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Sacred Menopause… & some exciting news…

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{the beauty of rosehips is that they contain all the stored potency of the entire cycle of the flower – from bud to bloom to seed. Such is the power of a woman at menopause.}

If you’ve been reading closely, you know that the last year or so has been a time of deep transformation for me. I slowed down, and said goodbye to pursuits, people, and ways of being that were no longer feeding my soul. I stripped my life down to the bare bones, spent the whole of a winter on the couch healing body and soul, then emerged, little by little adding flesh to the bones again, fleshing out a more deeply fulfilling and authentic life.

This slowing down and stripping down was not a conscious choice. My body, in its deep wisdom, made the choice for me. I was exhausted and depleted, and not entirely aware that, beneath the surface, I was birthing a new self. My body was rebeling; I felt it was betraying me. Now I understand the primal wisdom of my body was guiding me on a journey of renewal and transformation.

On the full moon last May, my 50th birthday and the day we celebrate the Buddha’s enlightenment, I was high in the mountains breathing thin cold air, looking out at impossibly expansive vistas, bathing in sacred hot springs. I was also bleeding, heavily. As we do. What I didn’t know as I celebrated the day was that I was celebrating the day of my last bloods; the first day of my journey into the realm of the wise-woman.

This is one way of telling my menopause story. There are other ways I could tell the story. I could tell the medical story – the un-fun gorey details of hitting a wall with my neglected hormonal health, and the difficulty of finding real support within our medical system. I could tell the emotional story – there’s a share of fear, isolation, loss, and sadness alongside the rediscovery, transformation and celebration. I could tell the social/political story – how angry I am about the role society seems determined to foist upon me as a “middle-aged woman,” and how disappointed I have become with our very narrow and sad view of aging. Those stories are all true, and they are also very, very important. Like our birth stories, they need to be shared fully in circles of women, so we can learn from, witness, comfort, teach, and encourage one another.

But the story I really want to tell is bigger. It is a story that encompasses all the other stories, the story that weaves the whole experience together and makes everything make sense, from the celebration on sacred mountaintops to the lonely and excruciating wait for ultrasound results. It’s the story of a sacred initiation.

And this is what I know menopause to be. A sacred initiation into the second half of life – the half of life where we begin to live for ourselves, sometimes for the very first time. The unspoken truth about menopause is not a truth of loss and diminishment, but a truth of freedom, authenticity, emancipation, creativity, juice, and joy. A funny thing happens in that menopausal year – we find ourselves saying, simultaneously “I’ve had enough!” and “I want more!”

{photo via decodreamscometrue}

{photo via decodreamscometrue}

Long-neglected dreams resurface and demand fulfillment. The floodgates of creativity – and, yes, sensuality – can break open. Toxic, boring, draining, and otherwise soul-sucking situations and people suddenly become intolerable, and out of the blue we find the gumption to let them go. We embrace “no.” And we embrace “YES.” To our own surprise, we start feeling more beautiful, better about our body, then we have for a long time – maybe ever.

This is what positive, empowered, sacred menopause can look like. This is what menopause can look like when we feel heard, supported, empowered, and celebrated in our journey. It is what menopause can look like if we have access to the right information, health and wellness support, role models, and the wisdom and experience of women who have been there.

Menopause hasn’t looked like this in our society before. It hasn’t looked sacred, or empowering. It hasn’t looked like something worth celebrating. But we can change that. We are on the brink of changing that. Something like 50% of the women in North America will be 50 and over in the next ten years. That is a force to be reckoned with. That is a revolution waiting to happen.

Which brings me to my own exciting news.

Have you heard of Sacred Pregnancy and the Sacred Living Movement? If you’ve been paying attention at all to the artsy/spiritual women’s community over the last few years then you probably have. Founded by author, holistic family living advocate, and power-house Anni Daulter, the Sacred Living Movement, through their online presence, books, trainings, and online and live retreats, works to educate and empower women worldwide to reclaim the sacred in their experience of pregnancy, childbirth, reproductive health, mothering, relationships, and beyond. The Sacred Living Movement has an amazing leadership team of talented and shiny women – they’ve created a gorgeous book, blog, and magazine, and just in the last two years have led 50 retreats and hundreds of trainings all over the world, helping women to live their daily lives in beauty, sacredness, and authenticity. That’s my idea of right livelihood. I’m sure you can imagine how excited, honoured, and joyful I am to tell you that I’ll be partnering with them to create two new programs, Sacred Menopause (embracing the menopausal journey) and Sacred Wise Woman (aging with sacred beauty, dignity, joy, and wisdom.)

These programs will include live retreats (in amazing places) on-line courses and on-line retreats, and as time goes on, trainings to certify other women to lead Sacred Menopause and Sacred Wise Woman retreats so the work can reach beyond what I am able to facilitate on my own. This is big, lovelies! We’ve got big, sacred work to do. I hope you will join me. The Sacred Menopause website will be up soon, with a full schedule of upcoming online and live retreats {hint: April 2015 in Santa Barbara will be the inaugural retreat…} In the meantime, you can learn more on the Sacred Living website, and follow along on the Sacred Menopause facebook page where I’ll be posting daily inspiration starting tomorrow!

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better.  The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

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Soul Talk – The Artful Life Inspiring Women Podcast – Episode 2, Anne Ortelee

Welcome to Episode Two of my new podcast, Soul Talk. Every two weeks I’ll be sharing my deep, soulful conversations with exceptional, creative women. We’ll talk about living well, nurturing our spirits, caring for ourselves abundantly, and growing deeper in our wisdom.

In Episode Two, I talk to wise, witty, and wonderful astrologer Anne Ortelee. We talk about the practical and the esoteric in astrology, working deeply with the moon cycles, creating personal ritual, how to keep a moon journal, the characters of each of the planets, and what Anne means when she says “If it’s in your heart, it’s in your chart!”

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About Anne

Anne is a long-time resident of New York City, where she began her study of astrology in the fall of 1994.

Since then, she has taught thousands of clients and students how to harness their own cosmic potential, understand and master the patterns of their lives, and handle problem areas as productively as possible. In addition to offering personal consultations, Anne teaches numerous classes and workshops, hosts (or co-hosts) four weekly podcasts, including the Weekly Weather, and is the author of the popular Weekly Weather blog.

She has been certified as a professional astrologer by the three major astrology organizations operating in the United States – the National Council for Geocosmic Research (NCGR), the American Federation of Astrologers (AFA), and the International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR).  Last year, she was chosen to lecture at the United Astrology Conference in New Orleans, a gathering of thousands of top astrologers from all around the world.  She is also on the Board of Directors of the C.G. Jung Foundation in New York.

Prior to discovering astrology, her career included stints as a methods, procedures, and statistical analyst; a computer programmer; a technical software saleswoman; and the owner of a computer consulting firm.  She worked for four years at the nation’s second largest beverage company, traveling coast to coast to install computer systems that keep track of every vending machine, visi cooler, and soda fountain in America!

She holds a B.S. in psychology with minors in biology and philosophy from Saint Bonaventure University.

Our unique natal charts are like maps. If we read them, they can guide us toward happier, more meaningful, and more productive lives.  If it’s in your heart, it’s in your chart! Learn more about Anne at www.anneortelee.com. 

{A couple of things to note before you listen: this interview was recorded in late August, and this is reflected in some of Anne’s references to upcoming astrological events. Also, August was before I invested in some nice sound equipment, so the sound quality of the actual interview is pretty good but has a few glitchy moments:)}

I know you will enjoy my conversation with Anne:

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Tsandi Crew - Can I get the interview with Anne Ortelee on a CD?
There is so much information I have to listen over and over.

Bronwyn - Hi Tsandi, I know, isn’t it a rich interview? We don’t have it on CD, but you can access it here anytime and listen as many times as you’d like. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

Have you set your goals for November?

November-goals It’s that time again – time to create your monthly vision board and goals.

This ritual has become a valued moment of self-reflection for me each month, and the collages, which I create directly in my planner, become touchstones for how I want to feel throughout the month. I check in with the image almost every day, and it helps me to stay focused on my most important goals, and to keep my mood positive and my actions aligned with my greater vision for my life. If you’d like to learn more about my process and how to make a goals collage yourself, read this post. If you’d like to see my monthly goals collages over the years, go here.

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet here at The Artful Life recently. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes. I’ve been making space, in all kinds of ways, for new creative work. I’ve been cleaning my beautiful studio from top to bottom. It’s 750 square feet of high-ceilinged, light-filled post-and-beam gorgeousness that my sweetie built for me a few years ago. During the time of my ceramics business, I worked in the studio all day every day, the kiln keeping me warm and toasty through dark wet winter days. When I let that business go, I closed the doors on my studio, and for over a year, it collected dust and accumulated boxes of things that had no other home. It stood dusty, neglected, cluttered, and sad. I’ve spent the Autumn clearing that space, and in the process, re-birthing my creative self.

When you let go, it opens up new spaces in yourself, spaces in which new and wonderful things can begin. Letting go, clearing interior space, is hard work. It can be painful and scary. It can bring up feelings of shame and loss. It takes courage. But this is true: When you let go, you invite miracles. And miracles begin to happen.

So I have spent the Autumn doing this hard work of letting go and clearing out. I’ve had wonderful help and support. And I didn’t know I was inviting miracles, but miracles have happened. And right now, I am standing in a place of awe and excitement and celebration. I can’t wait to share with you how some of these miracles have manifested – I’m beginning something new that you are going to LOVE – but I do have to wait, just a little longer, to tell you about it, so stay tuned.

I’m feeling the creative fire, and that’s what this month’s inspiration collage is all about. Lighting the creative fire to ward off the cold rains of November.

What’s happening in your life? What support do you need to give to yourself in order to invite miracles? Can you take some time soon to get your monthly intentions down on paper? Try making an inspiration collage, like mine, to portray the qualities and feelings you want to manifest this month.

Wishing you a warm and creative November!

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better.  The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

 

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Full Moon in Taurus – A Matter of Life and Death

full-moon-in-taurus

It’s Full Moon again! Full Moons bring fruition and revelation. What seeds did you sow at the last New Moon? How have they taken root? Now is the time to look at those New Moon intentions and decide what to do next. Time to consider what needs to be released. Time to slow down a little and consider the places in your life that are full, ripe, and abundant – celebrate the fullness and practice gratitude. At the same time, consider the things that have reached their peak or natural ripeness, and need to be transformed or released or diminished. Want less of something in your life? Say so now, and watch it dwindle as the moon wanes.

During today’s rich Taurus Full Moon we celebrate the Scorpio/Taurus polarity (our Sun is in Scorpio now of course.) Life and death, fertility and decay, beginnings and endings, blossoms and roots. Is there a place in your life now where you feel you are standing on the threshold between what you have left behind and what has not yet quite begun? The back of my property is covered in a gorgeous thicket of wild roses. At this time of year, the thicket bears hundreds of beautiful rosehips – little hard red fruit full of tiny seeds – fruit born from the withering of the beautiful rose bloom. What is coming to fruition in your life? Are you busy mourning the withered flower and unable to see the rich store of seeds it left behind?

Taurus time is always about what we value, what makes us feel good, and what makes us feel secure. At the same time, Scorpio is challenging us to dive deep and let go. Finding our own personal, unique balance in this polarity is how we come into our sense of personal power and sovereignty. We know when to hold on and when to let go. We know when to assert our worldly power and when to surrender to cosmic power. We know when and how to revel in the joys of the sensual world, and when to release into the joy of transcendence. It’s all about values, power, and desire.

Questions to reflect upon this Moon:

Are my values aligned with my soul’s vision?

Do I allow myself to relax into the simple, sensual pleasures of my life?

Am I being true to my desires?

How can I better nurture my feminine power and my sacred sexuality?

How can I balance letting go with feeling safe?

Full Moon Blessings from your loving Taurus Sister!

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better.  The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

 

 

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Soul Talk – The Artful Life Inspiring Women Podcast – Episode 1, Ronna Detrick

On this beautiful day of the Autumn Equinox, I am thrilled to share the very first episode of my new podcast, Soul Talk. Every two weeks I’ll be sharing my deep, soulful conversations with exceptional, creative women. We’ll talk about living well, nurturing our spirits, caring for ourselves abundantly, and growing deeper in our wisdom.

In Episode One, I talk to speaker, writer, and sacred conversationalist Ronna Detrick. We talk about retelling sacred stories, claiming midlife power, re-inventing Eve, befriending our desire, and self-care at its most profound.

ronna detrick

About me, Ronna Detrick, M.Div.

You might think that because I have a Master of Divinity degree, work with clients as a “spiritual director,” and am the former wife of a pastor that I have answers about god, an unshakeable faith, and am a devout church-attendee. You’d be mistaken.

I talk about faith because I doubt. I talk about the sacred and the divine because I hope. And I create safe and beautiful spaces for these kind of conversations (and then some) because I believe that women are hungry for ways to craft and experience a life that is whole, holy even; “spiritual” in a way that oozes authenticity, integrity, strength, and passion.

I am privileged to have rich, winsome, strong conversations about life, about relationships, about work, about you – and about the ways in which every single one of these things is sacred. Listening to your stories and offering you new ones; looking for (and even expecting) signs and symbols to show up, to guide, to encourage; wondering together about a way of believing, hoping, and seeing/experiencing your life in deeply spiritual-and-sacred, whole-and-holy ways.”

Please enjoy my conversation with Ronna:

For more information on Ronna, you can visit her website and blog, or find her on Facebook,  or Twitter. To hear more of her wise voice, you can watch the video of her TEDtalk, Redeeming Eve, Reimagining Everything.

Wishing you a happy and blessed Autumn Equinox!

About Bronwyn: Bronwyn Simons’ vision is of a world where we are all able to live daily lives of deep connection, purpose, and joy. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and retreat leader whose work has touched and transformed hundreds of women’s lives for the better. Her next big adventure is the Artful Living in Mexico retreat at gorgeous Hacienda Mosaico in November 2014. The Artful Life Blog provides a daily touchstone for women seeking to live more soul-satisfying lives.

 

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Renee - Great first podcast! Looking forward to your next one!

Bronwyn - Thank you Renee!