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.