Four things you need if you’re a woman over 40
Hot flushes, raddled raging, grey-ness, dryness, invisibility perhaps? A whiff of the ridiculous, of unmentionable ‘women’s troubles’?
The mainstream view of a woman over 40 is not a pretty one, but last month I was offered an alternative view; of menopause being a process of women shedding their skins and emerging from ill-fitting obligations with clarity, to serve their calling in the world as senior authorities.
Alexandra Pope, the doyenne of menstrual awareness, takes the same feminist clarity she uses with the menstrual cycle to apply it to menopause.
If you’ve not encountered menstrual awareness before, it is both a tool for physical and spiritual health. Instead of the changes in a women’s cycle being regarded as a hindrance to a productive life, when we turn away from the requirement that we be constantly active, we can use our cyclical flow as the key to creativity instead. Following our internal seasons lets us rest when we need it, as well as access to a deep well of inspiration from within, before emerging into the world to realise our visions.
Alexandra regards the menopause as a transitional place in a woman’s life that can be deeply empowering and liberating. An awakening to bring women to their calling.
From as early as 40 we can start to notice changes; more questions starting to arise about life, relationships and everything. We start getting grumpy with what doesn’t fit our sensibilities and long to turn our lives all upside down and head off to the desert/city/ocean. Now that oestrogen has declined, we don’t do nice any more! Very inconvenient for our families of course. As we start to shed everything that is not central to us, we move towards the point in our lives when we are able to use our unique talents to serve the wider world.
Alexandra uses the same cycle of menstrual creativity to the organise the process of menopause. This might start from when you’re 40 and continue until a year or two after your last bleed, but of course the issues and timing are dependent on your life circumstances past and present.
The 5 stages of menopause look like this
On one hand we face the loss of our identity as fertile caregivers. On the other hand, if we can create space for our newly emerging selves, we can vastly expand our consciousness.
Here we start to embrace the change that is taking place within us, it’s time to let go and to rest. If we can listen to our intuition at this time, we can reconnect to a deep sense of ourselves.
Once we have given up the busy-ness that has dominated our fertile years, we can find more self-acceptance for what we are, rather than what we can do. Maybe we can finally be kind enough to allow a deep sense of self-acceptance.
If it wasn’t present before, your calling will now be clearer for you. If you can let yourself be nourished by rest and self-acceptance, the clarity can come through.
This is the good bit! You can proceed towards your vision at your own pace and in your own way.
If you start to think about it, you can see why older women are disrespected and ridiculed in our culture; the mainstream is just blooming scared of what an army of fearless, focused women with a calling could actually achieve! No longer driven by kind, oestrogen fluffed, ‘caring’ roles, we can ditch the niceness and go out and make a difference.
This is not an easy process of course, and it causes much heartache and disturbance however here are four things that will help the process that everywoman over 40 needs.
Time alone – to listen to your inner counsel and finally (hopefully) decide, “I am OK”.
A regular practice – we all have our favourite way to listen to our inner counsel and to un-wind. Regular meditation, yoga, journal writing, dream recording can all give you insight into your direction.
Radical self-care – this is the time in your life when health care issues will catch up with you. Good diet, exercise, less stress and rest is even more than usually important.
Support – hang out with other women who love you and are going through the same process. Let yourself be celebrated.
At the workshop, brilliantly titled ‘Menopause : unveiling your hidden power’, of 40 or so women most of us started the weekend sharing that we thought we were loosing the plot. By the end, most of us felt we were in the process of becoming the kind of women we wanted to be. Every woman over the age of 39 should go to Alexandra’s workshop and prepare for greatness!
If you are looking for natural solutions for menopause, come and join us at a Love Your Belly workshop!