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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday peace

Hre it is, the five minutes break in the middle of the afternoon, when I pause from writing Christmas cards, running errands, letting the measurers/installers and carpet samplers finish up and leave, and now...here I am at my laptop in front of the window.

It is stark white in front where snow has smothered the lake, dark brown almost black where the island meets the horizon in tree branches, and a glowing pewter mixed with light gray and white with gold touches where the sun lowering itself in the western sky shines through.

Just for moment, the time for 3 birds to wing past my window, then a fourth, there is a calm peaceful feeling.

So this is how it must be, to let the landscape's silence enter, and fill up the cracks and crevices not already filled with busy thoughts and plans and desires. Let the cup fill up with emptiness, yes, the white empty snow.

Now the sky is growing darker, and the silver ball of sun pours out a stronger light.

may the light shine on you, may the inner light be discovered and may the light of love envelope you and yours over this holiday season,

musemother

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow Day and Mother Daughter Hair Colour

Snow Day: not for the kids, but for me. Heavy snowfall yesterday, freezing rain overnight, and more thick fluffy flakes this morning means, stay at home. Cancel yoga (do some stretches on the rug in my room), a delivery was cancelled too, all smart people stay off the road today (those who can afford to - my husband made it to work, Caitie is at school).

There are days like this when the lake is whited-out, a hazy dark shoreline on the island across from us, a thin open patch of water greyish and closing in, the muffled sound of crows cawing in the big maple, a few workers on a saw below (oh yeah, the shingles are going up in back, slowly but surely).

I was going to say, there are days like this when I remember why we moved here. Believe me, I haven't had much time to look at the lake and enjoy a peaceful cup of coffee or read a book. Still finding boxes of DVD's and video games, or CD's that need unpacking, files that need filing (a huge pile of paid bills), and my closet is full of 'stuff' that I should have given away.

But this morning I am grateful for the snowy slow-down day. Grateful to find a few moments between phone calls and list making (I am an eternal list maker, but still disorganized), to look at the white expanse before me.

Christmas cards have not been sent, the Christmas rush has barely begun, we have a huge open house to show off our new place this Saturday, but today, just for today, and really, all I have is this moment, I am not going to panic, not going to rush left right and center. Just accept the moment, one heartbeat at a time.

I invite you to put aside the list for a moment, and look at your window. Is there a cardinal calling to you? is there a squirrel burying nuts? or is there a blank slate, a white board of fluff, for you to gaze at and relax for a minute.

enjoy the pre-holiday, pre-rush if you can.

musemother
ps I must write to you about discussions with my daughter about hair colour - she's 16 and already streaks her dirty blonde hair with darker brown and lighter highlights. Now she wants to go dark brown! and I say, too much money every 6 weeks, and too much hassle with roots showing and getting it done all the time. Vanity permits me to cover the gray, but why does a 16 year old have to change her colour?

Friday, November 28, 2008

crying at the hairdressers

Renovations, finishing up on house building, workers in my room every morning finishing a closet door panel, shingles, soffits, front door bell, new furniture - it's all very exciting, and very draining. But I'm a trooper, I deal with it all, feed my family (mostly) home cooked meals, and ignore my own books, journals, needs.

Until this week, looking for computer connections and disks, I opened a box in the new office full of boxes of books unopened, and came across one that said Jenn's books, women's spirituality....and my heart went Ah....that's what I have been missing. Time for me, time alone.\

Actually that's the title of the course I'm giving in January - Mini-retreats, Time for You. And of course, I've been so busy with the move and settling in that I've forgotten about me. Skipped yoga to b e here for deliveries, skimp on meditation because the house is full of people at 8 am and my old schedule doesn't work anymore. Can't use the bathtub for a long soak cause there's no curtains (well, since Monday there are, finally!)

I am learning that what I teach is what I need to learn the most. The long ago days of summer when I had lots of time to practise soul collage, colour mandalas, and listen to peaceful music while doing yoga on the floor in my room seem a distant memory.

This morning I escaped the busy house to the hair dresser - Christmas concert is tomorrow, and I need to spruce up. NO make-up on, my face looked tired in the bright mirrors. I was pretty quiet til my hairdresser asked how the house was coming along. After letting out my list of busy week stuff, a tear crept in, and my shoulder started spasming....and I couldn't stop the flow.

It will pass, I said to Patrick, but really, it's just my body and soul crying out for time alone, time for me, time to be with the beautiful view of the lake we moved here for. Lake and sky? oh yeah, right in front of me. Breath and feeling anchored ... oh yeah, right under my nose.

nameste,
jenn

Friday, November 14, 2008

menopause and intuition

it is the most heartening discovery of all, to know that we can actually prepare for menopause. We can use the allies of stillness, softness, serenity and surrender to get closer to our own reality.

I always wondered what intuition was, and most of the time I think I have a knack for it. But sadly, most of the time I am moving too fast to pay attention, pushing myself forward, belting my own back with push strive get going don't rest keep moving kind of messages. Ignoring the sad little voice that says, wait a minute, what about my rhythm, my pacing, my needs? You know that the hardest thing for a woman to do is go pee when she has to? there is always something else to finish first. Multi-tasking is dangerous in menopause, there are bones to break, muscles to twist, but I insist on multitudinous activities - can't cross the kitchen without one more thing in my hand to put away, in spite of sore shoulders I still carry in two heavy bags from the car, instead of making 2 trips.

So, slowing down is a challenge. But when you know the rewards - it's so gratifying, to find your hunches are right, and you stay put and things come to you when you need them. The phone rings, your appointment has been cancelled (that was one too many things in your day) or the delivery has been rescheduled till Monday (yes! I can stay in and finish reading that article).

I found the above paragraphs on a previous blog from earlier this year, and after spending a week settling in to a new house, busy running up and down, up and down, all day, answering phone, email, meeting with insurance evaluators, municipal evaluators, computer service guy, cleaning ladies, and receiving deliveries today, it was good to be reminded that the still, small voice within is still there.

Sigh,
jenn/musemother

Monday, October 27, 2008

moving madness and emptying the nest

For your info, we are moving next Monday, so my office has been packed away into a multitude of boxes too heavy to lift (full of books). My good friend Shelley helped me pack on Friday, or it might have taken me a week just to finish the office. I start reading stuff, deciding whether to throw or keep or recycle......I still have essays from my BA at Concordia (belatedly returned to school in 1986, graduated 1996 with an MA in English).

The house is looking very disorganized with piles of stuff and boxes half open everywhere, as I flit from room to room. I think the best part is finding old kid's drawings or pictures of them in pre-school, and not being able to remember that far back. Was it only 12 years ago we moved here? Now they're bigger than me, and choosing careers, off to university soon (not yet, though, not yet!). A big dose of nostalgia in all these boxes....and a lot of the past to let go of. That seems to be a theme, ever since Kripalu weekend with Marcela Lobos, cutting away the past, letting go of negativity, welcoming the present; welcoming joy. I'm surprised by how joyful I feel about this move.


Three of my sisters came up from Ottawa on Friday to help me pack, (first we sang a lot, and drank a few bottles of wine).... and it's been very comforting to have help, something I never would have asked for, if people hadn't offered. A 5-bedroom house one has lived in for 12 years, and grown 2 kids in collects alot of 'stuff'. The theme is 'empty empty empty' and that's what we're doing - Nova and la Fondation Quebecois, plus a few nephews and nieces are inheriting what can be reused. It's good to know that as we are ending that 'childhood and baby' phase, they are just preparing their nests for future little ones.

Speaking of little ones, I think the cats are starting to wonder if we've taken leave of our senses.....and perhaps they will have a hard time getting used to the new place, so we'll have to keep them indoors for a few days. They love this house, this yard, this cedar hedge full of birds.
We loved it too. The only reason we are moving is for an excellent view of the water and sky....otherwise we would have stayed put. Except for the lake, the cedar shingles, the calmness of the sky in the morning mist. I guess this is a rite of passage too, this letting go of one phase of parenting and where we lived it out, and welcoming the new phase, (almost empty nesters).

So, pardon my absence for a while from this blog, I'll be taping, stuffing, dragging, and re-organizing in the new place until next week......and back at ya, sometime in November.

hasta la vista,
jenn/musemother

Monday, October 20, 2008

Words from the heart

When the heart speaks....

Become quiet
and in that quietness,
a voice begins
to call. I hear,
but not with these ears.

When the mouth is moving,
the heart is silent.
When the mouth becomes silent,
the heart begins to speak.

When my ears are listening
to other sounds,
the heart is quiet.
When those sounds stop, the heart
begins to say what it has to say.

When I dance for the world,
running here and there,
doing this and that,
the heart is silent.

But when I stop -
then the heart begins
to dance

the dance of joy.


adapted from the words of Prem Rawat
by Jennifer Boire

Dear readers, I have been silent on the blog, but my heart has been very active! We had two wonderful visits to Canada from Prem Rawat, also known as Maharaji, on the Words of Peace Global North American tour. Montreal and Toronto were both sold out events, and I was caught in the whirlwind of preparation and conference organizing.

Suffice it to say, that there is no deeper well of wisdom on the planet right now than the words coming from this wonderful man.

I invite you to click on www.wordsofpeace.ca to hear him for yourself, although nothing can compare to seeing him in person.

The gift of knowing how to go within is what he gives, not just words.

enjoy the fall weather, the colours are magnificent, without and within,
musemother

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rites of Passage

Just spent the weekend chanting, drumming, rattling, dancing with Marcelo Lobos at Kripalu, in the Sacred Passages workshop.

Coming home is always interesting - I was in a peaceful state, a kind of 'zone', driving through the mountains with blazing red and yellow colour along the road, with my friend Debra. Then I arrived home to an empty house - everyone had gone out to a hockey game, and left me a note. I noticed the spaghetti sauce I had made was still in the fridge, so I prepared some noodles and ate, before listening to a new CD I'd bought there and falling asleep.

It was a rite of passage weekend for my son, turning 18, and three parties later (Friday night until 4 a.m. at our home) he had a very gravelly voice over the phone when I called on Saturday. My daughter, 16, was even allowed to participate in the party, and all his friends loved her. (News for my son, your sister is a cool person to hang out with!)

So he was drinking, dancing and partying - and I was chanting, drumming and celebrating my womanhood. There were 30 women there, forming a circle, holding the space for each other as we entered the spiral, or danced our darkness away in the fire, or bathed in the lake to wash the past away and welcome the present moment, as well as the future. We dressed up, put make-up on each other and acted 'silly' in some of our old 'mother voices' opinion. We danced until we dropped at 11:30 p.m., after a full day of ceremony. We birthed a new self, said good-bye to an old way of being. We entered the birth spiral to be transformed. And it was good.

We hugged and said good-bye on Sunday, with sparkles on our skin and lavender scenting the room. We thanked Marcela and her helpers for providing the sacred space and the structure to hold us safely as we journeyed. It was very simple, much lighter than I imagined it would be, the warmth of laughter and tears and women's faces holding me up. It was exhausting to dance and sing all day, but how liberating!

And so, back to the home, the cooking of meals, the washing of clothes, the keeping of sacred space inside this smaller circle of four. I feel different. I feel closer to the seasons, to the fall, to mother earth, pacha mama. I feel more. And that's a blessing.

happy new year to those celebrating Rosh Hashanah,
musemother

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Women's mysteries

I am off this weekend for a special workshop with Marcela Lobos at Kripalu Centre in Mass. It's called Sacred Passages - here's a brief description.

In this weekend with medicine woman Marcela Lobos, you will move through the stages of the journey from maiden to mother to sage in a conscious and sacred way. You will participate in and explore all the passages of the sacred feminine, from puberty to menopause, learning to gracefully enter your years as a wise elder. Women at all stages of life are invited to come discover a more fulfilling and authentic experience of yourself and your life journey.

Can't wait to come back and tell you all about it. Should be something very useful on both a personal level and for my future workshops with women.

All I know so far is we need to embrace our feminine cycle, our women's mysteries with curiosity, reverence and compassion for ourselves. Any symptoms or energy blockages are really messages from our bodies, signals that we must tune in to and listen to to discover the underlying truths, our real story, written in the body.

Let's free the wild woman within, the naturally, spontaneous lover of life, the balance seeker, the true voice - unsilence the wisdom, let it speak up and give our lives their true meaning.

I'm looking forward to this new adventure, and promise to share it with you on this blog.

take care now,
musemother

ps a wink and a nod to all those participants at the Lecture last Tuesday - I appreciate your coming out to hear more about the feminine mysteries, and for joining the circle to share your stories

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Menstrual shame, body shame and sexuality

Cycles of shame: menstrual shame, body shame, and sexual decision-making

(an article about how our view of our body, our view of the menstrual cycle and our experiences around sexuality are linked)

from the Journal of Sex Research, Nov, 2005 by Deborah Schooler

Although menstruation is a natural, reproductive process, it bears a strong cultural taboo that commands that it not be seen, discussed, or in most ways, acknowledged (Kissling, 1996a; Roberts, 2004). This desire to keep menstruation secret is often paired with an attitude that menstruation is dirty and disgusting (Martin, 1996; Roberts). Many girls report shame about being seen with a menstrual product or, worse yet, about bleeding through clothing, and some adolescent girls report that they are embarrassed simply by the fact that they menstruate (Lee & Sasser-Coen, 1996; Kissling, 1996b; Roberts). These feelings are likely compounded by media portrayals of menstruation as a hygienic crisis (Havens & Swenson, 1988; Raftos, Jackson, & Mannix, 1988; Simes & Berg, 2000).

Shame about menstruation is often extended to the vagina and its surrounding areas, which are considered by many women to be unspeakable and upleasant (Braun & Wilkinson, 2001; Lee & Sasser-Coen, 1996; Reinholtz & Muehlenhard, 1995). Participants in Lee and Sasser-Coen's (1996) qualitative study spoke of menarche as an experience that "contaminated" their bodies, and their genitals in particular. Despite recent attempts to celebrate the form and function of women's anatomy, such as Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues," and the growing comfort some women have with their bodies, it is still common for women to feel shame about their bodies, to use euphemisms so as to avoid naming their genitals (Braun & Kitzinger, 2001), or to experience confusion about the makeup of their external genitalia (Kirby, 1998). What are the implications of feeling shame about menstruation and the body? Conversely, might women's comfort with menstruation promote well-being in other areas of their lives?

This study considers how shame about menstruation is related to sexual decision-making. Because menstruation and sexual activity often share the same intimate location on women's bodies, shame regarding menstruation might influence a woman's general approach to her sexuality. Furthermore, girls are often socialized to connect menstruation with sexuality. Many girls first learn about menstruation in sex education classes, where both menstruation and sex are presented as means to the end of procreation (Martin, 1987).

At the same time, much of early mother-daughter communication about sex focuses on menstruation (e.g., O'Sullivan, Meyer-Bahlburg, & Watkins, 2001), and likewise, much early communication about menstruation and menarche focuses on the emerging sexual potential inherent in a developing woman's body (Lee & Sasser-Coen, 1996). Because of these connections, girls' and women's attitudes about menstruation might shape their developing beliefs about sexuality and the sexual decisions they make, even when they are not menstruating.

read more (long article, another 19 pages): http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_4_42/ai_n15929177/pg_3?tag=artBody;col1

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September Nights

A short story

September is a month of abundance - flowers, foliage, full moon...and tonight the pale orange Harvest Moon looms large on the horizon – Katie and I are in the back yard at dusk. "Let’s write a story about the moon wearing a Pumpkin mask for Halloween," I say. "It should be in October, that pumpkin moon, shouldn’t it, mom?" says Katie. With cooler nights yet still warm days, September sun gilds the air. Brown-eyed Susans, purple coneflower and pink-tinged hydrangea are drooping under the weight of such fullness (a bumper crop, a bellyful of flowers, if we could eat them).

The garden this time of year is riotous with purple Sage battling the cucumber vines growing up the cedar hedge, and something brown I thought was yarrow. The garden is too full of bees buzzing so my girl won’t dine outdoors. ‘But it is the best season, the finest weather’, I say, but she refuses to eat on the patio.

‘Come join me on the swinging chair,’ I call to her now, but she only alights a moment, jumping over the wet grass in her pristine white socks, then flits over to the trampoline. Ugh, a fat spider sits weaving. She screams and goes indoors.

‘Mom, you are my idol,’ she says later that night when I invite her into my bed for a snuggle. When I ask why, she says ‘because you have everything I want – a nice house, two kids (gorgeous kids like me) and a good looking husband’ (he is cute, isn’t he, I said) ‘and you’re so full of love’ – (‘Oh, but I whisper under my breath, you will be less cranky and impatient than me.’ ‘Yes, of course’, says she.)

Kissing Katie good-night is never short and quick -- she kisses my left cheek, then my right cheek, reaches up and places her arms around my neck in a deadlock, plants another kiss on my lips then up to 30 more kisses if I let her -- all over my face. Butterfly kisses with eyelashes, Eskimo kisses with noses rubbing. Nine-year-olds are good kissers. Sometimes I get impatient and want to get to my own bed where glorious sleep will envelope me. Sometimes I sing, K-K-K Katie, beautiful Katie....

Her other favourite drawing-out-bedtime routine is “Guess how much I love you mommy?” where we outdo each other with incredible numbers – as many as there are stars in the sea, as many as the blades of grass in the whole planet, as much as the distance from the earth to the moon. This usually goes on for as long as I can stay awake, standing in the doorway with one foot out the door, or until my exhaustion starts to show and I try to ease out with a quick good-night.

Earlier in the swinging chair, I had bowed my head, tired after battling insomnia the night before, and said a silent prayer of forgiveness to my mother, having suddenly come face to face with my own similar shortcomings – and not having the heart anymore to condemn us both to coldness and bad feelings for the rest of her life. Thus, I assuage my guilt about being a rebellious teen-age daughter, and hope my prayers for her happiness will ensure my own happiness, and that of my daughter as she enters the pre-teen years.

Just for tonight, I let myself be cajoled and held by Katie. I know she fears being alone at night in her own bedroom. Even though she is supposedly big enough to sleep alone, I am too tired to fight her off and send her back to her room. All day she has wooed me in a flurry of drawings, poems and scribbled notes on scraps of paper: Je t’aime maman! Passionate, headstrong Taurus foil to my passionate, stubborn Scorpio. So just for tonight, I let her stay a bit longer, hug her and tell her that she’s gorgeous!

By the time she’s fourteen, I know those kisses will be rare. We'll be missing that abundance.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Life's Quest

There are two quests in my life. The questing girl seeks a connection she already has but has not been aware of - the deep knowledge of the feminine way, a woman's way in the world. A way of knowing and being that is not based on outer knowing only, or facts and logic, but is whispered to her just before she acts, take this road, choose this way. Without knowing company is coming, she sweeps the kitchen floor and changes into finer clothes, and within 10 minutes the phone rings, mother-in-law with guests on the way over in half-an-hour. S

Sometimes she knows who is calling before the phone stops ringing.

She doesn't always listen.

The other quest is on the inside too, but has no real name. It's not a labyrinthine journey, it's a thirst. The heart that is human, partly divine, partly mortal, seeks it's other half - it's Beloved or best Friend. The one who knows, the one who doesn't speak in theory, but who knows the joy of living. For no reason, for no external purpose. Fulfillment, you could call it. Just receiving with open arms, accepting the gift of life and knowing a deeper purpose - gratitude, kindness, peace.

Could it be that the quester has the answer inside her all the time? like the story of the musk deer who seeks the source of the musk, thinking it is in another musk deer....

Recently I heard this:

Think of life like this: It is your opportunity to spend time with the best friend you ever had. It is your time. This chance to be with the ultimate clarity that there is in this whole universe. It is your chance to spend time with the ultimate kindness. It is your chance to spend time with the infinite. It is your chance to spend some time with the ultimate joy.

What a turn around from my conditioning of life as struggle, life as 'comme ci comme ca', life as teacher that you can't always get what you want.

A chance to spend time with the ultimate joy?

best,
musemother

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Feminine Mysteries book list

Kathleen, a recent reader of musemother, gave me a great idea today. So I am posting the resource list of books from my class on the Feminine Mysteries. It's been a wonderful journey of over twenty years of reading....so don't try and read them all at once. Pick one that appeals to you....sends a tingle down your spine...

Most of the books are either entertaining, informative and/or inspiring. I would love to hear from you if you have a book that should go on the list. (Most are non-fiction but I've included the novels that explore the world of the feminine mysteries in an evocative way).

Adam, Eve and the Serpent, Elaine Pagels (Gnostic Gospels)
A Woman’s Journey to God, Joan Borysenko
Blood, Bread and Roses, Judy Grahn (how menstruation created the world)
Daughters of Copperwoman, Anne Cameron (Native Canadian myth/stories)
Descent of Inanna, Sylvia Perrera (in depth discussion of myth by a Jungian analyst)
From Eve to Dawn, A History of Women in the World, Marilyn French
Her Blood is Gold, Lara Owens
Longing for Darkness, China Galland, (seeking the Black Madonna)
Inanna, myths of ancient summer, Kim Echlin (poetry/story format with artwork)
Mary Magdalene, The Bride in Exile, author?
Menopause, Initiation into Power, Joan Borysenko (4 cd set from Sounds True)
Out of the Garden, Women Writers on the Bible, ed Buchanan and Spiegel
Pathways to Bliss, Mythology and Personal Transformation, Joseph Campbell
Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality, Linda E. Savage, Ph. D.
Shakti Woman, Feeling our Fire, healing our World, Vicki Noble
Sister Moon Lodge, The Power & Mystery of Menstruation, Kisma K. Stephanich
The Birth House, Ami MacKay (novel)
The Blessings of the Curse, no more periods? Susan Rako, M.D.
The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisler, * symbols in antiquity
The Change, Germaine Greer
The Crone, woman of Age, wisdom and power, Barbara G. Walker
The Divine Feminine, Anne Baring and Andrew Harvey (see website)
The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, Myths and cult Images, Marija Gimbutas
The Goddess Obscured, Transformation of Grain Protectress, Pamela Berger
The Golden Bough, J.G. Frazer (A Study in Magic and Religion)
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Jean-Yves Leloup, translated from the Coptic. 2002.
The Great Mother, Erich Neumann, (psychoanalyst, lots of great photos of statues)
The Hebrew Goddess, Raphael Patai
The Heroine’s Journey, Maureen Murdoch (Woman’s quest for wholeness)
The Language of the Goddess, Marija Gimbutas
The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, Patricia Monaghan's Llewellyn, 1997.
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant (biblical fiction, rituals described in pre-Hebrew times)
The Sacred Hoop, Recovering feminine in American Indian Traditions, Paula Gunn Allen
The Silent Passage, Gail Sheehy (menopause)
The Secret Wisdom of a Woman’s Body, Pat Samples
The Song of Eve, Manuela Dunn Mascetti (feminine archetypes)
The Power of Myth: “The Gift of the Goddess”, Joseph Campbell
The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood (rewriting of Odysseus’ return)
The Return of the Great Goddess, ed. Burleigh Muten (poems and artwork)
The Unknown She, Eight faces of an emerging consciousness, Hilary Hart
The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler
The Wild Genie, Alexandra Pope, The Healing power of menstruation
The White Mare, The Dawn Stag, Jules Watson (fiction, Celtic priestesses)
The Wise Wound Myths, Realities, and Meanings of Menstruation, Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove Bantam Books, 1990The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara Walker
Understanding the Old Testament, Bernhard W. Anderson.
Urgent Message from Mother, Jean Shinoda Bolen
When God was a Woman, Merlin Stone
Woman at the Edge of Two Worlds, The spiritual journey through menopause, Lynn V. Andrews
Woman’s Mysteries, Esther Harding (Jungian analyst, written in 1930's)
Woman, an Intimate Geography, Natalie Angier
Women who Run with the Wolves, Clarssa Pinkola Estes,
Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom, Dr. Christian Northrup
Women of the 14th Moon, writings on menopause, ed Dena Taylor, A C Sumrall

Poetry:
In Her Words, anthology of poetry about Great Goddess, ed Burleigh Muten
Claiming the Spirit Within, sourcebook of women’s poetry by theme

Thursday, August 28, 2008

back to school

It's not fair! it's still summer, the cicadas are buzzing, it's hot and the pool is empty. My girl has begun last year of high school (sec 5 in Quebec, Gr 11 elsewhere); my son has started 2nd year of Cegep (2 yrs of college pre-university). They've bought their books, and binders and pens, their favourite pencil leads, done their own laundry, shopped for new clothes (altho thank god the school uniform from last year still fits, and the shoes!)

My tall gorgeous daughter who loves to dance, doing all kinds of auditions, stressed about getting on to the competition teams in hip hop or jazz ballet....beginning an Ayurvedic diet this week to help her bones and her health.

My tall gorgeous son who is driving himself wherever he needs to go, buying his own textbooks, marvelling at the cost of things. Booking his own orientation counsellor appointments, figuring out his next steps, without much advice or help from us.

And I am at home, negotiating, organizing, getting estimates, approving prices, buying furniture, planning our first major move in 12 and a half years, since the beginnings of grade school for my son. Packing up the likes of a five bedroom house, and emptying all its cupboards (soon, very soon).

All I want to do is lounge by the pool, savour the heat. Fall coming usually inspires me into action, but the crisp cool days are not here yet. We are jumpstarted into fall with school schedules, but far from sweater and loafer days.

sigh, this menopausal cycle is spiralling me inwards and out of words.

I love my collages, the cards I am making, the pastel colouring I do occasionally. And I love looking at the clouds. The dreamer in me wakes. The sky is my companion. and the sound of Om resonating from my stereo grounds me and soothes my agitated mind.

too much thinking makes the system acid, said the ayurvedic consultant. OK, maybe singing, swimming and meditating will make me more alkaline.....

happy weekend,
musemother

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Harnessing the Power of Menstrual Blood

The Globe & Mail in Canada ran a story on the uses of menstrual blood for stem cell research. Click on link below:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080819.wstem19/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/home

August 19, 2008 at 4:12 AM EDT
A team of researchers from Canada and the United States has taken an important step toward harnessing the healing power of menstrual blood. ...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if scientific research could demonstrate what native americans have known for a very long time, that menstrual blood is full of generative properties, life-giving and life-enhancing. Mixed with water and poured on plants, it apparently feeds their growth.

Instead of being seen through the eyes of superstition and fear as a polluting element, we can begin to study the 'blessings of the curse', as Susan Rako sub-titles her book, No More Periods.

"As yeast is good for dough, so is menstruation good for women." says a Talmudic scholar.

"Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken of and almost never seen, except privately by women, who shut themselves in a little room to quickly and in many cases disgustedly change their pads and tampons, wrapping the bloodied cotton so it won't be seen by others, wrinkling their faces at the odor, flushing or hiding the evidence away. Blood is everywhere, and yet the one, the only, the single name it has not publicly had, for many centuries, is menstrual blood. " Blood, Bread & Roses, How Menstruation created the world, Judy Grahn.

"Several Native American cultures consider women in menses to be at the HEIGHT of her powers. For instance, the Lakota tribe would not permit a menstrual woman anywhere near warriors or healers. They believed that menstrual blood was so powerful that just the presence of such power would weaken the strength of warriors and interfere with a healer's ability to heal. The menstrual blood serves to purify, to cleanse, renew, and it prepares the woman for higher spiritual accomplishments. The Yurok, and Lakota tribes practiced monthly rituals by retreating into MOON lodges with other menstrual women. There they celebrated the power of their menstrual blood.

SO, at the height of my power, through the ebb and flow of life, giving and life-sustaining blood that flows through me, I isolate myself from the mundane petty distractions and instead focus inward. Thus CALLING VISION for MY PEOPLE. Simple. Get it? Indeed I do feel more creative, more artistic, more insightful, and with each monthly cycle I become more in tune with my connection to nature, thus accumulating a greater store of spiritual energy. ERGO, when I menstruate, I don't see it as negative darkness or as a curse. Instead I prefer to view the process in a more positive, healthy attitude: it is a natural, sacred connection to the cycles and rhythms of the earth.

Menstrual blood is LIFE GIVING and LIFE SUSTAINING. There are also native tribes that would return the sacred life-giving blood back to the earth. They would sit over seeds and let the sacred blood flow directly on the seeds or on newly planted seedlings, which INDEED DOES give the seeds growing power. I add here to any who are asking, What? That is sick! NO, NOT sick at all. For an experiment I suggest using INSTEAD menstrual cups to collect the powerful blood into a jar. Fill the remainder of the jar with water then use the solution to water your plants. Be sure to use plain water on other plants for comparing the difference. IT IS AMAZING how powerful menstrual blood is. Of course it is NOT a good idea to disclose this to most people because our current culture has deemed MENSTRUAL BLOOD as disgusting and gross. BELIEVE ME, MY PLANTS are so healthy it is amazing. (taken from www.mum.org)

nameste,
musemother

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

summer ease and rest

Summertime...and the living is easy :)

if I let myself go, some days I would just be as lazy and slothful as my cats sunning on the porch...

in yoga today, we held a lovely chest opening pose, a restorative pose, while lying on a bolster

it felt wonderful to lie there for many extra minutes, our instructor letting us dive deep, let the heart be opened, while she read us some inspiring lines from a book of poems

dive in and in

then at relaxation, I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper again, into a very peaceful resting space,

I did not want to get up, so I lay there while they chanted OM

I did not want to move, and it felt good to relax into this need for rest

It's been busy with the house/designer/contractor/quotes and decisions re our move in November to a new house so I haven't played this week with my mandalas, except to colour one in while practising a new song for the chorus. I looked at the soul collages and pasted some pictures in to the family committee card, but did not spend a whole morning with it, as I have been doing.

I love to sing, and when I feel deeply rested like today, then highly energetic, like this afternoon, no song is too high, or too hard to sing. Mardi Gras...he was there at the Mardi Gras....

so enjoy the blissful warm days of summer, even if it's raining more than usual, maybe the earth is cleansing herself, filling the coffers deep with that lovely, wet, resource.

enjoy the time you have whether at work or play,
dive in and in,
musemother

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Secret inside the Secret

just back from the Gaspe and a bucolic wedding at Lac Bijou, wee man-made lake with a tiny island and a bridge to the island. lit by torches at night, fairy like. the giant white tent with 3 peaks, big enough for 170 people, the dancing 'villagers', musicians and singers and talent, the family love, the huge heart-filled space we created as we celebrated my brother-in-law and his wife/love.

driving back 11 hours yesterday, it was sun and rain, sun and rain, huge banks of cumulous clouds, black nimbus, green marshes and flowers blooming along the roadside in clumps of yellow, blue, white and purple.

the St-Lawrence river by turns slate coloured or blue, shining or misty, curving or straight, and the mountains we drove through, winding and smooth-paved new roads easing our delivery back to Montreal

there are travel days like that when time is suspended, punctuated by french fries, doughnuts and iced cappucinos or Tim Horton's homemade soup....watching the Tudors on dvd in the back seat....or chewing gum to stay awake at the wheel

and the many stops for Mollie the shitzu mix to stretch her wee legs....

and now we're home, the pool needs filling, the flowers were watered by rain, but bedraggled, the wash is in the washer, smells of bleach in the kitchen and I'm here, writing about the return to normalcy after being suspended in a 4-day party mode.

what I want today is to travel deeply into the thirst for quiet that has surfaced, the need for re-collecting, re-vising, re-viewing, settling into thought and words again. the white room that is empty of all stimuli is not available, the chalet or cabin in the woods not ready yet, but there is this inner space, this separation from time and 'doing' and 'going', this place where I receive myself, sit and listen attentively and find out where and what the impulse is, the in-pulse.

Bella has reminded me of Rumi's heart-logic, so here's what I read just now:

Food for the soul stays secret.
Body food gets put out in the open

like us. Those who work at a bakery
don't know the taste of bread like

the hungry beggars do. Because the
beloved wants to know, unseen things

become manifest. Hiding is the
hidden purpose of creation: bury

your seed and wait. After you die,
all the thoughts you had will throng

around like children. The heart
is the secret inside the secret.

Call the secret language, and never
be sure what you conceal. It's

unsure people who get the blessing."

from Coleman Barks' the Soul of Rumi

I am hungry for the secret heart's revelation. Back to the bakery, then,
adieu,

jenn/musemother

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Laundry and Writing

Canadian hero folds laundry

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

Folding laundry, with quiet
determination
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.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Back from New York, Books I've been reading

While in New York with my daughter, and without access to Internet, I actually lived day to day without blogging, without emails, without surfing the net. But thankfully, I had several new books with me, one The Cleft by Doris Lessing, an amusing and fictional account of the origins of a people who at first birthed only girls, and who gradually get used to seeing male children be born....treating them as misshapen monsters at first and killing them. She imagines a highly segregated society, with the men living over the other side of the mountain, brought up on deer's milk and learning to hunt, while the women live near the sea and swim and fish all day.

Another historical perspective was gleaned from Marilyn French's overview of women in From Eve to Dawn....a history of how women are treated, what status and privileges they enjoy (or mostly not) from prehistoric matrilineal clans to the creation of the major monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Fascinating and crammed with bizarre facts and treatment of women as virtual slaves without rights, this book is a must read for anyone wondering why it took so long for women to rise up and demand equality.

The sad thing is, our myths and metaphors, our spiritual narratives and origin stories do define us. They delineate what is 'normal', permissible and usual. My strongest reaction in reading these two books is how strong 'story' is for the human mind. In order to believe something is real, we need to have a story to lay it out for us, a beginning story. The original mother myths where women are honoured for their birthgiving and lifegiving powers are mostly buried under the father myths of origin. Who was Eve's mother, I wonder, knowing that Eve is a construct, a myth created to aid the subjugation of women. How undo the 'curse' laid on her, and bestow honour and beauty on the feminine mysteries once more?

All through the Marilyn French book, there are references to women mystics and our propensity for intuitive types of knowing. Another powerful book, Blood Bread & Roses, which I also had with me, posits that women's menstrual cycle is the basis for all ritual and religion, and even culture. It is a fascinating and plausible re-creation of the early prehistoric mind, searching for meaning and connection to the world outside it, but without the power of language to create meaning.

Women secluded themselves during their bleeding times for very practical reasons : wild beasts are attracted to the scent of blood and it is a life-threatening occurrence to be outdoors leaving a trail of blood behind one. Much safer to stay in the cave, but this creates a messy environment to share with children and men, so women created little seats or chairs to raise themselves off the ground and collect the blood, or they removed themselves completely into tents or huts made especially as shelters for bleeding women.

Women also tended to bleed together: this is known as entrainement. You've probably noticed if you live with other women that your cycles start to be in synch with each other. Women had more exposure to the moon, and no artificial light for thousands of years. So the link between their monthly 28 day cycle and the moon's was easily recognized and venerated. The first 'holy' sacred deities were moon goddesses. Women created elaborate rituals to protect their connecton or 'power' at this time and segegrated themselves in what became a kind of secret society of women (which in later centuries became threatening to men and considered witchcraft).

Women in native american cultures were often seen as having greater powers of Dreaming or having visions for their people during their menstrual time. And at least one modern author, Alexandra Pope, encourages women to use this enhanced sensitivity and cultivate solitude or stillness to create a sacred time for themselves, paying especial attention to their dreams and intuition. It appears that women do have special healing powers, when they allow their rational minds to slow down and allow the unconscious forces to guide them.

Of course, our rational scientific world and its emphasis on external proof of truth denies that there is power coming from within, or knowledge internally based without 'proof'. But most women who allow themselves to get in touch with it can vouch for its authenticity. In peri-menopause, many of us begin to weary of the solely outward focus of modern life and either experience nervous breakdown or simply a strong desire to be alone, to quit unsatisfying jobs or change careers, to allow this creative, healing power to manifest.

Have you felt the call? do you recognize that your menstrual cycle may be the barometer of your wisdom, your inner knowing? there are many good books now by women researchers and historians. This blog is my attempt at synthesizing this 'new' but ancient information.

happy reading,
musemother

Friday, July 04, 2008

Knowing what you know as a woman

I find this book so comforting. It's a companion book to the Circle of Stone by the same author. There are times when we are beginning to birth something, a new idea, a new book, an essay or work of art, or even just a new phase of our life such as menopause, when we are unsure. And it's tempting to have someone else tell us what to do, what to think, where to go. It's easier to rely on outside authorities to shore us up.

But as Duerk says here, if we always rely on someone else, someone with 'authority', someone else will author our existence. We want to be our own authors. We want to spread our own wings, and for that, we need mirroring from a positive source. Often, in our birthing, we need the support of other women.

from I sit Listening to the wind:

"How might your life have been different, once, long ago, when you had worked very hard to know what you knew inside, and were ready to bring it forth....but were suddenly filled with fear and guilt and unable to express yourself...and you felt utterly alone? If there had been a circle of women waiting to receive you, eager to listen to your understanding of life.

If the women had known, from their own lives, that whenever a woman dares to bring forth the deepest meaning from within, she will be attacked by an old force inside, whose only purpose is to keep things as they are ...and the fact that those women existed made you feel less lonely.

And if the women had helped you, supported you with their warmth...and by the wisdom and daring of their lives, given you the courage to speak.

how might your life be different?

Judith Duerk

So, dear women reading this blog, take heart, take courage, and find that circle of women, in your community, in your city, or in your on-line community.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Menopause Space for the heart

After all the reading I've done, and notes I've taken on women's initiation into menopause, and the passage we go through, I have come to a startling conclusion.

What I don't need is an intellectual understanding of the process. What i do need is to feel well in my body, mind and spirit.

What provides this most completely is to talk with other women in a group, in a circle, or one-on-one. Even writing this blog is a way of reaching out to other women who may be going through something similar.

I have a huge thirst to be heard and to be seen. It's a point of frustration for many women in their marriages, that women feel their husbands are preoccupied with their work, or with their hobbies and other concerns, and there is not enough 'dialogue'. We worked on this, my husband and I, in a weekend workshop on communication, and even practised the dialoguing for a few months before we fell out of the habit. It doesn't seem to come naturally to some men, to sit and open up, talk about their feelings.

Women on the other hand, usually love a good gab fest, and if they are able to drop down into the deep listening mode and allow the other person a chance to speak from the heart, a deeply satisfying communion takes place. We know each other's troubles because we have lived them too. We empathisize, sympathize and this energizes us, to share what we know, what we feel.

So what I want to offer to women is what I need myself - a space to be heard and seen. A space to explore my longings, my childish heart, the whims and desires of the lost little girl I want to free from her middle-aged cares and concerns.

I don't need to explain, theorize, discuss and debate. I want to encourage free self-expression and remind participants (if it's a workshop setting) that for this to happen we (I) need to button our lips, listen without commenting, and respond from the heart without judgment or criticism, resisting the impulse to give advice or tell the other person what we (I) think she needs.

What I remind myself, here and now, is that I don't have to have all the answers.

My brain is tired of facts, figures, statistics and medical information about menopause.

The best medicine for my heart is this lovely, deep, nourishing, satisfying, timeless space where there is room for the heart to speak.

I'll be away for two weeks, with my daughter while she attends a design course in NY. Will be retreating, treating myself to some soul collage work, some reading and writing time, and some space for the heart. Have a good summer, and be well.

nameste,
jenn
aka musemother

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monthly period alert

Clipped this out of the Globe & Mail, Canada's national newspaper:

heather Rivers, a student at the University of Chicago, has created a web site to help women keep track of their periods.
You can visit http://www.mon.thly.info to find out more. Here's a brief snippet from them about how it works:

You register on the site. Each time you start your period, add the date to your Mon.thly account, and it will use your history to predict the next time your cycle will start. This provides you with a record of your menstrual cycles, which can be an important addition to your medical history. If you want, Mon.thly will also email you a customized reminder before or on your next estimated start date.

It will help you predict your ovulation date, tell you what phase of your cycle you are in, calculate the average length of your cycle and your 'normal' date of ovulation.

Personally, I would use my own body as the sign for ovulation, using the mucuous method as explained on this site: http://www.ovulation-calculator.com/fertility-charting.htm

It's especially important in peri-menopause because, as my doctor told me, after age 40 your ovulation may occur any time after the last day of your period, not only in the 14 day range.

But what a wonderful idea to have your own menstrual chart on-line, with monthly reminders that you should carry some pads or tampons in your purse that week. Most of us blithely go along without recording the dates, without looking at the moon, or using any other system of remembering. It's the first step to getting to know your body better.

Check it out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grandmothers invented youth?

Here are two reasons that evolution and women's cycles go together.

First, from a theory developed by Leonard Shlain, in Sex, Time & Power, Gyna Sapiens (or women) were faced with an “evolutionary quandary” 150,000 years ago: birthing babies with heads so big they could tear them apart.

Being creative and resourceful, human females through evolution, adapted to having a monthly menses. We are the only female mammal to endure such frequent housecleaning, and the only one to experience orgasm and be sexually receptive all year round. If the pheromones are not right or if the mood strikes, we can also deny a male sex (thanks to a brain that can override sexual urges powered by instinct and hormones).

Our new big brains required a lot of oxygen, and with women losing blood periodically she needed a lot of iron. Ergo, she needed her man to hunt meat. Man gives woman meat, woman gives man sex.

Probably it was a woman who first connected the act of sex to the cessation of full-moon bleedings, followed by childbirth. (and the first to create calendars by marking this on a deer or antelope antler). She would have been the first to comprehend what Shlain calls deep-time, the ability to look to past and future, linking cause and effect: ‘having made this backward-looking link between sex and pregnancy, she peered more months into the future and realized that she had risked her life by engaging in sex.’

"A woman might have been first to contemplate death and to realize its inevitability, but when the men were clued in, they refused to go gently into that good night. It became a man’s priority to protect and provide for his own offspring so that he might live on through them. In short, they became husbands and fathers and patriarchs to boot.”
excerpted and adapted from from a review of Sex, Time & Power: How Women’s Sexuality shaped Human Evolution by Leonard Shlain, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, written by Julie Mayeda , 2003

Here's another interesting fact about women's cycles: “Orangutans do not go into menopause. Chimpanzees do not need extract of mare pee. …Only in human females does the fertility program shut down years before death.” (Woman, An Intimate Geography, Natalie Angier)

Angier studied a tribe called the Hadza, from northern Tanzania, who are basically living as if they were still in the Stone Age. Here, the grandmothers help ensure the survival of young children so the mother can look after the newborns, by helping to gather food, clothe and protect, or babysit. Because of the long ‘childhood’ (until puberty, or age 13 on average) of humans, they need protection longer, and mothers need help, so they can forage, cook and clean. The grandmothers and aunts help not only their own grandchildren, but the children of anyone who needs it. Men’s hunting is not as reliable as foraging, and nursing women can’t forage very far, so grandmothers who are not lactating or birthing (in menopause) are crucial to tribe’s survival.

Besides which, the old wise women, with their accumulated knowledge of plants and dangers, and their long term memory, are a useful resource. “Before we could stay young, we had to learn to be old.” ie grandmothers invented youth. The brain could develop longer, because youth lasted longer, while granny fed the kids and helped mom have more kids, nurse them 2 years instead of 4-5 like chimpanzees, and the brains could grow and develop.

So there you have it, the case for menopause in evolution is that it frees up the grannies to babysit and forage for food, letting the human brain of babies grow for a longer period of time.

Wow, what a neat cycle!
see more articles on menopause (and poetry) at http://www.msmenopause.blogspot.com/

nameste
musemother

Monday, June 09, 2008

Preventing burn-out in middle-age

Over the weekend, I held my first retreat for women, Heart's Rest or The Power of Doing Nothing. Well, it's not true that we did 'nothing', but to our crazy minds bent on staying busy and productive at all costs, it may have looked like 'nothing'.

What it was, was rejuvenating, like drinking cool water from a deep well. Part of the pleasure was in stretching into our bodies, giving each other a light massage and doing some partner breathing - all of which slowed us down, brought us into the moment.

The other pleasureable aspect was sharing such fun and creativity with six other women. We danced, we moved, we played, we told our stories. We did some journal writing and collage to express "what we need right now" - I hope it was as much fun for the participants as it was for me. Especially to sit and talk in a circle about our needs, and about the need for balance, and try to discover what nurturing the feminine means.

One thing I want to provide with these mini-retreats is a safe space for women to explore their stuff, whatever that may be. I can see that the format and exercises will change each time, depending on the need or theme of the retreat. But underneath it all is the need for busy women to 'get away', for however short a period, and be alone, or be with other women who need to 'get away'. To acknowledge our need for leaving the house and family behind occasionally and filling our own cup.

When that cup is empty, we are at risk for burn-out, even if we are stay-at-home moms. I have felt close to that dry, arid, empty feeling that precedes the smell of smoke and actual burning out, and I don't want to go there.

I have also seen friends go through burn-out and seen how long it takes them to get their health, both physical and mental, back again. It's like a coiled wire that has lost its spring, no capacity to bounce back, no capacity to respond to normal stresses, always on crisis mode, always feeling overwhelmed.

So to prevent that 'frying' experience, what can we do? Simple things, but so hard to do. Like establishing boundaries - what my limits are, what I can do, and what I cannot do. Knowing when to say no. Knowing when the tired feeling comes and doesn't leave that I need more than a good night's rest. I need to get away, drop all my 'duties', and swim in the fresh waters of "doing nothing" so I can restore my imagination, pleasure in life, and creativity. I need a retreat.

Even if it's something small, treat yourself to a swing in a hammock, or run outside in the rain, do something fun and unexpected, drink your tea with your left hand if you're right handed, hang upside down from a monkey bar, swing, and pump your feet higher and higher, till you can see blue sky.

Let the world glimpse your girlish wildness, (see today's poem Trust, at http://www.wisdomforwomen.blogspot.com/)

and above all, listen in to your body's guidance,

have a great day,
musemother

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mothers and Daughters Sex Talk 101

How many times have you wished you could broach the topic of sex with your teenaged daughter, only to shy away at the last minute, or have her give you the yucky face and walk out of the room if you bring it up.

Here are some salient points from Mother-Daughter Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup, (chapter on Love and sex, Aphrodite Rising) which may make it easier.

The good news is that whenever a mother has the courage to heal the unhealthy patterns in her own life, her daughter is likely to benefit as well. What it may have taken a mother half a lifetime to become conscious of, her daughter may learn in a much shorter period of time.” all quotes from Mother Daughter Wisdom

“Good self-esteem sets the stage for healthy relationships with boys --and everyone else!”

Good advice: “If a guy tells you he needs you and can’t live without you, run the other way!”

Wisdom Challenge: Make sure your daughter is protected from STDs or pregnancy; if you are not ready to talk about it openly yourself, make sure she is given the necessary information and protection (whenever she asks for it) by her doctor.

Knowledge is Power: Teens need to know about their own fertility cycle, not just about condoms and birth control. i.e. when pregnancy is most likely to occur.

“A good first step in helping your daughter understand the way in which her sexual being is ultimately an expression of the divine life force is through a discussion of her menstrual cycle. By the age of fourteen most girls will be quite familiar with the mechanics of the cycle- though it’s always good to review it with them, for example when in the cycle they ovulate, for how long do they remain fertile, and so forth. But beyond the mechanics, you need to make sure they know something about the meaning of the menstrual cycle.

“The life force that governs the menstrual cycle is the same life force that governs the waxing and the waning of the moon and the ebb and flow of the tides.” Our bodies are part of this miracle.

Northrup says, the menstrual cycle governs the flow not only of bodily fluids but also of mood and creativity. One thing a conscious mom can do is to encourage her daughter to observe how she feels at different times during her cycle, emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. For example, she may notice that her energy, creativity and libido are full speed ahead at ovulation. And she may notice that she becomes far more inward and introspective just before her period is due.

This mirrors the creative process – at times we have high energy versus down times to incubate a project. Following her cycle will help her develop trust and respect for her body by paying attention to inner processes.

Feeling Safe: Let her know that her body is her own and that oral sex is sex.

“A girl needs to understand that her self-worth cannot be enhanced in any sustainable way by engaging in sexual activity with a partner who has only a physical connection with her.”

Tell her not to let herself be pressured to have sex just to gain status. “Girls may think they’re proving themselves the equals of boys by emulating them in their sexual behavior, ….[but] this culture values males more highly than females”. Our culture still treats females with loose sexual behaviour as ‘ho’s.

Oral sex is degrading for girls, since it is not usually reciprocal. Instead, it’s seen as a service girls provide for boys – what are they getting in return? Fleeting attention of a boy and an increased risk of STD’s. (The recent rise in STD’s among teens is due in part to increase in oral sex practices). The double standard is alive and well.

On the positive side, girls need to know healthy ways of dealing with sexual impulses.
They should not be taught to feel guilty about their sexual desires. Self-pleasuring is a safe and effective way for girls to deal with sexual energy, until a loving committed sexual relationship comes along. Orgasm is good for her bodily health and vitality. This same life force can also express itself in art, music, literature, scientific breakthroughs and doing good works.

Overview: What all Adolescent Girls need to know about Sex:

How to value themselves and their bodies, including their capacity for pleasure
The sexuality-spirituality connection of the feminine cycle
The facts about both male and female sexual anatomy
The facts about how to prevent pregnancy and protect oneself against sexually transmitted disease.

Some interesting statistics from a study in New Zealand:

The average age for first sexual intercourse was sixteen
54 % of women wish they had waited longer.
Curiosity was the main reason for virginity loss in 27 % of women and 35% of men.
7 % of women felt forced into their first experience.
15% of women were in love at the time.
10% of women and men admitted to being a little drunk at the time.
30% of women said the act was ‘on the spur of the moment’.

This certainly reflects my own teen-aged experience : lots of peer pressure, curiosity, fuelled by wanting to not be 'square', and a little too much alcohol. I highly recommend this book for every mother wanting to understand her relationship with her daughter.

Help your daughter be prepared. Arm her with knowledge, and if it's appropriate share your own stories with her.

nameste,
musemother

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The true measure of success




(c) Free nature photos



Just got an email from Hay House promoting a book about success.

"Success is not about driving yourself harder; it is about letting go of what blocks your heart," writes Robert Holden, author of Success Intelligence.

In my on-going search for the best use of my talents, I have recently decided to offer a retreat for women called "Heart's Rest, The Power of Doing Nothing". My heart and soul have been telling me ever since I hit menopause that writing poetry and trying to get published in a literary environment was no longer fulfilling me. But I wasn't sure of the next step.

Today, I visited a new Yoga Space, called H-OM, near Montreal. Standing there in the middle of the wooden floor, basking in the reflective colours of red-orange on the walls (my favourite colour), I whispered to myself, This is what I want to do. This is where I want to be.

I am not a yoga teacher, nor do I want to be one. But I fervently want and need to rest, to create space for my heart and soul, to stretch and move my body to inspiring music, and do writing exercises that allow me to reach inside to where my authentic self lies and dialogue with me. And to share this with other women needing the same thing.

So, the path widens, or at least becomes a little clearer. I am finding Home.

There is one home, of course, that I carry with me, within me, and every time I flounder and look for direction, I can use the homing device that's built in to find my way back. To ground myself, get centered, find the comfort of peace inside. But to know what and where I want to manifest that peaceful feeling in the world is a big peace of my mid-life puzzle. It's all coming into place, and I remind myself once again, I am OK. I have everything I need.

It seems that little steps are all that is asked of me, or all that I ask of myself. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Stop and rest by the side of the path anytime I am confused. Sleep in, take a nap, trust that the path unfolding is the right one. That if my heart and mind are aligned, and my body is well taken care of, and the compass points towards Home, all is well.

My path is not in striving, nor in pushing myself harder towards some semblance of 'success'. The success I am looking for is the one that smacks of comfort, of being here now, of acceptance of myself exactly how I am in this moment. I am not a high diver, I am not an adventurous person or risk taker, but I can take small risks - small steps into the Unknown, and make success from the heart real.

Making the Unknown Known, my mission.

nameste,
jenn

Monday, May 26, 2008

Designed for joy

Someone told me, look within.
Someone showed me where to look.
Someone, a beautiful someone, makes sure I get lots of reminders
of my true design, true address of home.

To see video, Designed for Joy click: http://wordsofpeace.com/new.html

have a great day,
Jennifer

Friday, May 23, 2008

Nebulous thoughts and feelings

Middle of the night, sleepless (again!) and wildly thinking, thinking, thinking.

Ok, it was too much wine, a very rich dinner at a gala event, and my liver on overload that woke me up.

But the subject of my thoughts was something I am not sure I can put into words. I'm reading a book called The Heroine's Journey, which is awakening all kinds of recognition in me, about this quest or journey of finding wholeness.

For the longest time, underground or under my conscious awareness, there has been a desire to stop all outer influences, and spend time with myself. I imagined it as a white room, bare of colour and all distractions. A space to recover and discover who I am.

As a mother of two teenagers, one dog and two cats, living that way has not really been an option, but as I have described elsewhere on this blog, I do get time away as often as I can, on retreat or with my chorus, for a weekend or as long as 10 days, if I'm travelling afar.

But in spite of feeling satisfied with my surface life, underneath, this niggling feeling is still there, and in the middle of the night it returned. What if I could just shut off the outside world? what if I could take a sabbatical from being 'mom'? And what if I don't want to be a wife anymore either?

It's terrifying to consider this much change, and let me reassure friends and family reading this that I am not leaving my family. It's the roles I want to leave behind. I want to honour this call from within, this ever growing need to sever the connection with my 'servant self' as I want to call the part of me that puts everyone else's agendas first. Usually it's innocuous: a birthday party, a gala supper, a social event we've planned for, but over time, it bends me and shapes me into a person I'm not sure I want to be anymore.

My inner critic's voice is saying, but you can't cut off all ties, you can't live as if you are alone, you can't be selfish, the utmost mortal sin for a woman.

Something in me wants to let the wild in, let the spontaneous expression of my soul out. I don't know how, I don't know where it will lead me, but its discomfort is causing me to quest for time alone, to discover what I need. To be my own person, to be authentic, to be able to respond from within instead of relying on societal convention to guide my behaviour.

In my journal I wrote:

I am releasing old self-doubt. I am calling on self-confidence to help me move forward. I am a fox, invisible in my lair, observing the hunters on horseback as they search for me. I am a bat, hanging in this dark stillness, moist air cool and musty. Wings folded close together over my heart. Eyes closed, resting, restlessness fading, twitching eyelids, feet. Prayer-like, the way hands are folded at the heart. Dreaming a vision of what I want to be."

I remind myself, I am OK, I have everything I need. Release the need for struggle and suffering. Be well. Be well. be well.

And I continue to journey towards knowing.


nameste,
musemother

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anger and Menopause

Before having children, I was not aware of all the anger simmering inside. If it was ever provoked, it came out in tears. A situation at work or in a relationship could make me feel helpless, teary, overwhelmed, but not like hitting someone or yelling.

Once children came along the floodgates were opened. All kinds of emotions rose to the surface, comfortable happy giddy, or irritable, cranky and angry. Was it because of the hormone release in childbirth? was it because there were now vulnerable small people to take care of and I had no idea how to deal with their crying fits or tantrums? their obvious disregard for my needs? or simply because my own emotions were so raw from lack of sleep, nursing babies, being on call 24-7?

For whatever reason, it was always a shock to see my anger burst out, to find myself slamming cupboard doors, or needing to take a brisk walk around the block, get out of the house, let off steam. It felt even worse when I saw a white handprint on my 2 year old's red behind.

I needed to find out more about anger. I was part of a Babysitting Coop and Moms and tots group that welcomed speakers, so I found a psychologist to speak to us. She described anger as an iceberg, with sadness underneath the surface of the water. I saw a therapist at the university where I taught part-time and began to uncover the legacy of emotional hurts from childhood and the connection to mothering. A book was born along the way, "Little Mother".

A pattern emerged. It seemed that 3 days before menstruating, emotions were definitely peaking. As I grew closer to menopause, my episodes of PMS grew longer, more intense. I especially felt bad when I would blow up for no good reason, some small disregard of 'rules' or schedules by the children, now pre-teens. After one particular shrieking incident where I lost it completely, I began to see a family counsellor again, for help in dealing with my emotional overload. My father had just died and I was two years away from complete menopause.

Now, in reading about peri-menopause, I find references to anger as being a signal from our inner wisdom. I found another speaker on PMS, who also describes it in these terms, as an ally, a messenger, a loud voice that won't be shushed, uncovering the wounds and slights that I have shoved under the carpet the rest of the month. It's the way my inner self calls out for attention.

Instead of giving in to anger, or allowing it to control my relationships, I want to find out what is underneath these uncomfortable feelings, because although the outburts are less frequent, my children still receive the brunt of it, now that they are teens and mood swings are affecting all of us. Here is why it's important to act:

"Your emotions are your inner guidance system. Your thoughts, attitudes, beliefs have a most profound effect on your health", says Dr. Christiane Northrup. "Listen to your anger, discover the underlying issues and take action or it may turn inward and cause depression - a risk factor for heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis." (Wisdom of Menopause)

If I don't learn to speak up about what is bugging me, if I avoid conflict and confrontation and act like a people pleaser to keep harmony and balance in the household, if I allow myself to 'do too much for others', it always backfires and ends up exploding out of me anyway. Or I feel sad and not listened to, like I have no voice. This is no one's fault but mine. It estranges me from the people I want to be close to.

When I am courageous and say what I feel, when I stop hiding my real emotions from others, and simply state what I need in a non-threatening tone, I am surprised by the change this provokes in others. We find a closeness, a connection that is nourishing. It may be that my programming for serving others first gets in the way of my truth-speaking. Maybe I can let go of 'feeling selfish' about staying in bed one morning instead of getting up to make coffee and toast for fully grown people who know how to work the coffee machine and the toaster....

There are so many ways I want to practice being true to myself, allowing myself to feel what I feel. In this role of 'housewife' and mother that I am growing out of....in the perfectionist attitude that doesn't allow me to focus on my own work because I might be a bad mother....in the limiting belief that my joy, my expression of creativity is less important because it doesn't bring in as much money.

Menopause has taught me a lot about myself. It is the 'mother of all wake-up calls' as Dr. Northrup puts it. The emerging self is crying out for its own needs to be met. The solution is to learn to take better care of myself, find a balance between caring for others and caring for me.

"In truth, you are being urged, biologically, to pause from everyone - from mankind in general - in order to do important work on yourself.... [one of the most common feelings is] "the longing for time alone, for a refuge that provides peace, quiet and freedom from distractions and demands.

"Even if you can't charter a plane to a deserted island, odds are that if you acknowledge and validate your need for solitude then you can clear some time and find a private corner to which to retreat daily
." [away from telephones, noise, interaction with others]

This has been my medicine for anger: to rock my soul, soothe my body and mind, with precious time alone. It's not just for the hermit in me, but a good practice.

nameste,
musemother

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mothering Your Self on Mother's Day

Dear woman reading this blog,

We can all celebrate Mother's Day this weekend, whether we are daughters or mothers. Whether you have physically birthed children or not, you probably mother others in some way. Maybe it's fellow employees at work, bringing them tea or coffee and a muffin. Maybe you give someone a shoulder massage when they're tense and uptight. Maybe you take the elderly woman next door a quart of milk and some eggs when you do your grocery shopping. Maybe you send someone's child home from school when they have a fever. Maybe you have three kids of your own, and need a sabbatical from mothering.

We all mother others in different ways. But this weekend, this day, how can you mother yourself?

This morning after the kids left, I made myself a one-hour mini-retreat with that theme in mind. I had a hot bath with lavender oil. I meditated, then lay on the floor and did some leg stretches, moved into downward dog, then rolled into happy baby pose down on the carpet. I stretched and yawned, feeling myself held and caressed by a loving presence. I wrote in my journal for two pages. Then I put on some Indian tabla and flute music and danced a little happy prayer of thanks dance.

You can make up your own self-care ritual; it doesn't have to be elaborate. It might involve doing something you hardly ever give yourself time for, like a mineral foot soak, or a special hair treatment. It might involve making yourself a healthy dinner with fresh green vegetables that your kids hate (asparagus, artichokes, green beans). Or lying on the floor in happy baby pose, rocking on your back and remembering that the universe is holding you up, you can trust in the power of love.

Whatever makes you remember that cherished, loved feeling, of I deserve love, do that.

Or follow the simple instructions below to practice the compassionate breath. Start by sitting, and inhale deeply. As you exhale, sigh out Aah. Take several long soothing breaths. Then with your hands one on top of the other over your heart, feel the drumbeat. Let youself become absorbed in the rhythm of its pulse.

As you connect to the energy of your heart, imagine it spreading across your arms, legs, torso and into your head.

Imagine the loving heart energy filling up every cell. As you inhale, gather loving heart energy into your heart and palms. With every exhale, let the energy spread to each and every cell.

Inhaling, collect this healing gift in your heart, As you exhale, allow it to radiate out and surround your body with its protective power. Feel it encompass your entire being, encircling your head, face, and neck all the way down to your sit bones.

Let it flood any part of your body that might feel uncomfortable, achy, tight .

From a deep inner smile, let a slight smile light your face.

When you feel complete return your hands to your lap. Notice the connection between yoour hands and loving heart even when they are not touching.

Inhale, exhale with a sigh, Aah. Repeat three more times.

Notice how you feel at this moment. Allow your eyes to open very slowly.

(taken from Yoga for your spiritual muscles, by Rachel Schaeffer )

Happy Mother's Day weekend,

Jennifer

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mother's Day Message

It was a privilege to have children, it was not a right. The elders, the women, they used to determine even who could have children. Had abortion medicines. And if somebody was abusing a child, they took that child, and the women couldn’t have children anymore. They determined that.

Children are sacred, living treasures, gifts from the Great Spirit. You always treated them as if they didn’t belong to you; they belonged to the Creator.”

Betty Laverdure, Ojibway elder, found in A Woman’s Book of Life, Joan Borysenko

Like any rite of initiation or test of endurance, giving birth is a heroic act. It is physically and emotionally exhausting, yet leads to a joyful sense of well being once the alien inside has been delivered. In facing pain (with or without epidural), we step through a doorway into another world. And give birth not only to a new child, but also to ourselves as New Mothers.

"To be a mother is an absolute mystery, which is relative to nothing else, comparable to nothing else, it is an impossible task and yet, gets done even by ‘bad mothers.’"
translation of text from Les Filles de Demeter, Chantale Proulx

There is a spiritual dimension to giving birth, recognized since ancient times as part of the Great Mysteries, the Blood Mysteries, the mystery of the cycle of life. Even our body’s make-up and physiology supports an experience of something ‘beyond’ or ‘above’ us in bringing a bond to this new, vulnerable little being.

“A woman’s biology is specially crafted to produce pleasure, excitement and joy for her in the ancient dance of relationship…a biochemically sustained infatuation gives rise to strong spiritual expressions of inter-connectedness and deep communion.A Woman’s Book of Life, Joan Borysenko.

And yet, often, the loneliness and lack of support, the lack of know-how, lack of sleep, and the demanding nature of the job can make us feel like we need a sabbatical from motherhood.
On this day of honour to Mothers, Mother’s Day, please write me with your thoughts on these questions:

What was the experience of becoming a mother like for you? What keeps you going? What support networks have you built for yourself to help you be a better Mom?

Remember how precious it is to be able to be a mother:

6.4 million American woman get pregnant a year
44% are intended (2.8 million); that leaves a majority due to failures in contraception.
4 million women give birth each year
1.6 million abortions/ 47% of women will have an abortion by age 45
7.5 million (13% of reproductive age) are infertile or have difficulty getting pregnant
2.3 million couples seek help with infertility

statistics taken from A Woman’s Book of Life, published 1996


nameste,
musemother

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mothering Daughters; Hormone Replacement


If you haven't gotten it already, here is an excerpt from Dr. Christiane Northrup's newsletter, Monthly Wisdom, about mothering daughters:

Having daughters is about the most joyful thing going. If you’re looking for resources for raising a daughter and enhancing your ability to parent, I have the following suggestions:
Mother-Daughter Wisdom, the book and the Mother-Daughter Wisdom DVD of my very popular PBS show.
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, the book and the movie.
A Time to Celebrate: A Celebration of a Girl's First Menstrual Period by Joan Morais.
Celebrating Girls: Nurturing and Empowering Our Daughters by Virginia Beane Rutter.
Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of her Body by Toni Weschler, MPH.
Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear by Pam Leo.
The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds, and Thrive Through Adolescence by SuEllen Hamkins and Renee Schultz.

for those of you in peri-menopause looking for an alternative to Hormone Therapy, Dr. Northrup has some information on bioidentical hormone replacement:

Seminar on Natural Hormones
I am happy to share with you an invitation to an educational audio Internet seminar hosted by the Center for Bioidentical Hormone Replacement (BHRT). The BHRT World Summit will help you understand how hormones can affect the health of your entire body, including your moods, sleep, and weight. Experts who have come together to impart science-based education to the public will also discuss ways to bring one’s hormones into balance. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity. Read for yourself about the BHRT World Summit by clicking here.


More on Mother's Day and what you can do to mother yourself, later this week.

take care
Musemother

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dreaming a vision of what I want to be




I feel good about myself.

I feel good about expressing myself creatively.

I am safe.

I am fulfilled in all that I do.

My potential is unlimited.

My thinking creates my experience. I use this key in every area.

I am a clear thinker.

I express myself with ease.


My unique gifts are appreciated by those around me.

It begins now.

I accept perfect health now.


to change negative thoughts:

That is an old thought. I no longer choose to think that way.

Replace it with a positive thought.


My thoughts are like a magnet, they attract what i want in my life.


I deserve the best.

I am ok. I have everything I need.

Everything is working out for my highest good.


I am worthy of my own love.

I stand on my own two feet.

I accept and use my power.


I willingly release any need for struggle or suffering.

I deserve all that is good.


I am neither too little or too much.


Today no person place or thing can irritate or annoy me. I choose

to be at peace.


I am a radiant being enjoying life to the fullest!


thanks to Louise Hay and her little book, I Can do it, for the affirmations.




Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Power of the Cycle - the power of doing nothing




How do you get in touch with the power of the cycle?

(Power in the sense of taking charge of one's life and asserting oneself)

Getting in touch with the power of menstruation mainly comes from what you don't do, according to Alexandra Pope, author of The Wild Genie.

We are used to struggling, setting goals, being heroines, but in this case, we must face into what we experience and embody it. "If you are willing to court the rhythmical life of your body you are given access to something Other than happens naturally. And the very act of courting the inner life of your body itself builds an inner sweetness, surety and dignity - a spirit of sovereign authority that is priceless." From The Woman's Quest, Alexandra Pope.

Sounds good, you say, how do I do that? It's mostly about slowing down, practicing surrender, and paying attention to your cycle by keeping track of it in a journal.

It's much easier to pop a painkiller, but menstruation is not supposed to hurt! I have heard this from many sources, and yesterday my homeopath said the same thing. If it hurts, it's a signal you need to pay attention to.

Pope uses 13 allies in her Quest workbook to help women get in touch with their reality around the cycle. Remember, this is technique-less, so there is nothing to 'do', just alot to be learned by observation and stillness, staying close to your center.

When I had aching menstrual cycles, the best advice I ever received was to go into the pain, feel my way into the belly, not try and escape it or deny it. For me, the best place on the first day was in my bed, with a hot water bottle, or warm comforter, and sleep. And feeling my way, meant I exited on the other side, feeling less achey, less fearful and tense.

"A deep process of awareness, the first task is to get to know your cycle." This is also useful for contraception purposes - you need to know when you ovulate and when you menstruate, and believe it or not, the first calendars were invented by women for this very purpose.

It feels empowering to know where you are in your cycle, and if you look up at the moon, you will discover how close you are to a pattern of fullness, waning and waxing in the universe. you will begin to recognize the shifts of mood and feeling, see the patterns in your dream life, and also, by charting your cycle, says Pope, you build self-acceptance and an intimacy with yourself over time.

Women have ignored, denied, and bullied their way through the menstrual time for hundreds, if not thousands of years, due to the denigration and fear of female processes by men. It is more than time that we reclaim this power, this unique connecton to our inner healing and physical healing.

"Allow yourself a dose of the thirteen allies - silence, solitude, stillness, surrender, simplicity, slowness, softness, self-interest, serenity, sanctuary, sacred, support and sleep however small, as you come into and during menstruation." And if you want to learn more, check out http://www.wildgenie.com/ for more information on this workbook.

top of the morning to you,
musemother

Monday, April 14, 2008

Synchronicities and Trusting the Present

This is my new mantra: I am OK. I have everything I need.

First I read it in a little book of affirmations by Louise Hay, I Can Do It. The same clairvoyant my friend saw had told me to look up Hay's books.

The next time I heard the message was at a Woman's Circle meeting with Andrea Pinto, who teaches yoga near here. She gave a talk about higher consciousness, meditation, and then did a visualisation exercise. As I closed my eyes and followed her instructions, I came down a spiral staircase to a wooden door. Inside the room, was a telephone table and inside the drawer was a message for me: I am OK, I have everything I need.

A few weeks went by with me remembering occasionally to repeat this mantra to myself; in the spirit of the Secret, and the Law of Attraction, I am moving out of negative thinking patterns and into an attitude of gratitude. Last weekend, I attended a workshop at Kripalu, in Massachusetts, with some wonderful facilitators helping us to create transformative workshops of our own. One of the information sheets was called, The Practice of Being, and gave instructions on how to breathe into the moment, bring all your attention to the body sensations, feelings and just be a witness, observing with compassion and acceptance as energy moves through us.

It's perhaps all about trust. A new way of being for me. To allow insights and knowing to come into being on their own instead of figuring things out. Got a chance to practice that the next day, at a local high school, as I lead a poetry workshop with 2 classes of Grade 10 students, ("too cool for school" is how the teacher put it). Hmmm, could we start with just being? with breathing in and out to wake up our feeling senses? it worked wonderfully. I am OK, in spite of being nervous, I have everything I need.

In an art class this last week, our teacher and guide, Kate, urged us to use our intuition, not to think too much, just put pastel crayon to paper and let go. Let the fun of colouring come back in, just like it used to when we were little and open to our imaginations. Before we learned the anxiety of pleasing others and comparing ourself to everyone else. We were all nervous, giggling and convinced our 'artwork' was no good. We needed a lot of pats on the back to believe: I am OK, and I have everything I need.

Yesterday, I was at a church service to hear a friend perform two songs. And wouldn't you know it, my mantra showed up there too. The minister used the psalm, the Lord is my Shepherd as the basis for his text, and asked us to respond whenever he said, The Lord is my Shepherd, with "I have everything I need" (another way of saying, I shall not want, the King James version).

I had to laugh, not having been in a church for years, and never having been to a Presbyterian service, that the message of being in the present moment was part of his sermon too. He quoted C.S. Lewis who said being in the present moment is the best way to experience eternity. At the end of the service, a woman got up to offer yoga and meditation classes in the Church annex. So many reminders, so many signposts along the way.

Just for today, I remind myself: I am OK. I have everything I need.

nameste,
musemother

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kindness and compassion in mid-life


Kindness and compassion for myself? I'm good to myself, usually. I eat well, go to bed early, do yoga once a week, have even been known to get a massage once every six months....

A friend of mine, aged 49, consulted a woman who works with guides and angels for advice on her life. It was suggested that she needed to be kinder to herself. That left her perplexed. A therapist several years ago told me the same thing. It appears I was good at being strong, at carrying on, at taking on burdens that were not my own....at being responsible for everyone else except myself. Aching in the shoulders that was so bad I needed a heating pad to sleep at night was my first clue that I was carrying too much.

After working on the physical pain with physiotherapy, acupuncture and osteopathy, I began to untangle the emotional ingredients of my 'burden of responsibility'. My journey to healing through self-care has been a bit slow, but it is paying off. I am learning ways to be kind to myself, starting with getting the proper healing treatments. But mostly, I am working with the mind set that got me there.... a life time of perfectionism, and striving to be number one. (being eldest daughter in a family of eight, and 'little mother's helper' geared me up for it, and also striving to please my father with academic success). The trouble is, when I am harsh on myself, I am unforgiving with others close to me also.

How to undo the mind set? First off, I have tried to absorb the wisdom my therapist gave me in three little words. "I am enough". She questioned why I was giving away all my time to volunteer efforts and other people's projects and incapable of sticking to a creative project of my own. She made me look at how I strive to please others with 'good behavior', and constantly need outside approval. Five years later, I am still practising that mantra, I am enough, and still disengaging from too many volunteer projects. The feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed is often the product of saying Yes when I really mean NO.

How do I take care of myself? good question, and a good reminder to me to do something nice for me today. This week I asked my daughter to cook on a night when I wasn't going to have time before chorus rehearsal. I gave myself one morning off to do some creative loafing and dreaming with my journal. I went to bed at 9 pm one night after two nights late nights. I snuggled with my hubbie and watched a movie last night. He cooked me breakfast and made my cafe au lait this morning.....I want to book a pedicure this week to let my feet know I haven't forgotten about them. I tried a new yoga class and walked there in the sunshine. Oh yeah, and my women's circle brought me to an art class where I coloured with pastels and got in touch with my inner scribbler.

I know there is more I could do, affirmations to help me believe in myself, to attract joy in my life.

How can you be kinder to yourself today? this week? It may involve slowing down the pace, reducing your 'to do' list by only one or two items instead of trying to tackle the whole list. Or it may involve sitting down to eat a meal without interruptions, paying attention to the savouring and enjoyment of nourishing food.

Got a tip for mid-life women and self-care? leave a comment,
we can all benefit,

nameste,
musemother

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