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Que Sera Sera?
Accidental activists, the menopause revolution and lessons from trees.
Like thousands of other women, and hopefully men, I watched Davina’s latest documentary on the menopause last night. I can’t help but feel angered at the lack of interest there has been over the decades in this major and unavoidable event in our lives. And why has no one until now wondered why women’s rate of suicide is at it’s highest between the ages of 45 and 49?
When I recorded my first series on the menopause for the podcast back in 2020, we had a plumber installing a radiator in the kitchen. ‘So it’s not just a figment of women’s imagination then?’ he said, and was dead serious! I heard Davina’s voice in my head then too, this time saying ‘do not swear!’ …to no avail. Of course I swore - there’s no messing with menopausal me!
There has been a void in conversation and education about women for too long. Did you see the 2020 movie ‘Enola Holmes’ about when Sherlock’s mother goes missing?
Right at the beginning, Sherlock and his brother Mycroft come to her house to look for clues, baffled as to why she has vanished into thin air. As far as they are concerned, she has all she could possibly want. Mycroft says:
She simply had to ensure Enola a decent life, and to live her remaining years with dignity.
Because of course, that is all a woman is good for, raising children and then being put out to pasture. Obviously it was set a number of decades back, but you catch my drift. At the risk of a spoiler alert (it isn’t quite), she took off to join the women’s emancipation group she formed in London. The movie is wonderful and if you’ve not yet watched it, I highly recommend you do, in fact, I insist you give yourself the joy of a couple of hours with your feet up.
The sad reality is that still, in the 21st century, women are often misunderstood, pushed aside, or just ignored. The needs of women are also still a very long way from being valued as they should. Menopause is a case in point. How many years has Viagra been available, over the counter? Exactly.
We have made good ground over the last few decades but in many ways we still live in a man’s world. The work is far from done which is why activism must continue to be a crucial part of our lives. If we don’t speak up and stand our ground or fight our cause, we will find ourselves going backwards.
Society is fragmented with a self-centred drive to have what we want. We have created a culture that is obsessed with serving the sense of self but when we see a cause, and come together on it, great things happen. The menopause revolution is a perfect example of this, and at a more local level, there will be many other ways to connect and rally together. Need is everywhere, if we are prepared to look and see.
Davina started her documentary last night saying that following the first one, she had a tsunami of a response that made her realise just how important it was to keep going and do more, although she said she never saw herself as an activist, until now. I think that’s the case with most activists, they often find themselves in the middle of something that matters and accidentally become one. Perhaps we should all become accidental activists.
The power behind finding a sense of community and purpose, far surpasses any need for individual recognition or sense of power.
This is where I find that looking at trees is a great lesson in how to do life. We reconnected with the joys of nature and walking during the pandemic years and many people rediscovered the sense of wholeness that comes from being in nature. I do find it interesting that now we are out the other side, how fast we leave these lessons behind. We quickly grasp back at things we can feel in control of, the wellness gurus and their followers want things they can measure and touch, dare I say buy and sell! I would argue that being in nature has the ability to reach the depths of our soul in a far more powerful way than any youTube yoga class or meditation app. Why is this? Well that’s part of the joy of being human, I’m not sure we will ever fully know, and I’m not sure we should.
Peter Wohlleben’s book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ talks about how trees have an underground communication system. Through their roots, they communicate with each other, passing vital nutrients and life giving sources between one another in order to survive. I find this such a powerful image of a life well lived, one that we can learn from and replicate:
Reach, connect, and share.
Everything is connected and we are part of the chain. This is why when I hear someone say ‘everything happens for a reason,’ I squirm a little. If that is truly the case, it means we have absolutely no influence over the direction of our lives or the future of our world. If everything happens for a reason, we are saying that everything is pre-destined. But do we really think that? Do you really think that?
I don’t think that everything happens for a reason, but I do think that there is a lesson in everything that happens. And if we are willing to learn, and grow, and share; to take risks and be vulnerable and try new things; to connect and take part in life around us, then surely we will reap the benefits at a much deeper level.
There is a lesson in everything
Things happen as a matter of consequence. But in our obsession with being happy and living our best lives, we have become uncomfortable with the concept of cause and effect, we just want the good stuff. We don’t like the idea of taking responsibility and facing up to the reality that sometimes we’ve made the wrong choice or messed up, or even worse, that we might have to put effort into something that will take time to create. ‘Ah well, everything happens for a reason’ takes the sting out and helps us blindly keep on walking without taking stock and learning.
Older doesn’t mean wiser
Just because someone has been on the planet longer, doesn’t make them wiser. The willingness to learn from our mistakes is where wisdom comes from, and there the adage works. Effectively, the older we are, the more mistakes we will have probably made, but wisdom only comes if we face up to them and shoulder our responsibility.
So if we are willing to take responsibility for our own mistakes, and by extension for our lives, and local community, seeking out causes that need support, we CAN change the course ahead. Whatever will be will be because of what we’ve done, not because we sat by and washed our hands of any responsibility.
I know that lives have been changed, even saved, by the menopause revolution, and this is only the beginning. It’s not just Davina, there are many other women who have been rattling this cage for years. Thankfully with Davina’s platform, their work is now getting the attention it needs so that we can have the support we need as we deal with these significant changes to our bodies.
If you’re only just hearing about help for menopause now, there are loads of resources out there. I have recorded a number of podcasts over the last couple of years that might be of help:
How to talk to your GP about HRT #91 with Menopause specialist Sharon Hartmann
Food, mood and hormones #92 how what we eat can help how we feel with nutritionist Emma Ellice Flint
Testosterone is not just for boys #93 with Dr Zoe Hodson who featured in Davina’s documentary on how testosterone affects our brain
Knowing and navigating the symptoms of menopause #78 with Diane Danzebrink, founder of #makemenopausematter
Beyond the bleed #79 with The Menopause Psychologist Dr Becky Quicke, an excellent conversation on anxiety and emotional needs in menopause
A beginners guide to HRT and the menopause #72 with Dr Zoe Hodson
So enough of battling through and doing our own thing. Let’s rally together, embrace need, bridge gaps and become accidental activists!
It’s a great song, but otherwise, a total load of rubbish! Have a great week :)
Love first, Pipa x