One of the things I have done on a regular basis as a sensual researcher is assist putting on sensuality courses. It is something I love to do together with my like-minded tribe. It is fun relating with the diverse people who come to learn and who often experience a paradigm shift in their thinking about sensuality and relationships. While teaching and assisting courses I am engaged and acutely aware of the viewpoints, tools and concepts that I build my life upon.
Shortly after my Bloody Mary midlife celebration, during one of those courses, I created what was to become a paradigm shift for menopause that altered my experience of the change of life significantly. It happened simply, without fanfare, yet once done things were never the same again.
I was in the back of the course room, set to film the instructors giving the lecture. It was the first morning of a retreat and, as is done in most courses, each participant was giving their goals. This is one of my favorite parts of a retreat, hearing what people want, what they traveled here to get and what they will take home with them when they leave.
Many times upon hearing another person’s goals, a new goal will be generated on the spot. Possibilities open up not only for one person, but for others too, be they men or women, coupled or single.
On this morning after the last person finished up, the instructors directed their attention to me. It was my turn. Yvonne? Partially obscured by the video camera, I straightened up and came into full view. An entire series of thoughts tumbled through my mind in the span of one lingering pregnant pause.
While I had not written or prepared in advance what I would say, I had big questions concerning menopause. Could I realistically expect to experience the change of life to be a good thing or, going even further, to be pleasurable? By now I knew it could take many years, like 5-10 years to go through the transition. That is a significant amount of time. Already I was running up against a multitude of hidden obstacles to enjoying it.
This is nothing trivial, pleasure and menopause. The words clashed and rattled in my brain. How will I figure out how to put these contradictory realities together? Perhaps I should just settle for tolerable. If I did figure it out, would it be sustainable or just a couple of tricks good for a few laughs?
Speaking of laughs, in that moment what flashed across my mind was the afternoon I looked up menopause in the thesaurus. This was a few days prior to the course. There it was printed clearly in black and white, only two synonyms –
1) climacteric -which basically means climax and it’s all downhill from here and
2) midlife crisis.
While the meaning of midlife crisis is absurdly obvious, I went one step further on this little word exploration and looked up crisis.
Of course I really did not have to do that, but on that day I was looking for confirmation that menopause was the opposite of a pleasurable life. I found what I was looking for. The first synonym listed — big trouble.
I reminded myself that the instructors were not waiting for me to blurt out all these questions. They certainly did not want to hear about my intellectual detour leading to big trouble. They’re asking for my goals. Okay this is a sensuality course. Forget the how and the figuring, what do I want? Sensual goals are based in pleasure and enjoyment. They involve the senses and experiences of living and relating.
It dawned on me that the seed that sprouted all of my questions and concerns gave me clues to what I do want, what my desires are for this time in my life. At the kernel of that seed I uncovered my goals.
Oh how quickly my supposedly fuzzy menopausal mind worked! Without further hesitation I spoke.
“I want my transition into menopause to be fun for me and for those around me.”
“I want to experience the changes I am feeling in my body from menopause pleasurably.”
Stating my goals out loud to the instructors and to the class, I felt them land. There was no clash or confusion. What I wanted was clear. Recorded as I gave them, written in black and white in the course log, they are just as real as the entries I’d seen in the thesaurus. But unlike those commonly accepted definitions cataloged for our use in that reference book, my goals had intention behind them. I told them to people who would get behind me attaining those goals. My intention has the power to bring about a lasting paradigm shift for menopause starting with me.