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5 Ideal Workouts for Women Over 50

Sunny Day © lynette sheppard

In this guest post by Perly Rodolfo, she shares tips and ideas for creating an exercise program to keep healthy as we age. It’s simple, not necessarily easy – especially to keep motivated. My pal, Dee Adams, cartoonist creator of Minnie Pauz, started out slowly – just walking every day. She lost weight and gained fitness (and she took some mighty fine photos on her morning walks every day.) And if/when we backslide? No recriminations, just start again.

5 Ideal Workouts for Women Over 50 by Perly Rodolfo

Even if you don’t exercise regularly now, it is important to know that there is still plenty of time for you to initiate your workout program.

And if you are in your 50’s or older, becoming physically active is advantageous for your health. Staying fit as you age is a necessity rather than an option.

Many women suffer from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, joint pain, sleeping disorders. But, did you know that a physically inactive lifestyle can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis? A sedentary lifestyle can also cause emotional problems, even a midlife crisis.

Experts suggest that middle aged women who exercise more have a biological age of 35. This is the reason why you often see celebrities and athletes who are over 50 to be more energetic, fit and healthy.

To reduce your risk of disease and have a healthy life beyond the age of 50, you will want to embark upon a complete fitness program that is ideal to your age.

Without further ado, here are 5 ideal workouts for women over 50:

Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises are perfect for women over 50 as most of the moves are not stressful, less intense and are common workouts at home. This type of exercise focuses on your large muscles benefiting your cardiovascular health as well as keeping your weight in check.

Some of the best aerobic exercises that you can do are walking, swimming, dancing, jogging, cardio machines as well as many others. If you prefer a more advanced exercise, you can try hiking, Zumba dance classes, boxing or other anaerobic exercises (aerobic exercises that are performed at a level of intensity).

Stretching
Stretching exercises focus on your flexibility to help maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints. Doing stretches before and after your regular workout helps reduce the risk of injuries and muscle soreness.  Some of the best stretching exercises for women over 50 are yoga and pilates. These forms of exercise help improve core body strength, increase stability and elevate mental power.

Strength Training
Lifting weights may seem too difficult and dangerous to middle aged women due to the risk of various possible injuries associated with incorrect strength training exercises. But lifting light hand weights can significantly improve your strength and posture, maintains bone strength and reduces your risk of lower back injury.

Above all, lifting weights that give tension on your arms results in a more toned and fit body. This means that lifting weights can burn more fat and in a much faster rate than any other regular exercise. You can start with hand weights that you can comfortably lift for eight repetitions initially. Increases reps until you can do 12 for each routine.

Core and Balance Exercises
Maintaining a strong core and a stable balance will help protect your spine and hips.  For these exercises, you need core equipment such as stability balls and half-round balls. You can use this equipment to help improve your abs, glutes and hips.

Abdominal exercises such as crunches and planks require some perseverance and patience especially if you are a beginner. Doing both balance and core workouts will give you optimal results out of your overall workout program.

Respiration and Relaxation
Women over 50 are not the same as young adult women in their 30’s. Your lung capacity begins to decrease during the aging process.

This results in weakening of your bronchioles and alveoli air sacs, lungs, diaphragm and intercostal muscles.
So how can you improve and maintain a healthy respiratory system? Aerobic exercises and the other exercises mentioned above can certainly help. But breathing exercises are the best. Tai chi is one of the most perfect breathing exercise programs for women over 50.

Tai chi basically helps improve overall well-being – mental, physical and emotional state. Plus, this breathing technique is simple and easy with no extra equipment required.

Conclusion
Remember that every bit of movement counts. Doing household chores or just walking your dog  can be helpful to your workout program. Take  vitamin D to help support your bone and joint health. Above all, follow a healthy and sensible dietary regimen that will support your workout.

Remember, age is just a number and you can prevent many of the signs of aging by just performing simple exercises at home.

Author Bio:
Perly Rodolfo is a health and fitness enthusiast, businesswoman and a mother of two. She spends most of her time with her family and blogging about dietary supplements, healthy lifestyles and online businesses. Learn more about Perly through her website at http://www.populardietpills.net/.

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Helen Mirren made me do it: Visioning a Second Act

© Annie Leibovitz

I loved executive and life coach Tania Carriere’s insightful guest post about “becoming” during our Second Act. I think any woman pondering the person she might grow into will feel its resonance.

Tania will be leading a visioning retreat for women October, 2017 in Molokai, Hawai`i. I’ll be participating as well – this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity. Details and link at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Helen Mirren made me do it

by Tania Carriere

It was a normal enough moment.

I was sitting at a Starbucks, coffee in hand, putting off some work for a few indulgent minutes of Facebook. I was robotically scrolling, only partially engaged with the usual mix of animals, self-help quotes and messages from friends.

That’s when it happened to me.

That’s when this photo happened to me.

I froze, my scrolling index finger mid-air. I was riveted. I could not stop looking. I felt like I had found something of importance. I looked at it and felt…. Awestruck. Not because of her beauty or her fame but because I didn’t realize until I saw this photo, that this is what womanhood can look like.  Real, authentic, vibrant, strong. Bad Ass. Commanding. Awesome. And wrinkled.

And something in me cracked open a little.

I had just started to navigate the changes that come with age. I had gone through 4 different sizes in 2 years as my body decided what kind of metabolism it would like to have that day. There were the reading glasses that I resisted for a year, the lessening of stamina, (staying up past 1 a.m. requires a day off to recover) and the new wardrobe that seemed to have gravitated to tunics and flowing shirts to hide the belly fat and rounded hips that appeared. I tried to hold all these changes with grace and dignity, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having sat down on the little bench in the Nordstom’s changeroom and cried with dismay at a body that I couldn’t seem to anticipate or understand.

I don’t mean to paint an entirely bleak picture. There are great things that come with age too, like no longer seeking “permission” to be the person I really am, giving up the need for people-pleasing, having enough independence of spirit to leave the house without makeup or shaved legs and knowing, exactly, how I like to spend my time. I am eternally grateful for those gifts and the ease that they bring. So it’s not so much that I resisted the changes that came with age, I realized that with the sagging bits came the reward of newfound wisdom. It was more that aging seemed to have landed me in uncharted territory. I didn’t quite know how I was supposed to be in it.

I was perplexed. I had achieved so much and lived a wonderful, expansive life. I had a delightful circle of loved ones. A wonderful career. I did the things I love; dance, travel, read, theatre. I cultivated relationships that charmed me, I ate glorious meals that I delighted in cooking. But there was unrest in me and perhaps, a little sadness? A part of me that struggled with a loss of vibrancy, a giving up of the coltish legged creature that once seemed fearless. I had a longing for the permission that I used to give myself to be glorious.

I used to enjoy the attention I got for my youthful rendition of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy, just enough to fit the checklist that someone, somewhere decided was the definition of who I should be; thin, blonde, nicely shaped, long legged, exuberant, friendly and full of possibility. I excelled in my profession, got invited into the big meetings, was offered top tables in restaurants and skipped the lines. I travelled, bought a house and stood as a vibrant example of thirtysomething femininity. I was used to the attention that my confidence gave me. The world was mine to conquer, to delight, to engage. Yes, that confidence came at a price. I bristled at and occasionally faltered under at the demands of perfection and got lost in the dark world where self-worth equates body image, but I got noticed. I was a part of those who had the right to be vibrant and boldly stride into whatever lay ahead of them. No matter what, I could count on being seen. At the interview, at the audition, at the first date.

And then suddenly, it seemed almost overnight, I was unseen.

Not rejected, just unseen.

I was no longer in the world of 30-something-vibrant-flat-stomached-world-achievers (heck I am about to enter the world of 50 something) and suddenly I did not register in people’s awareness as I walked by. I was no longer the sassy upstart that people used to see when they looked at me.

And that was the problem. I was not sure who I was at this age and I couldn’t seem find the checklist for a powerful, vibrant, sexy woman of 50+.  I was standing there with the old checklist and it was not working. I knew I didn’t want to look like the botoxed version of Barbie, but I also didn’t want the diffuse, shrinking energy of a woman who was no longer in command of her vitality.

Where was it to be found? Where were the examples of women who wore their years, their experience, their glorious ways of being with pride? Women who still exuded vibrant possibility. Women who created a whole new phase of being that lies between Nymph and Crone. Women who left you enchanted, wondering, longing and were over the age of 50?

When I saw this picture of Helen Mirren I became curious. I stopped and looked. I mean, really looked. And then I became envious. Can you believe it??? Envious! The last time I felt envious of anyone older than me I think I was 16 and wishing that I would be a very gown up 21. But look at her – the command of her space, the energy that just leaps out at you, the defiance in her tattoo and her exposed cleavage that just takes the whole notion of being matronly and flips it the bird.

Oh, the stories that she has to tell.
What I wouldn’t have done to pour her a glass of wine (or better yet, a whiskey) and get down to a long talk.

It’s not that I wanted to be her. It was that in seeing her I realized that I didn’t have a vision, a mentor or a knowing of who I wanted to be. I instantly loved this photo, and strangely enough I think I fell in love with myself when I looked at it. The old choices society wanted to offer me just didn’t cut it. The blessing of age is that I could see that they never did. It was high time that I decided how this next decade or two (or four) are going to look and feel. I Re-Imagined myself, finding the new markers for MY new definition of this Self. I erased the page, creating space to be the kind of woman that I would envy.

And if someone asked me about a new sizzle in my responses, the reappearance of my coltish legs from under the tunics, the haircut and the sultry attitude I’d just respond….

Helen Mirren made me do it.
And pour myself a whiskey.

About the Retreat

The Re-Imagined Self is a mini-sabbatical, a moment in time that leaves the everyday behind, where you can drop in, hear the questions that you are already asking, but don’t have the energy, time or courage to answer.

These 7 days in Hawaii, in the company of a small group of like-minded women, will rejuvenate the creative spirit while exploring identity, achievement and what makes yours a life well lived.

As executive and life coach, I have been leading discovery retreats of self exploration for over 15 years. Join me and Lynette Sheppard in this unique opportunity to Re-Imagine the Self you are today. Click the link for details:
https://www.advivumjourneys.ca/retreats/-hawaii

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Retire Meant: A Few More Thoughts

Blossoming © lynette sheppard

It was a delight to hear so many optimistic, exciting visions for retirement from goddesses in answer to our query. I decided to look up the word “retirement” in the dictionary. Here’s what I found:

noun
1.  the act of retiring, withdrawing, or leaving; the state of being retired.
2.  the act of retiring or of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age
3.  the portion of a person’s life during which a person is retired
4.  removal of something from service or use
Those are some wornout, even depressing definitions. Luckily, we are creating our own definitions and making it up as we go. Most of us baby boomers started out rebelling against the status quo and I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. So here is a my definition of retirement: “a phase of life where one’s own priorities and desires dictate contribution to the whole.” In other words, we decide how we thrive and give back – whether it be gardening, mentoring grandchildren, or volunteering. And give back need not mean externalizing – I met one goddess recently who moved to an island to find and create her own “Walden Pond” to her family’s surprise. She follows her passions of writing and living primarily outdoors. So how does she give back? By simply being fulfilled. It’s a joy to be around those who are following their dreams and modeling living comfortably in their own skins.
I’d love to hear your definitions of retirement – post them here in the comments or email them to me at lynette@9points.com.  Here’s to our next great phase!

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Retire Meant – Menopause Goddesses Share Their Visions

Sunrise or Sunset? © lynette sheppard

Several of you responded; others are still thinking about and crafting their replies. Here are some of the visions shared by our readers. Enjoy! I surely did!

MB shared:  “I am not retired yet. ( I am soon to be 56 years old. ) BUT, I’m in college now, dual enrolled for two professions, pursuing a dream to work on my own terms and from home using all the experience I’ve gained working for the healthcare industry for the last 30 years in customer service.  I am 2 semesters away from my first college degree!  And 3 months away from a new credential!

So retirement to me looks like a home office, my dog next to me, my husband running our video game store at the local mall, and being on call for my second job as a Clinical Medical Assistant to get my “people” fix when I need it!

I am glad I’m at this place in my life- hot flashes, weight gain, no- filter -mouth and all.  It’s trying at times, but it’s my life and I’m making the best of it!”

BT responded with these thoughts:  “I enjoy your blog posts very much and just had to chime in about my thoughts regarding retirement.

Recently I had to really give this thought as I realized I had many emotions around it. I’ll be 54 in July. Recently, my 57 year old neighbor retired from a job she worked at her entire career and off to a warmer climate she and her husband went for a few months. While yes, I’d like a little more time in the sun, perhaps doing less at times, I couldn’t help but think what it must feel like to have devoted your whole life, often working more than forty hours a week, to now not working.

It brought up those transitional periods in our lives when we can feel lost, as I’ve felt a few times in my life. I wonder how it is affecting her as she was very devoted to her work. I’ve also been with women going through transition from a job they were very dedicated to until what is deemed “retirement age” and now not sure who they are anymore – as if they lost their identity and sense of purpose.

As I sat with the many feelings, I realized how it’s important to me to keep making an impact with my tribe that I continue to build. And how making a difference is so important to me and leaving a legacy, not necessarily as what I do, but in hopes that I help people (especially women) feel good about their lives and find meaning in them. I don’t see as that ever ends, but something that is so important to me and my own vitality because it feels good to my soul to make a difference where I can.

So thanks for the question and asking for  feedback. I’ll be curious to read what others have to say!”

CH offered these gems: Retirement (“the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work”) . . . well, to me
who had a wake up call in my late 40’s that there was more to life than my narrow
perspective of my job, I think perhaps there is a more enlighten way to view this
transition. Leaving behind the work schedule allows us to connect with life in a whole
new way . . . discovering the opportunity to connect with passion.

I am amazed at the narrowness many view retirement . . . travel. I am reminded of my
soul sister in the NW (Anne Fangman who published her memoir: Mustard Every Monday:
From Secluded Convent to International Travel) responds to those wondering at her
retirement party if she was going to travel? “Been there, done that! I’m going to
stay home and enjoy life.”)

Opportunities abound once we don’t clock in and clock out. Watching friends nearby has
been a wonder to watch as they grapple with the time on their hands and how they
discover ways of connecting with themselves, others and “nature.”

I am looking forward to your posts on retirement!!!

CR shared her experience:  “Time is both your friend and your enemy … you do not have to get everything done today because yes, there will be tomorrow,
you do have time if you choose to have coffee with friends which was not possible very often when you are working..
but you also have funerals on a much more frequent basis …
I find I make it a priority to go to the Y several times a week
both for fitness but because sometimes those are the only people I see all day or all week.
I have started cleaning out my house I have lived here a very long time.. so when something happens My son will not have to do much…
I now have time to learn things i have always been interested in
and not be bothered with stuff I just don’t care about… there are things you do for others because you care about them , but I am much more selective about them.  Time is the most valuable commodity in the world .. and when you retire you realize it is more valuable than you ever realized . I make time to be with people that make me laugh; that has not always been an option .. now it is.
I look at retirement as a gift … and I am lucky to be here.”

BeFabRevolution is retiring on her own terms: “Hi Ladies, I am soon going to leave my nearly 25 year career as a corporate consultant. I have loved it. It has been interesting and often challenging, but I’m just over it. I’ll be 58 later this year and have had an overwhelming need to reinvent myself.

I am “retiring” from a strict schedule, but am too sharp and energetic to not have a new, more interesting challenge.

I have been laying the groundwork for nearly the past 2 years to launch a new business, catering to women age 50+. I launch the business next week. Woohoo!

Lynette, I need you as an expert speaker for 2017!!! I am so excited! I guess my “retirement” comes in being my own boss and being of service in a very different way.”

And a very treasured response comes from my own mother:  “As an 82 year old, find that life is what you make it. For me life is great as i have a great daughter and son-in law. Love is so important !”
Betty    AKa mom

Vibrancy comes to mind when I read these visions. Any other thoughts, insights, ideas? Put them in the comments or send them to me at lynette@9points.com  I look forward to more wisdom, questioning, input. Thank you so much to those who shared so generously! Virtual hugs to you all!

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Retire Meant

Flying Free © lynette sheppard

Fifteen+ years ago, Theresa-Venus and I had one of those life altering conversations. We were going through perimenopause and wondered if something might seriously be wrong with us. No one told us that all these horrifying symptoms and maladies were going to come with the Big M. We thought that maybe we’d be a little warm once in a while and never have to worry about wearing white pants again.

That conversation spawned the Menopause Goddess Group, our book “Becoming a Menopause Goddess”, and this blog. On average, we have 35,000 visitors each month. That reinforces the fact that we are not alone. We’ll keep this site going – well, as long as we keep going.

Theresa and I had another of “those talks” a couple of weeks ago. A few Menopause Goddesses we know are retiring this year and looking forward to it. It got us to thinking, though. What does retirement mean to each of us? In what ways will we create a vibrant life after “work”? What does it look like to each of us to “retire”?

Before we share our thoughts and feelings, we’d like to hear from you – how do you envision retirement? Or if you are retired, what fulfills you? Is the reality of retirement different from your initial vision? What would you share with your sisters about retirement?

We look forward to hearing from you – write your answers and musings in the comments or email lynette@9points.com  Don’t be shy – this site is about women sharing wisdom – we want to hear from you.

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New Year’s Intentions

fireworks for blog
I don’t make resolutions anymore.It’s too freaking stressful to make them and subsequently break them. I do make intentions, however. Intentions for me are large global visions of how I want to live for the next year (and maybe longer.)

I am in the habit of drawing an angel card each morning. The one word on each card serves as a daily focusing, a mantra if you will, for noticing or expressing a certain quality throughout 24 hours.

For example, today, I drew Kindness. Musing on kindness throughout the day allowed me to slow down when my cat was walking all over my keyboard and just pet him for awhile, rather than push him away. Work could wait. And it did. I was nicer to the people I met in town and even to myself, usually last on the list.

Similarly, I’ve found intentions to be helpful for me in focusing on a larger scale, on defining what might be important to me to notice and embody for the coming 365 days. Under each intention are ways in which I might accomplish it, but I am in no way absolutely wedded to them as goals.

That said, here are my intentions for 2017:

Notice and follow Beauty.
Photography
Prose: read and write
Butterflies – follow them.

Artify
Become an Art Activist rather than a politics watcher
App and paint photos
Write

Nourishment
body: exercise, yoga, eat healthy most of the time
mind: Scrabble, reading
spirit: solitude, music, time in Nature

Connection
Spouse: quality time, shared pursuits and adventures
Family: spend time w kids, parents, pets
Good friends: spend time

Celebration
Being on the top side of the dirt (that’s big!)
Each moment
Celebrate What’s Right With The World site

Give Back
Blogs
Healing Images
Art Activism (see above)

I will re-view these throughout the year – maybe find that some are easy to focus on and others need more attention. I use them as a sort of fuzzy logic compass to give my meanders through life a sense of direction and purpose.

I will eventually set goals as I focus more on my intentions – for example, within the intention of music, I want to learn to play ukulele. I’ll need to set a schedule of practice and lessons as well as determine how far I wish to go in this pursuit.

Your intentions may echo some of mine or they may be completely different. I offer mine only as a template and you may find a better way to define your New Year visions. Please share them if you do. That’s how we become Menopause Goddesses – growing and sharing. I wish you all a peace and joy filled New Year.

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Forever Painless – Is That Even Possible?

forever-painless-cover

Pain. It’s part and parcel of aging. We need to learn to deal with the various muscle aches and joint creaks as best we can. Unless that isn’t really true! What if we could indeed be “Forever Painless”?

That’s the title and premise of this new book by Miranda Esmonde-White. Author of Aging Backwards and host of the PBS show “Classical Stretch”, Esmonde-White lays out a simple, clear program of the right exercise for the specific problem area you are experiencing.

There are specific workouts (gentle stretching workouts) for areas such as Foot and Ankle, Knee, Upper Back and Shoulder, Hip, Lower Back and more. In addition, there are workouts for Connective Tissue, Arthritis, Stress, and Immunity. Even if we are not presently in pain (hallelujah), most of us experience stress and/or immune system decelerations. These exercises might also keep us in good shape if we are already there.

One of my favorite parts of the book was her take on our fascia – that webbing that was thought to hold our muscles, joints, and tendons in place. Like most health care professionals, I was taught that it was a matrix, a static structural part of our bodies. Esmonde-White writes about it as a fluid, dynamic system that also needs exercise and strengthening.

My intuitive self slapped my forehead when I read this. “Well, DUH!” I admonished myself. I saw my human architecture in a whole new way (I’m embarrassed to say that it never occurred to me.)

I love the stories of those who were able to heal themselves of pain that preface each chapter. While some of them detail some pretty significant difficulties, one can also see how these exercises can help those of us less afflicted. I love the gentleness, too – like Tai Chi, Chi Gung or Psoma Yoga.

Pain is draining. Pain can interfere with our quality of life. Pain can depress us and rob us of vibrancy in our later years. If proactive exercise – the right exercise – can alleviate pain and keep us actively healthy, sign me up.

I haven’t been this excited about a book in a long time. And you can bet that I am doing the exercises for hip tightness and immune function right now. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Here’s where you can get your own copy:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

About Miranda Esmonde-White
Miranda Esmonde-White is one of America’s greatest advocates and educators on healthy aging. She is best known for her PBS fitness show Classical Stretch, which has been on the air since 1999. A former ballerina, she designed the Essentrics technique, which uses low-intensity strength and stretch exercises to relieve pain, prevent injury, and slenderize the body. Esmonde-White works with professional and Olympic athletes and celebrities, and teaches classes to thousands of students worldwide each year.

Follow Miranda on Facebook

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Drink Wine, Lose Weight

To Your Health © lynette sheppard

To Your Health © lynette sheppard

I love a glass (or two) of wine in the evening. But I’ve felt a little guilty – I mean all those extra calories. I was sure they flew right to my hips, thighs, and buttocks. At 125 calories a glass, it adds up. I already have sufficient padding, thank you very much.

Now I’ve consoled myself (read rationalized) that  the health benefits of wine balanced out the caloric devilment.  I loved that wine decreased my risk of heart disease, provided antioxidant anti-aging resveratrol, not to mention offering  significant psychological benefits of mellowing me out after a stressful day. But never in my wildest dreams did I conceive of wine as a weight loss adjunct.

Oh happy day! Three recent studies show that regular wine intake can prevent obesity and may even help women lose weight.

Harvard University studied 20,000 women over 13 years and found that those who drank two glasses of wine per day were 70% less likely to develop obesity than their non-imbibing counterparts.

A University College Medical School of London study of 43,500 female participants over eight years  found that those who drank a couple of glasses on a daily basis were 24% less likely to put on weight compared to those who abstained from alcohol.

Finally, our own CDC conducted a study on wine intake.  Of the sample size of 7,230 people, the drinkers gained less weight than non-drinkers. Conclusion: alcohol intake does not increase the risk of obesity.
And if that isn’t enough incentive to drink your wine, another study found that red wine increases HDL – the good cholesterol in your body AND can improve type-2 diabetes thanks to its ability to metabolize simple sugars into energy.

Why does this work especially well for women? Apparently, enzymes required to break down and use wine are present in lesser quantities in women than men. So we may actually use more calories to metabolize the wine than we are taking in.

OK, ladies. Join me in a toast to science, wine, and weight loss tonight!

 

 

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Cultivating A New Relationship with Ourselves

Ferntasia © lynette sheppard

Ferntasia © lynette sheppard

One hard lesson we learned – possibly the most valuable of this transition – was that the pivotal relationship we needed to cultivate was with ourselves. When it seems that virtually every molecule in our body has changed, it shouldn’t surprise us that we need to get to know our new selves. That truly is the first step in creating new relationships with our intimates. Oh sure, we all thought we knew ourselves but further examination made us completely rethink that premise. Here’s how we started the process.

Me – meet Me

The mantra of midlife women “I just don’t feel like ME anymore” serves as an call to awakening.  Who WAS I?  More important,  who AM I now?  Perhaps our increased need for time alone has a purpose.  We need to become acquainted with the changeling emerging from the upheaval of our bodies, psyches, and beleaguered spirits.  We must question ways in which we have known ourselves prior to now.

We identify ourselves by the roles we’ve played in family and society.  We also have ideas of what describes us – quiet, outgoing, sensitive, impulsive, etc.  Identities and descriptions make up much of what we think of as ‘myself’.  These roles and ways of being are familiar and comfortable, if not exactly the dreams we thought we would live.  In getting to know a new SELF, we must first relinquish these familiar identities.  We need to let go of them however much they may resemble a life preserver tossed upon the stormy seas of so much change.

We addressed this in one of our Menopause Goddess gatherings with the following exercise.

“Letting Go of the Old Me” Exercise
Cut up heavy unlined paper or cardstock into pieces big enough for one or two words to be written.  (approx. 1/2 inch by 3 inches each is a good size.)  Give each woman 30 pieces of paper and a pen.  In silence, each Venus writes down one role or description on each piece of paper,  eg.  homemaker, nurse, artist, spiritual person, wild woman, sister, daughter, mother, and so on.  When finished hold all your roles and identities in your hands.  One by one, put them down, feeling the sensations and emotions of letting go of each one.  Take as long as needed – noticing how it feels to shed each identity.  When all your papers have been relinquished and your hands are empty, just sit quietly and notice what is left.  How does it feel to be without your roles?  Without your descriptions of who you are?  Don’t forget to breathe.

After 5-10 minutes of sitting quietly in this fashion, slowly begin to pick up your roles and descriptions one at a time.  Notice this time how it feels to reclaim each identity.  Are there some that are easier to take back?  Some that are burdensome or seem irrelevant?  Are there surprises?

If you’ve done this exercise in a group, (definitely the preferred way), those Venuses who wish to may share their experiences.  This serves to deepen and validate the experience for all.

For some in our Venus group, this exercise was deeply emotional, with great pain experienced on ‘giving up’ some of our most cherished identities.  Others were equally surprised at the ease with which some roles dropped away, like burdens laid to rest.  We found ourselves re-thinking the roles we have adopted until now and contemplating releasing those that no longer serve us or others.

The most important epiphany of the exercise involved feeling what was left when we let go of all our supposed roles and identities.  “Something” essential still remained.  An authentic being with value apart from what she does or how she is perceived exists when we give up all our identities.  Each goddess might be well served to acquaint herself with this essential ‘she’. Our ‘aha’ discovery of Self without proscribed identities led us into a discussion centering on another relationship that we wished to cultivate in midlife: our spirituality. We’ll touch more upon this in our next blog post.

This post was partially adapted from “The Big M” by Lynette – ebook version is called “Becoming a Menopause Goddess.”

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Forging New Relationships with Intimates After Menopause Part II

Fractured © Lynette Sheppard

Fractured © Lynette Sheppard

Love Will Keep Us Together – But How?
Closeness in intimate relationship is more than just physical. It’s emotional and mental as well.  What constitutes connectedness on a day-to-day basis?  Shared interests and tasks create an atmosphere for feeling connected.  For some Venuses, the children once provided such a focus.  However, the emptying of the nest means new linkups need to be found.  Other Venuses have been focused on helping their husbands with business or work projects, yet now are questioning whether they wish to continue in these endeavors or to search for interests of their own that stimulate them in new, creative ways.  The first questions for midlife goddesses, who have traditionally as family nurturers (womb-men) been absorbed in the lives and interests of their loved ones, are “what do I really want?”  “What are my interests and desires, independent of others?” “ If I weren’t trying to please, what would I do, try, be?”

We invite you to join us and listen in on the initial conversation:

Theresa-Venus – “It’s hard when your  partner is so into physical activity.  I feel like if I don’t engage in physical pursuits with him, we’ll lose some of our connection.  He’ll just do those things with other friends, and we’ll drift apart.  We’ll lose some of the connection that comes from shared interests. And I also don’t want him looking at me thinking, ‘Boy she’s getting old, she’s slowing down.’”

Beej-Venus – “I tried to learn golf to be with my husband more.  Yet he won’t try ballroom dancing or some of the things I’m interested in.  It seems to me that we better have SOMETHING in common for our golden years.”

Jane-Venus – “I go skiing to spend time with my husband, because he loves it.  But if I’m really honest with myself, I don’t want to ski the runs he enjoys – it’s scary.”

Lynette-Venus- “So where’s the balance between doing what we want vs spending time with them?  How much is quality time and how much is based on our preoccupation with disappointing them?”

Wow, big questions!  We realized that we might have to ponder these and others for a while.  Are we spending time together to strengthen and nurture our relationship?  Do we even enjoy the things we are doing with our spouses?  Are there other ways to connect?  What do we really want?

Sandy-Venus claimed that she has been less plagued by this issue.  “I always knew how to balance my own needs and interests with my spouses.  I’ve only dated four men in my life,” she quipped.  “Of course, they were in thirty seven different bodies.”  The Venuses snorted with laughter.

Courtney-Venus was especially quiet during this interchange.  “What if you’re not sure you want to forge a new relationship?  What if it’s not meant to be?”  The rest of the goddesses turned their full attention to her.  “I’ve been with this man for 5 years now, and at first it was really great.  Most of the time, it’s still good.  But he doesn’t like my children.”  A chorus of “He’s outta here.” “It’s over.” ensued.

After the hubbub quieted, she explained that her children were grown.  Only recently had one moved back home, coming and going “like a ghost”,  still managing to annoy him by being in his ‘space’.  “Holidays are painful, because I love a big family get-together for Thanksgiving and Christmas – and he hates it.”
Okay, Venuses are about support and the search for truth.  We asked her to verbalize the pros and cons of remaining in this relationship.   Although as a group, we felt that the kid issue was non-negotiable, a deal breaker, the decision to go or stay was Courtney-Venus’s and hers alone.  Our job was to help her find a little clarity.  The more she talked, the more she defined what wasn’t working.  “I feel like I’m always guessing.  What did I do now that I didn’t know about?”  “Still,” she sighed.  “ A lot of the time things are stable, even fun.”  Finally, Bobbi Venus asked a pointed question.  “How do you feel when you come home and see his car in the driveway – are you excited or disappointed?”  Courtney’s eyes widened, “I feel sick to my stomach.”

There wasn’t any more to say.  In this way, the Venuses were able to support one of our own in a difficult examination of her life and where it was headed, through listening, prodding, and caring.
Exhausted, we went to bed.

This post was partially adapted from “The Big M” by Lynette – ebook version is called “Becoming a Menopause Goddess.”  It’s interesting that one isn’t ever really done working on these questions – we spent time in every meeting revisiting aspects of relating to our intimates. Over time, we’ve gotten better at creating time and space for ourselves while creating that new relationship (or in the case of two of us, moving on.) One of the things that helped, weirdly enough, was actually reading the book out loud to our mates, so that they could see how universal our questions and symptoms were, how they and we were not alone in working to start our relaionships anew. No longer was it “Why are you like this?” or “What’s wrong?” but how can we address this unplanned change together. It opened a real conversation rather than a disagreement and paved the way for understanding – on both sides. Stay tuned for more on this important topic.

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