Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Five Gifts of Pro-Aging, by Marcia Newman,
Balboa Press, $11.99 US

Baby Boomers may have been at the forefront of many liberation movements, (and there are 78 million of us in the cohort) but currently, more and more women are succumbing to slavery of a different kind - to a youth-obsessed culture: dying our hair, injecting botox, nipping, tucking and otherwise refusing to accept looking our age.  Author Marcia Newman had her own aging crisis one day while looking in the mirror, and decided it was time to confront the fear of looking like her mother by letting her hair go gray.

Newman’s work as a psychologist had also convinced her that what women particularly need to do is to age consciously and comfortably, and her intention with this book is to provide some tools for a happier, more aware ageing process, mainly for women. Her chapters focus on the five gifts of the title: Authenticity, Self-healing (by allowing emotions to be felt), practicing the gift of Discernment, contacting our inner Wildness and Collaboration with others.

Newman provides journaling questions throughout the book, and a questionnaire to start off with, so the reader can assess and confront the fears about growing older, and also discover the ways we exhaust ourselves by taking care of Everything and Everybody. Part of learning a healthier conscious attitude towards aging is in learning not to feel guilty when it’s time to take care of ourselves. Living an authentic life, according to the author, means that sometimes others around you may be upset with your decisions, but healthy women are able to let go of the guilt. She offers tools to help women develop healthier instincts and boundaries and manage their own high expectations of themselves (and also release perfectionism and procrastination).

In The Gift of Discernment chapter, I especially liked her description of the exertion/exhaustion cycle-- how women love to keep busy, yet how this continuously drains our energy, because we never learn to use the brake, only the gas pedal. She suggests journaling, and asking the body for a dialogue, to check in and find out for instance, which warning signs you receive when you’re heading for an over-exertion/exhaustion cycle.  Two questions help the reader discern what their level of energy is:  what depletes you and what gives you time and space to come ‘home’ to yourself?

It’s time to get back in touch with our inner wildness, Newman says, stating that the inner Wild woman is weary from too many choices, too many electronic gadgets, and having to be pleasant and nice all the time. Her pro-aging consciousness promotes unplugging for half a day to get back in touch with nature, and finding a place that makes you feel at home, to let the mammalian side come out to play. More wildness includes allowing more time for erotic intimacy. She quotes Gail Sheehy, author of Sex and the Seasoned Woman, who describes the spicy, seasoned woman as one who wants to live a full and passionate life over 50, and won’t settle for less. 

Facing the limiting beliefs, the inner ‘dragon’ or negative naysayer, and taking steps to reduce its power over you, is crucial, according to Newman. She offers steps for allowing the inner howl to come out, and find creative joy again.

Bottom line in this book, ladies, is all about self-care. Newman rightly says that creative ideas will flow when we nurture our selves, and will also bring back more energy. Feeling more alive, less deadened, is the antidote to feeling ‘old’.  “The Universe will remind us when we go down a people-pleasing, passionless, dead-end road that we weren't in love with in the first place…..The gift of wildness will always help you find a new open road.”

The only small off note in this book is the last chapter, The Gift of Collaboration, where I felt the voice got a little preachy in that new-age way. I grow tired of reading about The Patriarchy, especially when it’s capitalized, even if I agree with her. We do live in an overly productive, always 100% on society, and  suffer from “the competitive game of compare and despair” as she calls it. I have watched one of the movies she recommends, The Burning Times, about the 50 years of European witch hunting and inquisitions, but I’m not sure why watching the list of movies she recommends will help us be more pro-aging. It was the only chapter that felt like a lecture instead of a helping hand.

Newman finishes on a high-note with some ‘feminine (heart-based) principles’ to foster collaborative learning and leadership and a Pro-Aging Women’s Credo.

“…we don’t buy into the old aging stereotypes nor endorse today’s youth worshiping…
We are responsible for our own wellness. …We are the lightworkers,
the peace bearers….We appreciate and nurture our chosen tribe
… We’ve always heard the cries of Mother Earth and are active participants in healing our planet.”

I recommend reading this book and journaling along with it, as you face the monster in the mirror, and the received beliefs you carry inside you about aging. I also believe the second half of life can be as vital and passionate as the first half. Now, if I could only get used to seeing more gray in my hair…. yesterday I swear I saw my mother in the mirror!


link to purchase the book

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Creating Your Own Mini-Retreat

Jenn Retreat from jennifer boire on Vimeo.

How I make a mini-retreat:

Some days, I am at a loss at where to start, what to do, to jump start my creative projects or just to ground myself and begin my day. 

Especially on a Monday, it helps me to center and focus if I set aside 30 minutes to an hour for a Mini-Retreat in my bedroom.

This short video shows where I begin.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Brave And Startling Truth poem for today

Take a moment and sip a cup of tea while reading this poem. Then get your journal out and write down your thoughts or reaction to Maya's brave words.

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

~ Maya Angelou ~   (A Brave and Startling Truth)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

CELEBRATE PEACE DAY 48 Hours Peacecast

Dear readers,

This is a very special broadcast, with great music, inspiring messages of hope, young people, old people, people from everywhere in the world.

check it out!   and scroll to bottom of page.

over the next 48 hours, livestreaming on your computer or laptop.

Join us, The time for Peace is Now!

love and peace

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Menopause and Marriage, How to Help Your Man

Hot flashes, mood swings, dealing with emotions, (especially increased PMS), anger, feeling out of control - night sweats, flooding, sleepless's all a bit much to share as a couple. Poor men who have to live with us!

What can you do to make it a smoother transition time for all?

Menopause expert Susun Weed suggests two things: take a sabbatical (if you're a mom, not really possible) or  get away as much as you can. And talk it over with your family, especially your husband or partner. Let them know what you are going through.

Here's some advice form a Menopause Forum on-line:

You really do need to communicate to those around you so that they know that what you're going through is difficult, not in your control, involuntary, and not anyone's fault including them. Why be a saint? This is a time when you need SUPPORT and UNDERSTANDING and all the TLC that you can get.  (Daily Strength)

I heartily agree. Going through Menopause may be a breeze for some small percentage of women, but for most of us, it feels like we're in the middle of a tornado, an emotional rollercoaster, and unfortunately the ones we love most are directly in the line of fire.

Taking time away was the most beneficial remedy for me - my mind was split and scattered in so many directions, I didn't know who I was or what I wanted, even in my marriage. It helped me to get away for a weekend retreat, or even just spend a day away from home, to think my own thoughts. It wasn't entertainment or distraction I was looking for, (although some women swear by Girls' Nights Out and alcohol or weed). What I wanted was a calm, serene environment, preferably with no loud noises, no radio or TV, almost a padded white room, where I could hear myself think.

Your husband will appreciate your newly recharged, serene self when you return. It's a wise investment in your couple to get away alone.

Ask for Help: My husband is not good at reading self-help books, so I needed to give him a resume of what the symptoms were, and what I was doing to help myself. Unfortunately, I had to break my leg before I was really able to ask for help. Then he got on board, made lunches in the morning, drove the kids to school, took them skiing on the weekends, and ended up spending more one on one time with them. I needed to step back from being Overarching Boss of Everything.

Menopause affects Momma big time, so naturally it affects the whole house. The best thing you can do is figure out what you need to feel better. If you suffer from severe lack of sleep, mood swings, depression, fatigue or burn-out, that just makes it worse. Get some help, see a women's health specialist, whether doctor, nurse or naturopath, and find out what's at the root of your imbalance. Don't blame all your symptoms on Menopause. If it doesn't feel normal, it's not normal. You can get saliva testing or hormone and blood tests, and get to the bottom of what is off kilter.Bottom line is, if you feel better, everyone will feel better: 

I do know this, at mid-life women are challenged with turning their attention onto them selves for a change. Proper diet, good exercise, a good night's sleep, sharing the work load with others, asking for help and not trying to be Superwoman will all help you cope better.

But do talk to your family. Let your husband and loved ones know that this is temporary, this is not You! And ask for their help and support. Don't shove it under the rug. It's time to have another kind of "Talk", the Menopause Talk.

take good care now,

ps a great article in the Globe & Mail Life & Arts page today. Fire and rescue in the marriage bed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Menopause Mothers 10 Ways to Feed Your Soul

I have gathered the challenges and gifts at mid-life and menopause, and there are many. But as I listen to women who are still mothering, with children under their roofs and in their hair, I realize there is a great conflict that arises due to our 'late blooming' motherhood, or having children in our late 30's and early 40's.

They (children) still need our presence, but we feel uber-irritated by their constant demands. The world in general gets on our nerves, big time! We are ready for the Big Pause, but can't see how to do it.

At menopause, ladies, we are called to withdraw our over-caring of everyone else and go within, seek our authentic self, gifts and talents, and do some much needed reflecting on our life purpose. For this we need some down time.  But who will give it to us?

Susun Weed suggests a year's sabbatical for women at menopause, but that ain't happening when you've got kids at home. How to deal with this split in consciousness, and divided loyalties without dropping the ball on mothering, or on self-care?

Here are some practical  ways to soothe your soul and your need for creative introspection without feeling Guilty:

1. Find some like-minded women to share some deep talk with. Being seen and heard feeds your soul. You'll feel less crazy once you realize you are not alone, you are not the only one who is sleepless at night and hot flashing all day. Quit tearing your hair out, and let down your hair with your sistahs!

2. Release the Good Girl 'tude right now! Good mother, daughter, wife - we were trained for this from an early age, especially if you were born in the 50's. Give yourself permission to be SELF-FUL, not selfish. A little more self-compassion will go a long way. Do something JUST for YOU once a week, or once a day if you can swing it. When is the last time you bought yourself from roses? Repeat after me, I am worthy and deserving!

3. Practice peace - whether it's breathing, centering, meditation, yoga, chi gong, tai chi or a cup of herbal tea  - find some time to find your own rhythm and you will feed your soul's need for tranquility and silence. Just cut out one of those volunteer activities and make time for Peace.

4. Body work to release stress and get in touch with emotions. You need to feel to heal. Choose the modality that works for you - Reiki, massage, EFT, Rolfing, Shamanic journeying, talk therapy. Stress freezes our muscles, and when we bury our feelings, they end up Exploding in PMS - don't let the Bitch Goddess take over your life.  Dealing with feelings is healing!

5. Learn to RECEIVE: this is the hardest but the most rewarding thing on this list. OVERGIVING is our #1 downfall or trap, as women and mothers. Enlist the help of your family in daily tasks. Don't let the well go dry, or you'll have nothing but bitterness and resentment.  See #4: getting a massage is very nourishing, not just for your body and skin, but for your inner self who needs to fill up the well before she can give out again. Weekly would be good, monthly may be more realistic, but once a year is NOT enough.

6. Eject the Superwoman Mantle: learn how to say no, and ask for help. Takes practice, I know, but it's worth it. You cannot do it all alone. You are no longer capable of Multi-tasking, so give it up!

7. Embrace the end of Fertility- make peace with the end of your cycle. Face your fears of entering a new cycle. You're not old, but 50 is a meeting with mortality and a limited time frame. You can't mourn the empty nest yet, but you can celebrate the growing maturity of your kids, and realize how quickly the nest will be empty. Soon, now Mama, soon. Journal about it, and celebrate your Menopause with some cronies.

8. Get Creative: your new cycle involves creatively exploring that energy that used to go into making babies. Your energy is moving up and out of the womb center into your Heart, throat, Wisdom and Insight centers. Growing your intuitive powers and Dreams. Listening and Expressing this new found creativity is essential for your happiness. Find out what you LOVE to do, then Flow with it! Many women go back to school, or take pottery or piano classes, creative writing, SoulCollage(r), photography - what turns you on?

9. Recognize this is a Sacred Journey - a Heroine's Quest. Your life stages have brought you this far. How can you learn to see the symptoms of menopause as gifts? ie Fatigue is a message you need to rest more. Hot flashes are really just Power Surges. See the Soulful Woman website and listen to the Gold Tent for more about the gifts of Menopause:

10. Give yourself a break before you need a breakdown. REST is the most essential nutrient for the menopausal mom. As important as good nutrition and exercise. Your body is the vehicle - you can't pedal to the metal all the time. Take good care of you, and just lie down and rest, as often as needed. Write yourself a prescription for Self-Care. I will rest whenever I feel overwhelmed.

So try healing and feeling instead of yelling and freezing up, finding peace instead of feeding the frazzle. Anger and impatience are all symptoms that you are Doing Too Much and need to get away.

It's your time, baby, and even though Mothering is a challenge right now, you will get through this. It is temporary insanity, I promise you. I made it through without a huge bill for therapy, and my kids at 22 and 24 seem really well adjusted and are still speaking to me! And if you really feel like the straitjacket is calling you, get away on Retreat!

Take good care of you, darling, Mother Nature is begging you,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Turning 60: Looking in the Mirror

Have you looked in the mirror and thought these thoughts?

Every time I look in the mirror, I understand this is just the beginning for me (at 49). I just want to shoot myself.
I am so sick of my body, I just wear baggy clothes
i hate looking at myself, and trying new clothes on in changing rooms. 
I wouldn't dare do it naked. !!! Eeeekkk....!!

A lot of menopausal women go through a period of self-hatred it appears. I know I've had moments like that, especially when I was down in the dumps, in the midst of menopause misery, with twenty extra pounds and a feeling of general despair. Love handles, saddle bags, my hips swimming in extra fat like the Venus of Willendorf!

But today, on the cusp of 60, I feel better about myself than ever. What happened to make the difference between 49 and 59? A lot of work on myself, a little therapy, some Energy Healing and Reiki, some workshops and courses on Rites of Passage, and mostly, in leading workshops and classes for women I have come to understand myself, and the whole mid-life process, so much better. But I'm still a bit stuck on a few aging issues.

It's a work in progress, right? my life, my self-acceptance, my compassion for myself instead of the harsh inner criticism I usually shoot myself down with. 

Looking in the mirror is especially fraught with mixed emotions.

This morning, looking in the mirror quickly, running a brush through my hair on the way to a Grooming appointment for my little shitzu who looks ragged and messier than I do, this is what I saw:

Today, I feel like I should maybe not colour my hair brownish red again, but allow the silver and grey to shine through. My roots are showing! does that make me look like a lazy person, or slovenly, or just tired?

I look at my face in the mirror - after putting on five different creams - a cleanser, a toner, anti-aging serum, face tightening, eye corrector and a day or night cream with SPF - a new ritual started only a month ago, with Arbonne natural products (or mostly natural!).

Fact: I have had two basal cell carcinomas, so I need to protect my skin from the sun, and the top of my head, my scalp, with a hat.

Fact: I want my skin to be a little tanned, less cadaverous white, but not burn.

Fact: my wrinkles are not overly visible, it's my double chin that bothers me, but mostly in photos (taken at a weird angle, or leaning back too much).

Fact: I think I still look youngish, I still feel young. Until I notice the way some cashier or bag boy at the supermarket looks at me, or rather, doesn't look at me.

Fact: recently, my breasts have perked up again. Less saggy. Is it the weight loss? the low carbs hi protein diet helped me lose 15 lbs. Is the zumba and yoga classes, more exercise? I like what I see, for the first time in years.

My tummy has a bit of an overhang, especially where my horizontal scar is from that ectopic pregnancy umpteen years ago. But it's not too visible under tight T's.

My legs are still slim (but then, so are Mom's at 83, always have been).

Mirrors are tricky. They can be my worst enemy. Sometimes I prefer not to look, but my bathroom is full of's hard to avoid. I do like to check out my silhouette in store windows. Is that vanity? or just checking that I haven't been swallowed up in body fat like Jonah in the whale.

How do you feel when you look in the mirror? Are crow's feet, laugh lines and saggy bottoms getting you down? 

Leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.