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Time For Change...Biologically, Mentally and Physically!


The tide of change is forever moving and as time passes we are constantly shifting from one phase to another, each one monumental and challenging.

Looking onto St Mark's Square and beyond from the balcony of St Mark's Basilica, Venice
Looking onto St Mark's Square and beyond from the balcony of St Mark's Basilica, Venice

At the time of writing, I'm 52 years old, I am married with three children and have two grandsons, I also have an ageing Labrador Molly, who, like me is feeling the pinches of being a little older. I recon I'm about halfway through the menopause now and I was completely unprepared as most women (and men) are. A bit of a crazy situation really considering that 50% of the world's population experiences it at some point in their lives, that is, if we are still fortunate enough to be still here.

Many of the symptoms of menopause are not widely known and are simply put down to old age and many women are hugely suffering in silence. In turn, the strain that these symptoms cause can put huge pressure on all relationships at home, in the workplace and beyond. I'm not qualified to write and advise on this subject so I can only share my own personal experiences that I have had so far into this bonkers journey of change.

The photo above was taken last week by my husband of 20 years Ged, we were celebrating this landmark wedding anniversary and all of the things that we have achieved together in that time. I couldn't think of a more beautiful place to visit than Venice, and this was my fourth visit to this amazing city. When I reflect on the previous times, they have signified different stages of my life: the first visit was with my mum and younger siblings and that was incredibly exciting as it our first ever time abroad, I was 18 years old. We made the mistake of travelling by coach from the UK and vowed never to do that again (one chemical toilet and our seats were close by)!!! The second visit was also with my mum, siblings and four year old daughter Hannah, that time I visited this city as a mother as well as an older sister. Many years passed before I returned to Venice, and the third time was bitter sweet as the women in my family wanted to be together to remember our wonderful nan who had sadly passed away before she had time to enjoy this amazing city for herself.

Venice will not be around forever, it is a sinking city that was initially built on a wooden platform and is therefore decaying over time under the moving tides of too much boat friction and pollution. To the naked and unknowing eye, the city is one of majestic beauty built from great wealth as it was once regarded as one of the best trading locations in the world. This city heralds some of the worlds stunning architecture and priceless art within these magnificent structures, she was once a force to be reconned with and held immense political and trading powers. To me, Venice is synonymous with a maturing woman.

At first we do not think about our support system, the timber structures holding us up and keeping us moving from day to day life, we just carry on, caring mainly about aesthetic things such as fashion and beauty and how we are perceived by they like they not...why not? After all, we are wired this way to attract a mate for life! We are raised to believe that girls must be beautiful!

When motherhood takes hold, we care even less about our support system and our appearance, we have something much more valuable to care for, our children. We often become so involved in the lives of our dependents that we come out of the other side not knowing who we are anymore, we become lost and are recognised as the parent of...our children! And this, for the record is not a cry for help or sympathy, nor is it a disregard for the immense fortunate position of becoming a parent to healthy and happy children, as nothing on earth is more sacred, just to be clear on that! I say this because it is one of the things that can be banded back at you whenever you feel miserable or, God forbid, depressed. If you are a parent, you are not allowed to feel negative when you have so much surrounding you, especially if you are also perceived to be financially secure as well! You are considered to be ungrateful and pessimistic! You, therefore, have no voice!

Unfortunately when the hormone imbalance starts to take hold, there is no warning sign, it's like a gas leak running through your home, the invisible poisonous air filtrates through the body, cutting off essential supplies and leaves you desperately searching for an escape route. There were aches and pains in places I didn't previously know about, such as in my bones and at the soles of my feet, this agonising discomfort combined with an overactive nocturnal mind and hot sweats left me without sleep for months. Yet life must go on and routines must be kept in motion, so opportunities for rest and recuperation were slim and my inactive body began putting on weight that is incredibly difficult to shift. The worst symptom for me by far, was the mental torture of feeling NOTHING, my body felt like a cumbersome shell carrying nothing but toxic thick air of empty emotions and all of the usual feelings of love, lust, ambition, and excitement had well and truly gone. I say gone, because I have since been on HRT patches and the difference for me is huge, I have been given a second chance to live my life again and I am once again feeling like my old self!

So, back to Venice and its decaying under-structure! It was interesting to recently learn that the damages are intensifying due to the increased activities in the water with time, more boats, bigger vessels and faster motors are not only pushing out more pollution, the movement in the waves is eroding the land at an alarming rate. We have choices, we can either carry on blindly, thinking only of 'surviving' each day, or we can STOP, LOOK and LISTEN to what is really going on around us and consider how this is impacting on the structures within our own bodies, the very things that hold us up and keep us from sinking. As we get older, there is so much more going on around us, we can hardly keep track of who is doing what and before we know it we are searching for some breathing space, usually in the form of a much deserved holiday.

How mindfulness and meditation have led me onto a new path of discovery: - Following the advice of a good friend, I have recently completed a MBSR course, a mindfulness approach initially founded by practitioner Jon Kabat-Zinn and led by a wonderful lady, Melissa. This eight week course has completely changed my life for the better and my fear is that I might forget, so hence the writing of this post and its ability to share the love with you. Here is the review that I have written to Melissa, may you be inspired and excited to go forth and give it a try for yourself, you absolutely deserve this and you cannot afford not to do it:

"I didn't think that I really 'need' to take this course, I have a reasonably happy life, however, my friend had recently completed it and urged me to give it a try. My friend said that it had "changed her life!" A strong statement indeed! After completing the course all participants were asked to describe what the teachings meant to them and, without thought, out came the words "its like putting a new lens in my glasses and I can now see clearer, sharper and brighter." Looking back into my life, the dark sunglasses have been removed, the foggy blur of everyday habits, thoughts and routines are now embraced with consideration and appreciation. All of these practices are based on scientific evidence gleaned over many years by world renowned practitioners and are designed to improve mental wellbeing for life. It works! Awareness and attention towards myself and others in terms of how we perceive things, react to situation and control our emotions is now crystal clear.
The whole basis of this course is centred around the knowledge that both body and thoughts are so intrinsically connected - the mind controls how the body 'feels' and the feelings control the body's reactions.This can be the 'blindfolding', the ignorance and the unknowing that we live with every moment of every day. Melissa guides us through the fields of knowledge with so much compassion and conviction that any initial feelings of scepticism or fear are soon alleviated, she goes above and beyond in her willingness to ensure that you are getting the very best from this course."

If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness and meditation for menopause or life in general , you can contact Melissa yourself (just to be clear I am not affiliated in any way):

On a personal note, my mojo for creativity is slowly coming back to me and I am always learning new skills and practicing new techniques in my studio. My confidence has taken a tumble and I am in the process of navigating my way through. I am busy working behind the scenes and away from the spotlight of social media until the time is right to share and bare all once again. This journey has taught me to be my 'authentic self' and as I'm still trying to figure this out, I will now allow myself the freedom and permission to explore without judgment or self-criticism and instead to just go with the flow depending on my current state of mind in the present moment.

With love and appreciation,

Janine x


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