Posts Tagged ‘red tent’

Balance Is Absurd

January 23, 2014

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The almighty experts who are trying to figure out how women can have it all tell us that above all, we must strive for balance.  Better yet, draw a pie graph and label each slice with a different area of your life and give each slice a number from one to ten.  Then work harder on the low numbers.  I have news for these experts, girlfriend.  The people who create these graph exercises are missing the fact that for each woman there are many, many levels of pies all stacked up, some thrown and some eaten.  A woman can eat a pie and bake another one that matches it and no one will ever be the wiser.  It’s just not so simple.  After years of following expert advice like a good girl, why am I coming up facing the same struggle and beating myself up on top of it?  I’ve given this some thought, done some intensive research, and am realizing there are a few things I have to say on the matter.

First of all, a woman striving for balance is like a cloud trying to maintain precipitation without ever raining.  Women are not linear beings going from point A to point B in one straight, even, carefully drawn line.  The women I know are messy, neat, beautiful, disheveled, passionate, irritable, sweet, generous, terrified, confident, completely neurotic, powerful, sexy, intimidated, anxious, boring, exciting, insecure, happy, depressed, on fire, and so very much more.  In fact, every single one of these adjectives could describe one single woman at any given time.  The women I have experienced who seem to have their lives in perfect balance on the outside are often lacking a certain internal fire, a spark in their eyes, or are medicated unduly by unwitting professionals trying to treat a label rather than dig deeper.  Just sayin.  I’m personally convinced that balance is something water finds, scales measure, and construction workers who aren’t in a messy hurry find with a level.

The single thing that has lit me up and given me a sense of ownership and creative power in my life has been pleasure as a practice, combined with an internal experience of the sacredness of all of life, wrapped up in the love of other women.  There’s a certain knowing that goes womb-deep that women hold for each other, unspoken, palpable, and in a silent language “bone”.  It’s something we just know in our bones, as ancient as our ancestral line.  Just as men have a language, women have a sisterhood that we need around us to survive well and to take the dives into the mystery that only women sense.  It’s wrapped up in shadows and pleasure, passionate creativity, loss and grieving, and seduction mixed with rolling laughter.  For us to find our center, we truly do need the love and support of other women.

The experts have the right idea you know, that there’s something we need to steer ourselves towards our joyful fulfillment in this life, but it’s not a perfectly balanced pie.  It’s more of a sacred agreement to honor our core knowing, and to do it much as we have been taught by our bodies, in messy, loud colors and soft hues of rising and reposing cycles.  We are to honor, cherish, and nurture pleasure in utter defiance of a culture that repudiates it.  I’m convinced that balance takes care of itself when we are true to ourselves, and that pies are for sharing, the more the better.  We can go ahead and use the graph to lay out a plan, but if we make the graph more important than our sense of bone knowing when the body says no, we risk coming from a flat line and missing out on the sheer pleasure of being alive.  A woman knows, but a place where she can be heard tiptoeing towards her core with tears and fire is the sacred, cyclical, ever-changing map towards her true desires and her passion.  Let this be the new “balance”.

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Menopause For The Clueless Like Me

June 30, 2012

Had to chime in on this one, gals.  If you look at the symptoms of menopause and bipolar disorder side by side, they are almost identical.  I was having memory loss, and tremendous mood swings two years ago.  First, I started seeing a therapist, thinking I was losing it.  After a few months, he confirmed that I was not in fact, mentally ill, but suggested I strive to slow down with the flood of topics I talked about in conversation because he felt I was a genius and that it might help people to catch up.  Thanks for the compliment, but now what?  He hadn’t helped me figure out the scourge of symptoms With which I’d had been afflicted.  (My conversations improved dramatically, however).

Upon seeing my gynecologist, I was relieved in a way to find out that I was in menopause, and received some excellent information about how to cope.  My gyno is a much older guy, and uses his well hidden intuition along with a stunning history of good medicine.  I love him because he isn’t afraid to tell me to use black cohosh for hot flashes, and he was the first doctor who didn’t have to look up a rare autoimmune issue I have when I became a new patient.  This is a rare find these days, so I’m keeping him.

Perimenopause leading into menopause is a process that can take ten years to traverse and possibly more.  I know, I was stunned when I first learned this tidbit.  It’s unreal, yes?  There are so many symptoms, and challenges that women have that they don’t realize are menopause related.  Facilitating a red tent for the last five years, I’ve learned a lot about this and encounter many women who are experiencing these things, some more than others, and some great insights into the various ways that women cope.

One of the things that’s helped me come to terms with menopause is slowing down a bit.  I haven’t been overloading my schedule as much and I’ve learned to take time out for myself.  Sleep is crucial, and yet I find myself up at 3 a.m., wide awake.  It can be maddening.  I’ve begun to make the best of it and embrace that time as my quiet time to catch up on a book, some writing, or take time to meditate.  It’s the perfect hushed atmosphere in which to contemplate and make peace with my past, and consider what’s next.

Some women recommend a year of going inward.  In our hectic lives with kids and careers, we don’t always have that prerogative, but in place of that we can take small self care breaks.  I wrote a whole article about this on my blog, inspired by something written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes about women and our bone deep need for recharging our souls.  Taking a year of solitude was an ancient practice.  I sure wish I had the luxury of going to a cabin by myself, turning inward and making peace with my life now that I’m 52 and the shift towards elder is taking place inside of me.  Meanwhile, since it’s not an option, I am finding bits of time to be alone, and as a homeschooling mom, this is quite a feat.

 What can we do to navigate this completely messy, unpredictable, confusingly unforewarned time of our lives?  Walking is good for us, taking high quality supplements, herbal and homeopathic remedies, rescue remedy for stressful situations, whatever stress relieving practices work for you…cutting out too much caffeine, times of solitude, and especially keeping a small notepad for notes.  A very dear friend almost a year ahead of me advised me to write everything down.  Everything.  Words disappear even as they are making their way to my tongue.  They mysteriously interchange, and sometimes I sound like I’m on a psychedelic drug trip as my memory, my intuition, and my inner work collide outwardly in a sentence that no one understands but me.  In fact, we are on a trip of huge proportions…a journey into holding our power as wiser elders, a pregnancy of a lifetime of wisdom giving birth to itself.  Menopause is the time to begin to learn to honor this body journey for real or else.

In Crones Don’t Whine, Jean Shinoda Bolen writes “Crones trust what they know in their bones.” They don’t bend the truth to please others, and they are far less influenced by the opinions of others than they were when young.”  This is common knowledge to many women my age.  With the onset of hormonal flux and deep transformation, we have little patience left for giving away the precious moments of our time left on earth.  Mortality kicks us in the teeth in the wee hours as some of us experience waking from sleep in full blown, bodily panic attacks.  We are slowly  shifting towards resting on the bleachers to watch with a wry smile as the younger crowd goes about their dramatic learnings.  We have some darn good wisdom when they come sauntering over, sweaty and exhausted, inquisitive, sometimes wounded and finally willing to listen.  The demands of those intent on swaying us into the next new thing, or giving us ultimatums on what they deem time-sensitive decisions is easily brushed off like a gnat as we solidly plant ourselves in our own good timing.

The conversations that show up in our faces when we’d rather be enjoying the scenery are more easily met with a simple, direct, honest request for some quiet.  We inadvertently offend those who don’t honor our truth, and in doing so we don’t waste time feeling guilty.  We’re glad to have weeded out who can stand in the face of our power and love us there.  After all, the ones left standing are the ones who will actually show up to lend a hand when we’re too decrepit to carry our own groceries someday soon enough.

Goddess Oceana

http://www.goddessoceana.com

http://www.menopausegoddessblog.com/

http://www.alisastarkweather.com

http://susunweed.com/

Women Who Run With The Wolves

Wisdom of Menopause


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