Wednesday, February 5, 2014


"Turn and face the strange
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it ..."
- David Bowie

Changes indeed.  Of course change is always afoot, but there are moments when it appears the perfect storm of change has stirred up a massive wave of change crashing down upon me.

In less than two months my mother will mark her 89th birthday.  Her changes have been of the gradual but steady erosion of body but thankfully not mind.  She is still sharp as a tack and sharped tongued as always (ah, the source of this Scorpio's verbal stings) and has a healthy sense of humor padding the anxiety and fear that accompany her as she traverses the landmines of aging.  She has a team of doctors supporting her (her  "pit crew" as I think of them) which is as comforting as it is confusing with contradictory advice and objectives.  I remind my mother that she is in charge but a life time habit of ceding to "the experts" is hard to counter.  

Equally unyielding the sense of one's body as a foreign exchange student difficult to understand but something we must struggle to communicated with.  As we move through my mother's changes the pervading attitude is one of continual let down, as if the body's decline is a betrayal of an unspoken pact. You care for me and I will serve you.

I am moving through the long forest of changes which is perimenopause.  I think of it as a forest because once in it, the experiences and understanding of the journey is filtered through the disorientation of being on one's own.  Sensations are magnified when alone and uncertain; sense of time stretched and condensed; and I cannot predict what I will stumble upon next.  

Here's the thing: it doesn't need to be this way.  Despite all the advances and advantages of modern living, our bodies - and specifically women's bodies - retain the stigma of Mystery. An alluring and fascinating mystery when positioned as an object of desire; but baffling and frustrating and downright noncompliant when it comes to following cultural norms and notions of well-behaved.  It is not well-mannered to sweat, sag, ache, be irritatible, tired, or unpredictable.  That my body is all of these things - and more! - challenges me no end.

Yet when I view my body as a friend betraying my good will, we both suffer.  The aches ache more acutely, the fatigue more crippling, and the overwhelm deadening. What I've come to understand is my body is just doing her thing.  While it may not fit my agenda, it serves neither of us to view these changes as "wrong."  But this is how we approach aging and the body's natural transformation: as signs of failure, that something is broken, something needing repair, and that we must bring our bodies back in line with the unrealistic measures of health and attractiveness bombarding us through the media. 

I'm not saying there isn't important care and adjustments needed to ease the transition.  But what I am aware of for myself is the ease isn't so much for my body, but for my mind.  It has been an attitude shift that has brought me a greater measure of relief, peace and yes, even joy in the changes my body is mentoring me in.  My body's changes are not something to be suffered, endured, fixed, altered, or corrected.  Understanding of what is happening, making space for these new developments, welcoming rather than resisting have brought me into closer dialogue with my body.  She is not betraying me; she has been patiently and lovingly serving me and it is time to acknowledge that service. It is time for me to work in partnership with my body and support her rather than coerce, threaten or punish her.

When I hear others speak harshly and even hatefully about their bodies, I am reminded this is how our culture views the body and in particular, the female body.  I have heard women suffering with endometriosis declare that they want their doctor's to just take their organs out.  I do not blame them for I know the pain and frustration are immense.  But I wonder how things might be if we had been raised to view our bodies as our partners and best friends in life and therefore something to be tended to with great care, appreciation and respect rather than a servant to control and contain?

Changes abound over here.  I am seeing signs of change in my Cowgirl and am aware of my confusion on how to respond.  I have no template, no model to follow.  My memory of my transformation from maiden into woman is that little was said and that silence mentored me in fear and confusion regarding my body.  It wasn't until I was in college and procured a yellowed copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves from the used bookstore that I began to tentatively try to engage in a real conversation with my body. It was my owner's manual for my body. Educating myself about this vital piece of myself was the beginning of a respectful and loving relationship.  It has been a long road and I still am extracting some deeply rooted negative attitudes regarding my aging female body. 

So as I witness the cycle - maiden, mother, queen, and crone - starting up again with my girl, I am committed to supporting celebration and appreciation for the miracle and gift of our bodies as they unfold.  There is continual conversation here about these changes, bringing into light what has been left in shadow and shame for far too long.  I try to remember - for myself, my mother and my girl - that nothing is wrong.  Changes may be scarey (as they are for my mother's body as it winds down) and may be confusing (as for me as I navigate this new experience of my body) and overwhelming (as Cowgirl adjusts to new sensations, new notions of herself) but none of this is wrong nor is any of it signs of us being broken, less than, flawed, dangerous or unwieldy.

What is your relationship with your body?  How do you speak to her? How do you react to her needs, her requests upon you?  How might we create conversations and rituals with our daughters that celebrate and honor their changes, welcoming them into community of support, information, education and empowerment so that they are not at the mercy of cultural representations and expectations (and its limitations) upon the feminine?  I want a community for my girl.  I need one for myself.  

Strange fascination, fascinatin'
Ah, changes are takin'
The pace I'm goin' through
Turn and face the strange
Oh, look out you rock 'n' rollers
(All images were created during Connie Hozvicka's Painting the Feminine ecourse. New offerings will be coming, so check out her site and sign up for her newsletter to be notified so you can add your voice to the conversation.  And speaking of conversations, a magical and powerful group is gathering for my yearly HeartFull Living: Conversations on Love offering that begins on February 14. Still time to sign up and I am keeping the price low as I want as many to join me as possible!)


  1. I'm in the same transition as you. I've found that speaking in a nurturing, mothering way (of which I was not) eases any harshness that I sometimes feel. The transition has been rocky, but approaching it from a curious mind set (oh look what my body is doing now) makes it so much easier. In the book, Circle of Stones, she talks about transitions like this and asks how would it be different if you were supported and held, nurtured by other women. Consider yourself loved and supported as you go through this transition. Big hugs, Sister

  2. I can so relate to this post, so much so that you may have inspired me to write a post of my own. I am going through all sorts of hormonal changes and have been feeling negative about every one of them. I love thinking about my body as a partner----I have tried in the past to think of my body as a child that needs love, care, good foods etc, but at the same time, I am not a child and sometimes as an adult you cannot be "friends" with your child, you need to be a parent/friend rather than a friend/parent which is what may come when the child reaches adulthood. I do not want to mother or be mothered right now, however, I could use a very good friend. I think the idea of befriending my body is shaking me up inside,,,maybe she or WE have been lonely too long. Thank you.

  3. Yes, Lis, exactly. As we face these transitions in our daughters, it often brings us memories of how we went through puberty, points directly at our perimenopause... and our aging mothers. Sigh. Full circle, yes? And... all moments are one. I too would love community... it was something I missed at puberty and the beginning of parenthood... it's something I feel that I don't want to go through menopause without. <3

  4. honoring these cycles was not something i grew up with, but it is something that speaks to me, sings to me, now.
    i hope that i can encourage my daughter to sing along with me.

    beautifully written, lisa…so happy to dip my toes back into you and your voice...