Monday, July 2, 2012

Through Menopausal Eyes: Lessons from the Wizard of Oz

How does The Wizard of Oz remind me of menopause?

Watching the 1939 film with 16 year-old Judy Garland through menopausal eyes—the only way I see these days—I reflect on the alien world Dorothy finds herself in.

She’s not in Kansas anymore, and neither am I.  Someone has died, in Dorothy’s case the Wicked Witch of the West, flattened under a farmhouse.

Some days I feel as though my old self has died, the weight of a house collapsing on my head. Some days I feel like I’M the wicked witch, times 10.

Dorothy is growing and changing. She will never be the same after Oz, and I am going through my own emotional evolution/revolution, one that I didn’t surely didn’t anticipate. No way will I be quite the same after weathering this twister.

Watching TWOO this time, I focus on Dorothy’s bravery. Plunked down in a land where she knows no one, told to walk to a faraway wizard for help, she doesn’t hesitate. She starts down the yellow-brick road, all alone, with only Toto for company.  How very strong is that? I want to emulate her fearlessness.

She meets those wonderful friends along the way: the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion. They are seekers, like her, and I’ve met friends on my meno journey without whom I’d have little hope of making it to the other side of this emotional storm. Friends are a main ingredient in the prescription for menopause survival.

Dorothy already has the brain, heart, and courage that her friends seek. I have these too, although many days they seem to have shrunk to the size of the grains of sand in the witch’s hourglass.

What about that hourglass? Dorothy watches the grains trickle down what she believes may be the last minutes of her life. This passage of life and my upcoming 55th birthday reminds me of my mortality, prodding me to set priorities with a sense of urgency I may have lacked previously.

It’s time for me to pay attention—to do what I have been putting off—to take risks. To write the book I’ve been mulling over for years, for Pete’s sake. To save up for the trip to Italy, a dollar at a time if that’s the only way.

I can’t wait around for the Good Witch Glenda in a sparkly gown and magic wand to point me in a new direction. 

I’ve got to get going, on my way, to the new land. Whether the road is through Oz or Kansas, I don’t know.

But here goes.


  1. My life's journey has also had an interruption which has taken me a few months to sort and classify. I read about your change in life and I write about mine. That's what we do. Hopefully, in writing it all down, we come to a better understanding of what makes us tick. Just hope that the "ticking" doesn't blast off in the process. Keep writing, Melanie; I'd like to see that book. Is it about your life in the South?

  2. As you know, I am familiar with that road - though I never attribute it to menopause per se - mostly I see it simply about changing life circumstances and watching life slip away. I try to embrace the whole f-ing thing but not so easy. Some days are better than others.I would agree that my women friends are the best companions for travel on this road - an evening with a couple of glasses of wine and wonderful philosophical/reflective conversation (WITH a HUGE helping of humor) can be incredibly sustaining. I wish you could come one evening! You would like it!

  3. Mark, we are on a similar wavelength! Writing does help, especially with sympathetic, understanding readers like you. I hear that "ticking," in my head, too, and hope the only blast this week is the fireworks for the Fourth, lol.
    The book-- there are at least two percolating. One a fictionalized novel about a Victorian lady traveler who went alone on horseback into the Rockies in 1873, the other how in the heck I ended up living 15 years on an island accessible only by ferry.
    Have a great Fourth, my friend!

  4. J.T.-- at this point, I can't tell what's menopause and what's mid-life crisis. I never expected to feel so challenged by life at this age. Thought I'd have it all figured out by now, lol. Was I optimistic, delusional, or both? ;-)
    The wine and kvetching group sounds like the ticket to survival. Boy, would I love to join y'all one evening. I'll be there in spirit.

  5. It's so easy to get distracted from the fact that our time is finite and that the only way we're going to accomplish what we want to is to keep it at the top - a daily priority. Not just a life priority but a daily life priority.


  6. Mi Querida Melanie, there you are...and I am so very glad to hear from you. :)

    I know exactly what you mean, we are certainly NOT in Kansas anymore. I am so sorry to hear you are feeling like you've lost yourself. And you already know that I've lost me too. Sometimes, only sometimes, I feel a little (lots) sorry for me, too. I have to actually allow myself to cry a little, for the fast disappearing years. And I haven't yet had the satisfaction of a cruise, or seen Italia, España, Francia. Instead I must content myself with reading about others taking their dream vacations...and now I'm menopausal and almost 56 years old.

    Do I cry or laugh or BOTH?

    Recuerda, amiga mia, las puertas de mi casa estan abierta para ti, siempre. Juntas lloramos, i juntas tambien nos reímos!

    Tu Amiga sere, siempre,

  7. Hello Jane-- the imperative is there, to do more, but the willpower is sometimes lacking for me! I'm up one day, down the next, scrambled eggs the third day. Phew.

  8. Mi amiga Virginia,
    You should have seen me trying to speak Espanol to a man from Honduras the other day. I was not very successful, but it was beautiful to hear his Spanish rolling off his tongue. One of these days I am going to get back to working on my Spanish-- I actually understood you (I think)!
    I know what you mean about the travels we thought we would make.

    But we still have time, and a little flower of hope is still there for us. If I win the lottery or come into some $$$, I will take all of us on a grand trip!

    Love to you my friend!

  9. It's a deal, Amiga mia, because if I win something, or money drops from the sky, we are going to tour the Mediterranean! Yippeee!!

    Big hugs and lots of love to you, too!

  10. Sounds like some pretty amazing stuff could come out of this upheaval--hope you'll take us along for the ride. :)

  11. Hi M.M.! I saw a carnival ride on a flat bed truck yesterday and almost followed it to wherever it was going, lol.

  12. I can wholly understand that urge--been fightin' it off myself a bit lately. ;)