercials’ rosy pictures of happy, satisfied couples, our goddesses denounced the use of these pills as artificial.  Worse, they felt that the drugs acted as a barrier to intimacy and sensuality, reducing this intimate act of sharing to a poor mimicry of teenage prowess, a contest of turgidity and longevity, a tractor pull between the bedsheets.  Yeah, baby!   We’re ready for ESPN!

Hey, guys!  Even if our libido were running full tilt boogie, (which we think we’ve already established, it is not) we wouldn’t want a sporting event in our bedroom.  We want closeness and sensuality – not endurance.  It’s not about the thrill of victory vs the agony of defeat.  It’s about being together physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Forget chemically.  The Stepford penis doesn’t work for us. It’s artificial and we hate it.  Enough said. (Note: this feeling was BEFORE any of our spouses suffered true erectile dysfunction – the drugs can indeed be helpful in those circumstances. The trouble was when the pills were taken when not truly medically necessary. Live and learn.)

Pillow Talk

Sexuality issues are sensitive issues, not easily talked about in even the closest relationships.  Yet until and unless we confront it in conversations with ourselves, we won’t be able to broach the topic with our intimates.  The Venus group provided a way to learn and share together, to gain understanding and grow strength, compassion, and courage for the scary, delicious process of creating new relationships with our old loves.

Okay, so what do we do?  How do we reconcile our diminished sex drive with their normal or increased drive?  Lei-Venus was able to talk to her husband about the changes in this way.  “Hormonally, it’s like I’ve become a little girl again.  When I was a little girl, I didn’t really think about sex.  And now, without the physical drive from my hormones, it just doesn’t come up on my screen.  Emotionally, of course, I’m still a woman in love with her husband.  So I just need to remind myself how much I love being physically close with you, and get myself in the mood for making love.”  As we mentioned earlier in the Help Chapter, Lei gets herself in the mood by reading romantic literature or watching a movie love scene.  Bobbi sets the stage with romantic dinner, music, and rose petals.  Little touches of sensuality help get her in the mood for love.

Recovering from Lost Libido

A additional wrinkle for some of the Venuses involved an increased emotional sensitivity on the part of their lovers.  These spouses expressed a desire for their mates to initiate lovemaking more often.  Perhaps this was just another side effect of the mortality/virility question, wanting to know if they are still desirable to us.  For our part, it isn’t that they aren’t desirable to us.  It’s that we seem to have forgotten desire altogether.  If we DID lust for someone, it would be our partners. Sandy-Venus summed it up when she said, “I forget that I like sex, until my husband approaches me, and we get it on.  Then I remember – hey, this is great.  We should do this more often.”  Like so many of us, she suffers from a sort of sexual Alzheimer’s phenomenon.

Alas, our libido seems to have gone to some netherworld, maybe the land of lost socks from the dryer.  Regardless of the lack of drive, we were going to have to find ways to maintain our physical closeness in our primary relationships.  Additionally, to honor our partners, we would need to be proactive at times, not simply submissive.  Most important, we realized that we have to TALK about physical intimacy with our mates, and how we are going to adapt and grow into the changes that we are experiencing together.

Bobbi-Venus and her husband set “dates” for enjoying one another physically to make sure that this aspect of their relationship isn’t neglected.  For the upcoming year, the Venuses vowed to pay attention to nourishing the physical connection with our mates, for ourselves as well as them.

Beej-Venus and her husband follow their therapist’s advice.  All they have to do is to set a date and both agree to show up naked with a smile on their faces.  If anything happens, so much the better.
(This post was partially adapted from “The Big M” by Lynette – ebook version is called “Becoming a Menopause Goddess.” These issues not only come up during menopause, but are prevalent after the Pause as well. A vibrant Second Act will mean creating new relationships in many arenas – we’ll talk more about intimate relationship re-creation and re-bonding in my next post in two weeks.)

Comments { 1 }

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.)

Comments { 3 }

An Affair of the … Body

Abbots Lagoon

Connected © Ashley Jeanne Ross

Yesterday I found myself diving into the depths of the earth – down, down, down into the fathomless, bottomless, infinite earth. Around me were other meditators diving down their own chutes. Yes, this is San Francisco, the land of the experimental. And yes, we’ve been know to explore some interesting landscapes. Only this time we were taking a journey with, and into, our bodies.

The idea of this body-focused meditation is this: by imagining you’re falling, you leave behind your regular or habitual thoughts, and discover who you are – when you’ve just got your body for company. It’s quite an eyeopener really. You’re forced into an intimate relationship with this one and only familiar ‘friend’, way down there.

Similarities with the journey of menopause abound. There’s that falling feeling when the bottom drops out, flailing in the dark depths, coming face-to-face with each ache and pain in your joints, in your heart, in your temperament.  It’s in the dark that your body begins to talk to you. 

Bodies talk really, really quietly and really, really slowly. So you have to tune in to hear it, especially if you’re doing a lot of running around.  If you ignore it – like when you don’t get enough sleep or when you hang out with that person who doesn’t treat you kindly – it has to start raising its voice so you pay attention. Then one day you begin to notice … 

The Language of Symptoms

The message is simple: tune in, learn to speak the language and the symptoms will show you what you need to change to regain balance in your life. Since you’re in The Change, your body is inviting you to join it – by changing the things that are no longer good for you.

Wait, why can’t you just find the things to fix your body so you can carry on with your life? Yes, by all means partake of the ingenious array of rubs and potions and modalities that we clever humans come up with (my recommendation is to stick with the natural solutions).  So then what’s all this about cultivating a relationship with your body? Isn’t it enough that you feed it, bathe it and use it for pleasure?

Let’s look at all this from your body’s point of view for a moment.  Day in and day out, you live mostly in your head.  Your life is made up of a pretty constant stream of thinking, talking, watching screens, reading, more thinking, more talking, more screens, etc, right? All the while, your attention is in your head. In fact you can get through your day without needing to be aware of your body at all. If your body was another ‘person’, we could reasonably call this relationship a tad negligent. 

You might go on this way, ignoring your body – until it rebels. Menopause is an open invitation for rebellion. Hello, hormonal flux. Hello, brain dissolution and restructuring. Hello, chronic aches and pains, weight gain, insomnia, constipation, vanishing libido, etc, etc.  These are the sounds of anarchy, right? 

Wanna know what to do about all this?  Throw in the towel? Kinda. Seek out help? Absolutely (and the best kind is from other women who are going through it too).  Tell everyone you’re no longer who you were? Pretty much. Learn a new language? Bingo!! It’s called the language of symptoms.  When you decode it, the clouds part and you’re on your way to a healthier, more appropriate life.

Appropriate life, huh? 

If you’re in peri/menopause, you have a decision to make. Either you can continue ignoring your body’s needs, or … you can enter into a conversation with it. If you choose to talk to it, here’s what happens: instead of blaming your body for your symptoms, you decide to collaborate. You support each other, you work together, you become curious about what’s really happening and why, and you look for solutions that address the cause instead of tending only to the symptom.  This close collaboration is what allows you to not only learn the language of symptoms but to begin to trust what you hear.

Here’s the good news: coming into your body is like coming home. Sure, the route home may be unfamiliar and the obstacles on the way may be uncomfortable or even downright excruciating.  But the gift of finding refuge in your self becomes yours when you tend to your most intimate and life-long relationship with love and respect – the one between you and your body. 

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

I’m so curious to hear what you hear when you listen to your body? Or is it hard to hear what’s going on? And what are some of the ways you’ve cultivated your relationship with your body?  Let’s talk about it: as dear Lynette always says, it’s in sharing this crazy, fascinating, soul-wretching journey that we come through intact …

Ashley offers Conscious Menopause coaching in San Rafael and via Skype. Join Ashley and women from around the world for the live Conscious Menopause Circles Series online. You can read more on her website ashleyjeanneross.com.

Comments { 2 }

What’s Important to Post-Menopausal Goddesses?

Arch of Celebration © lynette sheppard

Arch of Celebration © lynette sheppard

OK, wow. As of this post, I am officially no longer the go-to Menopause person at Menopause Goddess Blog. I’m thrilled that Ashley Ross has taken over that position. From now on, I’m the Second Adulthood blogger here. Ashley and I will alternate weeks posting most of the time, subject to change if one of us is on vacation, overwhelmed, etc.

Now that menopause is (mostly) in my rear view mirror, I find myself contemplating how I might spend the rest of my life’s time. Not that we didn’t spend hours discussing how we might best live a vibrant Second Adulthood during our Menopause Goddess gatherings – we surely did! It’s never too early to start looking ahead and crafting a vision for the future.

Myriad thoughts and ideas swim through my head. Crafting a vision is important, but so are the changes brought about by aging, coping with elderly parents, dealing with loss. So for this first blog post, I’d like to ask what you are most interested in reading and sharing.

Because that blank piece of paper can sometimes make the mind go blank (happens to me all the time), I’ll list some potential topics. Add others as you think of them. You can post them here in the comments section or email me at lynette@9points.com. That will let me know where you’d like the conversation to start.

Potential Topics
Retirement (or being unable to retire)
Finding a passion
Creating a new relationship (with either a new person or your partner of many years)
Exploring creativity
Caregiving
Health issues
Staying / becoming healthy
Looking good
Aging
Coping with change
Travel
Redefining yourself
Legacy and giving back
Grandchildren
Me time
Nurturing self
Nurturing others
Learning

These are just a few ideas – let me know which of these is most important or intriguing to you or send me topics of your own. I’m excited about experiencing this new adventure together. Again, my direct email is lynette@9points.com  Can’t wait to hear from my sister goddesses, menopausal and post-menopausal.

Comments { 6 }

Ashley Ross Joins Menopause Goddess Blog!

Painted Lady © lynette sheppard

Painted Lady © lynette sheppard

Drumroll please. I am so excited to welcome Ashley to our virtual menopause community. As a menopause coach and holistic health practitioner with a focus on women’s hormonal issues (and one who has journeyed this transition herself), she is uniquely qualified to take over the Menopause area of the blog. I’ll let her introduce herself to you in this first of many blog posts. (BTW, Ashley is available to help in person and also virtually via Skype – details at the end of the post!)

Ash-6

Hello everyone!

by Ashley Jeanne Ross

I am so thrilled to be joining the inimitable Lynette Sheppard and the Menopause Goddess Blog community as it changes and transforms just as we all do. Menopause is after all The Ultimate Change. And MGB is about to become a fuller and more collaborative mouthpiece for Gracious Transitions and What Awaits beyond.  What an honor!

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Ashley Jeanne Ross – holistic women’s health practitioner, counselor and coach, mother and lover of relevant and inspiring perspectives on this crazy and fabulous ride called life.

Here’s what I’m passionate about: I’m on a mission to eradicating the the obstacles that keep us from feeling at home in our bodies. With so many forces coming at us from when we were little girls until we arrive at our full womanhood – to turn away from or even against our women’s bodies – it becomes the Task of Menopause for many of us to ‘find our way back home’.

When I began working with women 20 years ago – balancing menstrual cycles, managing PMS, counseling mood swings, teaching natural birth control – women in menopause would implore me to help them, please! There was a tiny voice (you know that one, right?) that said to me: “Wait until you’ve gone through it – that’s when you’ll be able to really help them.” So I would refer them to other practitioners and waited for my turn.

It arrived almost 8 years ago, that day I began to feel The Change coming on … a story for another blog.

Since then, I’ve sat with hundreds of women in all kinds of settings and we’ve mulled over this crazy, confusing and ill-treated time in a woman’s life – to see if there might be another way to understand what’s happening to us. We’ve toyed with the idea of Change, and what it means to change. Our needs are changing, certainly our bodies are changing, our sexuality’s changing, our focus is changing. Apparently we’re changing!

A very surprising question emerged – what if we changed intentionally, consciously?  What if we claimed this transition, this change of life and went through a Conscious Menopause?

Here’s a taster of how that might look:

  • instead of feeling at the mercy of your symptoms, you can learn to decipher what they’re trying to tell you
  • instead of being afraid of The Change, you might use it to revamp outdated beliefs and habits that have overstayed their welcome
  • instead of biding your time to ‘just get through it’, you can make adjustments that will pay off down the road
  • instead of feeling alone in your misery, you can turn to your sisters for support and fabulous stories

So much to explore together. It’s such an honor to be here. Thank you Lynette for inviting me to the party. I am truly delighted to join the wonderful Menopause Goddesses, to share what inspires me and to be inspired as we claim this “one wild and precious life”.

BIOGRAPHY
Ashley Jeanne Ross seems to have a insatiable lifelong fascination with the rich terrain where our hormones and emotions meet. When she’s not immersed in studying the female experience, she’s an author, teacher, counselor and speaker, as well as a loving mother of burgeoning adult triplets, two girls and a boy. Her ‘day job’ is as a holistic reproductive health practitioner, professional fertility awareness educator and somatic counselor in private practice in California, and thanks to the 21st century, also online. Place her in a circle of women to observe her in her natural habitat.

Ashley offers Conscious Menopause coaching in San Rafael and via Skype. You can read more on her website ashleyjeanneross.com

Comments { 2 }

Menopause Goddess Blog Part Deux

Vibrant Amaryllis © lynette sheppard

Vibrant Amaryllis © lynette sheppard

Back in early December, I wrote that Menopause Goddess Blog would be going through some changes. I had hoped to introduce our new addition, fabulous Menopause Coach Ashley Ross,  by the end of December. The holidays and such got in the way, like they do, so we will be starting the new format in February.

Ashley will write on the Menopause transition and I will write about Living Our Second Act from my postmenopausal perspective. Many of our original goddesses have thankfully seen the worst of the changes recede in their rear view mirror, yet we remain committed to our sisters just beginning this rocky ride.

We will continue to showcase products in our Menopause Marketplace and keep up with the latest on the Big M. And I am very excited to embark together on our journey into Second Adulthood. Stay tuned! And if you have specific questions, thoughts, offerings; be sure to let us know by clicking on Contact Us in the left sidebar.

Menopause may be an ending but it is also a beginning. Most important is that we travel these roads together. That will take us from merely surviving to outright thriving.

Comments { 1 }

Managing Hot Flushes & Night Sweats

Flame On © lynette sheppard

Flame On © lynette sheppard

One of our goddess sisters from across the pond, Lucy Teear, shares this terrific book review with tips for managing hot flashes and night sweats naturally. And do check out Lucy’s blog at Embrace the Change.

Book Review: Managing Hot Flushes & Night Sweats  By Myra Hunter & Melanie Smith

by Lucy Teear

Whoa…. My usual chick lit abandoned for two nights in favour of truly engrossing and informative read about the menopause, not something I ever expected to say! The menopause seems to be such a taboo subject, something to be suffered in silence and ever so slightly embarrassing, but this book provides balanced informative which changed my preconceived negative thoughts and the four week self-help guide shared techniques to help manage symptoms that are uplifting and positive.

The Finding of This Holy Grail….

I discovered Myra Hunter and her wonderful book in October whilst attending a “Managing menopausal symptoms following breast cancer treatments” (bit of a mouthful) held by “Breast Cancer Care” support – a fabulous support network that saved my sanity whilst going through chemo.

Having had breast cancer the possibility of HRT is ruled out for me, so resigned to the fact I’d have to go cold turkey and the impact of chemo can make the symptoms more severe than a natural menopause… Explains the hell of the last 3yrs, major hot flushes up to 10 – 15  times plus a day at its peak, then the flooding where my period would last weeks and be so super heavy I’d be jacked up on tampons and pads giving me a cowboy stance!! All in all leaving me feel drained and incredibly miserable. Happy to report I’m in a much more manageable place but still attended like the majority of the women in the room full of hope of discovering a new medical breakthrough, a pill, a drug that would magically alleviate the suffering of the night sweats and hot flushes (now at about 2 a day), but what we covered and discovered was far more powerful and enlightening, resonating with me….

Including:

What is the menopause
Symptoms
Pharmacological approaches to alleviating symptoms
Non-pharmacological approaches (natural remedies etc.)
Cognitive behavioural approaches
Self-help strategies

All the above is covered in detail in a readable and engaging format in the book.

So, we didn’t get the pills and drugs but instead  CBT.

So what is “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)”:

CBT is a therapy that helps manage problems by enabling you to recognise and ultimately change the way you think and behave in connection with the problem. Combining a cognitive approach with a behavioural approach, CBT encourages you to notice how your thoughts and actions influence one another.

It was clear that most of the women in the room felt the menopause was a taboo topic, something viewed negatively by society and therefore a source of great embarrassment… This is where CBT kicks in, as how we think will ultimately have an effect on how we experience the symptoms – makes sense right?

The below slide highlights the negative thought cycle:
hot flush cycle

My personal experience with hot flushes are they tend to arrive at the most inconvenient times, an example being a business meeting I had with five guys in a very small room, knowing it was going to be a challenging negotiation I was pretty pumped up and as soon as we started, it started… heat building, sending my pulse racing, panic rising along with the heat “My god they’ll notice” was all I could think, just intensifying the whole darn experience! In reality I’m sure it looked like a normal stress related response to the situation, and had I read this book then my perception would be just that and I’d have handled differently, controlled my breathing and had a very different internal dialogue.

Although a complete rookie yogi, I’m a newbie fan of mediation/mindfulness and often use it to help with the stresses of work (Construction industry is a hive of stress), and hadn’t thought to apply it to menopausal symptoms but having read the book I now see the correlation between the reduction in my flushes and the reduction in stress since practising meditation daily. At the seminar Myra guided us through a paced breathing exercise and calm spread through the room, even the most skeptical looked more relaxed and chilled out!

Right, lets take a look at this book….

Managing-hot-flushes21

Firstly the authors credentials:

Myra Hunter (the speaker above) is professor of clinical health psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. She’s worked in the area of women’s health for over thirty years and her research on menopause has established her as an international expert in the field…. Knows her stuff for sure.

Melanie Smith is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in helping people to manage physical health conditions through the use of cognitive behavioural therapy. She is currently working with the Manchester and Salford Pain Centre.

The format:

The book covers in more depth what we touched on in the “Breast Cancer Seminar” and is divided into two sections:

Information about the menopause, hot flushes and CBT explained
CBT Self-Help Guide

There’s also download link which provides an audio recording guiding you through a relaxation and breathing exercise, which I love  listening to first thing in the morning to set me up for the day, as feel amazingly refreshed and positive after – Also great just before going to bed if you need to let go of the days fuzz buzzing around the mind!

Although both academics this book is clearly written by women for women, the first section shares current knowledge based on really accessible and easy to understand research data, along with the latest information on why we experience hot flushes and night sweats – It’s not all about the hormones! It looks at how different cultures experience the menopause which is fascinating, and makes you consider if society was less judgmental about the ageing process then maybe as women we wouldn’t judge ourselves so harshly and feel the embarrassment quite so deeply!

It covers the principles of CBT, the theory behind how it works and the relationship cycle between: Thought – Feelings – Behavior – Physical reactions and how this cycle impacts on menopause symptoms.

I found it a compelling read and I’m usually more of a fiction gal! Even reading aloud parts with much excitement to Teear (my husband for those who haven’t read my intro)… not sure how much he took in but feigned sufficient interest!

The second part of the book sets out an interactive four-week programme using CBT, exercises and worksheets designed to enable women to develop strategies for managing symptoms. This approach is based on the authors’ research and has been shown to be effective in recent clinical research trials.

The main components of the self guide include:

Being informed about menopause symptoms;
Understanding what can help you cope with your symptoms
Learning steps to use relaxation and paced breathing
Taking steps to reduce general levels of stress
Identifying and modifying triggers of hot flushes
Dealing with negative thoughts and behavioural reactions
Practicing relaxations and breathing at the onset of a flush
Dealing with hot flushes in social situations
managing night sweats and sleep

We’re now embarking on the four week self-help guide, Diane (who’s also reading the book) and I are doing this part together so we can compare notes and we’d like to invite fellow suffers to join in, feeding back your experiences and reviews – If you fancy giving it a go you can buy the book on: https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415625159.

Available also in the US at Amazon: click here.

Comments { 0 }

Menopause Goddess Blog: New Directions

Dubrovnik Walled City © lynette sheppard

Dubrovnik Walled City © lynette sheppard

It has been over a month since I posted to Menopause Goddess Blog – mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. How did this happen?

Well, for starters, I traveled to Croatia and Slovenia including a side trip to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina with five girlfriends of a certain vintage. Yep, Dewitt was calling us the Menopause Vagabonds. We sampled history, stunning beauty, and some of the best white wines we have collectively encountered. Hmmmm, vagabonding. We may be on to something here.

Recovering from jet lag has proven to be an arduous process but I am finally on Hawaii standard time and my molecules have rejoined me. (They were spread across two oceans for a while.)

The holidays took another bite of time – Thanksgiving celebrations, Christmas parade, tree trimming, gift buying. Whew.

Now, for some big news. Menopause Goddess Blog will be changing in 2016. No worries, we will continue to bring you the latest news and reality checks about the menopause journey. In addition, we will be expanding our focus to Life after the Pause – how will we live a vibrant, joyful Second Act?

A fabulous menopause expert and coach will be joining me as a principal writer of the blog. She will be illuminating all things pausal and I will be exploring “what comes next.”  I’ll introduce her to you all before the end of the year. Stay tuned for new perspectives, new insights, new visions.

Comments { 4 }