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.