Menopause Journal: Am I supposed to be sick?

Life in Menopause

I'm reminded of Sunday Morning, a poem by Wallace Stevens, in which a woman contemplates the divine, which she finds "In any balm or beauty of the Earth." Aware of life change necessary for beauty, from the birth of the bird to its flight away, from a flower's bud to bloom and final fade, she asks if there is no change in paradise. "Does ripe fruit never fall?"

Only the stillness of death ends change. Where fruit never falls, neither would we. We wouldn't move or grow or even taste the fruit. I'll opt for change, recognizing that it involves loss as well as gain.

I'm not oblivious to aging. I know that my knees get stiff and my back creaks. I have wrinkles and I'm plumper than I used to be. I take my sweater off and pull it back on about 10 times a day. I could catalog and analyze symptoms. But it's not all bad. I notice that I need less sleep. Maybe there's merit to menopause. Just because we're not pregnant doesn't mean we baby boomers are finished. Flower children once, we've become mature peace lilies, extending our stamens, reaching for late opportunities to make our contributions. (Is sappiness a symptom?)

In my early forties, I anticipated the empty nest, and the creative juices that carried me into my born-again sex life also took me to the community radio station, where I hosted a weekly jazz show. I took up painting, illustrating a picture book about my sister. And I learned to sail.

In some ways I'm better able to focus. In fact once I start something, it's hard to stop. If I'm writing that's all I want to do. If I'm sailing, I want to stay out for weeks at a time. If I'm eating ice cream, I eat the entire quart. Whoops ! I guess that's not focus, just lack of self-discipline. I can't make myself clean the house or mow the lawn. Should I worry about this? Am I sick? Is it menopause? Or is it me?

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