user-icon chevron-right minus plus cross google shopping-cart caret-down chevron-down chevron-circle-up menu search youtube facebook twitter rss linkedin2 pinterest

women's health

32 articles in women's health

Eat Your Way To Menopausal Freedom - Part 3

Eat Your Way To Menopausal Freedom - Part 3

This is part three of natural menopause – if you have not done so yet, I suggest you read part one here “Beware Of HRT” and part two here "5 steps to an ideal menopause" The decisions you make about what you eat from 35 onwards not only determine the kind of menstrual, peri-menopausal and menopausal issues you will have—or not have. They also determine how slowly or rapidly your body ages, how good you look and feel as the years pass, and how much vitality you can count on. You see, life feeds upon life. Your body makes use of foods radiant with life force to increase your mental and physical energy and restore hormonal order. Choosing the right kind of foods will protect you from all those female agonies that the rest of the world wrongly thinks can only be handled by swallowing dangerous drugs. HOW TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE Go through your kitchen cupboards. Throw out (I mean literally!) every packaged convenience food you find there. This stuff is not worthy of being called “food.” It’s chock full of artificial chemicals, destructive trans-fatty acids, masses of sugar, poisonous pesticides and herbicides which were sprayed on crops, and dangerous GMO rubbish. Nothing can screw up your hormonal system faster than this kind of junk can. If you want to protect your body from early aging, degenerative diseases, osteoporosis, cancer and female miseries, it’s time to get savvy and opt for a life-generating way of eating based on organic foods grown on healthy soils. This is no joke! Once your body gets used to clean, healthy, natural foods, you’ll be surprised to discover that you literally hate all the junk that most people eat. Of course will take a while to make the transition from junk to real foods, so start now. Point your goals in the right direction and keep learning how to eat so you stay looking and feeling young at every age. This way of eating also reverses all sorts of so-called illness—from something as simple as reflux, to sleeplessness, depression, heart disease and cancer. All you need is the persistence to see the change through. RICH IN VITALITY Begin by eating foods rich in phyto-hormones—natural hormones that perfectly fit your own cell receptor sites to protect you from damage by estrogen mimics in our poisonous environment. Fresh, raw, organic vegetables, concentrated green foods like spirulina, chlorella, and naturally fermented foods are ideal. We have long been told that carbohydrates—breads and pasta, rice and cereals—are your body's main source of energy. This just ain’t so. Of course vegetable carbohydrates are great: sea plants, broccoli, spinach, kale—the works. So are legumes, but only in small quantities, since they can help provide steady lasting energy throughout the day. GRAINS TURN INTO SUGAR The other piece of nonsense which our corporate-controlled media and government keep pushing is the notion that low-fat, processed foods are healthy. Don’t believe it. In packaged, processed convenience foods, good-quality fat—such as extra-virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil and butter from cows that, at least part of their lives, have been fed on green grass—has long been replaced with sugars (oftentimes with high-fructose corn syrup), flavors and colors. If you eat sugar and grain-based carbs, this leads to more calories and weight gain, and fatigue. Read labels. If you see “non-fat” or “low-fat”, what this means is high sugar—and getting fat from eating them. Stay away from them. One of the major energy problems caused by eating processed foods full of grain-based carbs and/or sugars such as pasta, bread, cereals and sweets is that this brings about a progressive decline in your body's ability to process sugar. Unlike vegetables and fruits, which are full of beneficial fiber, manufactured processed foods are highly concentrated. Fiber is no longer present to dilute their concentration and slow down the rate at which the simple starches and sugars they contain are absorbed into your bloodstream. Grain and sugar based foods are far more calorie-dense. When you eat them year after year, they begin to overwhelm the body—especially the pancreas—causing blood sugar problems, and mood and energy swings that wreak havoc with your health. Eating this way predisposes you to insulin resistance, food cravings and obesity. Don't get misled by the nonsense that is written on the packaging of foods you buy, either. Read the ingredients carefully and watch for hidden sugars—glucose, sorbitol, invert sugar, corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, barley syrup, malt sugar. Even many products that claim to be sugar-free contain one or more of these, all of which are just another name for sugar. CUT THE CAFFEINE Caffeine—an ingredient in coffee, tea and many soft drinks—gives you a quick lift and the illusion of energy, only to let you crash a couple of hours later when you find yourself craving more coffee or wanting to reach for a sticky bun or chocolate, just to keep going. Tea contains a surprising 14-61 mg of caffeine per cup, to coffee’s 95-200 mg. Coffee makes your blood more acid, which in turn draws calcium from your bones to try to re-establish a healthy acid/alkaline balance. Drinking coffee is one of the worst things you can do if you want to prevent osteoporosis. Colas, squashes and soft drinks also contain caffeine—and are also riddled with sugar. A 12 ounce tin of cola contains 7 teaspoons—about 40 grams. As for the “diet” varieties, they are full of excess phosphorous and poisonous artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which under no circumstances do you want to put into your body. POWER FOODS Every molecule of muscle in your body is made from the proteins you eat. Muscle is the engine which turns food calories into energy, and burns fat. Improve the quality of your muscle and you automatically raise the vitality of your whole body. You also enhance your sex hormones, create better skin quality, and gain in strength and power. Only protein foods help do this. They also help ground you. Thanks to this characteristic, protein can even play an important role in helping you fulfill your dreams, influence your goals and discover your unique life. No protein structures in your body are fixed. Each strand is constantly being broken down and reshaped. In fact, the whole structure of your body is being rebuilt day by day, thanks to the proteins you take in through your foods. 98% of your body’s molecules, including your teeth and bones, your organs and your muscles, are replaced each year. Within the last month, your skin has completely rebuilt itself. Within the last 3 months, you have received a whole new blood supply. Within the last 6 months, just about every molecule of muscle protein has been renewed. What is exciting about all this is that, when you shift for the better both the quantity and the quality of proteins you eat, you can completely transform, regenerate, and rejuvenate not only the way your body functions, but also the way you look and feel. GREAT CHOICE PROTEIN FOODS Raw foods: Including non-roasted nuts and minimally processed cheeses—especially sheep, goat and buffalo cheeses, since so many women these days don’t get on well with cow’s milk products, including cheese, yoghurt and cow’s milk itself. Eat meats from grass-fed, free-range, and cage-free animals without added hormones. Never eat farmed fish of any kind. Their feeds are not only full of cheap carbohydrates, but dead animal. You don’t want these things in your body. Choose cold-water fish rich in Omega-3 fats such as wild salmon, sardines, mahi-mahi, mackerel, etc. Organic eggs from free-range chickens. Buy only meat from grass-fed animals and grass-fed, free-range organic poultry. Wild game birds (pheasant, duck, goose, grouse). Venison. Wild game (kangaroo, goat, etc). Good quality vegan or whey protein, provided your body can handle cow’s milk products. THE 50% WILD SECRET Raw foods do wonderful things for women. For hundreds of generations, our ancestors lived on wild foods gathered and eaten raw. Our genes are specially adapted to handling raw foods. Incorporating a good percentage of live foods—fresh vegetables, raw seeds and nuts, and fresh sprouted seeds—in your diet helps restore good hormone function, stabilize moods, clear and rejuvenate skin, shed excess fat and even transform your outlook on life. Eat 50% of your foods raw and choose the rest from wholesome natural products like sea plants, cooked vegetables, and fresh locally-grown fruits, and you will notice a dramatic improvement in how you look, feel and function, even in the first couple of weeks. But it will be several weeks before the burden of toxicity which you have been carrying has fully cleared, and it may well be a few months before even deeper benefits begin to show themselves. Be patient. Your body has a magnificent ability to heal itself, but it won’t happen overnight. DEEP CLEANSE FOREVER To help you reap the rewards of a natural menopause, go for foods high in phyto-hormones—compounds in plants whose molecular structure is akin to the body’s own hormones. Unlike dangerous xenoestrogens, plant hormones are weak in their actions. They “fit” into a woman's metabolism. Your body recognizes them and knows how to use them. When weak estrogens from plants bind with estrogen receptor sites in the body, they help protect your body from the negative effects of xenoestrogens. They allow your body to readjust its hormonal balance naturally. This is why a diet high in phyto-hormones plays such an important part in protecting Japanese women from hormone-related diseases. The vitamins, minerals, and phyto-hormones in fresh foods, eaten as close as possible to the state in which they come out of the ground—or carefully and naturally fermented as the Japanese do—can bring to your life a supply of phyto-hormones sufficient to help mitigate most of the female symptoms that plague us in industrialized countries—from fibrocystic breast disease, PMS and hot flushes, to osteoporosis. GIFTS FROM THE SEA If you have never used sea vegetables, now is an ideal time to begin. Not only are they delicious—imparting a wonderful, spicy flavor to soups and salads—they are the richest source of organic mineral salts in nature, particularly of iodine. Iodine is the mineral needed by the thyroid gland. As your thyroid gland is largely responsible for your body's metabolic rate, iodine is very important to your energy. So try some of the sea vegetables. Before long, your nails and hair will become strong and beautiful thanks to the minerals and trace elements like selenium, calcium, iodine, boron, potassium, magnesium, and iron which are no longer found in good quantities in our garden vegetables. So will the rest of your body. I like to use powdered kelp as a seasoning. It adds both flavor and minerals to salad dressings, salads and soups. I am also fond of nori seaweed, which comes in long thin sheets or tiny flakes. It makes a delicious snack food which you can eat along with a salad or at the beginning of the meal. I often toast it very, very quickly by putting it under a grill for no more than 10 or 15 seconds. It is also delicious raw. You can use nori to wrap around everything from a sprout salad to cooked grains in order to make little pieces of vegetarian sushi. It's often a good idea to soak some of the other sea vegetables such as dulse, arame and hiziki for a few minutes in enough tepid water to cover. This softens them so you can chop them and put them into salads or added to your soups. Here are my favorites: Arame, dulse, hiziki, kelp, kombu, laver bread, nori, wakami, mixed sea salad. Change the foods you have log been eating and will change the whole of your life for the better. Try it for a month and find out for yourself.

Natural Menopause Revolution

Natural Menopause Revolution

Nobody ever prepares you for menopause. Nobody tells you that if you are going to have hot flushes or emotional instability, they are likely to be far worse before you stop menstruating than afterwards. Nor does anybody explain that waking regularly at two or three in the morning, and lying in bed filled with sadness or fear or anger, is likely to be not some aberration of nature, but a messenger announcing that menopause is near. And because we are told so little about menopause - apart from the scaremongering that equates the menopause with a disease, something that needs fixing - few women in our culture are prepared for the next phase of their life. We seldom expect the intensity of emotion - both pain and pleasure - that can accompany the end of the childbearing years, nor do most of us realize that such passions can be transmuted into creative power. In fact, there are many signs that the change is near. Alterations in menstruation, for instance. Periods can become longer, heavier, shorter, lighter or irregular. You can find your feelings go up and down very much the way they did in puberty, so that one moment you are completely content with your life, and the next you want to throw everything up and go off to India to ‘find yourself’. You may begin to experience a growing dissatisfaction with the parts of your life that used to seem fine. You may also find yourself very tired without apparent reason. You may also begin to get aches and pains in joints, or find your skin suddenly seems to sag or look sallow. Some or all of these things can happen to a woman in mid life. They are commonly lumped together with menopause, some even are temporarily masked by giving hormone drugs; however, most have little to do with the change - aches and pains in the joints, weight gain, and aging skin for instance, as well as the sense many women report that they have climbed to the top of the ladder only to find that it was against the wrong wall. Such symptoms are really signs that a woman’s lifestyle - probably her values too - needs revising. It could be time to give up the work you are doing and do something else, to follow your passion, to take up weight training, to learn a technique for meditation or deep relaxation, to reeducate the way your body moves through Feldenkreist, or to revise your way of cooking and eating. If you have been eating convenience foods, or going on and off crash diets over the years, for instance, in an attempt to keep your weight down, you will have inevitably created biochemical imbalances in your body. Deficiencies of minerals such as magnesium and zinc, or trace elements such as boron or chromium here, excesses of heavy metals such as lead or aluminum from your environment there, radically interfere with the functions of enzymes in your body - which are responsible for the manufacture of hormones, for the digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients, and for the production of energy. A woman’s body has a remarkable ability to compensate for a deficiency here and there. But, as a result of chemical farming - which depletes the soils and therefore our foods of trace elements and unbalances minerals - as well as food processing, which further depletes vitamins and minerals and puts chemicals into our bodies that do not belong there, by the time mid-life arrives most women have accumulated many metabolic imbalances. In time these biochemical distortions begin to create symptoms - mood swings or depression that occur because of a resultant deficiency in brain chemicals such as serotonin, low levels of adrenal hormones that we need to cope with stress and to protect against inflammation in the tissues such as rheumatoid conditions, and fatigue with no apparent cause. Perhaps a woman also begins to get hot flushes or night sweats, both of which are a normal and temporary part of the readjustment in hormones that takes place during the profound passage of menopause, yet these days are also treated like a disease, and so she goes to her doctor for help. Yet because few doctors are trained in either nutrition or metabolic biochemistry, nor are they aware of how to use effective plant substances and natural hormones to ease a woman’s passage through the change, they believe there is no alternative but to put the woman on drug-based HRT. He will choose from an enormous variety of combinations of oestrogen and artificial progestin drugs, the latter being added to help protect her from cancer. For by now it has been well established that giving oestrogen on its own is dangerous - predisposing a woman taking it to cancer of the breast and womb. The experience of taking HRT varies widely from one woman to another. Some feel great on it. Others feel lousy and gain weight. More commonly a woman will feel better for a few months and then begin to report unpleasant side effects from the drugs she is taking. The most common complaints from prolonged HRT are migraine, bleeding, depression, water retention, increased blood pressure, weight gain, thrush, breast problems, varicose veins and chest pains. A recent Swedish survey in the university town of Linkoping showed that 48% of women who go on HRT stop taking the drug within a year. A recent British study examined the reasons most commonly given by women who give up HRT after starting the treatment: about half stop taking it because of side-effects, about one-fifth because they are advised to do so my their doctors, and about one-third either because they are afraid of long term consequences such as cancer, or because HRT has shown itself to be ineffective in helping them. Unlike changes in diet and lifestyle, at best HRT is a stop gap measure which addresses symptoms but offers little in the way of genuinely strengthening and re-balancing a woman’s body. And as far as the treatment of hot flushes is concerned - the single major symptom which is part of menopause - where the plant based treatments from say, wild yam, or agnus castus, or angelica will tend to work more slowly, it will also tend to eliminate hot flushes completely; while the woman who opts for HRT as a way of treating hot flushes finds that the moment she stops taking the oestrogen - whether in a few months or ten years - her hot flushes return. But it is time we stopped talking about the bad news connected with menopause and looked at the good. For despite all of this, we are now poised at the brink of a revolution in women’s natural health care, which promises to help women turn the menopause transition into a true passage to power, personal well being and freedom. Health educators such as Sandra Coney, author of The Menopause Industry, and Dr Robert Jacobs of The Society of Complementary Medicine in London, scientists such as biologist Renata Klein, and doctors such as (the now sadly late) John Lee MD - the only person who has ever carried out a study on 100 women and been able to reverse osteoporosis - now vigorously challenge the wisdom of established medical practices in the treatment of women with drug-based hormones. They also object strongly to the widespread propaganda which accompanies the sale of HRT, claiming that the indiscriminate doling out of potent drug-based hormones can undermine a woman’s fertility as well as trigger the development of menstrual agonies including PMS, and menopausal miseries, from endometriosis to cancer of the breast and womb. This practice of making virtually every woman a `patient’ for most of her life by subjecting her to drug treatment, not only where it may not be necessary but even when it can be potentially dangerous, is a way of diminishing her personal power and taking away control over her own body. It is therefore, they say, biologically, politically and morally reprehensible. There are two classes of major reproductive hormones in a woman’s body - the oestrogens, which are commonly lumped together and called `oestrogen’, and progesterone. When these two are in good balance, a woman’s health thrives. She remains free of PMS and other menstrual troubles. She is fertile and able to hold a fetus to full term, and menopause becomes a simple transition instead of a passage riddled with suffering. She is also protected against fibroids, endometriosis and osteoporosis, and she is likely to remain emotionally balanced and free of excessive anxiety or depression. When oestrogen and progesterone are not in balance in a woman’s body, all of these things can come a cropper. In our modern industrialized world it is easy for a woman’s biochemistry to become distorted as a result of declining physical activity, because of the proliferation of highly processed convenience foods depleted of essential minerals, and as a consequence of the rise of a whole new - as yet largely unrecognized - phenomenon known as oestrogen dominance. This is where a woman’s oestrogen levels far outweigh progesterone in her body, making her prone to cancer, menopausal agonies and menstrual miseries. Oestrogen dominance has developed in industrialized countries for many reasons, including the widespread use of oestrogen-based oral contraceptives, and the exponential spread of chemicals in our environment which are oestrogen mimics - they are taken up by the oestrogen receptor sites in a woman’s body and throw spanners in the works. Called xenoestrogens, these include the petrochemical-derivatives we take in as herbicides and pesticides which have been sprayed on our foods; the plastic cups we drink our tea out of, from which can migrate into our bodies; and even the oestrogens that come through in drinking water recycled from our rivers. Oestrogens from the Pill and HRT are excreted from a woman’s body in her urine, which end up in water and are not removed by standard water purification treatments. Every woman needs to be aware of the potential dangers of the `sea of oestrogens’ in which we are now living. Recently, Greenpeace issued a report describing the effect that xenoestrogens are having on men’s sperm count. It has dropped by 40% in the past fifty years. But far more devastating - and much less publicized - are the effects that the rising sea of oestrogens, and its consequence of oestrogen dominance, are exerting in women’s lives. Oestrogen dominance makes us more prone to breast and womb cancer, to fibroid tumors, to endometriosis, to osteoporosis, to infertility - not to mention a long list of emotional and mental imbalances. However, because much of the medical profession as well as the general public remains ignorant of the effects of xenoestrogens and the growing oestrogen dominance in women’s bodies, oestrogens continue to be prescribed heavily as part of HRT, not only to the handful of women who - around the time of menopause - may need it temporarily, but for thousands of women whose lives would be far better off without it. Neither do they know that hot flushes, dry vaginas, and early aging can usually be addressed more safely and successfully - not to mention less expensively - by alterations in diet to eliminate highly processed convenience foods (replete with junk fats which can interfere with the production of important hormones and prostaglandins in a woman’s body), changes in lifestyle, and by the use of traditional herbal remedies such as wild yam (from which many of the drugs sold for HRT incidentally are derived), chastetree, motherwort and black cohosh. Natural menopause revolutionaries are by no means altogether opposed to HRT. But they want to see it put into perspective. They insist that, while it may be useful for short periods in a small number of women who actually need oestrogen, the use of drug-based hormones in most women’s cases is costly both in financial and physical terms. Drug based oestrogens and progestogens in the ‘treatment’ of menopause have virtually all been shown to have dangerous side effects and for many who have followed such advice, the use of hormone drugs has ultimately created more problems than it has solved. Also they insist there are better, more natural, ways. One alternative to the currently available HRT appears to offer many new benefits yet is virtually side effect free. It consists of using plant derived natural progesterone - natural in the sense that it is the identical molecule to that found in a woman’s body - in the form of a cream applied to the body. Progesterone can not only help eliminate oestrogen dominance in a woman’s body, reestablishing hormonal balance; it can therefore also help protect against the many conditions with which oestrogen dominance is associated. Unlike the progestins prescribed in conventional HRT, it has virtually no side effects since it is a normal body chemical. As such, the body has the enzymes needed to metabolize it easily. Progesterone is also superior to the progestins because it is a biochemical precursor to many other important hormones in the body. This means the body can turn it into these other important hormones - adrenal hormones, for instance, to help support against stress damage, and into hormones which support brain function and balance emotions. It can even be transformed into the natural oestrogens. By contrast, the progestin drugs are ‘end product molecules’. They cannot be converted into other important body chemicals that are needed for emotional and physical health. In fact, their presence in the body may actually interfere with these conversions. After all, the progestins have to be unique molecules foreign to the human body to be patented and sold as drugs. There are no big profits for anybody in selling a generic substance such as a natural progesterone cream. This is another reason why so many doctors remain ignorant of its value in the treatment of women who need extra hormones. Unlike oestrogen commonly given in HRT to help slow down bone loss, progesterone actually increases bone density. It effectively stimulates the activity of osteoblasts - the cells which make new bone. By contrast, no drug has ever been shown to do this significantly. In most countries of the world, the progesterone cream used for natural HRT is readily available to women for their own use without a prescription. In Britain it is available by prescription from doctors who do know about it, but it can also be legally ordered by post, by any woman for her own personal use, from the United States or Ireland. In fact a  French study has recently reported not only that transdermal progesterone in small doses is well absorbed, used monthly, it reduces the risk of breast cancer. These are only a few of the exciting alternatives developing as part of the natural menopause revolution. But in many ways, what is most exciting of all about the new movement is a growing recognition that menopause is no more a disease than menstruation. It is a natural and important transition in a woman’s life - a passage every bit as important physically and spiritually as puberty was. And, like puberty, menopause carries with it enormous fluctuations in hormone levels and with them great shifts in mood, attitude and personal values, all of which are part of the passage itself. In other cultures, the transformation which takes place in a woman’s life sometime between the ages of 35 and 60 is traditionally considered a journey towards new freedom and power for a woman, a time of celebration where her creativity - until then bound to her biology - is at last set free for her to use as she wills. It is a time when women cease to give a damn what others think of their eccentricities and can set themselves free to soar into whatever realms they fancy. The passage we make at menopause - like the passage at birth or in giving birth - is a profound one which dissolves the boundaries of a woman and can take her deep inside an archetypal heroine’s journey to discover the real treasures of her life. Each woman is biochemically and spiritually unique. So is the inner journey she must make if she is to succeed in her quest for wholeness. Such journeys need to be undertaken with the highest respect for the body, the spirit and the powers of nature which bring it about. Such journeys cannot be codified. They are not packaged holidays where you pay your money, take your anti-diarrhoea pills and know exactly what to expect. These, insist natural menopause revolutionaries, are journeys of the soul.

Leslie Kenton's Radio Interview On Bias Magazine.

Leslie Kenton's Radio Interview On Bias Magazine.

Below you will find an interview I did for Bias Magazine. Speaking about Human freedom, creativity and natural menopause. Unfortunately the recording is quite bad in the beginning but get better about 5 minutes in. Hope you Enjoy... [audio id=http://d1vg7rm5xhtxe9.cloudfront.net/audio/cheryl-el-interview.mp3] Award-winning writer, television broadcaster, and teacher, Leslie Kenton is well known in the English-speaking world for her no-nonsense, in-depth reporting. According to London’s Time Out, “If there is one health expert who can genuinely be described as pioneering and visionary, it is Leslie Kenton.” Leslie has written more than three dozen best selling books for Random House UK. She conceived and created the worldwide Origins range for Estee Lauder. A former consultant to European Parliament for the Green Party and course developer for Britain’s Open University, Leslie is trained in Chinese medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, and bioenergetics. She was first Chairperson of the Natural Medicine Society in the UK and her contribution to natural health was honored by her being asked to deliver the McCarrison Lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. Leslie now divides her time between her homes in Britain and South Island New Zealand. To find out more about her work: lesliekenton.com, curaromana.com.

What The Daily Mail Didn't Publish

What The Daily Mail Didn't Publish

London’s Daily Mail approached me a few weeks ago asking me to write a piece on what it’s like to have 4 children by 4 different men. The idea intrigued me so I did. The piece wasn’t published since, they said, “It’s not written in the Mail style.” So here it is as a personal gift from me to you. I hope you enjoy it. Struggling to hold back the tears, my daughter’s voice on the crackly phone line was barely a whisper. “Mama, Dan died this morning,” she said. Dan Smith, biological father to my third child, Jesse, was much loved by all of my children. He had been seriously ill with a rare form of leukaemia. We knew he could die any moment. Still, the news that reached me at my Primrose Hill home that cold February morning in 2010 sent shock waves through me. “We’re already organising the funeral,” Susannah went on. “We want to play jazz music, tell fun stories about Dan and celebrate his life. Don’t worry about being 12,000 miles away, we’ll video all of it for you to watch later.” I would love to have been there to celebrate Dan’s life. It had been a good life. He was an honorable man—one who kept his promises. Dan had long adored each of my four children although only one of them was a child of his own body. Four years earlier, Dan had chosen to move to New Zealand to be near the children. Together they had searched for and found a house for him so that all of us—me included—could spend precious time with Dan and care for him so long as he lived. NOT THE MARRYING KIND I had met Dan 53 years earlier when I was seventeen years old. We became friends. Later, in my mid-twenties, we were briefly married. I was never much in favor of marriage, however. That’s probably why I chose to give birth to four children by four different men. Now I’m being called a trailblazer for what is becoming an increasingly popular brand of mothering, commonly referred to as ‘multi-dadding.’ I am supposed to be what is fashionably termed a ‘4x4.’ Mothering children by more than one man recently hit the headlines with the news that actress Kate Winslet is expecting her third child by her third husband, the rock star Ned Rocknroll. Kate, 37, has a 12-year-old daughter, Mia, with her first husband, Jim Threapleton, and a nine-year-old son, Joe, with her second husband, Sam Mendes. The former weather girl Ulrika Jonsson is a 4x4, and the late TV presenter Paula Yates was a 4x2. While supposedly gaining popularity, this style of mothering is still hugely controversial. I am told that the news that a woman has children by more than one man is still met with a mixture of horror and fascination. Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I have never had to deal with either of these attitudes. To tell the truth, I have never much cared what people think about me, how I chose to live my life or the way I have raised my children. Perhaps that’s a good thing, or maybe I am just naïve. One thing is for sure: I’ve always been one of those women so fertile that that a man could almost look at me and I’d get pregnant. I would never miscarry. I rode horses, went surfing and danced all night while pregnant and suffered no consequences. I am told that women like me are often looked upon as monstrously selfish, bad mothers. They are accused of being feckless for having multiple lovers and just plain wrong for not providing their children with a ‘traditional family setup.’ I’m sure some traditional families are genuinely wise, stable and happy. The parents love each other and care for their children with great devotion and joy. But, in my experience, such families are few and far between. KIDS MATTER MOST What matters most in child rearing is neither convention nor family labels. It is the children. Children brought up by a devoted single mother (or single father) who lovingly trusts their own parental instincts and forms honest relationships with each child in their care, thrive. I believe this is far better than desperately trying to hold on to a marriage that doesn’t work ‘for the children’s sake.’ What I find sad is the way an ordinary single woman—not a movie star or media giant—who has children by more than one man and has to bring them up by herself, earning a living and juggling the needs not only of her children but also increasingly of their fathers, doesn't get the attention, sympathy, or anywhere near the admiration she deserves. It’s a challenging job for any woman. I know, I’ve done it. I’ve raised four children all on my own, earned the money for our family, stayed up all night caring for them when they had measles, chicken pox or mumps, then got up the next morning to make breakfast and iron that school uniform about which I was told, “Mama...my teacher says it has to be perfect.” Many a time I worried where the money was coming from to pay for food that week. LION-HEARTED MOTHERHOOD I champion any woman making a life for the children she loves in this way. It is the child that matters most and his or her relationship to a mother, father, or a caring friend. Every woman has a powerful lion-hearted passion to care for and protect her children. Women should trust themselves, give thanks for such power and use it for the benefit of their children. Kids are notoriously smart. They know when they are being fed a line about what they are “supposed” to think and say. They easily distinguish between what’s real and what’s contrived. As parents, if we want to gain the respect of our children we must always tell them the truth and treat them with respect as well as demand that they respect us in return. As far as the fathers of our children are concerned, they deserve the same respect and honesty from a woman as the child does, whether or not she is married to them. I believe that each child needs to get to know its father in its own way and make its own judgements. MY OWN STORY I grew up in a wildly unconventional family of highly creative, unstable people. Until I was 5, I was raised by my maternal grandmother. Later I was raped by my father and had my brain fried with ECT in an attempt to make me forget all that had happened to me. I was always a tomboy. I hated dolls. I loved to climb trees and play football. Yet from 5 years old I was sure that I wanted to have children. When I told my grandmother my plan she said I would need to get married to have children. “What’s married?” I asked. “It’s when you wear a white dress and have a big beautiful cake and promise to love and obey a man,” she said. “Ugh, I’ll never do that,” I replied. “I hate cake.” In any case, I knew she was lying to me since none of our Siamese cats were married, but they gave birth to masses of kittens. At the age of 17, while in my Freshman year at Stanford University, I got pregnant by a 22 year old man named Peter Dau. I rang my father. “I’m pregnant,” I told him. “What are you going to do?” “Give birth and keep the baby.” “You can’t keep the baby unless you get married,” he said. Had I been a little more gutsy I would have told him to get stuffed. But at the age of 17, still wrestling with all that had happened to me in my own childhood, he wielded a lot of influence over me. So I agreed. Peter was all for the idea. Single-handedly I put together an all-white wedding for 250 people in the garden of our Beverley Hills home. I made the decision to wear black shoes under my white satin dress. I felt I was giving my life away by marrying Peter, but I was willing to make the sacrifice since I so wanted this child. As soon as Dan learned of the wedding, he sent me a beautiful sterling silver bowl as a present which I still have. My first son, Branton, was born six months later. When I held this tiny baby in my arms he taught me the most important lesson I ever learned: Love exists. It is simple, real and has nothing to do with highfalutin notions or flowery words. At the age of 18, I realized my life had found its purpose—to love and be loved. PREGNANT AGAIN A year later, Peter and I left California for New York where he was to attend medical school while I went to work as a model to help support us. At that time, Dan left his job as a journalist in Massachusetts and moved to New York to be near us. My marriage to Peter ended amicably three years later. It should never have happened in the first place. Three days after leaving Peter back in California, I stopped overnight at my father’s house in Beverley Hills on my way back to New York. Barry Comden, a man much older than I whom I had known since I was 14 but never had a sexual relationship with, discovered I was in town and came to see me. I made love to him once and knew immediately that I was pregnant again. Marry Barry? No way. I was determined not to make the same mistake twice. (Years later Barry would marry the actress Doris Day.) Nine months later my only daughter, Susannah, was born. It was then that a large tumor growing off of my right ovary was discovered. It had been hidden behind the baby during my pregnancy. It was dangerous and had to be surgically removed. HELP WHEN IT MATTERS Once again Dan appeared in my life. He had always insisted that he fell in love with me from the first day we met. He had written me letters every single day my first year at Stanford. I never answered any of them. I didn’t share his love and I didn’t want to lead him on. He had also sent me book after book which he thought I should read. I read them all and loved them. Dan had always been kind and generous to me. He was always keen to protect and care for me when I needed it. So, when I ended up penniless and alone with two children and in need of major surgery, he offered me a home. I accepted. For several months the four of us lived together in New York. Dan adored Branton and Susannah and treated them as if they were his own. I was longing to leave the United States. I wanted to live in Paris—a city I loved more than any other. Dan was able to arrange a job for himself there as a foreign correspondent. In early 1964 we went. Dan had repeatedly told me that he was sure we were meant to be together forever. I hoped that he was right and believed that if I tried hard enough to be a good wife I would learn to love him as he deserved. On July 29, 1964, we were married in Paris. Like every other man I have ever been close to, Dan knew long before we were married that my children would always come first. I had sat him down and told him that he would have to treat Susannah and Branton exactly the same as he would treat any child of his who might come along. He agreed. On June 12, 1965, Dan’s son Jesse was born. He was delighted. True to his word, never once did he favor Jesse over Branton and Susannah. This was great for all three children who came to know him well and to adore him. When presents were passed out, each child was equally favored. Dan belonged to all of them and they knew it. FATHERS, FATHERS Because Branton’s father lived in America and we lived in Europe, Branton did not see him again until he was 11. By that age I figured he was old enough to make the trip on his own and spend a week or two with Peter. Susannah was not really interested in her father—also in the United States—until she was about 17. She then went to Los Angeles to meet him. A good friendship developed between them which remained until Barry died. A non-traditional, unconventional family? Absolutely, but it worked because there was honesty and there was love—the two most important things in any family, anytime, anywhere. For five years I had told myself that, if only I could learn to love Dan more, then everything would be all right. But I couldn’t. And it wasn’t. Confused and disappointed, at the age of 27, I faced the fact that our marriage had failed. We moved to England and we separated. It was Easter. I went to a Buddhist monastery in Scotland to clear my head. Of course Dan grieved over the failure. But that never stopped him from being a welcome person in our family right up to his death. Years later he would marry Gerda Boyeson, a psychotherapist who died a few years before he did. BLESSED MEN The men who made my life rich after Dan and I divorced were, each in their own way, as special as he had been. Each accepted that my children came before all else in the world to me. I never compromised. I chose men, be they friends or lovers, who brought wonderful things to my children. No man ever came before my children. If any man didn’t understand and accept this, he had to go. One man whom I loved, Graham, taught my children to climb and sail and mountaineer. All my children forged deep bonds with Graham which have remained to this day. Another man, Garth, gave Branton, Susannah and Jesse his much cherished toy collection from his own childhood. Garth took us all on wonderful picnics, introduced us to hidden beaches, sang songs with us and blessed us with his unique brand of joy. Then there was David, a man with whom I lived with for 5 years in my late twenties. David constructed beautiful rooms for each of my children in the tiny house I had bought with the little money that my grandfather had left me, when Dan and I separated. David wrote and recorded songs for each of my children. That was 40 years ago. Last year, Susannah and her partner visited David and his wife in Barcelona where he now lives. AN UNCONVENTIONAL MOTHER Ironically, the only complaint I ever got from any of my children about my not being conventional enough was from Dan’s son Jesse. “Why aren’t you like other mothers?” Jesse asked one day when he was 7. “I don’t know, Jesse, what are other mothers like?” “Oh you know,” he said, “They’re fat and bake cookies.” Jesse even grumbled if, while I was waiting to pick him up from school, I sat on the playground swings. He was adamant that such behavior was not “proper” for his mother. Sixteen years after Jesse was born, I became pregnant for the last time by yet another special man—Paul. I announced my condition to 17 year old Susannah as we were all setting off for a six week holiday in Canada with Graham and his son Ruan. “I’m going to have a baby,” I told her. “Don’t worry Mama,” she laughed, “We’ll say it is mine!” FAMILY CELEBRATION In March of 1981, I gave birth to my fourth child, Aaron, at our home in Pembrokeshire. All three of my other children helped deliver him. While I was in labor, they prepared the most delicious lunch I have ever tasted from fruits and vegetables from the garden. I had insisted on giving birth naturally at home, not in some clinical, cold hospital. Jesse had been born via natural childbirth, at a clinique d’accouchement in Paris. After the experience of natural childbirth I swore if ever I had another child it would have to be this way. As for Dan, one way or another he was always close by. He knew David, Graham, Garth and every other man who was to play a role in my own life and my children’s lives. For many years he spent Christmases with us and with our other male friends when they were there. Dan loved to play saxophone at family gatherings. One year he dressed up as Santa Claus. Aaron, then 5 years old, was completely taken in by the costume and terrified when this rotund man belted out, “Ho, Ho, Ho, little boy, what do you want for Christmas?” It took a lot of reassurance from Aaron’s big brothers and sister to convince him that Santa was really ‘good old Dan.’ UNIQUE & INDEPENDENT As for my children, each of them is totally unique and highly independent. I have always fought hard to encourage them to trust themselves and listen to their own heart instead of doing or saying what the rest of the world tells kids they are supposed to do and say. After graduating with a first class degree from Lancaster University, Branton, now 53, developed a series of successful businesses. Susannah, 50, with whom I have written 5 books and done two television series, is a sought-after voice artist. Jesse, 48, is a highly skilled plastic surgeon. Jesse and I have also written a book together. Aaron, now 32, is a designer and filmmaker. He and I have worked together for the past four years developing Cura Romana—a spiritually based program for health, lasting weight loss and spiritual transformation. Branton and Jesse have been happily married for many years. Both have three children each. As for me, I am probably the world’s worst grandmother. I don't babysit, or do any of the things grandmothers are ‘supposed’ to do. (Including baking those cookies Jesse once complained about.) Why? I’m not sure. I guess because for forty-five years of my life I was a mother. I loved this more than all the books I’ve written, all the television programs I’ve devised and presented, all the workshops I’ve taught, and all the other things I’ve done and enjoyed. Right now, my life belongs to me alone. I love the freedom this brings me. I am passionate about being a catalyst in people’s lives, helping them realize their own magnificence and live out their potentials both for their own benefit and for the benefit of all. Who knows what exciting challenges lie before me. Bring them on!

What Every Women Wants

What Every Women Wants

Great stories carry hidden secrets that can transform a life. They bring us face-to-face with hidden truths that help free us from false beliefs and attitudes, self-criticism and negativity that crush us. Cultural conditioning has taught us to undervalue the wild creativity that lies within—that part of us which is instinctual, irrational, and full of passion. Conventional society is so frightened of these things that we have been taught to fear ourselves and to judge ourselves harshly. We swallow our anger even when it is righteous. We crush our wild nature and we see ourselves as ugly. Yet locked within what we most hate and fear lies the greatest power for true freedom. Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite mythologies of self-discovery—as delightful and important for men as it is for women. Here’s how it goes: THE LOATHLY LADY One Christmastide Arthur rode out with his knights to hunt. By chance he became separated from his companions and found himself at the edge of a great brackish pond. There, a knight in black armour emerged from the shadows and challenged him to a fight. Arthur reached to draw his sword Excalibur and call on its power to protect him from all harm. Alas, he had come away from court without it. He could feel every ounce of strength drain away from his body in the presence of the dark and evil stranger who raised his sword and threatened to kill him. Being a responsible king, of course, Arthur told the dark knight he didn't think that killing him was such a great idea—he had a country to rule, after all, and knights to look after. Where would they be without him? The stranger, bored at the thought of such an easy kill, relented and replied, "OK, I won't kill you so long as you return to this place in three days with the answer to a riddle I shall give you. If you fail I shall remove your head in one fwll swoop." WHAT DOES SHE WANT Arthur agreed. He figured that given half a chance and a mug or two of fancy mead, his pals back at the castle would be sure to come up with something. The riddle the stranger posed was this: "What does every woman want?" So Arthur headed home to ask all of his knights and wise men to give him the answer. Everyone from Merlin to a goose girl he met along the road had a go. Each gave him a different answer: "A woman wants beauty," said one. "A woman wants power," said another, or fame, or jewels, or sanctity. None could agree. Time was running out. Finally, although he had done his best to hide from his beloved Guinevere the seriousness of the situation, the third morning arrived. Bound by his word of honor to the Black Knight, Arthur had to face the music. Along the road to the meeting at the brackish waters, Arthur came upon an old woman. She sat on a tree stump by the side of the road calling his name. Arthur dismounted and approached her with all the courtesy he could muster. For the closer he came, the more ghastly this old hag appeared. Although she was dressed in fine silk and wore magnificent jewels on her gnarled and twisted hands, she was unquestionably the most hideous thing he had ever seen—or dreamed of, for that matter. Her nose was like a pig's, her mouth was huge, toothless and dribbling. What hair remained on her head was greasy, and the skin all over her misshapen and bloated body was covered in oozing sores. COURTESY CHALLENGED Arthur swallowed hard, forcing himself not to have to look away. "My Lord," she said in a surprisingly gentle voice, "Why look you so dismayed?" Summoning up all his chivalrous training, Arthur apologized for his manner, trying to explain it away by telling her he was most unsettled at the prospect of returning to meet his death at the hand of an evil knight because he could not tell him the answer to the riddle, "What does every woman want?" "Ah," said the hag. "I can tell you that. But such knowledge cannot be given without payment." Arthur, hoping once again for a reprieve from death, replied, "Of course Madam, anything you desire shall be yours for the answer—even half my kingdom." IMPOSSIBLE REQUEST The Loathly Lady made Arthur bend down while she whispered a few words in his ear." The moment Arthur heard them, he knew his life and his kingdom had been saved. He was about to leap on his horse again and ride off to meet the stranger when she tugged on his cloak and said, "Now I want my reward." "Of course Madam, what is it that you want?" he asked. "I want to be the wife of your bravest knight and live at your court." Arthur, who only a moment before had felt his spirits soar, was plunged into the deepest despair. How could he possibly expect any knight to consent to marry such a hideous hag? And what would it be like to have to endure such ugliness every day at court? "But Madam, that is impossible!" he said. The words slipped through his lips before he could catch them. Aghast at his own lack of courtesy and agonized by having to ask any of his knights, Arthur said, "I beg your pardon, Madam. You are quite right. Come to court tomorrow. There waiting for you will be your future husband." So saying, he mounted his horse and rode off to meet the Black Knight to convey to him the answer to the riddle. When he got back to the castle, Arthur was distraught. The knights questioned him. He confessed that he had won his life from the Black Knight but then told them at what cost and reported his promise to the Loathly Lady. "My very honor is at stake," said Arthur, wringing his hands, "unless one of you will agree to wed her." His knights were horrified at the prospect and tried to avoid his gaze. But one—the youngest knight of all—Sir Gawain, the most courageous and purest of heart stood up. "Worry, not my liege," Gawain said, "I shall save you, I will marry the woman no matter what her mien." SELF-PROFESSED HERO Gawain did not have long before he rued his offer. The marriage was planned for the following morning and the hag arrived at court. When he looked upon her, even Gawain with all his chivalry did not know how he could go through with the ceremony. It demanded every ounce of his courage. Somehow he managed it. But things got worse. When the festivities were over, the couple were obliged to retire to their chamber for the night. Gawain, unable to face the hideousness of his wife, sat for long hours in their bedchamber with his back to the lady, writing at his desk and praying she would go to sleep without him. Was he to spend the rest of his life shackled to such a hideous monster? ENCHANTED WOMAN Long past midnight, as the candle burnt low, he felt a hand come to rest upon his shoulder. "Will you not come to bed now, my Lord?" a voice whispered from behind him. Shuddering with horror, Gawain mustered his courage to look at her. To his astonishment there stood not the ugly hag he had married but the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had golden hair and ivory skin. "Why do you seem so surprised, My Lord?" she said to him. "I am indeed your wife. I was enchanted by a wicked magician. But now the enchantment is half broken by your having consented to marry me and so you see I stand before you now in my true form." Gawain could not believe his luck. "Half broken?" he asked. "Yes, my lord" was the reply. "Sadly I am only allowed to spend half the time in my true form. For the rest I must return to the shape of the same hag which this afternoon you married. And now you must choose, my Lord. Would you have me be my true self at night when we are alone together and the hag during daylight hours?" Gawain, whose mind was flooded with passion at the thought of her beauty filling his bed each night replied eagerly, "Yes, that is certainly how it must be." TEARS FOR FREEDOM In the eye of his beautiful lady appeared a tear. "But sir," she said, "Would you then have me suffer the humiliation of the court who cannot conceal their horror at my ugliness?" Now Gawain, if he was nothing else, was compassionate. He could not bear to bring this beautiful woman a tear of sorrow. "No, of course not," he replied. "It shall be the other way round, of course. You shall be my beautiful wife for the court during daylight hours and the hag at night." But this only made the lady weep the more. "Oh sir, would you then deny me forever the joy and pleasure of your embrace?" She asked. Poor Gawain, who after all was but a man (and man has never found it easy to deal with woman's grief) did not know what to do. After much thought he replied, "My lady, whatever choice I make will be the wrong one. It is therefore for you to choose which you prefer." At the sound of his words the Lady threw herself into his arms in glorious laughter. "In so saying, my Lord, you have given the right answer. You have bestowed upon me what every woman wants—her own way. The spell at last is broken. You will never have to look upon the hideous hag again. I am my true self and it belongs to you forever." Such is the power of accepting that which to ourselves is most loathsome. And such is the power of myth in reminding us of it.

Secrets Of The Moon Goddess

Secrets Of The Moon Goddess

A woman's average menstrual cycle is 29 1/2 days—exactly the length of the moon's passage from new to full and back to new again. In tribal cultures, where women live in close physical proximity to each other and their natural menstrual cycles are not disrupted by such things as alterations in exposure to natural light, electromagnetic fields, drugs and hormones, not only do they menstruate at the same time, ovulation tends to occur when light is brightest at the full moon, and menstruation begins during the moon's dark phase—at new moon. There is by no means anything pathological in any woman in the modern world not cycling in this particular natural rhythm. However, it has also been demonstrated that the menstrual cycle can be regulated according to the exposure to varying degrees of light, which mimic the waxing and waning of the moon's phases. Under such circumstances the three phases of the moon—waxing, full and waning—correlate exactly with the monthly cycle of ebb and flow of female hormones—the oestrogen dominated proliferative phase, ovulation, the secretory luteal phase, and menstruation itself. SPLENDID PASSAGES In the realm of myth and symbols, these phases are superbly mirrored in the three phases of every woman's life—childhood, before the sex hormones begin to flow, the childbearing years, which begin at the menarche, and the postmenopausal years of the Moon Goddess in her Crone guise. In ancient cultures, the moon was considered the source of fertility and birth. She ruled destiny and time, the secrets of the unseen world, transformation, death and regeneration. It was the moon's power that quickened all of life. Sowing and harvesting were done in harmony with her ebbs and flows. It was the moon which grew bright then darkened and disappeared altogether each month that taught people that nothing in life is constant. The only thing on which you can rely is change. The moon became a symbol of the cycle of transformation that makes its home in a woman's body, while woman came to rule all things that involved change. Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, professor Emerita at UCLA, is the acknowledged world expert on Neolithic goddess-centered cultures in pre-patriarchal Europe. Author of more than twenty books, she paints a richly detailed picture of their social structure, agriculture, customs, rituals, religion and art. Much has been learned in recent years about the nature of the goddess-centered cultures, which existed for literally tens of thousands of years in Europe and Asia. The miniature sculptures that have been unearthed in the past twenty years give insight into the great variety of female manifestation of the divine which appeared as long ago as 27,000 to 25,000 years BC. Three thousand of these have been found in Siberia alone. In The Civilization of the Goddess, a monumental encyclopedic book which has already changed history, Gimbutas writes, "According to myriad images that have survived from the great span of human prehistory on the Eurasian continents, it was the sovereign mystery and creative power of the female as the source of life that developed into the earliest religious experiences. The Great Mother Goddess who gives birth to all creation out of the holy darkness of her womb became a metaphor for Nature herself, the cosmic giver and taker of life, ever able to renew Herself within the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth." WOMAN’S MANY FACES We learn from ancient sources that, like woman herself, the Moon Goddess has many faces. At the new moon, she is the Virgin Goddess, wrapped in enthusiasm for new beginnings as seeds sprout and first shoots appear. When her second phase begins, so does puberty. Buds turn into flowers and flowers to fruits as virgin becomes transformed into Divine Mother in charge of procreation and sexuality. She is the pregnant goddess, mistress of animals, bringer of life, the Madonna. As the moon begins to wane, woman passes through her next initiation to a time of harvest and a time of death, during which all that is old becomes compost for her new life. It is the Dark Goddess who rules the darkness of the moon, death and rebirth. Ancient statues of the Dark Goddess carved in bone, marble, alabaster or clay are often white—for white is the color of death. Bones are turned white by the elements. The big breasts and hips you find on statues of the Divine Mother become replaced by stiff nudes. The Dark Goddess is often depicted without breasts, her hands either on her chest or extended along her sides. She is shown with an enlarged pubic triangle, for the Dark Goddess of the waning moon is not only goddess of death but of regeneration. She rules the time in a woman's life when everything that has run its course, everything which has become outmoded or no longer has meaning in a woman’s life, must be destroyed to make way for a more authentic life. THE GIFTS OF MENOPAUSE Menopause is the initiation of the Dark Goddess. It is the passage during which a woman is asked to confront the possibility of her own death and probe the mysteries of decay, dismemberment, and regeneration. For only through the death of the old can the exciting new birth that awaits us take place. As menopause approaches, often a woman wants to spend more time in nature and to feel her spirit fed by the earth. The fear of menopause and the fear of the Crone, so widespread in our society, are nothing more than a reflection of our misguided fear of death itself. For, in today’s world, we have forgotten the great cyclic flow of birth, flowering, death and regeneration that is hidden within the circle of the moon—as it is within all life—and reflected in the circle of our own souls. Little wonder, since our patriarchal culture denies cyclical time and views events as linear. In linear time, the end is not connected with the beginning. Birth and death are not viewed as two vital passages in a continuing cycle of life, but as opposites—the one to be celebrated the other to be resisted at all costs until the bitter end. It is no wonder our society wants to black out menopause and to reject the older female. In the fearful fragmented world we live in, this appears to be the only way that human beings can deny for a time their own mortality. This is why the Dark Goddess remains a focus of fear and loathing in stereotypical male-dominated linear thinking. BANISH FEAR AND CELEBRATE Any woman who does not break through the limitations of such thinking and move beyond it risks becoming so paralyzed by fear that she looks upon The Dark Goddess (and menopause itself) as an enemy to be resisted. In truth, she is the archetype-medium by which the internal split that took place thousands of years ago between woman and her feminine nature can be healed forever. She is death's priestess. It is she that wipes out outmoded patterns of thinking and living. Then, acting the role of the midwife, she brings new forms of living to birth. The Dark Goddess—often called the Crone— can seem a terrifying figure to the uninformed women approaching menopause. She has so long remained repressed within our psyches that, when at last her energy rises and she makes her presence known, it can sometimes feel like an earthquake, a volcano, or some eruption of Nature that occurs to us as when pressures held too long within the earth are released. Yet the Crone has always been present in our lives: She has appeared each month as the moon grows dark and menstrual blood—the source of all creation—flows. Now, as menopause approaches, the Dark Goddess comes at last to rest within a woman's being. For instead of being released each month, the dark blood of creative power is retained within a woman's body and made available for her use. MONUMENTAL TRANSFORMATIONS The presence of the Dark Goddess in a woman's life is easy to spot. She arises whenever we experience dramatic changes—the death of a loved one, loss of a job, disfiguration. She is our teacher who guides us through the transformation that is being asked of us onto a new level of being. She is there in our deepest despair and at times when we connect most powerfully with our own creative fire. She is the hand-maiden that nurtures us through dark nights once we are willing to make the descent into our own psyche, and connect with whatever forms are sleeping there, so we can begin to live our own power. When these connections are made she is present too. She teaches us by her presence alone to become deeply and spontaneously sexual, assertive, straight, incorruptible, prophetic, intuitive and free. All of these qualities arise at menopause. These are the most precious gifts of the Crone. They herald the beginning of what is potentially the most creative part of any woman’s life... This time in which her biological creativity is let go of to be replaced by creativity of the highest order in any woman’s life. It must be said—it is these powerful gifts of the Dark Goddess which are still the most terrifying threats to the linear patriarchal culture of control in which most of us still live. More to come next week...

Wild Power Set Free

Wild Power Set Free

The power of the Dark Goddess or Crone which I wrote about last week, at its most profound, represents the irrational power of nature which causes all things to decay and be changed—as well as true human freedom to be liberated. The experience of change at such deep levels can be a terrifying one both to men and women. Why? Because, these days, most try to live their lives believing that material reality is all there is, and that the great god reason is the ultimate means by which all their problems will be solved. Whatever else she may be, the Dark Goddess is most certainly not reasonable. No more reasonable than the forces which cause leaves to decay in autumn, transforming them into leaf mold that will eventually bring new life to the forest. No more reasonable than the hurricane which, irrespective of man's wishes or longings, blows its course through city and countryside. No more reasonable than the earth herself, as she quakes and trembles with shifts taking place in the continental plates of her body. INSTRUMENT OF TRANSFORMATION It is little wonder that male-centered religions have diabolized the Crone. For she is the ultimate destroyer, the emasculator of male reason. Nature and the Crone aspect of the Dark Goddess become, in the male mind, the castrator—so much so that, during the inquisition, witches were accused of collecting severed penises in boxes or birds' nests. Yet even the male penis itself represented—and still represents—an instinctive power to the male which most Western men feel uncomfortable with. For the penis seems to have a life of its own, quite separate from the man to which it is attached. Like the Dark Goddess it defies man's sterile reason. As Barbara Walker says in The Crone, Woman of Age, Wisdom and Power: "The conviction peculiar to males that sex organs have an uncontrollable, independent life of their own is expressed in the churchman's belief that the stolen penises moved about and ate food in their captivity like animals." The penis, too, is an instrument of the Dark Goddess. The Dark Goddess lives at every woman's core. She guards the Self. She is the friend of the soul whose purpose in our life is to fiercely protect and further the whole process of our learning to live authentically from our essential beings. She never trades in deceit, she never lies, nor does she veil her power. She refuses to uphold any relationship that doesn't work and she tears away with clawed hands or severs with her sword anything within us that is greedy, grasping or infantile. Throughout the lives of both men and women, she urges us to reclaim our own power—the power to set limits and to shout "no", and the power to say "this is what I will do and this is what I won't do" when we are faced with any sort of abuse, or anyone trying to steal our power or dominate us. WILD ENERGY LIBERATED But she is far more than even this. The Dark Goddess is the female power so long rejected and repressed by Western civilization that, when it rises to the surface, it often breaks forth in fury to devastate our ordinary view of reality. Sometimes when she forces her presence to be felt at menopause, she can well up inside, making us hysterical. Her frenzies—which in the rational world of linear thinking, are looked upon as something for which a human being should be tranquilized and kept under control—in the lives of both men and women were once treated with the deepest respect, as visitations from the gods. It was in such a state that the pythia or sibyl at Delphi prophesied the future, and told secrets capable of turning those who sought her help into conquerors of nations. When we forget the power of the Dark Goddess—when we separate ourselves from her essential nature—then we begin to look upon her as a destroyer who arrives like a great snake to break up the structures of our lives, devour our relationships and make mince-meat of our most precious self-deceptions. DESTROY TO RENEW In the lives of both women and men, she can quickly cut through the patriarchal image of being ‘pleasing’, ‘submissive’, ‘gentle’ and ‘nice’. If anyone has so much control of her own behavior that the Dark Goddess is unable to arise when it is time for her appearance to be made, if she remains deeply suppressed, then man or woman can experience her energies in the form of a life-threatening disease, depression, hopelessness, or seemingly endless despair. They can find themselves living in a wasteland, and feel their life to be meaningless and without direction. It is only by finding ways to reconnect with her energy within that the powers of transformation can be set free to work their magic and lead each of us on our own individual path towards freedom. As Demetra George says in Mysteries of the Dark Moon, “Whether we see the Dark Goddess as dancing ecstatically in a swirl of red flames, or enveloped in mist gazing into the inner pools of her psychic awareness, or throbbing with her orgasmic, magical creative energy, or embracing us in our grief, or furiously raging, screaming, crying, or desperately withdrawing into a stupor of denial or numbness, her ultimate purpose in each one of these guises is the same. She destroys in order to renew. The Dark Goddess of the dark moon is the mistress of transformation, and she exists everywhere there is change.” AN ACT OF LOVE The Dark Goddess demands that each one of us clear out of our lives what is no longer essential to our authentic being, whether this be possessions, relationships, jobs—anything that does not help us grow and fulfil our deepest needs. If we try to ignore her demands, like the wild and unruly creature she becomes when thwarted, she ruthlessly tears apart whatever in our own lives is restricting the full expression of our soul. Her rise can threaten everything which in ordinary life we try desperately to hold on to—our self confidence, our self-image, our sense of accomplishment, our material possessions—all of the things which for many years may have supported us now come under the scrutiny of her gaze and the ruthlessness of her sword. What can be hard to realize, while all this is happening, is that everything she does is done with love. We see such things as the breakdown of a marriage, the loss of a job, physical illness that can come at times of enormous change, as evil and negative. For we spend most of our lives trying to avoid a crisis at all cost. Yet crises are often the only means by which we can be thrust forward to a new life. Were the energies of the Dark Goddess not to rise, we would remain stagnated. We might continue living out an artificial existence, all the while trying to fill up the emptiness within with whatever we can lay our hands on, from drugs and sex to success and power in the world—yet never succeed. It is the Dark Goddess that gives us the motivation to change, and brings us the power to be able to carry it out. INNER SILENCE She also pulls us away from the external world, asking us to withdraw inside to a place of stillness and power in which we can begin to hear the echoes of our own souls—sounds which for years may have been ignored or forgotten. She stirs our being at the deepest level. She asks us to enter our own personal darkness, calling us to make a vision quest, presenting us with pain over any issues of our lives that we have been denying. She asks us to face our fears and taboos, whether they are addictions, dependencies, inadequacies—that we bring them into the open, where they can be looked at and healed. Like the Crone who is her messenger, the Dark Goddess has no adornments. She is naked and raw in her confrontations. She arrives to lead us into the labyrinthine recesses of our own being. If we consent, she offers us the courage and the strength to face our own personal demons—demons who for generations have been feeding on our inadequacies, fears, and dependencies and undermining our potential for joy. Either we acknowledge her call, retreat from the outer world and begin to make our descent voluntarily, or she grabs us by the throat and drags us under. And just in case we might be tempted to think that when menopause arrives, sexuality is dead, she makes us think again. It has not died but rather been transformed. INSTINCTUAL SEXUALITY The sexuality of the postmenopausal woman is the sexuality of the Crone. It is the sexuality of sheer instinct—wildness set free. It is she that calls a woman into the secret places of the woods and provokes her to dance naked in wild abandon. Hers is a sexuality to be used in any way a woman chooses—in union with another or alone to generate the alchemical meeting of male and female within her own body. The sexuality of the Crone belongs to herself alone. She will be what she is, she will have what she wants. She is neither passive nor submissive, and her sexuality also has nothing whatever to do with bringing physical children into being. The Crone's eroticism is sheer ecstasy, lived for its own sake, and sheer creativity. She creates in an uninhibited, animated, fiery way, which emanates from the soul of a woman. Such sexuality is the fuel for all creative powers in the world. It carries with it the energy of regeneration and of healing, not only for a woman herself but for the world. It is the kundalini power—the rejuvenating cosmic illumination, the power of the serpent, the sacred fire which heals. As the Crone gains entrance into the body and psyche of the menopausal woman, she illuminates one dark corner of her psyche after another, lifting away all that is old and dead and without meaning—the way kundalini energy rises up within a woman's body to illuminate each of the chakras. Her power becomes the power of the menopausal woman. It lies in her dark blood—the blood of creation. It is the indomitable creative power that has lain sleeping in the consciousness of both men and women. It is asking for us to honor it and set it free. Never in human history has it been more urgent that we do so for our own sake, and the benefit of all beings.

The Greatest Journey

The Greatest Journey

I have long been sure in every fiber of my being that the joys of menopause are the world's best kept secret. Like venturing through the gateway to enter an ancient temple, in order to claim that joy, a woman must be willing to pass beyond the monsters who guard its gate. As you stand at the brink of it, it can appear that only darkness, danger and decay lie beyond. And in a way this is true - although most certainly not in the way most women believe. For having myself passed through the doorway of menopause into the realms beyond—almost twenty years ago now—I am certain, as thousands of women from all cultures throughout history have whispered to each other, that menopause is the most exciting passage a woman ever makes. Of course nobody told me this beforehand. It was a secret I had to discover for myself. Like most modern women my head had been filled with the horrors of hot flushes, fainting spells and dry vaginas; with memories of my mother's tears shed over a wrinkle that appeared one day to mar her perfect face; with the prospect of enforced celibacy—after all, no man can feel lust for an old woman, or can he? It was partly by accident, I think, and partly because—despite good health and secure family circumstances—my own journey through menopause was not an easy one, that I discovered this secret, which throughout history women living in patriarchal cultures have guarded close to their hearts: The doorway of menopause which each of us is invited to pass through is a call to adventure. It connects the ordinary world in which we have been living to a numinous zone of magnified power. Within that zone are hidden treasures to match our wildest dreams. But, like every prize worth having, these riches can only be claimed and brought back if a woman is bold enough and persistent enough to answer the call. What is calling? Nothing less than her own soul. This call to adventure which a woman hears at menopause can arrive in as many different forms as there are women to hear it. But, whatever shape it takes, its purpose is the same. It is asking her—imploring her—to leave behind the comfortable world of her ordinary existence and for a time to venture into a challenging unfamiliar place. It is asking her to set out on her own hero's journey—a journey which is completely unique to her. Sometimes this entails making an outer journey to a real place, moving to a new job, or leaving behind a marriage which has outlived its usefulness. For many the journey takes place only in the mind, the heart and the spirit. Either way it is primarily an inner journey which takes a woman out of her ordinary world with all its ordinary assumptions to transform the way she thinks and lives—from weakness to strength, from grief to purpose, from despair to hope—and then brings her home again. So important do I feel the mysterious transformation that begins in a woman’s life as menopause approaches, that I would like to share with you some of the magic I and so many others have discovered in this extraordinary life-changing passage in future blogs. I hope you will join me.

The Best Is Yet To Come

The Best Is Yet To Come

This is an interview I gave about what it means to turn 50 years old and the gifts that this process can bring. Tally: You’ve always said that turning 50 and entering menopause are great gifts, Leslie, What do you mean by this? TURNING 50 Leslie: Let me first be personal,Tally. My 50th birthday was the only birthday in my life that I cared about. It felt to me as though 50 was a watershed—the moment in time where I left behind my previous life in order to create a new life for myself. At that time I was writing my first novel, Ludwig: A Spiritual Thriller, about Beethoven. My eldest son, Branton, gave me an amazing birthday gift. What he did was lay aside two days for me and a dozen other people to celebrate, not just my birthday, but their own passages in their own lives. One of the things he did—he sent six bouquets of my favorite flowers—Oriental lilies—each containing a dozen lilies. Then on the Friday night there was a knock at the door. I opened the front door to find a woman with a violin in her hand. She said “Hello. We are a quartet from the Welsh National Opera, and we have come to play Beethoven’s late quartets for you.” Anyway, I had done a fast to celebrate my life-change at 50, basically. I wasn’t, at that time, entering menopause—it was about a year later that I did. Tally: Well my own experience of turning 50 was pretty bleak. I was already in the menopause. I felt horrible—tears all the time, hot flushes, insomnia. I felt very stressed by the whole thing. I also lost my waist for a while, which really upset me. So for me, it wasn’t a great experience. How could I make it a bit better? Leslie: I think you weren’t prepared for it, Tally. Menopause is the most important moment in a woman’s life, for a lot of reasons. My menopause was not easy in the beginning either. Why? Because I had been filled with the same kind of fear and nonsense that the media fills all of us with about menopause. You know the kind of stuff—“Oh my god, what if I have a hot flush when I’m in the boardroom?” and “You’ll get old and dry up if you don’t use HRT!” THE GIFTS OF MENOPAUSE Yet somewhere, deep inside, I sensed that the gifts of menopause might be the world’s best kept secret. Entering menopause, we venture through a gateway to enter into a sacred space that is brand new to our lives. We pass through this portal to claim the joy that every woman can feel, but has not yet known. As we stand at the brink of menopause, it feels as though only darkness lies beyond, lasting for the rest of our lives. This is true, but not in the way that most women believe. For having myself passed through that doorway into the realms beyond—20 years ago now—I discovered for myself something which women from all cultures have whispered to each other for thousands of years: Menopause is the most freeing passage a woman can make. HERO’S JOURNEY The transformation it can bring is rich and endless. Your life can become a journey in which you tap into your own individual power and freedom. For every woman it’s a voyage of discovery which, step by step, wants us to examine and discard misconceptions about ourselves and our lives, to get rid of the fear, and to come face to face with the implications of what this kind of female transformation means. The call to menopause, which each of us hears, comes in as many different forms as there are women to hear it. But whatever shape it takes, its purpose is the same. It’s asking us to leave behind the comfortable world of our ordinary existence and enter unfamiliar, yet sacred, territory. It’s asking each of us to set out on our own hero’s journey. Sometimes, this urges us to make an outer journey to a real place, find a new job, or leave behind a marriage that has outlived its usefulness. But for most of us, the journey takes place in our hearts, in our minds, in our spirits. What is wonderful, is this: however it happens, this journey takes a woman out of her ordinary world, and away from all of the outdated, false assumptions we carry about who we are. It takes us out of an experience of fear into one of strength; out of an experience of grief and regret towards the discovery of a new sense of purpose—from despair to hope. Now it’s time to recognize that all of the things that take place in a woman’s life—like what happened to you, Tally, with your hot flushes and “Oh my god, what’s happening to me?”—are fundamentally a call from your soul. It’s saying to you “You’ve lived a good life until now, you’ve cared for other people, you’ve been responsible and honorable in what you’re doing, but where is the essence of Tally?” Now’s the time for you to learn to live your life from the very core of your being? HERBAL SECRETS Let’s go back to those hot flushes. I have a very extraordinary point of view as far as they’re concerned. If you’re in a boardroom, you have a hot flush and it bothers the men who are with you, that’s their problem, not yours. Most men are scared to death of women in the menopause. They’re not aware of it, but the power that women access within themselves is phenomenal. On a practical level, hot flushes are easy things to deal with. Herbs like black cohosh—also known as black snakeroot, or sheng ma in Chinese medicine—and sage are great to support the process. Motherwort is absolutely marvelous for the menopause transition because it’s so comforting. When you mix together some of these herbs they work best. What I would never do is get into hormone replacement therapy. Menopause signals to us that it’s time to stop being the lover, the mother, the good employee—all of the things we grow up thinking we’re supposed to live up to—and just spend time being with yourself, in that inner place, discovering who you really are. When you do this, you find that even the physical experiences of menopause which are supposed to be negative are really a call from your soul, urging you to find out who you are, and begin to live out the fantastic power, energy, and freedom that menopause is offering. These are rewards of the natural menopause, and of the transformation that menopause can bring to a woman’s life if she’s willing to embrace it. Choose to answer the call, and your menopausal passage can become the most exciting hero’s journey anyone ever takes.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 13,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 13 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 12th of April 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.53 lb
for women
-1.30 lb
for men
-0.53 lb
for women
-1.30 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 12th of April 2021 (updated every 12 hours)

sign up for our newsletter

download our free book healthy & lean for life