Friday, December 21, 2007

dear friends,
I have three blogs with different themes, although they merge sometimes.
Today I am posting a poem called Purdah at
dedicated to all mothers stuck in the house with small children this winter.

ps I have a mp3 of a reading of this and other poems but am searching for a way to post in on this blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A big thank you to Bella for awarding me this Lion's Roar for powerful words. I am deeply honoured, and pleased.

This is probably the last post before Christmas party season begins, so here's the story behind the poems.

I first set out to write a book about pregnancy and childbirth, and all things sexual related to it that have been silenced. It began in a Creative Writing 101 class at university, (after 12 years of slogging as a secretary, I decided to go back to school and follow my dream), with a taboo Journal project.

The subject of the Taboo Journal was women's/my sexual universe: everything from first hearing about women's blood in the school yard to sex during pregnancy, and beyond. I also wanted to break the taboo around talking about my mother's alcoholism during my childhood. Speaking up about these things was difficult at first, but got easier as I circled around and back and over the stories and feelings locked up for so long. Having children made it a necessary challenge, so that the legacy of silence was not perpetuated. Especially, I felt a strong need to break the cycle so my daughter wouldn't inherit all the hang-ups I had (well, I tried).

There is still more to write about, much that didn't make it into the first book. But I recorded my body landscape changes during first pregnancy, spoke openly about the dark side of mothering (at home, alone, cooped up in winter like a purdah), and also the mixed blessings and joys of breastfeeding (gorgeous blissful moments vs needle-like pain), and tried to honour the friendships with other women I made at that time.

I wish there were more copies available, but it was a small print run; now I'm moving on to writing about the larger Feminine Mysteries of menarche, mothering and menopause in a non-fiction way.

I do have a menopause survey and a menstruation survey that people could fill out for my research - once i figure out how to post it on this blog. You can email me if you are interested in participating.

muchos gracias,

Felice Navidad,


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Poem for Urban Earth Mama and all you moms

The Curse (written for Rhonda)

a baby in blue gingham kicks
her legs, smiles at me with teal-blue
eyes, smells of Baby's Own
spice; zinc ointment & powder
mixed with summer sweat & damp
saliva'd sheets

I see myself in her chubby arms
& thighs, this seal blubber baby.
mother said she liked girls best,
but my neighbour cried
when she knew it was a girl.
six months' pregnant
how not to become her Jewish mother?
her grandmother slapped her face
when she started her period,
slapping the curse out of her.

& me? part joy, part tears
my fears at having a girl
having to do with vaginas.
every time I change her diapers
I see we are the same:
same slit between the legs
same sweet flesh, same fear
that someone will open
this pearly oyster before its time
as they did
as he did.

from Little Mother, Hochelaga Press

I don't mean to freak anyone out with this poem, raising a girl (now 15) has been a beautiful sweet challenge

Sunday, December 16, 2007

here I am

in the midst of a swirling snowstorm. We have shovelled twice, and still the paths fill up with snow. Children are praying for more snow, a snow day tomorrow, no school.

last year the first snow was January 15 (the first real snow that lasted and covered the grass).

we are so blessed with a white christmas.

I feel happy, lucky, dancing around the kitchen with a glass of white wine while my husband cooks supper (that is another reason I'm happy).

Had a test to past this weekend, but the deed is done, all finished, think I passed with just under flying colours.

ok, breathe now. yesterday I was a shrieking mess, don't touch me don't call me don't ask me for anything I have to get this DONE

today I snuggle on the couch with my pooch and hubby, looking at all the snowmen and santa's decorating my mantle and shelves, and giggle inside

one more initiation of sorts, one more growing pain, one more stretch into where I am

here I am,

blessed be,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The woman's journey, part 2

As I look at the woman's journey towards unfolding her Self, the milestones are many, but three major ones could be the initiations or blood mysteries of menarche, pregnancy and birth, and menopause.

This piece was written shortly after the birth of my son, who is now 17. It tries to capture some of the otherwordly feel of being a new mother, the transformation out of 'time and space' and into some new symbiosis with an infant.

Birth Journey

She likes to look at that picture of herself and Julien, at three months. Despite the dark circles under her eyes, or perhaps because of them, her eyes have the wide open look of the newly born, a freshly washed liquid stare, so open, all barriers washed away in the flood of waters released when the sac was broken. After the mucous plug was removed the child had no more reason not to descend, not to engage in the passageway, the light not seen yet at the end of the tunnel but close, so close, only a few dancing stomps and drumbeats away. She had put on Paul Simon’s Graceland, some African rhythms to dance a child down. But a whole night of useless contractions later, in the morning, pitocyn drip, waters broken, back labour, and finally it took an epidural and rest before she could push him from her body.

Anyway, that washed look in her eyes, that was what she still marvels at. After such a long journey, the birthing and hard work, the sweating and sucking on ice chips, all the veiled looks in her eyes, the hidden selves are gone. Having lived the greatest mystery, a body dividing itself in two, she has now no more mystery about her. When she looks in the mirror, she sees her transparent reflection, her baby looks back from her face – she can hardly tell the difference between him and herself. She sleeps with her arms wrapped across her chest, in fÅ“tal position, curled on one side, enfolded in that same body-snuggle way the nurses taught her to wrap him in for security. She wakes when he wakes, sleeps when he sleeps, unaware yet of the luxury of having only one child’s rhythm to follow. The first step of initiation, the burning ring of fire around her vulva that finally stretched to let him pass, has brought another self into being. Something she will discover slowly, as she wakes.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wellness Wednesday blogs

Just discovered that Wednesday is Wellness Wednesday on Bella's blog, and you can read her amazing 'gold stars' list there.

If you haven't done so already, please check out what msmenopause has to say at and

It's funny writing about wellness, when you feel well. Two days ago I did not feel well, and I could have written a long list about what I need to do to feel well again.

One thing I am doing is (yee-gawds) forgoing the morning caffe latte. My favorite drink. But it's feeding the anxious person in me, the over nervous jittery rush everywhere-aholic.

So, black tea, one cuppa, that's it. NO headache's yet, thank goodness.

I cleaned out a few drawers yesterday in my kitchen (it's only been 3 years), and that felt good. We have a teenaged friend of my son's living with us, and his mother is very very neat, so needless to say, I feel a little more motivated to clean out crumbs and make order out of chaos.

that reminds me of a poem about housewives being heroes.

Canadian hero folds laundry

Today, CBC radio listeners have nominated Terry Fox as
an outstanding Canadian hero. May 10, 2004

Folding laundry, with quiet
I understand that chaos
and its theory need to be folded and put
in its place.
That the poet and artist’s role
is to fold chaos and put order
into words is a given,
that the housewife’s role is
to fold laundry and put
order into her house
is a given,
that the poet/housewife has a role
and that both of these roles
are equally essential to the universe
for they promote order
over chaos
is equally true, thus

as long as there are housewives and poets,
the laundry of the world
will never be left in dirty piles
and the dirty chaos lying await
in the basements of the world
will be neatly cleaned and folded
one more day.

Sometimes, folding laundry and putting order into my house feels very sane, helpful, good for my soul.

have a great wednesday,

Monday, December 03, 2007

Prayer to Kali

o goddess of black deeds
I have felt the knife's

fury in my wrists, the urge
to throw my baby

down the stairs, the blood
surge making me crazy

or just a lack of sleep
a fever in the chest

never enough rest
stomp yell slap bang

the knife on the counter
instead of hitting him

yet, next moment
all is calm, I soothe his

head, caress him next to
my heart, tell him I am dead

serious. I will not yell
if you don't. bargain, deal

but not beg, only
request. o ungentle goddess,

this anger
is not for him.

help me give tears to my sadness
voice to my rage

Little Mother, 1997
jennifer boire

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Women's Stories (a letter)

the ones we tell each other,
late at night or early in the morning
over coffee & a cigarette,
more than one if it's a story we've told
over and over like chain smoking, like
dirty laundry soaking in the tub, stains
evoking lost memories of teething, cut
lips, blood on the sweatshirt where
you held his head & he bled all over you

& you want to speak about this love
you have for other women who listen
intently, with their own pain showing
& many cigarettes to carry them
through the telling.

a compassionate voice or ear,
the closeness we feel yet cannot say
because we're afraid of a label
but what we really want, I want,
is someone fearless, a weaver of words
or truthteller, someone who's not afraid
of hurting while resetting a bone.

to talk about the helplessness of being
stuck in a house with a sick child,
the boredom that strikes,
the complaining we do, being called martyr
when all I really want is to tell someone
how unfair it is that I'm the only one
they call for in the middle of the night
& it's my ears hear them coughing
at 3 a.m. & I can't just lie there.

how to find out what our own needs are
& how to take care of ourselves,
not just wait for him to come home, take over,
pick up the toys and the pieces, mop up our spills,
how to find a quiet time, time alone,
time to think & write.
our need to be replenished with each other,
filling up our bowls with sugar & coffee
so we can tell our stories

not just talking over fences in the backyard
but actually getting out & seeing women
doing the same hard work,
no pay, no thanks, just their little faces
when one least expects it, smiling & asking
me to sing a song about I love you

or making up a song about superman
all by himself in the living room.
he says, go away mom, don't talk (meaning
I have to do this alone, don't listen
cause it might not be perfect the first time).

I send you this in guise of a letter
because that's the way the words are falling out
of my fingers. in my mind I hear
the tapping on keys and it comforts me
at least I can listen to myself talk
without talking out loud (for that's
what crazy women do).

so I keep on writing & dreaming
trying to live truthfully
with my emotions, in my body
and I hope you do the same.

from Little Mother, published by
Hochelaga Press 1997

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wish List

my wish list for no time in particular, but please make it very soon:

time to gather my thoughts

time to pull together a collection of unpublished poems and publish them (from the 3 folders full that are languishing on my computer)

time to find out how this blog works so I can post some audio posts of poems from my mini-CD Holding the Song (it is sold in old cigarette machines at the Casa Populo), from Wiredonwords.

time to find some really great photos of my kids and hubbie and dog and cats to post here

time to sort through the pile of files and notes from the Feminine Mysteries class for that lecture I'm supposed to be planning for september 08

time more time, time alone, more time alone, without interruptions from bathroom renovations, new house plans, landscaping plans, all the trappings of our new 'dream home' that need planning and my attention to come into reality, (not to mention two teenagers with long wish lists)

what am I saying? we dreamed that house into being, and it's being rebuilt now, as we speak. I will have a room with a view of the lake, I will have a room with a desk and a chair and a place to dream and J will have a music room to create in too

my wish list is that in between now and then I will make the time to pursue my creative dreams
and bring them to reality (and not run myself to the ground with 'tasks')

all you who read and comment on my blog are helping to bring that closer, because you feel at home here, and encourage me to continue,

thank you from the bottom of my heart and inkwell,

ps I want to post my book Little Mother on-line, cause it's out of print, but not sure I can do that - anyway I'll start with a few poems at a time from that new mom with baby at home phase that so freaked me out, and a poem about women's friendships which sustained me through the light and dark (tune in next week). the theme of the book is the light and dark side of mothering and includes a birth journal, pregnancy poems, sex poems, nursing poems, grieving after miscarriage poems, birth in the car poem, etc.

pps wish I had had an on-line community at that time of writer/moms like you

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tools for Gaining Essential Wisdom: body guidance.

I believe our wisdom is close at hand, right within us, and very doable.

You don't need a book to tell you how to tune in. You need to learn how to live close to the body/belly/heart triangle.

If we can listen to our need for rest, food, inner peace, we can give ourselves the healing we need. In my experience, this involves trusting myself, and knowing that I am enough. I have enough. I do enough - stop the worrying and the rushing and let the Universe take care of things.

This is my challenge, and I share it with you because it is simple, if not easy, to start following your body's guidance right now. The motto is, keep it simple.
(For example, the first rule is so simple, you'll laugh. But it has been trained out of us since childhood.)

l. Eat when you are hungry. Enjoy your food sitting down and notice when you feel satisfied. If you are really adventurous, let yourself be served once a week. (I am loving this last one)

2. Sleep when you are tired. Take naps whenever possible. Set your body clock by going to bed at a reasonable hour. Can you find your own need for rest?

3. Strike two items off your to-do list every day and be happy with that. Do not be a slave to ‘getting it all done’.

4. Take time to sit in silence once a day to center yourself in the breath. Make inner peace a priority.

5. Stretch, shake your body, dance, do yoga, walk, or move a new muscle. Wake up your body every day.

6. Go pee when you have to – respond to the first call. This is harder than it sounds.

7. When you have your monthly period, give yourself what you need – either rest or exercise. PMS is the result of not listening to your body guidance. Sit with your center and find time to relax. Hot water bottle or pilates? Your gut will guide you. This is your time to be alone; your intuition is stronger now. Pay attention.

I have found, that when I learn to take care of myself, and treat my body less harshly, more lovingly, I naturally become less harsh and more loving to others.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Balance effort with relaxation. Learn compassion for yourself. And remember, whatever I bless flourishes, whatever I criticize falters. (from the Woman's Belly Book)

ps I am trying to put these into practice, one day at a time. As a confirmed 'woman who does too much' and chronic worrier, this is also my antidote to stress.

may life bless you,
(with thanks to all the women who have inspired me:
Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Joan Borysenko, Jean Shinoda Bolen,
Marion Woodman and to Maharaji for showing me the address
of peace within).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Putting it off

I'm putting it off again. Even though the pain in my neck and right shoulder, the numbness in my left arm should be a strong hint.

I'm putting off taking care of me. My 'things to do list' is so important, it takes precedence over lunch, naps, filing my chipped nails, and walking the dog.

There's a driver inside of me, cracking the whip. Poor horsie, never runs fast enough.

Poor body, poor wee soul inside, shrinking from the sight of that whip, that taskmaster.

Grinding my teeth at night, and then I wake up with a sore jaw. Wondering, where is the release button? could I just please find it and press, so everything would relax?

I don't have a boss, it's unpaid labour I'm doing, mostly volunteer work, singing in a Christmas concert, organizing a women's circle, practising with my quartet, handling volunteer requests from two cities, lots of emails and phone calls and ....

somewhere, in the middle of all that busy-ness, I am become more concentrated on doing, and lose the being.

Sore shoulders stopped me once before - lead me off to acupunture treatments, physiotherapy, osteopathy, whatever would 'fix it'. At the time, I was walking two big dogs every day, and re-injuring my shoulder each time. Finally, the acupuncturist suggested I find someone else to walk the dogs, since the shoulder wasn't healing.


Too much computer time, too eager to respond right away to all those important emails....leads to the sore neck, stiff shoulder syndrome.

I'm going to get off the computer right now, right after I check my emails again.....

have a great end of November post full-moon day,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mothering myself, again :)

originally posted March 02, 2007

Mothering Myself, too

How can I mother others (reader, be gentle), if I can't mother myself?

The first mother-god in our life is our own mother. She appears flawless, beautiful, all knowing, all merciful, kissing boo-boos, wiping tears, untangling curls; until we hit pre-teen years, then wham! she becomes the hag, easy to find fault with - we don't like the way she does her hair or the way she dresses, the clothes she buys for us are uncool, her disgusting personal habits (in our view) gross us out; not to mention the embarassing hoos-hoos over the back yard in search of us at supper time or bed time or the fact that she sees danger lurking on every corner.

In my life, things were complicated by the fact that my mom suffered from the disease of alcoholism - that made the transition to hag come a little quicker. I was the eldest of eight, and harnessed into 'little motherhood' at a young age - diapering babies, holding bottles, feeding pablum to brothers and sisters, babysitting - were all par for the course. Good material for growing up fast. Yet shouldering responsibilities too big for my small shoulders.

When mothering my own children came along, I tried so hard to 'do it right'. Be that perfect mom. Huh! And of course, no one is perfect. I began to resent having the weight of responsibility on my shoulders again. Somewhere down the line I realized my own need for mothering was still unfulfilled - that part of me that hadn't really grown up yet.

So how could I begin to mother myself? Hmmmm, perhaps giving up on that perfectionism, not pushing myself so hard to be all things to all people, not taking on too many tasks at once (which causes panic, anxiety to set in, and mad rushing, which usually results in accidents or at the very least, too much yelling); by slowing down, letting things come to me, letting go, not being 'in charge' all the time or feeling overly responsible for everyone in my life. Giving myself a break, taking it one day at a time.

Also, in ceasing the self-criticism, harsh self-judgment. Reminding myself that I am ok. I am enough. I am not perfect.

When I am hard on myself, I push the kids too hard. They react, I react, we all get a little crazy. They remind me, chill out, don't sweat it, Relax! They don't need me hovering. They are learning to manage their own time, get homework assignments in on time, get enough sleep, come home on time. (Time is a huge issue here, I'm noticing) I call them reminders. They say, Mom, we know what we have to do! Trust us. They actually need less mothering.

When I don't feel like a 'good mom', when I feel like I'm blowing up too often, talking with other moms is helpful. Having a women's circle is a god-send. Turning to my husband and admitting I'm not the superwoman I think I am is humbling but good for the heart. Letting down my armour, asking for help, sitting in meditation, practising yoga, coming back into the body.

Today, I am nobody's rock. I need mothering myself.

Many people may rely on me for leadership, team participation, support, or just companionship and friendly presence. But today, my mother-ship is docked in the service bin. I need some time out for just me, for heart care repairs, for recovery from the mommy battles. Instead of tackling the list of things to do, I'll take a nap.

Snowstorm outside makes me want to stay inside where it's warm. Breathing in, breathing out, resting, unlatching all the 'shoulds'. All navigational devices and compasses are on 'rest mode' while we wait out the storm.

Breathe with me,

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Helpful Angel Archetype

The Bitch post stirred up a few comments, and here's my take on the helpful Angel, aided and abetted by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, that wise storyteller and author of Women who Run with the Wolves, who calls it the "Great Healer" archetype.

I spent a number of years at home with my children when they were young and needy, and having been brought up to be a caretaker of others, eldest of eight, I became wedded to the "Little Mother" or helpful angel archetype from a young age.

Once I became a mother, however, the nature of the post being 24-7, quickly exhausted my initial loving soul-store, and I saw my flip side take over. Scary stuff, when you're in charge of vulnerable little people, and you've never been so angry before. I began to seek out any wisdom or therapy or guidance I could find.

Many of my women friends in peri-menopause have expressed a longing to get away, to take a sabbatical, to take off for more than a few days, to try and find themselves, not knowing where they have misplaced their sense of self. But being moms and central to the home, it seems impossible, we feel guilty to feel this way, and yet trapped.

Here is what Pinkola Estes says about how a woman knows she has to return to her wild instinctual nature (she calls it returning home):

"They know when they are overdue for home. Their bodies are in the here and now, but their minds are far, far away. They are dying for new life. They are panting for the sea. They are living just for next month, just till this semester is past, can't wait till winter is finally over so they can feel alive again, just waiting for a mystically assigned date somewhere in the future when they will be free to do some wondrous thing. They think they will die if they don't... you fill in the blank.

There is angst. There is bereftness. there is wistfulness. There is longing.... yet women continue at their day-to-day routines, looking sheepish, acting guilty and smirky. "Yes, yes, yes I know,' they say. "I should but, but, but.... (my kids need this, my kids need that)

An incompletely initiated woman in this depleted state erroneously thinks she is deriving more spiritual credit by staying than she thinks she will gain by going. Others are caught up in....working hard and ever harder to prove that they are acceptable, that they are good people.

....Let us clarify that the going home is many different things to many different women....there are many ways to go home; many are mundane, some are divine. ...I caution you, the exact placement of the aperture to home changes from time to time, so its location may be different this month than last.

Rereading passages of books and single poems that have touched them. spending even a few minutes hear a river, a stream, a creek. Lying on the ground in dappled light. Being with a love done without kids around. Sitting on the porch shelling something, knitting something, peeling something. Walking or driving for an hour, any direction, then returning. Getting on any bus, destination unknown. Making drums while listening to music. Greeting sunrise. Driving out to where the city lights do not interfere with the night sky. Praying. A special friend. Sitting by a bridge with legs dangling over. Holding an infant. Sitting by a window in a cafe and writing. Sitting in a circle of trees. Drying hair in the sun. Putting hands in a rain barrel, Potting plants, being sure to get hands very muddy. Beholding beauty, grace, the touching frailty of human beings.

So it is not necessarily an overland and arduous journey to go home, yet I do not want to make it seem that it is simplistic, for there is much resistance to going home no matter if it be easy or hard.

....the great healer archetype carries wisdom, goodness, knowing, caregiving and all the other things associated with a healer...but beyond that, it exerts a hindering influence on our lives. Women's 'heal everything, fix everything' compulsion is a major entrapment constructed by the requirements placed upon us by our own cultures....

... no woman can emanate an archetype continuously. We are not meant to be 'ever-able, all giving, eternally energetic.' She needs to learn to say "Halt" and "Stop the music", and of course mean it.

A woman has to go away and be with herself and look into how she came to be trapped in an archetype to begin with. The basic wild instinct that determines 'only this far and no farther, only this much and no more' must be retrieved and developed. That is how a woman keeps her bearings.

So women who are tired, temporarily sick of the world, but afraid to take time off, wake up already!"

from Woman who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blog Index of Articles Help

Someone out there in the blogging universe, please send me any info you have on how to index your blogs.

I have some great information buried in the past month's entries that I don't know how to list where it will be visible.

For instance, Women's Mysteries and PMS, from September 4, or Multitasking Menopause and Stress, June 13. Some kind of system must exist to list these.

I'll keep looking too

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Angel and the Bitch

You know the voices, the harsh inner critic, the mother-saint who nurtures others at her own expense, the inner perfectionist, your own mother's voice telling you how to behave....

I was listening to a CD of Joan Borysenko's on menopause, called Initiation into Power, and she reminded me of those inner voices. (a great intro to menopause by the way)

It also reminded me of a poem series I wrote, The Angel in the House, and her flip side, The Bitch Goddess, wherein I tried to reconcile the anger I felt some days (usually pre-menstrually) at being a mom-at-home, wife, and caretaker and the overhwelming love I also felt for my children and my husband. Especially when the kids were little, at the crawling around on the floor stage, and there wasn't much Daddy could do except pitch in on the weekends and evenings. Then the inner voices were very loud and uncompromising. Usually I 'lost it' and spoke in that voice before I even felt it coming.

A new book on menstrual health, The Wild Genie, and the accompanying exercise book, The Woman's Quest, are opening my eyes to the positive side of the Bitch's voice. Alexander Pope calls it The inner power broker. What an enlightening way to see this energy - the 'tough talking, asertive, provacative, knowing, sometimes angry figure so many of us encounter premenstrually [and in peri-menopause] and often end up apologizing for later."

"She'll get you into trouble if you don't understand and value her presence."

yeah, babe, you can say that again!

While this power is not to be abused, nor does it give you licence to abuse others, it is a step towards self-knowledge to listen to her voice. Slowing down, incorporating more stillness and 'sacred space' into your schedule may help alleviate some of the symptoms of the bitch.

But really, don't be afraid of her. Get to know your inner power broker. Shift your viewpoint. how is she your ally? as an agent for change perhaps, or acting out in the world.

What issues are troubling you? What could you do instead of censoring yourself? Peri-menopause particularly is a time when women are finding their voice. If you have mistreated yourself all your life, never taken a moment to take care of just 'you', you may find that voice is very bitter and resentful.

Find a way this month, or this week, or even today, to honour your inner Bitch through some action or activity. Drop the self-criticism and hone into your inner wisdom. What are you upset about? and how can you channel that into constructive change?

Bottling up our feelings, stifling our authentic self because we want to be good girls, and listening to our inner mother tell us to shut up, not be so selfish, leads to explosive, outspoken, challenging Bitchiness! why wait for the pot to boil-over-the-top? Stir the pot, find out what you are feeling pre-menstrually or pre-menopausally.

Don't forget to be gentle and breathe into it!

Honour your inner Bitch, have a dialogue with her!

have a great weekend,

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Good Body

Have you read The Good Body by Eve Ensler, of Vagina Monologues fame?

I picked it up a year ago, read it rather cursorily, put it down. This year, last week in fact on the way to New York, I read it again. It packs quite a punch. Short extract:

I'm walking down a New York City street, and I catch a glimpse of this blond, pointy-breasted, raisin-a-day stomached smiling girl on the cover of Cosmo magazine. She is there every minute, somewhere in the world, smiling down on me, on all of us. She's omnipresent. She's the American Dream, my personal nightmare. Pumped straight from the publishing power plant into the bloodstream of our culture and neurosis. She is multiplying on every corner.

She was passed through my mother's milk and so I don't even know that I'm contaminated. Don't get me wrong, I pick up the magazines. No, no, no. It's the possibilty of being skinny good that keeps me buying. Oh, God, I discover a Starbucks maple walnut scone expanding in me, creeping out. Flabby age leaking through the cracks. Big Macs, French fries, Pizza Land, four helpings, can't stop. My stomach is America. I want to drown in the cement. Obviously, I'm missing something. Maybe if I go and find the woman who thought this up she'll reveal the secret."

then follows a fictionalized interview with Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmo magazine.
Eighty years old, one hundred sit-ups twice a day, I'm down to ninety pounds!

Why am I telling you this? inside of every woman who finds her menstrual cycle a nuisance is probably a woman who hates at least part of her body, if not every part. Someone once told me I had nice hands, and I thought, well at least there's something attractive about me! (I was 18)

Thirty-five years later, I like myself a lot better, but the body landscape has been transformed. No longer size 6, or under 120 lbs, no longer being teased for being a toothpick basically. No danger of that today, and the photo of me you see on this blog is probably 15 years you have no idea! And no, I will not be having plastic surgury anytime soon, no matter how many wrinkles creep up on me.

Let's just say, that this good body has been supporting me and my work (as if they were separate, huh!) for 53 years now. In spite of my negligence and lack of care, too busy being in my head to listen to my body. Look, I just had lunch at 4:00 pm - stuff gets in the way of eating, and I'm hypoglycemic. My hubby and daughter finally said, do us all a favour and eat! (crankiness major indicator of hunger).

What is it about this 'inconvenience' called a physical body that our mind doesn't get? One can't live on words alone, on books and newspapers and magazines and blogs and ideas, no matter how fascinating these may be.

Help yourself by grounding once in a while, I tell myself, by getting up off the computer and stretching, by walking the dog, patting the cat, making myself a salad or a bowl of soup, looking out the window and unkinking the neck....and yes, breathing helps too.

Take care of this body, of these emotions, these foreign feelings that take up your/my time. Be kind to yourself/myself. What you bless flourishes, what you criticize or curse falters.

Believe in the body's goodness, and it will be good, to you.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marrying myself

This morning in yoga, something delicious happened. The instructor was leading us in some gentle postures for balance. I think it was in Tree pose that I noticed the breath was freed up, and I could feel my belly and abdomen open, not obstructed with tension.

Then we lay on the floor and did some back bends, each time resting our head on the floor between making effort, relaxing.

It took a bit of effort to keep bringing my mind back to center, stop it from wandering off. But when I was finally present, it felt so good to just breathe and be here, on the floor, in my body.

My body! that location of so much turbulence, many emotions, and so much tension! But this morning I could feel it all melting away, as I kept coming back to the breath. Being purposefully gentle with myself, because of a very stiff neck. Every time my inner voice said, don't do that pose, I listened.

Then this wonderful thought popped up : yoga=union, or marrying myself. Inside of the breath's gentle embrace, I am finally opening, accepting that this is where I am. I can love myself, right now, the way I am, in the shape I am in, with the light and dark of me, with all my neediness, and the letting go.

A smile lit my face, even with my eyes closed, and I felt warm and calm, knowing that there is nowhere to hide from me, and I don't want to run away from me anymore.

Acceptance, surrender - no, just a little more being-ness, just a few more breaths of one-ness, and wanting this, feeling longing and desire line up inside of little me.

be well today, let the harsh winds of November blow around you,
stay connected inside,

Monday, October 29, 2007

animals and intuition

I have spent the day with Mollie on my knee, balancing my poor baby shi-tzu with post-op trauma on one arm, and typing with the other. (She had one huge stone removed from her bladder and many many small ones - her whole bladder was full, too late to try and dissolve them with a special diet).

She is so freaked out, all she does is hide in the cubby hole where we put our shoes, or under the chairs and table, or cower at my feet, waiting to be picked up. She's not allowed to lick her stitches, so she's a bit of a nervous wreck. The pain killer will do that too.

So I try and read her mind. Do you want food? uh uh. Do you want water. Nope. be picked up?
yes. No food all morning, however, I had to force some down her throat along with a few antibiotics and pain killer pills. Then I opened the fridge door for my own lunch and there it was...the answer to Mollie's low appetite....leftover chicken with cheese on top and rice. Cut up in tiny pieces, mixed with the vet's recovery food, all gone. But no way could I get her to drink water.

The day went by, me carrying Mollie and wishing I had a snuggly to put her in (she's only 10 pounds).

By suppertime, she had not had a bowel moment in 2 days, nor drank much, and the vet was wanting me to bring her in to put back on the IV ...but I was feeling resistant to turning her over to the Vet again. I sat down at the table with her, dog food in a spoon, and hand fed her. She licked the spoon, she ate some from my hand. (gawd, now we will have one spoiled Shi-tze on our hands.) We brought out the water bowl, and she drank!

you must think we are two addled middle-aged people, treating our dog like a baby....but I was never so happy to see a dog lap up a bit of water with her tongue.

My intuition to not bring her to the vet forced me to take her for a walk at 7:10, when I should have been getting into the car for our 7:30... but the walk was fruitful, let's put it that way.

Dear Mollie, you have tried to tell me with your big moist eyes that all you need is a bit of extra loving care, a bit of attention, some cuddling, some spoon feeding, and everything will be alright. Now I see it. What a day....


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Intuition and intentions

Well it really works! Our women's circle met again today and people weighed in our what happened since our last meeting with the Intuitive Guide clairvoyant. We had all written our intentions on a piece of paper at the New Moon, and burned them in the outdoor fireplace at Debra's. We had all had messages from her too, or hints, things we needed to hear on specific quesitons.

Today is the full moon, and we told each other what has happened since then. Amazingly, even the skeptics were confounded by the stuff that arrived. Be careful what you wish for!

I had written that I wanted to create new avenues for learning for women - partly because I'm not sure where to go next, teach workshops or learn how to give great workshops. Anyway, I ended up sending a query to my local Library Lecture series about the class I am leading now on The Feminine Mysteries, with a link to my blogs. The next day she wrote back saying Yes, we'd love to have you give a lecture in 2008. My oh my, things work quickly ....

Someone else said they'd asked for too many things, to do with family, husband, kids, and were bombarded with events, happenings coming at them, too many to deal with.

So it's a good thing I reduced my list to three.

Number one was unconditional love for myself and my family - big smile - seems to be coming in spades :)

Know that the universe is listening when you ask for things, and trust that you will receive what you need!


Monday, October 22, 2007

Body Blog

Wouldn't it be nice to have a blog that reminded us every day to be conscious, give thanks, breathe, eat well, remember the mystery?

I hope some of the blogs on this site and msmenopause will do that. I know I write for myself, primarily but it's pleasing to hear from other bloggers and people looking for knowledge about women's mysteries.

The mother line of knowing has been cut for most of us, the one where knowledge is passed down between grandmother, mother and daughter. On my desk is a picture of my maternal grandmother from sometime in the 20's (from the loooks of her hair and dress), and below that I have a picture of my mother, my teenaged self with waist length hair, and my paternal grandmother, sitting in a rocker, all neat and pretty at 80'something, with permed white hair. My mother, gave birth to eight children in 10 years. In spite of being a newly recovered alcoholic, she's looking surprisingly young in this photo. She must be around 40, but looks 30, with a wide smile and her glasses off.

What was she told about her body at menstruation? She told me recently that she woke up to a swollen lip, feeling slightly deformed, on her first day of bleeding. Her mother was not the huggy type, never said I love you, according to my aunts who I polled on her personality. I grew up a few thousand miles away, so I wasn't close to my grandmother. What might she have heard from her mother? It boggles the mind, to try and understand where we got so shut off from our bodies, from our sexuality, from our women's cycles.

Maybe it was all just matter of fact, being on the rag, having the curse, no big deal.

I remember having to wear those wide pads with a belt and clips, very cumbersome. Almost as bad as nylons before pantyhose were invented. Waddling down the school corridors in mini-skirts afraid to bend over at the water fountain.

So, what did you learn about your body from your mother? I remember her cupping her hands over my breasts to see if they were growing! Embarassing. And the speech about sex being only for when you are married and have met the 'one'. I know booklets were conveniently left around the house, 101 questions you never dared ask about sex. But most of these did not enlighten me on the female cycle.

We are still learning that what is natural is right for us when it comes to our uterus, vagina, breasts, ovaries. Can we take responsibility for our bodies, and refuse to be bullied into medical interventions, or menstrual suppression, hormonal treatments and scheduled breastfeedings? Do you know how many doctors still recommend that women breastfeed every four hours?

Our intuition and famous 'maternal instinct' notwithstanding, I think it's an insult to our intelligence, as well as very sad, that mothers need to be told when to feed their babies, that girls are being advised to take the pill continuously so that they never bleed or have any 'inconvenience', that hysterectomies and caesarians are so common.

When will women stand up for our own bodies?

If you're not a Vagina Warrior already, please read Eve Ensler's famous book, The Vagina Monologues.

have a great day in your Bodhi-body,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

listening to the body

For many years now I have been fascinated with the connection between the emotions and the body. It started when I broke my writing arm just before having to submit a portfolio to the Master's Program in Creative Writing. I wondered, why the right arm, and why at that specific time - was I manifesting fear, uncertainty about moving ahead into my gifts and talents?

Then after being in the Master's program for 6 years, having two babies and working part-time, I broke my leg skiing. It seemed an obvious message: time to rest. Other benefits arose, speaking up about my need for help with the kids, the house; stopping the 'too busy' syndrome so I could slow down and feel what I was feeling. I started teaching classes about what I needed to learn: listening to the body.

Menopause has been one of those lesson learning times as well. Hot flashes were not so bad, but the emotional roller-coaster and two weeks of PMS a month during peri-menopause lead me into therapy to understand my anxiety and anger. I started discovering how shut down my feelings were, where I was numb, where I was deaf to my own grief.

Now my kids are teens, and their emotional roller coaster drags me up and down, when I am not grounded enough to stay 'zen'. I'm still learning about the emotions and the energy that is blocked in the body. Once in a massage session, as the masseuse touched my legs, I burst into tears, sobbing for no apparent reason, at least not connected to my emotions of that day, but of something ancient buried in the muscles.

I was reminded of this while researching some material for a class on Sexuality, Entering the Mystery, this morning:

"Our feelings carry energy - the need to cry or laugh, to move and touch, to express anger or tender feelings of the heart. If this energy is held back, it is stored in the body, particularly in the muscles that form the layer between the body's core and its surface. Often, in relaxing our muscles, buried conflicts and memories and similar kinds of blocked emotional energy start to emerge from the subconscious. This happens when, for instance, people start an exercise program or receive a deep massage - tears may flow, memories may come flooding in, unnamed fears may surface." Margo Anand, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy

It also happens when you make love sometimes. The few times I have burst into tears or laughter after sex, it has felt like a huge release, a healing energy sweeping the body and cleaning up the past.

So, a thought for the day. How can I let go into feeling, not always control my body with my head?

Perhaps menopausal symptoms are signals about buried feelings, lost dreams, old hurts and joys. Get a massage, let down your body armour, become a lover of your body.

Loosen up! move, dance, sing, cry....

Friday, October 12, 2007

balance and harmony

Yesterday at our women's circle we celebrated the New Moon by making an intention for ourselves, to see it manifest during the coming month. Mine was to create sacred space to rest and create projects in. It is the only way for me to restore sanity and balance in my harried world.

Our Western world, is so keen on making us crazy busy!

I buy into it, scratching off items on my too do list to make myself feel productive.

Today, I took an extra hour after meditating to consult my inner self, my guides, my higher self, whatever you want to call the presence of the Universe inside me. I actually used a deck of Native American animal cards, to find out what was up with me. Whatever works for you...

I put on some yoga music, flute and drum, with voice, and lit some candles.

Breath, and the thirst to go inside and be still - were my highest need.

I even found a place on Oprah's web site that gives you four easy steps to being still. If Oprah thinks we need it, we probably do!

Calm yourself, stay inside, don't let the winds of busy-ness drive you crazy. Find your center and focus, one step at a time. Make room in your life for this balance and harmony.

"Be humbled by your thirst, it is your god calling out to you to be fulfilled". Maharaji, Mexico City, 10 October 2007


Friday, October 05, 2007

Thanksgiving poem

please click on to read a poem called Living by Denise Levertov.

Every day is the last day. Give thanks,

now blogging at msmenopause for your reading pleasure

Monday, October 01, 2007

Breathing Deep

The phone rings, you jump out of bed, before you're even dressed or showered there is the list of things to do, the daily monster.

You hop on the computer, read your emails, remember you haven't fed the cats, run downstairs.

Have a cup of tea, throw some waffles in the toaster, run back to answer that email you left open.

Once back upstairs, you see yourself in the mirror, hair uncombed, pyjamas on, and remember you wanted to do some yoga before you started your day. It's already 9:30 a.m. The day began a long time ago. the middle of my 'to do' list and the course work I want to write about, there is also the weekly blog. And I have no new insights or inspiration this afternoon, (what, already 2:00 pm?) except that life is flying by to quickly. I did stop and do some yoga and some breathing work, because my stomach was tight and achy and anxiety was kicking in.

The only remedy I know is the STOP technique. Stop, think, organize and proceed. When I get too panicky and running wild and scattered, it's hard to feel satisfied at the end of the day. Better to stop, breathe, find my center, and flow with the universe once again.

The list is like a genie, threatening to cut your head off if you don't give it another command - Do this, make that, call here, go there. It keeps us running all day. Keep the genie busy climbing the pole of your breath, up and down, while you get the real work done.

So breathe deeply, friends, that's my clue for today.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Musemother moves to msmenopause

I am going to be moving my blog to (right next door, click on it).

All the posts on menopause from this blog will be moved over there, plus new ones added, like today's The Secret of Conscious Intention.

Please stay tuned to all three blogs, Wisdom for women (see links) and Ms Menopause for weekly bursts of insight, information and inspiration.

Have a lovely fall day,
Jennifer alias musemother

Monday, September 17, 2007

Feminine Mysteries and Menopause

This week we start a class discussion on the Feminine Mysteries, so at lunch time I was walking in the soccer field with Mollie the shi-tzu/bichon mix, my cute 2 year old, and telling her my thoughts on women and their bodies.

It seems that long ago and far away, women knew their place in the universe. In a far off mythical land (that may actually have existed), women knew that their bodies were part of the creative plan for the universe. Young women were initiated into the 'mysteries' of creative spirit through various religious ceremonies. Rituals centered around the cycles of women's blood, when they were fertile, when they were not, when they were in phase with the moon; the success of planting and agricultural crops all depended on this relation that women had with the moon.

Menopause is the third of the three initiatory phases for women. The first being menarche, the second pregnancy and birth. In menopause, something sacred and mysterious also happens. The women stop being fertile, they stop menstruating, they hold their blood inside them.

Scientists may see menopause solely as a bodily function, but menopause also has a spiritual and psychological function. It is a journey of moving inward. The problem is that “most women have …forgotten that such a place exists", according to Kristi Meisenbach Boylan in her book The Seven Sacred Rites of Menopause (Santa Monica Press, 2000). "For the past quarter of a century they’ve practiced self-denial, self-control and self-discipline to the point of having very little self at all.” Their inner lives may have atrophied as they worked hard, raised families, and done volunteer work, running themselves into the ground with being too busy to take care of themselves. “Once she has given all that she has to give, the outward will convince her to give more, even if it means giving up breathing. That is why women break down around the time of menopause, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.”

She says there are many stages of peri-menopause, and they are all about getting to know yourself from the inside, and learning how to draw boundaries so that your energy is not sucked dry.

Once a woman masters the ritual of holding the blood within, she intuitively knows when to release her spirit and gifts to the world and when not to. She learns this from the wise-woman who she is now one with.”

The cessation of menses is a liberating time, but also a time for grieving. Maternal instincts may unexpectedly surface, the biological clock has ticked away. This is a necessary loss that must be grieved.

However, the good news is, she becomes electrically charged by holding this blood within. New ideas, new projects pop into her head left and right. Depression lifts, anxiety passes, she is sharper mentally, physically and spiritually than ever before. “It’s as if they suddenly wake up and remember that they left something simmering on the back burner. This is when the menopausal moth emerges from the chrysalis as a butterfly.” (but sometimes what comes before is the bug soup period, the messy meltdown: fuzzy thinking, hot flashes and insomnia, lack of focus, lack of confidence, feeling like jello).

Now, in her butterfly phase, she learns to speak it like it is. An older woman can tell it like it is until it hurts. And she develops an intolerance for injustice. She sees the truth, and gets her power back. She learns the ability to say NO and mean it.

I think you will enjoy this book, which uses the myth of Avalon as a metaphor for the withdrawal into inner realms.


link to the Independent Publishers Group page for The Seven Sacred Rites of Menopause

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Descent into Menopause

For any of you interested in a Jungian approach to menopause, I recommend reading Descent to the Goddess, A way of Initiation for Women, by Sylvia Brinton Perera. She analyzes the myth of Inanna, (before Ishtar, middle-eastern) in psychological terms, and describes it as a story of modern woman's quest for wholeness. Her theory is that we who are 'daughters of the father', well adapted to a masculine world, have repudiated or repressed our full feminine instincts and energies. And that in this 'stripping down' or descent to the underworld, we find healing.

The story of Inanna is a fascinating on its own, as it is the oldest written myth (on clay tablets) of a feminine divine power, known as Queen of Heaven and Earth in ancient Sumer (5,000 years ago.)

I read this book through the worst year of my peri-menopausal descent, which I described to myself as the 'bug soup' stage, when the feeling of melt-down, loss of power and energy, mild depression, weeping, and general upside-downness, took over.

Here is a short excerpt from the book:

"The basis of women's experience of childbearing and of all blood mysteries that create and maintain life is that Nothing changes or grows without the food or some other sacrifice. ....
the myth of Inanna's descent and return is centered on this archetype of exchanging energy though sacrifice. ...She needs to sacrifice her dependence on the patriarchal gods to find her true home in the feminine ground of being.

"What I have seen in myself and other women who are successful daughters of the collective, often unmothered daughters of the animus and the patriarchy, is that we suffer a basic fault. We do not have an adequate sense of our own ground nor connection to our own embodied strength and needs adequate to provide is with a resilient feminine, balanced yin-yang processual ego.

...there is a deep split, maintained by loyalty to super-ego ideals that no longer function to enhance life, a loyalty that keeps the ego alienated from reality....thus we need to undergo a descent to the underworld levels of the dark goddess (Erishkigal), back to ourselves before we had the form we know, back to the magic and archaic levels of consciousness ...back to the body-mind and the preverbal tomb-womb states, searching back to the deep feminine, the 'dual mother' Jung writes about.

On the way down we shed the identifications with and the defences against the animus, introverting to initially humiliating and devastating but ultimately safe, primal levels. (awaiting rebirth). ...We feel as if the old meanings are loosened, as if we are suspended out of life, without energy.

What helps: "Creative improvisions, touching, holding, sounding and singing, silence, breathing, nonverbal actions like drawing, sandplay, building with clay or blocks, dancing, ... maternally nurturant and companioning behavior....

the descent to the earth, the darkness is the yin way. Like Inanna, we must submit, going into the deep, to allow the transformative mystery to take place."

Wow, I know, this is heavy stuff, and written in Jungian jargon. However, read between the lines. Some of us have some deep healing to do, some of us can benefit from therapy, and some of us just need to loosen up and play more. Less book knowledge and more body knowledge. Less ego ideals and more feeling ideals. Less 'overarching boss of everything' mode, and more 'tend and befriend' mode.

This is just a hint of what the transformative process is like. It's not everybody's journey, but enough of the women I know have been through burn-out, depression, divorce and major health challenges in their mid-40's, for me to recognize the truth of this part of the journey. For me, it started just before my father died, and it's taken me from age 47 to 52 (about 5 years), to come up for air. But now, I feel the cocoon splitting open, and my damp wings are scintillating in the sun. My energy has returned, and I feel closer to the Queen of Heaven, than to the Queen of the Underworld.

have a compassionate self-care day,
and write me if this passage speaks to you,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Women's Mysteries and PMS

In western culture, we have adopted a belief that menstruation and menopause are taboo subjects, and only recently have we seen open discussions in newspapers and magazines about women's topics like these. But we have lost the sense of the old taboo time, or sabbatu.

When we threw out the taboo system surrounding women's cycles, we also threw out the notion of rest time for women. Often, the physical illness or dis-ease associated with our periods and even menopause stem from a psychological need that women have to be separate for a time, to rest and withdraw. Esther Harding, in her book Woman's Mysteries suggests that this is not a sign of neurosis, but a clue from the unconscious about a reality: that mental, emotional and physical disturbances of which a woman is unaware creep into our conscious life as 'menstrual disabilities', or PMS, and that these are related to the loss of rest time and alone time.

She suggests that we need this rest time, the same way we need sleep to nourish us and dreams to put us in touch with our unconscious, and that we would gain greater understanding about our own psyches if we had time to slow down and listen to our intuition. This was behind the 'moon lodge' of Native American women. A secret women's society, with laws and taboos surrounding it, sought to bring balance and harmony into women's lives and the whole community by allowing women regular contact with the deeper, internal nature.

A woman should heed the feelings she has pre-menstrually and recognize any disturbances as a manifestation of her need to be by herself, to temporarily withdraw from the demands of external life, and contact her deeper nature. This rest produces a healing effect and restores balance, according to Harding, a Jungian psychologist.

This week is the waning of the moon, leading to the dark of the moon, a period when irritability, inertia or restlessness may surface in a woman's cycle.

By replenishing the well of feminine being, we gain new energy, feed our relationships and creative proejcts. But active inner listening is required.

Pay attention to your cycle, ladies. Watch the moon's phases, and discover where you are. If you are menopausal and past menstruation, then pay attention to your energy levels, to your level of harmony within. Lay low if necessary, recoup, restore, and rest. Take cat naps. Avoid arguments with teenagers or bosses. Put major decisions on hold. Order out!

We have no external taboo to provide us with this rest time anymore. It's up to each one of us to tune in, and heed the signals. Tuning forks at the ready!

restfully yours,

Monday, September 03, 2007

Poem for middle-age

I think most poetry is appreciated differently by people in middle-age. There has been more loss, more love, more experience of life, to make reading poetry a bitter sweet salve. I think of the many women I know, above 40, approaching 50, who are rediscovering themselves, making a new life or new identity after divorce or after children leaving home, who look at themselves in the mirror and see new wisdom lines on their faces and wonder where the 16-year-old self they have lived with so long as disappeared to. This poem is one of my favorites, because it suggests that now is the best time to savor that meeting with oneself, now is the time to Feast on your life.

(see more poems on menopause and mid-life at

Love after Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Core Truths

In yoga this morning, a wonderful thought came to be, all by itself: I can let go of being angry with myself.

Now, I didn't know that I was angry at me. I thought/knew I was angry at my mother, my father, my ex, my spouse, my kids, my aunts, my cousins, my friends.....there's a lot of things I could be angry about. But it felt suddenly clear in my head that most of the old anger was aimed at me. Not good enough, not smart enough, not tidy enough, never 'enough'.

The other night, swimming in the turquoise reflection of a lit pool, a similar thought came to me: I can let go of past hurts. I was just swimming in circles and my husband said, you look like you're sixteen! That was nice, but I felt more like I was six, dog paddling freely in the dark with a huge smirk on my face. I even yelled out to him, I can let go of the past! (which must be a relief to him, too).

There's such an exciting newness to this. (If you knew me, you'd know it's been hanging on too long). I love that it arises spontaneously, after so much 'hard' thinking, reading, working on releasing old stuff. In yoga this morning I loved feeling the strong pull to breathe from down in the Core of me, to dive into the source and breathe it up through the bottom of my feet, into the heart, into my body's core.

Sometimes, it feels like when I was little, swimming with my sister in the Ottawa River. We would hold our breath and see who could stay the longest underwater. Once we are down there, sitting amongst the river grass and mossy stones like water babies, the world above seems far away. Above, the wind is rippling the surface of the water. We watch the waves dip and move as the sunlight throws shadows and rays of light, and yet light rests on the surface. The underwater grasses or weeds move too, but in silent motion. The fish don't even notice us, we are that still.

When I dive inside, I am sitting inside this well of peace.
Inside of me, a calm harbour while the wind rages outside.
Inside, an embrace, holding and being held.
Life's pulse and rhythm my only song.
A comfort and sweetness from the feeling that I belong.
No effort, only feeling and letting myself rest.

Let worry and defeat melt away.
Let fear and bothersome thoughts melt away.
Here is home and a Presence of something larger.
An ocean of peace.

My core, mon coeur, mi corazon.

Think I'll stay inside today,

Friday, August 24, 2007

Healing prayer

Navaho chant for healing:

Dark young pine, at the center of the earth originating
I have made your sacrifice
Whiteshell, turquoise, abalone beautiful
Jet beautiful, fool's gold beautiful, blue pollen beautiful, reed pollen,
pollen beauitful, your sacrifice I have made
This day your chlid I have become, I say.

Watch over me.
Hold your hand before me in protection.
Stand guard for me, speak in defense of me.
As I speak for you, speak for me.
As you speak for me, so will I speak for you.

May it be beautiful before me
May it be beautiful behind me
May it be beautiful below me
May it be beautiful above me
May it be beautiful all around me

I am restored in beauty
I am restored in beauty
I am restored in beauty
I am restored in beauty.

tr. by Gladys A. Reichard, as published in Women in Praise of the Sacred
ed Jane Hirshfield

Monday, August 20, 2007

Belly Heart Soul

Breathe Sing Pray
Belly Heart Soul

I am breathing this morning through the fear and tightness in my solar plexus, and learning to breathe into trust in my higher self. I also pray for acceptance of all the unloved parts of me I carry in my shadow, nestled there in the pit of my abdomen. I open my heart and accept my light.

"When you own the parts of yourself that make you feel uncomfortable, you no longer hold anyone else responsible for your pain or happiness. Then you shine with your own light, like the sun, which is the only thing that casts no shadow." The Four Insights, Alberto Villoldo

Shadow says: not good enough, unwanted, unloved, messy, unsuccessful, never happy
Then we cast those undesirables on others and say, yuck!

Heal what I carry inside me, or I'll keep projecting my self-hatred onto others.

We also project our beauty, because we have trouble embracing it too.
We fear our own sunlight, and play small.

In the EFT technique, while tapping acupressure points on the body, one repeats: In spite of my (pain, emotion), I love and accept myself completely.

Openness begins here, with my own light shining.

In spite of my nervous belly, I open my heart to love and accept myself completely :) With the help of the mirror inside, I find my light.

"Without having known your truest nature, you may know other people, but you will be an alien to your very existence. You cannot be an alien to yourself. You must know....Because what you're looking for is within you. It always was and always will be..

You are blessed beyond what you know. It is time to discover every blessing you have been given so you can be thankful, so you can be fulfilled." Maharaji (for short video clip, see


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Three Daughters of God and the New Moon

"Long before the coming of the austere patriarchal system of Islam, the Arabic people worshipped this trinity of desert Goddesses who were the three facets of the one Goddess.

Al-Uzza (‘the mighty’) represented the Virgin warrior facet; she was a desert Goddess of the morning star who had a sanctuary in a grove of acacia trees to the south of Mecca, where she was worshipped in the form of a sacred stone.

Al-Lat, whose name means simply ‘Goddess’, was the Mother facet connected with the Earth and its fruits and the ruler of fecundity. She was worshipped at At-Ta’if near Mecca in the form of a great uncut block of white granite.

Manat, the crone facet of the Goddess, ruled fate and death. Her principal sanctuary was located on the road between Mecca and Medina, where she was worshipped in the form of a black uncut stone." (McLean, The Triple Goddess, 80.)
Apparently the three goddesses were represented by meteorites or aeroliths, stones that had fallen from heaven, just as the Kaaba stone in Mecca.
Now, look at the new moon tonight. The crescent moon is a powerful symbol of Islamic countries, even on their flag; but it is also very ancient.
"Each aspect of this trinity corresponds to a phase of the moon. ..Al'Lat has three names known to the initiate: Q're, the crescent moon or the maiden; Al'Uzza, literally 'the strong one' who is the full moon and the mother aspect; then Al'Menat, the waning but wise goddess of fate, prophecy and divination. Islamic tradition labels them 'daughters of Allah', or banat al-Llah, firmly associating al-Llah as a pre-Islamic deity paired with the three forms of the Goddess." (from an article on wikipedia)
The meaning of the moon cycles is apparent to women who are aware of the feminine mysteries. The moon follows the same cycle as women's bodies.
"In women's blood mysteries, when women are attuned to the lunar rhythm, they will ovulate at the Full Moon and menstruate durng the Dark Moon. During this bleeding time, if women resond to their inner selves, they will instinctively draw inward and rest in the quiet, dark, sweet stillness. " article, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, Demetra George in Woman of Power
Even in the darkest times, a light will shine. Krishna also said, "Even in your darkest hour, I will not abandon you."

There is a new light in the sky tonight. Let it remind you that the light within continues to shine, even if it wanes for a while and grows dim, it returns; it is always there.
Happy New Moon,

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sexy menopausal ladies

Hey women who have paused their menses, or are about's a thought.

There is something very sexy about being menopausal. You can make love when you want to without worrying about where you are in your menses cycle, for one thing. And once your kids start working and don't follow you on vacation anymore, a lot can happen during day-time hours. The thing is, most of the time, I don't feel like it. Too tired, too late, too this or too that.

So it's been a long, dry spring. But after two weeks vacation, I can honestly say that the juicy-ness has returned.

Doesn't take much, does it? Just unplug the phones, drive nine hours, leave your computer and email behind, head for the ocean and a small house on a hill. Sleep in every morning till 9:00, eat lots of eggs, bacon, coffee and hot milk. Swim in the salty ocean, or the ice-cold salmon river. Read a good book. Sit around the fire and drink wine and watch the flames. Sing songs, play guitar. Share your bed with your newly-relaxed husband who is also on vacation.....or some other likely candidate.

Voila! rest and relaxation and the sexiness returned. We have enjoyed each other's bodies more in the past 14 days than in the past 6 months!

So, there are no secrets here, no big earth shattering news. Just more of the same news about self-care, self-love, slowing down, taking naps every time you can, allowing some pleasure to seep back into life. Ahhhh......and the quiet nights around the fire sipping wine.

The wind, the rain, the sun, the heat, the crisp evenings, the humidity, the salty air, the flowers fullness and abundance, the pool, the sound of soccer games, the whole fertility thing - blooming going on to the max. It's about that!

Enjoy your summer, while it's here.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Ms Menopause

In my bottom drawer, underneath the silky pyjamas I hardly wear and some old bathing suits, I have a great pin-on button that says I love my Menopause: J'aime ma menopause! A while ago, I attached it to a small round leopard skin pillbox hat. When I put on my matching long gloves, and wear my pointy fake leopard skin glasses, I transform into my alter-ego, Ms Menopause.

Watch for her appearance in a neighborhood near you.

What does she do? she brings you good news, that menopause is a blessing, not a curse.

She brings red candles and red costume jewellery in scarlet gift bags for women celebrating their Crone-dom at a menopause party.

She bakes cupcakes and decorates them with red icing and big hearts! If you're lucky she'll organize a potluck lunch and sing Happy Crone's Day to you.

She tells bawdy jokes and helps women laugh about their sweaty nightgowns and faulty thermostats.

She dresses up as Ishtar,Queen of Heaven at the full moon and lies on her lounger while other women have their monthly periods, encouraging them to take the day off.

She reminds us to breathe from the belly and not get our knickers in a knot when patience wears thin.

She carries around a bag of nettle tea, oatstraw and black cohosh to bring harmony into our hormones.

Ms Menopause is a only a figment of my imagination, but I think she would do good things in the world.

Remember, what you resist will persist. What you bless flourishes, what you curse falters. Don't look at your body in the mirror and tell yourself how flabby you're getting or how wide your thighs are spreading. Love every inch of this amazing body from Venus.

More thoughts and a new blog when I return from the ocean,

musemother alias ms menopause

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mothering and Menopause

Sometimes I wish I could start all over again with the mothering thing, now that I'm so wise in my 50's. Of course, it would be easy peasy with babies and toddlers, (if I were 20 years younger), cause they can't argue back like teenagers can. They also don't hold you to promises you made two years ago in the thick of an argument.

Anyway, Moms can rest easy now, all the handy resources you need are on-line. I was just sent a link for a great website for Montreal Moms, appropriately called so if you're a mom in the neighbourghood check it out. Things have improved a lot since I was a mom of young babies, and resources are neatly listed on this web site so you can find what you need, and where to go, what books to read and even where to get great cupcakes!

re Menopausal Mothering - menopause makes me tired, and I haven't really found too much menopausal zest yet, although I hear it's coming. But I am finally willing to say good-bye to the Little Mother in me. I mean the over-zealous, ever capable but over responsible Wendy who treats her husband like Peter Pan, and her kids like the lost boys. I think my kids (15 and almost 17) are turning out pretty well, in fact they are pretty incredible. So it's time to let go and stop micromanaging. They can do laundry, they sometimes cook *under pressure, and some day they will put all my daily lessons to good use out there in the world. The kind of mothering toddlers need, they don't need anymore, i.e. constant surveillance. One of them is off by himself to Cortez Island in B.C. to help my nephew build his house.

So I'm off the hook for most of the day, which is a relief. One of the side effects of menopause is that I need lots of naps, so I am getting in touch with my own inner toddler. I have enough to do just taking care of my beauty rest and my own projects, without worrying that someone is sticking their fingers in the sockets while I sleep.

This free time allows me to work at home. I spent the morning reading and researching class material for an upcoming women's centre class in the fall, The Feminine Mysteries (yes, that does sound exciting!). It's a good balance - they sleep till noon, and I get time to read!

In the middle of this reading, I filled out a questionnaire to find out who my inner goddess is. To my surprise, it wasn't Athena, the father's daughter brainiac, nor the wild huntress Artemis, but Hera (the wife and empress) and Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, healer and mystic that I most resembled. Well they were all pretty equal, even Aphrodite was up there on the scoreboard. Proving that neither motherhood or menopause have been able to extinguish all my sexual genes. And the draw towards connecting with inner wisdom that comes with menopause is spooky but real. (see The Goddess Within, by Jennifer Barker Woolger and Roger Woolger)

Anyway, somewhere in my notetaking and reading, I came to terms with what bugs me about being a menopausal mom and stay-at-home wife. And I am now willing to let go of it. I am willing to walk away from the overly capable, responsible (and cranky) Little Mother I was bred to be, as eldest of eight children, and just take care of me, for a change. Just tuck my chin and nose in, out of every body else's business and take care of my own business.

(at least for today- tomorrow is another challenge!)

rambling on,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2 Poems for Wednesday

Grace Paley

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips

and here is one of mine, for no reason I can think of, except
reading Garrison Keillor's book, Good Poems, I am inspired to post
one of mine, unpublished as yet:

Bach’s Suites for Cello Unaccompanied
or The cell in Cello

Every union of parts must make a whole and exhaust
all the notes necessary to the most complete expression.”
Bach’s biographer, Johann Forkel, 1802.

Morning’s silent, snow-covered hills,
weekends at our highland retreat.

Quiet not to wake the kids,
we heat up the morning sheets.

Your tongue pulses deep in my cells,
rejoices in the salt and sweet.

We knit a union of our parts,
until, exhausted, pause, complete.

(as Yo-yo Ma’s rosined bow
dances to a nervous peak.)


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Feminine Sexuality as Creative Force

Whether we are weaving tissue in the womb or weaving imagery in the soul, our work is sexual: the work of conception, gestation, and birth.

The Mother has but one law: create, make as I do…transform one substance into another…transmute blood into milk, clay into vessel, feeling into movement, wind into song, egg into child, fiber into cloth, stone into crystal, memory into image, body into worship.” Meinrad Craighead, (celibate artist) - The Feminine Face of God

Sex is the mysterious binding energy that keeps the electrons spinning around the nucleus. It is the energy of God and spirit expressing itself in ever-changing, ever-evolving physical form. It is the life force that results in flowers blossoming in the spring and bringing forth fruit in the fall. It is the attracting energy that binds every part of the universe. …In humans, ‘it’s the desire and longing that attracts two people together to create something new' …thoughts from Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Sex as sacred/sacrament:…in the broadest sense, sex is spirit seeking expression in physical form. That’s why sexuality is so profoundly linked with spirituality – an idea that is familiar in many other cultures. In countless ancient temples throughout Southeast Asia, for example, there are carvings of divine beings locked in sexual embrace – a form of spiritual communion.

In India there is a tradition of temple priestesses that goes back thousands of years. These women were trained from girlhood to consecrate their bodies and sexuality to God. Though men came to the temples to have sex with them as a sacrament of spiritual cleansing their sexuality could not be owned by any man. Imagine living in a culture where sex was a sacrament rather than a sin! (above from Dr. Christiane Northrup, Mother-Daughter Wisdom)

Last night I was at a comedy gala in French, as part of the Juste pour Rire series on this week. An older comic, Yvon Deschamps, used Genesis and Eve "la grosse epaise" that got us into trouble with God and lost us our immortality, as part of his schtick. At first I laughed. I noticed my husband guffawing too. Then I lost my sense of humour, as he repeatedly blamed Eve, the silly sexual woman who ate the apple, for all our woes. It's not a joke anymore, I thought. He made a few jokes about how Adam made her from clay "en glaise" (anglaise or English woman), which got some laughs. But I remembered an alternate story that posits that Eve made Adam from wet bloody clay, and gave him his name, Adam which means red earth.

Creative women with their sexuality dip-sixed for thousands of years by various religious tropes, need to challenge the dominate myths that depict the Mother of All Creation as a stupid idiot, (rough translation of "grosse epaise"). If it wasn't for Pandora, who was made with "all gifts" from the gods but intended as a scourge to inflict torture on Prometheus for defying the gods, and also blamed for releasing all the evils and plagues into the world, perhaps Eve could be dismissed as a harmless prototype.

But while I admit to briefly losing my sense of humour, I really wish a female comic would get up there and tell the story properly. But then, a sexual woman with a sense of humour could be dangerous thing.

Sexuality, women's bodies: our link to the spiritual and creation: a blessing, not a curse.

thoughts for the day,

Friday, July 13, 2007

Middle-aged beauty

Most of us seem preoccupied by the inner turmoil and body landscape during menopause - the emotional rollercoaster, the hot flashes, the night sweats, but the Change also effects what's going on in your face, which affects your radiant beauty.

I have been looking (and feeling) tired for a few weeks now, and while a brief three day get-away helped me rejuvenate, once I got back to 'business' and the daily list, whoa, my face looked saggy and dark again.

Fortunately, without knowing how I would feel this week, I had booked a facial about three weeks ago - something I haven't done in over 10 years, and didn't really like the last time, but my esthetician convinced me I was in need. Actually, once I got there she said my skin was severely dehyrated and asphxiated! (I lied and said I didn't use soap on my face, but some days I barely splash it with water).

To my surprise, it was lovely, absolutely divine - no blackhead pinching or rough rubbing of the skin. Just a gentle exfoliation and lots of creams massaged into my face and shoulders. I lay there for over an hour, listening to calm music in a candlelit cubicle. while my lovely, gentle careworker, Vickie, attented to any discomfort and took her time with me, a newbie in the facial department.

I told her I wouldn't probably be good at following any regimen, so she didn't try to sell me the expensive three-step system for follow-up care. But this morning, I opened up my Wisdom of Menopause bible by Christiane Northrup, to the page: Skin Care from Your Refrigerator. So if any of you want to make your facial treatment using the source of all those plant and fruit acids the expensive creams are derived from, here is a partial list from that book.

Antioxidants, fruit acids. and plant hormones are what your skin needs in middle-age.

Plain yogourt on your face nourishes and hydrates with lactic acid and milk proteins

Thinly sliced cucumber on your eyelids and cheeks relaxes and sooothes.

Green tea bags, moistened and put on eyelids give an antioxidant lift.

Mashed up fruits: peaches, strawberries or apples mixed with finely ground oatmeal makes a nourishing facial mask.

Give yourself about fifteen minutes to let the skin absorb the nutrients. Et Voila!

It's good to know you have everything you need to be beautiful right in your fridge. Everything you put on your face should be something you would willingly put in your body, cause it gets absorbed into your blood and cells through your skin.

Love your face! smile a little more often today,
and think beautiful :)
restingly yours,

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dear Belly,

We have had a difficult relationship, starting very young. I didn't want to have a belly that showed, like my mother did, nearly always pregnant with a round belly.

I wanted to be thin, but not skinny like my Olive Oyle years. I wanted you flat, not round. I thought children would never take residence there, and when I did find an egg was fertilized, it took a while to hold on to one, after an ectopic pregnancy and two miscarriages. Those cramps were like menstrual cramps. You never let me forget there was a cervix and uterus inside that had been bruised by poking fingers, speculum and doctors.

I laugh at my middle-aged Venusian figure now - but when my pants are too tight or pantyhose bind me, it hurts. Why do I want to 'suck you in'?

When I get painful gas from being nervous you are speaking. When I get flatulence from eating wheat or food that doesn't agree with me, you speak. When I belch and burp you rumble out loud that you're not digesting something. I hardly ever consult you before ingesting coffee and spices or desserts that don't agree with you. I wonder why I don't listen to your wisdom?

The tightness in the solar plexus and diaphragm that doesn't let me breathe in singing or in yoga is related. The tension in my shoulders is all related to my gut feelings, emotions I feel bad about, or not supposed to feel feelings. Rising above was always my motto. Not grounded.

So Belly, I better begin paying attention now, because so much information can come from you.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Herbal allies, from Susun Weed's Menopausal Years: the Wise Woman Way

A friend's phone call for help with headaches sparked this search for remedies. My favourite source is the above-mentioned book. See her website for helpful information on menopause and wise words from Grandmother Growth.

The thing to remember is that your body is not letting you down, it's sending you messages about what is out of balance. And in our crazy speeded-up world, a lot of us are out of balance. What I love about Weed's approach, is that her first remedy is always "Rest". Stop and feel what is happening in your body, in your life. Then look at what supplements or herbs can help.

Another friend (wise woman and yoga instructor) just called to cancel our dinner party this evening because of a heavy period and feeling low-energy. She needed to rest and feared she wouldn't be good company. I applaud such right-minded thinking! There are no 'to do's' on my list that should override my being in touch with how I feel (at least, that's how I wish I acted all the time). Usually stress and a weird sense of duty forces us to override our actual body health or intuition about what we need and then we operate on auto-pilot. Hey, there are two ways of living my life, I am learning lately: unconsciously and consciously. It's always up to me.

Which one is it for me today? Am I going to rush through my day making lists, getting things done, feeling rushed, unprepared for what is coming at me this day, or can I slow down, think ahead, use the S.T.O.P. procedure: Stop, Think, Organize and Proceed. You could add, Stop, Feel, organize and proceed, but it makes a lousy acronym. SFOP!

Here's what my herbal bible told me about headaches and remedies:

Garden sage (not desert sage): salvia means "s/he saves", eases the minds and wombs of women; dries up hot flashes and night sweats, regulates hormonal change, eases irritated nerves and banishes depression (contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and anti-stress thiamine); relieves dizziness and emotional swings, eliminates headaches and nourishes the liver while keeping your blood vessels flexible.

Black Cohosh: calms hot flashes and reduces night seats, relieves headaches and eases joint pain and arthritis, contains aspirin like salicylates that dilate the blood vessels (15-25 drops of tincture) also improves digestion and alleviates breast tenderness and water retention

Stinging Nettle: (Weed's alltime favourite herbal tea) nourishes and strengthens kidneys and adrenal glands; eases and eliminates cystitis, bloat and incontinence, rehydrates dry vaginal tissues; eases and prevents sore joints, stabilizes blood sugar, reduces fatigue, reduces and eliminates headaches, nourishes the digestive system, the nervous system, among others (infrusion of dried herb 1-4 cups a day) (do not use flowering nettle for food or medicine)

Oatstraw: stabilizes blood sugar levels, maintains firm teeth and strong bones, reduces cholesterol and improves circulation, nourishes nerves, reduces frequency and duration of headaches, maintains restful sleep patterns, eases bladder spasms, vaginal dryiness, uterine pain, incontinence, improves libido! (dried herb infusion 1-4 cups daily)

Read the book for further details on these healing herbs. I can attest to the wonderful properties of Nettle, Oatstraw and sage. Black Cohosh I know less about.

Take it from me, it's easier than popping pills and has less side effects. Some of those 'weeds' in your garden just might be helpful allies for your health. I've even heard it said by an energy healer and naturopath that we attract the weeds we need the most for our health, i.e. the plantain and dandelions in your yard are not noxious weeds but herbal helpers.

Take care, have a nice weekend, and a lovely magical 07-07-07!


Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Morning Blog

Just visited my sister's new website where she has posted some artworks created for her Master's degree in the UK. (link on side bar to Sue Raven Art)

We are both working on the sacred and profane images of women, from Mary Mother of God to naked female bodies for Sue, and for me, a search for the sacred feminine that includes sexuality, a la Mary Magdalene, Eve, early goddess figures, our first mothers.

How is it we both ended up pursuing this subject? both from Catholic home, check. both female, check. one a major in Creative Writing, one in Art - ok both artists of a sort. Check. But other than that, just serendipity.

I'm reading Mary Renault's The King must Die this morning, the story of Theseus, son of a King's daughter and possibly of a god. Born in Troizen. The author describes the earlier Shore People who were there before the Horse people, those nomads who came riding down from the steppes to the ocean's warmer climes and conquered or assimilated the goddess-loving people.

The symbols we take for granted are so ancient. The sacrifice of a king every few years reminds me of the election process, where a president must step down after two terms of four years. We don't kill them anymore, but we get rid of them just the same.

Where is the blessing of the god mother then? where is the power of the Earth invoked? tornadoes, storms, hurricanes, floods seem to be the only symbols we are afraid of anymore. The power of the earth to disrupt our 'orderly lives', our illusion of harmony and busy work ethic productivity. We do not offer sacrifice, we do not acknowledge a higher power, except in a very abstract way. But we cower in the face of the destruction of our homes by wind and rain.

So how gain back our harmony with mother Earth?

How renounce our conquistador ways and live in peace with the grass, crops, trees? I hear the bees are dying off because they are trucked around the continent to fertilize crop after crop, and it's not pollution that's killing them but all the disruption to their hives' life. Big agro-business means bigger, better, cheaper food, but if we kill all the bees that pollinate the crops, what next?

I think the Queen Bee is part of the answer. How do we find out who or what is at the center of the hive, keeping it alive with her honey-making, egg-laying energy? And who is the fertilizer of the Queen? How can we bring our energies back into balance?

Find the sweetness within.

Find Ariadne's thread in the dark labryinth.

Or failing that, ask for help to find it.

just a monday morning musing