Tag Archives | Menopause in community

THE LIES OF MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN BRAND

We have a special treat for this blog post: amazing Menopause Goddess Juju Hook shares her take on the Middle Aged Woman Brand. Even better, she has written a new book called Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis. It’s a hilarious, no-holds-barred look at the Pause. Here’s the best news: she is giving away the book to all Menopause Goddess blog readers – all you pay is shipping and handling. And to whet your appetite , the first chapter is enclosed at the end of this post. Link to get your book is also at the end. Enjoy!

THE LIES OF MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN BRAND by Juju Hook
I’ve never once in all my years heard a woman gush, “Oh, my God! I can’t WAIT to be 50!” Have you? It’s such a shame, really. Because midlife is where it’s at. We’re so much better in midlife… at everything.

In fact, I have a theory that if you want something done right—something that’s complicated, that requires multi-tasking, or secrecy, or duct tape—then you call a midlife woman. There’s simply no one else as prepared and qualified as the women in our menopausal posse, is there?

Here’s the thing, though. This all came as an absolute shock to me. That I’d be happy at 50. That I’d love life more than ever. That I’d be thrilled about beginning again in so many ways… that I could finally give myself a chance to be whoever I wanted to be.

Because the whole world told me it was gonna suck.

The world told me I’d be irrelevant. Invisible. Diminished in capacity. Hanging around doing things I felt “meh” about, because my ship had sailed.

And when I walked away from a 25-year-career to write the book I’d always wanted to write, the world fed me more than a handful of lies. The same lies, over and over again. What’s more, when I reached out to other middle-aged women, they were being fed the same sack of lies.

For more than 25 years, I was a brand strategist. And I have never seen a brand more in need of an overhaul than the “middle aged woman” brand. The messaging is off. The unique selling proposition is entirely out of whack.

So I decided to do something about it. To re-brand middle age for women. To tell the truth about how amazing this time should be. To pull the rug out from under the anti-aging industry… the liars, the nay-sayers, and the Chicken Littles. I shined a big fat spotlight on 3 problems and 6 lies that plague us all. That aren’t our fault. And that are easy to overcome, once you see them in the light of day.

In this moment, you have more power and potential than the world wants to give you credit for. But I see you. And I think you’re the bee’s knees.

Join me inside, Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis: The Quintessential Guide for Turning Midlife into PrimeTime… We’re about to rip some shit up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s Chapter 1:

Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis_Chapter1

Once again, click here to get your free book: Hot Flashes, Carpools, and Dirty Martinis.

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Menopause – You Must Read This Book!

I love love love fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. I love exceptional writing. I especially love anything that cuts to the heart of what women feel and think. So when Kimberley at Inanna publications sent me the book Writing Menopause, An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction, I was anxious to read and review it.

It’s breathtaking. Literally. And hot-flashing, mind melding, heart touching, beautiful. I actually think ALL women would love this book, not just those of us who are approaching, well in, or past menopause.

Each piece was so tender and truthful that I had to stop after reading it to muse on my own feelings, my own journey. This book will join the ‘desert island’ books on my shelf. (Desert island books are those 10 or 20 you would take to a desert island if you were stranded indefinitely and these were the only tomes you could have.)

If I’ve not yet succeeded in convincing you that you NEED to read these vignettes, then let me say that it is the best book on the Big M I’ve read. Including mine.

If you are looking for remedies or learning more of the physiology of the Pause, this book does not offer that. If you are looking for empathy, understanding, and your confused feelings illuminated in words on paper (yes, that’s it, what she said!), then you can’t afford to miss this book. Seriously! I mean it!

I won’t quote from the book, because it wouldn’t do any of the works justice. In lieu of that, I’ll tantalize you with a few titles.

Drenched
Icing on the Cake
The Things We Carry
Disassembly
Go. Rock.
The Hot Women
Adjusting the Ashes

Please order it asap – and then tell us how you experienced it. Because it is indeed an experience when these gifted writers share the personal and universal in Menopause. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. While I love my e-reader, I suggest you get the paperback version, so you can touch as well as read it, a totem for the journey of becoming that all women must travel.

Writing Menopause: An Anthology of Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction.  Jane Cawthorne and E.D. Morin, Editors

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More Visions of Retire Meant

Flower Spiral © lynette sheppard

We received so many great responses from you all – thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I wanted to make sure that these visions didn’t get lost in the comments, so am posting them in this blog entry. Be sure to read to the end, where R shares some concerns about retirement. We all learn from sharing our wisdom with one another, so thank you again!

PK wrote:  

I’m 64 now. I’ve been working since I was 10, at one gig or another. Can’t say I was dedicated to most of those gigs – they were a way to make a living, to support my other interests. Some of them were more intrinsically interesting than others, and one aligned with my higher purpose and felt really satisfactory. For the last 6 years I’ve worked from home primarily as a virtual office manager for a company based on the mainland. I’ve investigated the Social Security retirement plans and am staging a 2-year withdrawal from this company. However, my husband may get a full-time college professor job this year – and then I would retire almost immediately. What would I do with myself? I can think of about 1000 things – but first volunteer with children, be the full-time artist I’ve wanted to be all my life, garden, bake, be a domestic goddess, raise chickens. I look forward to it.

JM shares her own vision: 

Aloha Ladies, I am 61 and still have a 17 year old son at home. He is a jr in high school. Im still so very active being a mom and a grandmother to 11. I teach hula 3 times a week plus work. Being a photographer I can pick and choose my work times. I get a little sad thinking that one day coming up my son will be moving on. I see his excitement and dont want to dampen his enthusiasm for moving out of moms house! So this has been good for me to read as most of you have already passed this point years ago. I am not sure exactly what I will do, but Im sure traveling will be in the picture! Hula keeps me thriving so Im thinking of moving into taking classes to become a Kumu Hula. The older I get the more important relationships are, all relationships including my ancestors. I personally feel there is a whole new world waiting for me.
Yes I have sleepless nights, yes I still get too hot and then too cold. I just giggle and dont let myself get caught in any drama over it. I feel very alive and healthy.

K is looking forward to retirement too:  

As I approach retirement from about 3-1/2 years out — I think about it more and more often.

Right now, I feel like I am in kind of a transition or rehearsal phase. When I take a planned day off from work, I try to mimic what I would do if I didn’t have to report to the grindstone ever again. What would I do if I had my time as my own?

Most times, I try to spend some time in nature, taking a short hike on a trail I haven’t walked before and really open my eyes and drink in the textures, smells, and sights I will have the time to savor in the future.

I think a lot about the type of retired grandma I want to be. I want to be an active and a fun one to be around. One of my daughters is not too domesticated, so I’d like to expose her daughter to some of my favorite pasttimes (embroidery, sewing, gardening) that she otherwise doesn’t get to experience. (I’ve already begun that, but want to continue if it’s something she wants. I learned so much of this kind of thing from my grandmother).

Since the out-of-doors is important and nurturing for me, I would like to share that with my grandkids and continue to with my husband as long as possible. I see camping and many local hikes in the future. There’s a wonderful group of older women who maintain trails and camp together; I’ve been dreaming of joining them.

I branch out my thoughts to the dark times, winter and days when the driving rain keeps me indoors. I like to think I will busy myself finishing long-abandoned projects, starting new ones, taking classes on old and new hobbies. There are many groups who meet in our library system for conversations on local issues, arts, hobbies, travel, foreign language practice, and of course, books! I look forward to accessing those.

So, I guess what retirement means to me is that it is a trigger for the next exciting life series! I’ve done the rest—here comes the best! It’s a time of becoming enriched and enriching the lives of those you love. Of not letting life simply pass by, but enjoying and savoring every moment.

Still, not every woman is looking forward to retirement. R, a menopause Goddess sister from Portugal shares her concerns. I suspect she is not the only one of us caught in some conflict about these changes. Here’s her heartfelt musings:

I’ve found Menopause Goddesses blog by chance, sometimes I read it with the most attention, and sometimes not I have to say.
Retirement subject is not very close for me yet, I’m a Portuguese 55 years woman living near Lisbon our capital and this year the allowed retirement age as come to 66 years and 3 months, or 60 years age and 40 of discount career for pension found, this last option with 6%/year tax and a sustainability tax of 13,8%, resuming, too much limitative for us to think about it, unless you think to live your retirement begging. Situation in Portugal is not friendly for those that think retire sooner than official age.

Although the approaching of that stage of live for my husband, that is 5 years older than me, scares me a lot, besides work he always count with me next to him for everything and I’m afraid to feel myself under a dominance I’m not used to.
I know that in US young people leave their parents’ home when they went to university but in Portugal we have not that tradition, only the students that have less score classifications go to universities outside their residence area.

My 2 daughters with 33 (the older is a journalist and actually is working as public relations) and 26 years (she’s a nurse) have study near and they’re still living with us.
The difficulty to rent or buy a flat in our country is huge for young, and the salaries sometimes are not enough to face their responsibilities sooner, they are now both thinking to rent a flat and share expenses, this situation is causing me the feeling of empty nest, the past 35 years I’ve been first a mother, a wife and less a woman so I’m feeling lost and I don’t know my role any more, I’m beginning to feel also the weight of menopause literally (both: body weight and feelings).

Sorry if I extended myself too much but we still feel this subject as banned in our society, the women don’t like to show their disability to face this stage of mind and always try to show themselves very open mind, with millions of activities, dressing as teenagers sometimes acting if their daughters were rivals.
Thanks for sharing with us.

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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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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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How Do We Inform Ourselves About Menopause?

Christmas bouganvill

That is the question that Jamie Cooper is trying to answer in her doctoral research study at University of South Florida. She is asking for participation in her online survey questionnaire.  She’d like women aged 35 -55 to share their experiences with her; your answers will be confidential and anonymous.

Jamie hopes to help improve the lives of women at midlife now and in the future. Now that’s some research we can get behind. Women sharing wisdom – that’s what we are all about. Here’s the link:

http:tinyurl.com/menopausestudy

If you have questions for Jamie, you can email her at jc2@usf.edu.

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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.)

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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.

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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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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.

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