Monday, December 10, 2007

Menopause as a rebirth

Why am I writing about birth on my menopause blog? because once you've been down into the deep shadows, and spun your chrysalis/cocoon, and hibernated for a while, the ascent is like a new birth, a second life. And this involves a 'labour' phase.

There is not one day, or one moment that will demarcate the arrival but you feel the fragility of new wings, gossamer things, shiny in the sun. You feel the old self peeling away, the old attitudes, the old passions dying and the new ones being born.

If you are still in the 'bug soup' phase, where your will is hiding somewhere down around your ankles like pants without a belt, look up, and know that in the darkness wing buds have sprouted. A new you is on the way.

Your energy will return, you will be flying back into the light. Have patience.

A friend writes that her partner is in the 'throes' of miserable sleepless nights and overwhelmed with everything stressful (may I suggest homeopathy? it helps). I know it's a hard phase to go through, but it's just the labour pains. It's all about travelling into the labyrinth of the birth tunnel, and soon you will be up and out the other side.

It is a rite of passage. It is difficult. But it is worth hanging in there. Get the medical help you need, whether it be acupuncture or herbs or hormones. Read up, get knowledgeable, talk with other 'elders' who have been there.

Note that this is an important time, just like menarche and pregnancy/birth: it is a major phase of your initiation into your Self. It has been ignored, and women have been kept in the dark about it's momentous changes and the growth it brings. It is worthy of ritual.

The menstrual cycle in women is our stress barometer, according to Alexander Pope, a woman who writes wonderfully about this in The Wild Genie, and A woman's quest. So it is perfectly normal that during menopause, we start to notice what stresses us even more. We are finely tuned beings, built for ecstacy, joy, serenity and enjoyment. We cannot tolerate being out of balance anymore. Our bodies and our psyches seek balance.

Heed the messages for rest, and more rest. Slowing down is imperative. Don't wait for a major illness or accident to do it for you.

In the middle of transition during childbirth, it is not time to get up and run around, or pretend you don't know what is going on. Stay focused on the new woman being born. Stay with your center, with your new self arriving, stay in the present as much as possible.

God's little birthing machine is turning herself inside out and being reborn.

Maybe that's what Christmas is heralding this year, your own Hallelujah moment!

trust your inner tuning,
be well,

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

In My Ideal Birth

In my ideal birth I am noisy.
I labour long, walk up and down, heave my bulk over the chair,
the bed, lean over the nearest available object
at the right height (even if it’s a toilet seat).
In my ideal birth I can groan weep laugh be held
be massaged nurtured
mothered as I become mother.

In my ideal birth there are no machines.
No doctors, no medical emergencies, just a child
in meditation upside down
in my womb and a long slow process of welcoming
her into the world.

In my ideal birth, there are patient people willing to rub my back.
There are people that I love.
There are very few people.
There is no hurried young resident breaking my water,
there is no harried nurse hooking me up to oxytocin drip,
there is no fear of labour. There is no premature
stripping of anything, let alone a cervix.

In my ideal birth, I am monitoring my own rhythms.
I am breathing hard.
I am pushing beautifully when I feel the urge.
I am not told it is not time, the doctor’s not here yet.
I am ready when I am ready and there is no time limit.

In my ideal birth, there are wise women.
They trust my body,
ad I trust my body, God’s
little birthing machine.

Monday, December 3, 2007

stories from the front

"There was a woman I knew during my teen years who one morning abandoned her family and stayed at her mother's for a period of weeks. This was unheard of. I didn't know of another such case. She was loving, kind, an excellent mother, active in the church, highly regarded by everyone. In fact, I think it's safe to say her family was our town's model family. One explanation was whispering hotly around. The woman was going through her change. I overheard my mother and my aunts before they noticed me listening. Later, when we were alone, my mother attempted to appease my curiosity by explaining that some women, even the most respectable and charming, when going 'through the change' went a big mad."

from An Indiscreet Thing, by Miki Nilan in Women of the 14th moon editors Dena Taylor/Amber Coverdale Sumrall

I'd have to add, sometimes it's the most respectable ones who need to get away the most, find their inner wild woman, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes might say.

I spent the last 5-6 years wishing I could get away all the time. I didn't understand it. I was afraid of doing anything about it. It was a yearning so deep I thought it might be a call to divorcing my family, but I didn't want to do that. I saw a therapist for a while to help me sort things out.

Peri-menopause is actually where the angst is. Once you hit menopause, something calms, at least for me. Once you listen to the voice calling for change, and really listen deeply to see what it is asking of you, and then make steps even though the path is unclear, the inner angst lessens.

What did I do about the need to get away? At first I was writing stories about women who were facing this dilemna, who woke up one morning and wanted to follow the wild geese flying south. I listened to Joni Mitchell's song, sometimes I feel like going (can't remember words exactly) and I'd cry every time. It was about seasons and a woman who needed to move on in her life.

I did get away on retreats as often as I could leave my children. My friends were always asking J, my husband, where has she gone this time? and inviting him over to supper, as if he had been abandoned. They have gotten used to my leaving for meditation and yoga retreats, singing with my choir retreats, workshops on writing, or singing. Sometimes it's a 3-day weekend in Vermont or Massachusetts. Sometimes it's 10 days in Amaroo, in Australia, a very magical place with a special teacher of mine.

Sometimes it's a weekend in Fort Lauderdale, and sometimes I even bring the family along, like the time we spend a February weekend in New York. While they did sightseeing, I was in a poetry workshop. My teens were actually loving visiting boutique hotels and trendy architecture!

So I started just writing about it and complaining to my on-line writer's class at that I couldn't leave but I needed to get away, be by myself. One wise woman said, Leave, and come back again.

So that's what I've been doing, once or twice a year. My kids have learned to heat up frozen meals, my husband has even started cooking dinner once a week on weekends. They survive without me. When they were littler, I hired babysitters, dog sitters, whatever was necessary since grandparents were either not close by or not in shape to care for wee ones.

Bottom line ladies, you heed the call, or feel like you're going crazy. You do not have to 'up and leave em' all of a sudden. Just get them used to handling the house without you. Show them where the laundry soap is, and how to find stuff in the back of the fridge. Let the house get a little messy while you're away. It's worth it.

The bumpy parts will smooth out. The sisterhood of other women helps immensely.

safe journey,

Friday, November 30, 2007

Stripping of a woman on the cusp of menopause

If only she could, she would pick up her arms
and give them to her children, her heart to her husband,
her womb to her daughter, but all her parts are ailing,
lying on the floor awaiting rejuvenation. She lies still,
receiving breath, broken down to basic particles.
What to do on the days when tears drop into her soup?
It’s ok to be sad and do nothing on the list, she thinks,
Except the simple tasks like laundry,
except read poetry. What better refuge
Maybe that’s where poems come from, and for,
to remind us there is something else to do
than the ‘to do’ list –
the soul cries for meaning.

She reads “Trees lose parts of themselves inside a circle of fog” (*by Francis Ponge)
It sounds like the stripping of a woman at menopause,
in the years leading up to the full withholding of the monthly blood,
she has shed her leaves, lost muscle strength, put on weight,
absorbed moisture before the season of dryness,
felt as if she has water on the brain,
disconnected and disoriented by the shift in hormones
waking her up at night and putting other parts of her to sleep.

She is not out to pasture yet, but the young colts no longer bolt
from her body or frolic at her side. She is slowing down.
And if she doesn’t allow herself to rest, she is brought to her knees
in a wave of heat and tears, unable to juggle her roles,
nor exchange the chef’s hat for the sombrero,
Her feet fell heavy and her mind dull.
She tells herself, it is temporary, like fall and the cold.
Brisk winds will return her to spring’s green time,
but only after she has lain fallow, composting
her leafy spices, at the end of a cycle.

Oh the music she needs to comfort her,
and the long night she’ll travel through for years,
until the bright sunlight reclaims her.
Then her wisdom is as legion as the new yellow-green leaves
waving on the hill at dawn.

Human, faulty, imperfect, no more striving for anything,
except for compassion,
the need for self-love reverberating
like the hum she hears in Leonard Cohen’s voice,
claiming darkness as its source
it rings true, full of light.

@Jennifer Boire

Friday, November 23, 2007

Menopause poetry

Cross Currents

by Noelle Sickels

The moon's choreography
is less reliable now.
Unlike the obedient tides
my body chooses its own tempo,
sways out of rhythm
then drifts in step again
for a measure or two.

It surprises my attention.
I had forgotten this last bend
in the yawing currents;
Did not expect as much drama
as at the beginning,
when childhood washed away
like an unguarded doll
at the water's edge;
Or in the middle,
when all of me swelled
with the briny broth
of a stranger's life.
Now, again, I search the mirror,
hunt for how my face reveals
the changing course within.

People say I do not look my age,
as if I'd won a prize.
They say I am too young
to parenthesize the moon.
I can not always say I do not like
what people say;
do not, some days, want
to conjure back the blood,
rejoin the familiar round.
do not, like a lone sailor
in a cloud-thick night
long to drop anchor
and forget the creaking tiller
the unknown destination
the shape of undreamt shores.

Something to Look Forward To

Menopause -- word used as an insult:
a menopausal woman, mind or poem
as if not to leak regularly or on the caprice
of the moon, the collision of egg and sperm,
were the curse we first learned to call that blood.

I have twisted myself to praise that bright splash.
When my womb opens its lips on the full
or dark of the moon, that connection
aligns me as it does the sea. I quiver,
a compass needle thrilling with magnetism.

Yet for every celebration there's the time
it starts on a jet with the seatbelt sign on.
Consider the trail of red amoebae
crawling onto hostess's sheets to signal
my body's disregard of calendar, clock.

How often halfway up the side of a mountain,
during a demonstration with the tactical police
force drawn up in tanks between me and a toilet;
during an endless wind machine panel with four males
I the token woman and they with iron bladders

I have felt that wetness and wanted to strangle
my womb like a mouse. Sometimes it feels cosmic
and sometimes it feels like mud. Yes, I have prayed
to my blood on my knees in toilet stalls
simply to show its rainbow of deliverance.

My friend Penny at twelve, being handed a napkin
the size of an ironing board cover, cried out
Do I have to do this from now till I die?
No, said her mother, it stops in middle age.
Good, said Penny, there's something to look forward to.

Today supine, groaning with demon crab claws
gouging my belly, I tell you I will secretly dance
and pour out a cup of wine on the earth
when time stops that leak permanently;
I will burn my last tampons as votive candles.

- Marge Piercy

read them again!
aren't they great....
ps thanks to Lynn for the second one

Monday, November 19, 2007

My body

He’s coming in for that flying hug.
These are mine, he says,
Put them on my body.
(If I hadn’t weaned him, he’d still be rooting for milk.)

My three-year-old girl takes a shower with me, plants
a kiss on my nipple as I lean to dry my feet.
At bedtime she wants to snuggle too, just like
her older brother. He’s intense as a lover
claiming his own. She only plays at owning my body.
She lifts my right breast out of my nightgown, places
her lips around the long nipple, sucks
for a second, until I pull away, surprised
at the warm mouth sensation.

I think of Artemis of the many-hundred breasts.
Our mother hunger is bottomless,
no flesh & blood could fill the void.

Guess how much I love you?
Thirty times around the house &
all the way to China, says Katie,
my little girl
who is not mine, but water
through my fingers.

How I love to feel her solid
weight on my breast.

from Angel in the House poems series
@ Jennifer Boire

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bitch Goddess

Bitch goddess

how she snarls at the moon!

tail bone high,
she raises her hindquarters to the wind
howls to the four directions, claiming

her Space

warns me, if I don’t listen to her
yelping & crying
she’ll tear me apart with her teeth.

I’m learning a healthy respect,
let her sniff my palms, and crotch.
she scares my angelic side, with her dirty paws –

get down! I want to yell,
go take a bath.

but she is getting down in the desert dust,
rolling, getting an itch out.

she invites me down on all fours,
knees to the dirt
(my pretty white leggings stained).

But soon I’m wagging my butt
& howling, too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What is peri-menopause?

I keep running into women who wonder if they are in peri-menopause, whether they are 47 or 51, and who think their doctors will let them know, or a blood test. Is it a matter of keeping the balance of estrogen and progesterone? Is there a way to know if it's officially begun?

Usually it starts quite simply. At least in my case, it began with a few heat rays zooming up and down my spine, before I even knew what a hot flash was. Somewhere in my mid-40's I think.
Plus my doctor, after age 40, had told me your ovulation will begin any time after your period, even the next day, so be careful with birth control. It won't follow the same pattern. So I was on the look-out way before it began.

I think it took til age 45 before any major disruption in my period began, maybe even closer to 49, when all hell broke loose. No, that's not true. I started noticing PMS lasted longer and longer, until it was half the month. At ovulation, I was having sharp attacks of irritability lasting only a day or so. And some spotting in between periods, before they began skipping a month here and there in random order. Then six months in a row. Then 2 more periods. Heavy cleansing ones.

Insomnia was a given, but that had been more or less present since having kids. Every night was musical beds practically, because whenever my daughter had a bad dream or needed company she'd end up in my bed, I'd move into the guest room, and so on.

At age 50, my daughter finally grew out of needing me at night, and I began the 13-month period of no menses. After the 13th month, at age 51, I was officially menopausal. I still get night sweats after too much red wine, or hot flashes occasionally, but rarely. It seems in my case to be related to liver function.

I think the best thing I ever did was see a therapist at one point, to talk about my emotional turbulence and roller coaster of hi's and lo's. A lot of tears later, my PMS had shrunk to a manageable period. And my heart seemed lighter. There's a song of Lhassa's (spanish Montreal singer) that goes, "my head was full, but my heart still wanted more" (rough translation). That's how peri-menopause was - a labryrinth in the dark, turning in circles, not knowing what I wanted any more, but sure that I wasn't getting it. Needing time alone, time away, time for just me. In spite of everything on the outside being just fine, family-work-home wise.

But we are all different. Just talking to my sister Sue (hi Sue) in England, who is 2 years younger, and still going through peri-menopause. For her, progesterone cream works. She had chronic fatigue, and adrenal exhaustion, and progresterone helped her through that. High estrogen, like the Promensil (red clover supplement) I was taking for hot flashes, wouldn't have helped.

I guess the bottom line is, listen to your symptoms, get medical advice, use your google search function, and just know that everybody is different - there is no one panacea. Rest, good food, exercise, all the common sense healers are usually a safe place to start. It may be relatively smooth for you, who knows.

I really recommend the women doctors at as an excellent resource, with articles on all the possible symptoms and how to remedy them.

happy November, Scorpio babies!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Intuition and Menstrual cycle

I know I've been writing a lot about intuition lately, but I just found a really great article about the link between intuition and the menstrual cycle (and menopause too).

Some days I am definitely moving too fast to appreciate all the help that is whispered my way, but some days I sit back and watch the coincidences and synchronicities fire up and blow me away.

You are not crazy if you believe in a mysterious power that helps you move towards what needs to happen in a day. And if you pay attention, you may find there's a link between your cycle (if you have one, and yes, even after menopause I seem to have one) and your inner knowing.

Here's an excerpt from a brilliant article by Alexandra Pope, that popped up after a search on google:

"The stress sensitive barometer in women, the menstrual cycle is an exquisite system for sensing both physical and psychological wellbeing. Menstruation is an initiatory moment. Women can potentially open to a highly charged altered state, giving them access to a singular kind of power - the power of self awareness, deep feeling, knowingness, intuition. A power that matures over time with each cycle.

Most women might find it strange to talk of the menstrual cycle and menstruation as useful and powerful beyond its baby making function. This is not surprising. Too long we have been tyrannised around our bodies. To get anywhere professionally we've had to deny the life of our uteruses and silence our emotional authority for fear it would be labelled as 'losing it' or 'not rational', in other words not intelligent. T

he word 'hysteria' comes from the Greek for womb, hustera. Our wombs were seen as unstable organs, making us unstable. Whilst medical science has moved on from those fifteenth century notions, in today's atmosphere there still lingers a feeling that women are essentially unpredictable and unreliable beings because of the menstrual cycle.

No wonder women have needed to tread carefully when drawing from an authority that was not of the intellect. An authority coming instead from a knowingness, from the fullness of our senses and sensual nature. It is only in recent years that emotions have gained some currency. Emotional intelligence is a frequently used phrase today now that Science (male) has come up with the "hard" evidence making Emotions (female) respectable!" from an article on or at, Pope's own web site.

I've just ordered her books, A Woman's Quest. Now you know why this site is named 'questinggirl', because it has been a quest for information, a journey towards knowing, and not just guessing, at what a wonderful system we have within us. Who knew that a menstrual cycle was something other than a pain and a bother.

Especially now, with millions of women numbing their hormonal wisdom with the Pill, and even taking it continuously so as never to menstruate, there is a real urgency to getting this Feminine Knowledge out there! So spread the words, ladies. Our cycle is not to be played with, denied, doped up, or dallied with.

Even in your most peri-menopausal moment, remember the Blessing, and not the curse.

musemother aka jenn

Monday, October 22, 2007

Descent into Menopause

previously posted at musemother on Tuesday, September 11, 2007

For any of you interested in a Jungian approach to menopause, I recommend reading Descent to the Goddess, A way of Initiation for Women, by Sylvia Brinton Perera. She analyzes the myth of Inanna, (before Ishtar, middle-eastern) in psychological terms, and describes it as a story of modern woman's quest for wholeness.

Perera's theory is that we who are 'daughters of the father', well adapted to a masculine world, have repudiated or repressed our full feminine instincts and energies. And that in this 'stripping down' or descent to the underworld, we find healing.

The story of Inanna is a fascinating on its own, as it is the oldest written myth (on clay tablets) of a feminine divine power, known as Queen of Heaven and Earth in ancient Sumer (5,000 years ago.) I read this book through the worst year of my peri-menopausal descent, which I described to myself as the 'bug soup' stage, when the feeling of melt-down, loss of power and energy, mild depression, weeping, and general upside-downness, took over.

Here is a short excerpt from the book: "The basis of women's experience of childbearing and of all blood mysteries that create and maintain life is that Nothing changes or grows without the food of some other sacrifice. ....the myth of Inanna's descent and return is centered on this archetype of exchanging energy though sacrifice. ...She needs to sacrifice her dependence on the patriarchal gods to find her true home in the feminine ground of being.

"What I have seen in myself and other women who are successful daughters of the collective, often unmothered daughters of the animus and the patriarchy, is that we suffer a basic fault. We do not have an adequate sense of our own ground nor connection to our own embodied strength and needs adequate to provide is with a resilient feminine, balanced yin-yang processual ego....there is a deep split, maintained by loyalty to super-ego ideals that no longer function to enhance life, a loyalty that keeps the ego alienated from reality....thus we need to undergo a descent to the underworld levels of the dark goddess (Erishkigal), back to ourselves before we had the form we know, back to the magic and archaic levels of consciousness ...back to the body-mind and the preverbal tomb-womb states, searching back to the deep feminine, the 'dual mother' Jung writes about.

On the way down we shed the identifications with and the defences against the animus, introverting to initially humiliating and devastating but ultimately safe, primal levels. (awaiting rebirth). ...We feel as if the old meanings are loosened, as if we are suspended out of life, without energy.

What helps: "Creative improvisions, touching, holding, sounding and singing, silence, breathing, nonverbal actions like drawing, sandplay, building with clay or blocks, dancing, ... maternally nurturant and companioning behavior....the descent to the earth, the darkness is the yin way. Like Inanna, we must submit, going into the deep, to allow the transformative mystery to take place."

I know, this is heavy stuff, and written in Jungian jargon. However, read between the lines. Some of us have some deep healing to do, some of us can benefit from therapy, and some of us just need to loosen up and play more. Less book knowledge and more body knowledge. Less ego ideals and more feeling ideals. Less 'overarching boss of everything' mode, and more 'tend and befriend' mode.

This is just a hint of what the transformative process is like. It's not everybody's journey, but enough of the women I know have been through burn-out, depression, divorce and major health challenges in their mid-40's, for me to recognize the truth of this part of the journey. For me, it started just before my father died, and it's taken me from age 47 to 52 (about 5 years), to come up for air. But now, I feel the cocoon splitting open, and my damp wings are scintillating in the sun. My energy has returned, and I feel closer to the Queen of Heaven, than to the Queen of the Underworld.

have a compassionate self-care day

Feminine Mysteries and Menopause

Long ago and far away, women knew their place in the universe. In a far off mythical land (that may actually have existed), women knew that their bodies were part of the creative plan for the universe. Young women were initiated into the 'mysteries' of creative spirit through various religious ceremonies.

Rituals centered around the cycles of women's blood, when they were fertile, when they were not, when they were in phase with the moon; the success of planting and agricultural crops all depended on this relation that women had with the moon.

Menopause is the third of the three initiatory phases for women. The first being menarche, the second pregnancy and birth. In menopause, something sacred and mysterious also happens. The women stop being fertile, they stop menstruating, they hold their blood inside them.

Scientists may see menopause solely as a bodily function, but menopause also has a spiritual and psychological function. It is a journey of moving inward. The problem is that “most women have …forgotten that such a place exists", according to Kristi Meisenbach Boylan in her book The Seven Sacred Rites of Menopause (Santa Monica Press, 2000).

"For the past quarter of a century they’ve practiced self-denial, self-control and self-discipline to the point of having very little self at all.” Their inner lives may have atrophied as they worked hard, raised families, and done volunteer work, running themselves into the ground with being too busy to take care of themselves.

“Once she has given all that she has to give, the outward will convince her to give more, even if it means giving up breathing. That is why women break down around the time of menopause, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.”

She says there are many stages of peri-menopause, and they are all about getting to know yourself from the inside, and learning how to draw boundaries so that your energy is not sucked dry. “Once a woman masters the ritual of holding the blood within, she intuitively knows when to release her spirit and gifts to the world and when not to. She learns this from the wise-woman who she is now one with.”

The cessation of menses is a liberating time, but also a time for grieving. Maternal instincts may unexpectedly surface, the biological clock has ticked away. This is a necessary loss that must be grieved. However, the good news is, she becomes electrically charged by holding this blood within. New ideas, new projects pop into her head left and right. Depression lifts, anxiety passes, she is sharper mentally, physically and spiritually than ever before.

“It’s as if they suddenly wake up and remember that they left something simmering on the back burner. This is when the menopausal moth emerges from the chrysalis as a butterfly.” (but in my experience, what comes before is the bug soup period, the messy meltdown: fuzzy thinking, hot flashes and insomnia, lack of focus, lack of confidence, feeling like jello).

Now, in her butterfly phase, she learns to speak it like it is. An older woman can tell it like it is until it hurts. And she develops an intolerance for injustice. She sees the truth, and gets her power back. She learns the ability to say NO and mean it.I think you will enjoy this book, which uses the myth of Avalon as a metaphor for the withdrawal into inner realms.namaste,musemother

book link:

link to the Independent Publishers Group page for The Seven Sacred Rites of Menopause

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Menopause and Yoga

originally written May 16, 2007

Menopause - the Yogini's Wisdom Way

I have kept a copy of this article - Menopause the Yoga Way - since 1996. Must have been saving it for a future date - that's almost ten years ago. I was peri-menopausal then, and now I haven't had a period in 2 1/2 years.

This morning in Yoga class, I was lying on my mat during relaxation pose, and just before briefly drifting off to sleep, I remembered the article, and looked up the benefits yoga can bring to a tired middle-aged body.

"Many prominent yoga teachers agree that the practice of yoga not only alleviates the disruptive physical aspects of the menopausal years, but facilitates a spiritual alignment that inspires women to accept and nourish this inevitable change of life. Menopause, they say, can be profoundly empowering if encountered as a spiritual adventure and opportunity." (from article by Ellen Sander, Yoga Journal Issue 126 Feb 1996)

I am not quite a yogini yet, but I'm interested in whatever offers empowerment. I have practiced gentle yoga for over 10 years and still feel like a beginner. Beginner's mind is what the Zen teachers tell us we need to have, so I guess I'm in the right place. With yoga, I am still a baby, even if my body has turned 52 years old. Yoga is a godsend for my aching joints, stiffening hips and bursitic shoulders, as long as I don't overdo it. That's why I stick to the gentle yoga, not the vigorous ashtanga varieties.

If you're interested in a natural approach to menopause, you might check out the benefits from yoga postures: it's been proven to balance the endocrine system, and smooth out hormonal and glandular changes. Postures such as shoulder stands and forward bends have a calming, cooling effect to counter hot flashes and bring fresh oxygen to your blood. (downward dog, half-dog pose, corpse pose are also mentioned)

Joint mobility increases with the gentle stretching of yoga, and yogic breathing and focused meditation can tone and soothe the nervous system. Yoga asanas can lower blood pressure and heart rate, release muscular tension, improve sleep and reduce fatigue.

Susun Weed, quoted in the above-mentioned article, suggests menopausal women could benefit from an hour or more of yoga or t'ai chi a week. It is also an excellent weight bearing exercise to help prevent osteoporosis, and stops height loss by ensuring the disc spaces between vertebrae remain supple. She also recommends women in peri-menopause gain up to a pound a year, as a natural protection against thinning bones (you store excess estrogen in your fat cells). Imagine being comfortable with a little more roundness on your figure!

As for me, after my hour-long class this morning, I felt rested, relaxed and calm, my normal restless, anxious state soothed, my head clear and focussed, ready to embark on another busy day of errands, appointments and web site editing (a volunteer job I am currently doing for

It made me want to spread the good news - that being grounded in the breath and moving with the body in yoga is an easy antidote to menopausal symptoms. Again, the menopausal message is all about self-care:

"When a child is going through puberty, we're patient with her. In menopause you have to be patient with yourself. Women should realize this change is normal and natural and give ourselves some time to be quiet. It's a time to relook at your life. your life is going to be totally different. You're not as involved with your family: you need to be more involved with taking of yourself." (Yoga Journal article)

So lovely ladies, love yourself, love your bones, love your round curves, your dolphin thighs, your menopausal bellies. Help yourself to a little soft space to breathe in.

What I wish for you: peace in the belly, as well as peace in the heart



Breast Cancer and Self-Care

"Breasts are the physical metaphor for giving and receiving. In ancient times they symbolized nature's abundance and nurturing qualities." Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

Recently I read an article about breast cancer in La Presse, a Montreal newspaper. One survivor said her top priority now is self-care, taking time for herself, making it a priority to put herself first.

How opposite this is to the messages I received growing up in a Christian household!

It seems to run counter to our very upbringing as women and mothers: taught to serve others and put their needs first, to make sure all is well with everyone else, often sacrificing meals, rest, small pleasures like reading, sewing or singing, to ensure this external 'peace' and wellness is there in a household.

However, it always backfires if your own tank is empty, running low on the fuel of self love and nurturance.

Dr. Christiane Northrup in her book, Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom, has a chapter on Breasts and how to take care of them. Also, some important information about the message behind the physical symptoms.

"Approximately half of all women who go to doctors go because they have some kind of pain in their breasts. " She states that cyclic mastalgia or breast pain that comes and goes depending on the menstrual cycle is usually caused by excess hormones, excess caffeine or stress. It is not a risk factor for breast cancer.

She quotes a colleague who wonders why women have so much breast pain: "Have you noticed that men never complain about pain in their testicals, but that women are always complaining about pain in their breasts and even their ovaries? do you suppose it's because men know that if they complained, someone would want to cut into them?"

Dr. Northrup continues, "If women learned how their inner guidance is advising them through breast symptoms to give more time and energy to themselves, they might begin to appreciate their breasts in a different way."

Breast cancer is a sign that something is out of balance - probably toxins and pesticides contribute, birth control pills and estrogen replacement have been pointed at, our fatty diets don't help, even genetics play a part. Dr. Northrup gives a few case histories about women who made different decisions about treatments, but in the end, she points to the fact that a woman needs to take stock of her life, as well as whatever treatment she undergoes, to also do some inner reflecting, join a support group, and find out where in her life the balance of give and take needs adjusting.

What are your breasts saying to you, today? Don't wait for a major scare to pay attention.

Love them, handle them with care, and listen to their message about self-care.

October is Breast Cancer month.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Intuition Growing

It's a slow learning curve for most of us, who've been trained to read only the outward signs for information on what to do, where to go, who to trust, what's next.

From my understanding, intuition is always the still small voice that sees ahead, knows all, and is trustworthy. Why didn't I bring the camera? I had an urge to, not knowing why I would need it, and I didn't listen, is the kind of thing that happens regularly. Or, so glad I brought the sunglasses, even if it was cloudy out this morning. Now the setting sun is blinding me on the drive home and I'm glad I have my shades.

But this voice is pretty quiet, hides under the rug, and when I'm moving too fast, I miss it.

Here's some tips I picked up from The Seat of the Soul (Gary Zukav) about growing intuition:

Wise and compassionate guidance is always available to us, loving guidance that assists our growth. You could call them 'messages from the soul'.

Step one to developing awareness: become aware of what you are feeling. Through your emotions you encounter 'the force field of your own soul'.

2. Ask the Universe for help to see clearly, i.e. Why do I feel this way? Does my experience support my suspicion or lack of trust?

3. Help will come, but answers are not always in the form we expect. It could be a feeling, a memory or thought that seems random, a dream or something that happens the next day.

Ask and you shall receive is the rule.

4. To engage and discipline the intuition: honour emotional cleansing at all times because blockage makes us negative and diseased. When you are clear, you become lighter, more open to intuitive track, closer to a sense of loving. So clear yourself every day of emotional impacts, unfinished business.

5. A cleansing nutritional program - eating the right foods for your body keeps you clear too.

6. Honor guidance you receive, learn to respond. Be willing to hear what intuition says and act accordingly.

7. Allow an orientation of openness towards life and the Universe, a sense of faith and trust that there is always a reason why things are happening. The Universe is compassionate and good.

"Intuition is perception beyond the physical sense that is meant to assist you."

These hunches about danger help you survive, know where it is safe to walk, where not. It also serves creativity and helps you find clues for working on a project. It serves inspiration, bringing sudden answers to a question, meaning that appears in the fog of confusion, light in the dark. It's like a dialogue between your higher self (soul) and your personality.

So let the creative team up there help you, while you pull data from the mind, heart and intuition.

This is related to menstruation and menopause in that women at their bleeding time and pre-menstrually, can be more in tune with their inner guidance, if they give themselves permission to rest, go slow, dream, and pay attention. Menopausal women, according to Christiane Northrup, MD are having their brains rewired to tune into those higher frequencies and get in touch with their 'women's wisdom'.

But I believe we can all learn to develop this side of ourselves, men and women.

So let your soul guide you, as Sting says.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Thanksgiving in October

Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, and the trees are blazing red in my back yard.

I feel the call to poetry, because nothing else reminds me how it feels to walk in sunshine with an empty head, and a full heart; to give thanks for birds hopping on a branch, for sunlight through leaves, for the smell kicked up by my shoes in those leaves.

Denise Levertov is one of my early discoveries when I went back to school at age 30 to learn poetry. I heard her read once at McGill and approached her with tears in my eyes to thank her for sharing her words and her heart with us.


The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

Denise Levertov

And that is what I felt yesterday walking in the green field of grass with golden heat on my shoulders. Breathe it in, today is like the last day. News of 3 deaths and one good friend with multiple cancers may have brought it home: my neighbour, of prostate cancer, passed last Saturday; my sister's best friend lost her newly found love, at 42, to a heart attack. My therapist of a few years back I just learned has a brain tumour and lung cancer at the same time.

I feel very grateful this day, to be alive, to be enjoying and appreciating. This day.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Breathing deeply

The phone rings, you jump out of bed, before you're even dressed or showered there is the list of things to do, the daily monster.

You hop on the computer, read your emails, remember you haven't fed the cats, run downstairs.Have a cup of tea, throw some waffles in the toaster, run back to answer that email you left open.

Once back upstairs, you see yourself in the mirror, hair uncombed, pyjamas on, and remember you wanted to do some yoga before you started your day. It's already 9:30 a.m. The day began a long time ago. the middle of my 'to do' list and the course work I want to write about, there is also the weekly blog. And I have no new insights or inspiration this afternoon, (what, already 2:00 pm?) except that life is flying by to quickly.

I did stop and do some yoga and some breathing work, because my stomach was tight and achy and anxiety was kicking in.

The only remedy I know is the STOP technique. Stop, think, organize and proceed. When I get too panicky and running wild and scattered, it's hard to feel satisfied at the end of the day.

Better to stop, breathe, find my center, and flow with the universe once again.

The list is like a genie, threatening to cut your head off if you don't give it another command - Do this, make that, call here, go there. It keeps us running all day. Keep the genie busy climbing the pole of your breath, up and down, while you get the real work done.

So breathe deeply, friends, that's my clue for today.

musemother (as posted on musemother blog)

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Secret of conscious intention

The last few years of peri-menopausal life (and menopause) have been full of ups and downs. Many books and lots of reading have helped me find clues to how to stay balanced and centered> most of the them focused on finding healthy living, healthy habits.

But the major source of clarity I've found has come from listening to my self, and taking my signals seriously. This demands a certain amount of quiet time, for downloading inner wisdom. Here's a little bit of help I found from Gary Zukav in his book, The Seat of the Soul. It works along the same lines as The Secret, which many millions have seen or read by now.

A thought is energy or light that has been shaped by consciousness. (Ok, that makes sense).

You are not a static system. You are a dynamic being of light...the light that flows through your system is Universal Energy...You give that light form - what you feel, think, how you behave...reflects the way you are shaping the light that is flowing through you. (still with me?)

Intention is the use of your will. You use the laser light of your focus, your whole personality to make choices. When you have conflicting intentions, you'll be torn in two because both dynamics oppose each other. If you are not aware of your intentions, the strongest will win.

A splintered personality struggles with itself, is not conscious of all parts of itself and lives in fear of those aspects that threaten that it seeks.

When we are in need of healing, we can intentionally treat ourselves with compassion.

So the upshot of this for menopausal women is that we feel lots of opposing forces at work, causing us to be drained emotionally and physically. The best solution I have found is to spend some time alone, resting, recouping and getting back in touch with my Light; then my focus and true intention can surface (not what society, or other people intend for us, but what we truly desire). This is my own unscientific observation of myself and those close to me going through menopause.

One day this summer I sat and wrote:

A woman's core essence
feeling above all, yet
thinking in the light
that includes myself and others:

what do I have to show for?
what do I receive, and give?
what silence will teach me?
what quiet mind will fill me with?
what listens at the bottom of the well
like a soul?
what lies in the movement of water
at the bottom of silence
what silences my core, essence of me
what listens to my core, silent
what receives me, in my core of silence
where I am,
where I am received, there I am
full of silence and feeling


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Transformative phase

Bug soup

Inside the chrysalis
the transforming cocoon place,
low-lying renewal space,
melting is going on.

Before muscle and wing,
Before the colour and deft flight,
poor caterpillar reduced to liquid mess.

At 49, awaiting the end of bleeding
I laid low and felt my muscles liquefy,
All my energy turned inward.
No more dizzy crawling, running and doing.

Just rest
And more rest,
naps in the afternoon.

Until my beautiful wings began to grow
surround me with rainbow reflections.

Sunshine called me out.
We dried our flimsy wet things
and took off.

@Jennifer Boire

Monday, September 10, 2007

Creating Sacred Space

Not every woman can afford to isolate herself during her period, due to the nature of our active lives and the daily demands on us. But what we can do is envision for ourselves an inner temple, build a sacred space that we carry with us into our day, whether with family, at work, or social events. This is a useful technique for women undergoing peri-menopause, when periods start to get irregular, and hormonal changes bring hot flashes, palpitations and night sweats.

During peri-menopause, I gained a new appreciation for the complex physical and emotional dimensions of my period. I started taking more naps, feeling the need for more quiet time.

Making time to be alone is not easy, so use this visualization technique to create a space of protection for your inner feminine realm. The portable moon lodge allows you to maintain a deep inner connection to your body, and establish a feeling of sacred space. It’s a useful technique for centering yourself while in an activity. You will feel different when you listen and honor your body-mind connection rather than denying your cycle and or it's disruptions.

Be aware that this part of your cycle is a cleansing time, a special time to release energies from the past month, and bring about a profound sense of renewal. Here's how to create the sacred space you need, even on the go:

1. With your mind, spin a protective veil or shawl around you and imagine an indigo blue mist as an energy curtain that separates you from the outer world.

2. See the blue light circle you and stretch out four feet in all directions. Breathe in the cool colour, which magically deters all energies you want to keep away. Allow the quiet to envelope and soothe you. You are in your retreat space, a space of intention within your own Moon Temple.

3. In this moment, feel gratitude and appreciation for your body and its ability to cycle. Feel your own rhythm. Even if you experience cramps, fatigue or discomfort, summon the wise woman within and stay grounded in appreciation for your body. Know that the body always moves toward healing and regeneration, and that the energy of appreciation is healing and restoring.

4. Awaken to inner listening – what does your body need? This is your sacred duty, to remain grounded, with the body, aware.

5. In contrast, remember a time when during some intense activity you ignored the needs of your body, whether thirst, hunger or discomfort. You wanted to finish one more email, complete a report, engage in a conversation. Hours passed and you ignored the simple body needs of your physical being. Ask yourself, is that ragged, tired feeling what you really want to create for yourself, or model for your daughters and sons?

6. Now, focus within, while you are mindful of daily activities. It is your job to hold your energy tightly around you and not allow it to leak out. If, with your strong desire you envision containing sacred space, the universal forces will line up in support. Maybe you’ll end up having lunch alone, or skipping a stressful meeting.

7. Feel the nourishing feeling of self-care, in spite of outer circumstances. Your job is to feel the joy of this connection and envision what you desire.

8. Allow any resistance to come up. See your life with objectivity. See the stress and pressure and choose to make a declaration to deepen your commitment to self-care. There is no honor in martyrdom of your body. You, by your connection to all women, all that is female and Mother Earth, are a guardian of the Sacred Feminine.

Beyond the veil of soft cool indigo curtain, see the web that connects you to your family, your relationships, the plants and animals, all life.

Taking care of this body temple during your cycle (and during menopause) is a show of strength.

Know that if you make an intention to create this blue cocoon/shield to honor your sacred moon flow and meet the physical needs of your female body, this act of power will translate to all areas of your life.

Breathe deeply and feel yourself restored and enlivened.

borrowed from: Tamara Slayton, Reclaiming the Menstrual Matrix (as paraphrased from Women’s Rites of Passage).

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ms Menopause creates

Ms Menopause

In my bottom drawer, underneath the silky pyjamas I hardly wear and some old bathing suits, I have a great pin-on button that says I love my Menopause: J'aime ma menopause!

A while ago, I attached it to a small round leopard skin pillbox hat. When I put on my matching long gloves, and wear my pointy fake leopard skin glasses, I transform into my alter-ego, Ms Menopause.

Watch for her appearance in a neighborhood near you.

What does she do? she brings you good news, that menopause is a blessing, not a curse.

She brings red candles and red costume jewellery in scarlet gift bags for women celebrating their Crone-dom at a menopause party.

She bakes cupcakes and decorates them with red icing and big hearts! If you're lucky she'll organize a potluck lunch and sing Happy Crone's Day to you.

She tells bawdy jokes and helps women laugh about their sweaty nightgowns and faulty thermostats.

She dresses up as Ishtar,Queen of Heaven at the full moon and lies on her lounger while other women have their monthly periods, encouraging them to take the day off.

She reminds us to breathe from the belly and not get our knickers in a knot when patience wears thin.

She carries around a bag of nettle tea, oatstraw and black cohosh to bring harmony into our hormones.

Ms Menopause is a only a figment of my imagination, but I think she would do good things in the world.

Remember, what you resist will persist.
What you bless flourishes, what you curse falters.

Don't look at your body in the mirror and tell yourself how flabby you're getting or how wide your thighs are spreading. Love every inch of this amazing body from Venus.

alias ms menopause

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ms Menopause embarks on a new adventure

the change, the feminine cycle paused, honoring our cycle, our inner knowing, recapturing 'taboo' time, time to rest and recoup before burning out, fending off resentment before overwhelm and fatigue turn us into bitchy harrigans, and then, the 'bug soup' phase (after the chrsalis, before the butterfly), transforming - nobody said it would be easy....

these are some of the sparks for this Ms menopause blog

my peeves (and perks) about menopause will be explored, and any new news I can dig up, and old blogs with interesting stuff recycled.

Mostly I ask myself, and you, these questions...

what do you do for yourself to feel better?
when was the last time you spent a few hours taking care of your needs? or taking a nap?
(admittedly this is harder for workoholics and mothers, whom I call 'women who do too much' after the book Meditations for women who do too much....but aren't we all?)

How much self-care are you ready for?
what are you doing for creativity and soul fulfillment?
where do you sabotage yourself, again and again?
how is your stress meter?
what is the measure of success? how you feel overall?

Welcome to a place of retreat, information, inspiration and reminders to be gentle and caring with yourself during your 'menopause'.

Imagine this is the red tent for menopausal women. Here your soul can get a massage.
Here you can find a poem that speaks about finding yourself in the mirror again.
Or the Tao of Menopause, the wisdom of simplicity and emptying out.

Here we don't talk about wrinkles except as laugh lines...

drop by, visit, chat, join the conversation,

ms menopause

"As women we often discount our knowlege and try to skew our information or our perceptions so that they are acceptable to others. In so doing, we rob the world of our accumulated knowledge. Accurate information is important to the world. accurate information from a variety of perspectives is essential."

from Meditations for Women who do too much, Anne Wilson Schaef


blogflux list of blogs about menopause

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