Barbara de Souza spent 40+ years doing missionary work in the shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With the support of church congregations, she built a health clinic and trained women to be health workers in their communities.
These are her thoughts on menopause:
There are so many changes in life. From my experience, menopause is not just a change but a pause in life.
It’s actually a wonderful pause.
It’s a time to treasure the fun memories of adolescence, the strain of youthful competition, the worries about appearance, and the wonder of what being a grown woman,out on your own, can mean.
It is a time to reflect on the challenges of marriage, the transcendent experience of creating a new life, the weight of responsibility as you hold that precious one in your arms, the joys and anxieties of child rearing, the pleasure of accompanying the child towards independence, and then the shock of empty nest.
When this phase is all over, hold on to what remains, your memories.
Menopause is your time to pause and look back at your life and realize that now you can begin to think of yourselves again. You can make your desires and hopes a priority.
It can be such a rewarding time. The ending of the menstrual cycle means the beginning of YOUR independence.
Your bodies change as your life changes. It’s not a time to think you are getting older. No!
You are entering a phase of freedom to be what you would like to be. Even though a phase of productivity is ending, a new production is beginning. It’s a new chance to produce and live some dreams of your own.
Now it’s your life to be lived, your independence to be gained.
I wish this for every woman. Pause! Reflect! Begin again!
And now, at 83, far from menopause, I must pause again to reflect on the wonderful life I have had, and begin again a new phase.
Barbara, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, moved back to the United States in 2011 with her husband Gus, retiring to Thomasville, NC. Read what she’s doing in retirement!
She’s chairwoman of the spiritual life committee at Piedmont Crossing Retirement Community. Several days a week, Barbara serves as the volunteer chaplain at the Thomasville Medical Clinic. Additionally, she’s involved with Circles, a family service program that works to break the cycle of poverty by mentoring young women. Barbara is currently writing a book on her work in Brazil and the many stories of women she knew and their struggles. She’s the mom of my friend and guest poster, Judy Brown.
Top Photo: Barbara with the health workers she trained in the clinic, Associacao de Agentes Educadoras Comunitarias de Saude do Canal do Anil.
Middle Photo: Larissa, a young friend of Barbara’s, raised in a nearby shanty town.
Bottom Photo: Barbara now, with her new friend, Bobbie.