The menopause is so often regarded as a negative experience, but it can be a new chapter in which many women find themselves with a new lease of life.
The rush of energy and increased confidence that women can experience can be the perfect springboard for pursuing long-held ambitions or new dreams, whether that's embarking on a new career, taking up a new sport or hobby, or simply taking the time to focus on feeling your best.
Here we speak to women about the greater self-assurance that comes with menopause – and what it inspired them to do.
Clare, 52, Hertfordshire
“For me, this stage in my life has signalled new beginnings and a desire to try new things. Just after I turned 50 I decided to take up a part-time gardening course at a local college. I loved it so much I then took a sabbatical from my retail job to do a year-long course full time, and was awarded horticulture student of the year for my level. As well as learning a new skill I've made lots of new friends and it’s really boosted my confidence. It has been a very positive experience and I’m now looking into pursuing gardening full time.”
Vanda, 57, Norfolk
“Before I went through the menopause, I used to dye my hair to hide the grey – for 17 years in fact. But now I don't want to pretend any more.
“I’ve allowed my hair to go completely grey – a result of feeling much more confident in myself and no longer wanting to pretend I’m someone I'm not. My focus now is on what makes me feel good, not what other people might think, and a great cut and keeping my hair in good condition makes me feel great. I take more time to pamper myself and have discovered meditation. Taking time to do these things now will determine my wellbeing in the years to come.”
Margaret, 51, Cork
“Coming through the other side of menopause I found that for the first time I was wondering what I really wanted out of life. As a stay-at-home mum and having never gone on to higher education there was a realisation that I was a person in my own right and I wanted to pursue a career. I am now just about to enter the second year of a counselling course. My 51st year has been the most inspiring of my life and there is an excitement in me that was never there before.”
Gill, 55, Leeds
“Two years ago, after the early death of my husband and with the children having left home, I decided to re-evaluate my lifestyle. I retired from my job in the health industry and enrolled on an English literature degree course. It has opened up new horizons and reinvigorated interests in the theatre, museums, history and literature. It is intellectually stimulating and challenging.
I also took up running with the local club in the village, have completed a half marathon and am aiming to do the marathon in Paris next year. I’ve taught myself to swim front crawl, taken up open-water swimming and now cycle 30 miles twice a week with friends. I’ve also completed a triathlon and plan to do more. In my personal life, I have rekindled a romance with my first teenage love and we plan to get married later this year. I have never been happier, more fulfilled or full of energy.”
Christine, 62, Yorkshire
“The major change the menopause brought for me is, contrary to all expectations, a revitalised sex life. From everything I’d read, I’d expected it to dwindle away, but as a result of more confidence and an increase in drive, it’s been the opposite. In fact, ever since the menopause, I’ve found I’ve approached life with much more excitement and a real joie de vivre. As my husband says, long may it reign.”
Aisling, 52, Dublin
“Some fairly challenging menopause symptoms hit me at 47, including irritability and mood swings – but so did a new lease of life. I decided to take some time out for myself to reflect. I’d had several careers, including in financial PR and running my own catering business, before becoming a full-time mother, and I realised that I was ready to find a new focus again outside of home life.
“I did a digital marketing course which brought out an entrepreneurial side of me. As the menopause was on my mind and I’d found so few upbeat messages for women going through it, I decided to set up my own website called My Second Spring, which is the name for menopause in China. I think the menopause is a time to do some editing – to look at how we’re living and make sure that we're well set up for the second half of life. We need to claim the menopause as an opportunity, not something to be feared or ignored.”
So whether you’ve always fancied tackling a triathlon, want to try out a new career as a writer, or feel like a radical new haircut, the menopause can be the perfect time to reassess your life and try something new – as these inspiring women have proved.
The ‘me’ in menopause
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