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The Surprisingly Spiritual Side Of Menopause

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The Byrds -- a band I am old enough to remember -- sang, "To everything...there is a season." In menopause, it's more like, "To every day, there are several seasons." August is hot and humid in Washington, yet I'm shivering and asking for a blanket. Make that two blankets. Come December, I'm drenched with sweat. And my temperature is not the only thing fluctuating. Did I mention the mood swings? In the morning I'm in the garden, planting parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. By afternoon I might be curled up on the couch, weeping.

Luckily, the stages we go through physically and emotionally help us grow spiritually. I've always tried to control every detail of my life. But from my first hot flash, I knew I wouldn't take hormone replacements. Menopause is like the weather; you can't bend it to your schedule. So I'm letting my body do what it pleases. I am taking care of myself -- exercising more (if my moods are erratic, at least my butt is firm) and eating green vegetables. Even when I don't know what's going on, I'm going with it, tears and all.

And something surprising is happening. Now, instead of taking on water weight every month, I'm letting go of old hurts, insecurities, and regrets I've been dragging around for years. Ceding control over my body has helped me clutch less tightly in other areas. This has made me lighter -- and more powerful. Physically, I may be vulnerable, but I've learned that vulnerability is not the same thing as weakness. Actually, it's like being closer to God.

There's something so crazy and life affirming about being a woman, with the cycles nature puts us through. I realize now that I was never in control, and that control is not what our time on earth is about anyway. It's about seeking peace -- with one another and with ourselves. I'm softer toward myself now. I'm more determined to add kindness to the world.

Now if you would be so kind as to get me a bucket of ice and some aspirin.

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