Ring Them Bells © lynette sheppard

Ring Them Bells © lynette sheppard

Our group of menopause goddesses is absolutely convinced that we would not have survived, let alone thrived, during the Big M without the support and succor of one another. That’s a fact! And thanks to our sisterhood, we did thrive and are thriving still.

So it came as a profound disappointment when we learned that  so few other goddess groups had been created. We offered the tools and our support; still while readership blossomed (thank you all), the impetus for creating more groups seemed to be relatively non-existent.

I sent out a survey at one time asking if groups had been successfully started, and if not, why not. The overwhelming reasons were 1) not enough time and 2) not wishing to lead a group.

I get that. Daily life can be overwhelming and adding menopause to the mix – well, it’s mind boggling. So virtual sisterhood it is! Guest blogger Ashley Ross has come up with an amazing way to create this virtual conversation and all we have to do is join in. Read on for the details – and for why this is such a great (read necessary) idea.

Why Other Women are our Best Menopause Medicine!

by Ashley Ross

There’s lots of talk these days about how feeling disconnected has long term effects on our health. Not that we need more research to confirm what we know in our gut.

We humans are wired for connection. Our digestion is better when we eat with others, and even better when we luxuriate in conversation and laughter. We feel our whole parasympathetic (rest and relax) nervous system kick in as our breathing syncs with our loved one and we drift off to sleep. We even attune with other creatures – we all know how our four-legged companions warm our hearts and bring us joy.

Here’s the flip side of all that yumminess: ongoing isolation creates a chronic state of stress in our bodies. This has to do with that same wiring – as mammals we rely on each other for survival, and there are all sorts of neurochemical and nervous system settings that require our internal ‘I-have-support’ switch to be in the on position for us to be healthy. Simply put, we need a band of loving companions to feel better.

Here’s my last pertinent scientific fact, and then I’m going to talk about menopause. Beyond our regular human wiring, we women are even further wired for each other, as the famous UCLA 2000 Biobehavioral Responses to Stress in Females: Tend-and-Befriend, not Fight-or-Flight study shows. Simply put, we women turn to each other in times of stress.

As we all know, there are a few stressors that rear their ugly heads at perimenopause. I like to think of them as signs or markers of how we’re changing, and what needs our attention in order to make way for that change. Physically, this may mean making dietary and lifestyle changes that are more attuned to what what our body needs as we move from a reproductive hormonal profile to a healthy mature woman’s hormonal profile. Emotionally we might need to make changes that allow us to tend to our own needs before we tend to others’ needs – like putting on our own oxygen mask first so we are able to help others.

But it goes further than that. There’s another stress at menopause that most of us don’t recognize – like a fish doesn’t know it’s swimming in water. Just this morning I was listening to Dr. Mario Martinez describe how in Peru the word for hot flashes is translated as “shame” – where they are common – while in Asia, where they call menopause “The Second Spring”, far fewer women report experiencing them. This seems to indicate that how the culture around us describes menopause (“the waters” we swim in) influences how we experience it.

So here we are – no-nonsense, take-matters-into-our-own-hands, truth-seeing menopausal women. We want to do something about this sorry state of affairs, where we each feel like we’re going through our own private trial-by-fire. Many of us are turning to the internet to give us some answers. Most of what’s out there are “the waters of there’s-something-horribly-wrong-with-middle-aged-women”. Then there are sites like the Menopause Goddess Blog, where we can take deep breath of fresh air as our questions are answered sensibly and with love. Thank you and bless you, Lynette!

But we’re getting something more. Simply by reading the same helpful information and hearing the same real-life stories as thousands of other women around the world, we become part of a community of women who feel like we do. These women recognize that there must be more to this rite of passage, this time of change, and they are so grateful to finally have a way to think about perimenopause that’s not all gloom and doom about life going downhill from here.

However, I think we need more. I think we need to sit together at this turbulent time. It’s as simple as that. It’s for that reason I created the Conscious Menopause Circles – first in my community and now online too. As I’ve seen in these Circles, something profound happens when we come together at this time of our lives to talk about these changes that we’re experiencing – changes in how we’re feeling physically and emotionally and in our lives.

After sitting in Circle after Circle for the last few years, I can confidently say that healing happens, and that the Circle itself provides the medicine. Women begin to feel less stressed and alone as we explore what it means to change – what’s lost and what’s gained, how disorienting it feels and what we can do to feel more grounded as we go through it. We talk about how we feel about ourselves and our lives at this time, and we share remedies for hot flashes and down-the-drain libidos. The Circle delivers its
medicine as we hear each other’s stories and struggles and discoveries and ponderings.

I invite you, Menopause Goddess readers and lovers, to see if this feels like the support, the adventure, the container for you to discover how else you might experience menopause. Join us if you’d like to go through this rite of passage with women around the world, if you want to take your seat at the table and discover and contribute to our collective global menopausal wisdom. Click here: Conscious Menopause Circles