You can’t hide in your room forever … or can you!?

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My husband has said to me often over the last few years “you can’t hide in your room forever!”  I think maybe I can, at least sometimes, especially certain times of the month! I’ve been spending a lot more time in my bedroom seeking sleep but mostly for peace & quiet, reading and meditation.

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My husband and I have slept in separate bedrooms for years, it works for us and our different schedules and my room will only hold a queen size bed, not enough room for two grownups and two dogs!  Our bedrooms have become our seperate sanctuaries.  Mine full of art and dogs, paintings I love, a bit “too girly” for my husband, they make me happy and I adore my dogs and yes they sleep in my bed.  My husband’s room is definitely more masculine and a “no animal zone”.  After years of having no space to call your own, remember toddlers banging on the bathroom door? My daughter rifling through my jewelry box & trying on my shoes 😘 — we love our separate “quarters”.  My parents slept in separate rooms and they were happily married for 54 years, “until death due us part”.

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 7.16.53 PMimageScreen Shot 2019-08-22 at 12.27.28 PM  Sarah Kinn                                                     Cindy Hinkleman-Smith

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Part of the reason I find solace in my room is I feel like it’s a place I can claim as all mine. It’s a safe space to “change” and change requires quiet and self reflection and sleep.  Going through mid-life can cause a number of physical, emotional & spiritual changes.

“I have changed so much. I have stopped caring what anyone thinks, have started claiming my time, growing my tribe … I am more beautiful and confident than I have ever been in my life, while simultaneously becoming invisible to much of the world”. Aileen Weintraub*

I don’t feel more beautiful (mostly just old & tired ;)), I too feel like I have become invisible and it’s not easy not being seen or heard, literally and figuratively.  It’s not easy watching yourself age, to never get carded again, to be called ma’am, to begin experiencing the aches & pains older people complain about, and I thought “that will NEVER happen to me”!  The saggy skin, age spots, wrinkles & varicose veins, that I assumed wouldn’t plague me until my sixties but are happening now!  It all comes so much sooner than we thought.  Not just menopause & aging, but marriage, kids, middle age, parent’s death, illness, kids leaving for college, empty nest, maybe divorce.

“In my late thirties, my intuition had tried to warn me about the possibility of a midlife struggle. I experienced internal rumblings about the meaning and purpose of my life. I was incredibly busy proving myself in all of my different roles … so much so that it was difficult for any emotion other than fear to grab my attention. However, I do remember flashes of wondering if I’d always be too afraid to let myself be truly seen and known.” Brene Brown**

I’m hopeful it will all be okay, I glimpse a new version of myself emerging.  And until then I’ve decided it’s ok to stay “inside” when I need to…

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Going inside doesn’t have to be literally inside, in your house, your room or your bed.  Going on long hikes alone, yoga, yoga retreats, stand-up-paddle boarding (quiet, no talking, no media).  When my husband and I go to Mexico we get up early and paddle out and do our morning meditation on the water, with the sunrise and a few downward dogs!  It’s the best! I want to go on a silent meditation retreat but I’m scared — remember Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love”, when she is “in silence” and then they ask her if she would mind coming out of silence to be the greeter at the ashram — she happily takes off her “in silence badge” and with a big smile says “I’m your girl” — I’m afraid that’s me … “Chatty Cathy”🤭.

For my husband it’s backcountry skiing, motocross — they are activities that you have to pay attention to what you are doing and only what you are doing in the moment, to not do so could mean serious injury or death.  It can still mean injury 😯! It’s the only way he can totally “unplug”.  He also loves it because usually there is no cell coverage.  My husband also has a dedicated meditation practice — he’s much better than me, 20 minutes every morning for years! I’m happy if I can do 5 minutes (outside of the yoga studio).

So whatever you need to do to “go inside” even if it means going outside!

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“Many scholars have proposed that the struggle at midlife is about the fear that comes with our first true glimpse of mortality … wishful thinking. Midlife is not about the fear of death. Midlife IS death. Tearing down the walls that we spent our entire life building is death. Like it or not, at some point during midlife, you’re going down, and after that there are only two choices: staying down or enduring rebirth.” Brene Brown**

My kids found me in bed the other day practically crying, I’d just gotten out of the shower and needed to get dressed to go somewhere I didn’t want to go and I felt paralyzed.  They were very sweet and sat on the bed trying to “lift my spirts” saying it might be fun & trying to make me laugh, I was crying/laughing (aka hysterical), they eventually cajoled me out of bed and into getting dressed and on my way.  It’s hard to go places and be the “older woman”, no one pays attention to you, it’s not an easy transition and I’m not making it any easier on myself.  I’m hypercritical of my wrinkles and little belly (some days worse than others).  Throughout most of human history, the vast majority of women died before menopause. The average life expectancy for a woman in 1900 was forty.  Not that I don’t want to live a long life, but I think about this fact often, not until recent history have people lived this long.  Between that and previous generations either being put on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) or given a hysterectomy (probably unnecessary), going through perimenopause is somewhat “uncharted territory”.  In the “old, old days” if a woman lived long enough to go through perimenopause men would assume she had gone insane and it must be coming from her no longer “useful” womb, so they removed the offending organs, the word hysterectomy comes from the latin word hysteria, men thought women in their late 40’s, early 50’s were becoming hysterical (aka perimenopausal ;)).

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“The old self is dying and a new creature is emerging … the sudden hormonal changes can result in insights about our lives that are as dramatic and unexpected as the hot flashes that often plague us at this time.  Perimenopause is a time when you are meant to mother yourself.  In the interim, while we experience the upheaval and wait for the new path to become clear, we have to hang out in the “underworld” for a while.”

“The woman in menopause, who is becoming the queen of herself, finds herself at a crossroads of life, torn between the old way she has always known and a new way she has just begun to dream of. A voice from the old way (in many cases it’s her husband’s voice) begs her to stay in place … but from the new path another voice beckons, imploring her to explore aspects of herself that have been dormant during her years of caring for others and focusing on their needs.” Christiane Northrup***

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“Questing is what makes the woman the hero of her own life” Darcey Steinke****

Quest:  a long search for something, adventure, journey, voyage, exploration, to search, hunt, pursue, investigate …

“I was young once . . . to all my female friends from 40 years and up… most of us are going through the next phase of our lives. We’re at that age where we see wrinkles, gray hair and extra pounds. Menopause may have appeared or is just waiting around the corner. We see the cute 25-year-olds and reminisce. But we were also 25, just as they will one day be our age. What they bring to the table with their youth and zest, we bring our wisdom and experience. We have raised families, run households, paid the bills, dealt with diseases, sadness and everything else life has assigned us. Some of us have lost those that were nearest and dearest to us. We are survivors… we are warriors in the quiet… we are women…like a classic car or a fine wine …”  Gretchen Nordham

“The second requirement for transformation is more difficult by far: we must be willing to feel the pain of loss and grieve for those parts of our lives that we are leaving behind. And that includes our fantasies of how our lives could have been … loss is rarely easy, and that is why so many of us resist change in general and at midlife in particular. A part of us rationalizes, “Why rock the boat? I’m halfway finished with my life. Wouldn’t it just be easier to accept what I have rather than risk the unknown?”

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“There is much, much more to this midlife transformation than “raging hormones.” Research into the physiological changes taking place in the perimenopausal woman is revealing that, in addition to the hormonal shift that means an end to childbearing, our bodies—and, specifically, our nervous systems—are being, quite literally, rewired … menopause is an exciting developmental stage—one that, when participated in consciously, holds enormous promise for transforming and healing our bodies, minds, and spirits at the deepest levels. Our hormones are giving us an opportunity to see, once and for all, what we need to change in order to live honestly, fully, joyfully, and healthfully in the second half of our lives … life is filled with possibilities … lots to do … but great respect for quiet, restful, self-indulgent times.” Christiane Northrup***

“Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.  Brene Brown**

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“Part of being an adult is taking responsibility for resting your body and your soul. And part of being an adult is learning to meet your own needs, because when it comes down to it, with a few exceptions, no one else is going to do it for you.”  Shauna Niequist “Present over Perfect”

*Aileen Weintraub, “This Is What No One Tells Women About What Happens To Your Body In Your 40s”
**Brene Brown “The Midlife Unraveling”
***Christiane Northrup, “The Wisdom of Menopause”
****Darcey Steinke “Flash Count Diary Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life”