# 3 - The menopausal expat
In this week's episode:
A talk with Jane Ordaz Stubbs
Jane is British married to a Mexican living in Mexico. She is also proudly menopausal. A qualified Coach and Mentor with 30+ years of supporting others to fulfil their potential, and an Intercultural Dialogue Facilitator. She's spent many years working in the UK in the arts and not for profit sector, in roles that enabled her to support marginalised and underrepresented groups to get a seat at the table. In 2020 she founded The Menopausal Expat to support women living an international life with menopause. She's all about finding the "thing" that rocks your boat and creating this next phase of your life as one to be the best you can. You can find more about Jane’s work at:
Age Sister Ep 2 Sun, 6/13 2:03PM 25:41 SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, women, menopause, menopausal, mexico, thought, support, country, life, arrived, struggled, big, ex parte, feeling, uk, guess, relocating, england, resent, living 00:09 Today I'm joined by Jane Ordaz Stubbs. So Jane is British, and she is married to a Mexican living in Mexico. She's also proudly menopausal. She's a qualified coach and mentor with 30 plus years of supporting others to fulfill their potential. She's an inter cultural dialogue facilitator. And she spent many years in the UK in the arts and not for profit sector in roles that enabled her to support marginalized and underrepresented groups to get a seat at the table. In 2020, she founded the menopausal ex-pat to support women living in international life with menopause. She's all about finding the thing that rocks your boat, and creating this next phase of your life as one to be the best that you can. So welcome, Jane. Thank you, thank you for such a nice introduction, Kate. Well, just, it sounds so fabulous. So maybe we can just start out with you telling us about your journey. And in your case, you know, your literal journey from the UK to Mexico. 01:23 Wow. So bear in mind, this is not a marathon podcast, because that could take us quite quite a long time. So the crux of me has always been getting people to tell their story to how to have that voice at the table be that in a local authority, or the voice within the family or the voice that they want to share with the world. So I realized that's every, that's what I always come back to. Because I've done quite a few varied things in my life. Mostly, I spent a long time working in the arts and was working with writers and small publishers. And before that, I worked in participatory arts and community publishing. So again, that always comes right back to the voice. And before I came to Mexico, I was working for a charity that supported talented young musicians. And in the meantime, I got married, and I'd had a child when I was in my mid 40s. And I was living this life in England. And we were like, this opportunity came up to move to Mexico. Maybe a me went, Whoa, whoa, that's so exciting. I just took this huge leap of faith, not realizing that I would be giving up a lot in order to gain a lot. So I didn't think so much about that thing that I was giving Age Sister Ep 2 Page 1 of 8 Transcribed by https://otter.aiup. And what I did know about myself was that I'm pretty resourceful. And I thought, you know, I'm pretty sure that we can make something happen, I can make something happen in Mexico for myself. So I guess I had to take all that resilience and all that courage and all like tenacity and creativity that I had, and try and make it happen for me in Mexico. So I arrived, and I remember prising myself out of the arms of my best friend like sobbing, like, really, like felt like I was having my soul ripped out and not anticipating that and not thinking about that at all, either. And I arrived in Mexico to this Airbnb in Mexico City. And, you know, it was all pretty good. It was all okay, you're busy, busy, busy. There's many things you're doing and I arrived in the town we now live in and started to you people will laugh. Honestly, I know people will be listening to this and they will laugh. I was bad tempered. I was not wanting to go anywhere. I was sitting in a darkened booth guar reading all these novels that I would bought brand new on Amazon, and not kind of feeling fatigued. I was having huge hot flushes. But it was Mexico and it was November and it was warm. So I was thinking all these other things that are happening at the same time, about well, within about a couple of months of arriving here I'd started to train to teach English because everyone said you speak English, go and train, you know, teach English so I thought no, no, I need to learn how to teach English. So I went off to a local university to learn how to teach English was like sobbing at the bus station because it couldn't even get them to understand that I wanted to a ticket to the next town or a ticket back to where I lived and I found it very hard and I literally one day would Having this hot flush and I just had a vision of my mom wiping her eyebrows with tissues. And all of us, you know, we used to call her sweaty Betty, my poor mom, go look sweaty Betty's after again. And I suddenly went, Oh my gosh, that's what's happening to me is the menopause. And when that fell into place, it didn't take away all those things that I thought were difficult, but it certainly gave it a name and enabled me to think Okay, so what do I do? Well, that's a good question, isn't it? What do you do? I don't know. It's like, when I got pregnant, I said, What do I do now? How do I tell someone? What do I have to do? It's a very strange feeling, isn't it? So I didn't know what to do. So I started searching on the internet and searching on for Facebook groups and found many, many Facebook groups for menopause felt a little more isolated from them, really, because I was like, I'm in a different situation, I'm not in the UK, I'm not in the US, I need to find out what works here. So was then looking at x pack groups and didn't find that happening in that x pack group, either. So utter at around this time that I was doing all my search. And I'd also started working with some other coaches with another coach, looking at a program that supports experts who've moved abroad or about to move abroad to level two, you know, get more comfortable with it to do the best for themselves with that move. And I just thought the people I need to work with are myself like I needed someone to work with me. So I kind of this person came into my head really sounds a bit spiritual, I guess, in a funny kind of way. But I thought it's the menopausal x part. And I have a friend who's a cartoonist, and I said to come on Jack's draw me this, draw me the menopause like spa. And it was very odd. Because the minute I saw the picture on the name, I was like, that's it. That's my girl. And I just set up a Facebook group to see who would come to that group to see if there was any need for this. And if it was just me, which I had a hunch it wasn't just me. And that's where it was born, really. And that Age Sister Ep 2 Page 2 of 8 Transcribed by https://otter.aithat group is still growing. And I think we're forming a great community, really, because I think women are always better when they're together. When you're talking about these things yourself, you tend to think you're losing your mind a little bit. And all you need is another woman to go No, no, that's cool. Like I feel that too. So that's a bit of a long ramble. But that's the story of how I came to be the menopausal ex parte. 07:58 Mm hmm. And you know, it's something that I think we just don't think about, right, someone who is living in a colder country, like, where I am in Canada, you just romanticize the idea of one day being able to go and live in a warm country, even for six months of the year. Maybe you can just tell me about what are some of the myths What wouldn't I think about if I was planning this very romantic kind of getaway to a warm country? 08:29 Yeah, that's interesting is that before actually, before we moved, I remember my husband saying, Jane thinks she's just going to be in a bikini with a sun heart on welcoming guests with a bottle of tequila in her hand. So he was obviously teasing me. But I think there is that notion isn't there that you move somewhere warm, and it's all very nice. And well, climate is a big thing, isn't it? You know, I still have the British DNA and my body. So I get very excited when it's cold. And like, it's very nice. My nose is cold. That's a novelty. So, so I did struggle with the heat I struggled with. You know, when I was teaching in a school, I struggled with what clothes to put on that didn't make me look like I was at the beach. Because all the clothes I had for that kind of weather, this kind of weather were beach beach, were really, so I struggled and I still look at the people and think how does that tie in that shirt and in this heat, so there are those things like that real practical considerations. One of the the biggies to me has been the medical system so you don't understand the medical system. So once where you would have, you know, I might have gone to my general practitioner, if I was in the UK, I might not have but I know I would have had that option if I wanted to. So you might be in a country where you don't understand the system or some of the options that are open to you that you know aren't open to you, because they're not available in the country that you're in. So I'm explaining in a foreign language, what you're going through is, is tricky. There are big cultural differences between the way various systems work. So, you know, I guess I come from a system A that is free at the point of when you need it be. There's a, there's a reluctance, often to give medication, the culture is to not have that medication. Whereas in where I'm living now, we're lucky in the sense that we get private healthcare, but there's more of a culture of throwing a lot of medication at things. And when you don't know you don't know how to cope with that, really. So there's some of the big differences. The other differences, I guess, you lose your support? Well, I don't guess I know, you lose that support network, you lose the people that are closest to you. And even in the UK, I would say it's still hard Age Sister Ep 2 Page 3 of 8 Transcribed by https://otter.aito say the word man or pause. You know, some people said to me, are you sure you want to do this, like, I'm in denial, I don't want to go near this word. And it made me more determined really, to think, well, we have to go near this subject in this world word and shine a light on it. So you might be living in a culture where it's not talked about, or you don't know who to go and talk to about it. So there's, there's a lot of subtleties and complexities to it, I guess, plus, you're dealing with all those emotions that you're, that happen when you change countries, like, you know, lots of people will tell you, you lose some of your confidence. And I felt like my confidence was somewhere across the sea and the shipping container making its way to us. And even though all our stuff arrived with inside two months, I think my confidence didn't come back until after a good few years, really. But and in menopause, people will say, I've know women say to me, I like I've just lost some of my confidence. So it's like a double whammy, really. And it's quite a, it's quite a tangled web to them we've so that's they would be the main things that I would come to the top of my list rarely. 12:30 One of the things that I hear quite often from women, especially around menopause, or just, you know, being over 50 is this idea of suddenly becoming invisible, that you don't really, you know, show up anywhere in terms of advertising or just to help people view you, when you're out in the world. Do you find that that's different? Where you are as opposed to being in England? Well, 13:01 no, I guess. Like, oh, this is I don't know how to answer this simply, I guess I've never been a person that sat well, within visibility. So I don't really like that feeling. And so in England, I definitely didn't feel it. But then, you know, I know the culture, I know where I am. And I'm very vote, I was very vocal. So I guess when I moved, I did feel more invisible, partly because I didn't have the language. So it's really hard to express who you are without that language. And without being able to say, also, there's this kind of, you know, I don't know if you've heard this phrase, I hate it with a vengeance, but people use it. They use this term trailing spouse, I like to say, accompanying partner, or my husband was lucky because I came to the way I like to phrase it. So you do have a lot of people saying to you all the time, what does your husband do? What does your husband do? And not Who are you? I mean, even in England, we're guilty of that, aren't we saying? What do you do rather than saying Who are you, you know, who was that your core as a person? So we define ourselves by those, those roles that were assigned. So I did feel that I became more invisible. Yeah, for sure. And it's, it's a tough, it's up. Maybe it's a good a little bit of it's a good thing when you move abroad because it can be quite humbling because you suddenly not, you really do realize the privilege that you have in your own country. So I think it's one of those other experiences that helps you to really develop your own empathy because you can start to feel what it's like for people who constantly move in or people who've moved and they Age Sister Ep 2 Page 4 of 8 Transcribed by https://otter.aidon't, they're not had a choice about that move. So, but I think it's one we have to kick against Really? Because it's, you don't have to be. That's, that's the point. We don't have to be we can say, I get not to do this, or what if I don't become invisible? what might happen then? So that exploration i think is important. 15:23 Absolutely. Maybe Tell me a little bit about what it's been like to overlay a pandemic, on top of your experience in a different country. 15:35 Rubbish, rubbish. That's a good one, isn't it? That's my professional opinion. 15:43 So personally, for me, it hasn't been so terrible. Because I always worked from home. What's been terrible, is having to work from home with my husband and son here because I do resent them. So all this advice about setting schedules and boundaries, and I get it, but I still resent the fact that they're here every day. And I'm not going to not acknowledge that fact. so and so and also in Mexico has been, there's a lot still a lot of uncertainty and confusion around what's happening with the pandemic. I know other people have really struggled other expats that I know have really struggled with, not being able to see their families and friends. Some people I was the women I know have been getting HRT and various medications from overseas and that slowed down, they haven't been able to get that. Obviously menopause, your anxiety can go through the roof. It's just it happens. And so the anxiety of not knowing what's happened happening has been really tough on people too. It's hard to explain, really, I did an equation that was something like, you know, the menopause, divided by ex parte live times by COVID is just a big, bloody mess really. Like, and so we've had, you know, I think people have had to be much more conscious about acknowledging what's tough, and, and taking good care of all those the hackers is just trailing out and it's still trailing on, isn't it? It's not, I don't know what it's like viewing Canada. But here, it's not looking like it's going away anytime soon. And that seems for a lot to the world. 17:45 Absolutely. It's the same here. It's very slow going. Yeah, we're on to sort of the third wave, I think, unfortunately. So one other question I have for you, because I think I just think about this great community that you've developed, and the women that you're supporting. What's the common thread? Like? What is it that you can see in other women that draws them to changing their life so dramatically in this way? Age Sister Ep 2 Page 5 of 8 Transcribed by https://otter.ai18:17 I suppose that women get they get fed up, and they're like it, surely it can't be like this, there's that certain level of, you know, exasperate around it, and frustration over the lack of information that's available, which is easy to forget when I'm surrounded by information about it constantly. But if you're not, in that zone, if you like, it can be difficult. So I think sometimes there's a certain feeling of relief when you join that community. And I think we just get kind of say that pissed off word while I just said it, sorry. We just get really pissed off after a while of feeling rubbish. And so you then start to get that fight feeling back, don't you? You start to think, no, no, it can't be this way. And I think what happens in the group is then women start to see Oh, Lord, they've done that and they're doing this and you it's infectious. Putting that fire in your belly is infectious, isn't it that you see are the people and you also know that you know, women as some women that start menopause really early, but that's, you know, for medical reasons, but I'd say a lot of women that the average age is probably around 4042 to start with those symptoms. What what are we going to do just lay down and go while I'm just waiting until it's all over? So no, so you've got this. You they know inside them, you've got this wisdom. You've got this life. lifetime of experience, you've developed all these skills, and you want to carry on using them and making, you know, making your mark on the world. So I think that's what drives people. And often it's a time when women start to reassess how, you know, you're either I don't think you I hear a lot of people talk about the time when women are winding down. I don't know any woman who's my age is winding down. They're all wanting to carry on doing things and contributing. So I guess it's the time when you think, do I want to carry on contributing in the way that I have been? Or do I now want to do that thing that's niggling at the back of my mind that I haven't yet done. And so you start to step into that space, you step into your wise warrior woman, that's what I kind of. That's the image in my head. 20:57 Well, it all sounds so appealing, even with some of the challenges I have to say. So maybe you could just give us sort of your biggest three takeaways, if you were thinking about relocating at this time of life, and really a big move, like you've done, maybe you could just tell us, you know, what are some things to think about? 21:21 So the first thing that I would say to think about is just really think about if it's right for you or not, do your research, do your background research, talk to other people who've been to that place, you know, if you know the place, you're going to do talk to other people who've been to that place, and start to try and imagine being there. That's, that's one of the things that I would say. And before if you do decide is right, for you do that preparation. Before you go think about who you want to find out about who might have information that can connect you to other people. So Age Sister Ep 2 Page 6 of 8 Transcribed by https://otter.aitry to go with already a connection that you can hook up with when you arrive, because one of the hardest things as a woman as a part govern with a partner is that you've had all this life in the country that you've been living in. And then that goes, so that could be like me that you came, having only lived your life in one country or serial expats that move every few years, we'll all tell you the same that every time you seem to be starting from scratch, you might get better to adjusting, but you're still kind of starting from scratch. So I would say do that. And also think about what you want to do. While you're there. Think about what might be possible. While you're there. Even if it's just really, you know, looking at the skills, if you know you're going and you've got, you're giving up a job or voluntary or whatever, whatever gives you that purpose for your life. Think about how that might translate when you move abroad or what different things you could do. And you know, the fantastic thing is, is there are lots and lots of people who've gone before us. So in some ways you can stand on their shoulders and learn from what they have done. And, yeah, that they will be my three really. So you know, as soon as COVID xover. I'll be down. Well, that's easy for you. You can command Oh, no, you can't come now. Because they've got more restrictions on your flight in and out, aren't they? Yeah, yeah. But you're welcome. 23:41 Yeah, we go to Mexico quite often. Yeah. Yeah, no. So. So tell me where can listeners find out more about your work because it's such an important community and connection that you provide for women who are thinking about relocating, or women who are already in an in a different country, and looking for more resources. So maybe you can tell us just about how to 24:06 what is easy to find. I have a website, it's a work in progress, but I have a website, the menopause electropop.com. And I'm most likely to be seen hanging out in a Facebook group called the menopausal ex pat.com. And you can find everything you need to know about the work that I'm doing there. So right now we're working on adapt, succeed together, which uses the online program I was talking about, which is full I can't say it enough. It's full of exercise and wisdom from an ex Pat coach who has been doing this work for many, many years. And we put that cherry on top of it by offering the one to one coaching and with myself. I do a lot of work around, really taking care of yourself recognizing that you're in menopause. So, and that you need to be more mindful about how you approach things. So that's, that's where you can find out more things. 25:10 Fantastic. So we'll make sure that all of your information is included in the show notes. And thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. I just really love talking to you and learning about your life down in Mexico and just some of the things to think about for women living in Age Sister Ep 2 Page 7 of 8 Transcribed by https://otter.aidifferent countries and thinking about locating relocating to a different town. Thank 25:33 you to you as well. Okay, it's a pleasure. 25:38 You too
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The Age Sister Podcast is where Kate talks with an eclectic mix of guests about issues related to being a woman in midlife.
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