Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him-
Something about that chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.
Source: Carol Ann Duffy, The World’s Wife
I can’t remember who gifted me ‘The World’s Wife’. Looking at it’s sleeve, it was first published in 1999. But I return to it often. From the reflections of Midas’ wife, (spoiler alert, she retires to the coast!), to the heart-felt story of Herod’s, it invites us to revisit a well-known story from a fresh perspective.
In menopause, many of our expectations are shaped by the stories we inherit. And, because the generation that went before us didn’t have access to the knowledge and growing (limited but building!) research into female health, those stories may be negative. As significantly, those in our family we talk to may not have associated symptoms, experiences, life decisions with their own menopause. From depression to imposter syndrome, from relationship breakdowns to weight gain, our mothers, our aunts, our grandmothers were taught even less about their biology.
So, how do you get out of your own head and look at your story through a different lens?
- Listen to those that love you: have you learned how to accept a compliment? I still struggle. But like Duffy’s poetry, the perspective of others that share your story can provide comfort and confidence. In fact, researchers have found that receiving a compliment about a behaviour or skill activates the striatum, a reward area in our brain, which means we then not only repeat it more, we actually absorb new learning better too. Accepting praise actually makes us smarter!
Most of us are our own hardest critics. Let those you trust share what they love about you. Accept it. Maybe consider jotting what they say down on a piece of paper. A jar of love, that you can dip into and pull a comment from someone you love, whenever you need.
Change the inputs: we talk a lot within this community about reframing midlife as a stepping up point rather than a fading away: find the individuals, the communities, the publications that celebrate ageing, that challenge outmoded perceptions of what it means to be 40, 50, 60. We love @and.bloom for her portraiture, The Guardian has also been running a great series on midlife adventures. How amazing are the two menopausal mates that have featured in this year’s Race Across The World? Look to the cultures where confidence builds in midlife. Holland’s street style is often led by the stunning cycling grey haired women navigating the streets of Amsterdam in vintage finds!
- Stay curious: we’re learning more about midlife all the time. If you’re not feeling well, commit to prioritising you. From returning to your doctor, to booking yourself an Acupuncture session…or heading to your local lido for a cold water swim, make sure you don’t simply settle. Change is hard. But we rarely regret trying something new. Work out what works for you.
My latest experiment? A deep dive into breathwork: a practice I’ve dabbled with through meditation and yoga, but something I’m looking forward to exploring more. From helping me with anxiety to helping me switch off, I’m heading offline for a few days to learn! And will report back..on all of it!
Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
With love, Rebekah and the MPowder Team.
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