Some years ago, I read a book on Traditional Chinese Medicine, which described a woman’s Menopausal and Post-Menopausal years as her “Second Spring.” My first (cynical) thought was, “That’s a nice euphemism for friggin’ OLD!” Recently, though (approximately one year into menopause, at the age of 52) I’ve found myself remembering that “Second Spring” idea and thinking that it might just ring true for me. My body has changed but I can’t, honestly, say that the changes have all been for the worse, and I am learning that this stage of life does not need to be a time of decline, physically or mentally.
There are various reasons for this change in perspective but a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been blessed with opportunities to learn two new physical/mental disciplines (which have spiritual aspects as all things do for me – I’m an ordained minister.) Tai Chi Chuan (taught from a martial arts perspective) and ballroom dance, have been changing my body and mind (strengthening both) during the last couple of years, and giving me hope that the phrase, “I’m not just getting older; I’m getting better,” might be the truth, rather than mere platitude.
I have been a dancer and athlete for most of my life (gymnastics, ballet, modern dance, jazz dance, belly dance, weight training and general fitness) but had, until recently, convinced myself that the days of my physical “Super Powers” (as I’d once conceived them) were past. I’d figured that the best I could hope for (especially once I passed the dreaded milestone of 50 and got my first AARP mail) was to make sure I didn’t get too weak and stiff, and maintain a figure that didn’t make me totally cringe when I looked in the mirror (at least with the right clothes on.)
For reasons I still don’t fully understand, I have been blessed to begin developing new “Super Powers” and delighting in bodily blessings once more. This is not to say that I never feel discouraged (or even overwhelmed) as I take on these new endeavors (with a somewhat reluctant “Beginner’s Mind”) at a time when I do have somewhat less energy and resilience than I did during my teens and twenties. There are days when it’s bloody hard, and days when I don’t like what I see in the mirror. But, it seems to me, that Second Spring is real and I’m not the only person over 50 (or 60 or 70 or…) who can have one.
I hope, through this blog, to chronicle the journey of reclaiming my Super Powers (with suitable re-arrangements for the heroics that are being asked of me at this age which, as Bette Davis once said, is “not for sissies.”
If I can inspire a few more people to like their bodies and try to do cool new things with them, that will be blessing, indeed.