Heeding the Call for Change in Midlife with Kate Codrington
As you settle into midlife you may discover one of the best gifts this season has to offer: a new urgency to let go of what no longer serves you. It’s refreshing to suddenly let go of people-pleasing habits, set (and keep) boundaries, or do just about anything that sounds fun -especially if someone has urged you not to!
In today’s episode, I’m joined by Kate Codrington, the author of Second Spring: The Self-Care Guide to Menopause. Kate is helping put words to many of the things you may be feeling in this season but aren't entirely sure how to channel. In midlife, we become attuned to the cost we're paying for our people-pleasing tendencies. Even though it can feel inconvenient or even unnatural, it’s important to practice using our voice and sometimes a little agency, to express our needs.
You might also be sensing more angst, frustration, or what is known as “meno-rage”. As you'll hear, this is not uncommon in this season of life. While it may feel counterintuitive, Kate encourages us to connect with that anger and get curious about how those feelings are showing up. But we certainly don’t want to get stuck here either. Self-care in midlife often involves exploring new outlets like dancing, journaling, or focusing on strength training with movement, not just getting a massage.
As you find your voice and begin exercising it, you may also notice a softening and release-and not just in your belly -but of structure and all-or-nothing thinking. Consider this season an invitation to discover pleasure everywhere, even in the middle of the mundane!
Jenn Salib Huber 0:00
Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week's episode of the midlife feast. My guest today is Kate Codrington and you may recognize Kate from Instagram. She's an author. She's a menopause mentor, facilitator writer. And when I heard her talking about or writing about this call for change that so many of us experience in midlife and menopause, I knew that she was the perfect person to talk to about this because I've I've mentioned this before. And, you know, in my one to one conversations and with other people, I feel like this urge this call for change this craving for change that happens in midlife, is more than just a passing coincidence. And so I think that if you relate to that feeling, if you relate to craving that kind of change, big change, little change, you'll really appreciate this conversation. And Kate has just a beautiful way of describing the seasons of life that are a parallel to our menstrual seasons. That I think explains why this craving for change is so powerful and so strong. As always, I'd love to know what you think of this episode. And if this is something that you have felt, let me know, how did you handle it? What did you do? And especially if this is maybe what prompted you to explore a different relationship with food? Or to maybe end the war with your body in midlife? I'd love to hear all about that. Hi, welcome, Kate to the midlife feast. How are you today?
Kate Codrington 1:37
Well, I'm full of sunshine today. And I did my yoga practice outside.
Jenn Salib Huber 1:47
That's amazing. We don't record video, but I can say that looking at you through the screen, it looks very sunny and bright and sunshiny, which is lovely.
Kate Codrington 1:56
It's beautiful. And I actually was so sunny like, this is like probably TMI was so sunny that I had to take my T Shirt off the face. So I was actually doing yoga in my underwear in the garden.
Jenn Salib Huber 2:14
I love it. That is amazing. So I think that probably most I think many of the people who listen to this podcast will certainly recognize you know your name have heard of you. But why don't you tell our audience a little bit about who you are and what you do. And, and yeah, just all about you.
Kate Codrington 2:33
Okay, well, I'm in second spring, and this means post menopause. So I'm in a quite a kind of exciting phase of my life. I think I'm, yeah, clearly, I'm running around in the garden half naked, having a good time. I'm very concerned with having a good time. To me, that means gigs and music and dancing. And, yeah, these these are aspects of my life that I'm reconnecting with. And as we'll talk later about the seasons, very much connect, reconnecting with my teen self. And all that all the possibilities so that there's all the fun bit. And that that fun also comes into my work. I'm a writer, I've written a book called second sprint, the self care guide to menopause, which we're going to talk about today. And my intention with that is to really reassure people that they're in their menopause process and Peri menopause process that you're doing okay, that this is a process that absolutely has your back, even though it can feel chaotic and frightening. And that the book is also designed to engender trust in your own process and in your own knowing and your agency and authority that you already know what it is you need. We just have to quieten the internal and external racket, so that you can hear what it what that is.
Jenn Salib Huber 4:15
So very much like with intuitive eating where we talk about attunement and attunement disruptors. We're really just trying to listen to that that inner voice that is there that knows exactly what it wants and needs to say I love that. I've been reading your book over the last few weeks and and one of the things that I love was all of these quotes from different people and how it created this sense of normalizing or just normalcy to the experience of you know what we all feel. I think it doesn't matter where you are in the world. It definitely is. It's a process that we go through. I'm also in my second spring postmenopausal and what I find surprising is I mean, I say all the time that this is the best I would never go Back to any other phase. I love it so much and have really felt that way. For the better part of a year, even kind of before I hit that 12 month mark, but whenever I share that, there's often a lot of resistance met kind of like, oh, no, that can't be, that can't be the case for everyone. And that's not possible for me. But I really loved in your book about how there was so much there was so many stories being told of how it was possible. And it was so common. So thank you for that.
Kate Codrington 5:29
Yeah, question. I think that it's older women, older women's voices are not heard. Yeah, yes. That's one thing. Also, it's humans have the capacity to focus on the negative to prioritize negative experiences over positive. So were more likely to think about aching joints or, you know, whatever symptom or whatever, gun stuff or what you know, whatever is bothering us. And to forget to say, I mean, depends on where you where your listeners are. But here in the UK, we don't like to tell people about how great things are, you are keeping yourself small. And this is very true of people who are socialized to keep yourself small and don't show off and shut up. So there is a lot and also it's complicated, you know, you can be you can be have a compromising ability, say, and be in a very expanded state at the same time.
Jenn Salib Huber 6:35
Yeah, it's not either or, it's not what
Kate Codrington 6:38
it's both and and it's layered, and it's complex. And it's, you know, it's a rich and juicy business being human. It's not it, we're not in the business of fairytales.
Jenn Salib Huber 6:52
Very true. So let's kind of dig into this, this concept of craving change in midlife, because I heard you saw you say something on Instagram about this, and it immediately, you know, kind of hit me because I often say and have said for years that I really noticed this, it's more than a craving, it's like, it really is a pole, it's a draw, it's a feels like a magnetic force that is really forcing us to move on from the things that aren't serving us anymore. And sometimes it's inconvenient. And sometimes, you know, people resist it, in my work that's often around relationships with food and dieting, and body image, but it really can apply to any stage. So what tell us all about that, tell us about why we crave this change?
Kate Codrington 7:46
Hmm. Well, I think I'd like to start with the C word by sort of backtrack a bit and talk about the seasons. Because this is this is this, this seasonal map makes, makes that very clear. Why why we want change in our in our midlife. So if we, this is the human human beings and all beings naturally have seasons for expansion into the world and contraction into themselves. So anything you look at will be expanding out into the world in our spring summer. I mean, it's it's what is it June here. So everything's more nearly in summer solstice, so everything is like, but and come mid August, things then start to come back into themselves. And this is true of the breath cycle. That's true of you know, the way the wave bringing in the food, the way that we eat is is going to shift through these different cycles we're going to eat differently. It's also true in the menstrual cycle. So in the menstrual cycle, we have the post menstruation spring where maybe feeling a bit tender, maybe feeling a bit excited about life about engaging and a bit, a bit trembling, a bit fragile. Moving into the summer of ovulation where that you know, it's that's the all singing, all dancing, all multitasking, jazz hands up it all summer, and then the premenstrual comes and we start to move closer towards ourselves. So what does that mean? That means that we know we are in no longer in doubt about what our needs are. We remember that the cost of what happens if we don't put ourselves first. We see very clearly how we are disrespected. You And we have a strong need for quiet more quiet, for things to slow down as we come in towards the winter, which is our menstruation period, so that our needs in this menstrual winter or more towards quiet unrest, as much as we are able to in our lives. So there you have the menstrual seasons, this expansion in spring, summer and the contraction into ourselves in autumn and winter. And this is repeated in our life seasons. So if you take our first period as the beginning of spring, there's that sort of exploratory who am I? What am I? Oh, teen so often our teens and 20s, expanding out into the world. And after that we will get engaged with career stuff, maybe with wanting to have children with wanting to see action, to see change in the world of war activists, and really see our spirit active out in the world to make change and to be affirmed for that to have ourselves affirmed. And then along comes the autumn and perimenopause. And just like the premenstrual was taught to notice the gap between what we need and what we've received. We start to see what no longer what, what is not working for us. You know, we have really clear we have really clear spectacles in autumn. It's one of my teachers, Jane Hardwick, Colin says the veil of estrogen has been lifted. Yes, yeah. We start to see the truth about injustice and this for ourselves, but also in the wider sense. So there's often people feel very angry at this time. Yeah. And, you know, there's this sort of, Oh, I'm so angry. I don't know who I am. But I think very often this rage is justified. And often, often when we haven't been allowed or able to express our healthy aggression in our lives so that our capacity to ask for what we want or our capacity to, to say no to abuse or no notice of injustice in our lives. And this in perimenopause because the veil of estrogen is lifting. A lot of that is more available to us. Yeah, a lot of aggression, a lot of that No. And this. Notice also that, would I you will notice I am sure that I'm talking about both the premenstrual premenstrual autumn, and the peri menopausal autumn with peculiar positivity. Jen, the normal dialogue because usually the dialogue is about chaos, catastrophe, fitness falling apart being out of control, like real emergency stuff. And the reason that I'm talking about this in a positive sense is because it's bringing change.
Jenn Salib Huber 13:41
Oh, yes. So true. So true. The anger piece, I'd love to spend a minute on that because, you know, this, this anger, sometimes called mental rage, sometimes just called anger, irritability. I talked to mono alcohol, we guess about a year ago about cultural mental rage, and really about how this like veil gets lifted. And all of a sudden, we see all of these patriarchal and justices that, you know, we have been sometimes knowingly, but often unknowingly a part of, but we can't unsee it. In this season of life. We can't unsee it. But how do you? How do you soften the discussion around mental rage, but while also validating the intensity of the feeling, because it's only people really, like really identify with that word, and I get it, you know, and so I wouldn't I don't want to damp in the real anger that's there, but also not getting stuck there. Because I feel like that's where a lot of people just get stuck in the rage.
Kate Codrington 14:47
That's such that's such a juicy question. That's a good question. And, you know, I don't have the answer to that. But for sure, this is Rage needs to be felt. Okay. So it's one thing feeling full of rage that you can't control an acting out on the people around you. And that's usually what happens to the, you know, the, the numerous people, family, kids friends get the get the brunt of it. And that that is very damaging. So how about if we connect with our bodies, and we feel the sensation of the rage in our bodies? How about if we even for just 30 seconds, entertain the possibility of allowing ourselves to feel a little bit of that to nudge into so rage might be a hot, a hot scents of something rising through through your, you know, from from your belly button up through through your chair? So can you breathe into that sensation? Can you allow that? Can you a bit of a dialogue with that? And I would say, this is not about
I mean, you can have a go at something cushions and I'm doing I'm doing a sort of what's it called the Green Man, what's the Green Man calls? Oh,
portable health, you can you can do incredible health care. And, you know, ripping things up with your teeth and pulling things apart. And that can be nice for some people to help dissipate it. But I would suggest more, it's it can be much more subtle than that. And the more you can allow, and, you know, God help us accept this feeling, the more it will integrate into your system. Yeah, we'll do that we'll do that differently. So for some people, some people, for them to feel sensation in their body is just too much, it's too frightening. It, it would feel too dangerous that like they might go off into a flat spin and just lose themselves in that. So it's not for everybody. So there are other ways you could draw, you could write, you could journal, you could dance, you could go for a big stomping walk, you could go to class, you could go and protest, or join your community and protesting about the climate emergency. There are many, many different ways that you can channel this rage into different things I was I was in the class that I go to the weight, the strength class, that weight class that I go to. And somebody said something and it's set off a whole hour. So I was really tired as I do I have a very, very moaning. And somebody said something is set me off in this train of thought and as I said this real like state of rage about the patriarchal system and how we're judged about appearances. You know, all this kind of stuff. Oh my god, I was suddenly picking up these huge things. It really it really enlivened to be an energized me and I really moved to it.
Unknown Speaker 18:33
So good. Well,
Kate Codrington 18:34
it's expression and it wants to express safely and to allow the sensation. Bit by bit is the way forward.
Jenn Salib Huber 18:46
Yes. Okay. Let's get back to change before I get off on too many tangents. But so this craving for
Kate Codrington 18:51
Oh, yes. And we haven't even got into winter in the next cycle. Yeah,
Jenn Salib Huber 18:55
let's get back on track. off track. So, so yeah, so we're so change is part of the winter, correct? Not correct.
Kate Codrington 19:11
Well, I'm just thinking how to respond to that, um, because it's all about change all the time. But in this in this autumnal. In the autumn, in the autumn of perimenopause, we feel the urgency of the need to let go of what's not serving us. I think that's I think that's the change.
Jenn Salib Huber 19:32
Yeah, and that's what you describe as the separation phase, right? Yeah. It's this like it needs to go. And I think that for so many people, and I think I was one of them. In many ways. There's this. You know, something needs to go you know what has to happen, you know, that you cannot move into your second spring, with this still hanging around. But it can be hard because sometimes it's relationships. It's not It's families, it's jobs. It's sometimes it's not just you know, letting your hair go gray or whatever it is like this separation, I think feels really hard
Kate Codrington 20:10
for so many days. And the temptation is to do stuff. You know, the temptation is to go into cognitive, figuring it out and mentally doing it and making a plan. And this is not going to work in perimenopause, this is really not going to work. The way forward is to surrender into the not knowing and the mess, and the chaos. And the whatever catastrophe you're eyeballing. To move towards allowing yourself to feel that. So it's not it's not a mental process. And, you know, in a sense, there's nothing you have to do. Unless you are able to soften is much more around softening, softening your shoulders, softening your jaw, softening your belly, oh my God.
Jenn Salib Huber 21:18
Yes, that is such a big one.
Kate Codrington 21:21
I'm sure you have lots of resources about, about allowing space in the belly and allowing space in your life. So you are going to have to push back, say no to some stuff. Editing,
Jenn Salib Huber 21:44
that thankfully becomes easier. I think, you know, the that need to do things because we feel like we should. You know, it gets so easy at some point to just say, No, I don't want to do that. And I'm not going to end the story. But that separation from that, that separation from being the person who said yes to the person who cannot say yes, anymore, is painful, and yet has to happen has to happen.
Kate Codrington 22:15
Yeah. That's I said earlier that perimenopause has your back the process has your back the process is supporting, supporting us that no that rage that that stop is supporting us to say no. Yeah. And we just have to lean in and just have to. That's an unfortunate turn of phrase. Where, where we, where we are able to lean in to that affirmation. It really, it really, really helps us to move on because it creates space.
Jenn Salib Huber 22:59
Yeah, I think that that's really well said, and I just love the analogy of the seasons. And the analogy of like, you know, once you go through this winter, this winter, that might be a little hard that might be uncomfortable and longer than you want it to be this emergence of this second spring where everything is really clear, you know, it just becomes so clear what you want, what you don't want. You know, one of the greatest gifts of midlife is just the inability, I think, to do the things that you don't want to do anymore. You know, and there are people who don't benefit from that. That's, that's another hard reality, I think, but that, you know, this change. It's so fundamental, I think, to, to really becoming I guess we're embodying our second spring, what are what are some ways you've given lots of great suggestions? But what are maybe a couple of things that people who might be feeling really stuck in this like, Okay, I'm feeling this need this call for change, and yet, I can't. What are some of the ways that they can maybe ease into it, you know, surrender to it without feeling like third or they're collapsing, because that's where I that's the resistance where they kind of come up against this, this wall of I only have two choices, and there's no comfortable place in between.
Kate Codrington 24:30
That's where the softness, the softness, and the spaciousness really comes in. Yeah. Exhaling practical practical stuff. Let's do really like really practical stuff. Blowing out your breath. Yeah. Moving. Yeah. You know, that that that sort of black and white thinking yes. Now. Thinking is very much part of the sort of freeze response. Yes. So any kind of movement that you can bring in, like, we all will, many people have Spotify, pretty much at their fingertips or some kind of instant music thing. So sticking a track on that you love to move will give you space and the moving body. A moving body is moving energy, and you will move your energy. So that's that's another way. I love that. Smells oh god smells are good. The smell of toast,
Jenn Salib Huber 25:41
I mean, anything, anything really are toast
Kate Codrington 25:44
is a big one for me. But it's not about anything that brings you pleasure. And there's the thing, the really great thing that we can you use, and it's counterintuitive. And I'm sure people listening will go bringing pleasure into your life. Yeah, absolutely. How are you going to do that? Well, you could right now, anybody listening could touch themselves in a pleasurable way. So you could throw stroke your arm or stroke your hand or hold your hand. Instantly. Or you can get more strategic and more plan plan. What does it have such brilliant clients as another client and she calls it? Pleasure bus stops, I think she called it. She has. She's so smart. To have this amazing gang of times. She puts pleasure bus stops into her day.
Jenn Salib Huber 26:44
I love that love, love, love that. food all the time, you know, when people are trying to restrict and control their food and they're trying to be quote unquote, good all day. And then they get to the evening and they feel these really intense urges and cravings and feel like there's something wrong with them. And but when I asked them, Did you welcome lunch is a moment of pleasure as an art like every opportunity for eating is an opportunity for pleasure. You know, and or who needs daily? I don't I'm sure you've no need or heard of Neve but we did a podcast episode where we talked about is pleasure the missing ingredient in midlife. Because it is yes. You know, it really is. So I love that pleasure bus stops, I'm going to totally borrow that.
Kate Codrington 27:36
Yeah, love anything we all should. And they these, these little things. Just nudge the needle it gives us it's not that we then the third way, suddenly there is not that we suddenly understand what to do and our life is fixed. But it gets us out of that. Really. It's a freeze response. It's that Autumn biting autumn, cold suddenly gets you and we can exhale. And that is that shift between autumn and winter where we we can start to walk we feel a bit more spacious. We can feel pleasure in our lunch. Yeah, yeah. Take that we can think about the possibility of having some kind of pleasure bus stop later in the day. Or, I mean, I have you know, I always have flowers. Yes. Well, you can smell you can smell the flowers. Yeah. Just gives us a little expands, literally expands our energy.
Jenn Salib Huber 28:44
Thank you so much for this conversation on change. It's been a you know, it's been a topic that I've wanted to have on the podcast. And you were absolutely the perfect person to talk to you about this. So thank you so much for sharing all of this.
Kate Codrington 28:59
Oh, thank you. I mean, have we have we only just we've only just got started.
Jenn Salib Huber 29:08
I try and you know, well. This is kind of where I my my ADHD meets my practical aspect of like trying to have these digestible bytes of information. I know, you know, when I was coming up with this podcast idea, I'm like, I really don't listen to anything more than 30 minutes long. So that's going to be my goal. But I certainly think that anybody listening to you who wants to learn more from you is going to be very excited. So what is the best way for them to be able to find you and learn from you? If they want to learn more?
Kate Codrington 29:39
Hmm, well, I'm on Instagram at Kate underscore Codrington. And there are links there to many, many resources as me banging on about all kinds of stuff and being generally generally supporting you to feel resourced and reassure you and to engender trust in your own process. That's what I go do Then, my website is Kate codrington.co.uk. And if you go there, there is a ton of free resources, lots of meditations, yoga nidra, there are workshops, there's all kinds of stuff, there's a there are things for hot flushes, there are things about pleasure, there are things about rest, and you can access them all there for free. And we will have
Jenn Salib Huber 30:23
all those links in the show notes as well. So, as I always ask my guests, what do you think is the missing ingredient in midlife?
Kate Codrington 30:34
I think it's fun. Yeah. We've had pleasure already. Yeah. I would have said pleasure. But I think I think there is a huge amount of fun to be had. Yeah, in the cracks between all the responsibilities, and all the stuff we're dealing with and any physical stuff on the mental and emotional stuff. Midlife women cracked me up. I have never I've never lost so much as I lost with with my friends in their late 40s and 50s. And what much fun and there's that, I guess that, you know, that comes into that kind of sense of community. Yeah, that experience and just the sheer absurdity of life in all its contradictions and insanity. i Yeah. I just have in that, you know, the fun part is easy to dismiss, because there's so many other things going on. And it's worth remembering, too, that we, we are more stressed and busier, we hold, like 100% More than even our mother's days. Because because of the expectations, the many more roles that we're inhabiting all at the same time. Yeah, fun is easy to do. People often talk about this lack of joy.
Jenn Salib Huber 32:07
Mm hmm. Very true. It's it's very true. So yes, pleasure and fun. We will we will make that our or our parting words. Thank you so much, Kate, for spending some time with us today. I've really loved this conversation.
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