‘The Soul of the Rose’

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I found this card in a drawer the other day whilst looking for a birthday card for my son – this was not the one I was looking for, but there are several reasons why I bought it to keep.  Firstly, don’t we all love roses?  Whether growing them, receiving them for a special occasion or admiring them in someone else’s garden?  I love the colours the artist has used – warm, feminine and sensual and then, after some research about the painting, I found this little piece at www.artble.com.

“Many of Waterhouse’s paintings are very telling of the place women had in society during his time. Victorian Britain was, for women, a place where for the first time, they started to be politically active and were able to vote and had other political rights that they had previously been denied.  Many of Waterhouse’s women are trapped or imprisoned and he seems fascinated by the idea of a woman who is powerful yet restrained …” (www.artble.com The Home of Passionate Art Lovers).

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I woke last night to the sound of heavy rain, and this morning at 6 it was raining still. Today, 1st November brings with it a very autumnal feel.  The clocks went back last week, the days are noticeably shorter and colder, and Christmas lights are being strung up almost everywhere!

So, playing with a metaphor of menopausal women like roses in their prime, and the menopause itself having similarities to autumn, a time of transition and of harvesting fruit, there is much work to be done, both in the garden and in our lives!

Writing about roses, the Gardeners’ World suggests that although the show may be over, if we look after our roses now during this autumnal period and give them some much-needed care, they will come back healthy and blooming again in the spring.

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During early autumn, the BBC gardening website suggests we …

  • bring in tender plants under cover before the first frosts
  • plant or move evergreens and conifers, while the soil is still warm
  • plant spring bedding, such as wallflowers and polyanthus
  • plant spring bulbs

And in early menopause, we can …

  • consider and take notice of early menopausal symptoms;
  • make the changes we feel are needed, considering diet, work and home life, to find the balance we require;
  • think about the people who will support us through a possibly challenging time; those who we can turn to and talk to;
  • plan something for ourselves; a massage, a luxurious bath, a yoga retreat or a spa weekend.

In the garden mid-autumn we …

  • tidy perennials, removing dead stems but leaving seed-heads for birds to eat
  • plant deciduous trees, shrubs, and climbers
  • lay new lawns, so long as the soil is not too wet
  • batten down the hatches, ensuring nothing can blow about and cause damage on windy nights

When we are perimenopausal with full-on menopausal symptoms, we can …

  • think about what we need and what we don’t need in order to be our best selves;
  • make space and time in our lives for positive and new growth;
  • find what works for us if or when symptoms become challenging or disruptive – look at the facts, visit our GP or nutritionist, do the research, read the best books around, ‘The Change for the Better’ by Deborah Garlick, for example.

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In the garden in late autumn we …

  • plant shrubs, roses, and hedging plants sold with bare roots
  • clear up fallen leaves and compost them
  • plant tulips and hyacinths
  • move deciduous trees and shrubs once they have lost their leaves
  • take hardwood cuttings from shrubs and roses

And when we are post-menopausal we can …

  • continue to grow and flourish, truly recognizing our wisdom and potential;
  • learn or continue to live in the present moment;
  • do more of what we love with who we love;
  • continue to make the changes we want in order to create or maintain balance in our lives
  • establish new routines.  Exercise and a healthy diet can take several months to embed and become habits.  (Believe me, I’m working on it!) But if we do continue to work at it and keep planting those little seeds of change, they will soon take root. 

It’s always easy in theory of course, and much harder in reality and practice, but this is a transitional time and it is indeed an opportunity for growth.  This is a time of change, rebirth; a time when we are at our wisest.  Dr. Christiane Northrup, The Wisdom of Menopause – an extraordinary book given to me by my sister-in-law, which I read some years ago and still dip into frequently – puts it (and so much more) so beautifully into perspective …

“The menopause you will experience is not your mother’s (or grandmother’s) menopause. Women of the World War II generation, whose female role models tended to be like June Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver, had an entirely different social and political environment in which to make their transition. Menopause (like menstruation, for that matter) was not discussed in public.

Today this is no longer true. As we break this silence we are also breaking cultural barriers so that we can enter this new life phase with eyes wide open—in the company of more than 48 million kinswomen, all undergoing the same transformation at the same time. And, as you’ll soon discover, the changes taking place in midlife women are akin to the power plant on a high-speed train, whisking the evolution of our entire society along on fast-forward, to places that have yet to be mapped. Whether you climb aboard this fast-moving train or step aside and let it pass will play a major role in how far you go and how you feel along the way.”

So join me and half the world population at menopause and midlife, for a time of opportunity; a time of pruning, nurturing, and preparing for growth!

Factsheets and helpful information on many of the ideas mentioned here can be found on our Factsheets and Information page, with links to The British Menopause Society and Women’s Health Concern.

For help and expert confidential advice, visit Women’s Health Concern to speak with a specialist nurse, download a factsheet or read some excellent and helpful articles.  Alternatively, make an appointment to see your GP or nutrition consultant.

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