Gateway to Menopause….Standing at the Threshold to Wise Woman

Rachael CrowMenstrual Health, Moon Lodge/Red Tent, Musings

Gateway to Menopause….Standing at the Threshold to Wise Woman- Rachael Crow

As a woman who has been working with my cycle for most of my adult years, with a particular passion for celebrating women- young and old…I was noticing a fear arising in me about menopause….I wasn’t really sure what it would bring, not many women where speaking about it, and when they did it was the horror stories of hot flushes and soaking wet bed sheets, feeling dried up inside, being an emotional wreck and physically exhausted all the time, occasionally I would hear a woman say they had no symptoms apart from their moontime bleeding stopping- so I was curious, why did some women seem to suffer terribly and some not at all? And what was in store for me?

My journey into menopause began about 2 years ago, I’m 44, and have only just stopped breastfeeding my 3 year old, fourth child. I thought I’d be breastfeeding through my “change”! The first signs of peri-menopause was my cycle becoming erratic, I’ve always had a regular 28 day cycle with a predictable day 12/14 ovulation date- that was the first change, ovulation popped up earlier and earlier and so my son slipped in unexpectedly! After the pregnancy I found that my cycle length changed; 21-23 days. As someone who works with the archetypes (Maiden/Spring (the week post menses), Mother/Summer (ovulation), Enchantress/Autumn (post ovulation) and Crone/Winter (menses)) I was noticing I was spending more and more time in my month in Enchantress and Crone phase, Maiden was pretty much gone and Mother energies only lasted a few days. I didn’t feel I had much to give, I craved more and more time alone, more time to do my self care practice- which for me is journalling, walks in nature, yoga, reiki, crafting….when I am bleeding I don’t want to be with anyone, I want to rest, deepen into myself and the earth, drum, journey, journal, draw, be quiet.

I am blessed to have a husband who supports my self care practice (he’s seen how I am without it!) and we both work part time so we can share the childcare. When he is working he works nights, and I relish these evenings he is away, they have become my pamper nights. Now I say pamper- for you my way to pamper myself may seem strange, I look forward to the chance to have an hours castor oil pack, do an enema and go to bed early with a good book! I know, it’s not quite the same as a face pack and painting your nails and a good TV show- but for me, my 40’s have become about really taking care of my body, it feels like it maybe the last chance I get to sort this out.

I’ve spent a few years deeply listening to my body and would say I eat healthier now that I ever have – I’ve totally dropped caffeine, wheat, sugar, most dairy, (I’ve been vegetarian and teetotal for years) and now eat about 50-60% raw food diet which contains next to no processed foods at all. I live on nettle tea, and recently discovered linseed tea (known as a “Hug in a Mug” or “Cwtch in a Cup” as we say in Wales!) which not only helps your bowels have a good clear out, it also helps your cells absorb water- and the majority of us don’t drink enough water, so this is a great tea to support cell regeneration. I’m not saying this is what all peri-menopausal women need to do, what I am saying is listen, really listen to your body, what foods feel good? What foods energise you…but then leave you feeling low and craving the ‘bad stuff’?

It’s also the time to dig up the old unresolved issues- because if you don’t they will come to bite you on the backside! If you can afford it, find a good counsellor to work with you- retrace the important stages of your life, look at those negative patterns that keep repeating, unpick them and let them go. Or use one of the many workbooks out there, Louise Hay is a great place to start- You Can Heal Your Life and books like Co-dependant No More, Families and How to Survive Them etc can be life changing. Doing a weekend of Family Constellations, or healing past hurts with Reiki, journalling, making bundles and burning them- whatever works for you…do it, do it now! If you are part of a womens circle, you could work through things together, sharing stories and photos of your life, celebrating each other with mini rituals and ceremonies.

I also decided to join a Menopause weekend facilitated by Alexandra Pope, I was so looking forward to sitting in circle with a group of women to explore this stage of our lives.

One wonderful woman I connected with was Kate Codrington (a massage therapist who also runs http://www.loveyourbelly.org.uk/!) Kate wrote a wonderful blog post summing up our weekends lessons from Alexandra, which she has allowed me to use here:

Alexandra regards the menopause as a transitional place in a woman’s life that can be deeply empowering and liberating. An awakening to bring women to their calling. She uses the same cycle of menstrual creativity to the organise the process of menopause. This might start from when you’re 40 and continue until a year or two after your last bleed, but of course the issues and timing are dependent on your life circumstances past and present.

Here are Alexandra’s 5 phases of menopause:

Separation

On one hand we face the loss of our identity as fertile caregivers. On the other hand, if we can create space for our newly emerging selves, we can vastly expand our consciousness.

Surrender

Here we start to embrace the change that is taking place within us, it’s time to let go and to rest. If we can listen to our intuition at this time, we can reconnect to a deep sense of ourselves.

Renewal

Once we have given up the busy-ness that has dominated our fertile years, we can find more self-acceptance for what we are, rather than what we can do.  Maybe we can finally be kind enough to allow a deep sense of self-acceptance.

Vision

If it wasn’t present before, your calling will now be clearer for you. If you can let yourself be nourished by rest and self-acceptance, the clarity can come through.

Direction

This is the good bit! You can proceed towards your vision at your own pace and in your own way.

If you start to think about it, you can see why older women are disrespected and ridiculed in our culture; the mainstream is just blooming scared of what an army of fearless, focused women with a calling could actually achieve! No longer driven by kind, estrogen fluffed, ‘caring’ roles, we can ditch the niceness and go out and make a difference.

 This is not an easy process of course, and it causes much heartache and disturbance however here are four things that will help the process that everywoman over 40 needs.

The 4 things you need if you are a woman over 40 are…

Time alone – to listen to your inner counsel and finally (hopefully) decide, “I am OK”.

A regular practice – we all have our favourite way to listen to our inner counsel and to un-wind. Regular meditation, yoga, journal writing, dream recording can all give you insight into your direction.

Radical self-care – this is the time in your life when health care issues will catch up with you. Good diet, exercise, less stress and rest is even more than usually important.

Support – hang out with other women who love you and are going through the same process. Let yourself be celebrated.

To find out more about Alexandra Pope’s work, see her website- Red School http://www.redschool.net

Read my other Blog posts on peri menopause

For  Cycle Charting tools see Moon Times 

To work deeper with me, see my online trainings, and workshops

© 2016 Rachael Crow, All Rights Reserved