This is my contribution to society…

April 20 2017
My name is Marie O’Neill. I’m 55 and done with menopause. It’s interesting because I wasn’t even aware that I’d gone through it until I didn’t have my period for a whole year when I was 50. What I found was that my periods were sporadic up until I was 35, unless I was on birth control pills, then they started coming every month like they were supposed to until I was about 49, then they became sporadic again and eventually just stopped. Fortunately for me being in a spiritual framework as an astrologer and having studied with Native Americans for a time I knew I was getting ready to become the elder or the crone. There was a slight bit of mourning when my periods stopped, but then I thought to myself this is good, I can go on a trip and not have to worry about it!

The women in my family never talked about menopause when I was growing up.  As a matter of fact, I thought I was bleeding internally when I had my period for the first time. There was no modeling, and a lot of us are missing the rites of passage on both ends of that experience. When I was in my forties I did ask my aunt about menopause
and she said it was no big deal for her—her periods just stopped and she didn’t have any symptoms. I found it interesting that I too didn’t have the normal range of symptoms, though I did become sensitive to gluten. By the time I turned 50 I’d been feeling lethargic and bloated for a while, and I was lamenting to a friend of mine who was a holistic nutritionist and asked her if this was my new normal.  She said no, I think you’re gluten intolerant, and you need to test for that by stopping gluten for a month and then try eating it again and see what happens. So I modified my diet for three months, then I went to a party that was a celebration for a friend of mine in the Navy who was having a change of command, and the guys had made him a beautiful cake with his name on it and I thought I’d have a piece. That evening I went out for dinner and ordered meatloaf, forgetting that it’s made with breadcrumbs. Well, the following day I started having itching and hives which went on for the next two weeks, so that was telling me I was gluten intolerant. Since then, I went to a vegetarian event in France where I ate pasta and bread and didn’t break out, but as soon as I came back to the States and ate bread that wasn’t gluten-free it would happen again. Even when I eat oatmeal abroad my glucose level doesn’t increase the way it does over here, and I was told I shouldn’t be eating the Quaker Oats oatmeal that only takes fifteen minutes to cook rather the stone-ground that takes forty-five minutes. Anyway, now that I’ve basically stopped eating gluten I don’t have the bloating, my skin is clearer, my joints work better, I’m not lethargic, and I feel the way I’m supposed to. The gluten acted like sludge in my system.

There has been a spiritual component to this time in my life, because I was coming into my own, becoming who I was meant to be. When you’re younger you’re running around trying to do what other people are telling you to do but now I’ve found that I trust and rely on my intuition more.

My husband died when I was 40, so I had been single for a long period, and living in a very small town where there was really no opportunity to date, unless I wanted to go out with somebody who had one foot on a banana peel. And as far as family is concerned I’ve always been considered to be an odd duck, and that didn’t change. Being black and being an astrologer is considered witchcraft, and being a Buddhist goes against the Christian religion, so I consistently counter what my culture says I’m supposed to do. I also married out of my race. There’s no question that my family loves me, but they don’t understand me. I have yet to have one of my family members visit me anywhere I’ve lived. The last time I was in Louisiana, in a small town where my mother’s family is from, I had a backache for the first time in my life, and it was because where I was just didn’t work for me. I don’t like small talk about movies or what people are wearing or what this or that relative might be doing. I overheard a conversation between a husband and wife that was entirely about what they were going to have for dinner, and I wanted to say who gives a rat, but that’s me.

I run Padma Life Coaching, offering astrology and Tarot readings, past-life regression, and life coaching. This is my contribution to society, my way of working with people to help them to balance their lives. I came to this because I was initially in corporate with State Farm Insurance handling automobile accident claims—I loved working with people but hated the paperwork and bureaucracy. When my husband got sick we both decided to move out of Salt Lake City where we’d been for seventeen years to a small town in Washington State called Sequim. He died nine months after we moved there, and so I had to decide what I wanted to do with myself. I knew enough to know what I didn’t want, and a new friend of mine sent me for my first reading to an astrologer who told me things about myself that just blew my mind. So I started investigating on my own, though never with the intention of being an astrologer, and at the same time I began studying with a Native American medicine woman who taught me how to talk to nature, how to look at nature for symbols and answers to questions. She taught me the medicine wheel and how to use it, and I learned how to talk to trees, which sounds odd but you can. After I had been with her for four years I figured out I was so eclectic that I needed a career to match that. Being a life coach was perfect, because I could bring in all of my experiences to help others. When I started I didn’t include astrology, but as time went on another dear friend of mine in 2010 called me out on why I didn’t have astrology on my website, and I told her it had to do with fear of rejection. But overcoming that fear was a part of me deciding to go ahead and put all of my skills out there and see what happened, and now the people who need my different services come and find me.

I figured out a long time ago that I’m a bridge between cultures. When I look at the places I’ve lived and the people I’ve encountered it’s almost as if the universe or my being or my higher mind decided that it wanted to experience that. In Salt Lake City African Americans made up less than one-tenth of one percent of the population, and initially that was hard until I figured out why I was there, that this was my job and I was going to do it to the utmost. Then when I moved to Washington I had a coworker who was a Relief Society President in the Mormon Church and was dying of cancer call me to tell me that she had appreciated knowing me, and I thought wow, I actually did make a difference and all I had to do was be me. There were all of two black people in Sequim, and people knowing me in that context was another version of that bridge I was talking about.

I’ve lived my life the way I thought I should live it. Of course, I’ve made mistakes but I’ve learned from them and keep putting one foot in front of the other and progress forward. If people could just learn to be themselves and be okay with that it’s amazing how you affect people. It’s the character George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life—what would life be like for the people you know if you weren’t in it, because we’re always affecting someone. We each have to look at ourselves in the mirror and hope we like what we see, and sometimes doing good work is as simple as being a good parent or helping the little old lady cross the street. And if people could listen to the inner voice—that’s why I do what I do as a life coach.

I just really started the Ngondro this year even though I’ve been studying Buddhism for ten years. It took me so long to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sogyal Rinpoche was my root teacher. I had to know it and my mind kept getting in the way, but eventually I stopped kidding myself and went and did the refuge this summer directly with Rinpoche, and that was a big deal.

This article was originally posted at The Sanity Papers by my friend, Madeline Burnside.  Please visit her blog.

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