We’re getting personal now (not for the faint of heart….or weak of stomach).
A person whose opinion matters to me recently shared this sentence: “You’ve lost weight.” It was followed by that look of concern. You know, like when you hear your name over the loudspeaker in elementary school demanding you report to the principal. An accusation before understanding what I’d done wrong.
While hearing about loss of weight might be music to most people’s ears, instead it made me pause. Why is weight loss such a negative concept, and why is it a barometer? The pause I took made me think of my health, think of my habits, and consider if there was any weight (…or validity, I can’t resist a good pun) to the concern.
Then being the lover of words I am (a logophile, apparently), I felt compelled to look up the next ‘pause’ I thought of….menopause. I wondered about that loaded ‘pause’, a stomach-turning word puts men to flight and women to fright, and though often misused it comes up more and more frequently in my female circles. Most of us have to deal with it, either personally or in a spouse. Meno-pause. Ladies, our femininity is in its prime, yet that nasty word and reality is misunderstood. Simply put, hormones and opinions fly around like insects looking for a place to land.
Which brings me to a “menopause.” An epiphany of sorts.
“Meno,” I learned is a root form of month from Latin. “Pause,” and I quote from a dictionary: “A temporary stop or rest,” “a cessation of activity,” and most interestingly, down at the bottom of the explanation, “to cause to hesitate or to be unsure as from surprise or doubt.”
Most mature women I know would be appalled by that last description of pause, especially the doubt reference. (Whoever coined that medical definition likely didn’t do the empathy homework.)
Before I looked it up, I naïvely and humorously assumed that menopause meant a break from men. Dipping my toe into the basic meaning was a small pause for me, and yet another reminder that as far as those weighty issues that plague as we gracefully try to age, I believe we all have to learn acceptance, large and small.
Why is it that we so often focus on what is empty, negative, or missing, rather than embracing what is real, present and beautiful in our lives. There’s such a place for balance of goals and improvement, alongside peaceful contentment in the moment. (And ladies, often our audience of one is not our spouse, no matter how adoring their gaze, but our own critical glances that ceaselessly compare ourselves to a superficial and often fake standard.)
Deep breath. Whether the weight stays off, flies off too much, or sticks tight like glue, there is beauty. As we age, let us figure out what it means to enjoy the ride (which might be more “letting go”, than “figuring out”).
Perhaps we can take the advice of Mark Twain. “Wrinkles will only go where the smiles have been.”
(And for the fun of it, here are a few of our RetireMEMEs to help reflect, relax and reimagine as need be.)