The Wisdom of Women: Christiane Northrup

Several years ago I had the good fortune to interview renowned doctor and women’s health expert Christiane Northrup. This week, I read an article about her in Spirituality & Health Magazinewhich is quickly becoming my new favorite publication.

In 2010, when she and I spoke by phone, Northrup was 49 and speaking about mid-life women. Perhaps her most compelling quote from that conversation was this: “When you can raise the energy, you are part of the solution. When you follow your joy and bliss, you make a pathway in the universe that others can follow. It’s like the lighted aisle in the airplane. And the more women who are following their pleasure, the easier it is for the next woman to do it.”

In this recent article, her main point is that our bodies are gifts, they tell us what we need and how to heal, we need to listen to our inner wisdom – rather than turning outward for answers.

She writes that while society has taught women to believe that the rhythms of our bodies – monthly cycles and lifetime evolutions (childhood, menstrual, menopausal) – are distasteful, they are to be celebrated. This, she says, is the creative energy of life, and we should ride the waves of our cycles rather than quell them and ignore them.

Listen, something like 85% of purchasing decisions in America are made by women. My daughter said, “That’s because women like to shop and men don’t.” Nope. Women hold the power. We just don’t wave it in everyone’s face. I’ve been trying to show my daughters how this works, subtly, with finesse, without detrimentally affecting my sons.

There’s a reason that women hold the purchasing power for their families. It’s helpful business research, yes, but it’s also indicative of something larger: we hold the power but we don’t realize it. We don’t celebrate our inner power; we are afraid of it because we’ve been taught to be.

Isn’t that a little silly?

Yesterday, my family glided in two canoes over a still lake with small wind-induced ripples at Kensington Metropark. The youngest children rode silent in the middle on a well-used cushion. The oldest children paddled in the front seat while Dan and I navigated from the rear.

We circled the lake. We encircled a tiny island where my children wanted to climb out and scuttle up the dirt paths to see what surprises this tiny mid-lake refuge held in its grasp.

We didn’t climb out but we put the paddles to the sand bottom to see how deep it was around the island. Curiosity of the natural world runs rampant in my family. When left to nature and an open day, we are (mostly) at peace, riding the waves of time and sunshine in an effortless exploratory manner.

I am amazed how late I’ve been sleeping these past few weeks. My dedicated readers know I am usually an early riser – so early that I have half a day complete before anyone else opens an eye.

Not this summer. Usually it is summer when I am likelier to rise with the sun and gain extra hours of productive creative time.

This year, as my children are older and staying up later, I am listening to the rhythm of my soul. I am laying down in the evening and letting myself rest. I am realizing the importance of full sleep to function properly and maintain good health.

And in the morning, I rise when I am ready to rise and trust that the day will be as full as it needs to be.

I am not pushing myself to do more, be more, have more. As long as I’ve known him, my husband has not set an alarm clock. He’s never late for work. He just knows when to wake up. He doesn’t feel compelled to do seven more things before leaving for work in the morning.

That’s the burden we women often put on ourselves. And it’s one that I have not felt rushed to continue this summer.

We’ll see where we land. Because it’s all good and it all happens as it should.

Christiane Northrup wrote in this recent article about how older women often face depression because they were raised in a pre-liberation generation when their soul purpose was to serve others. Hiding their own identity and interests for decades, she says, has resulted in late-life depression and listlessness.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The cycle of pain, as she calls it, can stop. As long as we be true to ourselves and live according to our intuition, we’ll get there.

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