I love offering this workshop to women who are in or on the cusp of their second adolescence – there’s so much to share! With a mixture of fantastic research, other women’s stories and some movement and mindfulness, it’s a full and rich three hours.
The main reason I facilitate the Celebration Day for Girls program (for 10-12 year old girls, to prepare them for their transition into puberty) is to encourage them to have a more active and positive relationship with their body, which is exactly the same reason I’m offering this workshop to women entering the Autumn of their lives. Because the parallels between menarche (first period) and menopause (last period) are uncanny, perimenopause is often likened to a second adolescence. Dr Christiane Northrup suggests we think about it as the other end of a process that begins at menarche. The transition doesn’t just happen overnight. Yes, both are marked by blood but the years that follow menarche and the years that precede menopause are often all over the place in terms of irregular cycles and anovulation (where ovulation doesn’t occur but bleeding still does). In adolescence this usually lasts for 5-7 years and in perimenopause for 2-8 years.
Then there’s the hormones! Both in perimenopause and at puberty, we experience a rewiring. Even when enormous change isn’t happening, the body does the most incredible juggling act of constantly trying to make sure all our hormones are in balance (and I’m not just talking about reproductive hormones; there are growth hormones, hunger hormones, stress hormones, fat-burning hormones, energy-and libido-related hormones, and sleep hormones). But we know so little about these chemical messengers and the part they play in our endocrine system. As Alisa Vitti notes in her book “WomanCode”:
This is why I do this work! It’s time to power up with information to support ourselves (whatever the life season we’re in) and to step into a loving relationship with our body. The information is out there, we just need to access it. In The Joyous Body Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls the body, ‘Our consort, [it] is born with us, just as our soul is. The body is our loyal and valiant companion’. So, it’s time to give some space and attention back to our ‘companion’.
One final rant … Culturally, there are as many taboos around menopause as there are around menstruation so it’s not surprising our heritage encourages us NOT to know more. But I, along with other women who are determined to re-frame some out-lived paradigms, want it to be known that perimenopause is a passage into a season of harvest and it doesn’t have to be feared.
In fact, there’s rather a lot to look forward to!