Living in Menopause
It has stigma….. negative, unfair beliefs. It doesn’t have to be that way. Like many things in our lives, we can choose to think about it in a different way. What if menopause wasn’t associated with suffering? What if the process was more understood, more revered, more celebrated?
Did you know that the average age of menopause is 51? As a woman at the age of 49, fully in the midst of perimenopause, I am choosing my path with positivity. I’m don’t feel nearly as old as I thought I would when I reached this time in my life. When I think of myself the words that come to mind are experienced, vital, powerful, vigorous, and competent. I am the same me as I was when I was 21, 31 and even 41. Only now my body needs to be cared for just a little differently and more intentionally. Menopause is a change. A change but not an end. It doesn’t mean that my life is over. In this current time, people are living about 1/3 of their lives in menopause. And living is what I plan to do.
Experiences and symptoms of this change are wildly different for everyone. Some go through perimenopause and menopause as a process over a period of time. This is the natural and dare I say normal transition of the female body. Just like puberty, it is a time of hormonal change. Others may experience menopause abruptly. This may be the result of an intervention like perhaps an oophorectomy or chemotherapy treatment. Having a hysterectomy alone does not create menopause. It eliminates your menses but it does not stop the function of your ovaries. You will still experience the hormonal changes at some point in time. People who were born with female anatomy who have transitioned to a male gender using hormonal therapies and possibly surgical interventions may still experience menopausal symptoms at some point in their lives. I have not spent much time studying this and am interested in learning more as I am able.
Mindset on how you will manage this change in your body is the biggest indicator of how you feel during this time. This is the really same for everything in life. Yes, everything. When presented with a situation, your experience will differ based the way you choose to see it. You don’t have a choice in the changes that are happening but you do have some control over how you manage it. Educate yourself, seek out support, work with knowledgeable health care providers. You don’t have to sacrifice this time in your life. Live it!
Hormones are responsible for creating a well choreographed dance within the many systems of your body. They are little messengers directing the body for more of this and less of that. When this dance is interrupted, just like in any performance, it is noticeable. This can be detected with just a little focus and is not exclusive only to times of perimenopause or menopause.
Some things that you might notice in your body with any hormonal imbalance:
So now what do you do about it? The best advice I have heard is to “Control the controllables”. There is so much you can do in preparation and in response to the changes that occur in a hormonally changing body AND they are all the things that people are repeatedly saying in any “how to be healthy” article, book, news report, podcast, television show.
Now, let me be honest. When I look at that list, the “four pillars of health”, I roll my eyes. I think, damn it! What the heck? I know! Yea, yea, whatever! I have heard it ALL. Isn’t there a better answer? A magic pill? Something that will do the work for me because I am tired of trying…. And I am also tired of failing. And then after I stomp my feet and pound my fists I put on my grown-up pants and continue on. Because the truth of the matter is I love myself, in all my failures and in all my glories, in all my truths and in all my faults. That also doesn’t make it any easier.
“Nothing in the body happens in isolation” is an oh so important thing to remember. When you do or don’t do something, there is a response. If I choose to eat the sugary thing, my body has a hormonal response. If I don’t choose to manage my stress, my body has a hormonal response. If I choose to mindfully eat my food, my body has a different hormonal response. If I choose to set the scene for restful sleep, my body builds resilience. If I choose to adopt a breath and meditation process, I am strengthening my bodies ability to respond better to future stress. It is all relative and you don’t have to adopt it all at once.
Knowledge is power. The more you learn, the more you understand, the clearer your ability to make decisions, the easier it is to choose. That is my goal. My personal goal for myself and my professional goal for you. I am taking the time to do the learning. I am fortunate to have that ability. I am in turn, offering to share my knowledge with you, help you find a way to work through it all at your pace, at your ability, with your available resources. That is the piece that I see missing time and time again. Do this, do that. But how? If it was easy, you would have done it by now and frankly so would I.
For my information on how to get support, check out SEA (support, education & accountability) on the Holistic Health Strategies portion of my website.
Stay safe, be well, breath and stretch,
Have you been on your feet a lot? Definitely don’t underestimate the benefit of a good foot massage. For this you will want a ball. I prefer a tennis ball or a pinky ball. These have a little give and are still pretty firm. If the ball is too firm, like a golf ball or a baseball, it can really hurt and there is really not a lot of benefit or need in that. Make it feel good.
Bonus foot massage option: If reaching your feet with your hands is at all an option, they will love your tender touch!
Are you starting to feel like putty and ready for bed? Sleep well and feel free to do this all again tomorrow!
Be safe, Stay well, breathe and stretch,
Self Massage: All of your Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers miss you as much as you miss them. This is mostly because this is a time when massage and touch could be so helpful and healing. Thankfully self-touch can have it’s benefits. Creating blood flow and promoting relaxation is still achievable. Sure, it never feels as good as when someone else does it but hey, this is what we got to work with. This can be done throughout the day and you don’t need any props
Now…. Go wash your hands after all that face touching!
Be safe, stay well, breathe and stretch,
Okay! Let's try some more ideas for balancing your nervous system during times of change and emotion.
Upper Back Stretch:
At the middle and/or end of your day, take some time to stretch your upper back. When you sit at the computer, the tendency is to start to round forward. In reality, everything we do all day rounds us forward. It’s important to take some time to counter that position.
Alternate nostril breathing
If you would like an even deeper breathing experience, try this. It’s a great way to prep for meditation or have it be the meditation.
Be safe, stay well, breathe and stretch,
When all is said and done (whatever that means) with the Covid19 pandemic you will want to come through this time with the best possible outcome, right? There is so much going on and it is so different for everyone. Seriously! I don’t think there are two people who are having the exact same experience right now and yet there is certainly not a single person on the face of this earth that is not have some sort of impact. It may be small and you don’t see it but it is there. Or it may be the largest thing in your life right now and you can’t get away from it. One thing is for sure, it is more important than ever to take care of yourself right now. Here are some things you can do to relax your body, tone down your nervous system and get better sleep.
If you find yourself doing a lot of sitting it is so important for you to break up the day with some movement and stretching. If you are running around like crazy because work is overloaded you want to take small moments for centering and grounding.
Get up and MOVE:
Stretch your hips and calves: When you have been sitting for a long time, your hips are always bent and the muscle in the front get shortened and tight.
Start here and check back for more to come... tomorrow.
Be safe, stay well, breathe and stretch,
Life...... in the midst of a global pandemic. After only just one week of not working, new routines were forming. Settling in to a new way of life. A new speed of life. Yoga pants are my new best friend. I don’t know how long this lifestyle will be around nor does it matter. Now I don’t mean that it doesn’t matter that there is craziness in the world and that there are people who are struggling with serious health and financial compromises. That absolutely matters. My heart breaks for all. What I mean is that I cannot change what has happened. Although, I can change the future. And so can you! We have choices amidst the struggles. Sometimes they are small, sometimes they are big. Sometimes they are sad, sometimes they are happy. Sometimes they are obvious, sometimes they are really freakin' hard to see. It’s all OK.
Let me ask…… Do you like to play? Play cards, play games, play sports, play music, play the lottery, play it by ear, play the card, play on words, play dead, come in to play, role play, power play, play hooky, fair play? That’s a lot of play! (So much so that now the word “play” is starting to look and sound funny!) My point… (yes, Shannon what is your point?) With all that play in the world, how much do you actually think about playing or incorporate playing into your day? Honestly? No right or wrong answer. It’s all OK.
What does the word play conjure up in you? What is the first thought that comes to mind? Let me speculate…. Fun, silliness, care-free, active, joyful, recreation, engaged, competition, irresponsible, who has time for it, tiring, childish, not appropriate, annoying. Do any of those strike a chord with you? Which ones make you feel good? (Gosh, I am asking a lot of questions!) Cool! Just offering up a little opportunity for introspection. I love it. I love play and I love to feel good. It’s all OK.
I am a seriously not so serious person. I know when things are serious and I will work hard to assist with my best ethical and moral duties in tow AND I will find humor and fun in it all, somehow. Some people understand it, some love it and I know that it also can irritate people sometimes and I've even irritated myself on occasion. It’s ok to feel irritated and then it’s ok to ask yourself why you are irritated and then it’s ok to choose to feel differently… if you want to. And if you don’t want to, that’s OK too.
Enter stage left…… Play! Let it in, let it dance around you with sweet delight. What form does it take? Pick one that LIGHTS YOU UP. Give yourself permission. You have earned it. In these uncertain times, play is probably the last thing on your mind but I would argue that it should be the first. What if you were to set the tone of your day with a little play? What if you greeted your family, neighbor or your coworkers with a playful energy. Can you be sad with playful energy? Can you be worried with playful energy? You will alter the chemical patterns of your nervous system. You will feel a little lighter. Things will start to look a little more manageable. It’s all OK.
And then….. “PLAY IT FORWARD”
Let’s say you want some active play but you don’t feel like your body is physically able to play any more. We can't have that....stick with me now! I’d like to now introduce you to Doug Gray from Gray Institute. I met Doug and his father Gary about 10 years ago at a weekend conference in Boston. They wouldn’t remember me as I was only one of thousands of attendees they have encountered but I have never forgotten them. This conference was about physical movement principles and it was fascinating to me. Honestly, it remains fascinating to me. The energy of the presenters was contagious to say the least! They were serious about their beliefs, they had passion AND they were playful. Like, professional players. Every person in the room mattered. It was pretty magical. I have implemented many of their ideas into my work to help people improve their function. They are rock stars and they offering a free 30 day movement challenge that can be done right in your own home with no props needed. I encourage you (every body) to check it out. I know I will be.
I hope you are getting inspired. I hope you can get innovative. I hope you can get moving and by all means PLAY! It’s OK!
What do you have to lose?
“I think everything happens for a reason and I think we try too hard to try to quantify all of those reasons instead of just being in the moment” -Abraham Hicks
You may have seen the video I posted on my Facebook page. This quote was borrowed from it. I was showering while listening. I have so many ideas that come to me in the shower! I need to figure out a way to write them down in all that soapy watery mess someday. Sometimes my thoughts are so fleeting that I cannot succinctly recall anything more than their nuance, the way they made me feel. I want to shout the thought/feeling from the rooftops and share it with the world because it just seems soooo profound! And then… just like that… the words are gone and all that is left is the residual feeling inside me. And it feels good. I am starting to realize that those thoughts were apparently just for me. As a perpetual caretaker, I sometimes forget that I don’t HAVE to make my experience into an experience for someone else. And then sometimes….. I do!
Today, in the shower, my thoughts were running, spinning, twirling as I listened and explored. When I got out of the shower, dried off, dressed (in my Yoga pants because, well, I’m not working right now) and was combing my hair when the above quote came out of my phone. I stopped the recording immediately, rewound and wrote it down. Man, it felt like a perfectly timed “shout it from the rooftops” moment.
What does “in the moment” mean in such an unprecedented scenario such as the Coronavirus pandemic? We are all humans, navigating this circumstance the best we know how. And how we know best is very different. Clearly, we are all different. We have always known that but what if…. WHAT IF we looked at how we are all the same? Why does different always seem to outweigh same? Does it perhaps matter more? I think this is this just ANOTHER opportunity to look at the other end of the stick? I love that! Other end of the stick. (Thank you CY!) If I don’t like how something feels, explore what are the feelings or what is the perspective on the other end of the stick. Is that being in the moment? Try it, what do you have to lose?
In dis-ease we try to quantify the reasons for the disease, what did I do….. what did someone else do…. Who is to blame? How come this “happened” to me? (Ha! That is funny to me and someday I might elaborate but for now take my laughter as you will.) How can I move forward if I don’t know all the ins and outs of what came before? Truth is…. It doesn’t matter!!! It just doesn’t! Just-be-in-the-moment. Move forward from that very moment. Give it a shot, change the emotion by thinking a different thought. What do you have to lose?
In regards to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have options!!! yes, folks, options!!! I don’t mean just throw caution to the wind and disregard what the professionals are saying but rather follow the advice of the collective minds. Practice social distancing and focus on your creation. How can this “forced” shift in gears be a desired gear that takes you on a path you’ve always wanted or better yet, a path you didn’t even know existed!!! Gasp!! Not everyone has more free-time right now, some of you are working overtime on the front lines to manage the many new needs of the world. From the government officials working with the health experts to the CNAs working in the local nursing home and every essential health worker in between, to the grocers/farmers/truckers trying to keep us all fed, to so many behind-the-scenes folk I don’t even know about. All with a collective (same) goal of caring for the people. And yet, you have choices. You can step into this with fear weighing heavy or you can step into this with a sense of collaboration and creation of nurturing well-being. That doesn’t mean that risk just magically disappears and everything is honky-dory. It means you CHOOSE to not make your decisions based in fear but in a powerful knowing of how to do your job and have compassion for others who cannot yet see the other end of the stick. What do you have to lose?
Oh so many of you may be finding yourself with unexpected free-time. This obviously is the category I am falling into! It is absolutely a feeling I have never in my life encountered. I have had a job or been in school (or both) since I was 5 years old. And I am A LOT older than that now. Talk about emotions that come with this! Yes, this is scary and it naturally brings up worries. Worries about finances, worries about illness, worries about your family and friends and frankly so much more time to worry…. Or NOT!!! Don’t waste this time on worry, it does not ultimately change the outcome of things you cannot control. “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere!” I don’t know who originally said that but I saw it on the sign in front of the Leeds VA center many many years ago and it stuck. Instead, find that silver-lining, do that thing you have been putting off, connect with those people you haven’t had time to connect with, social distancing does not equal social isolation We got the world at our finger tips, literally! How can you connect with your community and offer support? No offer too big or too small. Oh my, look over there. What is it? It’s the other end of the stick! Dang, it does exist. Be creative folks. What do you have to lose?
There are many variations in belief around the Coronavirus. Heck, belief is our (societies) biggest divider in ANY conversation. I have heard the full spectrum from the firm non-believers to the over-believers and everything in between. What you believe matters. Truly, it does! The thing is, it only matters to you. What I ask is that you sit down with your belief, talk to it. “Hi belief, let’s have some coffee. You are the only one I can have a face-to-face conversation with today. You are my belief, I take you everywhere with me. Isn’t it cool that we are such good buddies through thick and thin?” Now ask your BFF (belief for forever) the hard question. Find out if the belief makes you feel good or not. If it doesn’t feel good, why not try out a different belief? In reality your beliefs, in and of themselves, don’t have feelings so they won’t be mad if you decide to break up with them and have coffee with another belief. Just try it. See what happens. What do you have to lose?
If you have made it this far in my blog, I am so thankful to have you along on this crazy journey of life and all the amazing experiences it brings with it. My creative mind is waking up. I am planning some ways to reach out with collective community offerings. I am just beginning the walk of this journey (sometimes it’s a crawl and sometimes it’s a slippy slide) and I hope I will see many of you along the way in some capacity or another. Like my FB page to be kept in the loop or better yet, sign up with your email on my website. https://www.shannonlwade.com/
What do you have to lose?
Be safe, stay well, breathe and stretch!
I just love dandelions! (as you may have noted by my website photography)
You might ask why? Are they anything more that a weed? Oh yes, So very much more. First, consider their life of growth and change. The hardy seed that is cultivated forming a deep sturdy root, sprouting bitter and tasty leaves, and flowers with more petals than you can count. And then in an instant (or so it seems) they transform into a beautiful puffball of the most fascinating seeds that just beg to be blown. Have you ever blown a dandelion puffball and not come away with a smile from the pleasure of sending those little wishing seeds onto the breeze? They are off to start the whole process all over again. If I may quote a friend, it is "Pure Satisfaction".
Did you know dandelions can have a positive affect on your health? You might even call them a superfood. The entire plant can be ingested although the most commonly used parts are the root and the leaves. Roast the root for a tea, put the greens in your salad, add some beauty by adding the yellow flowers raw or cooked. Some people even make them into wine. Dandelions contain a multitude of vitamins (A, B, C & K) and minerals (calcium, choline, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc). They are used as herbal medicine with qualities that detox the liver. And boy does that liver need some detoxification. The environmental toxins from the air we breathe, the food we eat, the medications that are ingested, the hormones that flow through our bodies. All that needs to filter through the liver. It brings up a good point. If you are choosing dandelions to experiment with next spring, please make sure that your lawn does not have fertilizer or pesticides and if you have a dog that just has her way with yard (like ours does), then you won't want to eat the dandelions in the yard. Dandelions grow up in my organic raised beds just naturally, those are the ones I choose. Consider a section of lawn to grow the dandelions where they will not be contaminated. As an environmental bonus this area can double as your bee habitat. https://savebees.org/habitat/forage/
Dandelions have a surprising amount of meanings. Since the Dandelion can thrive in difficult conditions, it is no wonder that people say the flower symbolizes the ability to rise above life’s challenges.
If you have been inspired to covet those beautiful dandelions next year here are some links that you might like to check out. I would love to hear all about your experience. Leave me a comment!
Dandelion tea https://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/dandelion-root/
Dandelion Salad https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/dandelion-salad/
Dandelion Bitters https://www.growforagecookferment.com/dandelion-root-bitters-recipe/
Dandelion Wine https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-make-dandelion-wine-1327932