Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hot Flashes and April Snow

In my last journal entry, Eva inquired in the comment section: "Lynne, is it still grey and icy up there? Here the grass is already in full bloom and ready for first cutting."

I have been delayed in replying to this query for a variety of reasons, most of which are a direct result of a sort of torpor my mind and body experience all too frequently these days on account of a naturally occurring biological process. I will spare readers any in-depth graphic descriptions of the symptoms that have become a part of my present state of being--but I should warn you, I will not be socially graceful and attempt to hide the issue at hand in the way that our society expects. This author is now fifty years old and in the midst of "the change" (menopause!), and you may from time to time hear me whimper and moan while I do my best to turn this unpleasantness into some sort of beautiful living poem.

This condition is not a disease, despite the ads of pharmaceutical companies and the treatment philosophy of most gynecologists.

Mental attitude has a lot to do with how you experience menopause. If you see it as a tragic end to youth and sexuality, it will cause you great distress and leave you susceptible to the persuasions of those who will try to sell you eternal youth in the form of pills. If you see it as a natural transition to the next phase of life, you can accept it with serenity and without the help of the medical profession.

--Andrew Weil, M.D.
Natural Health, Natural Medicine

Though I seem to be spared the worst of the symptoms that strike fear in women (and those around them!) I find that the pesky hot flashes, muscle and nerve pains, indomitable fatigue and menstrual upheavals have disrupted my usual smooth way of living. Couple this with the scattered mental state of my thinking brain--where even to put two simple sentences together requires the most determined focus--one begins to understand the reason my personal correspondences, studio work, at home projects and even the Journal of Ravenseyrie have fallen into a relative disorder.

On top of all this, (and here is where I finally answer dear Eva's question) while a good many of you are enjoying the return of spring and fragrant warmth of emerging greenery, our lovely island (being in Northern Canada we shouldn't be surprised) has been twice in the last week treated to a winter-whiplashing.

Welcome to the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve, Manitoulin Island

Now, its, true that I am a charter member of the positive thinker's club and this has made it possible for me to not only live in a region of the world that experiences long, harsh winters, but to truly enjoy and thrive in such austere environs. But I confess! I find myself feeling a little grumpy when waking up to a January landscape in late April!

Yet, it is short-lived angst for such resistance does nothing to improve the situation. Before depression overtakes me, I put maybe just a little more effort and mindfulness into my daily Qigong and Tai Chi exercises, which not only help one embrace menopause without resorting to invasive hormone therapies, but likewise facilitates a much needed mental shift away from deleterious physical and mental resistances.

"In Natural Flow Qigong you allow yourself to participate, without effort, in what is naturally occurring. By doing so you cooperate with the power of the entire universe."--Roger Jahnke

A rereading of some highlighted passages from favourite books is of great assistance, also, in helping me see a better perspective (considering events in Japan, Libya and other regions, puts things in an appropriate perspective, too!)

If there is no joy, ease, or lightness in what you are doing, it does not necessarily mean that you need to change what you are doing. It may be sufficient to change the *how*. "How" is always more important than "what". See if you can give much more attention to the *doing* than to the result that you want to achieve through it. Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents. This implies that you also completely accept what *is*, because you cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.

Become an alchemist. Transmute base metal into gold, suffering into consciousness, disaster into enlightenment.

--Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now

When faced with the realization that the outer world is once again wintry, our disgruntled feline, Mignon uses his own brand of alchemy to change his perception to one of peace and acceptance...he comes back inside and takes a long nap!

The horses here at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve do a much better job of accepting what is, and serve time and again as a source of inspiration that helps me become an alchemist with elements of my little world that feel heavy, painful and lacking in joy. They are so much a part of the environment, much moreso than those of us who dwell in warm, protective buildings with all our many comforts--they have not become as weak and non-accepting as we when the weather is rough. The horses take comfort in their communal groups, retreating to sheltered regions of their landscape during inclement weather and an inherent knowledge that all things pass and goodness prevails. (It helps, too, no doubt that they know Kevin and Lynne will bring food to them in these sheltered spots!)

Lynne Gerard and Kevin Droski
photo taken using the "thermal" image feature of Apple's iPad2 PhotoBooth application

The peaceful shelter of the lee side of the edge of the westerly forest is enjoyed by the family band

And out of the windbreak areas, Kevin and Lynne feel the full force of the elements as they return to the house.

With today's foul weather, I decided to stay home and not go to work at the studio (uncharacteristic of me, as I do not generally indulge in sick days, or "playing hooky".) If we did not live here on this land with these horses, I could let the five a.m. hour drift on by and get out of bed whenever I felt like it. I could schluff around the house drinking coffee and tea and reading books, researching on the web, etc. and not have to go outside until the first spring flowers appear. But I think that type of indulgence would quickly have me come undone...

As light came this morning over Ravenseyrie, we could see even more snow had fallen during the night than expected.

And as many readers may recall, I love a good storm and have a strange desire to be out in it, feeling of the elements, experiencing the harsh discomfort and then coming back to the house only after the needs of the horses have been tended to. The warmth and comfort of our human interior realm is much more appreciated then, and I am mentally and physically recharged from the dynamic experience of being one (if only for a short time) with the storm-swept landscape.

After chores, Kevin and Tobacco enjoy the warmth and comfort of our human interior realm.

The ages and stages of a woman's life provide both tasks to accomplish and attitudes in which to root herself. For instance, if according to the following schema we live to be old enough to enter the psychic place and phase of the mist beings, the place where all thought is new as tomorrow and old as the beginning of time, we will find ourselves entering yet another attitude, another manner of seeing, as well as discovering and accomplishing the tasks of consciousness from that vantage point.

Strength does not come *after* one climbs the ladder or the mountain, nor *after* one "makes it"--whatever that "it" represents. Strengthening oneself is *essential* to the process of striving--*especially before and during*--as well as after.

--Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
Women Who Run With the Wolves

No, I won't insulate myself completely from the weather or rail against it and I won't try to stifle menopause, hide it from others, or pretend that my life isn't changing. It is by running into the wind, by feeling both physically and mentally the rising and falling, flowing and stillness, contradictory and enigmatic elements in the natural world that I find underneath (and pervading through) an acceptance, peace and understanding of myself as just one expression of a cosmic creative force. Observing all that, and sensing that it is me, but also not me, I can choose in what manner I want to participate...and I want to make something beautiful with my existence. I cannot create beauty by resisting hot flashes and April snow (a futile effort anyhow!) but by dancing with them in full awareness. This is how I can sled my toboggan of hay into this winter-whiplash with a song in my heart and a rhythm to my step.

Inner peace has the natural effect of pouring out--as transmission--for the benefit of others. There is no guarantee that your inner peace is going to actualize peace in the world, but it is completely guaranteed that people who have attained inner peace are peaceful with one another. There is no more likely path to world peace than the fostering of inner peace for all the people in the world. While you may not be able to cause peace in others, you can definitely work toward causing peace in your self. This contributes to the critical mass of peacefulness in the world.

Roger Jahnke, O.M.D.
The Healing Promise of Qi

A Sandhill Crane gleans oats and barley from the horses' breakfast

Whether the sun shines, or doesn't shine, whether or not it rains, amidst hardship and the deepest sorrow there is beauty to be found...make the choice to find it...and if you cannot find beauty, empower yourself by creating it.
--Lynne Gerard


June said...

I'm beginning to understand why old people move to Florida. Used to, every spring I'd sort of in my heart of hearts believe that winter was over forever, but now when spring and summer come, it's bittersweet as I know it's only temporary. It could make me want to be where it's warm all the time. Could. But won't. I hope.

Menopause is a kind of death. But in death there is rising. It's a slow rising though.

Your house is lovely.

Máire said...

Oh Lynne, I am smiling at you from here in the mid-west of Ireland. We are having a beautiful April: sun, wildflowers and gorgeous greens, but, believe me, I am with you with all your menopausal symptoms; hot flushes (as we say here), aches in the joints, incredible fatigue and a definite move psychically towards more introversion. And trying to stay with it and live in it. Great quotes as always, and great photos.

Keep well and thank you for sharing your journey.

eva said...


if you ask me: the cats definitely have figured it out.

...And it will not help if I tell you by the time you are 56 you will look back at those hot flashes and say: "Huh? what was that all about?" and that all this interior turbulence will have vanished and the aches remain as a reminder of the "new normal." Last, don't forget that many people would trade a day in your snow storm for years wasted in the stale air of corporate cubes. But i can see how both can get to you.

Our spring in California happens in the middle of winter, and by the time you notice it it's already gone.

Kris McCormack said...

Here in southern NY the world is green, and the deciduous trees are just about ready to pop their buds.. They've got that halo they get when the buds are really fat and ready to burst. Periwinkle (myrtle) is flowering, and so are some daffodils that arrived here of their own accord... The little nasty bugs have arrived, meaning lots of itchy places on horse bodies waiting to be scratched.

The biggest sign of spring of course is that the horses have shiny new coats -- at least on their faces, necks, and rumps. Mid-body there are still remnants of the now-tatty winter coats.

You'll soon be seeing green, too, Lynne.

As for menopause... things are great after. I LOVE no longer having excruciatingly painful periods. Eva, what aches?



Lynne Gerard said...

June wrote:
"Your house is lovely."

Thank you, June. It's quite small (I was sitting at the kitchen table when I took that photo of Kevin in the living room lying on the sofa with Tobacco) but it suits us well.

Maire, Eva, Kris and June--thank you all for your ability to commiserate with my situation with how "the change" is affecting me. It's nice to read what each of your impressions are.

These past few days, a glimmer of a much stronger, clear-headed and dynamic older gal has been my state of being--so I'm seeing great light at the end of the tunnel, even though the tunnel sure still seems long.