“Productivity” and “re-productivity” are not the same thing, and they do not start and end together. Just because your body is wrapping up its reproductive time, briskly rubbing its hands and saying, “well, that’s that then” doesn’t mean you’re done producing things.
Too often, productivity is equated with youth, as though one were dependent on the other, and the only things we produce in midlife and beyond are complaints and increasing health care costs.
You may be in or even through perimenopause and menopause, but you’re not done creating yet.
Maybe it’s menopause
For many women, menopause and after are times of enormous creativity. It’s possible that rush of creative power is rooted in hormones: Dr. Christiane Northrup has theorized that it may be due at least in part to high levels of oxytocin and prolactin, the “bonding hormones.” Add to that the fact that after the hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause, a woman’s body returns to relative stability when menopause is complete, allowing her to focus her full attention on other things.
Alternatively, perhaps it’s caused by a reduction in progesterone, the calming hormone. If your creation comes from a place of deep emotion, of passion, of fury … those can be tough to fire up when you’re cozy in front of the fire with your sweetie and Abe the Labrador.
Maybe you’re born with it
Honestly, who cares where it comes from? Women in midlife often experience a freedom they haven’t felt before, or at least not since childhood. With the children mostly or entirely independent, careers humming along or wrapping up, finances reasonably stable, and best of all, a shiny, brand-new indifference to the opinions of others, midlife is the perfect time to indulge your creative side. For me, caring less about others’ opinions has been key to my own resurging creativity – I can write from a more honest place when the only voices in my head are my own and my characters’.
Our creative expression too often takes a back seat to other areas of our lives that speak with greater urgency: carving out time to write a short story or take photographs can seem incredibly self-indulgent when the house is a wreck and you have that big presentation to give on Monday.
But aging and menopause give us a little perspective: we understand that we serve others better when we serve ourselves as well … maybe even first. As Menopause Goddess Lynette Sheppard puts it, “It’s important that we jump in with both feet, both arms, and a whole heart. We need it because it nourishes us.”
So. How will you begin or continue celebrating and nourishing your creative self? Maybe you’ll dust off your paints, dig out your journals, unpack your toe shoes or tap, get your kids’ science project off your potter’s wheel – it’s all good. Your muse is coming out of retirement.
Whatever medium or forum you use to express your creativity, we hope you’ll share it with us. Tell us what your book is about, link us to the website where can we see your art, shoot us your Etsy page, craft us some poetry in the comments, or give us your Instagram info so we can follow you.
As the poet Mary Oliver asks, so we ask you: