Artistic Director Claire Hodgson recently attended the WOW – Women of the World event in Exeter. Claire was invited to speak on two panels during the day and also held a ‘Listening Booth’ for her upcoming show, Mid Life. Claire spoke about her experiences of the perimenopause and menopause on a panel discussing ‘My Personal Heatwave’. She shared her six point plan, of what she discovered worked in her perimenopause, posing lots of questions to consider in the lead up to mid life.

Can you reinvent your relationship with yourself?
If you have limited energy (we all have actually), where will you direct it to have the most impact? What will you let go of?
What you want for yourself in this next period of your life?
“…What will you do now
with the gift of your left life?”
 Snow by Carol Ann Duffy

“Consider menopause as an opportunity to practice self love and prioritise what you want to do with your life.
A mid life crisis should happen – a crisis in that you reflect on everything that has happened so far and what is to come.”

Claire spoke about how younger women need good information about the menopause/peri menopause. Claire believes if she had understood what was coming, she would have entered the physical transition in the best shape she could be – emotionally and physically – as this helps lessen symptoms:

“Less stigma, more information.
You can’t ignore this moment in your life, but you can prepare for it.
Through exercise, learning, relaxation and managing stress well.”

The second panel discussion, ‘Working 9 to 5. Not a way to make a living?’ highlighted how flexible working enables a whole range of people – including those with long term conditions and those with caring responsibilities – to take up leadership positions. Claire believes we need to encourage using task based contracts, which help people to be in charge of their own time.

The Mid Life Listening Booth was also at the WOW Exteter event, giving women the opportunity to share their stories, experiences and anecdotes about their own confusing, messy and glorious mid life. Anyone who shared a story was rewarded with a lovely cupcake (in the colours of the suffragettes of course).

A table full of pens, swing tags, postcards and cakes, with a voice recorder ready to interview women.

Women told Claire stories of how it had been a moment of change, and yet they had found ways through, as varied as tantric practices, to simply stopping to appreciate the everyday. Some talked about grief and the pain of losing a parent. Many stories shared were very funny, with one woman laughing, “You might as well carry a placard around saying ‘watch me fall apart’.”
The Mid Life show is about bearing witness to women’s stories and removing the stigma of menopause. Claire is developing the show with Sheila Chapman, a novelist, lawyer and winner of the Bridport prize for first novel, and Dr Isabel de Salis, Research Associate at Bristol University and menopause expert.
Claire will be in Bristol on Saturday 18th November for The Great Menopause Event, run by Bristol City Council, Bristol University and Bristol Women’s Commission. 

If you run an event or a venue that you think the Mid Life listening booth could visit, read more about Mid Life here and get in touch with Claire.