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http://fabulously40.com/images/nonono.gifWhether you're in perimenopause, menopause or are postmenopausal like me, one thing is certain: things are not at all like they used to be.


Hot flashes, anxiety and sleepless nights are part of the package and I'm the first to admit it can be hard to handle. That's why as I turn 61 this month I'm giving myself the gift of self-compassion. After all, living a joyful life and by extension being kind to others depends upon how kind you are to yourself.


Part of this new normal of being postmenopausal is that I've learned to pay closer attention to my own needs. Traveling down this road through the jungle of menopause, I've adapted by becoming more self-reliant, making me feel more fulfilled. That's very different from how the menstruation journey began years ago.


A friend of mine swears that the Miss Deb booklet left on her bed by her mother was the best dollar her mom ever spent! It was a pamphlet for 'little girls who would mature soon and pretty much took the onus off her mother having the 'birds and the bees' talk.


Perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause are far more difficult to comprehend, and even Miss Deb wouldn't be able to explain their ins and outs in a small pamphlet. One thing is for sure—charting your own destiny can be extremely liberating providing you first lighten up—on yourself! Have some self-compassion.


Be All You Can Be


This simple slogan used in U.S. Army commercials for 21 years inspired a generation to seek its full potential.


Menopause triggered that same desire in me—to be the best I can be—right now! Meaning, you can either shrink away into nothing or decide that you're still young enough to remain relevant. Hmmm...decisions, decisions!


Adversity can only keep you down if you let it or as Henry Ford put it, "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."


Make the decision to live a purposeful life using the tools you own now and not the ones from 30 years ago. The only constant in life is change.


My own purposeful life led me to a wonderful project called, Notes to Our Sons and Daughters: A Celebration of Wisdom. In this I shared my own menopausal transition. I found out above all else, that changing adversity into strength begins within me.


Embrace Who and What You Are


Embracing who you are without fear of judgment or rejection is a beautiful side effect of the change. One scientific study found women wait until elder years to let go of, "I've got to look and be perfect," self-talk. Why not start a little sooner? After all, is how you look in a swimsuit really that critical? Ease up—especially on yourself.


It's OK to Be Vulnerable


My best approach to embracing vulnerability was to bring menopause out in the open, and that in turn opened all kinds of doors to new opportunities. It was the foundation of my own slogan: "Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is In!"


Bottling up your emotions is dangerous but sharing this menopausal experience with others will surely affect someone else and might even change their life. Now, that's powerful!


When Things Aren't OK, You Don't Have to Hide It


It was incredibly liberating for me to realize that after years of 'soldiering through,' caring for kids, aging parents, house and career, that I could actually say out loud, "Everything is not always ok," without worrying about sounding like I was whining.


Suppressing emotion has a powerful negative effect on your body called oxidative stress. Free radicals form when you're anxious or stressed out. If you combine those free radicals with hormonal deficiencies, then low-density lipoproteins, for which you need anti-oxidants to fight at the cellular level, are diminished.


Caregivers, Not Care Receivers


Try devoting as much time to the woman in the mirror as you do to everybody else. Studies show that society expects women to do the majority of caregiving--there's a surprise. AARP actually did the math and found that collective caregiving is worth more than $450B a year. So, it stands to reason that if it's worth that much to society, then so my dear, you are worth the effort, as well!


New research says being kinder to you at the very least helps suppress hot flashes, which might be triggered by stressful situations. This seems to be a gender-related psychological marker as according to the study, "Women typically have lower self-compassion than men. Our research indicates that midlife women may benefit from including themselves in the circle of compassion."


Do Well By Doing Good


Giving to others is an admirable quality, but that starts with treating yourself with a healthy dose of kindness.


Self-compassion starts within, so I've decided my best birthday gift this year won't be in bright shiny paper. Instead, I'm making a promise to myself to practice self-acceptance and self-love before ever walking out my front door to help others.


And, you know what? I feel better already. I like the new me and now I'm ready to live the rest of my life with a wink and a smile.


I really do deserve a break today!



Suffering in Silence is Out! Reaching Out is In!


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