Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Guest Blog- Menopause Mentoring

Menopause Mentoring by Kate Poux
This is my grandma and her sisters in 1954,  when they were in their late 40s/early 50s. I admire their easy middle-aged glamour. I am the same age as they are in the photo.  I wish I could  be part of their midlife summer barbeques. What would they say to me about this time of life? What will I say to my daughters and nieces and grand daughters 30  years from now? What are they learning right now by watching me live it?

When my daughter was 3 she would watch me get out of the shower and get ready for the day, and ask for some of my lotion to rub on her legs like me. One day as she bent over, going through my same lotion motions she said, “I do what you do, Mommy.” I am struck  by how much she took in as a toddler watching me, and how much she must notice now as a teenager, sometimes seeking connection to me and many times doing the hard work of separating from me.

My dad died 28 years ago. I spend November remembering him, and every year I notice how much more I am like him. This year I dug through an old box  at my mom’s house and collected photos. He’s the guy at the block parties with a clipboard, putting up the flags, playing the “head on a table” in the haunted house, wearing make up for his part in the Kismet chorus, singing real loud in church, whistling, drinking coffee in the front yard, running with the dog. I live so much of my life like he did, mostly unaware of this deep subconscious connection. He doesn’t tell me to do all these things, I just do what he did.

The process of becoming like our parents and ancestors is deep. As parents and adults in families, we work so hard  to keep children safe, healthy, happy. We make conscious choices in every moment about what to say, do to help them grow, but all the while they are watching us and becoming like us, without either of us being really aware of it. I do what you do. How can I live through this time of menopause in a way that will help it be an easier, fuller time for my daughters and next generations?

I made a  friend on the Claws in your Pause retreat last year who told us that every day at work for her is a +5 on her energy meter. She made changes to her diet a few years ago and feels great, totally reconnected to her body. Being with her changed me. I want to do what she does. Not literally, of course, but I want to embrace opportunities, let go of the energy suckers and love my life like she does. And making it happen for me at this time in my life has an impact on how the young women around me will feel about menopause, now and maybe later.

It’s kind of a lot of pressure to figure it out. Especially on days like today when I pretend to be sick and hide in my bedroom so I don’t have to deal with anyone. This last photo is my daughter around the same age when she used to imitate my showering routine. She’s making a banana phone call. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if banana phones could call back and forth through time, connect past and future generations? She could just call present-me 30 years in the future and say WTF about all this menopause bullshit, Mom! Oona, if you’re still there…

...notice changes in energy, mood, confidence, hair falling out,  temper, libido, weight, heart palpitations in your 40s, open up a dialogue about it with your family, friends, doctor. Track your symptoms, write them down. Keep a timeline. You are not crazy.

… notice what gives you energy, and what depletes it, and practice letting go of the things that don’t bring you joy or energy.  Observe how much more decisive you feel. Reconnect with your intuition.

… find the nearest chapter of Put Some Claws in Your Pause and tell them Mommy sent you. Bond with people about menopause. Say it out loud, often. It’s a comforting, inspiring connection, to find out how other women are handling it or not handling it, how we can learn from each other and shed the shame.

 Kate Poux is an elementary school teacher and co-facilitator of Put Some Claws in Your Pause, a Yoga & Writing Retreat in celebration of Menopause.

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