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Your Stories: Donna Lancaster

Donna Lancaster, 50, co-founder of The Bridge Retreat, shares her piece.

I wrote the piece below as a result of my own experience of ageing and the menopause.

I started the menopause relatively young at 46 and although it came with its challenges, I also gradually came to see how it also came with many more gifts. Since my menopause I have found that I am more comfortable in my own skin; I no longer feel the need for external validation and feel sensual rather than sexy. I have found that in embracing the loss of my youth, I finally found myself….like I have become the woman I was always meant to be. It really does feel like freedom.


Sooner or later (if we are lucky) each of us will face the loss of our youth and all that this means. The outward changes can be painful …watching our bodies begin to change, bits droop, skin dries, and sight weakens. Our egos have a field day. Then there are the inner shifts, also deep and painful. The questioning of life and its meaning, the point of it all, wondering about our true purpose and the dawning realisation that over half of our life has gone and what have we REALLY achieved?

It is at this point in our lives, we tend to unravel (aka known as the midlife crisis). Something happens to us, whether it’s an illness, the death of a loved one, a dead end job, a depression arrives or someone we love leaves and we can longer continue as we did before. Our old life as we know it has gone. It is this experience that can become the catalyst for our change. At this point, if we dare to go inside and grieve, to face the bigger questions, that something truly incredible can be born.

A new life. Our own.

We can finally start to live the life we were always meant to. Without the false masks or fears. We can begin to shed our old skin (never easy). Yes it was youthful but often full of insecurities and angst, a need to please, to be approved of. What midlife offers us is the gift of ease in a new skin, a caring less, a daring more, a loving eyes approach to the world and everyone in it. It is a phase of our lives whereby we can set more boundaries, say no more, say yes more, drop the masks, let go of who and what does not serve us. It is a time of assessing our choices and breaking free from the chains of consumerism and routine. It is a time of tears, of tenderness, of sadness and joy. A time of waking early, connection and solitude, risk taking, learning new things and always always about gratitude. Appreciating what we have, what we have lost, the beauty of life and the gifts of our life challenges.

If we allow ourselves the unravelling of mid-life, if we dare to grieve all that we have lost, the dreams, the hopes, the people, our youth …what is waiting for us on the other side is something so much more valuable and meaningful than taut skin and being viewed by others as ‘sexy’. What is waiting for us on the other side is Freedom.