Mindfulness of The Autumn of our Lives
This blog post aims to provide women with a language to express their experience of perimenopause by comparing our life cycle with the seasons. It can be challenging to articulate the changes we are experiencing to friends and loved ones. A woman’s body is an intricate system with constantly shifting moods and energy. This is experienced throughout the menstrual cycle, and can be even more pronounced through perimenopause (or menopause transition). When we compare a woman’s life cycle to the seasons Spring being puberty and our teenage years. Summer our fertile years. Autumn, perimenopause and early menopause and finally Winter, later menopause (age 70).
The Autumn Season of A Woman’s Life
If we think about the season of Autumn – it is a season of transformation. Leaves change colour and fall, fertilising the soil for the next season. There’s a letting go of what’s no longer needed. Just as in the Autumn season we begin to slow down and look inward, the Autumn of our life is an opportunity for self-connection and to nurture ourselves in new ways to stay vital and preserve our effervescence.
How Society Views Perimenopause
The physical attributes of this life stage are hot flushes and “hormonal”. With a level of stigma in society– perimenopausal women are often viewed as irrational and moody. Coupled with a media industry obsessed with youth and the “sex goddess” – if we are not conscious and connected with ourselves we could start to doubt our value and place in the world.
Harnessing the Power of Perimenopause
The “hormonal” element can be seen as a spark to be channelled. When we are hormonal we often take less bull**** and are more decisive. This is not a bad thing. However this energy needs to be harnessed and used wisely to prevent rash decisions. Mindfulness skills come in handy here, allowing us to respond rather than react harshly, and possibly regrettably in the longer term. This is why we suggest you make an “Autumn List” of big decisions you want to make – and take your time with these with very careful consideration.
The Harvest of Our Lives
Autumn is also the harvest time when crops mature – all our life lessons, experiences, successes, failures shine as an inner knowing, an inner wisdom. A new gift we can offer the world.
Suggested Journal Questions
Over the coming week we invite you to mindfully contemplate the Autumn of your life with kindness and curiosity. How do you feel about this lifestage? What can you let go of and clear out? How can you best meet your current needs? Do you have any items for your Autumn List?
Poem: Autumn from “Seasons of the Witch”
Listen to our excerpt recording below of “Seasons of the Witch” by Patricia Monaghan for further food for thought on this topic.
Seasons of the Witch (excerpt from Autumn), by Patricia Monaghan
“As she moves through autumn, a woman feels a passionate connection with all life. Yet, wise in the seasons of living, she can be unsentimental, even pitiless. She does not try to nurture everything and everyone, for she knows not all can – should – survive. She becomes selective. There is enough of everything – strength, love, passion, lust – everything but time.
Time she knows grows short. Nothing seems endless anymore. Her life grows full of endings: parents and friends die, animals she has loved disappear in a gasp, dreams fade beyond reclaiming. She does not recognise, when the death starts that fall has begun. But later she will remember: After that one, it was never the same.
Never again will she hold a living body without knowing the fragility of its life, the closeness of its death.
She finds she has limits. Her energy falters, her mind drifts, her patience snaps. She begins to husband her- self, to save herself for what really matters. She has seen enough to guess the trajectory of most events, to hold herself back from repeating old mistakes. She knows now that some energy is wasted. So sometimes she seems parsimonious, unwilling to expend in waste. But other times she is generous. That old coat? Give it away. That pretty pin? Oh, do take it. The half-finished book? No, it’s yours. She does not need to cling to what she has out- lasted. Things leave her: she does not need it all.
Fall consumes a woman many times before and after middle life, whenever the time demands that she become decisive. She empties her womb of conception; she leaves a convent, a marriage, a career; she puts a loved old pet to sleep. She cleans a closet, gives away old books, cuts off her hair. Autumn moods find her free and vibrant, impatient of delusions, ready to do whatever she needs to do. For she knows what she needs, and she wants it fiercely. For every false dream that dies, a true one is remembered. She climbs mountains to stand in alpenglow, she gallops out on a magnificent horse, she paints her secrets and nightmares. She bears a last and cherished child; she remembers passion with an old friend; she writes her own, her individual story. She knows what memories she needs to store, to provide her winter years.
The autumn woman moves towards dreamtime. Though she knows her limits, she has also felt limitless.
There is a transcendent energy about her, but she remains rooted in life’s imminent realities. In her eyes you see the fire of primal knowledge: the knowledge of life and death. She knows that she will not escape this life alive. And so she embraces it, moment by moment.”