Monday, June 30, 2008

Brain fog and Menopause from Anita

Anita at Cool Jams Blog has offered to trade posts and link to my ms menopause site, so I am posting one of her helpful blogs here for you:

Brain Fog and Menopause
This week I went to my doctor and the official word was that based on my blood tests I’m in the thick of menopause. Some of the main symptoms that I’ve experienced over the past year are night sweats, headaches and brain fog. I’ve spoken to many women who agree that as we age, the memory just doesn’t work the same.

According to my doctor, this so called “brain fog” is fairly common among menopausal women.The trigger to this fuzzy brain issue seems to be the decreased estrogen levels during menopause. As our ovaries slow down on estrogen production, our internal thermostats keep trying to readjust. This is actually a confusing time for the body, so no wonder we end of with “brain fog”, night sweats, headaches, hot flashes and a host of other menopausal symptoms.

Some researchers are saying that the “brain fog” is actually a sub symptom of night sweats and other menopausal sleep issues. Simply put…if you don’t sleep well, your brain doesn’t function well, thus the “brain fog”. The good news is that you can do some things about the sleep issues.

There are lots of natural remedies available to help combat menopausal symptoms. I’ve had success with yoga, exercise and wicking pajamas to help with night sweats. Additionally, to help with the "brain fog", I encourage women to learn new things to help stimulate their brains.

Studies have shown that as baby boomers age, they can keep their minds sharp by exercising their brains, just like they exercise their bodies. Why not try learning a new language, learning to play an instrument or taking up bridge or crossword puzzles.

Not only will you be able to enjoy a new skill, but you’ll keep your brain sharp and fit.
Posted by Anita M. at

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sacred Journey of peri-menopause

"When a woman stops doing she must learn how to simply be. Being is not a luxury; it is a discipline. The heroine must listen carefully to her true inner voice. That means silencing the other voices anxious to tell her what to do." The Heroine's Journey

When we decide to live differently, to listen to the voice within instead of the pressures without, when we decide to live authentically and be true to ourselves, there is bound to be friction, conflict, a feeling of being left behind. We fear letting other people down by not volunteering for every new project that comes our way, as if our commitment to Self was selfish. We feel lost, unsure, on a quest.

But the price we pay for not listening in, is too high , and often involves physical injury or chronic pain. In my case, it was a neck stiffness and shoulder ache that refused to leave in spite of osteopathy and physiotherapy treatments. Only when I made a difficult decision to stop 'doing too much' and let go of a major volunteer commitment did the neck pain ease up. I decided the major house renovation project (one year long) was taking up 50% of my time and energy and deserved my full attention (aside from writing, singing commitments, women's circle, household and teen management tasks).

A friend of mine was on a leave from work for burn-out, and was considering a career change during her time-off. At the end of the leave, she had a few ideas of what to do next, but nothing firm, and decided she still needed the income from her marketing position so she returned to work part-time. Not only was her employer not giving her key assignments, but her joie-de-vivre and pleasure in her former position was gone. A short while afterwards, she had a car accident on her hour-long drive to work and broke her collarbone. This put her back on sick-leave and allowed her to pursue her other options. She ended up taking a correspondance course in herbology, and is now finishing up. She seems much happier now that she's doing what she loves.

In the period it takes for us to 'transition', to discover where our joy is and what will truly allow us fulfillment in work or artistic endeavours, we may feel like we have lost our way. It may feel like the paths are criss-crossing in labyrinthine form, and often, our journey involves a descent or dark night of the soul where we question everything we are doing. It may feel like depression, or at the least, a time to be isolated, alone, leaving the upper world of external values to find our own ground, our own intuition, our own feminine values.

We need to remember the importance of this journey, this task, to find the lost pieces of our selves, to find our way to a place of knowing within.

Allow yourself the time you need to figure it out, to feel your way through, and pay attention to your inner urgings - it may not seem rational or logical, but you will save yourself some pain and suffering if you listen well.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Poems for Menopause

by W.H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
mik, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

both poems taken from
Good Poems by Garrison Keillor


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Menopause and Power

"There is an enormous elemental force at work in women's bodies that is both intensely intimate and universal - ecstatic, creative, restorative and full of love. We experience this force at menstruation (and also during pregnancy and giving birth).

The post-menopausal woman, who has understood and lived the journey of the cycle, fully inhabits this power." A Woman's Quest, Alexandra Pope

Monday, June 9, 2008

Connection to the feminine

Some books speak to me more than others. Marianne Williamson's The Age of Miracles, Embracing the new Mid-life, for instance, was a total dud in my opinion. Two of my women circle friends agreed. No meat in it, nothing new to mull over, no real useful information or inspiration.

Other books reach out and grab me on a visceral level: The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock ( is one such book. She describes the urgent yearning women have to reconnect with our own wisdom, with our bodies and souls, not just our minds. The desire to find our own power, to cherish our female bodies and embody the 'feminine' through 'conscious nutrition, exercise, bathing, resting, healing, lovemaking, birthing and dying."

There's a clue there to what the connection to the feminine is, and I feel some part of it resides in the female body, and our care of it:

"The female vulva was once an emblem of beauty and holiness and transcendence. All humans come into the world through the gateway of our body."

Compare that to the discomfort a lot of women feel with their bodies, if not outright self-hatred. All our bodily changes at puberty, pregnancy and menopause leave us feeling out of control. We celebrate it, yet are embarrassed by the exuberance and abundance evident in our female bodies.

What if we blessed our body parts instead of cursing them? Why do we have such a love-hate relationship with our breasts/thighs/hips/bums/arms/legs/feet?

What is the connection to the feminine and how do we regain it?

Some women seek it in ancient goddess mythology: " Because female history has been so shattered, women are reaching back to prehistory to find elements of the woman's mythology that existed before the Greek division of power into mulitiple gods." The Heroine's Journey.

Some of those images can be found across many cultures: the Virgin, the Mother, the Crone, the spider, snake and bird. The grail, cave, mountain, water, ocean, vessel. Images of the feminine have been used to evoke much more than sexual attraction and fertility: as creator (Tiamat), destroyer (Kali), as giver of compassion and mercy (Kwan Yin).

But it's not all in the ancient past. Our modern mythic women are embodying the feminine as they build networks, join women's circles, create healthy communities to live in, work to protect the weak, the young, and the elderly. The Tend and Befriend impulse in times of stress is an aspect of the feminine. The environmentalists seeking to protect green spaces and preserve forests and streams and wildlife are connecting to the feminine.

Wherever there is moistness, new green life, flowing rivers, cascading waterfalls, in the creative impulse that springs forth on its own. In the desire for peace.

Nourishing, feeding, caring for babies, building hospices for the dying, acting as agents of change and transformation, architects of the compassionate cities of the future, engineers of safe, non-pollutant forms of transportation, conscious bio-dynamic farmers, astronomers studying the stars, computer programmers unveiling the web of connection between human beings all around the planet......

What is the feminine for you?


Monday, June 2, 2008

More than just hot flashes

I met some women from a book club I used to belong to over the weekend and mentioned a few of the things I'd noticed during peri-menopause. We all had a good laugh when we realized these were all things we'd experienced, and not had a clue were part of menopause.

The symptoms were subtle, and I was not sure they were connected until I read more about it.

My anxiety levels seemed increasingly volatile, sometimes triggered by relatively minor events. Once I was in the shower and felt my thoughts spirally out of control, but was able to calm myself down. I wondered if that was what a panic attack felt like - heart racing, breathing quickly.

Other symptoms include heart palpitations while lying down, not after any strenous exercise, joint pain, hair loss, dry skin, fuzzy thinking, vaginal dryness and urinary issues, feeling overwhelmed, digestive issues, these are all listed as symptoms on the web site, an excellent source of medical information from doctors who work in the clinic in Maine started by Dr. Christiane Northrup.

So if you're feeling something is out of whack, it may or may not be connected to your peri-menopausal journey. Check it out at the website above; chances are your doctor doesn't know yet that symptoms of menopause can last 7-10 years before you stop having your period, which for some of us means in our early forties we are already having symptoms.

You are not going crazy, it's temporary and there are several good herbal sources that help immensely. Susun Weed's book New Menopausal Years the Wise Women Way is an increasingly valuable source of information for me. Nettle tea, for calcium absorption and nerves, motherwort tonic for heart and nerves, Oatstraw for lack of libido and dryness, there's a ton of remedies and good advice in this book. Most of which begins with the number one thing you should do when confronted with a symptom: rest, and see if that is all you need.

have a great day,


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