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Dancing with Menopause and Midlife

Posted Nov 17 2009 3:57pm

P1140482 hula topaz

If life is a dance, Menopause just might be an unwanted dance partner. But we can’t refuse to dance, so we just have to find new steps or laugh when we can’t remember the old ones.

This past week I was attending a Hawai`ian Healing and Hula workshop with Kumu Hula (Hula Master) Kawaikapuokalani Hewett. The workshop was organized by Holistic Honu Wellness Center in Sacramento, California. Yep, hula in Sacramento even though I live in Hawai`i.

Hula is a fantastic discipline for Menopause Goddesses. Firstly, it offers low impact aerobic conditioning. You gain flexibility in your body AND your mind. Learning the songs and chants are a great exercise for training memory – and you have the added benefit of learning it in a new language which stretches the old brainpan even more.

I’ve been dancing hula for about ten years now. I started before the word Menopause ever crossed my mind. While I like to think that my dancing has improved over time, thanks to the Big M, there are occasional glitches I couldn’t have foreseen.

Case in point:  we had just learned a new dance and as is the norm, each row of dancers moved up to the front in turn to practice the full song in front of our Kumu. I was feeling pretty good, I knew the words, steps, and gestures so it was with no anxiety or trepidation that I moved forward with my row of hula sisters and brothers.

Suddenly, as the first strains of the beautiful music began, a volcanic vent opened inside me. Fiery heat spread through my entire body; I began sweating like a pua`a (pig), and my mind went truly blank. It was as if the screen in my mind were wiped clean. I got an image of those gray Magic Slates we had as children where we could write or draw on them with a special “pen” and then pull it up and away from the backing to completely erase all marks. That was my mind. A hot flash had just erased EVERYTHING!

Well, time and hula wait for no one, so the music began. And I limped through the song, praying for snow and for my memory to return.  By the end of the song, the tropical tantrum was easing off and I managed to eke out a finish while my dignity just packed up and left me.

So I did what I always do in these circumstances.  I laughed. Deep in my belly and down to my toes.

And  then I sat at dinner with my hula sisters ( Big hugs to you, Jeane and Janny) and we shared our Menopause stories from blank slates to volcanic hot flashes to memory loss moments.  These fabulous women even wrote a song together a few workshops back about Menopause and memory loss.  Trouble is they can’t remember the words anymore. But hey, they still remember the sentiment.  And we’ll never forget the hilarity.

In hula, it’s much less important that you dance a song with technical perfection than that you dance with your whole heart and soul. The same can be said of life. Including and maybe especially the second half of life. So that’s my goal:  to be fully present to the dance; all the changes and all the new steps, with openness, grace, and a fully developed sense of humor.

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