A different Day 14
Usually this is my time of feeling like super woman and this month I feel so far from it. I’m feeling overwhelmed and feel so much resistance in me towards my to do lists. My meditation today was that every time I walk anywhere I notice if I am pushing ahead and then choose to slow down and feel like I’m letting life carry me.
Last bleed was the first one I didn’t rest in in four months and I realised today that that’s probably why I’m not feeling like I’m riding a surge of energy like usual.
Want to be the girl in this picture right now!
Today I feel my body and being at the peak of it’s manifestation mode, as I tip into ovulation and wonder woman mode It’s the time when I wake up full of energy, purpose and the feeling of being able to Get Shit Done.
The most basic way I use my cycle awareness is for managing my energy levels. So at the moment I am finding it quite natural to organise a workshop this past weekend, launch my Crimson Tide workshop (this is the best time for launching things or exposing ourselves as we are more inclined to be full of confidence and exuberance and our skin is a little thicker!), go out dancing, wake up early, do an hour of garden work, some admin and then plough into three appointments in town. In fact, if I don’t keep myself busy and accomplishing things during these days, I feel very restless, like a racing car in neutral.
I have noticed though in the last few months, that a layer of my being that is emerging and needing love and integration, does not like this phase and awaits the following one with increasing impatience.
My energy feels like a clumsy wild bull sometimes or a cannon ball that will knock over anyone who stands in my way. My skin feels thick and I find it hard to be soft or cry. I have spent most of my life in constant manifestation, not valuing rest and letting go, reflection and being quiet, as much as I need. I have manifested out of an addiction to doing and a fear of scarcity, manifested from places that are not totally aligned and rooted in source and so one of the biggest learnings from my cycle awareness practice is to begin valuing the other half of my cycle where my body invites me to slow down and embrace emptiness.
But for now, I will harness this wave of energy coursing through me, enjoy the feeling of being expanded and engaged with the outside world, use it for getting through my to do list and enjoying being sociable, and remember in this state of feeling high on life right now – not to make too many plans over the next weeks, because very shortly, another internal landscape will reveal itself where life will be very different! :)
(image by unknown artist!)
Yesterday I wrote about the challenges I feel around ovulation, but I was reminded that that’s not the full picture during my experience of today…
I like to explore different archetypes that I feel relate to different parts of my cycle. Other than PMS, ovulation is the only part of our cycle that is generally spoken about and it’s well known that many of us feel extra frisky around here – in the Lakota tradition, the phase around ovulation is the ‘Lover’ phase. (I love the paradox inherent in ovulation – we’re at our most extroverted and ‘yang’ and yet are simultaneously the most ‘receptive’ to being fertilised!).
But what has shone through for me the most today is the Mother archetype. It’s like a bridge between myself and the great mother – that nourishing, infinitely kind and patient, forgiving and unconditionally loving aspect that is always available for us to call on, but during this time I feel like I have direct access to her and her sense of being in love with the world, able to hold and cherish everything around me. And I am savouring every moment because a) I am generally less than enamoured with humans so this is a welcome temporary respite from my general demeanour and b) as my cycle has shown me – every day brings a different quality, a different super power and a different challenge so This Too Shall Pass :)
The Mother represents our Heart and the Lover represents Sex – Madonna and Whore – two aspects of our being that have been separated and polarised in us, resulting in so much wounding and suffering. These are my days for consciously bathing in the deliciousness and the power of uniting both – my body and womb feeling so ripe and inviting, sensually engaged with the world around me and my heart swelling with compassion and tenderness.
There is such a strong link between the two – heart and sex – how could there not be? The womb is where life begins and life thrives on love! :) Without the foundation of my womb and it’s feeling of anchoring me in the world, my heart feels unstable in its fluctuations and easily overwhelmed. Without the heart, my womb and my sexual self feel so instinct driven that I feel hollow and not truly present with the world or inhabiting myself. Both united together create the possibility of feeling like we’re showing up in the world like the bad-ass high-priestess-holy-whores we truly are ❤
Day 13 or 14 is usually the most challenging day of my entire cycle. I can go to sleep with a ‘yes’ for life and wake up with a unsettled, irritable, the-glass-is-distinctly-half-empty ‘no’ for life.
What a relief it was over a period of several months of cycle tracking to look back at previous months and identify that this is a pattern, and related to hormonal shifts.
Right after we ovulate, it’s like we shift currents – from an expanding current that can be harnessed for outward expression and manifestation, to a contracting current, where our energy moves back into our internal world. The shift from one to the next is so palpable in me, and I’ve learned to hold myself tenderly as I adjust to this next phase.
This is one of the most precious gifts of cycle awareness that I have received. . . to stop judging myself for feeling a certain way or feeling like I am ‘wrong’ for feeling something, but to recognize it, witness it and hold myself in it…. and the gifts are never far away. Once I adjust to the new current I am riding, the journey drawing inwards is full of riches.
But every month is different… there is no guarantee that each month will be the same… I think it depends on outside circumstances and also the magic of our menstrual cycle and what it wishes to reveal to us, in service to our healing. No wobbly day so far this cycle, only today the distinct feeling of the outside world being less interesting and my energy starting to draw inward, and an emerging desire to feel myself from the inside. My self-care today is a longer yoga practise than usual and recognising and releasing guilt for choosing solitude over company.
Today I feel the surge of my internal summer ride me, like the swell of the tide…
Around this time it feels like I am riding the last wave of creative energy before slowing down and heading into Autumn.
One way of looking at our menstrual cycle is that it contains seasons. Menstruation is our internal Winter, a time for introspection, dreaming and rest, Spring is when our creative energy begins to emerge, which peaks in Summer and then slows down again in Autumn. The most important thing about Cycle Awareness though is only to use anything you hear or read about as a kind of archetypal guideline, and what really matters is listening to your own body and being.
This is my time for pushing myself and harnessing this wave to get things done, and physically, I notice it is my time for exerting myself, going for a longer run or doing manual labour. My body wants to feel a little bit pushed – this also creates the right conditions for coming into resting during my bleed, when I feel content with everything I have achieved. It’s easier to really enjoy this time of doing and not feel overwhelmed or burned out, knowing that it is temporary and I will soon be heading into more mellow waters…
Yesterday afternoon my energy dropped so hard and fast it felt like an energetic collapse… I lay on the sofa feeling listless and flat – tell-tail signs of a drop in oestrogen as I move into the midst of the second half of my cycle.
Feeling into the layers of what was going on, I noticed a deep longing to be held. The last week, through the summer of my cycle, my heart has felt shiny and expanded, naturally in service and attuned to others and wanting to offer holding and support to those around me.
Although many of us with wombs do not have children, we are still biologically programmed to be finely attuned to the needs of others. This natural tendency peaks in the summer of our cycle – but if we keep going, we run the risk of overstepping our own boundaries and of falling into martyrdom and burn out.
Martyrdom is such a paradox in a way – if we don’t put ourselves and self-care and needs first, and run around taking care of everyone else, we end up becoming self-absorbed and entangled in our own unmeet, unconscious needs, not able to give from a clean place. With my own personal history of not being in touch with my own needs, I have increasingly noticed an ironic sense of my own self-absorbtion, that I am slowly dismantling.
And so as I listened to what was moving inside, I felt the call of my system that it is time for a shift and for me to begin being more attuned to myself for a while as I move towards my bleed.
The external support and holding my being longed for was not available – as nice as it would be, we can’t always rely on it – and so I flexed my self-parenting muscle and practised gently holding myself and being present with myself, surfing through waves of overwhelm and tiredness. I sat on the parched earth here in southern Portugal last night as the approaching storm sent flickers of lightening across the sky, and connected to the Big She, the divine mother whose presence is always available and allowed myself to bathe in her tender, unconditional love.
This morning I feel a beautiful sense of my own resilience and strength, and something so fragile and tender, within myself. After the last week of feeling so thick-skinned, confident and capable, I am welcoming this softer, more delicate and permeable part that will be working me over these next days…
After a peaceful few days, now in the full flow of my internal Autumn, today I awoke to a sense of deep irritability and tension within.
I am acutely aware of tension in the field around me – the unspoken words, silent projections and triggers, unprocessed emotions. Perhaps fuelled by the new moon and slowly heading into the darkness of my internal winter, anything unhonoured and unnamed in my own and others shadow becomes intolerable.
PMT is one of the things that we do actually speak about relating to periods, although it’s tragic that we don’t understand the gifts and gold in our irritability and volatility.
Life is inviting us to embrace it in it’s entirety – the dark and light, in it’s chaos, unpredictability, movement and flow. Most of us humans share a history of this being suppressed. I chose this image because I think of the periods in history where women wore corsets and what a symbol this was for containing ourselves and keeping everything together.
There is a certain time of our menstrual cycle where the truth is harder to ignore, where the dam is thinner and we are more likely to burst and to finally allow our inner world to come hurtling out.
What would life be like if we received more permission from ourselves and those around us to be free at all times with how we feel, what we see in the world, what is alive in us, what needs speaking out?
What would it be like if we could celebrate letting off steam, exploding, daring to name what is – so that it can be in service to Truth and to the preciousness and wildness and unpredictability of life?
We’ve ignored the gifts of our cycle for so long, and there is so much gold to be found…
“How can a woman learn to speak up if she is instructed to silence the most basic biological function of her body?”
(From a Irish Times article, with thanks to Lisa de Jong from her great piece)
One of the qualities of the second half of our menstrual cycle, when we tip into the landscape of Autumn and Winter, is that our focus starts orientating again towards ourself, rather than the world around us.
This is the time when we are invited to face ourselves, to shine the light of what is alive inside of us, particularly anything that has been ignored or glossed over earlier on the month.
This is the time our skin becomes thinner, we are more receptive to what is around us and we are able to feel more. What most people call ‘PMT’ is often connected to emotions that have been suppressed earlier on in our cycle, that can no longer be denied.
I’ve started noticing that a few days before I bleed, something inside me needs to come into deep feeling – I need to have a good cry and soften my skin that has become tough from all the doing and business. Through listening to this process over the last year, I’ve learned to notice when it’s time to sit myself down and have a roam around what’s there and see if I can feel what there is to feel… I’ve started realising that connecting to grief is a necessity that I have, in order to feel whole.
Sometimes, in this state of gentle listening, I find myself connecting to our collective pain body, feel myself becoming a vessel to shed the earth’s tears. It feels so crucial to move beyond numbness and to discover how deeply we care about the world. To allow the pain from our collective suffering to penetrate us, soften us through our tears and guide us into opening our hearts again, in a world in which it’s so easy to stay brittle and protected.
“The willingness to be receptive and to ‘feel what is’ weaves us into interconnectivity with all things. This connection to Life awakens our care for Life – inspiring a river of love that can fuel our sacred activism in the world.” – TreeSisters
We all have an inner critic. That voice that torments us, that tells us we are not worthy, too much, not enough…
The inner critic is often rampant on those days in our cycle where the glass feels half empty or everything just feels too much. Last month on day 24 I had an epic critic attack. It hit me in the middle of teaching a workshop… a relentless voice that convinced me that all is hopeless. “You are too damaged to ever live a functional life, be happy or be in a relationship” it insisted. I spent a day considering cancelling all the future plans I had made and just giving up. What was the point? Everything felt utterly pointless and hopeless.
It was only the next day I realised this was my inner critic testing me, and it was related to my cycle.
The rightful place of our inner critic is in the Autumn of our cycle. This is the time where we become more internal, where we confront ourselves, where our bullshit detector is sharpened.
The sacred purpose of our inner critic I believe is to make sure we and the world around us is in integrity and living our highest purpose, and to reveal anything that is in the shadows. I feel like my inner critic keeps me vigilant and awake – the moment I tip into unconsciousness, my inner critic comes up to test me. What is really true? What do you really stand for?
Often we are so used to the constant chatter of the inner critic we become fused with it. . . Developing a relationship with my inner critic, cultivating the ability to discern whether it’s worth listening to and decoding the gifts behind it has been a very powerful gift of my cycle awareness. The ability to recognise that there are an infinite number of filters and perspectives to see the world, that my filter is changing every day according to my cycle, gives me such a healthier relationship to my shifting moods and internal weathers. I can greet them, surf them, find the hidden gifts in them, and know that This Too Shall Pass. Even if it takes me a day sometimes to remember
So much has changed in this past year of my cycle enquiry. Not just in my attitude to my cycle and how I live accordingly, but there are some Really Big Changes, that I’ve kept kind of quiet about on here ;)
I’ve gone through so many years of my bleed being a non-event… something to do my best to ignore, and take pain killers when that was not possible. I have been so disconnected from my body and so addicted to my pattern of constant achievement, that I didn’t even notice how my energy levels and entire system and connection to life change during my bleed.
Nowadays I look forward to my bleed, each month trying to deepen my understanding of how to harness the gifts it brings. I have learned so much, and I can only summarise a few points below – there is so much more! – and I warmly invite you to come to my workshop to go deeper (details in comments)
This is some of what I have learned:
*When we bleed, we enter a very potent state. This is our internal winter solstice, the direct opposite pole of ovulation. The archetypal pattern (and everyone is different – as I mentioned previously, it doesn’t matter what anyone tells you, it’s more important to listen to your own body) – is that this is the time in our cycle when the body wants to come into a state of rest, recharge and renewal. When we bleed, we are like a walking embodiment of ritual! There is so much more to share on this topic of how to use bleeds ritually…
*When I listen to what I need during this time, it is to allow myself to experience total surrender to emptiness and non-doing. In this state, our portal to spirit is the most available. This is the time for vision and dream-work and for deep communion with the Self and as you will read below, this has been life-changing for me.
*The symptoms we face during our bleed or any part of our cycle are not a coincidence or something that lies out of our hands, but our body’s direct feedback as to what our current self-care levels are and what in us that lies in the shadows and needs to be addressed. If we feel pain during our bleed, it is our body trying to tell us something – like with all pain!
Several moons ago, I had a bleed with an incredible amount of pain in the middle of the night. This is unusual, because my bleeds nowadays are generally pain-free because I do my best to rest and make myself feel really comfortable and at ease and only experience pain when I’m not taking care of myself. But this time, the pain was unbearable. I asked my body what it was trying to tell me. “What in your life is unbearable?” it asked me. I spent hours that night, gently enquiring, and received the answer… “not belonging anywhere is unbearable. Not having a family is unbearable. Creating spaces for others to enjoy intimacy but not having regular intimacy in my own life is unbearable.”
The next week an intense process kicked off where I realised I needed to face myself and the decisions I was making in life and re-order my priorities. I made the difficult decision to cancel giving a workshop and attending an important event, and decided to spend this month in Portugal, nourishing my connections for this new chapter I am starting here.
I guess this post is me coming out in a way… why I have been so quiet on here and what I’ve been up to.
I’ve fallen in love!
In multiple ways, with multiple people.
And it’s unfolded in quite a wondrous and magical way and all thanks to this work and my womb…
Earlier this year I did a vision quest during my bleed and received a crystal clear vision of a future project and community I wanted to be part of co-creating. A week later I learned that exactly what I had envisioned already existed… and the rest I suppose is history.
So here I am now. It’s not really day 1. I don’t even know what day it is – I lost track because my days are filled with the beauty and challenge of community life…the laughter and chaos of children playing, sun-basking, olive-picking, beach-time, pomegranates, love-making, tenderness and truthfulness. It’s not all roses… but it is my answer to my heart’s deepest prayers and it was my work with my cycle that brought me here, and for this I am in awe <3