Caryn Franklin
Photo: Billie Scheepers

Caryn Franklin has written a brilliant, positive piece on the menopause for Refinery 29. Describing the unique physical and mental affects of what she calls ‘a mind-blowing midlife recalibration – one with a valuable message of growth and expansion,’ the esteemed fashion journalist/activist/broadcaster explains how she addressed her work-life balance by focusing on personal strengths and cutting the crap. This really stuck a chord with me:

‘In menopause our body roars. All these years it has put up and shut up and now will not tolerate abuse or disrespect any longer. This commotion is simply a demand by your newly awake self for quality not quantity, for re-evaluation and re-balancing. Perhaps (when your time comes) you plan to put your hands over your ears? Think again, there is nothing so primal and immediate as your body’s hormonal call to action.

I listened. I cut myself a break. As a result I’m no longer buckling under the stress of numerous projects running concurrently. I’ve made other changes too. I attend less time-wasting meetings, engage in much less unwaged work and collaborate more selectively. I’m thinking about the bigger picture as I celebrate my strengths and focus on the positives, while gracefully accepting my limitations… finally.’

And I love Caryn’s (surprise) ending:

‘I am on a journey towards Cronehood, and I love it.’

Menopause – the truth and the surprise ending includes some excellent tips and practical advice; you can read the full article HERE.

26 thoughts on “Caryn Franklin talks menopause

  1. An enlightening piece, words of wisdom from a beautiful & clever woman.
    I can’t say menopause has been anything like this for me. Having 3 kids under 11 there’s little time to contemplate any of the changes I’m experiencing. However it certainly is interesting reading Caryns take on the inevitably life affirming process we will all go through sooner or later.
    Thanks for the article Alyson xxx

  2. Menopause didn’t wax poetic for me. It took the hair from my head and moved it to my chin.
    It left me with ripples and wrinkles all over.

    But–not having my period anymore is a great trade-off. Cronehood? I was born that way!

    1. aah Catherine, I nearly spit up my coffee laughing at your comment, I seem to spend my time driving home from work feeling my chin for new additions!

  3. I really hated this article– why do women wait until this age to discover who they are and what they need?! And more Christian bashing! There are plenty of strong & courageous & humble Christian women throughout history who are held up as Saints by men and women alike! (I think it was just the Puritans who were on the witch hunt!) …Mother Teresa, at least, anyone?! Mother Angelica who started her own tv station here in the States when no women in secular society had ever done that?! We need to teach our daughters better– we can have a sense of who we are and how to balance life starting in our teen years. My daughter is in college and knows who she is, what she wants and what works best for her. And please work with a doctor before going out and trying things like DHEA– it did weird things to me when my doctor prescribed it! And everyone knows that alcohol causes insomnia.

    1. You hated it so much you posted almost the same comment on two different sites.

      You can tout the so-called RC saints all you like, but misogyny is a standard of all Abrahamic religions starting with the ridiculous story blaming Eve for everything. I’m sorry to tell you that you really need to do your research about Mother Teresa. She was not strong, courageous or humble. She was a terrible person who preyed upon the poor and collected untold sums of money which went somewhere but certainly didn’t go to the poor Indians she was supposed to be helping. She actually believed that their suffering was a gift.

      And, yes, we should be raising strong, confident girls but not everyone is born that way or has the life circumstances that allow them to become what they might. Age and experience allow many of us to get to that point when we’re older and have learned a lot of things the hard way. It might come at the same time as menopause and women need to be allowed to find what works for them,

      1. This is a comments page Cathi. Not a debating society. She’s entitled to an opinion, as are you. Leave her alone.

  4. Reading these comments motivated me to read the article. But before I did that I noticed what beautiful hair Caryn Franklin has. Most of us experience thinning of our hair at this age – I know I have shifted to a shorter hairstyle to accommodate that. It took me 2-3 years to get through the hot flashes, insomnia, brain fog, etc. And overall, I had to do exactly what Caryn describes. I had to drop old coping techniques (just work harder and you can do it all!) and come up with new ones. And yes, I had to become much more discriminating about where to spend my energy. Menopause did give me the opportunity to decide what really matters. If we are accustomed to that sort of self-reflection, it is not that hard to embrace the transition and use it well. Once I made it through the transition, it seemed I regained energy and stamina.

    Now that I am well on my way towards cronehood, I am enjoying this stage of life – perhaps MORE than any stage so far. Great article. Thanks for posting.

  5. Caryn Franklin has always been a bit of a trailblazer! We need more of these sort of articles. More discussion about women in midlife and how to grow through it.

  6. Menopause is a bit like being a teenager again, only with a full tank of gas and one’s own car keys. I’ve found it to be both bewildering and exhilarating. I enjoyed Caryn’s article immensely.

  7. I agree with some of it. Every womans journey is different. What I don’t like is when women blame menopause for every little ill in their life. Much of what she described as being wrong in her life was, in my opinion, not at all related to menopause, but to her own life decisions coming home to roost, and the physical changes of meno just made it more “unignorable”. Menopause doesn’t have to be “mind blowing”. My mother handled it badly, my goal is to handle it with grace and patience.

    That being said, I totally get the “brain fog” she described. So far that has been my biggest challenge. I was glad to finally find someone who had similar symptoms. I just find it funny and a bit aggravating that when I google menopause, all I get is stuff about hot flashes. They are no big deal for me.

    I love her hair, I have not colored my hair since college, and love the silver tresses. Don’t agree with her about makeup though, I love it, always have and will probably be buried with my favorite Dior lipstick clutched in my hand. I don’t wear makeup for men, I wear it for me.

    Like I said, every womans journey is different, and I am very glad we can all talk about it honestly and openly, at least here. Thanks for posting!!

  8. Thank you Beth for pointing out the ease with which many writers bash Christians but would never do the same for Islam or Judaism or any other faith. I am not a Christian but the hypocrisy is stunning. That said, menopause has been something of a trial for me. I honestly feel that the physical side effects have been worse than puberty. Changed my diet, exercise routine, my entire life to accomodate aging. Each half-year brings a new “surprise”. I’d take back my period in a heartbeat in exchange for the same energy levels I had in my forties.

  9. Interesting article. But as others have said it is different for each one of us. I had night sweats – awful – and mood swings but otherwise had a not too bad time. I still have very thick hair but have noticed that my eyebrows have almost disappeared and my eyelashes are not as long as they were before. My skin has become thinner and a bit wrinkled. But as a character in Shelagh Delaney’s play ‘A Taste of |Honey’ says ‘Every line tells a dirty story’. I will not succumb to surgery but do not berate those who do.

    Basically we have lived and hopefully loved and are still living and loving. Women need to be comfortable with who they are. However,if anyone has a solution to the eyebrow problem please let me know. BUT I cannot contemplate tattooed brows. Hate pain and what if I did not like the result?

  10. It was worth reading the whole article, it is thought provoking and I’m sure most of us would recognise aspects of her experience of the menopause. However the article was ruined for me once the “health advice” started. I would caution people to take it with a large dose of salt and consult their GP before contemplating any form of hormone therapy – the side effects can be very serious for some.
    And as for kinesiology, well really, I’m surprised she wasn’t recommending some equally evidence based crystal therapy alongside……

  11. Just want to say my prevkous comment is not meant to be confrontative but merely for correction of facts that are being distorted about Christianity by the general public. I do not wish to criticize in anger, just saying what is true tho’most people don’t know. I like very much what was said by this author & I so love yor blog!!

  12. I am confused as to how a “so called” modern, rational, educated person, touting religious preference, (of any kind,) to promote their personal beliefs on menopause…. is considered appropriate. Mother Theresa was a thief?? Seriously. Even if she was, how does that apply to the topic at hand? And why do Christians seem to be at the butt of all modern conversations?

    One half of humanity (more or less) is women. All women experience menopause, if they are lucky to live that long. If you have lived that long… Celebrate! Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Buy a fan, where caftans, experience the freedom of not having to live up to expectations of being young looking! Be yourself, at an age. THAT is true freedom.

  13. Wow, reading the full article (loved it!) and the comments, it strikes me how very differently everyone is experiencing the menopause. I wonder also if we are shaped by how our mothers experienced it and shared that experience – or not, in my case. I had no idea what to expect, and am now on HRT after struggling when my menopause hit at the same time as my daughter was going off to uni. The effects have been dramatic – in a good way. The trick for me is to read a lot, listen a lot and then do what’s best for me. I wish we women could go through life being kinder and more supportive with each other and our choices, we’d all benefit.
    Love,
    Pollyanna!

  14. I thought the piece was fine if a bit tub-thumpy. My only problem with all this menopause chat is…I find it very tedious. Just as I found all the pregnancy worship. And the period celebration. I don’t want a feminist re-interpretation of a perfectly normal process that you go through as you age. I just wish women would stop making such a song-and-dance about hormones. Hot flushes are annoying but pass, even though it can take years. Night sweats are not actually as terrible as some people make them sound – they wake you up, you have to cool down, get a drink, perhaps get changed but you aren’t lying, thrashing and feverish on your pillow like a plague victim. And you may ache a bit – go for a walk every day then. It is all a lot better than being dead. That is the alternative. Just remember: HRT is not the answer. It has to stop some day. As do we all.

  15. Much of this struck a chord with me. 10 years on I feel better with myself mentally than I ever have and I am truly looking forward to enjoying the next 30 years, even taking into account the physical changes, life events such a bereavement and being financially worse off. Laughing at some of the experiences helped, such as a colleague’s friend who, driving back to work after lunch, had to pull over because she completely forgot where she worked! One unexpected side effect was the sympathy I found for a granddaughter going through puberty – that feeling of not quite fitting in with the world, which I’d experienced much more recently than her mum. Recalibration is a good word for it. The comments on wrinkles in the full article rang true – I almost had an argument with a young sales assistant who was truly shocked that I did not want to follow the (expensive) routine she was promoting to avoid wrinkles, despite the fact that 5 minutes earlier she had commented on what lovely clear skin I had. What she did not grasp was that I do not care about wrinkles, there are far more interesting things to spend my hard earned cash on. I have not regretted for one second leaving a job I hated and letting my hair go grey, in fact the opposite is true, I am so glad I did. I still love fashion and try to look well groomed, but I don’t obsess about it.

  16. I enjoyed it. The first half was a familiar reminder for anyone who hasn’t learnt it already – goodness knows, we should be preaching this to all ages – but I enjoyed reading it. I think she’s a lovely writer. The second half was the kind of crib sheet I will try to keep a tab on: one day one of the things that worked for Caryn might work for me (and when I’m desperate I’ll try anything). But mainly, her greying hair is terrific. By far my favourite of all the shades and styles we’ve seen since those old Clothes Show days. R.I.P. to that.

  17. I have very mixed feelings about the menopause. Good Housekeeping recently ran an article about a generation of women who were discouraged from HRT because of a then current scare, and I’m one of them. This was ten years or so ago. A practice nurse advised all sorts of homeopathic remedies that gave no perceivable relief. My main challenge was hot flushes, almost entirely occurring when I was giving public presentations, as an important part of my job. So I just gritted my teeth and ignored them, leaving the audiences to be polite and ignore them. Not the best stretch of my working life. Now, I hardly ever think about being ‘post-menopausal’, although I suspect insomnia is a lingering effect. There’s a huge amount of silence everywhere – I never discussed the matter with either my mother or my sister. But equally, while I’m sympathetic when female colleagues confide in me about their experiences, for me it is uninteresting. Just lucky to be here – preferable to the alternative! So perhaps my conclusion is, get over yourself . . .

  18. It is what it is. Another part of the journey of life. Nothing surprising or overly mystical or even, deep breath, meaningful. And like every other part of life it is what you make of it. Or not. That’s why I can’t be arsed reading her article. I do think she’s lovely though……

  19. This all seems a little intense to me & might fill younger women with trepidation . Don’t worry it was no big deal for me or my friends & family – perhaps we were the lucky ones ? Relax & accept the normal changes in your life .

  20. I had the worst of the worst menopause ! Started 48 lasted to 58. Hot flashes almost every 5 mins 24/7. Weigh gain, pain, lack of sleep, ((hot flashes)) burning up, running outside at 15 degree to cool down.
    Emotions all over the place, at the same time empty nesting was starting and husband close to retirement. Taking care of sr parents, and my own body hurting all over.

    I was never so glad when I got through menopause, 62 now, last hot flash a few months ago, but just a passing now…

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