My friend, fellow blogger and yoga instructor, Leah Nichols, asked me to join her in this series of blogs written about The Next Big Thing. A woman blogger, Elaine Blanchard, started it, and she’s tagging other bloggers and asking them to write on their next big thing. I’ve struggled with this a bit because my life is pretty busy and full, and I don’t really plan on starting anything new at this point. I started thinking, though, on what would be the next big thing for me emotionally to conquer. What is the next thing that I’d like to embrace rather than fear? Now, don’t run guys….it’s menopause. Yes, I’m going to write about it on the internet.
When I first stated experiencing perimenopause, that delightful phase of midlife where my hormones went ape-shit crazy for about 7 or 8 years, I was shocked into accepting that I was entering midlife. Now, technically, I’m probably past midlife, but I’m still in denial about that. I’m not going to deal with being a senior citizen just yet. I just can’t go there. I experienced my first hot flash one day as my boss at ServiceMaster came over to my desk. I was standing by my computer, and, all of a sudden, I felt that really warm flush come over me….appropriately described as a hot flash. It lasted only a minute or two, but I was totally soaked in sweat by the time it subsided. He could tell something was going on, and I said, “I think I just had my first hot flash.” He vehemently denied that I was old enough to have one and ran off. But, there I was, soaked in sweat and now getting the chills. It was the classic case. Other symptoms followed, but, to be honest, I haven’t really had a horrible time of it. The night sweats I’ve had are probably caused by my hypoglycemia. I discovered that recently. The worst bout of symptoms subsided when I divorced my second husband, so I believe those symptoms were stress-related. The predictions of weight gain, loss of sexual desire, not sleeping well, etc. have not proven true for me. I credit my lifestyle for my easy physical transition.
During that time, I remember having a feeling that I’d moved into a new club of sorts. All of a sudden, a period of life that was always on the horizon was now upon me. I read everything I could about it. One of my favorite books is The Wisdom of Menopause by Dr. Christine Northrup. She is a medical doctor but also believes in alternative medicines and a variety of spiritual remedies for health issues. She says that menopause is really the most powerful time in a woman’s life. Because we don’t have the flush of hormones that beg us to focus on home and family, we can pursue outside passions and interests with more vigor. I can certainly relate to the fact that my life feels much saner now that I don’t have the monthly roller coaster going on underneath my vastly emotional female makeup. It certainly made me feel crazy at times. Now, I wake up the same every day. It’s really nice.
The biggest drawback for me is the aging process on my body. Our society is so fixated on the benefits and beauty of youth that it makes it hard to see the beauty of getting older. I see pictures of older women such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Annette Bening, Mary Steenburgen, and I see beautiful women with a lot to offer the world. The media says “she looks so young for her age” as if we have to look younger than our age to be beautiful. I just want to look good at whatever age I am. I’ve given botox a whirl, but it’s not for me. I think I’d rather embrace the face I have and just take care of it with good skin care, good diet and a natural glow from exercise. The aging process itself with its relentless assault on the body, activity level and health is more troublesome to me. I hate giving up my lifestyle, and I know I won’t have to for awhile, but the fear of it happening is real. I read somewhere that life is really about learning to deal with a series of losses – loss of youth, loss of wealth, loss of dreams, loss of mobility and eventually, the loss of breath and life. The eventual outcome of death is coming ever closer every year. Some of my friends are already experiencing major health issues, and it just seems too soon.
More importantly, I want to experience every life stage with its benefits. I knew my friend JoyAnne when I was a teenager, and she was a young sprout. We caught up recently on Facebook. She commented on one of my posts the other day, “You look fabulous, Sharon! I recently told you that when I was a kid I wanted to be just as cool as you. Well, you are still giving me something to attempt to emulate… Smart, fit, kind and beautiful in all ways! Keep on keeping on. Somewhere little girls are paying attention (and some women who are a couple years behind you)!” This is the kind of thing that I want to remember as I navigate this transition into my Crone stage, the period after 50. Crone Energy is all about giving wisdom back to the world from a woman’s life experience. I suppose that’s one reason I was drawn to blogging. I had this intense need to share what I know. I want the women behind me to have less fear about this transition than I did. No matter what, they will have grief over the loss of their youth, but I hope to be a woman who makes the most of this stage so that others can navigate the hurdle a little more easily and joyfully.
So My Next Big Thing is to embrace the cessation of my menses. I want to embody my Crone Energy in such a way that others may look a little more excitedly to this time in their lives. I want to look in the mirror and say, I look great.…period. I want to feel ageless. Eventually, I’ll have to embrace that next life stage, but I don’t have to do it today. I can worry about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.
I’m tagging a new blogging friend, Cammy Chapel, whose blog The Tippy Toe Diet is very inspiring to me and many on losing weight in a healthy way. Take it from here, Cammy!