On being a woman

I used to be a very hard woman, determined to get on in life and working till late into the night. I dressed in trousers always and I completed an engineering degree in 1972, where I was the only girl in a class of 72 men!

I was very masculine in my approach to life, not at all dainty, feeling that was a weakness – sometimes I hated being a woman. I felt that women were weak and I wanted to be strong; most of the women I knew weren’t able to stand up for themselves, were very wishy-washy, and delicacy I saw as feeble.

I know now in my 70s that women can be sensitive and strong; that in fact our sensitivity is our strength, as is our ability to stand up and speak what we know instead of kowtowing to society’s image of how a woman is or ‘should be’.

As for my periods, as a young woman and all of my adult life I hated them and was greatly relieved when they finally stopped – they were simply a painful mess once a month in my life. My periods were pretty messy, and often leaked onto the bed at night and into my trousers during the day. I had some quite strong period pain too, and my moods were unpleasant, but it is only recently that I have learned about the power our monthly periods have to clear and refresh the body – not just physically, but energetically too. I didn’t know or understand much about energetic quality in those days, apart from electromagnetic energy that we learned about at school and electrical energy in my engineering degree.

I had two babies in my early 30s but went back to work after 6 months with my first and after 4 months with my second so that I could continue my career, as I enjoyed my work and was earning good money. We had a live-in nanny Monday to Friday. It worked really well; I was with the children at weekends and always put them to bed, but could continue my career knowing they were well looked after in their own home.

When my youngest was five and at school I finally stopped work and set up my own business working from home, going out into companies doing training in Personal Development.

The children were taken to school by a neighbour and came back on the bus or had a lift home. I can recall one time when I forgot to go to school to collect my daughter – but there she was, patiently waiting. She is often complimentary about my parenting, saying she always knew I was there for them: I‘m not so convinced as I felt I was hardly there, but I did and I do still love them and, although I am now living in a different country, we keep in touch via live video links.

Gradually over time, I began to see how my stressful and hard way of living was doing me no good at all.

This was particularly obvious in 2002 when my muscles became shaky and I was diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid and atrial fibrillation. In 2004 I nearly lost my right leg with an arterial clot, but fortunately was well supported by the medical profession and I’ve been on Warfarin ever since. The doctor confirmed my feelings that it was all caused by stress.

In order to reduce the stress I learned to be more gentle in my movements, in my speech and in the way I touched things; I also embraced a more healthy diet and stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine.

Gradually as I changed my diet to be gluten and dairy free, cutting back on sugar, my body weight dropped from 98kgs to 50kgs.

One of the inspirations in my life is Natalie Benhayon . . . I think she was just 16 when I first met her. She was then, and still is, all woman – not in a brazen way, but simply being herself and taking care of her body. I particularly notice her nails; you can feel the delicate way she paints them because her fingertips always look immaculate. It’s a small detail, but one that inspires me.

Natalie also introduced the Our Cycles App, a way of tracking our periods and feelings: I still use it now (using the Full Moon Cycle) and find it a great help as I realise that I am ticking off fewer and fewer negative feelings and appreciating more positive ones. It also has a section on nurturing that highlights where I have or have not taken care of myself and my body every day.

Natalie introduced True Movement to the UK where I was living at the time and I absolutely loved that – I’ve always loved dancing and the music of her brother Michael Benhayon combined with her moves feels very empowering in the body.

Natalie also introduced Sacred Movement. I’m still coming to terms with the word sacred – it is a word familiar to me from my Catholic upbringing that I tried very hard to shake off as soon as I left school, but in doing so I found myself reacting to the word sacred, even when said in a completely different way and with a completely different energy. So that one is a work in progress for me . . .

In 2009 I left my first husband and lived on my own in another part of the UK. I took on basic cleaning and shop work and continued making my life more simple and physically active, but this time more gently. Natalie would visit the UK twice a year and I loved having individual sessions with her, learning a bit more about myself as a woman each time.

After a few years and some trips to Australia, I met a new man and moved to Australia permanently, which is where I am now. Not long after we married my new husband was diagnosed with cancer and died after 2 years, but I have decided to stay, and I still attend sessions with Natalie.

Thanks to Natalie I’ve learned a lot about how I am with other people – moving away from blame, getting to recognise when I am unnecessarily comparing myself to others, letting go of jealousy and frustration, learning to simply be all of me.

I am not as angry as I used to be. I look within rather than outside for the cause of any disruption, realising that how I live affects everyone and everything around me, so when something happens to me in life I see it as a reflection of how I am living. And in the same way, the way I live offers a reflection to others. I don’t react so much as I used to: I try to understand where people are coming from and don’t put any expectations upon them, and I need not have any issues with their choices.

Thanks to Natalie’s presentations I have come to respect the human body, learning more about cycles and how the woman’s body prepares itself to be ready for childbirth, or at least cleanses itself every month. Whilst I don’t have periods anymore, I love using the Our Cycles App for recording my progress each day as I slowly refine my way of living and interacting with others.

Many women feel that their life is over at a certain age – I love telling people that “I’m 70 and I’m just getting started!”

I work part time, I volunteer on a crisis line service, I’m a DJ on a local radio station, and I’ve been studying counselling with a view to becoming a fully qualified counsellor in Australia so I can keep working regardless of how old and arthritic I am!

Not only that, thanks to Natalie’s ongoing inspiration I will continue to appreciate my female body and its sensitivity, and what I can bring to the world regardless of my physical age.

Filed under

MenopauseAgeingWomen's health

  • By Carmel Reid, Goonellabah, Australia

    Carmel started her career in the UK with an electronic engineering degree and moved on into business coaching and personal counselling. Now living and working in Australia, she brings enthusiasm, experience and wisdom to many business and voluntary projects in her local community and world-wide on Social Media.

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