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To Bloom or not to Bloom? Creativity and menopause

All week I have been meaning to sit and write a blog post. It has been on my to-do list for a while longer, and I have kept shunting the task across the days on my Google calendar! Today is the day – I am not going anywhere until it is done. For some reason I have a block about writing about my summer theme of ‘Bloom’. In my online group, ‘The Nurtured Artist’ I have been guiding my community with prompts and thoughts to reflect upon what it means to bloom and grow as a creative. As the group expert I feel I should have this sussed! But I have not been feeling in bloom. All year I have been chasing my tail, ever since I had Covid, and I cannot believe September is lurking around the corner with her back-to-school vibes and darkening evenings.

There is a reason for my not feeling blooming good and that is that I am going through perimenopause. There, I said it out loud. Some would say this is a private matter, not to be broadcast on the world wide web, but as someone who wants to live authentically at the intersection of art and wellbeing it is such a life altering, transitional time I need to address it. Because with the arrival of perimenopause I saw the departure of my creativity.

That is not easy to admit when my life’s purpose is to make art, write and talk about mindset and creative flow.

Perimenopause is also not easy to live with and has affected my mental health, physical health and called upon me to address every aspect of my life and ambitions. It has felt at times like a very dark cocoon that it is going to take a long time to grow through. It took me a long time to realise what was happening, it took a couple of years for it to dawn on me that this was perimenopause – because I really wasn’t prepared for it.

I have accepted that is where I am. That this is the still point between life’s halves. It’s a space from where I need to take stock. It has been uncomfortable. I have had to let go of expectations, let go of energy that I took for granted, and take time to re-evaluate and reaffirm what is important to me. I have done this most recently through journaling, meditation and reading lots of books on becoming. Whenever I have felt like giving up, that the comfortable place of creating artwork will evade me, I make a small breakthrough and I am able to touch base with myself. It is like having a baby who sleeps just at the point that you think you will break; my creative self turns up just at the point that I feel that the river has run dry.

I have questioned every part of my life, my choices, relationships, aspirations, and abilities. In my Nurtured Artist community, I have guided others not to question, not to compare, but to show up at the page, to silence the inner critic and play and create, I have been writing to myself! In the dark days of having long Covid compounded with perimenopause symptoms, I felt bereft but as I have grown through this, I have an overwhelming sense of growth and transition – a new sense of purpose and self-worth.

I want to reach out to others who feel disillusioned and distanced from themselves. As our energy wanes, it is easy for our to-do list to become focussed on work and responsibilities, never getting round to feeding our souls or living for our passions (and what are they now?). The act of creating art, or satisfying my urge to make, always makes me feel better but a day can be filled with the ‘shoulds’ rather than the calming, nourishing act of making. Once I realised that there was no point in having myself at the bottom of a never-ending to-do list (and this has only been a recent realisation!), I could turn my day upside down to make sure I made some time for me, however short, ahead of fulfilling work and life responsibilities.