Today's Midlife Micropause we chat with author and essayist Tara Ellison. She has a particular focus on Midlife issues for women and her work has appeared in New York Magazine, The New York Times Modern Love column, The L.A. Times, Harper's Bazaar, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Her novel, Synchronized Breathing, is a saucy take on dating in L.A. after divorce. She is currently working on a memoir. When she isn't writing she enjoys her work as a volunteer with marine mammals.
How do you Micropause
In midlife, establishing daily wellness rituals can contribute significantly to well-being. Can you share a personal daily ritual or self-care practice that has had a positive impact on your overall wellness during perimenopause or menopause?
This is something I continue to strive for. Not every day is perfect and I don’t check every box daily, but I feel good if I can achieve some measure of exercise - outdoors if possible, and some quiet time in between. If I can make time to sit and meditate for fifteen minutes it makes me feel like I can tackle whatever the day brings. I realize how I start the day impacts the entire day so I try to eat something healthy, or else I crave sugar all day and am a raving madwoman! Everything in moderation is the way to go. I have a friend who complains that she has so many wellness rituals every day to get through that it feels like a fulltime job. I can relate but I reckon there needs to be some balance so that it’s not a huge strain. That’s where being in my 50’s helps because I’ve stopped trying to do everything. Instead I can be intentional about a few things.
Midlife often brings significant changes. How have you embraced and navigated the transformations that came with perimenopause and menopause, and what valuable lessons have you learned along the way?
Midlife requires that you embrace change. It pretty much demands it. But once you surrender to this process, I find it gets easier. I fought it so much in the beginning. Navigating the way my body was changing at first was super hard, and painful, but then, - in my case - I dabbled with hormones in an attempt to feel better. That has been a journey! They work for a while until they don’t, and that lapse has inspired me to be more aware of all of the changes happening and learn how to be my own hormone whisperer, in a way. Because who else knows your body better? I’m a good ten years into this process now and have tried a lot of methods to feel better and I’m wiser for it. Is it perfect? No. But I understand this next stage/new version of myself much better now and am less freaked out by the whole thing. It’s such an individual process - some women seem free of a lot of the difficult symptoms - which is great. But I found myself wrestling with almost all of them. I find a sense of humor is vital surrounding sex and midlife, in my opinion. It can still be great - or even better than ever - but patience and a sense of humor is key. And get some lube!
Midlife often prompts a reevaluation of our relationship with our bodies. How has your perception of self and the mind-body connection evolved, and what practices or insights have contributed to a positive sense of well-being?
I’ve really been through the ringer with this and have written a lot about dealing with my changing body and hormones. This piece in The Cut probably sums it up best. I found it a very humbling and painful process at times but then I managed to accept some of the challenges and get used to the fact that my body was aging and had different needs and requirements than it used to. The whole process sort of demands respect or it can totally mess with your head!
Sensuality and Connection
The connection between sensuality and overall well-being is significant. How do you nurture your sense of sensuality, and how has it contributed to a deeper connection with yourself and others in midlife?
The more time I spend getting in touch with my body, the more I reap the rewards. When I exercise and have time to go get a sauna (one of my favorite things) or take a walk on the beach, it does make a big difference to how sensual I’m feeling. Sometimes I don’t have time for much self-care(like this entire past holiday season) or have my bum in the chair all day writing and consequently don’t feel great. But between those times of heavy lifting, I try to get something in - even if it’s a five minute dance to something fun before I leap in the shower. It sounds silly but it works as a mood shifter. Dancing is something I rely on to put me in touch with the memory of how I used to be - dance was a big part of my life as a young girl - and it’s great to be able to feel like I can still access it.
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