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!!


Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's Day in Spirit

Good morrow to you, all mothers, daughters of mothers, grandmothers, and grand-daughters.

yes, it was yesterday, and I was with you all in spirit. I was enjoying my Mother's Day getaway in a women's retreat in my home-birthplace of Arnrprior Ontario with Karen Ely of A Woman's Way

What a wonderful gift to myself, plus my close friend Brigitte came along, and we got to share with each other on the journey.  I stopped in to see my mother at the end of the afternoon, saw my siblings and celebrated briefly before going home to a husband-cooked supper (not a cooked husband, but a meal cooked by him :))

So, what did I receive on Mother's Day? ahh, such gifts of nature, and childhood, and remembrance of my girl child spirit playing in the woods along the Ottawa River. Memories of the moments I felt most alive, most in tune with Mother Nature, Mother Earth, and the girl who sang to the trees and flowers.

In mid-life, a woman benefits greatly from communing with her young girl self - what did you love when you were eight years old? what activities did you do then that you no longer do? can you bring some of those back into your life? the walking and skipping, the laughing at the buzzing of a bee in a flower? the singing to the fireflies?

Find that little girl energy and I guarantee you there will be more joy in your life.

happy May, month of our mother,

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Mid-Life Transition

Questions and more questions - where I am going? what do I love? what do I want to be when I grow up?

The mid-forties until mid-fifties is a time of questing and transition.  Lots of my friends are in this age-group, and are finding themselves dealing with questions and uncertainty.  Menopause is not all about the hot flashes, ladies.  The greatest longing women have at mid-life is to get to know themselves, their desires, their passions, and what the heck to do with the rest of their lives now that their families are demanding less of them, or the job they've devoted their life to developing expertise in loses its appeal.

It's a weird time - I remember grieving the lack of affection and connection with my teen-agers, especially my daughter who was so closely bonded to me up to age 13.  I certainly wanted them to be more independent and grown up so I could have more time for my interests, but when they showed signs of needing me less, it made me feel anxious and at a loss. Going through menopause while they went through puberty was not easy either - lots of flashing hormones and moodiness galore. It's difficult to keep calm, not follow their mood swings, in the midst of your own peaks and valleys.

Sometimes it feels like everything conspires against us - our bodies no longer feel under our control - weight gains or losses, shifts of body fat and shape, night sweats and the rest of it.  Digestion changes, and food intolerances surface. It feels like work-life balance is harder to achieve - more is being asked of us, and managing our time becomes a challenge.  It's difficult to even put ourselves on the agenda, get to the basic self-care and rest that we need to feel sane.

Women at mid-life often feel the need to get away, to be alone with themselves, to reflect and become more aware of their own center.  Where am I in my life? What do I want to do next? are frequent questions.  I find that journalling about this, and doing exercises designed to help me discover what I love, has been the greatest help.  Plus talking with the women in my women's circle - having someone just listen while I speak my own truth, however confused I may seem to be, just by speaking it, I come closer to knowing what I want, who I am at the core of me.

I remember around age 48 to 51 (when I hit menopause officially) being the toughest years.  I had been at home full time with my kids, volunteering at their school, trying to get published, doing readings and teaching a few classes.  I was searching around to find out where next to invest my time and energy - which project was calling me. It took a few years of taking courses, going on retreats, and lots of journalling, to finally come up with an answer that felt comfortable - I didn't want to go back to school yet again (having done that in my 30's).  I just wanted to find a focus that would merge my heart's desire and a way to work with my talents and skills. Teaching journal writing for women and leading retreats is what I discovered, and it has been such a pleasure - I get to explore my own interests and share them with other women.  The feedback I get is that it's eye-opening and life changing, and that's gratifying for me.

My feeling is that, although it's hard to stay with the questions and uncertainty, one has to develop patience to ride it out - to just be there in the turbulent waters - trying to ground and center - but not pushing the questions away.  Try to love the questions, as Rilke puts it:

“Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” 
- Rainer Maria Rilke

In the questing, in the search for center, slowly slowly come the answers.  Know that this is a temporary time, the transition time, The Change, helps.  You will recover your sense of balance.  You will come through the hormonal storm feeling more whole, more yourself.  Piece by piece, bits of you will become clear - as the extraneous things that don't matter peel away, the real depths of your personality and psyche will show through.  You will discover what you want, what you've always wanted.  You will know yourself, and be true to yourself above all things.

Give yourself the time needed to drift a little while, to be in the hallway between two doors - one hand on the future door handle, one hand on the past - not knowing what the next step is, but trusting that the universe will unfold as it should, and above all, be gentle with yourself in the unfolding -

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.