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,


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