IS THERE AN ELEPHANT IN YOUR LIVING ROOM?
I recently heard an interview with Jane Fonda on YouTube. When she turned 60, she referred to this time of life as her 3rd Act. Her words resonated with me. During the end of my 2nd act, menopause brought a lot of change. I’ve been recreating myself by answering some big questions. When my 3rd Act started last Autumn, I felt prepared to venture into unchartered territory.
Interestingly the tumultuous times of the past decade have coincided with hormonal changes in my body. My foot surgeon told me that the changes to my feet that led to reconstructive foot surgery were caused by hormones. I was ready for hot flashes, mood swings but certainly not major surgery. Who knew?
I was 49 when my first posterior tib tendon blew. The reason why was collagen. If you’re experiencing foot issues mid-stream, you may want to read this article:
When I was a teenager estrogen, progesterone and testosterone affected my body, mind and behavior – the same was true for me once again when the Big M arrived and the peri-M, perhaps more so.
Men too experience the effects of menopause although it goes under a different guise, the ‘mid-life crisis’. Men don’t go through a defined period like women but make no mistake about it, testosterone is declining and with that can come fatigue, weakness, sexual problems and depression according to WebMD. They say that some doctors are noticing that men are reporting some of the same symptoms that women experience.
A tidbit from the Mayo Clinic for the guys:
When I was a teenager with hormones fully in control of my mind and body, I spent a lot of time considering what I was going to do when I grew up. The main question for me was what kind of work will I do? Everything else was a given.
I knew I would live an active life because I was sporty. Travel would be a priority. I knew I would get married and I assumed I would have children. It was part of my cultural norm. I am surprised that I never had children but that’s a story for a different day. :>)
I considered all sorts of things for a career. I had no guidance save one teacher who it turns out gave me some unfortunate advice. If I had had children, I would have taught them at an early age to question who they listened to.
Depending on the day, I wanted to be a journalist, a psychologist and a forest conservationist. Without knowing it, I was searching for a way to make a living that would be in alignment with my values. I didn’t understand that I had values. I thought a ‘good value’ was a bargain at the supermarket, not an ethical direction to live by. I considered these careers choices because I ‘liked’ to write, to help people and hike in nature – all of which represent values that are near and dear, but that alluded me then.
Becoming a forest conservationist fell by the wayside quickly because I spent more time flirting with boys in science class than I did studying. I received my first ‘C’ in Biology and because of this perceived failure, I deemed myself, ‘not good at science’. Unfortunate.
It was a most circuitous route that eventually lead me to the finance industry. There I flourished until one day, I was disenchanted so I quit. My values were being compromised.
Once again, I asked, “What shall I do?”
My 50’s were a journey to help me rediscover two things that I love – writing and helping people. This time, I understand the values that motivate me.
Christiane Northrup MD who wrote the Wisdom of Menopause says, “Any important issues that you’ve not dealt with before the Big M will become big elephants looming in your living room.”
I suppose that’s another way of saying if we don’t learn the lesson, the lesson will keep showing up. It took me a long time to realize that when the road got particularly rocky, it was because I wasn’t following my values. I was making fear-based decisions.
The beauty of beginning my 3rd act, is that I’m much wiser. I lead an examined life. I’ve done the work.
I read a blog that said, “It’s not in your head, it’s in your hormones”. . If you’re experiencing the up’s and downs of hormonal changes, I invite you to get in touch with your values. Like the oars of a kayak, they’ll help you ride the waves, big and small.
Although I am currently taking a time-out from coaching to write and launch a podcast, I’d be happy to provide values guidance. It takes a couple of sessions and can easily be done via Skype, Messenger or WhatsApp. You’ll be amazed at the difference this work does for you. You can reach me at email@example.com.