Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ordinary Women can change the world

Judith Timson has a great column in the Life Section of the Globe and Mail (www.globeandmail.com) today. She asks the question, how can ordinary women change the world when they are so tired? It's true that women of a certain age are wanting to step out of their lives and do more for others. And that we are exhausted from trying to juggle all our roles. It must be menopause.

Dr. Joan Borysenko calls this stage of life the Guardian Years. We want to share our knowledge and wisdom, protect the vulnerable, help grow the world into a better place. We are also learning how to speak up and be true to our own needs.

Maybe before we save the planet, women need to stop trying to do it all the way men have done it for years, subsequently dying from overwork and heart-attacks. Why are so many women experiencing stress or burn-out, usually women in the caring professions of teaching and nursing?

Approximately one in three people is sleep deprived, complaining of exhaustion and trouble holding things together. We are an anxious and worried culture. Between 1990 and 1997, the number of doctors’ office visits for anxiety increased by 31 percent.

Unfortunately, many of the people who suffer in doctor’s offices are the health-care providers themselves. Some are so stressed that they have proceeded to the advanced state of exhaustion called burnout, which is a condition of mind, body and spirit that is distinctly different from stress.”
(on Beating Stress & Burnout at www.joanborysenko.com)

In mid-life, our energy stores can become depleted. Our bodies start giving us messages about the need for self-care, often disguised as illness or fatigue. Often, we haven’t developed the habit of taking care of ourselves. That would be selfish.

I don’t think of self-care as selfish, but that’s because I learned the hard way, by breaking a leg, that I needed to ask for help. In mid-life I am learning to speak up about what I need help with. I ask my teenagers to cook once a week or at least help with supper and do dishes. I ask them to take care of their own rooms and laundry. I need help walking the dog on days when I work outside the home. Women with ailing parents have the double bind of working, caring/ cooking/shopping and cleaning for their parents, while keeping their own houses tidy and cooking healthy meals for their families. No wonder we’re tired.

My theory is that to restore balance, we need to honour our feminine life cycle. And of course, not only for women, but for weary men, too. Reinstate the Sabbath, a quiet reflective day once a week to let spirit revive us, whether through Church or synagogue, yoga or relaxation. Find more down time, less busy time. Lose the fear of ‘not being productive’ and rest more. Take daily naps. Get outside and watch the geese returning. Take a walk around your neighbourhood and smile at someone you don’t know.

Mid-life women are wisening up. Too pooped to cope anymore with everybody else’s ‘stuff’, we are turning to our own need for balance. On the airplane, if the oxygen mask suddenly drops down, it is suggested that you put one on yourself first, then on the vulnerable ones you are traveling with. Don’t wait for burn-out. Find out where you are on the 'dry well' scale - empty, half-full?

Do something good for the planet now, and take care of your heart. Find the sabbatu or heart’s rest, which in ancient times the Queen of Heaven took on her bleeding days. We have lost touch with the feminine art of rest and receiving. We can regain balance by toning down the ‘do it all today or die’ syndrome.

My personal effort to restore balance is to stop striving, resist the ‘perfectionist’ in me who is never satisfied, ignore the voice that wails, ‘it is never enough, I am not enough’. Breathe in, breathe out. Find balance and presence, find the center in the chaos. That will help the world. Give the world the gift of your presence.

Your children, your parents, your co-workers and friends, will all drink from the well of your plenitude.

be well,

No comments:


blogflux list of blogs about menopause

Directory of Women Blogs