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This Is Forty One

16th June. Another year older and more the wiser. We often joke about being another year older and none the wiser, but this is certainly not the case for me. The first year of my forties has most definitely been a doozy and I’ve not come out of it unscarred.

The lessons have been plentiful and at times painful and brutal as well as joyful.

So what have I learned this past sunwise cycle? Read on…

Life truly does begin at 40! I had a beautiful welcome into this decade. The big celebration within a circle of beautiful souls. Intentions for the coming times were set and the emotions from experiences held from previous decades were released. It was a metamorphosis in action.

Life continues to evolve, as do friendships. The friends I began this decade with will never sit in circle all together again. This is in part to the unfair and untimely death of one of my dearest friends, who at my birthday celebration hadn’t yet had her diagnosis and a year later she is no longer with us. The evolution of friendships means that over time people move on in different directions following their own path, some bonds are strengthened and form more solid friendships with deeper connections, some break off altogether and some new friendships develop. And so it goes. It is all OK. The saying that we have 3 types of friends in life : for a reason, a season or a lifetime is a truism if ever there was.

Time is finite and life is lost. Grief doesn’t so much heal the loss felt, as it does shift into a new way of living and continuing on. Losing a close friend is no different to losing a member of one’s family, and it brings thoughts of my own mortality up front – get those niggles or concerns checked out by the GP!

Moving house is stressful and you never know someone until you live with them. We extended our wee family of 3 this past year by 1 and we share our home with my Mother in Law. Oh the lessons coming back at me to learn are untold and abundant. Yes, I regularly have to check my sanity (as well as my tongue, for blisters).

Self care is non negotiable. I don’t mean bubble baths, I mean looking after me, all of me; mind, body and spirit. My priority is solitude – I NEED time on my own to recharge. No noise, no chatter, no drama, no tongue biting, nothing. Whether that’s being up early before the rest of the household to have my coffee or take a walk in the woods on my own, the need to be alone is primal and absolute.

Perimenopause. This is something I was not prepared for or expecting so early into my forties. Actively tracking my menstrual cycle and being aware and conscious of my body and what it is telling me has been key in identifying what is going on on he inside. My body is changing and aging, ready or not.

I am LOVING the aging process. I am firmly anti anti-aging. My grey hairs are joyous (not just because they are wavy and I have always wanted wavy/curly hair having lived 40 years with poker straight locks), my wrinkles are well earned, particularly those laughter lines, my lived experiences grant me wisdom and I do not wish to be 20 again, far less look it! I feel privileged to have had an analogue childhood/adolescence and digital adulthood. It is the perfect combination for this life, I don’t think I could do or would even want to do my teens or twenties online *shudders*. I am “acting my age” (what ever that means), 41, as I live and breathe it – I don’t know how else to do it!

Acceptance comes in a variety of guises. Acceptance of self, of others, of situations and circumstance. I know who I am (I think). This year I have been swimming deep in the waters of my shadow uncovering and exposing the bits I’d rather not face; my shadow. There are parts of my physical body I like and dislike, there are parts of my character I like and dislike, but I accept that these are the parts that make me me. Of course I am a work in progress, trying, failing, succeeding, learning, trying again, growing and evolving. Its a never ending process. And it starts with accepting who I am.

Values. With acceptance of who I am and who others are, I have stopped reduced comparing myself, positively or negatively, because it is irrelevant, and live instead, according to my own values. The values I deem most important may or may not be the same as those of another, but they are mine and I am living to honor these to the best I can to ensure I live my best life.

I’m sure there are other things I’ve learned or perhaps unlearned, in this past year, but I feel these are the main points. The general thread running through seems to be regarding self awareness, but not from a naval gazing stance (I hope), more from the view that this is who I am, this is my life, these are my needs and boundaries, take me as I am or keep walking. And so this is where I begin 41, and am keen to see what unfolds before 42.

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Wild Woman

Autumn is upon us. The summer sun had peaked and the descent into the dark half of the year has begun. The natural world thrills us with the stunning jewelled landscape of purples, oranges, rusts and gold. The scents in the air tantalize us and the desire to turn inwards with cozy woollen layers and hot chocolate at the fireside increases with each darkening evening as the nights themselves draw in.

Ask everyone you know, I would confidently place a bet that the majority of people would agree, that their favourite season is Autumn. The transition season between the sizzling joy of summer and the cold dead of winter. Everything is changing and evolving; shedding and letting go, preparing for the next stage. The wheel turns; the cycle continues. Birth, blossom, fruit, seed, rebirth and so it goes.

Autumn, the season of abundance. Enjoying the fruits of our labours, the sweet and the juice, the preparations for preserving, baking, sharing and appreciating the harvest. Thankful and grateful for our good fortune. We welcome the return of Strictly on the telly, and not forgetting Hygge  – where Autumn and Winter get their dusting of cinnamon sparkles and we coory in to enjoy and embrace these darker months in a comfortable and delightful bubble.

Can you tell Autumn is my favourite season of the year? I adore this picture I saw on Pinterest last year declaring:

october

Oh yes it is indeed!!

This is the season of Wild Woman

This rich time of year is not purely about the falling leaves and rejoicing in the need to wear to tights again, oh no, it is SOOOO much more than that. The Autumn season in a woman’s life is that magical time when she herself is in transition; the phase between Mother and Crone.  This is the season of Wild Woman. She may also be referred to as Medicine Woman, Warrior, Enchantress, Witch, Bitch or Maga (no NOT the Donald Trump acronym!!)

The season of the witch honours the the waning phase of the moon, the acceptance of the journey towards the end (which is inevitable in all forms of life). The energy is introspective and contemplative, assessing what has gone before and what is yet to come, meeting and facing the shadows. Where the Spring and Summer /Maiden and Mother energy is light, bright and optimistic, the Autumn and Winter / Wild Woman and Crone is dark, deep and questioning. For those of us cycling, this phase is our Inner Autumn, aka pre menstrual phase:  when we want to retreat, have little to no patience or tolerance for bullshit, because this is the most honest phase. We meet our shadow where it forces us to see what we would rather not and either hide from it or face and deal with it.

I personally love this phase, in my inner cycle (despite the cramps), in the annual cycle outside in nature and in the great life cycle of being a woman. Life is such a celebration and our Autumn years are no exception.  When I was in my Maiden phase, my “scary age” was 35, but since my late 30’s I couldn’t wait for my 40’s. I turned 40 earlier this year and I have to say, so far it has been worth the wait! It is a true saying that Life Begins At 40 – there was for me, a distinct shift inside that went from self consciously hiding my truth, people pleasing and a need to be liked, to being thoroughly honest with myself, unapologetic in being exactly who I am and stopping pussyfooting around others so as not offend them, or make them uncomfortable at my expense.  And yes, it has been both noticed and not always liked. But too bad! My transition phase started with the shedding and letting go of outside judgement and placing my value and worth in those external hands. I don’t mean that being true and honest gives you carte blanche to be a total dick, your field of fucks is not so barren, I just mean choose what you care about wisely and release the rest that do not serve or only bring drama.

The Wild Woman Autumn age spans years 40-65 with, of course, plenty room for overlap from the previous Mother phase.  It’s our time to take and make space for ourselves, turn inwards to nurture self and get to know self better (going to drop self care in here). Many women find that this is also when they become more interested in a personal spiritual practice or are curious to find out what it means to them; including understanding and learning to trust their own intuition or tracing family lineage for example. I found that need to know where I came from incredibly powerful, and the answers I found were both surprising and yet made so much sense to who I am leading me to understand the blood that runs in my veins. We can reclaim who we are.

feel all the feels in all their glory

This phase covers our blood-rite, or second puberty; the transitioning peri-menopause years leading into menopause. Or to give it its other name, “Moon Pause”.  It’s an intense time where you feel all the feels in all their glory! Rage, hot flushes, insomnia, depression, lower sex drive, or swing to the other extreme of super charged sex drive,  headaches, increasingly irregular periods, mood swings are some of the most common “symptoms” of a transition in our lives that has been medicalised and medicated. We are not allowed to feel and experience this natural change in our bodies without being told we need Hormone Replacement Treatment. While HRT works for some women, just like the pill, it is not for every woman.  According to the NHS website, the majority of women move through this stage around age 48-52 but some begin much earlier or start later – there is no right or wrong time, just as there is no predetermined timescale for the peri-menopause. Sadly, it is during this time when we are most likely to be called hormonal, hysterical, possibly even bi-polar(!) and most definitely a bitch . Lovely

Why?

Because women are meant to be and equally not meant to be everything except for who we are!! Because middle aged women are viewed as less than the Mother (but more than the crone) and vastly diminished and practically worthless compared to the Maiden.  Incase you missed the memo, we are no longer “worth it”. Over 40 or worse, over 50, no no no, that wont do. The Maiden is idolised for her youth but not her experience. We are plied with adverts everywhere about eternal youth, staying young looking, even to “age well” by using anti aging lotions and potions! What’s so wrong with saying:

“Hey, I’m 40/50/60 and I’m aging. I know I’m aging well because I am alive and living and have the life experience to boot!!”

Keep your mouth shut, don’t create a scene, don’t age, stay young and look young but don’t look like mutton! Oh Pu-lease!!

Autumn is so glorious from all its facets, can we please embrace and give reverence to women in their own Autumn too? This is truly a spectacular age that is not to be feared or disregarded, but celebrated for the wise, wild, unabashed, unashamed, knowledgeable and powerful woman that has come into herself. As  nature naturally slows down and the trees shed their leaves, the cycle continues: Birth, blossom, fruit, seed, rebirth.

Can you imagine how incredible it would be if you were part of a women’s sacred circle which honoured the phases of our life cycle and allowed each of us to be held heard and honoured in our respective phases? How different might the world be if Wild Autumn Women took their place, sat in their power, and got on with living, without the prescribed should and expectations? As I have recommended in previous posts, if you don’t have a circle, find one or create one; they are invaluable in my experience. They are as abundant in support and love as Autumn fruits and give you the necessary hygge coziness you need to sustain you through the deepening darkness into winter.

Wild Woman, rise! Wild Women, together, we rise!

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40

I’ve taken my 40th jaunt around the sun.

My 30s are now behind me with my 20s now a memory.

I’ve hit “mid life”.

I’ve never looked forwards to a birthday more!

And it didn’t disappoint!!

Yes, it is just another number but to me it’s more than that. It feels like a complete new start; the dawn of the next phase in this life cycle. The Wild Woman phase, the Enchantress, the Medicine Woman, the Mage. Call it what you will, but our 40’s represent the journey into the Autumn years of life, the peri-menopausal years transitioning from our fertile mothering  years into that second puberty where we connect truly with who we are as women, owning our own person.  Of course not every woman takes until she’s 40 to reach this place of knowing herself, but I have, and have been on this journey for a long time.

In honour of such a milestone birthday I gathered my sisters in sacred circle and celebrated a beautiful and emotional time.  Nine of us sat in my livingroom and shared in stories, meditation, crafting, poetry, song, food and ritual. I felt incredibly blessed as my friend led the ceremony of leaving my thirties, with it’s lessons, regrets, achievements and acknowledgements, moving forward to face and embrace any fears of growing older (I have none, I LOVE this aging process and with the wisdom it brings as well as the grey hairs aka wisdom highlights!) and set intentions for this coming stage of my life. My women in my clan of choice also set intentions and wishes for me, which of course were burnt to release said intentions in the central cauldron.  My good old broom was put to good use in symbolically clearing away the old to make space for the new and with a twist on the the matrimonial jumping of the broom, I jumped my broom to cross over into this new phase and exciting times ahead.  Not a typical 40th birthday celebration, but a deeply felt one.

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As well as Circling, the other 40th biggie, was a gift to myself  (also from my 8yo as he wanted to gift it to me). I have wanted a new tattoo for a while and had a rough idea of what I wanted and the symbolism it needed to contain, but an inability to put it all together. I contacted the only artist I knew who would be able to create exactly what I wanted and as expected, it is stunning.

So I got my Goddess Butterfly with the moon and pearls and lace detail that I needed. I don’t think it is possible to love this tattoo more! The detail and artistry is exquisite – and no, it didn’t hurt. Having Fleetwood Mac playing in the background (love Fleetwood Mac) was an added bonus. Thank you Aphra x

Of course, no birthday is complete without cake….

cake

especially CHEESE CAKE!!!! My Mum pulled a blinder on the cake front this year. I had the chocolate & raspberry slice but when went back later, discovered Scottish Tablet flavour….Oh My Goddess, I have never tasted cheesecake so good!!!!

So far, this being 40 malarkay is proving to ace the 30’s – long may that continue.

Lissa

xx