Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunny December, Happy Boxing day. Kick aside a few boxes, wrap a few more presents, traveling day, going to visit folks in Ottawa for our second Christmas celebration.

If you are still celebrating Christmas or feasting, take good care, drive safely, get some sleep before you hit the road....stay well. Happy Healthy and Whole, that's my wish for this coming year 2012.

In the middle of the holi-days, I found myself missing my yoga class, so I stretched out in the bathtub this morning, letting Epsom salts and hot water ease my muscles into lengthening, after a full day of standing, cooking, cleaning, running, serving my eighteen guests yesterday. It was a gloriously warm, friendly family gathering, with fun and games, good wine, an organic turkey with all the trimmings - mashed potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce (Julien takes a picture of something bubbling red and dark brown around the edges in the pot - look at this cool picture Mom, what is it? Oh no, I forgot the cranberries...very caramelized by then).  Brothers-and-Sisters-in-law pitched in with Tourtiere brioche, and Christmas snacks and cookies. Nephews brought home-made mustard (grandmaman's recipe) and nieces brought Cookie Dough Mix in a jar - all layered and ready to mix and bake, wonderful gifts home-made.

Christmas Day was foggy and snowy. Like this picture of first snowfall. 

We watched a movie of my nephew's wedding, saw our happy faces and tipsy dancing, pumpkins and apples as decor in late September.  We opened our gifts, sang songs, and thanked our lucky stars to have such a big happy family. Those who couldn't be with us were missed - till New Year's Day. It's just the beginning of the holiday marathon....

I'm following my own advice today, and taking a wee nap....

then onwards and upwards...
Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Just reading Wikipedia and Aurum Astrology blog from sister Sue Raven, find out the real meaning of the solstice.  Why did people around the world, even before Roman times and the Saturnalia, celebrate the sun in the middle of winter? Of course it has something to do with the longest night and the return of the light - apparently solstice comes from the Latin: sol for sun, sistere for to stand still, because from earth perspective, it appears that the sun stands still for a moment.

So I guess ancient philosophers thought, we should stand still too and honour the sun.  Dec 22 at 5:30 am is the beginning of the solstice in fact. But we can start celebrating tonight.

I plan to put up the Christmas tree with my kids who have just arrived from their various Universities. We'll have their favourite meal (French onion soup) and decorate the tree with bright shiny things, and remember all the wonderful moments we spent together in 2011.

Usually people wait until the New Year to make their resolutions, but my astrologer sister suggests that the new moon following the solstice on Dec 24, would be the best time to plant seeds for the coming year.

One way to do this is to write a list in your journal or on a piece of paper of what you want to attract for the new year. What is it you would like to feel? Can you imagine in your heart, instead of activities, feelings you would like to experience, ie more joy, harmony, peace and serenity.

Write them down in the present tense, like you do for affirmations.

example: I attract loving and gentle people to me in 2012.
I experience peaceful resolutions with co-workers.
My heart is full of abundant love for those around me.
I manifest what I truly desire.

Write it down, then burn it in the fireplace or over a candle (with something fireproof underneath).
Let your wishes fly away, let them go, so they have a better chance of manifesting.

May you live consciously, with peace and joy as your heart companions in 2012.
Happy Celebrations, Kwanza, Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah...

ps sign up for new classes or free newsletter at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Women's Wisdom at Fifty Gets Better

New evidence from a survey done recently shows that women ages 50 - 65  feel the happiest and most fulfilled at this stage in their life (from author Dr. Christiane Northrup, in the introduction to her new Wisdom of Menopause; see her facebook page for an excerpt).

Why does this not surprise me? Somewhere in your fifties, your kids grow up and leave home for college, or if they live at home become very busy in their own lives and need their mother's less; women in our age group are mostly well-educated and have kept a foot in the world of academia or business by either working part-time or volunteering; and women in this age group finally feel empowered enough to speak up and say "Enough" when something doesn't suit them. And now they have the time to explore their own interests without feeling selfish.

We grew up in a different world, where children were meant to be seen but not heard; where often we are encouraged to not toot our own horns or be boastful. We were taught to be good girls, to serve others before ourselves, to think about waste and share, giving the best cut of meat to the person at the head of the table. Some of us were practical, and put aside our dreams to earn a living. We didn't talk back to our superiors and obeyed authority - well, ok, some of us did. I admit that although I was supposed to be a good girl, when I hit the teen years the urge to kick against the pricks (whoever I thought they were at the time: school principals, unfair parent's rules, French teachers) kinda took over.

But many of the women in my Creative Journaling classes nod their heads when I talk about the good girl upbringing, and many of them are just becoming comfortable in their forties and fifties with the idea that it's their turn to speak up, and with taking time for their own projects or for self-care.  In class, we do all kinds of exercises to empower ourselves, to find our Voice, to shut up the Inner Critic,  to speak our own truths. Because our women's wisdom is not whispering anymore, she's practically yelling - this is how I feel. Listen to me! It becomes imperative for women at mid-life to listen to their own intuition, to stand on their own two feet, to express how they feel, to speak their truth, to be true to themselves.  And if it feels very empowering to do this in your journal, it is even more empowering to do this in a group of like-minded women.

I see the same thing in my Women's Circle: we need allies, we need to be heard, we need to believe that our voices matter, our feelings matter. And this is what loops back to the feeling happier and most fulfilled - if you can believe in yourself enough to switch career paths, or go back to school, or use your talents in a creative project - publish a book, send out some poems, take an art class, become a teacher and leader of younger women, it makes your heart Sing. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy - it makes a woman very happy when the Self is fulfilled, when her voice is heard, when she gets to do what really turns her on, without worrying that she might be taking up too much space, or not doing enough 'good deeds' for others.

So get out the drums, sing your song loud and clear. The world will be a better place when you explore what makes you truly happy - find what makes you feel fulfilled, and watch even your health and well-being improve. Women in their fifties and sixties are changing the world - Welcome to the best years of your life!

happy self-exploring

Friday, December 09, 2011

Mid Life Creativity

There's so much more to menopause and the mid-life transition than raging hormones and sleep deficit. There is a rebirth of creative energy to explore, a re-channeling of fecund fertility from making babies into making your dreams manifest in the world. What did you used to love doing when you were pre-teen?  when you were a teenager? when you were in your twenties? and what have you left lying on the shelf waiting for your passionate attention to relight?

This year, my 57th year, I am exploring so many avenues - a new website, two new books, and most recently a CD recording project with my husband and some of our musical friends.  Years ago, over 25 years ago, we all hung out together, meditated, wrote beautiful songs about inner peace and love, it was groovy man. Flash forward from 1982 to 2011: the same group have gone their musical ways, have each formed bands, written music or played in garage bands, sung in folk groups, accapella choruses and quartets....and here we are, after a month and a half of recording, with a brand new CD of old and new music, in English and in French.

Nothing short of miraculous, I know! Anyway, just to show that that creative energy does not die in your twenties. As my husband Jacques was saying, there is still a storehouse of songs and music to explore. It's very heartening actually to see just how much is waiting to burst out of us, if we give  it the creative loafing time needed to create in.

So, get to it - explore your unfulfilled dreams. Take an art class, join a little theatre club, learn how to play the flute....take singing lessons or join a chorus!  Write your memoir, dance the Brazilian salsa....there's no stopping this mid-life Creative Energy!

enjoy your holiday prep time, and check out Friends of Peace Les Amis de la paix on Facebook.

Musemother aka Jenn

Friday, December 02, 2011

What a Wonderful Life, When I'm Calm

Are you already frazzled and worried abut the holiday stress ramping up? Shopping, baking, cooking, planning for meals with extended family(ies), kids gift lists, driving you bananas?

Take a break and consider some of the calming remedies you can do to help feel more serene in the middle of the rushiest season of the year:

Calming remedies and actions you can take

In her newly updated best-selling classic, New Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way, Susun Weed offers a number of approaches women can use to calm jangly nerves, achieve greater overall calm, and cope on-the-spot with stressful situations.

For instant calm, Weed suggests one or more of the following simple calming exercises, herbal allies, or movements, and can give you more details on how and why they work:

Unfreeze yourself: Curl up in a fetal position (on your side with keens drawn up), breathe deeply, and hum. You may want to rock back and forth. Concentrate on what feelings want to emerge. Do not be surprised if grief is what you are really feeling.

Focus your eyes: Look at anything, steadily, with concentration, and breathe deeply. Feel a warmth in your upper abdomen; breathe; focus.

Conjure an image of safety: Imagine a huge image of safety, such as a cowrie shell, the palm of Buddha or Christ, a giant mother’s lap, or a cloud of pink light. Surround the object of your anxiety with this image. Fear locks up movement and speech; a clear visualization can unfreeze you.

Take an herbal calmative: Tincture of red clover is a profound relaxer and soothing calmative. Its salicylic acid content (similar to aspirin) makes it an excellent pain reliever, too. Motherwort is also effective. Motherwort is not sedating, but calming, leaving you ready for action, not flying off the handle or bouncing off the walls. Try 10 to 20 drops as soon as you feel your nerves starting to fray or just before a stressful event. Repeat every five minutes if needed.

Try yoga postures. Yoga postures, yoga breathing, and quiet, focused meditation soothe the sympathetic nervous system instantly. Regular practice alleviates anxiety, often permanently. 

N.B. Forward bends are particularly calming for the nervous system, anything with your head lower than your heart.

adapted excerpt from New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way by Susun S. Weed.

Enjoy the holidays, it's a wonderful life. Give yourself the self-care you need to enjoy the season!

remember you are a wonderful, loving, creative person!
ps see Musemother on facebook

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Walden Zone digital free space

Every morning I read the paper looking for that one tidbit that will inspire me. Today it's an article called Screen-Free spaces, on creating a digital free zone in your home, in the Globe and Mail Life section.  Imagine setting aside a room in your home where there is no TV, no blackberry, no computer, no Ipad, no Iphone.  They call it the Walden zone.

"What if "Walden zone" became a sort of shorthand for families to remind themselves to live 'deliberately' a la Thoreau, when the kids are zoning out in front of their third hour of video games and parents are glued to their BlackBerry's?"  The idea comes from a book by William Powers, Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.  

While you may not have a separate space in your home to meditate or do yoga in, consider that what we really need is a quiet zone, or space where we have the right to download only our reflective thoughts of the moment, or a calm space to look out the window and see blue sky.  I'm lucky to have the sun rising in the east over the lake out my kitchen window, and that becomes a privileged moment.  I also have a room with only bookshelves and a piano, where I can escape from the TV or music in the other room and just read.

Building a Walden moment or zone may be more about your frame of mind than building a room in your home, for instance, removing my laptop from my bedroom has also allowed a different energy in my sleeping space. It's no longer my daily work space, since I brought the laptop down to the kitchen counter. It's been a week now, and I'm still automatically looking towards the place where it used to be to check my emails.

How can you create a little more awareness, a little more quiet - or even an Internet Sabbath day?  If you can't even walk the dog without checking emails and phone messages, perhaps you need to unplug for a few hours just to restore the habit of enjoying nature, smiling at people passing by, interacting with clouds in the sky.

Our kids need us to model a balanced lifestyle if they are ever going to create one for themselves. We need to find that quiet space within us, too. Enjoy a digital free zone today!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Speaking My Truth

One of my favourite things is to collect inspiring quotes and post them on Musemother facebook page. It's something innate in me I guess, the need to share immediately what I find, especially if its a resource or article or quote that has helped me and could help someone else find clarity or understanding.

The one I picked a few days ago was about integrity:  
Living with integrity means: not settling for less than what you know you deserve in relationships, asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might lead to conflict or tension... Barbara de Angelis.

It's a theme that is popping up in my life in different places, in not always comfortable ways. Speaking my truth, even though it might cause conflict - is not my strong point. Or else, I speak my truth but in a strong bossy voice that precludes any acceptance or trust from the another party.  Or I leave the room, slam a door, withdraw and retreat. How can I ask for what I need, and make choices based on what I believe, and still keep in harmonious relationship with others? Can I live with someone close to me not agreeing with my choices? It's time to put that baby to bed - you can't please everyone around you by being plasticene bendy.

Really, the ego self just wants the world to go exactly my way, the way I want it. I would love to control the universe, but that's just a fantasy.  My kids are very good at deflating that balloon. They don't want to be controlled, they want respect and trust, and even sometimes to talk about how they feel. They tell me flat out when I'm too bossy. And I need to really listen to what they are telling me.

So Living with integrity could also be about listening, really hearing what my significant others are saying to me, really standing in my own heart space and hearing them, even if I disagree. Sometimes not speaking up would honour my integrity more. Making choices about when and where to speak, when to hold council, when to hold the silence.  Allow people to come onto my island and not meet them with walls, arrows and all my defenses. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and still know what I know to be true.

I pulled a card today to help guide me in my discussions with a friend, and it was an angel card about the Heart Chakra, or heart energy. About coming from a place of love, really hearing what the other party says. My inner child is challenged by authority, by strong voices, by disagreements. But I want to soothe her enough that she will stick around, stay open, not run away at the first sign of tension or conflict.  Breathing into my own heart, standing by my heart with a firm intention to stay grounded. Stay true to me, and true to the moment. I cannot give up on myself, I cannot withdraw and retreat anymore.  I felt vulnerable and shakey but I breathed through it, and I tried to listen.

I want to learn more about integrity and speaking my truth, that's all I can say right now. Bottling things up and letting them explode in unexpected ways and places, is not a healthy option.


Monday, November 07, 2011

Reimagining Life without Fear

Life is benevolent. It wants to give us our hearts' desires. We don't have to wrestle what we want from a resistant life. (WOWAffirmations, Patricia Lynn Reilly.

You discover there is nothing to be afraid of. If you walked through the world with this feeling, what would you do or be differently? 
(Life's companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Christina Baldwin)

The above quotes coincided to bless my life experience this past week. It started with a dream I had the day after a Rolfing session (more on Rolfing later, but it's a kind of body talk experience, a gentle touch that releases fascia and emotional baggage trapped there). 

First, the dream: I am sitting in my backyard with my husband. I look up and there is a huge wall of grey shimmering water, taller than a high-rise, coming towards me. I turn to climb the chain link fence behind me, and can't lift myself up. I have no strength in my muscles. My husband tries to help me, on one knee, giving me a hand up, but neither of us can move, frozen in fear.

The dream work I did in the Rolfing session surprised me - after taking turns inhabiting all parts of the dream, being the wave, being my husband, being Jennifer frozen on the fence, I discovered the wall of water was actually not harmful but benevolence itself, a huge tsunami of love wanting to enclose me in its embrace.

(photo of Kennebunkport, Maine, October 8, 2011)

So, fear of disappearing into the wave of love has frozen me. Revisiting the dream, I felt the fear melting and the heart open in gratefulness. 

This week in journal class, we wrote using the quote from Life's companion as a prompt. If I discovered there was nothing to be afraid of, how would I live my life differently?  If life really is benevolent and wants me to realize my heart's desires (instead of living in struggle, fear, poverty mode), then perhaps I can begin to move through life in a more relaxed and open way...  It changes everything to start imagining this is true.

It works against my background of tightness and fear, always tense and expecting the worst, afraid that beauty and love are "too good to be true".  It works against my expectation of what I deserve.  It invites me to feel accepting and worthy of my highest good.  It nudges me out of my frozen on the fence mode, unable to take steps, take risks, move forward, and invites me to feel the deep embrace of the higher love inside me.

The strangest thing is how it manifests in the outer world. Once I open my heart and melt the resistance to love, all of a sudden I receive more love.  It's embarrassing to receive that much love. For instance, this year I received more birthday wishes on Facebook that I have ever had, not to mention emails and phone calls wishing me happy birthday.  My open, vulnerable self, that I call Baby Jennifer, revels in this love and the ego shivers and quakes like a small dog in a thunderstorm.

To accept this reality helps me take steps in publishing my next book, The Tao of Turning Fifty. It helps me be less shy to meet the people who can help me manifest my desire to reach as many women as possible with the resources and knowledge I want to share. It helps unfreeze me from not wanting to 'sell' myself or appear too pushy. My good girl self would like to hang back and let people come to me. But if they don't hear about the work I'm doing, how does that serve the purpose? 

Anyway, I am working with this new awareness. I will breathe myself into it, in my body.  I continue to explore the margins of fear, the echoes of love, feeling the shimmering possibility of moving forward in trust and love, knowing that Life is benevolent. It wants my well-being. We have a partnership going on here, and I can learn to trust that, bow to that, surrender to love instead of to fear.

have a great day/week,


Monday, October 31, 2011

Poems for middle age

Woman in Fog

If only she could, she would give her
heart to her husband, womb to her daughter,
arms to her son. But her body lies on the floor
awaiting rejuvenation, still breathing, broken.
What to do on the days when tears drop
into her soup? It’s ok to do nothing, she thinks,
just simple tasks like laundry.

She picks up a book of poems instead, reads
trees lose parts of themselves inside
a circle of fog” *
She’s in a thick fog, has shed her leaves, 
absorbed moisture till she has water on the
brain, disoriented by the shift that wakes
her at night, puts other parts of her to sleep, 
brought to her knees in a wave of heat and
tears, unable to exchange the chief’s hat
for the sombrero.

Her feet feel heavy, her mind dull.
She tells herself, it is only temporary,
lie fallow, compost.

Oh the music she needs to comfort her,
and the long night she’ll travel through
until the bright dawn reclaims her. 

Human, faulty, imperfect,
like the low thrum she hears in Cohen’s voice.
Claiming darkness as its source
it rings true, full of light.

*(Excerpted line from poem by Francis Ponge)

as published in For the Birds, Little Red Bird Press,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Musemother Newsletter

I have a new website at where you can sign up for the Free monthly newsletter, inspiration for your woman's soul.

November newsletter coming out early next week.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Developing Intuition

Intuition is my favourite topic. So I was very pleased to read a fascinating article The Truth about Intuition in the latest Whole Living magazine. Author Dana White quotes psychologist David G. Myers, author of Intuition: Its power and Perils, in talking about the ancient biological wisdom that intuition is based on.  Apparently, early human beings needed to quickly assess if a stranger was friend or enemy. Almost like animal instinct, this wisdom grew in us. As our brain evolved, the prefrontal cortex, which is the seat of conscious thought, grew too. But sometimes, when it short-circuits due to stress, the brain switches back to primal mode, bypassing the conscious mind and operating on an instinctive, unconscious level.  We make a snap decision in a second, throw that spear, and it gets the mastadon between the eyes.

Sometimes intuition comes as a nudge from within, even a physical sensation, a 'gut feel' or a skin tingling creepy feeling of danger. Some people seem better than others at letting their subconscious mind guide them, by honing their instincts. The author mentions people who detect roadside bombs as being good at this.

People can be trained to awaken their intuitive abilities, and it doesn't have to be necessarily linked to anything spooky or psychic powers.  I think of it as friendly guidance, and the more I listen to it and act on its advice, the stronger the relationship between me and my inner voice grows.

In my experience, journal writing has been a very important tool in awakening intuition or inner guidance (IGS, inner guidance system, I like to call it).  It's like a higher satellite  intelligence that sees all and knows all and I have a direct connection to it within.  Meditation helps me settle and be still enough to hear it.  Yoga also brings me into body awareness and subtle thought, underneath the mind's busy chatter.  Whatever helps bring you into a receptive space, walking in wild nature, watching the sky and clouds, or contemplating the silence in a temple, allows the inner voice to speak up.

Perhaps it takes a little bit of faith in the beginning. But with practice, you can begin to notice when your intuition guides you in the right direction, and the times you didn't listen when you should have. For things as simple as whether to bring an umbrella or a pair of sunglasses, or whether to take a detour or stay on the straight and narrow, and for larger questions as to which direction to take on the path of life, your inner guidance is trustworthy.

Writing in your journal,  open up a dialogue with your IGS, or inner voice. Address it, write to it, ask the questions that are bugging you. Let it inform your daily life.  Develop this relationship with your own inner knowing. It will help you relax, and learn to trust the larger picture. It will reassure you that wherever you are, there is something to be learned. You are ok, everything is all right. Or if things are not alright, it will help you bust on out of there in a hurry.

Give yourself a few minutes of quiet time today, maybe over lunch, and just see what pops up.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Depression and Mid-Life

Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression, says an article in the Globe & Mail this morning, and this leads to serious risk of dementia further down the line.

What interests me in this article is the link they make between the caregiver role that women provide so often and depression: “Dr Khatri said women, especially those in mid-life, may be more prone to depression than their male counterparts because of the stresses and strains of juggling multiple roles in life, including working and acting as the primary family caregiver.”

No one ever said it was easy going through mid-life, but more and more often I hear stories of women juggling teens, and elderly parent care, on top of a full time job.  This is more than multi-tasking, it can be debilitating.

The women in a family are much more likely to take care of elderly parents: drop by for a quick visit, drive them to their medical appointments, listen to them talk on the phone, take time off from work to do all these things.  Add that to the emotional rollercoaster of menopause and hormonal disruption, lack of sleep and night sweats, and you have a woman in great need of time-out and self-care.

How to find the time is the question most women ask themselves.  My feeling is that we don't ask for help often enough. It may be in our nature, or we were brought up to be independent and learned early on to just buck up, Soldier On, keep on keeping on.  This attitude leads to burn-out and at best, extreme fatigue. Before you have a break down, take a break, ask for help, share the load.

You may find it counter intuitive, but I suggest you make time, and take the time for yourself. Whether it's a mini-retreat in your home where you unplug the phone for one hour and write in your journal, or a trip to the spa for a pedicure, treat yourself with tender loving care.  

"Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way."  Caroline Adams from the Labryrinth website,

Remember that your life is sacred. Remember that to love one another as yourself, we must also love ourselves.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Mid-life emotions

Even at the best of times, I have always been an emotional creature (thank you Eve Ensler for recognizing that and writing about it).  Girls and women, we have moods. We have hormones. We have ebbs and flows like the moon, tides and cycles.  We go up, we go down.

When I was in University, I decided one day to try and chart the way my mood went. What I found out surprised me. If I started the day happy, in a good mood and upbeat, by the end of the day I was usually feeling the opposite.  If I started out blue or down, by the end of the day I was feeling more upbeat. Later, when I was trying to get pregnant in my thirties, I was charting my temperature, not my mood. Every morning, the basal thermometer tracked the heat in my body, whether ovulation was happening or not, whether we could conceivably conceive. Hormones and emotions, highs and lows.

Pregnancy and giving birth - well, even more extreme emotions and moods, highs and lows. I was mostly happy and healthy while pregnant (after I got over two miscarriages). My body loved those hormones.

By the time I hit perimenopause, or at least by the time any symptoms started showing I was forty-nine, and my kids were hitting puberty. Ever heard of the hot flash clash? That's when both you and your daughter are cycling at the same time, with PMS and extra flashes of emotional energy hitting each other and bouncing off the walls. She wrote me a card once that said, I love you mommy, in spite of your mood swings!

For some reason, probably my upbringing and the family I was born into, expressing emotion is not easy for me. When I am hormonal I burst into tears easily, but other than that, nada. It used to hit me by surprise a day or two before my period would begin - I'd cry for no apparent reason, then realize two days later, ah yes, the precursor to the period is the crankiness or the teariness.

What is it about emotion that scares us so? We're trained to keep a stiff upper lip, to answer "fine" no matter how we're feeling. Only our nearest and dearest see how we are really doing, and then sometimes they feel the brunt of our excess stress and worry.  At mid-life, the emotional rollercoaster was my biggest symptom of the 'Change'.  I didn't get so many hot flashes, but angry outbursts and weepy moments were legion.  Some of the time I was in a slough of despair - not so bad that I couldn't get out of bed in the morning, but there was lethargy and lack of motivation galore. Swampy terrain, upside down feelings. Not sure of anything except the need for rest, the need to withdraw, the need for lots of down time repairing the overwhelmed brain and emotions. Tuck me in at night, would ya? I'd be in bed at 8:30 pm.

If this is anything like your journey through mid-life, know that the healing is in the feeling. I got lots of help - from a family counsellor for anger issues, from a homeopath, naturopath and Reiki therapist for overwhelm and stress. From an osteopath for shoulder pain. I discovered a gluten intolerance and cutting out wheat improved my mood and fatigue considerably. I began taking iodine for a low functioning thyroid. I'm still working on some health and shoulder issues, but my emotions appear to be more stabilized. More joy is creeping back in, more laughter, more enjoyment and relaxation, less angst. Kids are growing, leaving the nest too.

I highly recommend journal writing as well as talking with your women friends, if you're feeling the pressure. Find out what you need more of, what you want less of. Give yourself permission to rest, take a nap. Pay attention to the signposts on the journey - to your emotional barometers. Keep optimistic and hopeful, it's temporary. Above all, listen to your intuition, and let yourself feel what you feel.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wild Soul of Nature

I've been reading Women Who Run With the Wolves, and so maybe that was why I dreamed of foxes. In the dream I was at the Ecomuseum or looking out a window of a building onto a field. A red blur of foxes ran over a hill, and I caught a glimpse of fluffy red tails and their distinctive coats. I turned to someone and said, I didn't know that foxes lived and ran together in a clan like wolves do: tribe, group...pack, that's it!

On the same day, early in the morning I noticed my dog sniffing the grass on the front lawn and wandered over to see what she was smelling - a rather big dead animal. At first I thought it was a rabbit, but after getting the shovel and turning it over, I noticed the long whitish snout, sharp teeth and ugly bent claws, roundish tail.  An opossum! It seemed unlikely this far north, but a quick search on the internet for images showed me it was beyond a doubt a dead possum.

Two wild animals creeping into my zone, one in dream, one on my lawn.  What could it mean? The value of a little wildness in my conventional, tidy life... I ponder the question, why does the word 'wild' thrill me, especially in the sense of the inner wild woman that Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about in her book. I lead a fairly suburban life - neither in the woods, nor fully in the city. Our house is near water, and that brings closeness to wild geese and ducks, but besides that it's the skunks and raccoons and squirrels, crows and sparrows that keep us company.

-----But the wildness I think I'm missing is that connection to the instinctual, the healthy body instincts and feelings that get smothered by too much 'civilizing,' too much worried parenting, too many strictures, too much rigidity and restriction of freedom.  We're told when we're little to quiet down, to not bother our mother when she's busy (on the phone, stirring a pot, reading the newspaper, trying to have a quiet moment!), to let Daddy snooze in his chair; we're kept in straight lines in desks with our hands on top of them, on good behaviour at school, we line up after recess, we don't let the cruel words of boys and girls hurt us, 'sticks and stones will break my bones'....we hold things in tight, inside.

Where is the wild nature of the pre-school child, the spontaneous feeling that fills our spirit and calls to our soul - the way the body could move with the soul if it didn't feel so tight! I'm missing that wildness, that get up and go-ness, that freedom to move. Last week I began working with a Rolfer (body worker), and I have already found a small measure of joy creeping back into my body, freeing up some old tightness.

How can you let your wild nature soar today, just a little? Maybe a little jig on the grass? A moment alone with the crows? Can we be strong enough to listen to what our bodies whisper in our ears, our instinct and intuition? Estes suggests we not treat our bodies as a dumb beast of burden carrying our weight in the world, but as a rocket launcher! A place, a window that the soul looks out of. Let us let the wild animal of our body love what it needs to love....


Monday, September 12, 2011

Facing the Page: Writing through fear

“There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” Martha Graham, as quoted by Agnes DeMille,  Martha: The Life and work of Martha Graham

We all have blocking beliefs, whether its I’m not good enough, or I don’t have time, or I’m not creative. When I listen to all the reasons I can’t write, or the fears that assail me when it gets to rewriting, I paralyze, feel frozen. So many good projects are waiting on the back burner for me to make a commitment to them, to decide I am worthy of taking this creative time. This morning I decided I needed a ritual to let my muse know that I am going to take this time and finally face the blocks that may be unconsciously holding me back from working on my stories.

What I love about the Martha Graham quote is that she gives me permission to just do it! To not wait for the perfect moment or the perfect mentor to encourage me. I don’t have to worry about how good my writing is, or the value of my stories. But I do have to take the time and keep the channel open. Just acknowledging this intention is very good for me. I feel my desire is growing to love myself enough to write those stories of a rebellious young girl feeling her way through love, sex, relationships with guys, experimenting with danger, pushing the edges of her boundaries to find her own truth, living in an house with alcoholic parents where unpredictability was the order of the day.

Tomorrow I begin leading two Creative Journal Classes and I’m very psyched for it. I understand the fear some participants or new writers may be feeling because I still feel it! I get to place my faith and trust in the journal writing every time I open the page. It’s not usually difficult for me to write in the first place, but taking the raw material and transforming it into stories is something new for me. I’ve worked with poetry for over twenty years, and love that creative process. Now it’s time to give some dedicated time to the stories inhabiting me.

Here’s a metaphor for facing the fear that I came up with for my first class (excerpted version): 
Imagine your desire to write is like a tow line attached to a ferry crossing a river. If you jump in the cold water you’ll be swept downstream by a very strong current, and may drown (at least, that is the fear). But if you hold onto the tow line or better yet, attach your boat to it, or drive onto a ferry that is attached to it, you will be pulled across in safety to the other side. What does the tow line represent in this scenario? Your faith and trust, taking baby steps, one at a time, in entrusting your thoughts to your journal, beginning to tell your story.

Where we are headed is not a physical space and the fears may seem irrational. Maybe it’s a dream you have of publishing a book, maybe it’s more self-awareness you want, or time for some creative play. Maybe it’s a particular project like I have, to write my teenage adventures (they’ been sitting on my computer since I took a course online in Autobiographical writing).  What do you need? You need encouragement and you need courage: both these words have the French word for heart at the center – Coeur – so you need to get in touch with your Heart’s desire in order to find your courage.

How do you imagine yourself getting across the wide gulf? The only way I know is by writing from the heart, surrounding yourself with heart-centered, positive people; perseverance and discipline are needed, yes, but from the inside, not the outside. If you don’t have a fierce desire to write yet, that’s ok. Let it be vague and foggy, and just know that if you attach yourself to the tow line, the rope can be your journal, your connection with the inner guide, your trust in the Voice. Your desire to get to write and know yourself better is like a muscle that has been a little unused perhaps, but with practice it will get strengthened. You will get across and look back, wondering what you were so afraid of, because you find you do have the power to write, the strength, the courage has come.  This is how I felt watching my website go live the first week of September and two new book projects begin to come closer to reality.

The journey of your life is afoot, the journey to journaling also. Here you are, on the boat taking your first steps to face your fears – bravo! Give yourself a pat on the back for showing up, for registering for a class, for taking baby steps that can turn into giant steps. Let it continue like this, venturing into unknown territory.  We’ll break it down into doable tasks. With five minute writing, ten minute writing, small questions to get you started, deep questions that may challenge you or inspire you. We will always begin with centering, to ground ourselves in the body, in the here and now. We’ll jump through the hoop or the ring of fire by focusing on the hoop, not the fire. 

Writing is a beautiful gift humans have been given. Don't let the fear stop you from discovering it.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tango at mid-life: creativity

I met an old friend at a Labour Day brunch, and she was telling me about losing her job in a month or two, part of the company's downsizing. I knew she worked in accounting, but I wondered what her real passions were. She told me that years ago she used to dance, doing ballet and ballet jazz, her creative passion.  At age 55, she didn’t think she could go back to dancing, but might look into evening classes. She’s a mother of three, now grandmother of two little ones, and had stayed home with her kids when they were younger. She sort of fell into accounting as a job because she knew how to do it, and it paid the bills. Raising three kids left her little time to explore her own passions.

When I asked her about her creative side, her face lit up, and I could see she had a longing to explore dance again.  I told her about an exercise I do in my Creative Journaling classes, called What do I love. One of the questions is, what did you used to do for fun that you don’t do anymore. The first thing that popped into my mind when I answered this question was biking. As a teenager, and even later as a married woman without kids, I used to ride my bike all over the place. I loved the sense of freedom, the wind blowing in my hair, the ability to go far and faster than walking, the parks I discovered, even the cemetery where I would bring my journal and write amongst the quiet trees and gorgeous landscaped plots.

Lise said biking was something she loves too and she was thinking of getting the bike out again. My husband just helped me over the weekend, pull the bike out of storage and pump the tires. It’s funny how when we get busy with families and work, we let these things go sometimes. Then, the kids grow up and leave home, and we begin to find time at mid-life for doing things we love again. Often, from my conversations with women, it’s the creative pursuits like drawing, water colour, dance or writing, that come to the fore. Or things we like to do just for fun, for no practical reason at all, like biking or sword fighting or swimming competitively like two of my friends in their fifties who spent their whole vacation in the pool perfecting their strokes.

What have you rediscovered that you love to do? Have you been brave and registered for something new? Have you ever considered journal writing as a pastime? The following are some quotes on creativity that I’ve been collecting, to inspire me when I’m down in the dumps and forget how taking baby steps towards being creative fulfills my soul.

The heart of all creativity is the awakening and flowering of individuality. The mystery and magic of being an individual is to live life in response to the deep call within, the call to become who we were dreamed to be...the divine blueprint of the soul. This is where true freedom awaits us. Freedom is the poise of the soul at one with life which honours and engages its creative possibility.” Beauty, John O’Donohue

“There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”  Martha Graham, quoted by Agnes DeMille, in Martha: The Life and work of Martha Graham

“A woman must be careful to not allow over responsibility (or over-respectability) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she ‘should’ be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only. “ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women who run with the wolves, chapter “Clear Water, Nourishing the Creative life”

"Once you become aware of what stands in your way and become willing to release it, you signal the universe that you are ready to manifest the life you were meant to live. Chérie Carter-Scott

Are you ready to manifest the blueprint for a creative life?

Let the universe know,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mid Life Moods: Journaling dark thoughts

Mid-life Moods and dark thoughts

If we reject what is painful, we find only more pain,
but if we embrace what is within us, we stumble upon the light.
~ Elizabeth Lesser

 Aren’t you a dog anyway, always groveling for love and begging to be petted? You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones, you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds. Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first beautiful man you find? The words ruin me, haven’t they been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn’t it time you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets to totter around in five-inch heels and slutty mascara? Sure it’s time. You’ve rolled over long enough… at the end of all this there’s one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt. So get going. Listen: they’re howling for you now.” tell me the power of words, blog,

Naming things, naming our sadness, our joy, our despair and confusion makes it more real and also helps us move beyond it. I shivered when I read the piece from Meredith above. It made me want to get out my journal and write about the gritty underbelly of feelings that I keep hidden.

It brings me clarity to name what I feel, even if I’m uncomfortable admitting to those feelings. Sometimes I don’t even know how I feel until I get to the bottom of the page and look back. Ah, that’s what it was. On the outside everything may look hunky-dory, but on the journey to the self, on my inner journey, it might be a good deal rockier. And always, beyond the chattering of monkey mind, behind the breath, there is a vital core energy breathing me.

I woke up this morning, two days after Hurricane Irene blew through New York and the northeast, and felt the spaces in my body where there was pain and absence, disappointment with myself, tension and stress, unhappiness, leftover rigidity from yesterday’s shopping trip with my daughter. We are often happy together, but if there is uncertainty, difficulty or tension about details, we are both very unhappy. I was left with the feeling in my body – that I am not always a good mother, that I hate being ‘in charge’ even if I like being in control. I am supposed to be the elder, wiser one, helping her settle into her first week of a new city, new university residence, negotiating new rules, new spaces, new contacts.  But I’m navigating new territory too, beginning my own new ventures, a new website, new creative journaling classes for women, new book of poems, new non-fiction book for women in mid-life (The Tao of Turning Fifty). A lot of new’s for both of us.

Finally I went out to the health food store and bought a product called Calm, a fizzy drink with magnesium in powder form. Lovely, I thought, I need this right now. I want to be calm. I want to find that great comfy place where everything goes swimmingly well even in the unknown territories that freak me out, like filling out forms on-line to get an ISBN number. Should be simple, but what if I screw it up? Shoulders hunch up, I breathe, and try not to rush, and voila! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Relax shoulders.

So journaling, writing, naming the blues.  I always try to be uplifting and be a friend, hand holding and breathing light into the darkness. That’s ok. But there have been many, many times, especially during the last ten years on the peri-menopausal journey, where I have not felt so sure of myself, nor centered and right. I have reached out to my sisters for help, learned EFT, done workshops, felt lots of healing moments in Retreat, and gently gently am learning to go easy on myself.

So, the gist of it is, name the little bugger that’s got you by the pants, gremlin or cranky critic or depression, despair, or fear. Hold somebody’s hand if you need to. Buy some dark chocolate and spiced tea, play some soothing music and rock yourself through it – then write it. Write about what you’re afraid to feel, to acknowledge or admit, to risk. Write as a spiritual practice to help you go deeper into the ‘why’ of what you love, and what you hate, your struggles with overwhelm and your lack of understanding. Write your way to clarity.

Your journal is a safe place to confide in, to hang out naked in, to be private and converse with angels in. To be in your body, at home with your feelings, to gradually grow in self-acceptance and love and let go of judgement and painful self-sabotage – that is beautiful.

So, I’m sure the dark corners are like boogeymen. Once you shine a light on them, once you begin to name them, they shrink and disappear.

Ps what are you afraid to write about? Begin there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Being Calm and Gentle with Myself

Last June I was seeing a naturopath who heals with Chinese herbs and energy treatments. She told me my adrenal glands were depleted, and made me realize how stressed my body is, all that coritsol rushing through, all those muscular tightness issues and clenching in the jaw and shoulders – from years of working on the computer yes, but also from hunching up in fight or flight mode. Anxiety, stress, constant stimuli, parenting, work all adds to the body being winched up tight.

So today, I am breathing into those muscles and allowing myself to relax. I take a deep breath and tell myself, I am ok, everything is alright. I try to catch the worry wart in me before she takes over my day. Don’t we all need a break from this ‘being on edge’? Bad news, famine, war, and bombardment of tv, radio and newspapers doesn’t help me find my balance. I firmly believe that my being stressed and ready to take flight, jumpy at any noise, unable to relax does not help the world one iota.

So what can I do, what helps? Giving my family the gift of my serene presence. It's time to make it real, Jennifer. Make it a priority. Do whatever it takes to stay calm. I even bought a poster at the MOCA in LA that says Calm so I can have a visual reminder. I’m off to yoga now, and I’m sure it will help me find my calm center.

Ahh, back from yoga, and shivasana and wow, that did help me feel grounded and relaxed. I'm a much happier camper at home, with my kids when I kick the adrenaline habit, the stress addiction, the enjoyable "I'm so busy get out of my way" buzz.....

I wish that for you today, to know that it’s alright, everything is ok. Be well. Be calm.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Being 50, becoming myself

Interviewing a woman who turned 50 a year ago this morning, and we had a deep conversation about how much strength there is in being 50, in becoming aligned with your spiritual and creative energy, to create your life in your own image.  I am exploring this in my work, how the need to reinvent ourselves sometimes hits in the 40's or 50's - one has a dissatisfaction with the way things are, the ordinary, conventional ideas of success. As if society says, if you haven't hit it by 50, well then, lay low, get out of the way for the 30 year olds up and coming. You haven't made it.

But we have so much to give! so much new found confidence and assurance, so much life experience. We're just beginning to know ourselves, with focused simplicity and passion for giving back what we've learned.  Often this implies a 'virement' a complete 360 degree change. Or a sideways channel - for this woman it was turning her back on years of playing piano, teaching music, earning degrees, to go back to school to study the body and its inner workings in osteopathy. I loved the way she talked about her hands - being the instrument she uses to touch the world, in both disciplines.

Another woman who I respect as an author, turned from being a therapist to working with the menstrual cycle and teaching its inner workings to women, leading workshops, and following an inner Authority, as she called it which calls her to do this work. ( Myself, I was working at home, writing poetry, raising children, doing the odd reading, and teaching part-time, but not fulfilled completely by either - wanting to find that specific gift or talent or purpose to give to the world. Knowing that I need to manage my energy and not disperse it wildly in too many directions, I was seeking the one thing that was mine to give, and create something of my own.

Eventually this lead me to teaching journal writing classes and leading retreats, which so satisfies me and gives me pleasure - to dip into the juicy conversations, the deeper levels of communicating with other women, women in transition, women raising children, or working at careers, who themselves don't understand the quest they are on for meaning, but are looking for new learnings, open to discovery. Now I'm on to publishing, and getting my books out there, and all that entails, new learnings.

How have you been affected by the mid-life transition? have you felt the winds of change blowing through your life, or are you content with the way things are? Are you learning to know yourself better?

post a comment, let me know, I'm very curious how other women live this time.

ps see my new facebook page for Musemother

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hot flashes and Soy: The truth?

The truth is, every time you read the news, the experts are changing their minds. First, soy was a sure thing to reduce hot flashes. Then I read in Susun Weed's The New Menopause the Wise Woman's Way that unfermented soy was not good for us. Now a clinical trial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine seems to show that soy's isoflavones do not protect against bone loss or hot flashes (a two year study of 248 postmenopausal women, G&M August 10) (*%3A*) So it's hard to know what works. In the same article, the author mentions maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough exercise is good for reducing hot flashes, as well as adding flax seed and black cohosh, The only supplement I ever needed was Promensil, a red clover extract high in isoflavones. As long as I took the little pill every day I was fine, no hot flashes. One month I stopped taking it, and they came back in full force. The article suggests red clover has no effect, but  my experience shows otherwise, and several of my friends have used it as well, to good effect. I think it's like the homeopaths say - each body, each person, each psyche and physical being reacts differently to the same remedy. What works for one may not work for another. You may have to try a few different things before you discover what works. Whatever you do, know that the rocky road of menopausal change is temporary. Keep yourself in good health, get lots of rest, and support from your women friends and family.  There is a bright side to menopause, an increased level of confidence, a desire to speak our own truths, a clarity about what is in our best interests, a kind of reckoning with the 'good girl' self who was trained to put others first at her own expense.  It becomes imperative that we listen to the signals of our body, especially the need for rest and balance. Your intuition is heightened, and you can work on building a trust in that inner connection. Take good care of yourself, and know that happier times are ahead. musemother/jenn

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Am I crazy or is this just menopause?

Midlife and menopause is about so much more than hormones, although that is a potent part of the mix. It’s a spiritual quest, a search for self, a psychic shift as Alexandra Pope says on Women Quest website, a deeply unnerving seismic rumble from deep underground. We feel the tremors, we want to run for solid ground, but it’s unclear how to find that. Everything we know about ourselves changes. We become highly sensitive, over-reactive, at least I did; teary eyes, enraged easily, anxious, full of butterflies and palpitations, we melt down into bug soup before our beautiful wings can grow and fly us up and out of this mess. In Ayurvedic medicine they believe the more health issues a woman has, the more trauma and illness in the body – the more stronger the symptoms of menopause, and that makes sense.

I believe all the baggage left undealt with, unopened, uncared for, swept under the rug, surges to the surface to throw us off balance. It’s a huge wake-up call for self-care. I had a lot of drams with overflowing toilets, filthy public restrooms so dirty I couldn’t go in there – and dreams of basements piled with boxes or undergoing renovations, cleared out, or storm surges flooding the house or highway, tsunamis of inner emotion flooding my consciousness in dreams. I can’t say I read all the symbols correctly, but I did feel that I needed help to stabilize my body and mind.

What helped? Lots of meditation, physiotherapy, cranio-sacral balancing, some Reiki and energy medicine, talk therapy. I have visited more health care workers in the last ten years (in lieu of going on drugs for depression, anxiety or hormones) – partly because I broke a leg, then got shoulder bursitis, and arthritis in my neck, calcifications in the shoulder – probably too much computer work catching up with me, but it did allow me to heal some of the inner issues as well. And receive some tender loving care.  I have always been a striver, a people pleaser, a get things done Type A person, but since menopause I cannot multitask anymore, I can’t work long hours without regular breaks for food and sleep. I can’t burn the candle at both ends like I used to, and I nap often to rest not only my body but my overloaded brain.

Is it a product of a damaged childhood, or too much stress? – perhaps. But whether it’s karmic or genetic, it has forced me to my knees more than once, forced me out of my shell, also, to find the friendship and support of other women. I joined a women's chorus,  I started my own women’s circle/group, because there was nothing out there, and now, I find myself turning around and sharing the knowledge and resources I found, that helped me. I am not an expert on anything, but I am a good researcher and reader, and began blogging to share the information that helped me. Which is a godsend actually, that I not only kept a record in my journal, but now have links to the resources. (check out the tabs on the right, and ms menopause blog)

Actually, it began with a birth journal when I was pregnant, that helped me tremendously when I was gobsmacked with emotions and hormones during that volatile time. The anger that surged when my kids were little and I felt like I was raising them alone (in spite of a supportive husband, I was the one they always seemed to call for in the middle of the night, see poem Women’s Stories on, I was also hardwired to do it all myself without asking for help, until I broke my knee skiing and was forced to include my husband in the daily chores of child rearing. So in retrospect, being able to write it all down has had its advantage. At least I have a record of how crazy I felt (and how bad a mother I felt I was).

Now, at 56, I finally feel balanced, and ‘real’ again, maybe for the first time since having children 21 years ago.  I have time for me, I do work that I love – writing, teaching, leading retreats, and the hormonal shifts finally seem to have faded away. My son is studying architecture, and right now is in Thailand learning how to meditate with Buddhist monks, and my daughter is a gorgeous, artistic, balanced 19 year old on her way to university.  Now, if I can only get my shoulder issues to ‘unwind’ a lifetime of tension, I’ll be flying high. (I’m working on it, believe me).

What has helped besides journaling, and women’s circles? Yoga, meditation, Reiki, but overall, the companionship and friendship of the women close to me, friends I’ve made along with way, (thank you all!) who have shared my journey, speaking their truth, allowing themselves to be seen and heard, who make me feel a lot less alone.  If you can’t find a group to belong to, create your own women’s circle, seek out the like-minded women on-line or in your community.  It only takes one or two others to begin.  Ask the universe for help in finding them, ask your guardian angels, write affirmations, open your heart, and do take a step to reach out in trust and faith.

And stay tuned to this blog, because I will always be writing about these kinds of issues.  It makes me feel less alone to know that you are reading, and nodding your head and going, it’s not just me. I’m not the only crazy one out there.

Now a chapter in the book, The Tao of Turning Fifty, What Every Woman in Her Forties Needs to Know

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Women in transition

I just received the Kripalu fall catalogue, with workshops and classes listed - there are so many wonderful offerings for cultivating intuition, journeying to the self, awakening your feminine power, reflecting on spirituality and stress, healing emotional trauma, self healing, finding enlightenment and fulfillment, and kayaking and yoga, on top of it! (

But I didn't see anything specifically offering something for women in transition, or women in mid-life, which is where I am, and maybe some of you too.

What is this mid-life transition about? why is so fraught with emotional turmoil, ups and downs? It seems like it should be the best time of our lives - garnering more experience, more wisdom, more time for ourselves, if only we can give ourselves permission to take the time....

In my forties, my kids were hitting puberty as I was entering peri-menopause. The tug of war between their needs and roller coaster emotions and my needs and roller coast of emotions seemed to take up all the space in the house sometimes.  I often felt the need to just get away, so I could calm down and find myself again. It seemed like huge waves of hormones or emotions were always sweeping me away, pulling the rug out from under me.

I did find some herbal helpers, thanks to Susun Weed's wonderful book, Menopause the Wise Women's Way, ( and finding Dr. Christiane Northrup's book The Wisdom of Menopause was another lifesaver -  Reading that my brain was being rewired in menopause for greater intuition and inner wisdom helped me trust the changes my body and brain were going through. A few homeopathic remedies like sepia helped with feelings of overwhelm.  And eventually, I got through it, I made it through the other side of fifty.

That is why I am working on this book, The Tao of Turning Fifty, to share the wisdom and resources I discovered, and to let women in transition know that they are not going crazy, that it's temporary insanity at best, and that things will be better, much better once the Change works its magic.  You see, you do need to go through a transition, to become more connected to your own intuition, trust your inner knowing, and become that wise woman you always admired in other women.

Stay tuned for the book's publishing date, I'm working hard to get it out in the fall of 2011, as well as a new website which will link to this blog.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Connect with your intuition

Garner your own soulful connection to the creative spirit within.

My goal is to help women cultivate faith in their own inner resources and increase their self-awarenes through journalling exercises, both visual and written.

To that end, I am developing a new website and a workbook for women in mid-life called The Tao of Turning 50.

I am making time this summer to follow my own advice and unplug from activities that no longer serve me, so I can focus on making my heart's desire manifest - to help other women understand their own mid-life journey.

Today I am looking at all the collages I've made and the vision boards, to help me make this come true. Hiring someone to design and build the website was the first concrete step I took a few weeks ago. And now I'm browsing my computer for pictures and artwork I can use for the new site. It's very exciting, a little intimidating, and completely do-able. 

Connecting with my intuition and journalling about what I wanted to do with my skills and talents brought me here.  Writing it down, asking the questions, turning in circles, attending workshops, doing yoga retreats, talking with the women in my circle, more questions and confusion. Finally, after what seemed a very long time, it became clear.  I was not headed back to school for more classes or degrees (I did that while having 2 babies and completing my master's over 6 years). I had published one book, but had no further offers of publication for poetry - so that seemed out.  I had been journalling since before I got married in 1984, so it seemed a natural first step - and less restrictive than teaching creative writing at university  - to help other women express them selves and get in touch with their own intuition, desires, dreams through writing.

So here I am - taking a giant step to manifest that intuition on paper and on-line.

I hope you'll follow me on the journey.  The way up and out is often by going down and in, first off.

Here we go,

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Healing H'art

"Go, not knowing where; bring, not knowing what, the path is long, the way unknown, the (s)hero knows not how to arrive there by herself - Russian fairy tale To collaborate with the Unknown, the unseen, to speak with whatever Voice I hear within, to add to the gift of humanity what only you can, and build a pathway home to your deeper self. Not writing to please or satisfy but to express what I find deep within,, to go below the surface fears, the doubts that I am not good enough, the worries that others will judge it worthless

Enter into communtion with the Muse, theh source, meet the art that seeks me, in Presence. Stop thinking and let the words flow freely, even if it makes no sense, until the answer arrives. flow like the water, not ice, not fixed, but fluid. (reading Marry Your Muse, by Jan Phillips) I am on a healing journey, using my healing h'art, as the background or tool.

Offering a retreat this weekend Breathing down your bones (see Facebook page Women's Retreat) and working on the marriage of yoga and writing today with Brigitte, yoga instructor. Releasing the desire to be 'known', to be somebody. Just letting go to the calling of the heart - to be in presence, to be healed in every moment. To ask the question, and receive the healing love as answer.

It calls me to go deeper into the body, into the breath, and feel what I feel. To explore in the yoga poses, the held bones, the deeper breath, the held emotions.  What is underneath?

If my body is the pen, what does it want to write?
let me know what you think about this,


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Abundance and Need

Wealth is not measured by how much you have, but by how little you need.

Abundance, therefore, is a state of mind. Right now, what I need is a little time and space for my inner light to shine on me.  A little niche, or cleft inside, to focus on the stable, the real, the solid connection with Source.

Visiting Venice was truly an experience. One of the wonders of the world I guess. A city built on stone and brick and wood, slowly being eroded by water, surrounded by canals and lagoon, basically in a river delta that would have silted up had the engineers not tinkered with it over the centuries.  Like an aging dowager with too much rouge and tatty ancient lace, Venice is tired. She still likes a good party, a glass of wine and some carpaccio.  But she will not be here for much longer.  Meanwhile the tourists visit in the millions every year.

It reminded me of the state of the world. Unstable, foundation being eroded by the changeable waters, an island in the sea, floating, sinking, rising according to the tides and floods.

What am I anchored to? where is my foundation? I am an island in the sea.

I have found a deep root, thanks to my teacher. A very solid link to source of peace and stability.  It doesn't pay to forget it.  The soul only drinks from the clear pure water of Source, and is easily tired of flashy, bright baubles, and light conversation.  There is abundance within.  How much do I need?


Monday, May 16, 2011

Mid Life Angst and Turbulence

More than the night sweats and hot flashes, what really changed for me at menopause was my emotional landscape. I wasn't sure what the cause was, but I became hyper-sensitive. I cried easily at movies, couldn't stand to watch car crashes or bloody violence on the TV screen, I would flinch or jump at loud noises, and was generally more anxious than I remember being, especially while driving.

I would never have related this to hormone imbalance or menopause, if I hadn't read the following on the website.

Here's an excerpt of the useful information I found there:

"Let’s start by looking at the root cause of anxiety — the destructive effect of stress on hormone balance.

It now seems the norm for women to be “maxed out” in all directions. Most of us work, and the workplace has gotten more demanding. Most of us raise children and help care for aging parents. We often have relationship issues that create stress too. And we are conditioned to put ourselves in last place on the list of priorities.

The type of stress is just as important as the amount. So much of the stress we experience is constant — it never goes away. The human body simply isn’t designed for constant stress. When that occurs, our ability to cope with stress can be overwhelmed. If you inventory the stress in your life you may realize that much of it is unremitting. This can give rise to a serious condition known as adrenal fatigue. It is also a cause of chronic anxiety that is often diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.

The estrogen dominance common to perimenopause probably adds to this “anxiety response.” In a normal menstrual cycle, estrogen dominates at the beginning of the cycle, and progesterone rises in the second half. The progesterone has a calming, relaxing effect. But in perimenopause we have more cycles in which we don’t ovulate, so the progesterone level stays low. (Also see our article on irregular periods.) For some women, anxiety attacks are their major symptom of perimenopause."

Add to all this the bad habits we have of jumpstarting our bodies with caffeine and eating poorly when stressed, and you have the recipe for higher levels of anxiety."

I know many women in the same boat, with aging parents and teen-agers, full-time or part-time jobs, or sick family members that need care-taking, and very little time to care for themselves, let alone eat a healthy meal and get to bed early every night. So if you are one of those women burning the candle at both ends, don't be surprised if you feel a little raw or as if your nerves are exposed. Susun Weed, in her book The Menopausal years The Wise Woman Way says this can also come about due to our own neglect of listening in.

"You may think your feelings are out of proportion, too sharp, quite irrational, possibly insane. But, I assure you, they are only raw from neglect. Receive them without judgment, nourish them, and your 'uncontrollable' feelings during the menopausal years will lead you to the deepest heart of your own secrets.

If you cannot tolerate those about you, leave. Go to the sheltering space of your cave. Claim your Crone's Year Away

Here's something you can do to feel better: write about your feelings in your journal, get in touch with your buried feelings (anger, grief, loss); Sing the blues or dance it out with some salsa music. Get more sunshine - not too hard in spring and summer. Move your body out into nature and take a long, healing walk. Get a massage - you'll be surprised what emotions well up sometimes while you are lying on a massage table. If tears come, let them. Find a homeopath to help you find a remedy. There are several remedies for emotional upset, overwhelm, feelings of depression or wanting to be left alone. Homeopathy was the only remedy I needed in menopause. It's inexpensive and has no side effects.

Finally, get thyself away on a retreat! - you may not be able to take a year off from your life, but you can certainly take one or two days. Find a woman's retreat by googling it, or look in your local health food store or yoga centre. I hold women's retreats once a season, so check this blog for announcements.

A new website coming in the fall, with my book, The Tao of Turning Fifty, and updates on courses and retreats.

Take good care of you!!