Tuesday, October 22, 2013

take a break

All of us need to take a break once in a while, and I will be off-line for a few weeks.

I hope you can browse the articles and blog entries on this site while I'm gone, and in Mid-November I'll be back blogging regularly.

take care

Friday, October 18, 2013

Exhaustion and the Mid-Life Woman: Letting Go

She pictured herself hanging on with all her fingers to a wooden dock, and then, after hours of cramping hand pain, finally just lifting off her fingers, letting go of the dock, letting the gentle water and waves pull her backwards, like a pair of huge motherly arms gently tugging on her from behind, guiding her down river. It would be so easy, to just fall back, stop striving, stop rushing, stop getting things done, move backwards instead of forwards. Why do we always have to run forward, move forward, progress? The sense of accomplishment was nothing to her now. It only burdened her, the constant list of things to do. She wanted to refuse to function with lists, although all her life it had kept her organized, sane, functional.

Now she simply wanted, if she could admit to the truth without guilt, she very much wanted to let go, and stop. Everything. Deadlines. Doing. Shopping. Decorating. Renovating. Driving. Registering. Volunteering. Managing. Coping. At a very deep level, the fear of her inner blank slate was going away. She wanted that white room. Actually, the fear was rising to the surface and she was seeing it, instead of hiding behind the business. And now that she looked at the fierce holding on out of fear in the face, she no longer could do it. Something, some vision of a deeper life, some need for inner psychic peace and ease, called to her. 

How ignore it now, when she was so exhausted anyway?

excerpt from a short story I am writing, started in 2005, and finally I am re-reading it and recognizing the truth of that moment. 

ps I just posted this on Facebook on the Tao of Turning Fifty page

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Menopausal Journey as Rite of Passage

Is menopause merely the cessation of your period?  Is it about losing your memory, having hot flashes,  and losing your fertility? Or is it a mid-life reorientation project? Do you feel like you're falling down the Rabbit Hole?

This journey you are embarking on somewhere in your forties is a deeper phase to your woman's journey, a developing and a continuing and it involves a lot of unknowing. It felt to me like being in a labyrinth in the woods, a circular path that branches out and leads in so many different directions it's really easy to get lost.

What is the path of a woman's life?  Especially a woman who decides to have children, who gives over her body to create another body.  How does she regain her center (if she has lost it) and how does she keep those boundaries clear - me, us, them? How does she find herself again? Menopause is part of that journey towards finding yourself in mid-life.

Menopause is not an overnight thing. It creeps up on you slowly. You don't notice it happening until one day you realize your period hasn't come this month, or maybe you’ve skipped two months and your pregnancy test comes back negative.  Then it comes back again for six months, so you forget there's something going on.  Or suddenly you notice your PMS has increased to two weeks out of the month, and if you really stop and look at it, you see your emotional landscape is a little out of whack.  Or maybe you just aren't sleeping well at night and all the Chamomile tea or hot milk can't calm the hyper little gerbil running in its cage between 2 and 4 a.m.

There are many different physical symptoms and lots of websites to describe them to you, everything from sore joints to hot flashes and heart palpitations. What my blog tries to point to is not the symptoms, but the journey.  It's as if you are on the highway to Ottawa from Montreal, and took a side road without realizing it.  You look up and wonder where you are, the landscape doesn't look familiar, the trees are in the wrong place, and the road signs post names of towns you don't remember or recognize. You need to figure out where you are.

One way you can honour your not knowing is by standing still.  The first thing to do when you feel lost is to stop running in circles, stop pretending you know where you are.  Stop and ask for help.

Someone who has been there before may help you. Someone who has been lost and found the way home again.

This mid-life woman's way has been largely uncharted till recently.  The women who came before us perhaps felt 'women's stuff' didn't matter, or the subject was so taboo, no one actually talked about it.  Or they were told it was just their uterus being hysterical. The male hero story describes the quest of the masculine, but where are the stories of the Feminine Quest?

It is time to honour your own knowing, your own woman’s journey.  Questing. Know that the way out is the way in.  Going down and in will lead you up and out.

To help you with this rite of passage, I have written The Tao of Turning Fifty, What Every Woman in Her Forties Needs to Know. Check out my website at for a free excerpt.

Take good care now, and stay in touch,

also on Facebook and Twitter

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Stress and the Tired Mid-Life Woman

Are you in your forties or early fifties and wondering why you're always tired, cranky and fuzzy-brained?

I spent a lot of time blaming menopause for these symptoms, until I began to do some reading on the wonderful website of They have a ton of great articles dealing with women's health issues, and particularly issues that come to light at mid-life.

It's no secret that many women are overtired from trying to perform as SuperWoman, SuperMom or some combination of the two. Yes, we have more freedom to work in whatever jobs fulfill us, and attend school and marry who we like.....but more and more women are suffering from burnout and fatigue.  With peri-menopause adding hormonal changes to the picture, starting anywhere in your early forties (you may have 7-10 years of pre-menopausal symptoms till you are officially 'menopaused' at average age of 51), it's easy to be confused about the cause of your fatigue.

Recently I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue in the second phase, by a functional integrative health coach. Now my doctor does not believe such a thing as Adrenal fatigue even exists, so I went on a web search for articles to send her. My search led me back to

It may, in the beginning, look like a thyroid malfunction. My levels were low at my last blood test, so I'm being followed for hypothyroidism. But being more prone to finding natural solutions and working with a naturopath as well as my GP, I began to wonder if there were herbs I could take or dietary changes to make to help improve my health and overall well-being.  This led me to the health coach, who gave me a survey that revealed the adrenal fatigue, but also that I was a metabolic protein type, (I've had blood sugar problems for years), and needed to eat more meat protein to balance my system (as well as cutting sugar and carbs). I won't go into the list of supplements I'm taking, but suffice it to say, I am also supporting my liver and adrenal glands with herbal supplements.

Four months after implementing these changes, my energy levels are back up, I feel less tired and draggy, and my mood is distinctly calmer. Soon, we will retest the leaky gut and adrenals, and see how much improved my health is from the inside.

Bottom line is, don't blame all your tiredness and fatigue on menopause, nor on your age. If something is out of whack, if you're not sleeping, or sleeping too much, do some reading on this very informative website. Check with a health practitioner, and be open to learning something new about the way our bodies operate at mid-life.  We're going through changes that are not just hormonal, but it's all one package - our digestive enzymes are less efficient, we react more strongly to caffeine and alcohol, our libido is affected; if we have adrenal fatigue, we may be dragging our feet and even have signs of depression.

Unfortunately, not all medical doctors agree on this issue:

While adrenal fatigue is well recognized in other parts of the world, there has been some skepticism about it within conventional medical circles here in the US. Many physicians are quick to point to other health issues (depression, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism) that cause similar symptoms. We’ve found, though, that many times these issues are related to an underlying adrenal problem, and that treating them on their own with medications generally doesn’t solve them — but supporting adrenal function often does wonders.

Conventional testing only looks at extremes

Unfortunately, current tests that doctors are likely to recommend will look only at the extremes of adrenal imbalance that require immediate medical intervention: Addison’s disease, which occurs when the body’s cortisol production is severely deficient, and Cushing’s syndrome, in which the body produces excessively high levels of cortisol. 

Being stressed around the clock, working two jobs - one at work and one at home - raising teenagers, caring for elderly parents, dealing with hormonal changes - women are increasingly called on to be always on, 24/7. This puts us in 'fight or flight' mode, coping with physical and emotional stressors that drain our capacity to respond. If you suspect this might be the case for you, consult a health professional trained in Functional medicine, or begin by reading the articles on

Hope you find this information helpful,