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Contemplating Life After Menopause

Posted Sep 07 2011 3:26pm

tuolumne river afternoon © lynette sheppard

During the worst of the menopause transition, we goddesses crave silence. The slightest noise can be an irritant, causing our shoulders to raise up to ear level and our jaw to clench hard enough to crack fillings. The cat breathing, the husband chewing his cereal, the freaking neighbor blowing the lame-ass leaves off his STUPID DRIVEWAY,.. where was I? Oh yes, noise irritation.

As with the majority of the travails of this passage, hypersensitivity to sound passes. We regain a semblance of auditory equanimity, although we may still be fans of quietude.

Still, there is something important to be gained from these annoyances that can serve us in the search for vibrance in our second adulthood. I’m talking about contemplation.

No, I’m not advocating naval gazing or oming or pillow sitting although these are all valuable practices. And good on you if you already avail yourself of these.

Mostly I’m talking about carving out time and space in a busy lifestyle to slow down, to listen, and to hear our own voices calling out from the silence. So many of the questions of midlife and second adulthood might only be answered with purposeful, contemplative breaks in the action.

Questions like: “What is my passion?” or :”What are my passionettes?” “What does it mean to me to age gracefully?” “How might I give back, what legacy shall I leave, if any?” And perhaps most important, “Who am I becoming?”

I just returned from a “vacation” in the High Sierra where Dewitt and I were able to contemplate literally all day long. Wandering aimlessly, appreciating, and photographing the natural beauty of the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River each day renewed and refreshed us. The rushing white noise of the river and the turtle speed pace allowed my inner voice to surface.

It’s easy to slow down and listen in such an environment. Still, I’d like to make contemplation a part of my everyday life, even more than it is at present.

Reading is a meditation for me. As is photographing. Sometimes, though, the story or artful subject is so compelling that I get lost in it and no longer am hearing my inner voice. How then, might I craft contemplative time, even if only in bits and pieces?

Years ago, I bought a couple of small, powerful books. I just pulled them off the shelf again. Being Home by Gunilla Norris with photos by Greta D. Sibley is a series of meditations having to do with everyday life. Her little vignettes/prayers deal with such weighty subjects as “making the bed” and  “taking out the trash”.

Approaching housework as meditation can create the same open receptivity as sitting by the river. It’s a matter of intention and focus. I have the intention – these little mantras provide the focus. I’m going to avail myself of at least one each day until it becomes ingrained, as natural as the flowing of water. I suspect that it might take a while, but creating a delicious second adulthood is a process not an endgame.

My other little hardbound manifesto is called The Art of Doing Nothing by Veronique Vienne, photographed by Erica Lennard. This little guide to rest an relaxation boasts tiny chapters on the arts of yawning, procrastinating, lounging, napping, and more.
I plan to indulge in at least one of these practices of “being:” in the midst of all my “doing” each day. Perhaps as I bring these gifts more into my life, I will realize that they are not indulgences, but necessities for growing myself.

I’ll keep you all posted on my “progress”. I’d love to know how each of you incorporates contemplation in your life, how you connect with that inner wisdom, and what you have learned. The synergy we create with our sharing leads to exponential growth and positive change. Just ask the Venuses! I don’t know what I’d do without them. Or without all of you! Just sayin’….

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