Lost & Found

taking the gloves off

One weekend, when my daughter was out of town, a friend had the idea of inviting a few women over to my empty house for a pajama party. Six women said yes and arrived on Friday in the late afternoon. We had envisioned an active “spa” weekend of swimming, hiking, cooking, eating, and lounging in my hot tub. Instead, we fell immediately into a deep conversation and only paused briefly while everyone went along to feed the horses and to get our own dinner on the table.

This group of women is like old-fashioned neighbors. Our lives, our backgrounds, our interests and the work that we do are diverse. We are women with numerous grandchildren, empty nests, or one last child still at home. Two of us are separated from our husbands and another is happily married to husband number three. One of us works in the film industry, a few teach.  Among us there are therapists, an assortment of artists, a retired litigator, a landscape designer, and a shaman. Our common ground is that we are of similar age, live in the same community, may have raised our children together, and are women. I find again and again that just being women is really all of the common ground necessary to begin a meaningful conversation. We share a connection regardless of our backgrounds, our age, or our personal history. Our biology connects us.

During the evening our conversation flowed from subject to subject. We talked about sharing beds, sharing space, and nurturing others. We shared stories about our relationships with our children, our husbands and our aging parents. We talked about our health, our diet, and the medical problems that are affecting us, and our loved ones. We compared our experiences with childbirth and menopause.  We shared our initial reactions when we realized we were perimenopausal, and our adjustment to having hysterectomies, hot flashes, hormone replacement therapy and dry skin. We talked about ourselves.

We expressed our awareness of ways that we have worked too much at our jobs or focused too much on our families. In our conversations about the past the tone was often one of regret, as if we had done something wrong or lost something by focusing so intensely on our children, or marriage, or our work. All of us, now that our children are mostly on their own, are wondering about what is next in our lives. Those of us who are artists are finding that we want more time for our art while the rest want to find time to begin some practice of self-expression. Regardless of what we have been doing, there is among all of us a desire to focus inward and on ourselves from this point on. This seems to be the unexpected gift of middle age for women. Our menstrual cycles are finished. Our time of having children is past. We are no longer focused with the same intensity on being a success in our careers. Our attention is shifting naturally to our selves, our creativity and our own needs. We did not focus our energy in the wrong direction before.  We have been in sync with the natural rhythm of our bodies, our biology. Now that our eggs and our fertility, have stopped flowing outward it is the perfect time to focus on ourselves and experience our fertility and creativity in a new internal way. We have not lost time. We are right on schedule.

The paths before us in this new phase of our lives are similar, though the challenges ahead for each of us are unique. There are just a few steps from where we are right now to the beginning of where we want to be.  First, we must tune into and listen to the quiet whispers of our awakening inner voice. The second step is to take responsibility: let go of excuses and stop placing blame outside of us for the things we want but are not making space for in our own lives. The third step is to greet ourselves with love, acceptance, and appreciation for who we are as we connect with the shinning glorious gift of our selves, our lives, and the beauty that surround us.

The very last personal story that we shared before we all packed up and went our separate ways was our experience of loosing our virginity. 38% of women regret their experience and few of us ever talk about it.  It seemed an odd topic for a group of postmenopausal women to be touching on at the end of a long evening and morning together. Thinking about it now, it does not seem strange at all that this is where our conversation ended. It is our most primal, shared experience of losing a piece of ourselves. What better moment than that first loss, to return to at the beginning of the journey to find ourselves again.

3 comments to Lost & Found

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>