Susan Weeds the herbalist did a one hour webinar on menopause and saying that the majority of a woman’s life isn’t her childbearing years, they non-childbearing years. 12 or 15 years before her first menses, and then years 50 to 80 or 90, the majority of a woman’s life has nothing to do with childbearing. So for many of us we focus on those years of our life. I never thought about it – that this time of being able to have a baby is a really brief period in your life, compared to the time before and the time after. And when we stop having periods, we no longer look at our selves as being attractive, sensual, sexy. We have given those descriptions of ourselves to the years where we’re having children and no other part of our life. And how misguided we are that we have made so much of that one temporary ability to define our entire existence. Before we could have children we had a life and identity – just girls running around, a complete picture of who we were that wasn’t tied to our ovaries or our uterus when we were prepubescent. For us as women to tie our identity to those organs is something we need to examine and get over. At 50 and 70 ad 80 and 90, we are women who have the same drives and needs and celebrations, regardless of how old we are. No longer having the ability to have children shouldn’t impact who you are, as it didn’t when you were 12. The whole of us is so much more than the some of those five parts – 2 ovaries, 2 fallopian tubes and a uterus – parts that can fit in a quart jar.

Your body changes, the texture of your skin changes, the shape of your breasts change, the musculature changes with the change in your estrogen – but it doesn’t make you any less, you’re just different. I don’t look what I looked like when I was 12, 15, 22. But I’m me. And the same forces, desires, ways of self-expression still exist at 65.

Someone asked “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?” One person responded – “I’d have dinner with myself when I was 25.” And that just blew my mind. That’s what I want to do! I want to have five people to dinner. I want to have me at 13 or 14, it wasn’t a really good time. I can tell myself I can make it through it, you’re not going to die. Then yourself at 21, and then maybe yourself when you think you know more at 27 or maybe 35. And sit down and talk to all those selves. You are a different person – but it has nothing to do with your ability to have a baby, or childrearing, or menopause. We are continuing to evolve, but the essence of who we are is always there.

Because nobody ever revels in the fact that they don’t look…. It’s uncomfortable, it’s in our head. Of course this is not true – my mind still thinks the same stuff it thought when I was 15 or 25, how come my body looks different? And you know, none of us think the same things we do at 35 that we did at 15. What’s that Bob Dylan song? I was so much younger then, I’m wiser than that now. You know we don’t think the same. Why do we think we would look the same? That our opinions or perceptions would be the same? My views of the world when I was one age – I don’t even know who that person is anymore that thought that way or felt that way. I know she lives in me and came from me. All of this is a changing – not an aging. And the body is a changing process. I don’t look I did when I was 12. Thank god. I was tall and lanky and my pants were always high watered and I didn’t know what to do with my hair and my nose was all over my face and I was trying to figure out how to wear a training bra. I’ve gone so much past that. So you might as well look for the next change that’s going to happen. Estrogen is going to make your breasts sag and change your skin tone.   Gravity is going to affect everything that used to be up and now it’s down. And no matter how much you exercise and eat right, gravity is a force to be reckoned with. And we may as well get it in our minds and get used to it. No I don’t look the same. But guess what – I don’t think the same either.

It causes me to deal with the temporary, ever-changing nature of the vessel that houses me. The things that this vehicle could do that it now has problems doing or can no longer do the same way that it did before. Winter, steps, carrying heavy objects. The vessel is not the same vessel that carried me around when I was younger. And that can be a very humbling experience. But guess what – there are things that this vessel couldn’t do when I was 7.   It reminds you of the temporariness of the vessel that carries you. And at times, I’m sure that’s very frightening. Because without this vessel to carry you around, we don’t deal with who we are without the vessel. The vessel is us, we have decided this vessel that carries us around is really, really us.  And it ain’t. It’s just a vehicle for reaching out with. And take good care of it, cause you need it and it’s really hard to get around right now without it. But understand that all of this, this journey, is a temporary one. Don’t be scared by that. Treat your body well but don’t get all wrapped up in it. It’s just a car you ride in. Don’t make it be you. My Prius is not me. My Prius is the car I drive. This body that carries me around is part of me because my spirit and my physical form have decided to be hooked together. But this physical vehicle that carries me around is not me.

If I have a mastectomy, or I lost my leg, I might be really tripped out that I wasn’t me anymore. The vessel that carried me around has changed, but who I am is still me. I’ll have new challenges in adjusting to changes in the vehicle. But I would still be me – I’d have to work a little harder and reconnect in a different way – but I’m still me.

I’ve gained 30-35 pounds being a birth worker, because I eat shit foods and I’m up all night and I drink caffeine and I don’t eat a good balanced meals. Yeah ok get over it. Either change your life or don’t make it be me. I don’t take as good care of myself… a midwife is almost a child of the night. I’m almost a child of the night again, as I was when I was when I was 19 and hanging out to the clubs until wee hours of the day and coming home at 6’oclock in the morning and dressed up in nasty clothes when people are going to church. I’m pretty much back to being that. I have the same lifestyle, I’m just doing something different. You leave the house in one outfit, and you come home and the next morning everyone looks ready for the day and you look wild. You just went to a different kind of party.

What my body looks like other than for self-care, to take good care of it so that it will let me stay here as long as the spirit feels I should be here, as long as my spiritual part needs to do this journey. It’s really important – but it’s not me. And we have to get over that. I’m blown away when people call me by my elder status – Miss or Ma’am – I still wonder who are they talking to? And when did that happen to me? When did I become Miss, or Ma’am or Mama? I have no idea how that happened to me. And it blows me away every time I hear it.   And not just little kids, but twentysomethings. But there were times when people called me nicknames, then they stopped… Everyday you wake up, and you’re a little surprised by how the universe recognizes another day in your life. And it’s a little unsettling, but it’s a good thing. Once again it lets you know that it’s just life.