Lee Sumner Irwin, a seasoned teacher and retreat leader with two decades of experience, is dedicated to helping women embrace vibrancy, health, and self-worth during menopause and beyond. As a mother, grandmother, and artist, she brings a tree-hugging spirit and laughter to her journey. Overcoming challenges in her youth, Lee discovered healing tools that led her to become a therapist through psychology and occupational therapy studies. Navigating perimenopause shifted her perspective on life, and now she guides women through this transformative passage. Her book, “Radiant Wise Woman,” empowers women aged forty and beyond, dispelling myths and offering tools for hormone balance, hot flashes, anxiety, and more. Lee believes in the unique light within each woman, making menopause an opportunity for health, creativity, and optimism. MysticMag finds out more.
What can you tell us about your personal journey, Lee?
I have been on a lifelong journey to demystify the human experience. In my first chapter of life, I grew up in a difficult household with alcoholism and abuse. In college, this led to an intense study of psychology. I earned an advanced degree in Occupational Therapy and started my own therapy business specializing in services to children with cerebral palsy, autism, and other physical and mental challenges. During this time, I gave birth to my son and, as a single mom, earned my “PhD in Parenting”.
In the second chapter, I trained with leaders in the coaching profession and for over twenty years served as a transformational coach to women weathering major life transitions. On the bumpy ride through perimenopause and menopause, I discovered how to take control of my own health. And in yoga class, I met the spiritual partner and soulmate I had given up on ever having.
Now in the third chapter of life, I have emerged from the trauma I experienced as a child to reach a new sense of freedom where I claim my sovereignty and personal power. With the publication of my award-winning book, Radiant Wise Woman, I have been called a “midwife for midlife” and an “ambassador of joy”. I lead women’s retreats across the U.S., Canada, and Costa Rica, speak on stage, and appear on popular podcasts. I enjoy hiking, dancing, and discovering the wonders of life through my grandchildren’s eyes.
Your book, “Radiant Wise Woman,” speaks profoundly about navigating menopause and embracing this transition as a powerful initiation into mature feminine wisdom. Could you share what inspired you to write this book and delve into the complexities of menopause?
When I hit perimenopause in my forties, it felt like the teen years, except a hundred times worse. I was anxious, sleepless, cranky, and crying in the shower. I was used to being a multitasking whirlwind but suddenly I could barely get out of bed. I struggled to pull myself together and blamed myself for the changes. The doctor said “welcome to your new normal” but I was determined to find better answers.
When a psychic friend told me I would soon be writing a book, I laughed. I didn’t want to write a book. But one day a few months later, as I settled into my desk chair and sipped my morning tea, I felt a subtle urge to open my computer and start typing. Two hours later, slightly dizzy, I stared in disbelief at eleven pages of writing. Meditating the next day, I saw a vision of a woman with long black hair, wearing a vibrant red dress and silver-tooled belt. She was carrying a basket overflowing with corn and told me, Speak to the women’s hearts. Surrender to the flow. Over the next three years, despite doubt and “labor pains”, I did my best to follow her counsel and birth a book–a roadmap to assist women to move with grace and power through midlife into their conscious and vital wisdom years.
I was shown that the book would help women get ready to “awaken their wild heart and orgasmic wisdom”. What does this mean? I discovered this means feeling vibrant, energized, and passionate. It’s the quality of aliveness we feel when we give ourselves permission to feel good.
I offer this guidebook as a celebration of women as we “come of age”. It validates women’s experiences and walks alongside them as they navigate their menopause journey and pass their knowledge along to other women.
Menopause is often surrounded by myths and misconceptions. How does your book aim to challenge these stereotypes and offer women a new perspective on this stage of life?
FOUR MYTHS EXPOSED
1. Menopause means there’s something wrong with you.
The book offers a new perspective, based on Chinese medicine, that shows how the menopausal years are a “second spring”, a portal to the full flowering of a woman’s creativity and intuition.
2. Doctors know all the answers to your concerns.
The book provides information on the stages of menopause, just like we do with puberty or pregnancy. In my research, women in their late 30s and 40s often used these four words: “not feeling like myself”. They were experiencing irritability, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and weight gain, yet their symptoms had largely been dismissed by their doctors. One woman reported, “I was brushed off and told it was all part of getting older.” These women are often surprised to learn that most doctors are not well trained in this area and don’t have the breadth of experience and knowledge necessary to help most women. It’s vital to find the right health care practitioner (see below). Meanwhile, reach out to other women your age and older. Ask them, “Is anyone else going through this?” and share solutions and resources.
3. After menopause, you’re going to dry up and never enjoy sex again.
I share interviews and personal stories in the book that reveal the surprising and rarely discussed experiences of women who reach their sexual peak after menopause.
4. Menopause signals a decline.
The old paradigm was: You’re born, you peak at midlife, and it’s all downhill from there. What if we flip that script to see aging as ascending a staircase where you gain well-being, wisdom, and the ability to be truly intimate with yourself and others as you live with intention?
You emphasize the empowerment of women 40 and better through this book. Can you highlight some key tools or insights you provide that help women navigate the challenges of perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause with resilience and optimism?
Each chapter includes clear, guided spiritual and mindfulness practices to help women find the strength and courage to cope with midlife changes and take better control of their health.
Energy Vampires Quiz
This quiz helps you take inventory of your life—relationships, body, work, money and more–to identify what is draining you and how to eliminate the energy zappers.
Find the right health care practitioner
Perimenopause is a time in life when women are particularly susceptible to depression and anxiety. In general, people think of hot flashes as the hallmark of menopause but there are many other symptoms including changes in mood, sleep, and brain fog. To find a menopause clinician who is right for you, go to: North American Menopause Society
“Honey, Read This”
Chapter 3 offers advice for the people in your life who want to be supportive but who are confused about menopause and what you’re going through. Women share frank descriptions of the menopause experience. “Literally, one moment you’re fine and the next one you feel like you’re in a vat of boiling water. I’m confused, frustrated and scared about the future.” The chapter offers strategies on what others can stop doing (trying to fix her) and start doing (asking what she needs, such as time alone or help with the dishes) when the woman in their life is on the menopause roller coaster.
This is a fully curated guide to the best books and websites for menopause, perimenopause, sexual health, nutrition, mental and emotional health, and spiritual growth.
Your work as a teacher, retreat leader, and guide for women spans decades. How has your experience influenced the creation of Radiant Wise Woman, and what transformative aspects do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I’ve learned from my work with women that our most potent gift is our own inner knowing. In spite of our childhood conditioning, society’s devastating messages, and often harsh self-judgment, our intuition is the superpower that opens the door to the inner wild power that is our birthright. Asking what do I need to know? and listening to your own “inner wise woman” will guide you to the next steps—the information, healthcare, and support–that are right for you.
Listening to women for 20+ years, I’ve heard their longings. What if the dreams we hold inside are meant to be unleashed? Imagine what our world would look like if women, trusting themselves, allied with others to use their gifts to make a difference. Miraculous things would happen.
My deepest desire is that readers will walk away feeling more confident in their own voice and be inspired to shine their unique light into the world. We stand at the forefront of an era of unprecedented potential. May we live a new story of conscious aging for ourselves, our world, and future generations.
In “Radiant Wise Woman,” you discuss rejuvenating one’s sex life, managing anxiety, and achieving better sleep. Could you elaborate on some natural remedies or practices you recommend in your book that women can incorporate into their lives for overall wellbeing during menopause and beyond?
In the book, l offer a Radiance Menu of natural remedies and practices as well as a fun self-pleasuring game Joygasm Bingo.
MAKE SLEEP YOUR FRIEND
NATURAL SLEEP REMEDIES
Rescue Sleep Spray (Bach) – Stop repetitive thoughts
Bedtime (Yogi Tea), chamomile, valerian, lemon balm – Calming teas
*RediNite (melatonin, passion flower, lemon balm, L-Tryptophan), *SleepCalm (Boiron homeopathic)
*Note: consult your health professional for treatment and use these only as an adjunct to such treatment.
YOUR BEDROOM AS A SLEEP HAVEN
Wear an eye mask – eliminate light exposure
Comfortably cool temperature
Try a weighted blanket (10% of your body weight)
APPS TO HELP YOU RELAX AND STAY ASLEEP
REJUVENATE YOUR SEX LIFE
Sexual pleasure, whether alone or with a partner, reduces the risk of depression, arthritis and anxiety as well as boosts the immune system.
Remember: Oxytocin over cortisol & fun over stress. Your body secretes oxytocin during many pleasurable activities: laughing, petting animals, breathing deeply, enjoying massages, sexual pleasure, and listening to music.
OMGYes.com – Short, honest videos with practical techniques to enhance pleasure, either solo or as a couple.
Sex for the Soul – audiobook by Niyaso Carter (Spotify). A new take on intimacy and sex. Includes ways of working with your own energies and demonstrates how to enjoy more exciting, playful sex if you are in a long-term relationship.
FIND RELIEF FROM ANXIETY AND WORRY
Cognitive behavioral therapy: Effective non-drug intervention
Yoga with Adriene: YouTube – Yoga for Panic & Anxiety – 15 minutes
Aromatherapy (use a diffuser): Lavender, Ylang ylang, bergamot, clary sage, rose, sandalwood
If you would like to find out more about Lee Sumner Irwin, please visit https://leesirwin.com/