Cover Image: Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause

Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause

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Member Reviews

They say that in mid-life a woman finds it harder to repress pain and anger. Cheryl Bridges Johns writes that,

“Women begin to take note of the disparity in power, injustice in society, betrayal in relationships, and disappointments that they once were willing to overlook.”

I don’t know if that can be attributed to a change in hormones or not. But whatever the cause, I have seen it happen again and again as women get older.

In Johns’ new book, Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause, she makes a case for women to use this phase of life to transform into a new way of being in the world, to use this “sacred space to discover a deeper, more mature relationship with God.”

She says there are seven developmental tasks for each woman to face, revealing seven gifts of menopause:

1. The Gift of Uncovering
Uncovering the repressed and hidden parts of your life

2. The Gift of Anger
Getting in touch with your anger

3. The Gift of Authentic Self
Recovering your authentic self

4. The Gift of Expanded Time
Living in expanded time

5. The Gift of Spiritual Freedom
Claiming your spiritual freedom

6. The Gift of Vision
Embracing a holy vision (calling)

7. The Gift of Courage
Returning to your courageous dragon self

To receive these gifts, Johns says to lean into the storm and get in touch with your body. Feel your feelings. Remember your memories. Grieve your losses.

And don’t do it alone. Do it with friends. Do it with God.

Using the seven gifts of menopause prepares you for the second half of life as “a person with the courage, strength, and power needed to face a future that may look quite uncertain.”

Claim the gift of spiritual freedom. It comes with “an enlarged vision of God.” And an enlarged vision of yourself.

My thanks to Net Galley for the review copy of this book.
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Thank you NetGalley for this ARC.  I found this book to be an interesting read with insightful information for menopause and things that are experienced during this time in our female lives.  I will be recommending this book to my female readers.
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If you say "Hot Flashes!" around anyone, their mind automatically heads to menopause. While not quite there yet, that time of life is certainly sneaking up on me, so the book Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause seemed like an appropriate title to read. Unfortunately, menopause or "the change" carries a lot of baggage and is often used to demean and put down women.

Author Cheryl Bridges Johns is Chair of Spiritual Renewal at Pentecostal Theological Seminary. For each chapter, she emphasizes that women may have been taught one thing, such as women should be quiet and not have a voice, but that the Bible doesn't teach that. Johns then shares how menopause is a wonderful time to transform that area or aspect of your life by embracing your true self or finding the voice that you may have hidden or not felt comfortable using. Cheryl Bridges Johns does marvelous job of combining spiritual teaching and stories from her own life and those of other women. Some of the stories such as that of a woman being asked to leave a women's retreat for asking questions and being disruptive rather than being quiet and simply a container to be filled will make you angry and wonder what would happen in your church setting. Johns pulls in other scholarly research as well to back up her points. She writes as an older, wiser friend who has already experienced these gifts and wishes to help others experience menopause as transforming gifts rather than closing the door on possibilities.

I would encourage any woman regardless of their age or their proximity to this time period to read Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause. If you are currently in this phase, it will be encouraging and help you to embrace your future years with gusto. If this phase is in your near future, reading this book will help you to begin thinking about these gifts and how you can embrace them fully. If either of these categories describe you, Johns also includes wonderful questions for both person reflection and group reflection which makes this perfect for a study or book group. If menopause is far in the future, you still might find this a useful book. Many of the gifts described, as the title suggests, focus on transforming a viewpoint or action that you may find useful to implement now. All in all, no matter your age, Johns helps you to become more comfortable with the life changes we all go through and with who you are and the unique gifts God has given to you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause from Brazos Press/Baker Publishing Group via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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“Seven Transforming Gifts of Menopause: An Unexpected Spiritual Journey” by Cheryl Bridges Johns is a book that I had the opportunity to read as an Advanced Reader Copy.  This book is scheduled to be published on March 17, 2020.  The author is an evangelical Christian college professor who weaves her words with a passion of writing from an academic perspective as well as personal reflection of her journey in this season of life.  This is a book about menopause and helps the reader dive into the emotional aspect during the transition.  I was able to relate and reflect as I was recently told, “Congratulations, you made it!  You are in menopause!”  (Please read that in the voice of Buddy the Elf.)  I have felt that my previous experiences with menopause were negative, taboo and rarely discussed.  Any discussion with woman in my family centered around how crazy someone else became or the horrible hot flashes or smug remarks.  I think I began peri-menopause about five years ago and when I would talk about my symptoms responses would center around “oh my God, you are so young.”  So, I kept my mouth shut and suppressed my words.  I won’t say that I suffered in silence, but I knew who I could and could not talk to about this season of life.  Ultimately, I have embraced the journey.  This author describes seven gifts.   I wish I had understood the emotional process of the journey with more clarity as this author describes especially related to anger.  I have been a people pleaser most of my life and do not express anger.  Then, along comes menopause anger.  You know the anger.  That moment when your child, teenager or spouse gives a side eye and your head spins around like the exorcist, but you have no idea why you are mad and neither do they.  I learned to recognize when a moment was lurking and could warn my people who quickly learned to follow the command of “remove yourself from this space before the wrath of Traci arrives.”  The author says, “It (Anger) is a cleansing fire; when used properly, it makes way for much of life’s dead wood to be cleared out so new growth can occur.”  That is powerful for me.  I am not saying to allow the wrath to explode on those around you, but to channel the anger into healing.  Quiet yourself and dive deep into the pain to understand the root of the anger.  I have a tendency to say “you don’t do this, etc” when I really need to say “I am stressed.  I am tired.  I am overwhelmed.”  Then, you can open the door to establish boundaries as well as rules to help decrease those feelings as you carry the burdens of your day to day life.  I hope to be able to learn to be more expressive, let go of the fiery and use that energy for peace within my soul.  I will continue to control the things I can and let go of the things I cannot.  In this season of life, I will continue to evolve and become who I am meant to be and chase my vision and dreams.  As for those woman silently suffering in this season of life, I plead with you to talk with others and shout loudly from the mountain tops.  You are not alone.  I will lend a listening ear and support your journey through the season.  (Pages 240)
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This excellent book is a wonderful resource for women approaching or experiencing menopause. The author offers a brutally honest description of all the anger, hormonal fluctuations, and life changes women go through, especially in the years leading up to menopause. I wish I had been able to read a book like this years ago.

The book comes at the topic from a Christian standpoint, but the author does a very nice job of including women of all faiths (or no faith). While this book would be useful for any woman in her forties or fifties, the author does a particularly good job of addressing church-going women. She paints an honest and helpful portrait of patriarchy in the church and points out the "nice girl" roles many of us get shoved into as church members. While most Johns' examples come from conservative church settings, these examples and criticisms met me where I am as a member of a progressive church as well. 

This book helped me a lot in going through this huge change of life and offered guidance for self-examination and reflection. Highly recommended.
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Guides to negotiating the storms of menopause have become more available in recent years, but women can use much help in this under=reported area of life. Here is one offering made with great heart and earnestness.

Johns comes from an evangelical Christian background that is not mine, and many of her comments are directed specifically to this audience. Some of the stories of shaming and repression of women that she shared were shocking to me and I find it unbelievable that this behavior is called "Christian." However, it was also shocking to learn that not that long ago, women past the age of menopause were considered completely disposable, that menopause meant the "death of the woman within the woman." The fear of women and female power is still very great, even within our supposedly enlightened society, and we cannot try too hard to overcome this bias.

Johns quoted the work of Christiane Northrup frequently and her approach is very similar, though flavored by her place in the evangelical Christian world. Each section contains description of one area Johns has identified as an opportunity for self-development in midlife, narrative examples from women's lives, and questions for individual and group reflection. There is much to learn and to explore, much of which could fruitfully be gone into earlier in a woman's life than menopause -- but better late than never. Certainly there is great evidence that women who take up the challenge of this change can truly transform their lives for the better.

Johns used a great deal of flowery metaphorical language that I found unnecessary and sometimes distracting. I had a strong sense though of her passion for the topic and for her mission to help women embrace their authentic selves. I appreciate her work and hope it will reach the audience it is meant for.
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I really enjoyed this fresh take of menopause – turning this period of life from a time to be dreaded, to a season of opportunities.  While I didn’t agree with everything in the book, I found Cheryl Bridges Johns a refreshing and inspiring writer.  The book was an encouragement not to speak of menopause with a whining, grizzling tone, but with hope and positivity.
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I have very little in common with the author of this book, an evangelical Christian college professor, but I found this book surprisingly encouraging, interesting, thought-provoking and inspirational. Another reviewer said that the author is too "new age" for her, but her only unconventional ideas center around her feminist ideals that question the traditional misogyny of many church traditions and revolutionary things like suggesting that God is as female as male. Anyway, that's an incredibly small portion of the book.

The book is slow to start but I'm so glad I kept reading. I particularly enjoyed the last chapter (courage) and the idea of no longer being princesses waiting for princes to rescue us from dragons, but to be the dragons we were meant to be. I also appreciated the way she showed that anger is a gift of menopause and why.

I have been reading Why We Can't Sleep as I read this book and by about halfway through this one, I wanted to write the author of that one and tell her to read this. Where that one whines about midlife angst, this one points out the many reasons we are who we are now and directs us into a vibrant future. Where this one focuses on money and worries, this one focuses on finding your authentic self again and using the gifts of midlife (vision, anger, courage, etc.) to become an even better, more fulfilled version of yourself.

Parts of this book are quite Christian. Even if you are not Christian, I would recommend this book. Johns' does an excellent job of using stories of women she's known from around the world to illustrate how early life shapes us into the women the world wants and how midlife can shape us into the women we truly want to be.

(Side note for the reviewer who complained it wasn't about the physical aspects of menopause -- no it's not but the "spiritual journey" in the title should be a good enough clue not to hold that against it).

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it, and I recommend it to women of any age.

I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for the purpose of review.
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1 star
I know this book is supposed to be an introspective, self help Christian book. However, it is beyond strange. Please avoid this book. It is awful
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
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I thought that this book would be about the physical changes that happen with menopause, but that was not really dealt with.  Instead, the author talks about what she calls the seven gifts of menopause: uncovering, anger, the authentic self, expanded time, spiritual freedom and courage.  I am in the intended age range for this book, but I just did not relate to most of this content.  I dealt with some of these things at a much earlier age in my life and menopause just has not been an issue for me.  
I am also a fairly conservative Christian and this author brought a lot of spiritual, new ageish feminism into her interpretation of Christianity, which I could not agree with.  It was somewhat interesting to read her beliefs, but I could not apply any of this.  
The author is a good writer, but this book was not for me. I give it three stars because it is well-written.  I received a complementary copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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