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Sacred Menopause… & some exciting news…

Screenshot 2014-11-12 21.12.45

{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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greg brown - vary beutifull

Marilyn Wan - This is really exciting Bronwyn! I look forward to participating in one of the retreats. Can I say again what a wonderful writer you are? Your posts are so beautifully written-poignant, wise and often peppered with a good sense of humour. Thanks for articulating so eloquently the challenges and joys of this sacred journey. Marilyn

Corinna - It is still a while until I will reach menopause but I have seen my mom going through it and it wasn’t graceful. There wasn’t much support and understanding and it was more or less the thing you didn’t talk about.
I am looking forward to your new endeavour. Would I be allowed to join as non-menopausal woman?
Sending you greetings from Switzerland, Corinna

Bronwyn - Yes Corinna you would be most welcome. We are all on the same journey as women. o am sorry to say that your mom’s experience is typical. We are out to change that. <3

Bronwyn - Marilyn, thank you so much!! AND of course I would love to have you come to a retreat!!!

Bronwyn - Thank you Greg!