A new year brings new resolutions, or for some of us, old resolutions made anew… Personally, I’ve always found New Year’s resolution-making a bit underwhelming. Mostly because I’m constantly making and recommitting to acts of well-being and self-discipline on any given day. But I appreciate the symbolism of it and the opportunity to join other constant strivers in the collective act of aspiring for better – aspiring to know better, be better, and do better.
Apparently, ancient Babylonians kicked off the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, more than 4,000 years ago, as part of their multi-day New Year celebration. It was during this time that they pledged their loyalty to the king and vowed before the gods to repay outstanding debts and return any borrowed items as means of currying favor in the year ahead. So, apart from pledging loyalty to the king, not a whole lot has changed…
According to research, approximately 40% of people in the United States and 22% of people in the UK make resolutions upon the arrival of each new year. Some of the most common recurring New Year’s resolutions happen to mirror many of the lifestyle and behavioral modifications that are core to managing a challenging menopause transition, including:
Drinking less alcohol
Not surprisingly, of the 40% of people in the United States and 22% of people in the UK who set New Year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful in seeing them through. Admittedly, I continue to struggle with all of the aforementioned (apart from one). Even so, on my worst days, you might count me down, but certainly not out. The more I learn about the complexity of menopause transition and my own ever-changing experience with it, the more I realize that it’s less about obsessively trying to address my perimenopause, and more about nurturing my overall health and well-being as I’m aging.
So, as we cautiously, yet optimistically, ease our way into the year ahead, I’ll sojourn on in my daily resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, etc. When it comes to my resolutions for the menopause movement in 2021, it is to do my part to make it better for those who are struggling (myself included).
I resolve to:
Speak It: “Named must be your fear, before banish it you can.” – Yoda
Menopause does not wield the power of Voldemort, nor does it turn you into an old hag if you say the word in public or speak about it openly. The days of treating menopause like a shameful or embarrassing topic, or an issue that only affects “unstable women,” are waning and I’m proud to add my voice to the cause. I believe that you can’t manage what you can’t talk about, and we have to talk more openly, honestly — and constructively — about menopause.
Undoubtedly, I’ve made some folks uncomfortable – men and women alike – when I’ve raised in public company, any number of ways that perimenopause has impacted my life. This is pretty evident by the uncomfortable chuckles or awkward silences that follow, but my statements are never for shock value, rather they’re meant to model and hopefully empower others to do the same.
Whether it’s my unabashed ego or my unwitting naivete, I’ll continue to talk openly about how fatigue (thanks to the relentless night sweats), brain fog and a propensity to forget my learned vocabulary, effect how I show up in the workplace (albeit virtual, these days). I’ll ask for grace when my random bouts of rage (which are thankfully, more infrequent) impact my best relationships. I’ll apologize to my loved ones when my hormones succeed in conquering my well-taught restraint, and continue to express my appreciation for their resounding patience and support.
Learn It : “Knowledge is a like a garden; if it isn’t cultivated it can’t be harvested.” – African Proverb
Four years into perimenopause, my learning continues as my related conditions shift, morph and evolve. Inevitably, my knowledge regarding menopause transition has become more expansive, and I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would have the patience for. This is more so a by-product of the deeply disappointing lack of preparation and guidance from my Ob-gyn, or insights gained from others who struggled through their own challenging journey long before my own. Even so, I count myself fortunate to be navigating during a time where information is literally at my fingertips, and if nothing else, I can demystify new conditions as they arise and set about acquiring the knowledge to manage it.
Apply It: “Knowing is not enough, we must apply it. Willing is not enough, we must do.” –
Of course, applying the knowledge we obtain when faced with the opportunity do so, is key. Successfully manifesting my best health outcomes continues to feel like work. On the upcycles, the work is less challenging and I feel like I can handily slay the beast…then come the downcycles, and the effort required to do what’s best, is tackled day-to-day, if not moment-to-moment (which is where I’m at, about now). But like I said before, even when I’m down, I never consider myself out and it’s during the tough times when I draw on my most favorite mantra to make it through and begin anew, “Fall down seven times, get up eight” (REPEAT).
Share It : “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles by it.” – Margaret Fuller
Well over a year ago I started blogging and posting in social media about the things I was so desperate to better understand; I started googling my “symptoms” at least a year before that. Undoubtedly, if I’d found the menopause haven I was looking for, I never would’ve begun documenting my own experience, let alone have the gumption to think that anyone else would care to read about it.
Ultimately, it’s been a righteous indignation that’s spurred me to share what I learn. But not just share it, I want to make it accessible, relatable and welcoming for more women who feel alone and adrift in their experience.
More than anything, I want to help make the experience of menopause transition easier and better for women. I want Black women and women of color to feel included, represented and supported in the movement. And I want menopause to be a mainstream concern, so that by New Year’s 2031, no one has to write gratuitous blog posts about resolving to help make it better.