When Linda Porter entered her third semester of her master’s program at Goddard College, she needed to come up with an idea for her thesis presentation. She decided to combine two things she has first-hand knowledge of: martial arts and menopause.
“When most people hear those two things together, they just pause because it’s so unexpected,” Porter said.
Porter, 58, of Bristol, will be teaching a martial arts and menopause workshop in the community center of Mobius Inc. in Damariscotta.
Porter has been practicing martial arts since 1986 and earned her first-degree black belt in Shotokan karate in 2001. Now a third-degree black belt, Porter taught martial arts classes in Massachusetts before she had her knee replaced in February.
“I used to do tournament sparing in the ’80s, but I can’t do it now,” Porter said. “I love teaching, especially women. To see the confidence in someone’s face when they finally get a technique, it just makes me so happy. I wish I could bottle it.”
Menopause intruded on Porter’s life when she was in her early 40s.
“No one prepares you for what really happens with menopause,” Porter said. “The advertisements only really tell you about hot flashes and night sweats, but there’s so much more.”
In her conversations with other women regarding their path through menopause, Porter realized there are a number of symptoms she, and many other women were unaware of, including panic attacks, muscle twitches, and hair loss or thinning. Porter said she knew of women who had gone to the emergency room convinced they were having a heart attack or multiple sclerosis.
“There’s this gap between what we expect to happen and what all can happen,” Porter said.
Although doctors offered her hormone replacement therapy and other medications to combat the menopause symptoms, Porter resisted, saying she would rather face the menopause head on rather than through a haze. Instead, she continued her martial arts training and found she felt better following her sessions.
“You can go for a walk or go to the gym and feel better after because you are releasing all of those endorphins, but for me, there is something about martial arts that makes me feel at peace afterwards,” Porter said.
Porter said she had seen a similar situation when she was teaching martial arts in Massachusetts. One of the students had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and over the course of seven years, Porter had a front row seat to watch how martial arts changed his life.
“To see this 11-year-old kid who was bouncing off the walls evolve into this confident, calm, young man who was earning his black belt was just incredible and emotional,” Porter said. “I started thinking about how martial arts training helped him and thought maybe there could be a connection here with menopause.”
Although her thesis will be about women who are going through menopause, Porter said the class is open to all women.
Porter plans to split her workshop into two parts, combining martial arts, breathing, and relaxation techniques with conversation about what women are experiencing.
“People don’t always want to talk about menopause, but one of the biggest things that helped me with my journey was hearing from other women about what they had gone through,” Porter said. “Nothing is more comforting than hearing someone else say, ‘oh, that happened to me too!'”
Having now gone through menopause, Porter said she feels as if she has a whole new life ahead of her.
“For the first time in a long time, I feel comfortable in my own skin,” Porter said. “That’s something I want to help all women achieve.”
The workshop will meet in the Mobius Inc. community center, 319 Main St., Damariscotta, Wednesdays, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, and Oct. 14 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The workshop is free to attend, however donations are welcome and will go to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter.