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It’s quite possible that, like me, you’re experiencing the roller coaster ride otherwise known as peri-menopause (which, by the way, starts at about age 35 whether you feel it or not). Anyway, peri-menopause has kind of taken me for a loop lately. On the one hand, I’m lucky: I don’t have any serious symptoms that have me questioning my sanity (most of the time!), but I am starting to feel at odds with a body that I have long understood. At 47, I got my first pair of reading glasses, and over the holiday break, discovered I need a stronger prescription just two years later. Out of nowhere, I’m gaining weight without any real change in food intake or activity level. I’m seeing tiny lines where none previously existed. I’m a little more forgetful. And what’s up with my hair?
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I know I’m lucky. I’ve gotten this far in my life with a pretty good idea how to make my body look and feel good. I know what to eat, when. I know when a food doesn’t agree with me. I know how to keep a regular sleep cycle. I know to move my body.
Except, lately, it doesn’t seem to matter that I do all the ‘right’ things.
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The last straw fell with the grace of a boulder today when, almost 11 days into a fresh commitment to exercise and 8 days into my annual pledge of a sugar-free January, I pulled on a pair of jeans for the first time in a month. With difficulty. Jeans that fit not four weeks ago barely made it over my hips. Seriously? Let me be clear, also: while I did enjoy the holidays, I didn’t indulge to the point of craziness – and in decades past, a week without sugar and a little extra exercise would have erased excess holiday calorie consumption.
Clearly, my body is changing.
Frankly, I’m not comfortable with that.
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It’s not that I resent the process of aging. I’m grateful for the opportunity. What makes me uncomfortable is that I no longer see a direct cause and effect with my choices. Strategies that worked for me in the past no longer work. While I don’t want to give this thought a whole lot of energy, if I’m honest (and I’m being honest here), I’m more than a little concerned that I don’t know how to live in this changing body. I’m on a very steep learning curve to figure it out.
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All of these physical changes, of course, are taking place at the same time that I am experiencing emotional, environmental and home-life changes, too. As you may know, I’m back at university doing my masters degree. What you don’t know are the reasons I’ve chosen to pursue higher education at this point in my life. It’s a long story that I won’t go into right now, but suffice it to say that my needs changed. I felt pulled – or pushed – to change course in my life.
Are you experiencing that push/pull right now – like something is missing or you need more? It’s pretty common in women who’ve finished having babies, and have raised young adults (plus, in my case, one teen at home still requiring some finishing parental touches.) According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, women’s brains chain during peri-menopause, making us less inclined to having such a strong drive for nurturing others and more interested in ourselves and our personal growth. I’ll take a wild guess that this might happen because women now live much longer than we have historically, much past the expiry of fertility. Women now live at least a third and sometimes half their lives after menstruation ends. (In the past, we’d be called Crones. I detest that word. Let’s use Sage instead, shall we?)
So, as women physically change, we change mentally and emotionally too. Just as we become strangers in our bodies, we become strangers to the way we perceive the world. Our habitual responses to circumstances and people no longer appear or longer not suffice. It’s no wonder that we might feel confusion right now. For me, nothing is the same, and my way of living no longer seems to fit my new reality. I am between who I was and who I will be. Or, as Carl Jung said much more eloquently:
Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.
Does any of this resonate for you?
If so, I’ve started a forum or group for women going through peri-menopause and menopause that will be a resource for sharing and caring – you know, that thing that women do so well. Women will be invited to post questions and concerns, and to share what has worked for them in terms of symptom relief, emotional support, career guidance, relationship advice (partners, kids, friends, extended family). Heck, we never know what will face us at this time of our lives!
This forum will not cost a penny. It will be like having tea with the girls. Afternoon Tea. That’s what we’ll call it. It will be a group that allows us to share and care about being in the afternoon of our lives – together. We’ll have a few rules: for example, people can’t go on there and inundate us with ads for their products and services, because it’s not about that. It won’t be a fishing hole for practitioners and vendors. Unless and until it becomes burdensome, I’ll approve new posts. I’ll gather together some of my friends and colleagues in natural health and wellness, as well as other areas of concern for women, and invite them to join us for tea.
If so, there are a few ways to participate. I’ve created a page on Facebook called Afternoon Tea. Here’s the link: http://on.fb.me/159RRQT Please join us there. If you aren’t on Facebook, I will continue to make blog posts on my website (LisaPetty.ca) and you can chime in there. I can’t promise identical information, but I will do my best.
Hope to see you for tea!
Until next time,
I wish you vibrant health and a beautiful day!