“Midlife endings and beginnings” create new chapters in the lives of many women; letting go of a job or working even harder, ending relationships or beginning new ones, ushering grown children out the door or caring for elderly parents, for some women, like me, grand-parenting has become a part of their lives. It appears to me that for many women the fifties in particular seem to be a decade where life as we knew it gets all shaken up and becomes the fertile void, a phrase coined by Gestalt therapist Ilana Rubenfeld, which means the inevitable stage in any journey of transformation.
Transformation… this is the word I like to remind myself of when referring to energy known as “hot flashes”. Susun Weed likes to refer to transformation as “Waves of Energy”, words I do my best to remind myself of when experiencing this face flushing, sweat beading, damp shimmering event where in my dreams these waves of energy come, go, and take with it the menses that began moons ago. But for me, in real time it’s been a process that’s been going on for well over a year and even though I’m hopeful as well as fearful in the letting go, I seek to make peace with the renovations taking place within. Naturally, I have a tendency to bundle with a sweater, a blanket, and warm socks that when these waves of heat began I welcomed the warmth and didn’t give much attention to this newly found warming sensation. As the energy began to increase in intensity and became more than just warm hands and feet I started to take a closer look as to where it began and where it ended. Sleepless nights, blankets on, blankets off, blankets on again, busy mind, and too dark to see, I began to listen and feel the flow of this heating energy as it moved through my body beginning slowly at my thighs working upwards towards my face; expanding, increasing, intensifying, peaking, then receding, slowing, and waning. Night after night becoming increasingly aware and allowing the flow I realized this energy had a pattern similar to labor pains; flow, peak, and wane with a beginning and an ending but without the pain and energy of working towards giving birth. “Giving birth, giving birth, giving birth…” became the mantra of my busy mind. Then the manta shifted to “I am giving birth… but not to another. I am giving birth to myself!” The process of the flow, peak, and wane is to give birth. I am giving birth to myself, to me. With each wave and flow of energy I am a step closer to releasing the menses process and giving birth to self… I am in transformation! How amazing is this thought? To me, very exciting! With these electrifying thoughts pervading my heart and soul I began to take a closer look at how I can help myself move into my second adulthood with grace.
My first step toward grace is knowledge that I am not alone in the process. I am blessed to have an understanding husband, who enjoys continuous laughter and as to where we might find things in our home; milk in the dresser draw and socks in the refrigerator – metaphorically speaking of course! (Then again…) I am sanctified with a great team of friends, gifted practitioners, and two fabulous Naturopathic doctors right at my fingertips. This knowing brings solace in that I am supported by such good, kind and caring people along my journey.
Being in grace for me is not a goal to be attained, but to live in every day and I do this by reminding myself that moment by moment, breath by breath I am free to choose how I respond to others, or I ask myself can I stay right here right now with what is? Can I feel my own feelings? And, most importantly; how shall I act on this thought, this emotion? By letting go of the space between what’s ended and what is yet to begin I open myself up to the opportunity to what is now. Perhaps this space, in the wild-borderlands of my soul’s journey I am beginning to trust my own inner compass to guide me onward.
I may not be able to create a “How-To” list for happiness and grace for the next chapter of my life, but here’s a recipe to work with, develop, and become a chef in my own life by using the ingredients I already have in my pantry.
Turn my attention from what’s missing in my life to what’s present
Don’t rush the process. Move slowly and deliberately in this new phase
Be still and go deep
Let old layers shed, old defenses dropped, old demons confronted – the only way out is through
Stop striving, judging and doubting, and experience the peace of being present to whatever is actually happening.
Cultivate the wide-open, limitless gifts of attention and acceptance
Allow transformation to take place
Be sculpted, renewed, changed
Remember Joseph Campbell’s words “The purpose of the journey is compassion”
The task is to let the change happen…