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Not your mother’s menopause

WOMEN LIVE WELL

Not your mother’s menopause

JUDITH LIEBAERT

IF YOUR MOTHER SPOKE of it at all, she likely whispered euphemisms in hushed tones. “I’m going through my change.” Of course, she wasn’t talking to you. More likely you overheard a tearful confidence she shared with a friend. Like menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth, menopause was not a topic of polite conversation for our mothers or grandmothers. Women’s mysteries were just that, revealed only amongst closest friends behind closed doors.

That was then and this is now, but one thing remains as true for menopausal women today as it did for our mother’s and grandmothers—each woman experiences this life transition differently, from sailing through the physical and emotional changes, to struggling with a laundry list of maladies best described by Suzanne Somers as the “Seven Dwarves of Menopause—Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and All Dried Up.” To that I would add the twins, Doubt and Dread. These twins are born from a loss of self confidence and an increasing fear of losing health and wellness.

If this life transition is proving difficult for you, beyond the question of whether or not to resort to any form of hormone replacement therapy, you might do well to ask yourself what pre-conceived notions you have about menopause, where they originated and if they are helpful or harmful. How did your mother react to her feminine life cycles in general? Was menstruation referred to as “the curse” in your home? Is your attitude regarding menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause positive or negative? The answer might have a lot to do with how you experience this right of feminine passage.

Centuries ago, women honored their life-cycles with celebration and reverence. Young girls eagerly awaited the time of their first blood, when they would be welcomed into the sisterhood of their tribe. Again, when they entered the realm of motherhood, their status in the community was elevated. But the most revered of all women in the tribe were those who lived to become Crones. In attending at births, healing the sick, and preparing the dead for burial, they were the conduit of life and death.

In today’s American culture, where youth and beauty are revered, a woman in her menopausal years might begin to feel she has outlived her usefulness. She may feel disregarded by society—quite the opposite of being revered for her experience and wisdom.

Menopause signals a transition into the next stage of your life. You can choose to see it as a liberating, opportunity for growth or an enemy to battle to the death. To paraphrase the lyrics of a great ‘80s song, if you tidy up your point of view and get yourself a new attitude . . . you can still be healthy, beautiful, and vibrant for years to come.

Remember, life is a journey, not a destination. As long as you are living, there will be change. Like birthdays and old age, it’s better than the alternative.

Judith Liebaert is a certified Life Strategies Coach with a Health and Wellness designation. She has been a fitness and yoga instructor and practices mind, body, and spirit enrichment with the use of elemental energy and the laws of attraction. She is currently working on a book titled Confessions of a MA’D Goddessä—How I Lost My Youth and Found My Inner Diva. You can read her blog at www.lwbms.blogspot.com. Visit www.madgoddess.com for a free download, Taking Charge of your Change—Ten Steps to Managing Menopause.