2004-01-09 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Passing The Torch
By Dr. Nancy Gahles
Health & Harmony

Health & Harmony

DR. nancy gahlesDR. nancy gahles

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Passing The Torch

2003. The year began on the cyclic upswing. A new year, new goals, new expectations. The phone rang in my office and I heard the voice of my 13 year old daughter. "Mom, I got my period." "Oh, my God!", I responded. Joy, pride, excitement surged through me. "Okay, gotta go", she said, clearly annoyed at my display of emotion. "I almost didn’t tell you because I knew you would act that way." Like what? A joyful, proud mother of a daughter entering womanhood. Celebrating a right of passage. Pardon the emotion.

I could hardly subdue my spirits as I dispassionately approached the discussion of pad selection. Mini or maxi; contour with wings or without and their appropriate disposal. She sighed the agonizing cry of one who must sit and listen to the inane drivel of a mother and said, "I KNOW, Mom!" Undaunted, I pushed on. I taught her how to record her cycle on a calendar and how to moniter her body for signs of ovulation. I slipped into the conversation a light smattering of contraception speak but was immediately rebuffed.

As we circled the day of her menarche on the calendar, I noticed that I was due very soon. A cascade of emotional synchrony followed as I realized that my daughter and I would be menstruating at the same time. I spoke to her of recognizing pre-menstrual tensions, irritability and fatigue and made a mental note to myself to be aware of her moods in concert with mine. Two women cycling together. It reminded me of the book, THE RED TENT, where the women of Biblical times went to the tent together to menstruate, sharing a bonding time.

As the days passed, my pre-menstrual signs began to wane. The realization dawned slowly. She got her period and I,… I got a yeast infection. The torch had been passed. To a new generation. I pictured myself running a relay race and reaching the finish line, exhausted, passing the baton to the young nubile runner in her full stride.

It was a shocking blow. I couldn’t believe it was over. So soon. So unexpected. Like a myocardial infarct in a healthy person who scrupulously eats all nine fruits and vegetables daily; organic, with soy supplements. It just wasn’t right. Cut off in the prime of my life.

Cycles wax and wane. Thy have beginnings and endings. They are predictable. Night follows day. Spring follows winter. Breath follows breath. I saw my daughter with all the fullness of her life before her. The wonderment of what will be. The exuberance of becoming. And I was very sad. I wondered what I had to be wondrous about. I know a little bit about life and, at this point, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Ah, to see the world through the eyes of a child!

I’ve lived my life in a cyclic rhythm. I’m attuned to the swell, to the tides coming in and the tides going out with Mother Moon ordering the phases. I remember how I felt when I graduated from school. I was a Doctor. I’d completed the highest level of schooling. When September came around, I didn’t know how to orient myself in a world without registration, mid-terms and finals. How would I assess my progress? No grades, no finals. There were no markers for me. At least not the discernable ones. The ones where the external validators give you credit for your accomplishments. As time went on I began to live each day on its own merit. Motherhood will do that to you. So will doctoring. The immediate demands of humanity require you to be present in the moment. "Mooooom! Come here – NOW! I need you!" or "Dr. Can I come in right away? I’m in a lot of pain." I learned to grade myself on a job well done if I finished the day with their homework done, concerns addressed, vegetables eaten, patients seen and prayers said.

You don’t realize what you have until it’s gone was an old adage I pondered. So much of my adult life was geared around my menstrual cycle. Productivity. The awesome potential of creation that is embodied in the menstrual cycle. My hormonal clock was a reliable timepiece for predicting my peaks and valleys. Now, how would I negotiate the terrain? What will the road signs be? That’s when I realized the wonderment that lay ahead. It will be another journey. A quest for the Holy Grail of Becoming and Manifesting. It was then that I knew that there will be other cycles by which to sense my progress. It’s a more subtle cycling. The peaks and the valleys are not as steep. I don’t have the endurance to climb so high and fall so low anymore. Thank God, I don’t have to. I’ve been to the top. I’ve seen the Promised Land.

The night I accepted the Wisdom of Change, I sat with my daughter and, as she blotted the excess oil from her face, I was slathering moisturizer on mine. I said, "Jade, I’m passing the torch of the menstrual cycle to you and I’m continuing on with the race. The mysteries of womanhood. All that has yet to be revealed. The wonderment will be in the intuition of each moment. The cycle of the breath. Creating life and experience moment to moment. Connecting the internal and external realities and making sense of it all, at a bit more leisurely pace. A different race. Wisdom reaping. Part of the full cycle of life. A bit more discreet. At the discretion of a heartbeat. "

"Meet you at the finish line, honey."

"Goodnight, Mom."

"Goodnight, Moon."

Wishing you all Health and Harmony as we cycle through this New Year.

May The Blessings Be!

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