So many women I’ve talked to see menopause as an ending. But I’ve discovered this is your moment to reinvent yourself after years of focusing on the needs of everyone else. It’s your opportunity to get clear about what matters to you and then to pursue that with all of your energy, time, and talent.” Oprah Winfrey
The word ‘menopause’ has the power to strike fear in the hearts of the uninitiated, though it is a normal and natural process that all women experience.
Since we do not have meaningful rituals in our modern culture to acknowledge this significant rite of passage, women can feel lost and confused during this stage of life. Instead of feeling confident and accomplished at reaching this critical milestone, we often feel overwhelmed by feelings of shame, inadequacy, and unworthiness.
Every woman in the world will experience ‘the change’ in her own unique way.
She will navigate a maze of bewildering medical advice, often feeling alone and unmoored. As a result, she may suffer silently, seeing menopause as another trial she must endure. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
The natural decline in reproductive hormones is not an illness or a disorder, though it does initiate a complete overhaul of a woman’s body, mind, and spirit.
Because many women are not taught as girls that the female body is a breathtaking marvel and a sacred vessel of creation, we may not be aware of how our bodies connect us to the cyclical nature of Life: to the moon’s phases, the ebb and flow of the ocean, and the seasons. Finding our way back to these eternal rhythms can help women understand the purpose and power of menopause and come to appreciate the beauty of the mystery we hold inside our bodies.
As young women starting on our journey of womanhood, we are full of creative potential and fertile possibilities.
We learn about the potency of our feminine power by feeling into the flow of life that moves through us.
Over time, as we step more fully into ourselves, the young maiden ripens into a mother in the same way that Spring melts into Summer. During these years, we nurture the productive aspects of our lives, namely family, career, and creative projects. Fully engaged with the world, we focus on our capacity for manifestation and integration.
With the arrival of perimenopause- the period of years before the menstrual cycle stops completely- everything changes.
We are hot and bothered. Old dreams die. New aches and pains develop in our bodies and souls. There are storms, tears, and long, lonely nights. Uncertainty becomes our constant companion.
Released from our biological imperative, we courageously face our deep fear of being useless in a productive-driven society; we are aware that our diminishing looks render us invisible to a youth-oriented culture. When we reflect upon our life journey, we can grieve our losses and celebrate our triumphs. We begin to gather the harvest of our lived experience, even if our lives look nothing like we dreamed they would when we were younger. ‘Who am I now?‘ becomes our mantra during this time of potent transformation.
Letting go is an essential part of the journey into mature adulthood. The natural world constantly shows us how to flow with the ever-renewing cycles of life, death, and rebirth. When we realize this, we can forge a new path for ourselves.
We unlearn everything that keeps us from being our authentic selves. Though our eyesight has dimmed, our inner vision has sharpened, and we see life from a broader perspective. To find the soul nourishment we crave, we look to the natural world and the meaningful relationships in our lives.
Some of the by-products of being a post-menopausal woman may include: living unapologetically, being committed to speaking our truth, and practicing radical self-care.
One of the greatest gifts of this time is learning to love and accept oneself completely. We understand the importance of honoring the women who came before us and preparing the way for the ones who will follow after us. We celebrate our sisters and friends, no longer feeling the need to compare ourselves or compete with each other. We know how to give and receive, ask for what we need, to share the wisdom and gifts we have garnered from our life walk. Most of all, we are unafraid to shine our magnificence into the world. Menopause reminds us that women are a natural wonder, ever-changing through the seasons of our lives.
This post was originally published on HappinessSeries.com on June 8, 2022.