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!