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A Rite of Passage: Finding Meaning in Perimenopause

As I reflect on my journey through perimenopause, I notice how each step led me to not just cope, but to deeply engage with this transformative period through creativity and expressive arts. I can also see how viewing it through the lens of a rite of passage has been an invitation for me to embrace the transformative power that such a passage of change brings.  And why not?  It’s smacking me right in the face whether I dance with it meaningfully or not! 


Step 1: The Liminal Phase.  What in the heck is happening to me?!  Reckoning with Perimenopause.

I stepped right into the unknown a few years ago when I found myself having heart palpitations, night sweats (The feeling like I must be getting sick, is this covid? Wait, I'm not sick? What in the heck is this?!), newfound heartburn, random neuropathies, deeply disturbed sleep,...and the list went on.  I was fearful for my health and somewhat relieved when I started doing what most people do these days when going through something new- listening to every podcast I could get my hands on to describe what in the heck was going on.  I had never heard of perimenopause!  I called everyone I knew of a similar age, I talked to my sister, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and thankfully a hormone specialist.  I started to recognize the foreign land I had entered.

Step 2: Transformation.  Playing Symptom Whack-a-Mole

Soon it became clear that perimenopause was like a good old fashioned game of whack-a-mole.  As soon as one symptom was starting to make sense or calm down, here came another one.  It was truly demoralizing.  Here I was, training to transform my career and live out a new dream all the while suffering from symptoms that were causing my life to constrain, not expand.

Step 3: Change of Perspective Begins.  Discovering "The Second Spring"

Reading The Second Spring by Kate Codrington was a turning point. The book opened my eyes to the idea that perimenopause wasn't just a series of medical symptoms to be treated but a significant life transformation as well. It reminded me that both body and brain were in a state of profound change.  It invited me to consider a bigger, and more meaningful context for the often frightening symptoms I was experiencing.  This phase had an on purpose to it.  My organs are literally metamorphosing for another stage.  Wow, no wonder I am experiencing so much flux.  My contractions have a gestational mission!

Step 4: Change of Perspective Continues: Embracing the Rite of Passage

The concept of perimenopause as a rite of passage brought comfort and a new lens through which to view the ups and downs, expansions and contractions. It helped frame the journey not just as a medical condition but as an important transitional phase filled with potential for growth, as accompaniment to the ongoing uncertainty and discomfort.

Step 5: Build & Grow:  Integrating Tamalpa Life/Art Process

As all of this was going on, I continued my journey with training in the Tamalpa Life/Art Process.  This process integrates the expressive arts of movement, creative writing, spoken word, and visual arts.  These mediums became ways in which my inner turmoil could express as beauty alongside my moments of joy and discovery. These artistic expressions, combined with my grounded view from Polyvagal Theory, helped me acknowledge and support my varied inner states—from fear and vulnerability to resourcefulness and resilience.  I may not have had the full picture of where it was all going, or what was happening at that moment, but I could locate myself on a map.  I could notice where I was in my own nervous system, as well as where I was in a bigger context of the transformation that rites of passages bring.  

Step 6: Build & Grow Continues:  Living Fully Amidst Symptoms

This dawning new viewpoint involved a significant shift in perspective. I learned to meet and manage my symptoms not only as interruptions to life as I wanted it to be, but as integral parts of life as a fully lived experience. Artistic expression allowed me to feel vibrantly alive even in the midst of challenge, recognizing that all phases—easy and deeply hard—are essential components of life's unfolding narrative.   In the meaning-making view of Tamalpa- these parts of life compose the deep complexity of our personal mythologies. 

I began to embrace the paradox of perimenopause- that it was both a challenge and an opportunity; a series of symptoms and a catalyst for personal transformation. By engaging creatively, I am not just mitigating symptoms but also experiencing moments of profound personal change and connection.

Conclusion: The Continuing Journey

Life stages like perimenopause are not merely a (long) phase to endure but a meaningful chapter of life to live with creativity, courage, and lots of naps. If you happen to be navigating a similar path, I invite you to consider exploring creativity as a resource. Whether through dance, writing, painting, or anything else that sparks your feeling of creative expression, these activities can provide not just relief but a sense that amidst the feeling that aspects of life as we knew it are falling away, so too new aspects of life are reshaping themselves into creation.

This time has been reminding me that change is inevitable, and with creativity as a companion, it can be a phase in which we find new meaning, new connections, and a new sense of what is actually important to us on a much deeper level.  

Working With Me:  Expressive Arts Life Coaching for moving through a Rite of Passage

Inspired by my own journey, I remodeled my professional practice into its next iteration in order to support others through their own times of disorientation and change. My work now provides a space for people to connect with their inner voices, reorient themselves, and discover creativity as a constant, supportive companion in life’s journey. I believe that art isn’t just for the ‘artists’—it’s a tool accessible to everyone, capable of holding us meaningfully through our times of profound personal transformation.  I am calling this work Expressive Arts Life Coaching for moving through a Rite of Passage.  I draw on my skills as a registered somatic movement educator, polyvagal theory informed practitioner, and Tamalpa Life/Art Practitioner in training. If you’d like to know more about engaging with me in this type of work, you can learn more about my program or sign up for a one-on-one free 20 minute exploratory session with me here:

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