Guest blog post by Barbara Voedisch
I reached menopause in my mid-forties with a far more emotional reaction than I was used to having. All of a sudden, I found that I had to manage my energy carefully, that I had to say ‘no’ more often in order to stay balanced. Initially, I also had the feeling that my youth and attractiveness were fading.
The first gray hairs appeared, the elasticity of my skin diminished, and the wrinkles increased. And if I had continued eating as much as before, I would have gained weight rapidly. Fortunately, my appetite adapted to the slower burning of energy.
How are you coping?
How are you coping with menopause? Do you react more irritably, or have you noticed a certain melancholy? Do you sometimes mourn your youth, your earlier days, or your youthful beauty?
I was aware from childhood that life is finite, that everything can be over in the blink of an eye and so I started early to live life to the fullest and not to put off living until tomorrow. But at the beginning of menopause, I suddenly felt that most of my life no longer lay ahead of me as before, but behind me. I had passed the first half of my life. I became more aware than ever of the need not to waste my precious time.
What to do with the remainder of my life?
I asked myself the question: What do I want to do now with the remainder of my life, with all the experience I have gathered? I first drew up a résumé and looked back at my life. I felt infinite gratitude for all the wonderful years, and for my beloved husband with whom I am still happy today after over 30 years.
I also felt that I had already lived everything that was important to me and that my life, even if I had to die at that moment, was in some way already complete. What was there left to do, what was left to discover? What would be my drive? What was essential?
Service to others
Above all, I had no desire to indulge in regaining my youthful attractiveness and my surplus energy. Instead, I opted to immediately carry out an inner parting process with all that I was. Since I had already died many inner deaths over the course of my life, I quickly sensed that this was now another one to which it was wise to surrender myself. Instinctively, I knew that even though it would be uncomfortable, it was wiser not to resist.
Every inner death I have died in my life has awakened me to new life and made me stronger. So, once again, I trusted that this death would have its purpose and be for my own good. I sensed that behind all the challenges was the chance to reinvent myself and emerge stronger.
How do I transform?
I asked myself how? I had already lived out my dreams and no longer had any great goals. The answer came to me in a dream. I dreamt that I would soon die. When I woke up, I knew that I should dedicate my life to service to others and give people all that I can. However, I was also aware that the dream was only symbolic and that my time to leave the earth had not yet come. What should I give and how I asked myself?
The answer was: to teach others to live completely happily, to have fulfilling relationships, to stay young, and to follow one’s purpose in life. What should be different now? I have always done this. I felt that especially now, it was about valuing my energy and giving it only where it would fall on fertile ground.
What about me?
And what about reinventing myself? I didn’t want to invent myself; I didn’t want to limit myself, I just wanted to be myself without expectations. By simply following the natural flow, the natural change, the transformation happened organically. I surrendered to the greater wisdom, to my innermost being.
The result was that I knew more certainly what I wanted, but above all what I no longer wanted. I no longer wanted to spend time with people and projects that didn’t fulfill me.
And lo and behold, I have as much energy as before. Why? Because I’m making better use of the energy I have today. Before, I scattered my excess energy. Today I have less, but I don’t waste it anymore. The bottom line is that the same amount of my energy remains.
And what was wrong with my body? By looking at other mature women, I discovered a beauty and dignity in wrinkles and in gray hair. Perhaps it is in part thanks to my husband, who continues to think I’m the most beautiful woman in the world and shows no desire for younger beauty.
Before I continue: I love beauty, enjoy beautiful clothes, and beautiful surroundings. I have often wondered why women feel that they must dye their hair at the first sign of grayness. So, I started looking for women who did not hide their gray hair for a different kind of beauty. And suddenly I understood that at our age, beauty shows itself rather in charisma, in happiness, in liveliness, in a lust for life, in radiance, and less in whether our hair is dyed or gray.
I also became aware of how much our aging processes are influenced by our inner attitude, by how alive and young we feel, how much we enjoy life and follow our greater destiny. After all, when we come back from vacation, deeply relaxed, we suddenly look and feel a few years younger. I remember my grandma, who even at 92 was younger inside than some women at 30. She didn’t notice her age at all, was interested in everything and lived the most fulfilling years of her life after she turned 70. Happy with herself and her life, she was a great gift to others.
Now, at the age of 53, I have the feeling that the greatest hormonal changes, the inner processes, and the major transformation are behind me, and I enjoy being here. Fortunately, I did not experience any physical symptoms such as hot flashes. Maybe I owe this to my healthy lifestyle, 27 years of vegetarian food, 17 years sugar-free, yoga, and regular exercise.
Taking extra care to the body
But even when my body wasn’t rebelling, I felt changes. I realized that the older I get, the more I need to do for my body. I have to pay attention to healthy eating and exercise. My body no longer copes well with going to bed late. I go to bed early, treat myself to my beauty sleep, and get up early and full of energy. Rigid discipline, however, is not the last word of wisdom for me either. After all, I also want to enjoy the second half of my life. So, I combine joie de vivre and enjoyment with a pinch of discipline.
Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t, and that is just fine. Having accompanied several women physically and psychologically through menopause, I know we are all in the same boat. Especially in a society where youthfulness is considered so important, it is imperative to enrich and strengthen each other. Together we can give more meaning to values like maturity, wisdom, and inner beauty. Together we can learn to see and embrace the gifts of menopause. May wisdom, kindness, love, and the pure joy of life accompany you.
Here are my best tips for you to get through menopause happily:
1. Consciously say goodbye to youth, the first half of life. Let go of regret, see the infinite richness of your life and the value of your experiences.
2. Be grateful for what you have experienced, the good as well as the bad. Embrace your life and everything in it.
3. Ask yourself what you want to do with the second half of your life. Realize that you have no time to waste.
4. Consider your wishes and dreams. What do you want to experience?
5. Be kind to yourself. If you are bad-tempered and no longer recognize yourself, observe your behavior. Be aware that your hormones are going crazy.
6. Do sports, eat healthily, take care of your body. Women who do not exercise regularly are three times more likely to have hot flashes than women who exercise. Endurance sports in particular (running, swimming, cycling) help the body to better regulate temperature fluctuations. Exercise also prevents osteoporosis and helps you maintain your weight when the body’s energy needs decrease.
7. Reinvent yourself, or rather, just be yourself. You don’t have to live up to expectations anymore. Listen to the wisdom of life.
9. Share your gifts, but take care of yourself first.
10. The time when you were always there for others or your job is now your time. Time for you!
11. Some helpful and rejuvenating foods: pomegranate, avocado, fresh turmeric root, yarrow, and ginger.