A strong woman is one who feels deeply and loves fiercely. Her tears flow just as abundantly as her laughter…
A strong woman is both soft and powerful. She is both practical and spiritual…
A strong woman in her essence is a gift to the world…
This quote was sent to a kitten from her Dad. Now that’s cool. He sees these qualities in her and wanted her to know that she is that beautiful. As most of you know, my Dad died when I was 23. (Wear your sunscreen! Developing melanoma is like taking a rocket ship to the afterlife.) What this kitten doesn’t know is that she sent this quote to me as the anniversary of his death approaches (Friday), mere days after my wedding anniversary and the anniversary of the formal, final, really – I’m totally telling the truth now – implosion of my marriage.
She also doesn’t know, and probably doesn’t want to know, that she sent it to me on the day that I got my period for the first time in five months. It’s safe to assume two things: I was a mess, and I am officially part of the perimenopausal set.
How is that possible?
Funny thing about perimenopause – they call it a transition, but it can last years. That strikes me as more of a long, slow, slog. A transition is a passage from one state to another or a period of change. Passage, period…neither of those terms scream decade to me.
To ease this transition, my doctor prescribed birth control pills. How’s that for irony. I tried to take them, but I don’t do well with pharmaceuticals. I imagine them dissolving in my intestines and then building a situation room where they establish direct contact with ACME Pharmaceuticals and start plotting my complete and total undoing. As they make progress, reporting back to the salivating business development team, the stock price of ACME Pharma soars, and various symptoms begin to appear throughout my once healthy body.
I have a little theory, which will forever go untested because no post-graduate school in their right mind would take me on to prove it’s worth, but here goes: There is no way in hell we could have evolved fast enough as a species to be able to tolerate, integrate and not die from consuming chemicals.
I’d debate that with anyone.
This transition from birther to…one who can’t birth? is something that will unfold organically for me, save for a few herbs and a whole lot of exercise. No one can predict how arduous it will be, how long it will last, or if I will grow a second belly, become a human shower and verbally annihilate anyone who asks me if I’m hormonal.
I always did love a surprise.
What is agreed upon is that the transition to and through menopause happens slowly.
Transformations often unfold like the halftime show at the Super Bowl, comparatively. One minute it’s a football field and moments later it’s a stadium stage with sound gear, lights, fans, performers, and an exposed breast or something to get people talking. One minute he sounds like your son, and then a few voice cracks later and he’s John Wayne. One minute I’m married, and the next minute I’m blowing through my rollover minutes while listening to my husband and the Happy Dance Chick giggle their way to bed.
One minute I’m trotting through life feeling like I’m getting the whole picture, understanding the phases, the trials and tribulations, and the next I have not a clue. Together, we – you and me – have come to understand a lot over this past year about self-discovery, self-redemption, self-love and my varied and numerous
flaws areas for improvement. It’s been quite the transformation on many fronts, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.
I covered all the bases, right?
So don’t I get to enjoy the results of one transformation for a little while before the very next one begins? Especially one that feels so totally foreign to me?
Oh, Cleo. They all feel foreign. That’s why their transformations.
Okay. So maybe it doesn’t feel foreign, but abrupt. There was no transition to the transformation. A little segue would have been a warm shoulder on a cold night.
Instead I got frogs on Christmas day.
Hundreds of frogs serenaded us as we approached the door to The Pelican Inn in Muir Beach for our Christmas dinner. It took me a few weeks to get a nudge from the inside reminding me to look up the animal totem for frog, along with a suggestion that I make frogs legs for the boys. I haven’t done that yet, but when I do they are going to be pre-tty impressed, possibly grossed-out, and I’ll likely be eating for three that night.
The whole frog had much to share here:
The frog is the totem of metamorphosis. It symbolizes coming into your personal power. It reminds us not to become bogged down with day-to-day living.
It is the totem of water. Its voice calls forth the rains. Emotions are associated with water and a frog totem may be telling you to get in touch with your feelings.
People with frog medicine give support and energy where it is needed. They can cleanse the negativity from an environment.
Frog is the energy of transformation. He swims through tough transitions with ease. They came in abundance that day. And ever since then I’ve been feeling like I’m sucking out great moments before a wave of sadness rolls over me.
I’m officially subdued.
That’s really not the interpretation of ‘coming into your personal power’ that I envisioned. If this is the extent of my personal power I better get a backup generator, some solar panels and a wind turbine. Physically I feel strong, barely breaking a sweat on an 18-miler over Mt. Tam this past weekend. Mentally and emotionally I’m foggy. I don’t really have a good sense of where I am.
I’m upended because of that recent realization. Walking somewhere in between hurt and healed, where I need to be both soft and powerful. I feel deeply every shift in every day, and I love fiercely, just not romantically. The tears will come, so laughter must be served. The quote that opened the post reminds me that I am capable. That my mental and emotional body will locate its longitude and latitude so we can get this ship moving along at a clip again.
This transformation is taking me from tadpole to fully formed amphibian. Not a great look, but I’ll finally be able to breathe. Really, truly breathe. My energy won’t be so focused on growing legs and able to permeate my being once again, leaving me infused with desire. For now the desire is to cocoon.
All this mutation, I mean transformation has me wiped out. Must get prone so my tail can fall off.
I wish I could put my arm around your shoulder. Just stand there with you and breathe. You’ve been so positive for so long – shining your best light on an incomprehensible situation. And giving all of us the boost up we needed. I sense that at some point lately you looked up and said to yourself, “How did this happen?”. You’ve been doing such an excellent job of looking your situation in the eye, calling it by its right name, and doing what needs to be done. I’m trying to do the same, with your strong encouragement. But. Ah, that word. But. BUT there is that little voice in my head that says “This is my life. I played by the rules. I didn’t ask for this upheaval. I don’t particularly want to know what I’m made of.” Yes, I’ve found out about the strength and courage and even valor that I didn’t know I had. And I’m grateful to be able to see it. BUT sometimes I long for the days when my life just rolled along, blissfully unaware of the indignities that someone who “loves” you can bring into your life. I’m doing the best I can trying to “manage” this situation, BUT I sometimes think “I didn’t create this mess! Why is it mine to clean up?”. And it is mine to clean up because of my son. And his mother is forever changed. Maybe just in subtle ways, but changed nonetheless. And he didn’t ask for that, either. Due to the selfishness of two adults with the emotional intelligence of infants. My husband didn’t care about the impact on our son, but now I have to do the damage control. I know this place should be inspirational, and it always is, BUT I don’t much feel like a warrior woman these days. Maybe it’s the long gray days of winter that are keeping me from seeing the light. I always see you with a breathless, hopeful smile on your face, Cleo, a few strands of hair in your eyes. I see you always moving forward, curious to see what’s around the next corner. I’m trying to do the same, if I could just get my foot out of this quicksand from the past.
Thank you, S. I really do feel the arm. We’re at Limantour, watching whales glide north with babies in tow. I’m grateful for the support.
You have given me an idea. Okay, we are supposed to be brave, strong, look for the magic, breathe in joy and breathe out fairy dust and all that s…tuff. But sometimes even I need a break from the shimmery. Which is why I am going to create a day where I stay in my pajamas with a stack of movies and a bottle of wine, some manchego cheese and truffle honey, apples and a big bowl of kettle corn. I’m going to disappear inside a film of six and pretend I’m 24.
For those with a greater degree of flexibility and disposable income, hit up Vegas for a night. Do something completely out of character – without harming a single being, obviously, including yourself. So no massive binges of any kind. But let her rip. Have a big human night where you indulge in all the things the soul couldn’t care less about.
And then get right back to finding out what you’re made of, what makes you feel good, loving yourself, seeing the joy, finding the magic.
I only see a toe in that quicksand, S. Let go. When you’re ready. Which I can sense is any minute now. Stay close, S. Your presence here is so very appreciated!
Stephanie, Cleo – All so well said and so poignant. We are grieving and the recovery is not linear but zig-zag, filled with fits and starts. I too am so tired of this process, and just want to be PAST it. But as I have been told, the only way past the muck is through it. Did I hear that on this blog? Or from my therapist? I can’t remember. So much wisdom has been passed on to me these past 8 months. My therapist also assures me there is no free lunch, so either I grieve now or later. I try and remember that on my blue days, and imagine that each minute of sadness brings me that much closer to a time when the end of my marriage no longer defines every waking moment. At least things are starting to feel less surreal so that’s progress. Thank you as always for sharing and reminding me I am not going through this alone. Hugs.
Great words to guide us all. Thank you for being here and for giving your support. We will continue to excavate and uncover our beautiful selves together.
Okay – in an effort to aid in your “letting her rip” – as you know, I have a place in Vegas. I’m here til the 27th of Jan. I would love to give you a getaway destination for a couple days! You can hike on my mountains – AND… I’m seeing Lady Gaga on the 25th. I have 2 tix. You in???
You are amazing. Fabulous. Beautiful. And, of course, we all know your timing is perfect. Except this one time. I would LOVE to add to the glow of Vegas, but I have a house to sell, a book to publish and a divorce to finalize…quite frankly I’m swamped! I know you get that. If any of you are shaking your heads please watch The Princess Bride.
That said, even though you didn’t offer a rain check, I am totally taking a rain check on this offer. I’ve had many a nights in Vegas with TG. Time to take that city back and make my own memories there. Enjoy the desert and the Gaga!
And thank you, m’lady. You’re very kind to offer to spend days with me.
You got it pretty lady – a rain check it is! Anytime in here in Vegas my home is open to you; wine fridge fully stocked. Godspeed with the house sale. Hugs from the desert!
Making memories in the desert. Love it. Tell that Gaga that kittens are way cooler than monsters. Thank you, N. I’m so there one of these days. Book signing!
Survived my birthday yesterday with a minor hiccup when I saw he filed for divorce last week, after agreeing to wait until after my birthday. It was so heartbreaking to see the words- dissolution of marriage, and yet, I have made headway. I took some time to cry and per your advice, checked in with my inner being. I tossed it around and realized I am going to be just fine. I have those four beautiful children cheering me on, an army of family and friends, and I have myself. I like me. I really do. We haven’t hung out together in a really long time, but I think it is time we did some real work together. Thanks again for keeping me centered. I was thinking of getting myself a frog amulet of some sort. Maybe a keychain or something small to have with me. I love it. Transformation. I am transforming into something new, something even better. Keep up your blog. You are an amazing person.
Happy Birthday, m’lady! He tried to take away your moment in the sun, but you responded beautifully. Some tears, some excavation and a whole lot of self-love. Soak up all that support. They are there for you because you deserve to be loved and supported.
The frog amulet is a great idea! Much better than an actual frog, although that would be so cool. A pet frog that goes wherever you go. I’d name him Stanley.
Thank you for your kind words. Today I’ve been called a lot of things – amazing wasn’t one of them until I read your comment. I’m believing you instead of him. Stay close, B. We’ve got your back.