It’s not that I didn’t get the memo earlier in life. How can you miss the snarky references to women at all phases of their life right? it’s just that I was busy trying to keep all my plates in the air to really consider what the talk about mid-life was all about before it was staring me in the face. In retrospect, and why I’m writing this blog post BTW, embracing all the changes even earlier would’ve made it so much easier. So with the help of my Ayurvedic doctor Marcia, angel that she is, along with years of trial and error, I’ve eventually settled into a routine that’s made life far more enjoyable. Here’s a recap of my journey:
- All my hair, make up, shampoo, even my hair cut were no longer working, dangit!! Of course, you imagine that by your mid-forties or so you’ve figured out the best moisturizer for your face, shampoo for your type of hair, the most flattering make-up based on your skin, a haircut that works with your life and even a shampoo schedule. But I resisted the writing on the wall until I couldn’t and finally began all that experimentation all over again, admitting that what used to work now didn’t.
- My daily sleep and wake cycles-once I began having hot flashes at 4AM, I realized that going to bed late at 11pm or midnight put me right in the middle of my sleep cycle making me a crabby witch the next day, cursing my body…. which made the hot flashes worse and me even more frustrated and difficult. When Marcia first suggested a 9:30pm bedtime I laughed, not realizing she knew what she was talking about and that getting up at 6am allowed me to get so much more done before I needed to be out the door in the morning.
- My diet – I’ve always had a restricted diet due to one reason or another but the first thing the Acupuncturist (who I consulted with for the hot flashes) told me was the vegetarian diet had to go since my “blood was weak”. Wha??? And why was the pasta I’d eaten all my life sitting like a rock in my stomach? Why were the dairy products I ate so minimally making my scalp itch? Now the carbonation in anything (beer, tonic, mineral water, etc) made the hot flashes so much worse. Time to rethink the diet thing too! Who knew spicy foods made you hotter? I’m paying attention by now! The keto diet is working well!!
- My fitness regime had been vigorous in my attempt to stay one step in front of my young dance and yoga students but I was growing weary of flogging myself at the gym and decided instead to give the old ‘honor thy body’ a try with a better-rounded routine that incorporated balance into the mix. It was then I realized what this was all about-I needed a better balance EVERYWHERE in my life.
- My circle of friends and relations – I guess in an effort to get along, go with the flow, make life happy and bright for everyone else, I forgot to give much thought to myself which isn’t an uncommon theme for women. We are wired, plumbed, and acculturated to put others first, feed everyone before ourselves, and take the crust of the bread loaf. Most of us are pleasers. I realized I was the only one NOT pleased with this approach and now I’m ruthlessly reassessing.
- My spiritual practice-no longer could I just go through the motions. This stuff was hard and I finally admitted I couldn’t do it without help. But the help wasn’t where I wanted it to be – on the list of in-network practitioners. I’d tried all of them over the years and exhausted not only myself, but my bank account and my patience. I had no choice but to look inward for answers and stop fighting the obvious. I start to relax a bit more.
- My tolerance level for people, places, and other things-I just let go of the family members that taunted and bullied, the obligations that filled no purpose, the routines that were empty, and the acquaintances that had insinuated themselves into my life. By now I was appreciating all the changes and the power of this sacred transition.
- My leisure activities-in the past they were generally dictated by my children, their school, my husband, etc that left little time for the things I loved and did so little for the person I by now was trying to honor.
- My volunteer activities – with so many meaningless behaviors now gone, I chose two efforts I wanted to support and practice using my new-found boundaries with. Coincidentally, it’s when I realized the politics in this country needed everyone’s attention and I was ready to do my part.
- My boundaries-I finally have some and that really helps. My gratitude practice is working!!
For all the difficulty I’ve had on this path, I can’t regret any of it because of what I’ve learned about me. I’m not as pretty as I once was and my body doesn’t look the same as when I was younger. My hair isn’t as vibrant and men don’t look at me either. I can’t indulge in the food I used to and I sure can’t drink like the old days. I fall into that category of ‘invisible’ in our society even though I’m smarter, kinder, and wiser. But my energy is better than ever, I’m emotionally better balanced, and I like myself more than ever which isn’t what I thought I’d be saying many years into this journey. I’ve embraced who I am. Finally!