Perimenopause and Passover: Letting Go of What's Extra

I dreamed about doing yoga, except I could not even complete a sun salutation. My arms and legs were so weak; I had to lift and maneuver them with my hands. It was frightening and sudden and strange. When had I lost all of my strength?

I also dreamed I forgot Mani's birthday, the morning of, and was scrambling to make up for it in the afternoon. It was awful. I decided to buy several plants to pot for her at the garden center as a gift.

Then some guy asked about my girlfriend and I corrected him: "Wife, actually. We tied the knot." Then I scrolled through my camera roll on my phone to show him a photo of this beautiful person I married four and a half years ago.

Last night, in real life, I was trying to describe to her how I've been feeling this week. Not quite right, physically and emotionally. Tendrils of depression nipping at me like little water snakes -- not dangerous but discomfiting in a "get me out of here" sense. A headache that's not all the way a headache, more like a hint of vertigo. Fatigue reminiscent of pregnancy. Not excited about life in the way I love being.

I scan my days to see if there's anything significantly different. Nothing. I've been taking my women's multi, along with vitamin D and fish oil. I've been running 3-4 days a week and actually loving it, even on days when I can tell my per-mile pace is a few minutes slower than ever. Plodding along, step after step, enjoying the time when running is the only thing to be doing. It's an odd little vacation.

Noticing the desire to write and run and sleep and be with my people. Thinking about what the rabbi said last Friday night about preparing for Passover -- which begins tomorrow night -- not only in the housecleaning and removing chametz (leavened food items such as bread) from the kitchen but also spiritual chametz. In other words: What is "puffed up" in me, extra, superfluous? I want to shed all things extra, even as a few extra pounds settle around my waistline as if to remind me that my metabolism isn't in its 20s and 30s anymore.

I know when I begin fantasizing about benefactors that it's time for a reset. Benefactors? I have many. Every single person who works with me is helping me support my family. My income comes in hundreds of increments. What a miracle this is. Seriously. It's the promised land of self-employment. And four years ago, it was the terrifying thing.

Isn't it funny how the thing we were so scared of can become our new normal, and then at some point, we will once again feel the winds changing and have to calmly reach for some kind of inner compass?

My inner compass has one setting: Here.

This has been true for a long time, though it has taken much practice to trust it rather than convincing myself it should be pointing towards something else, something somewhere else.

Nope. Just here. It's by being here, no matter where "here" has been, that I've made all of my best decisions. By listening to this body of mine, quieting what feels noisy, and -- especially -- noticing what is pressing and what is, in fact, extra. Superfluous.

At the end of the day -- or the beginning, as the case may be -- almost everything falls into the "extra" category. We all know how life can and does change on a dime. A phone call, a test result, a pink slip, and boom -- what you thought was certain is no longer and suddenly the compass shoots you back to here, since focusing on anywhere else brings only overwhelm or confusion. It's not that you don't make plans or identify and handle very real needs. Quite the contrary: It's that you remember that you can only be where you are. Not back in the room where it happened or ahead of things inside a dime-store crystal ball. Just here.

And when I'm here, honestly, there is nothing to worry about. Pay attention to, yes. Make conscious choices and decisions, or intuitive ones with no rational basis, yes. But worry? It steals my presence and leaves me a shell of a person, missing in action, unable to lift my arms and legs to do life.

After I told Mani last night what's been up with me, she read me a description of perimenopause from Prevention magazine. Nail on head, to a T. It's not news to me, though the reality of this passage has become more pronounced of late. This, too, shall pass, a truism that, white a tad trite, often helps me keep things in perspective without bypassing the realness of what is happening in the moment.

With this new day, I will try to remember my own words. Compass, check. Here, check. Everything else? Notice, respond accordingly. Totally do-able, right? And when it's not, because some days, let's be real, some days even "do-able" falls off the "here" radar, what if I can be ok with that? Actual catastrophes occur every day in this big-small world of ours; why add to them unnecessarily?

Time for a second cup of coffee. Be good to yourself today, and the people in your midst.