Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Facing the fear of Mid-life Changes

Recently I spoke on 50 Ways to Love Turning Fifty at a local library. Near the end, when I opened up the discussion among the women present, it became clear that the real subject was the fear of going crazy with pre-menopausal changes. Every woman is different, of course, but many complain of unaccounted for mood swings, a strong need to be alone, a serious lack of sleep, a libido so low it's scraping the floor. There are a host of other emotional symptoms that come along with the hormonal changes.

Often, doctors don't seem to be aware that women need a heads up – women don't only want to know if their estrogen or progesterone is high or low. They want to know that they are not going crazy. They want to know that some of this is normal, and may hit them in their 40's before they're even thinking about menopause. (Average age is 51, but peri-menopause can start 7-10 years before that).

If you have any overwhelming emotions or issues, it's definitely worth talking to a health professional, whether it's naturopath, homeopath or an open-minded doctor, to find out how to mitigate the symptoms. Sometimes the emotional rollercoaster is worse than any physical hot flashes etc. Sometimes, seeing a therapist may be called for, to help clear away any emotional ‘stuff’ you've been sweeping under the carpet for too long. 

Bottom line is this: take care of your self. Lighten your load, let your family know when you need help, rest when you can, make yourself less busy. It’s time to accept that there are major changes afoot, and you need to assimilate all this 'stuff' coming up. Get away when you can, and most importantly, talk to girlfriends who are open to talking about menopause.

There is a chapter in my book The Tao of Turning Fifty about the descent of Inanna, a wonderful ancient story about a woman being totally stripped of all her powers in the underworld, then returning with new life. It reminded me of my own menopausal journey, which in some ways was a journey into the dark caverns of frozen emotions. There definitely is a return to the surface, as you let go of the old stories and return with new understanding, new clarity and refreshed vigour. Don't lose hope!

I hope this book will be a lantern in the darkness or a guidepost to  women who are experiencing turmoil and are not sure which way is up. I can see now that some of the physical issues I was facing in my forties and fifties, the bursitis, frozen shoulder and a broken leg - were physical manifestations of my inner journey. Ways that I was 'allowed' to slow down, and receive extra love and tender care. Ailments that forced me to treat myself with kindness and compassion, instead of pushing on past my limits

So this is a reminder to you, if you are travelling through mid-life and experiencing any turmoil, that you are not alone. Other women have been there, are voyaging along with you. Please take good care of yourself. Don't put self-care off -- don't put yourself last on the list. Your family, husband and children deserve the best of you. 

You are worthy and deserving of taking a creative break, of rest and good nutrition, as well as healthy exercise. Get out our journal, or call up a friend, and talk to someone today about how you feel.


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

or Women's Week!

“The woman’s journey
is to realize
her power is
within her.
As a woman.”
                                                                                 Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

Celebrate Women's Week!  Enter the The Tao of Turning Fifty give-away on my Facebook site, with 3 great prizes – 

1) an autographed copy of The Tao of Turning Fifty plus my Musemother Relaxation CD 

2) a copy of the book 

3) a copy of the Musemother CD

Share this with your friends. I would LOVE to make it to 1000 likes on my Facebook page.

TO ENTER THE CONTEST (starts today) : 


Monday, March 02, 2015

Self-Care: What Small Daily Practice can you do?

“Most unhappy people need to learn just one lesson: how to see themselves through the lens of genuine compassion and treat themselves accordingly.” ~ Martha Beck

(from my March Newsletter)

Happy Lunar New Year,

Welcome to the gentle, dream-filled year of the Ram, symbol of o-operation, strength and determination. I am writing to you from the depths of winter here in Montreal, a still white landscape out my window. The land is sunny, most days, but caught in a polar freeze.

And I feel the need to confess something to you, who may look at me as a teacher, retreat leader or wise woman. It’s taken me a long time, but I have finally begun, at age 60, to intuit what my inner rhythm is. Especially since the empty nest years have arrived now, with more free time to be creative, volunteer my time, or just have tea with friends, it has been challenging to not be over busy. I love taking on too many projects, (I’m sure it makes me feel worthy and deserving). But lately, my body has been sending me messages of overwhelm and I have to listen.

The other day, on a teleconference about Self-Care, I heard three small words that shifted something in my inner world: small daily practices. The presenter was making self-care sound important, she was writing a PhD on the subject. I sat up and took notice. She acknowledged the challenges we face because our culture, our work and our schools don’t train us to respond to our need for feeling at ease. We are trained to look elsewhere, to treats or movies and vacations for contentment. The whole notion of tuning inwards takes practice.

While I have been practicing meditation and yoga for a long time, my daily work habits are more about running around in circles, needing to feel useful but often feeling pressured for time. Even the cat and dog take priority over my well-being! On top of that, I have some of the paradoxical characteristics of the creative personality. *

For instance, I can be wildly energetic, then crave quiet and rest; am both extroverted and introverted, needing social company and solitude in equal measure; both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident. “Despair alternates with bliss, despair when they aren’t working, and bliss when they are,” says Juliet Bruce.

Which means the energy vortex in my home is not always calm and flowing.
But in the words of Tami Kent, author of the book Wild Creative, there is a way to work creatively that honors inner flow. It may mean throwing out the list-making habit: “Rather than attempting to be creative in all areas at once, I follow the creative flow to the priority at hand. If I tried to make a list of everything I did, crossing off tasks in a linear manner, I would accomplish much less and with less creative insight. Instead, I live each day from the presence of my center and take direction from the guidance that arises naturally. …pausing and receiving guidance from within is the way to align with your creative channel. …Simply follow the flow.”

This was my aha moment this week, both Tami Kent and the Self-Care piece. I had had a crazy Monday, jumping up from meditation too fast to call someone who needed help making costumes– I was ready to throw away the Monday mini-retreat, that small practice that keeps me feeling grounded in my internal oasis. And in the process, I rode roughshod over my Creative Soul in panic. It turns out she had spent the night at the hospital with her daughter, and couldn’t use me until later in the week. So I thankfully returned to my journal and continued where I had left off. Inside my body, I could feel how off-kilter the rushing had made me. So this week, I decided that was the end. It does harm to my psyche as well as my body, to respond in panic to the adrenaline rush.

A lifetime of bad habits sometime overcomes our common sense or inner wisdom. I know that I want to make self-care and creative flow a habit, not just for the hour I sit to practice meditation, but at the computer, in my kitchen, and generally, all around. Small daily practices help me slow down and pause, checking-in to see how I feel and what is needed before dashing off in high gear.

I’m going to need help. I release the worry that other people may feel I am not responding quickly enough to their needs. I honour and pay attention to my own feelings. What small daily practice can you do?

One last thing: I am starting a give-away March 3 on my blog and Facebook site, with 3 great prizes – 1) an autographed copy of The Tao of Turning Fifty plus my Musemother Relaxation CD, 2) a copy of the book, and 3) a copy of the CD.

You can share this with your friends. I also want to make it to 1000 likes on my Facebook page.

TO ENTER THE CONTEST (starts TUESDAY MARCH 3) :  here is the link -