Tag Archives | second adulthood

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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Creativity Blooms During and After Menopause

Hello Dahlia © lynette sheppard

Hello Dahlia © lynette sheppard

Myriad difficulties and symptoms arise during the menopause transition. And if you are searching for help or remedies, just put your symptom or need into our search box. After almost 15 years of Menopause Goddess Blog posting, you’re sure to find lots of information. Much of it is condensed in our book, Becoming a Menopause Goddess.

Now into Second Adulthood, I am finding so many women also interested in the positive changes. Once we stop flashing every few minutes and our moods stabilize, we ask ourselves “what next?” What next turns out to be a plethora of welcome changes. Who knew?

One of the most exciting of these changes occurs when our creativity gets its own power surge. We tap heretofore unknown wellsprings of creative juice. We overflow with inspiration and we aren’t afraid to fail. The “not afraid to fail” may be the most important piece. After all, the creativity police won’t come and take us away if we suck at something. And I can attest that if you find something you enjoy and stick with it, eventually you won’t suck.

But it really matters not if we are “good” at what we choose as our creative outlet. It’s important that we jump in with both feet, both arms, and a whole heart. We need it because it nourishes us. Right now, I am blessed to be part of a photography seminar here on Moloka`i. And yes, there are a lot of women (and men) celebrating Second Adulthood.

So dance, draw, paint, photograph, knit, write. Don’t wait – the house doesn’t need to be cleaner, dinner can be eggs, and the laundry will rest in the hamper another day. As poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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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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Change of Season

Squirrel Tail Barley © lynette sheppard

Squirrel Tail Barley © lynette sheppard

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

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

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

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

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Do Your Clothes Reflect Who You Are?

© meri walker

© meri walker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What A Vibrant Second Act Looks Like

Whatevah © lynette sheppard

Whatevah © lynette sheppard

We drove up to the house and parked. A diminutive red-haired pixie burst out from the front door, multicolored tattoos scrolling down both arms. “This can’t be right,” I thought. “This woman can’t be a grandmother.”

It was our first time using Airbnb. The cozy mother-in-law unit looked perfect. I received text messages from our hostess, Linda (not her real name). She gave me pertinent details and asked why we were coming to Ventura. When I mentioned grandchild, she responded that she too was crazy about her grandchildren.

As Linda neared me, I realized that she indeed was a Menopause Goddess. She flung her arms around me in welcome and ushered us into the charming hideaway. A bottle of wine and several Keurig coffee pods decorated the counter. A woman after my own heart.

Linda  is a nurse midwife who runs two other businesses. She is a dynamo, a force to be reckoned with. I don’t doubt that she jumps out of bed every morning excited to greet the day. She has created her vibrant Second Act.

Menopause Goddess Sandy was in a terrible accident last year while commuting to work. Her convalescence gave her time to assess her life choices. She retired from her job and took a different route to Vibrancy. She spends her days walking, reading, and playing with her grandson. For the first time, her days are completely her own. She says she may volunteer or work at a bookstore someday, but for now each day is a perfect jewel to be admired as it is.

Jess and her husband left the tech industry last year. They bought a motor home and traveled the U.S., wandering wherever they wished, whenever they wished. They came back home and got jobs that have nothing to do with tech – she works in the hospitality industry and is loving the fresh start.

Barbara is a member of my writer’s group. She moved to Moloka`i alone last year. Her family was aghast. Why was she moving to a rural island where she knew no one and had no ties? She explains it this way – “This is my Walden Pond. I want to live a life of contemplation in nature.” She writes much of every day and is thriving in her new life.

My point in sharing all these stories is this: there is no one right way to live a vibrant life. All these women are following their hearts into a fulfilling (for them) Second Adulthood. There are as many ways to live vibrantly as there are Menopause Goddesses. And if we don’t know what or how we’d like to create our next steps? Try different ones on for size – if you don’t like it, go to Plan B. Or C. We don’t get demerits for trying more than one approach. Or for constantly revising it as we go along. Whatevah!

Share with us your vision of a vibrant Second Act, even if you are not quite ready to fully live into it. Sharing our dreams makes them more real to us. And after all, that’s what this site is about: Women sharing wisdom.

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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.)

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A Guide to Creating Me Time

Paradise Palms © lynette sheppard

Paradise Palms © lynette sheppard

First off, I want to thank all my sister goddesses who wrote me about which topics were uppermost on their priorities for the “Second Adulthood” posts. I promise that I will get to all of them – eventually. Most are high priority for me as well, as I traverse this second half of life. And please, if you have thoughts, insights, or offerings to help us along the way, share them! That’s how we survive and thrive – together!

 “Me Time” was mentioned so many times that it jumped to the top of the list. I used to think (and say) that I needed to find time for me, as if it were lost or misplaced and I had only to stumble upon it to have it. I know now that I was completely off base.

Me time can’t be found. It must be created. We have to actively set aside time for ourselves or risk never having any. Sure, there are always demands on our time. For years, we put aside ourselves for other people and priorities. The rare massage or infrequent bubble bath just didn’t fill the need, though they helped some.

So, how do we go about creating “me time”?

First and foremost, we have to believe that “me time” is important, even critical. Right now. Because it is.

Second, we have to be clear with our family and friends that this is a necessity and in no way diminishes our relationships with them. In fact, they may come to see that a refreshed, revitalized intimate is more present and connected, a pleasure to be around. It can only enhance our relationships.

Third, we must schedule it and keep it as a sacred covenant, to be broken only in case of a true emergency. (And I have found from this vantage point in life that very few of the “emergencies” I responded to earlier in my First Act were truly as urgent as I made them out to be or that I was the ONLY one who could respond. Discernment is called for in such a case.)

Right now, I am writing this blog post from my hotel room on the island of Kauai. I’m sitting in the middle of a bed with four, count them: four, fluffy white pillows propping me up. Sister goddess Lei and I are attending a multi day hula conference. Hula is something we love and share; it nourishes us. However, it is intense to go from early am to late night learning and sharing dances. And while this trip is a type of “me time”, it can be tiring both mentally and physically.

So we’ve learned to schedule a day prior to the conference and a day after to just “be”. We might hang by the pool, make art, or just take a walk on the beach. We might talk. Or not. Naps may spontaneously happen.

Tonight, our last night here, one of our sister goddesses who lives on Kauai will join us for dinner and we’ll have some “us time” as well. I know that we will be rejuvenated and re-created by all of this time. And we will go home rested and filled with joy.

Don’t wait. Start now. Schedule that me time. And let us know how you feel afterwards.

Helpful hint:  it can help to schedule “me time” with a girlfriend. Because we may let ourselves down, but we will not let our girlfriends down. Who knows? It may become a habit. Let’s hope so, anyway.

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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.

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