red maple leaves, Zion NP © lynette sheppard

The first menopause book I bought when I first started into perimenopause languished on the shelf for a couple of years. It was…Ginormous. Gargantuan. Encyclopedic. Just lifting it was too much effort to expend in my then fragile state. Besides, I boggled at the commitment I’d be undertaking to read its 500 or so pages.

So I left it in the bookcase as a placeholder.

When I finally managed to garner enough fortitude to tackle it, I found it pretty good. Yes, I know, damning with faint praise. Still, it was a decent treatise about the change with some great stories from real women going through it. The author wasn’t shy about sharing her own journey of menopause and subsequent divorce.

Here’s where she lost me (and many of the Venuses). She posited that many of the emotional symptoms were caused by unresolved life issues; problems unattended to prior to the Big M. Indeed, she recounts her own story and that of other women to back up her premise.

While that is an authentic experience for many women, it is not the only one.
A number of us in the original Menopause Goddess group had worked hard to resolve life and relationship issues and were pretty happy, content, satisfied when the Change hit. Wham. End of equanimity. Enter emotional maelstrom. Out of nowhere. For no freaking reason other than the soon to be ubiquitous “it’s hormonal.”

Christiane Northrup MD makes a really important point in her book: any important life issues that you have not dealt with prior to The Big M are going to loom larger than any elephants in the living room. You will be compelled to notice them.

However, sometimes there is no large unresolved issue to be dealt with. It just feels that way. The Big M can make you so uncomfortable in your own skin that you feel like shaking everything up: work, relationship, friendships, where you live, you name it.

So how do we know? How do we know if we actually have an unresolved life issue; if we need to make major changes before we move ahead with our second Act, or if we are just caught in the tornado effect of the Change?

Good question. One that each woman will have to answer for herself eventually. But, one thing the Venuses have learned over the years of meeting, sharing, learning, and growing together. And this is the most important advice we can give regarding any and all aspects of Menopause.


Do Nothing.

Feed your soul and your spirit in gentle, caring ways without major upheaval. Elsewise, you may end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

We live in a “Do something” world. This is our time to slow down and contemplate. Sure, try new things. Always wanted to be an artist? Don’t quit your day job just yet. Explore art. Make things. Do it just for you. If it grows into something more (like a new career) great! If now, you have a nurturing passionette to fill yourself up to overflowing. Not a bad deal.

Mortality, that other “M” word that overtakes the Scrabble center squares at this time of life, steamrolls us with urgency, too. Not only are we feeling emotionally jittery, depressed, anxious and pissed off; we suddenly feel the press of time.

If not now when? When will I travel the world, become a famous chef, move to the country, find my soulmate? While the Venuses would be the first to say, “You go, girlfriend. Follow your dreams and live boldly,” we’d first say this: take it easy. Wait til you start to come out the other side of Menopause. Yes, you’re mortal but there likely is time.

Imagine making huge life decisions at fifteen, in the maelstrom of puberty. Sheesh, we’d never let our kids do that. When in the midst of the hormonal sh*tstorm, they are rarely able to make those choices. Things change in a heartbeat.

Well, Menopause isn’t much different. Except it’s bigger, kind of like puberty to the 10th power. And we have driver’s licenses. And responsibilities. And we think we know better, because we are adults and have life experience. Hormones The great equalizer.

So go ahead, reevaluate your life. Dream your biggest dreams. Imagine who you would like to become. And then, do nothing for awhile. If hormones are causing turmoil, it will calm in a year or two. If there really IS a life issue that you need to address in a big Change, it will still be there. we guarantee it. You can work on it then.

For now, go slow, go safe, go inward. And most of all, go with girlfriends. They will keep you sane, and hopefully keep you from making any big life moves that you’ll regret.