Authors note: I just turned 60. I've been through with peri-menopause now for many years. Let me just say that life after is sweet in a way that I never ever expected. Take care of yourself now and turn the next 40 years into the healthiest, happiest and sexiest time of you life!
I don't know about you, but menopause has been quite the whirlwind ride! For me it started in the spring of 2001 and I'm currently still going through it. My doctor told me that if I had one year period free I could pretty much start jumping for joy so I've been counting the months and before I knew it I was at the 10 month mark. I was ecstatic and pretty darn sure that I was going to be at my year without any trouble at all! That was until September 13th when it came roaring back into my life with the all the vengeance of a thirteen year old!
I tell you this story to let you know that Menopause IS a long and bumpy ride, but it doesn't have to be a truly awful one. After all, we women have been doing this for years. There are good reasons for it and it's hardly ever a straight line of a journey. Hence my period after 10 months and let me tell you , it was a tough one which after all of that time I think was to probably be expected. I knew it was coming...I even dream't about it. Then there was of course the moodiness and the bloat and the mandatory pimples. At first I was really pissed given that Jim and I had been counting the days until we could have wild, wonderful and unprotected sex again ( with the Drs. permission of course!) but I finally settled down and decided that maybe it was a gift. I've always been too busy to appreciate the type of relaxation that 3 days of uninterrupted time could provide. I decided that perhaps it was time.
Centuries ago when we were walking an older path, our monthly menstruation was a time when women could remove themselves from the real stresses of daily life with freedom and honor. With this in mind I took the opportunity to celebrate having my period in a way that I had never done before. I figured if I was going to have one, that I would give myself the time and space to do so. For three days I took naps and long leisurely walks. I brushed my horse. I read books, I drank relaxing and tonifying teas of raspberry leaf, chamomile and dandelion and used a blend of essential oil of lavender, chamomile and geranium mixed with a bit of almond oil in my baths to relax me and help ease the cramps. I gave myself full reiki treatments. In my previous experience if I took a capsule of evening primrose oil twice a day my breasts weren't quite as sore so I added those back in too. I ate great food, lots of vegetables and cooked rich nourishing bone broths. I cut back on the coffee, sugar and alcohol because in my experience these 3 things can make the experience worse. Last time, I carried a bit of my menstrual blood out to the garden and gave it back to the Earth. I actually thanked my body for having the strength and desire to toss out one last egg and before long I realized that I was actually having fun.
I may have had too good a time because as I write this my body feels as if its going to happen again. I'm pretty sure that I ovulated this month. WOW...I'm 53! The key here is to just relax about the process. One thing for sure is that it's not over until it's over. Added hormones aren't necesarily the answer and neither are antidepressants because there are so many complications associated with them. There are the women who really need that extra support so I'm not suggesting that they should never be used. I'm just saying, why not use them as the last resort instead of the first. I know that it's almost impossible to get blocks of time to treat yourself as well as I'm suggesting , but for at least one day of your cycle I beg you try even if it's when you get home at night and shut the door for a few hours after everyone is fed.
Menopause is a rite of passage, just like menstruation. We know from all of our friends and our mothers just how difficult this life change can be. I'd like to suggest that there is another way to look at this significant time by balancing our work and play, looking honestly into our lives , our relationships with ourselves , each other and the larger world around us. Take time for yourself during this transition and ask yourself what your body and spirit want now. Then listen and act. The best part of the whole ride is that you stop tolerating what you don't want in your life and the next time you hear the word BITCH, remember....that's a compliment. You're a "Being in control of herself!" or even better a WITCH...a "Woman in control of herself!" Either is a compliment in my book!
Beth Schreibman Gehring
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