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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Turning 60: Looking in the Mirror

Have you looked in the mirror and thought these thoughts?



Every time I look in the mirror, I understand this is just the beginning for me (at 49). I just want to shoot myself.
I am so sick of my body, I just wear baggy clothes
i hate looking at myself, and trying new clothes on in changing rooms. 
I wouldn't dare do it naked. !!! Eeeekkk....!!

A lot of menopausal women go through a period of self-hatred it appears. I know I've had moments like that, especially when I was down in the dumps, in the midst of menopause misery, with twenty extra pounds and a feeling of general despair. Love handles, saddle bags, my hips swimming in extra fat like the Venus of Willendorf!

But today, on the cusp of 60, I feel better about myself than ever. What happened to make the difference between 49 and 59? A lot of work on myself, a little therapy, some Energy Healing and Reiki, some workshops and courses on Rites of Passage, and mostly, in leading workshops and classes for women I have come to understand myself, and the whole mid-life process, so much better. But I'm still a bit stuck on a few aging issues.

It's a work in progress, right? my life, my self-acceptance, my compassion for myself instead of the harsh inner criticism I usually shoot myself down with. 

Looking in the mirror is especially fraught with mixed emotions.

This morning, looking in the mirror quickly, running a brush through my hair on the way to a Grooming appointment for my little shitzu who looks ragged and messier than I do, this is what I saw:



Today, I feel like I should maybe not colour my hair brownish red again, but allow the silver and grey to shine through. My roots are showing! does that make me look like a lazy person, or slovenly, or just tired?

I look at my face in the mirror - after putting on five different creams - a cleanser, a toner, anti-aging serum, face tightening, eye corrector and a day or night cream with SPF - a new ritual started only a month ago, with Arbonne natural products (or mostly natural!).

Fact: I have had two basal cell carcinomas, so I need to protect my skin from the sun, and the top of my head, my scalp, with a hat.

Fact: I want my skin to be a little tanned, less cadaverous white, but not burn.

Fact: my wrinkles are not overly visible, it's my double chin that bothers me, but mostly in photos (taken at a weird angle, or leaning back too much).

Fact: I think I still look youngish, I still feel young. Until I notice the way some cashier or bag boy at the supermarket looks at me, or rather, doesn't look at me.

Fact: recently, my breasts have perked up again. Less saggy. Is it the weight loss? the low carbs hi protein diet helped me lose 15 lbs. Is the zumba and yoga classes, more exercise? I like what I see, for the first time in years.

My tummy has a bit of an overhang, especially where my horizontal scar is from that ectopic pregnancy umpteen years ago. But it's not too visible under tight T's.

My legs are still slim (but then, so are Mom's at 83, always have been).

Mirrors are tricky. They can be my worst enemy. Sometimes I prefer not to look, but my bathroom is full of them....it's hard to avoid. I do like to check out my silhouette in store windows. Is that vanity? or just checking that I haven't been swallowed up in body fat like Jonah in the whale.

How do you feel when you look in the mirror? Are crow's feet, laugh lines and saggy bottoms getting you down? 

Leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

Musemother


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Taking the Pain out of Sex

Many, many women at mid-life find sex painful.

Some find it painful because of vaginal dryness, but some have deeper issues. Have you heard of vulvodynia? a chronic condition that affects the labial area. Or Vaginismus - involuntary clenching of vaginal muscle?

Only because a friend of mine in her early fifties complained about vulvodynia, had I ever heard about this ailment. She ended up seeing an energy worker/naturopath who helped her understand the issues behind the pain.

The Globe and Mail published an informative article in June 2014 : Read it here:   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/pelvic-physio-strives-to-take-the-pain-out-of-sex/article19055103/

I hope if you experience vaginal pain, or pain during intercourse, that you will strive to get some good medical advice, or even seek some alternative health advice from energy workers, homeopaths or osteopaths. There are many facets to our pain bodies: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. It can be wonderfully freeing to imagine four different ways your body is sending you a message on all 4 levels.

Be curious, don't be satisfied with a doctor telling you nothing is wrong, it's only menopause. Or worse, writing you off as a hypochondriac. Women's sexual energies are changing at mid-life, and you must pay attention. Your kundalini energy (or wild feminine) is rising. Do not be afraid of it, or sweep it under the rug.

Pelvic physiotherapy is a recognized treatment in North America. Your ob-gyn may not have the necessary skills to help y ou, but hopefully she can refer you to a qualified therapist.

Tami Kent has written a wonderful book called The Wild Feminine, http://www.wildfeminine.com/, which offers helpful visualisations and exercises for you to get in touch with the energetic side of this area. She is also a pelvic physiotherapist, if you live in the Oregon area. There is a resource section in the back of the book to help you find similar therapists.

It pays to be present to our bodies' messages. Take good care of you!

in health,
Musemother


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Facing Aging at mid-life

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BHqIAtohA5E/UJJbqESaFuI/AAAAAAAAAUg/23NYea2Trww/s1600/aging+beauty.jpeg

I thought I knew a lot about mid-life, having already written a book on turning fifty, The Tao of Turning Fifty, (see book page at www.jenniferboire.com); it's  essentially a heads-up about the emotional turbulence of menopause and the mid-life transition. But this year I'm 59, and turning 60 in November. I want to write about it, but realize I don't have a clue about what it means to turn 60. It's definitely on my mind. 

I know it's on my mind because I am not telling anyone I'm 60 - I'm definitely still 59, and holding. Usually in other years, I have been anxious to add 6 months to my age and bump myself up to the next birthday's age. But not this year. It is a milestone, a major one, although maybe not as major as 65 - mandatory retirement age in some countries.

I did get a letter from the Quebec government asking me if I wanted to start receiving my old age pension or wait until I'm 65. It's a paltry amount, barely over $100 a month, so yes, I can wait for that. But it made me sit up and think, wait a minute, I'm just getting started. I'm not retiring yet!

Having raised a family and worked mostly at home for over 20 years, I have just begun to discover the freedom of having a work life, and an identity other than mother. I'm leading classes and retreats for women, and still studying and learning new things. I just completed a year-long training in facilitating rituals, for instance. And I'm auditioning for an ABBA based musical theatre show in the fall. Now that my kids are studying away from home, there is room for ME, and MY projects. Mid-life has been the great liberator, once I got through the ups and downs of menopause.  Does turning 60 mean I'm entering a new phase?

On the down side, I do see signs that I am not accepting aging very gracefully. I still dye my hair to cover the gray. I find it makes me look pale and tired when I let the roots grow out, - I've tried it twice now - there's just not enough glamorous shiny white hair to provide contrast. And I just bought a slew of facial products, natural based of course, to apply to my skin morning and night. Cleanser, toner, aging serum, skin tightening masque, and all. I never thought I would be a client for beauty products. See, roots showing and frown lines:



Wikipedia puts mid-life in a depressing framework: "Middle-aged adults often show visible signs of aging such as loss of skin elasticity and graying of the hair. Physical fitness usually wanes, with a 5–10 kg (10–20 lb) accumulation of body fat, reduction in aerobic performance and a decrease in maximal heart rate. Strength and flexibility also decrease throughout middle age. However, people age at different rates and there can be significant differences between individuals of the same age."

Since it's on my mind a lot, I'm trying to come up with a ritual to help women see the positive side of aging, and not just worry about wrinkle lines, laugh lines, crow's feet, saggy boobs and love handles. I realize there are many upsides - there's a rich harvest to this time of life, right? It's time to start reflecting on where you've been and where you are going, who you are, your authenticity. Instead of fearing old age, perhaps we can look at those fears and see them in a new light. Drop the external mask, and find the real inner beauty.

Reading Anam Cara by John O'Donohue www.johnodonohue.com/books, I fell eagerly upon the chapter Ageing: the Beauty of the Inner Harvest. He relates the four seasons to the seasons of the body, and of course, fall is the time of ageing. It's a book that talks a lot about the need for solitude and a quiet place to be with your own soul.

 "The beauty and invitation of old age offers a time of silence and solitude for a visit to the house of your inner memory. You can revisit all of your past.Your soul is the place where your memory lives. ... "In actual fact, old age, as the harvest of life, is a time where your times and their fragments gather. In this way you unify your self, achieve a new strength, poise and belonging that was never available to you when you were distractedly rushing through your days. Old age is a time of coming home to your deeper nature , of entering fully into the temple of your memory where all your vanished days are secretly gathered awaiting you.

Ok, so 60 is not that old. Maybe I need to dance with that world 'old' a little and find some new associations with it. Some old things are really good, like an old friend, an old worn pair of jeans that fit you just right and aren't too tight, an old comforter or quilt that has been well loved and kept you warm all your life or an old suede jacket passed down from your mother that has a special patina to it.

I invite you to muse on what ageing brings up for you. What does turning 50 mean? what does turning 60 mean? Is there less of something, or more of something? Does life seem less rich or more rich? I'll be musing on this in the weeks to come, and blogging here, so come back and check it out.

namaste,
Musemother

ps Our time is limited. If you make it age 80, you will have had 29,200 days on the planet. Which means that when you're 40 you only have 14,600 days left. That may sound like a lot, but it definitely feels finite; it won't go on forever. The age of 50 particularly seems to bring up fears of mortality for many people. It's do or die time. Literally. (see http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4291/50-Ways-to-Love-Turning-50.html) 



Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Finding my Tribe at Mid-Life


What an amazing time this is! I don’t know if you follow astrology but there’s been a lot of planetary movement and eclipses, lots of opposing energies, lots of upheaval in the climate, in countries, and in our relationships.


But June is also that time of year when we celebrate graduations, and congratulate our kids on their talents and skills at end of year concerts. A time of ripening energies as another cycle ends, and a new season of Summer Solstice begins. It’s soon the end of my Creative Circle classes, the end of the Menopause Circle, and the beginning of a summer school with Ho Rites of Passage, where I will finish up a year-long training in ritual facilitation.

I feel especially grateful because both my children have grads this year, and last weekend was my 30th wedding anniversary. Two of my sisters came to celebrate with the 100 or so guests, as we boogied to a 70’s theme and amazing music.

What I want to really celebrate is this new found tribe of women surrounding me, in many circles of all kinds. Last Saturday, I found myself on the dance floor with my sisters and closest  girl friends, and many others of our ‘tribe’. I can still see an image etched on my brain of us ‘sistah’s’ dancing to Papa Was A Rolling Stone (remember that one?)…right up close, in front of the band. It felt blissful - feelings of closeness, of friendship, and more than that, of support, and ‘we’ve got your back’. As well as the pure joy of dancing to live soulful music, thanks to Sonja Ball’s fantastic band.


I had done something uncharacteristic a few days before and asked for help in the party planning. So many friends gave us a hand, shopped with me at Costco, moved lawn furniture, put up lanterns, pasted on Peace signs; my daughter flew in from NYC to add garlands of flowers and psychedelic lamp shades to the décor, and for once, I accepted all this help and didn’t try to do it all myself. We were shopping and decorating for 3 days for this epic 70's party.

Maybe that’s why Dr Northrup’s newsletter today struck such a chord in me today: 

“The feminine is about standing for the highest in others versus worrying about competition. It’s finding your tribe of sisters who will be there for you—and support you when you cry, when you fall, when you need someone to help with a meal. It’s understanding that interdependence is more powerful than independence—that it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help.

It means that it’s time to take the phrase “I should be able to do this myself” and transform it to “I really appreciate your assistance. It makes it so much easier.” And it’s time to allow others the privilege of giving to you—and for you to learn how to graciously receive.”

As I have a tendency to be a solitary, independent soul, this is a new learning for me. Some of us have been trained to do it all ourselves, to never show a sign of weakness, so this is good medicine for us. Time to celebrate our interdependence with all of creation. At a recent Sweat Lodge in May, I got in touch with my need for Mother Earth/Terre Mère, for grounding and sustenance. All my relations, we said, as we clambered into the heat on all fours. Yes, all plants, all animals, all humans, are my relations. I depend on them for my existence.

So that’s my invitation to you (and myself) this June, and for the whole summer season. 

How can you let down your guard, be less self-contained, ask for help? How can you begin to open up to the feminine art of receiving from others, getting support, not trying to Soldier On no matter what, (which often leads to bitter resentments and hurt feelings when no-one reads our minds). 

How can you open up to, and accept, your belonging in the tribe?

Have a wonderful summer, this incredible time of abundance and celebrations.

Thank you for being part of my tribe!

Musemother/Jennifer

Note:

Friday June 13th: Creative Woman’s Soul Retreat, yoga/journaling/SoulCollage®. Registration has been filled.
  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Let it Rain Peace!


short video by a wonderful speaker

let it rain peace!

Post by Words of Peace Global.

Wishing you a peaceful, rainy day.

Musemother


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Full Moon in Scorpio and Mid-Life tasks

Reflection on the May 14 Full Moon, 2014


"This Scorpio Full Moon asks us to contemplate the most important law of life—facing what needs to die and acknowledging what wants to live—so we can understand what we value and what supports our future growth. 

We cannot grow further as individuals or as a world until we accept don Juan’s wisdom to take ‘death as our adviser’. We fear death and refuse to face it until we are forced to—unfortunately, we are facing death because we let climate change get out of hand instead of dealing with it years ago. 

This Scorpio Full Moon can push us to face what we’ve refused to face and finally acknowledge the task." 
~ Cathy Lynn Pagano, http://www.wisdom-of-astrology.com/

What I feel is that mid-life women go through this stage as part of their journey. We are over fifty, we are facing a finite length of time, and our own mortality. And we are renewing our identity and perhaps letting go of our old self to welcome in something new we can't quite imagine yet. 

At mid-life, this ‘dying and letting go’ is one of our most important tasks. 

It means doing the underground work, the sorting and dividing, looking at all the tasks we do, the projects left unfinished, the projects not yet born but simmering, the patterns that no longer serve us, and looking also at what ignites a fire in our heart, what makes us truly come alive. 

It is time to let go and burn what is draining, exhausting and depleting our energy, and welcome in what is gratifying, promotes growth and allows us to feel one with our authentic self.

Ask yourself, where is my power? What feeds its root? What brings you the greatest Joy? Believe in yourself and find the Courage to go for that.

Yes, it means dying to the old ways, and allowing rebirth to happen.

It means cutting away what makes us feel small, what keeps us limited.

On a personal level, what is pushing you to take action?

What is calling you to move towards living an optimal, creative life?

 I found that Journaling and SoulCollage(R) were two really great tools that helped me reflect and find my own answers. (As well as a lot of books, classes and on-line workshops to further clarify). If you need help with getting started, visit my website, check out the book The Tao of Turning Fifty, or just pop me a question in the comment box or my email info@jenniferboire.com

Namaste,
Jennifer
Musemother
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Monday, May 05, 2014

Give Yourself a Gift for Mother's Day

"We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit."  - ee cummings 

What does every mother long for, deep in her heart?
Speaking for myself, I can say that when my kids were little I longed for a weekend morning to sleep in and not have the kids come and wake me up at 6:30 am. I longed for time alone to think my own thoughts, and once I hit menopause the need to get away and was even stronger.
I did give myself permission to get away on retreats and writing workshops for weekends, and once even for a whole week. But more importantly, I began to make time during the week for little moments of reflecting time, journaling or yoga or just listening to quiet inspiring music to soothe my woman's soul.
Once I learned about SoulCollage(R), I began to integrate making card collages and images into my retreat time. These days it's usually a Monday or Friday morning, when I can push aside the emails, phone calls, house errands and laundry to just sit and breathe quietly while I write in my journal or make a collage.

Why do I do this? 
My woman's soul is fed by solitude, quiet, and creative journaling, as well as writing down my dreams. I am a very social person with lots of friends and a busy schedule, but once a week, I need to have my time alone, to focus just on me. Sometimes my daily journal only gets a ten minute jot down, but during these mini-retreats I just let myself go and write for longer, or colour in my art journal, making doodles and expressing how I feel today.


This is what today's doodles look like. How I feel, and then How I want to feel.

It feeds my soul, and soothes my agitated mind. It encourages a dialogue between my left and right brain, it helps me understand what I'm feeling. I often find solutions to questions and quandaries I have by the time I've finished writing or drawing.

So for Mother's Day, give yourself a gift - create a time and space for your woman's heart and soul to be nourished. 
And if you need help with journaling exercises, there are some great books out there - 
Jennifer Louden has published several books with retreat exercises for women http://jenniferlouden.com/products/books/ 

and there's some great journaling questions for women at mid-life in my own book, The Tao of Turning Fifty, What Every Woman in Her Forties Needs to Know (free excerpt at www.jenniferboire.com), order on-line.

Happy Mother's Day!
Musemother
ps check out The Tao of Turning Fifty's page on Facebook





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