Francoise Decatrel, The Way Apothecary, Plant Intuitive Aromatherapist, Herbalist, Founder's Letter, Natural Menopause, Natural Perimenopause

"If you take one thing from your time on our website, please make it this: Menopause doesn’t have to be the scary, horrible experience we’ve been told it is. It is a powerful process of transformation and growth if we choose to lean in and listen."


Dear friends,

I’ll never forget this moment. About 6 years ago, I was in my early 40's, life was good. My day was going well, and I had nothing to be upset about, yet I was curled up in a ball crying on the shower floor. I remember thinking, “This feels like PMS, but I’m nowhere near having it.” And then it hit me that my path to menopause had begun.

At that time, I didn’t know much about this phase of life and what was in store for me. My mother and I never discussed menopause, and all my friends were my age. Thankfully, I had my background in aromatherapy and herbalism and knew the go-to plants for this early time on my hormonal path, so I was lucky enough to have a starting point.

A few years later, I noticed my skin was changing. My entire body became drier and more sensitive. I began to break out in rashes before my period. I suddenly developed rosacea. As a skincare formulator, I was mortified! I went to some of the top dermatologists in San Francisco, who didn't offer me any more help than to prescribe creams that only suppressed symptoms. I began to experience disrupted sleep and more frequent mood swings and anxiety. I felt as if my youth and beauty were slipping away, and felt as if my life was falling apart.

One day I decided to take a class on menopause and the skin with one of my aromatherapy mentors. This class changed my life. Within fifteen minutes I knew that all these symptoms were connected, and that this was just a deeper phase of the perimenopausal path. This was a turning point in my life. With the help of plants and a desire to educate myself, I began to take control of my body and mind.

At the time of this writing, I am 48. I am happy to say that most of my symptoms have subsided through the use of hormone balancing essential oils and herbs. I don’t expect them to disappear completely, and in fact think that would be unnatural and too much to ask of myself and my body. What I am certain of is that the focus of our menopausal paths should be on hormonal balance, self-care, stress reduction, and a healthy lifestyle. The rest can and should take care of itself. 

I was and still am baffled and disappointed that the multitudes of female doctors I had seen during that time, most of whom were older than me, couldn't help me put the pieces together - not even an OBGYN! I took matters into my own hands, and my path of discovery began. I began to deeply explore my aromatherapy and herbalism practices from a clinical level. I dove deeper into my meditation and Reiki practices, where I discovered the undeniable connection between intentional relaxation and an easier menopausal path. Through incredible women, I learned about the spiritual aspects of menopause, and suddenly I realized that this journey didn't have to be the negative experience traditionally presented to us.

I eventually realized the beauty of this time of life. It can be challenging, but if we look at it from the perspective of a shamanic journey, if you move through the challenges, great transformation awaits us. We can learn to lean into ourselves, really listen to our bodies, and befriend our souls. We can learn how to soothe ourselves, we can learn the power of taking breaks, stepping away, and speaking up for ourselves. We can finally learn the power of saying “no” to what doesn't serve us.

The most important part of my journey has been changing my mindset. I decline to live a life worrying about every wrinkle or coming gray hair. I'm too strong and have been through too much for that kind of thinking. It dawned on me that my life has been and will be so much more than holding on to the past. I'm enjoying my beauty now and will embrace all aspects of myself in the future. I invite you to join me on this path. 

You are amazing. You are light. You are strong. You are powerful. You are beautiful. Your body knows what it’s doing.

Let’s rise together.

In love and solidarity,

Françoise Decatrel