Once upon a glorious pre-perimenopausal time, my cycles were more reliable than NASA and the Mayans for marking the passage of time. My body responded to exercise, diet and a good night’s sleep as intended — by performing well and looking good. Heck, my body responded to wine, chocolate and a restless night’s sleep by performing well and looking good!
But that, my friends, was in what I now refer to as “the good ol’ days.”
These days, Aunt Flo is as likely to arrive when I’m 100 feet above the ground in a hemlock forest and still 1½ hours away from zip-lining my way to “feminine protection” as she is to appear on schedule. And my body has adopted the mindset of a 15-year-old miscreant, responding to all my requests to perform and look good with the equivalent of a shrug and an eye-roll.
Though we haven’t always seen eye to eye — I, for example, think the whole nine-months-to-build-a-baby thing could easily be pared down to five or six with a little more effort — Mother Nature has effectively reminded me that humiliation 100 feet in the air can lead to humility back on the ground. And that’s been a good thing.
My friend Jamie concurs.
Though she laments what she calls a “crepiness” around her neck, Jamie remains convinced that what she’s gained at this point in her life — a calm acceptance that she can handle what life dishes out, for starters — is more than worth wanting to wear turtlenecks year round. She sums it up as “a loss of fear.”
Though my other friends have their own litany of physical complaints — from unexpected adult acne to the sprouting of increasingly irrepressible facial hairs — they, too, admit that a certain calm comes as well.
Unfortunately, it’s not always a calm we can share. My friend Dawn, whose hugs are legendary, admits wryly that — thanks to hot flashes that leave her wringing wet — “I don’t hug as often as I used to.”
Those who’ve reached the other side, however, regale me with stories of increased energy and creativity that they haven’t experienced in years. And a jaunty confidence that despite weight gain, crepey skin and directionally challenged hairs, all is well.