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Sunday, March 15, 2015

#Menopause the Mental Journey

      I wrote a few weeks ago about menopause - my journey and the herbs I use.  But others have very different journeys.  And let's face it walking from motherhood (or the possibility of it) through the door to crone (elder, wise woman) is a big transition both physically and mentally.  For some growing older is more mentally challenging than physically challenging.  I know I have been "older" than my own mother for eight years.  She has been 39 for more than a few years now.
     There are many factors that cause women in this culture to not relish growing older.  It's heartbreaking to see.  My recommendation for this is learning to love yourself and who you are. I know this can be much easier said than done for many. My advice, for what it's worth is to start by ignoring the media, the airbrushed magazine photos and the lies.  Find things you love and do them. Find inspirational older women and learn from them. Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming Women by Prill Boyle is a great book to remind you that life does not end in mid-life. I had the privilege of meeting Prill and she signed my book, "May you never stop listening to your heart & flying with your dreams."  This is key for all of us I think.
     Creative endeavors - painting, writing, cooking, sculpture, gardening are great ways to get out of your head and into yourself.  You don't have to be "good" at them.  You don't have to show people or publish - you just have to create for yourself. I love to cook, counted cross-stitch, gardening and making skincare products.
     Yoga is my answer for a lot of things.  It helps with posture and flexibility.  It helps with balance so you are less likely to fall.  It calms your nerves.  And there are so many types of yoga you are bound to find one that fits your personality.  Maybe it is gentle and restorative or maybe vinyassa or hot yoga are more your style. Try a few until you find one you like.  And dance...  belly dance has been my cure for midlife angst.
     The New England Journal of Medicine published an article discussing leisure items that could reduce your risks of dementia.  These included cognitive items such as crossword puzzles as well as physical activities such as golf, walking, swimming and dancing.  Dancing was the only physical activity to reduce your risk of dementia.
     Belly dance is one of those things I've always wanted to try but never did.  I saw an advertisement for an introductory class and jumped in.  The welcome letter said to where comfortable clothes - yoga pants were great.  I tried to find a pair to wear and they were all six inches too long and gave me camel toe ( I have since found brands made for women of average height with a little junk in the trunk).  I showed up to my first class in sweats.  The kind I only wear at home.  I felt fat, defeated and ugly.  By the end of that first class I was hooked on the dance and felt more beautiful than I had in ages.
     My point is to get out of your own way and find something you enjoy that makes you feel alive and beautiful even if at first you feel clumsy, awkward and defeated.  Our motto at belly dancing is to "embrace the train wreck."  We are each learning new ways to move our bodies and it doesn't click at first try (or second or third) but we keep dancing, moving and eventually our bodies take over and the moves become more fluid. I find this a perfect metaphor for life; things may not click the first time (or second or third) but we keep trying and eventually we find what brings us joy.

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