My heart knows what’s right for me.
For some people fall is their favourite time of year, time to get out sweaters, light the fireplace, look at the leaves’ splendid colour show. For others, it’s the beginning of a long cold winter with low light and low moods.
If you are one of those who is challenged by the Northern climate and lack of light, give yourself permission to be extra gentle with yourself right now. Often, that’s all it takes (and some sunshine vitamin D). Isn’t it the biggest challenge sometimes, for women to put ourselves on the list, to care for ourselves the way we take care of our siblings, partners, children and parents. Even our pets get more TLC than we do. There’s no use feeling guilty, though, about our need for self-nurturing, and no use getting resentful that someone else isn’t doing it for you. I’m talking about taking some down time, and mothering yourself.
I am hearing from several women lately that their aging parents require lots of care and that it sometimes saps their patience. Another friend is smack in the middle of a mid-life quest – not knowing the path ahead, whether to go back to school, or quit her job, kids grown up and everything in her life up for questioning. Several women I know are sleep-deprived and wary about the coming winter season. I’m feeling pretty balanced right now, but the empty nest must be bothering me more than I realize ‘cause I’m having dreams of crying babies. Actually, that screaming child probably represents my own inner girl child, asking me to pay attention to her needs. It’s easy for me to get busy and forget to feed the feminine within, take care of my body by eating at regular times, going for walks, practicing yoga and meditation, and not getting caught up in the whirlwind of activity. With a new book getting ready to go to the publishers, I’ve been running a little ragged, a little out of breath lately, pushing from the doer side, and not sitting with the ‘being’ or feminine side.
Could it be that the response to feelings of overwhelm and inner angst is to give my inner self more attention? Yes, says Alexandra Pope, psychologist, author of The Woman’s Quest, and specialist on the menstrual cycle and women’s wisdom. The way to come up and out often involves going down and in. If you feel fatigued, exhausted from over giving, or just need to recharge your batteries, don’t feel as if you cannot withdraw a little from the world and have some quiet time. Especially at mid-life, during perimenopause, getting quiet, reflecting on your life and what you want is very important.
Writing in your journal is a very good tool to help you listen in to your own needs. Make a date with yourself at a time when you can be undisturbed, get out some paper and a pen, and ask yourself – what am I feeling? What is it I want more of? What do I want less of? Start with that. Write as little or as much as you have time for, but start the dialogue. Even writing one line a day will help build a habit of self-inquiry. The amazing thing is, the answers really are in there – if you only pay your Self some mind, she’ll tell you how she really feels – behind the mask (which is splitting open, mascara leaking, anyway), behind the polite social smiles, and the good girl sense of duty and stiff upper lip, is a raw open feeling.
The self you may have abandoned or ignored or forgotten about is crying out to be held, rocked and loved. The greatest gift you can give your self is just to listen, with great compassion. Listen, and let the tears come, as they may. When you’re too tired to care anymore, it’s time for self-care.
Just around the bend is a clear path to the surface. Keep your attention on gaining clarity about how and what you feel. Give yourself permission to feel those feelings, even if it doesn’t feel comfortable at first. And if the down feelings don’t go away, reach out for help. Maybe you need some brighter light in your home to help chase the blues away. Or maybe you need to have a long talk with a close friend.
There are many good books out there about the mid-life transition, but the most important thing is to honour your own knowing. Let the season of lying fallow bring its own gifts – the gifts of inwardness, of alone time, being close to the fire and hearth and letting the Heart have its say. Make a list of what you are grateful for, and have a great Thanksgiving weekend!
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