From The Tennessean -- Saturday, 12/21/02

Newsletter celebrates midlife's victories

By CARRIE FERGUSON, Staff Writer

''There is something about seeing the horizon. Of course, some see it more than others,'' Pomerance said.

''There has been a medicalization of sexuality and menopause,'' Pomerance added. ''What these women are talking about is relationships, which needs a lot of attention.''

The hot flashes may overwhelm, the eyes may not be as sharp and the knees often rebel.

But oh the gifts of middle age. Yes, gifts. Big gifts.

Sense of self. Boldness. Voice.

None of which Botox can give you.

To reflect the gains, not the losses, of midlife, three Nashville women are launching a national newsletter called Ourselves. They say it is for women ''in the center of life.''

''The sense of loss is where the focus has been,'' said editor and publisher Amy Lynch. ''We are looking to balance the view.''

Lynch was the founding editor of the newsletter Daughters: The Newsletter for Parents of Adolescent Girls, which she launched when she was raising little girls. Now, as she nears 50, she finds another group needs her attention — her compatriots, the baby boomers who are redefining the process.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines middle age as 45 to 64. Forty million women are between the ages of 45 and 55, and the newsletter will focus on women between 40 and 60. Quoting Carl Jung, Lynch says, middle age starts at 40, give or take 20 years.

Lynch and her staff say they are writing for women who have entered a new zone, one as psychological as it is physiological.

''You move into the period of life when you know time is limited,'' Lynch said. ''It does hit most of us. There are job changes, loss of parents, asking for more of what you need. An internal shift.''

The idea for the newsletter came when she began to hear from her female friends how they too were feeling more secure and powerful and yet neglected — save for those Botox and hormone replacement therapy ads — by our culture. Pity that just as a woman sheds an old skin and begins to feel good spiritually, she would feel invisible in a culture that worships youth.

The newsletter will launch in February, in print and on the Internet. Each issue will contain stories on cultural trends, book reviews, medical reports and what the editor calls ''the re-creation of self'' and ''the search for the authentic self.''

Women in their focus groups wanted to read about women making real changes — switching jobs, going back to school, changing their relationships. They wanted to read stories about soul sisters who were letting go of things that no longer suited them and rejoicing that some of the hard stuff was behind them. They wanted to celebrate exactly where they were, not pine for the past or fear the future.

While menopause is a real passage for this age group, the newsletter won't be a repository of change-of-life stories. Women are much more than their hormones, Lynch said.

''Midlife is a choice. You can stagnate or grow. It determines how you will live the second half of your life,'' Lynch said.

Lenore Pomerance, a Virginia therapist who studies and writes about menopause and midlife, says Ourselves is indeed on to something. Women in this age group, she said, do ask a lot of questions: Am I in the right marriage? Should I have focused more on my career? Was it harder to have kids than I thought?

''There is something about seeing the horizon. Of course, some see it more than others,'' Pomerance said.

''There has been a medicalization of sexuality and menopause,'' Pomerance added. ''What these women are talking about is relationships, which needs a lot of attention.''

© Copyright 2003 The Tennessean

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