Browsing Category

Activism

Feminism

The seasons of your menstrual cycle and your sex life

6 March, 2019

Have you ever considered your menstrual cycle as mirroring the seasons in nature a little? Applying this imagery to my monthly cycle has been quite transformative for me.

I first understood it from the wonderful book Wild Power. I now apply it in heaps of practical ways to my life. One massive way it has changed my life has been in my marriage with Tim, particularly in our intimate lives. Gosh yes. I’m talking about sex. Sorry mum.

Here is a little presi…

Winter: Day 1 of your menstrual cycle is the day you bleed. It’s also the beginning of your winter. This is a time of great power and vision, but with great needs too! I like to be as alone as I can be, usually in the forest, able to write and sing and create some dark matter! Menstruation is a bit of a muse for me. I feel quite heightened sexually too.

Spring: I start to come out of my shell, but am still quite vulnerable. I start to feel my libido stirring.

Summer: Here is the middle of the cycle – ovulation. I become a super woman! I can do everything and anything and need to remind myself *not* to take on a looooad more exciting projects! I am creative and sexual, and have the power to direct my energy into my creative work, or the bedroom.

Autumn: For me, autumn, the transition between ovulation and menstruation is the hardest part of my cycle. I am grumpy and sore boobed and really don’t want to meet any one’s needs and definitely DO NO EVER WANT TO HAVE SEX. Ha.

The video below is Tim and I having a chat about how really seeing my menstrual cycle as seasons and then applying that to our marriage and sex life has been utterly transformative. We cover rejection, being enough, libido- ALL THE THINGS! We also talk about how we have implemented some rhythms and rituals to add lots of magic to our, er, night life. Lots of people have watched it with their husbands or partners and have used it as a basis for discussion later.

There are other resources on the Channel Mum site- they were the folk that actually gave me the guts to talk about sex! So do have a look at other mum’s stories here.

And I also have a creative journal I made for $5 and up Patreons. It’s a gentle journey into the seasons of your menstrual cycle, and how to practically and spiritually embrace the power of menstruation. You can become a Patreon here.

So here’s the vid!

PIN FOR LATER:
Menstrual cycle, periods, husbands, sex

Activism

Too weary to change the world? The 4 R’s of Regenerative Resistance

21 February, 2019

I’ve never seen an article spread like wildfire quite as much as Millennials- the burn out generation. There was so much resonance amongst people between the ages of 22 and 38 (the official “millennial generation”) as we all read and said “YES. This is me!” The main thrust of it is that we have been raised as busy folk, to strive to win, and combined with some huge structural influences (such as financial collapse and government changes to student debt) and societal shifts (the pressure we feel being faced with everyone else’s highlight reel on Facebook and Instagram) we feel a need to be constantly working, leaving us perched right on the edge of breakdown. We bring this burn out vibe to everything; our careers, our home life and our activism.

Since committing wholeheartedly to Extinction Rebellion I’ve been reflecting on how much more sustainable activism needs to become. This is partly because this is one of the features of Extinction Rebellion; they actively promote regenerative culture in their forums and strategy. But also because of the people I’ve met through it.  I was at a roadblock on Monday with 40 people and every single new person I met there told me it was their first action! And then, when I’ve invited my old-skool activist mates to get involved they’ve told me they can’t because they are too exhausted from years of non-stop action. How can we make sure all these freshly-minted activists don’t end up like the second group?
The 4 R's of Regenerative Resistance

The four Rs of Regenerative Resistance:

Relish

Do the activism that floats your boat. Don’t lock on and chant if the thought of it locks you up with dread. I know, I know, as an organiser that is scary even to TYPE! We worry that we won’t have enough people doing all the different things required. That everyone will just want to make the cups of tea and no one will want to be arrested.*

My friend went to an Empowered Activism workshop last week with a hundred other people. They had a long rainbow coloured piece of fabric and each colour represented something different – media, direct action, creative acts, communicating etc etc The facilitator asked everyone to take a moment to really feel what they were drawn to, and then to go and stand in that colour. My friend said that once everyone in place there was a palpable sense of awe in the room. Every colour in the rainbow was populated by people fizzing with energy. There were no areas less appealing. Each of our unique loves and quirks and gifts will be perfect for something, so let’s do the stuff we are drawn to.

Some social change theorists have suggested that there is no evidence that certain protests impact policy changes more than others. Some of history seems to suggest that revolutions take off according to uncontrollable features such as food price hikes.  On one hand, perhaps this theory can be taken with a pinch of salt because often we’re not actually calling for revolution in our action. Often we are calling for a policy change (even though what we really want IS revolution, amiright) and the social sciences show us that there have been direct impacts from protests on policy – ie, the civil rights movement, same sex marriage laws.

Now, this IS complicated, there are a lot of unknowns in this. But I’ve come to believe that any successful action is almost always accompanied by Other Stuff. Shifts in public consciousness, economic collapse, uprising occurring in other countries, the right person at the right time. It’s rarely *only* the action. I raise this slightly messy thought in order to point out the problem with spending much of our time doing things we don’t actually like. If our activism is based on stuff that drains us, and then it doesn’t work because it’s not the right moment in history, then all we have is a bunch of weary, jaded folk and no change. Ugh. Nightmare. Common, common nightmare.

However, if our activism is an expression of one of our gifts, or if it builds up our communities, and gives us chance to meet our neighbours and have fun with our friends and dance and sing and makes us feel alive, and then it ends up not being the right moment in history, there is absolutely nothing lost. Even with a failed action, we’ve ended up as winners.

The 4 r's of regenerative activism

For me, part of the whole purpose of life is to connect with others and to connect with the earth. Activism is one of the many ways that I do this. If our world changes horrendously in coming decades, if it falls apart in war and hunger, as it is currently on the trajectory to do, really the only thing that will matter is the strength of our relationships and the resilience of our communities. The vibrancy of our love.

I invite you to really sense what parts of activism bring you alive. If it’s the face to face stuff – perhaps you could be the person that goes to the markets to tell people about your cause. If you love engineering, invent some new ways to get people locked on to machinery and gates.  If it’s writing – could you do the press releases? If you are an artist, turn your basement into a banner workshop and screenprint the shiz out of the movement.

And I invite you to bring joy and fun to the weekly grind of your activism. Because there are planing meetings and strategy documents that have to happen. But you can you eat together beforehand? Can you have music and room for laughter? I invite you to look at your actions and ask “is there space here for MORE connectivity and MORE joy?” If you are doing a hardcore or somber action, book in an after-party so you can debrief and release the intensity of that.

A quick note about direct action. Make sure fear isn’t coming into play in a bad way. Getting arrested for trespass or obstruction (the usuals) doesn’t stop you travelling, in fact it impacts your life very little. A court date, a fine that the movement will help you pay, a bit of paperwork. I do sometimes wonder if the way we are raised to obey and comply and respect authority blocks us from being open to non violent direct action. Just for a moment imagine setting fear aside and joining the ranks of history makers who have been arrested. Exciting, no? 

If we were more strategic, we’d burn out less.

I can almost hear the voices crying “of course you’re burning out if you’re okay with just doing community building and having fun! If you worked smarter you’d be more efficient and wouldn’t burn out!” Well, yes and no. We should absolutely employ all the tools out there. This great website has all sorts such as how to do a SWOT analysis which we use alot. We should do all that pre-work, yes, yes, yes. But also, sometimes it’s important just to turn up, not even knowing what to do. Simply to bear witness.

four rs of regenerative activism

And if we feel like the success of our action depends solely on our watertight strategy, we’re getting into sketchy territory, where we feel unable to Rest and Rely on the other forces at work.

Rest

“If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit” says Banksy who has done a good share of righteous trouble making in his time.

Sleeping, relaxing, reading, zoning out to music, hiking, … these are all rejuvenating, restful activities. But we are so constantly plugged in (to our phones, our ambitions, our jobs) that it feels like truly resting is somewhat of a forgotten art.

We went to a Mumford and Sons gig the other week. Tim and I stood there, peering up at the stage, the only still ones in a sea of activity. All around us the other punters were texting their mates, trying to capture the best angle for Instagram, running back and forth trying to find other friends to get in this particular selfie. Everyone was bustling about, right in the midst of this moment of leisure.

One of the features of regenerative activism is relaxing into rest on a regular basis. Here’s this from an overview on rest and sustainability

“A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.”

One of the things I found particularly interesting was the research showing that there is a strong link between having more holidays and not leaving a company! It seems clear that things like regular breaks, fully unplugged days each week, and a holiday allows us to be far more sustainable.

Micro-rests
Last week I enjoyed a podcast with Srini Pillay, author of Tinker Dabble Doodle Try about the power of the unconscious mind. It was all interesting but the bit that struck me is that every single day we check out for chunks of time. We all do. In order to try and get some balance our brains take us into an unfocused zone fairly regularly all day. Studies seem to show that one of the human beings design functions is to have a period of renewal every 90 minutes. If we just unintentionally let that happen then our minds will fill up with worries or to do lists or absolutely random stuff like what exactly was in that sauce on that pasta at Maria’s pot luck dinner? Was it, like, olives or those other weird little things that are like olives but kinda more fancy… tiny sour olive type things that telly chefs are always tossing in dishes… blimey what are they! Google is giving me nothing! Gah. I’ll text Maria. Or we use it to scroll through social media. (Or we override it with sugar or caffeine.)

Now, on one hand, that’s fine. But it’s not actually restorative. Our brains are checking us out from one thing, but we check in to another, unintentional act of busyness.

Pillay argues that we should schedule these check outs. Not just for efficiency’s sake, but to make sure we give our brains a chance to truly rest and play. So, once an hour, go for a walk or do some doodling. Lay down once or twice a day for a daydream or some breathing or a guided meditation. Don’t let your brain’s automatic rest function be sabotaged by your busy, busy mind!

I invite you to remember the art of rest. I invite you to carve out time for micro-breaks, protect our unplugged days, book in a holiday and remind the other activists in our groups about the importance of rest so we can create new cultures that make room for renewal.

I invite you to reject the idea that the success of our activism is directly related to busy-ness. There will be intense moments of activity, yes, but your path to a successful action should not be filled with little gremlins whining at you to keep checking how many people have signed up, or whispering that you are not doing enough. And if it’s accompanied by a palpitating heart and a sense of paralysing overwhelm, it’s possibly time to take a rest.

The 4 R's of regenerative activism

Rely

Rely on others. Trust in their work, trust in the possibility of a spiritual awakening, trust that all the time, every second of the day the movement towards love and justice is absolutely throbbing with growth.

Joanna Macy and the other thinkers and doers of the Deep Ecology sphere have so much to offer us as we seek to activate more trust in our activism.

This diagram of Joanna’s shows the three parts that will make up the revolution we are seeking. There are Holding Actions – this is the activism that leads to policy change; shifts in law that lift oppression and create justice in small ways incrementally.

Then there are Structural Changes – which is used to describe the creation of new ways of working, for example, farming methods that honour the earth, or communication principles such as NVC. Under this heading comes permaculture and unschooling, holacracy and socioacrocy and communal housing and transition towns and all the other radical ways of being. These are quietly blooming and offer us the structures we will require in the future.

And then: Shifts in Consciousness – this is where people step into new understandings of themselves and the earth. Bothboth poets and scientists can helps us doe that. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have done this for a lot of people I believe- allowing people to take the blinkers from their eyes. And then I’m sure the poems of Maya Angelou and Rumi and Kate Tempest have done this too- sparked a transformation in people’s hearts. It’s also where mysterious shizzle goes down. Psychedelics and meditation and yoga and dance and hiking and surfing and the random kindness of strangers can all give us the insight we need everyone human on earth to have: that we are one, that love is the only thing that matters.
four R's of regenerative activism

Now, I used to be a full time activist. It was my actual job, AND my hobby. A proper activist geek. Then a couple of years after we had kids I left that job and we moved to New Zealand to live off grid, to try and have as little impact on the earth’s resources as we could. For five years we ticked along, and then at the end of last year the IPCC report woke me as if from a long slumber. HOLY HECK. I began scrabbling about, kicking myself for not campaigning night and day on climate change for half a decade. I joined Extinction Rebellion, devoting a day week to getting it off the ground here in Aotearoa.

But hearing Joanna Macy describe the three things that are imperative to the transformation of society gave me pause. I realised that I *had* been doing the important work all along. The way I raise my children with empathy, the way we give them freedom over their learning with unschooling, the way we live gently on solar power, our rejection of toxic beauty and cleaning products, all of these small things are a part of it. An intrinsic part. Somehow, faced with extinction and the panic that took hold of me, I’d lost the thread I’ve held since Ramona was a baby- that parenting can be a great source of world change. 

We don’t have to see all the work that is not strictly protest as a waste of time. We don’t have to shake everyone and say “GET ON THE STREETS RIGHT NOW.” We can trust that people being them good selves is also important.

Of course, I do still implore people to get on the streets! I am a communicator and an activist so where my work intersects is to invite people, without judgement or demand, to join me in protest! But I have a lot more of a sense of joy and freedom in this, rather than overwroughtness that we aren’t doing enough.

And I also kind of think it’s possible that if activists had less of a bad rap (as burnt out, angry, judgementalists) and we moved about with more trust in humankind, more celebration of all the different ways peace and justice is being nurtured, with more joy and creativity and freedom, more people would be discover the activist inside them. More people would discover that activism could bring them alive too.

Ritualise

This one was hard to name. And it might be hard to express. Let me try!

It’s about seeing our activism afresh – less an arduous “gotta save the damn world” activity and more an expression of our identity as part of the earth and the one-ness of humankind- and then having markers that remind us of this.

For a while my favourite quote was “Activism is the price I pay for living on on this planet.” A bit of it still resonates with me, for sure. (*ahem* burn out generation) These days I have a different view. These days I see activism as an almost spiritual act. It’s an expression of who I am, as much as dancing or writing or singing might be.

John Seed, one of the original protesters who occupied the rainforest to stop them from being chopped down, said that a transformation occurred the longer he sat there, locked on to a tree. He moved from being John Seed protecting the rainforest to the “rainforest protecting itself.”

Many years ago we were in a remote country, stealthily going to investigate some exploitative industry happening in an area of ecological importance. As I walked through the rainforest I was at a loss. We were walking hours, yet what could we do once we got there? We had no plan. But as I walked, I felt the answer come to me, imprinted on the soles of my feet, as if from the soil. It was simply “You’ll know what to do.”

So we get there, and for some reason the drilling rig workers leave. I walk up to the rig, and the door is open, and the keys are in the ignition. So I reach in and take them and on the way home toss them away. It was all so matter-of-fact. Like the rainforest just found a way through me to eat up those keys for a bit of reprieve.

My hope is that we can all experience something like this. To truly understand that we are not simply earth-dwellers, but we are the earth itself. One of the organisms that makes up this living breathing planet as much as a forest or the coral is. Activism can bring us this realisation.

So now I choose to mark my activism in this way. I bring prayers of thanks, I might light a candle, I’ll certainly sing a song. These are reminders to me that activism is a sacred act and that it doesn’t all rest on my shoulders.

Starhawk, writer and activist of some forty years, tells a story in her book The Twelve Wild Swans, about being involved in the anti-globalisation protests of the 90s. She’s describing sitting in jail for five days after being arrested at the World Trade Organisation blockades in Seattle with a bunch of the other protestors “Lucy, a trainer and organiser who at 31 was an “old lady” in the group, remarked  that the average life span of an activist was 3 years. So why was I there, at forty-eight, a little fat and creaky from sitting on concrete floors and mixing it up with the cops? Because for the more than thirty years I’ve been active politically, I’ve had rituals to sustain me, close friend to support me and participate with me, and a deep personal connection to the great powers of love and freedom that inspire us to work for change.”

How many burnt out activists does it take to change a light bulb?

Well, none, because they can’t change anything.

Let’s stop doing this burn-out thing, huh? Let’s work together, play together, rest together in joy and in trust. And then we’ll be on the streets together in forty years time. Little grannies and grandpas locked on, chanting, knowing we’ve done all we can for the dream of a more just and beautiful world.

~

PS- If you have found my writing helpful, do hop on over to my Patreon and see if you’d like to become a supporter!

PPS- Video on what to do with the grief we feel about the climate.

Video from the back of a cop car the last time I was arrested

Feminism

Dear daughters

12 October, 2017

I just found out it was International Day of the Girl yesterday, which is interesting because all day somewhere in the back of my head I had a leaking lament as we bustled from library to supermarket to home for dinner which was deconstructed sushi (I forgot to buy seaweed.) I’m not surprised it passed me by, these last few days I’ve been this tearful mix of exhausted and restless, I’ve hardly known what day of the week it is, let alone what Day of the International whatcha it might be.  Ramona and Juno have just made a narrow mountain ridge of mattresses and pillows and are jumping off their bunk on to it. I bid them good luck and sit down to spill these words.

 

Daughters of mine.

May I never tell you shush.

May I absorb your corrective “ACTUALLY, mum”  with grace.

 

May I be present

to your bombastic roars and your full body rages on the floor.

May I say “Mmmhmmm” appreciatively

in the dead of night

when you float a theory about Barbie’s Secret Door.

 

May I nod at your spun-out animal facts and labyrinth speeches

that last from breakfast to lunch and beyond and

may I squeeze Tim’s hand that he too might hold his tongue when you “ACTUALLY, dad” him.

 

May I make room for you in our dinner party conversation

ask you for your thoughts

like I might an honoured guest.

 

May I deep-breathe and tea-drink when you are in a mood for singing Avril Lavigne

at the top of your voice and I

am not.

 

May I de-brief with you when your friends say shut up and

may I not see it as a blight on your character when your face becomes a screaming mouth to be heard and

may I not see it as a blight on your character when you warrior-pose on the roof of the car with the last packet of toffee-pops begging to be seen.

 

May I answer your army of marching questions with all the truth I hold and

may I even beat the drum to keep your queries soldiering on.

 

May I swallow my shushes,

bite on my tongue,

fill my ears with the

sweet

audacious

sound

of

you.

 

For if, the research is right, you’ve only a few years left

of being freely opinionated.

 

A few more summers where

you feel able to bloom so boldly.

A few more winters where

your femaleness doesn’t freeze your voice.

 

Nine times less likely than a boy to speak up in class.

Four times lower the self-esteem.

Twice as likely to be insulted for showing  leadership.

 

One day the world will want you to be small.

Today I will give you all the space you need to be big.

 

dear daughters of mine

You might like one of my latest videos:

Feminism

Bleeding like a mofo

19 July, 2017

I was a full 33 years old before I began recording my moon cycle. I didn’t come to it from even a vague sense of what was going on. I started with an almost total dearth of knowledge. I was 14 when I first went on the Pill for acne. I stayed on it for five years, took a small break (long enough to feel like I was doing the hard yards with painful, angry bleeds) then went on the mini pill for a further three years. I would munch my pills every day, gleefully skipping bleeds, sticking my finger up at the rage and pain that used to blaze each month, and not associating my general malaise or low libido with the pill.

Then we decided to get pregnant. Mid twenties and I discovered a thing called ovulation. I remember calling a friend and being like “Do you know you can actually only get pregnant for a few days a month?!” I’m embarrassed now by how much of a revelation it was. It didn’t really help with getting pregnant though; it was either my Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome or the years on the Pill that stretched our trying-to-conceive phase to a tearful, shame filled three years.

So, pregnant, then breastfeeding, then pregnant and breastfeeding again and I was 32 before I had another full cycle. This time I was more in to my body; curious about it, especially about the mysterious and ridiculously awesome parts of it. I began applying the same understanding to menstruation as I had to other parts of my body. This understanding being that the body is, by and large, quite good at doing what it does. If it does something, it is probably for a reason, I should find out what the reason is! This logic has ended up making me a big advocate of the shampoo-free movement– I’d set out to discover why our bodies produce so much sebum, and why we get locked into shampooing everyday. And I’d learnt that our bodies can thrive without shampoo if we are willing to work with our body’s natural processes.

I began to wonder about periods, about hormones. About my moods and body aches. My periods had come back with a vengeance and they propelled me into the herbalist for a tincture to soften the blows of PMS and into the library to read everything I could about women and bleeding!

Eventually this bought me to the work of The Red School in the UK, set up by Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer and Alexandra Pope and in particular their recent book Wild Power.

Wild Power is an invitation to every woman to look anew at menstruation. To record their cycle, to observe their feelings and to begin to work with the menstruation seasons. Reading Wild Power was like the culmination of this last year’s menstruation journey and I am now I am able to embrace each element of my cycle, I find myself looking forward to the parts that used to be hard, because actually I know that when impatience and intolerance gurgles in my belly, my mind is at its most lucid and my soul is getting ready to enter this state of weird, visionary power.

I used to hate my menstrual cycle. I know hate is a strong word, but I mean it. I really mean it. And now I feel sad that I might only have ten to fifteen years left of it.

These days I plot my own cycle to the cycles of the moon, as women for hundreds of centuries have. When the moon disappears and then comes as a sliver I know I’m about to bleed hard, or enter a state where I am getting great insight from daydreams. This sense of living under the moonbeams is a cool glass of water to me; I never really knew I needed it until I realise how refreshed I am through it.Wild Power Book Giveaway  Lulastic

Wild Power is a mystical book, and I hope that that isn’t a barrier for people. Alongside the expansive, spiritual descriptions of the two vias of the menstrual cycle, and the four seasons, and the five chambers, it also has heaps of frank disclosures from women about their cycles. It is a beautiful thing to read about another woman’s insomnia fuelled by worrying about injustice, war, the Jungle in Calais; I have a similarly themed sleepless night that visits me every month at the same time.

I wish every young girl could get a copy of Wild Power. It’s an antidote to the bloodhate and a lifeline in a patriarchy.

GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS BOOK!
You can get it here at the Book Depository (affiliate link) but I also have a copy to giveaway to someone- come on over to this Facebook post to see how to enter.

Would love to hear your own stories of menstruation. We need to talk about it more, to take all the shame away and bring us more understanding. xxx

Feminism

Seven Ways to Bleed Well (and why honouring your moontime isn’t just for hippies)

30 March, 2017

I got my period the very day we moved from our home in London to the South Coast. I was 13.  Our new loo’s door had that old slippery paint that you could peel off in satisfying strips. As I sat there feeling proud of the stain in my knickers I tore off a cream strip on the back of the door that over many toilet trips would evolve into a child sized dinosaur shaped absence of paint.  There was a bumper pack of industrial sized sanitary towels floating around, looking for its own spot in our new home, so I helped myself, a bubble in my lungs. It was happening to me! To me!  We hadn’t unpacked all the pots and pans and plates so we went to the beach and had fish and chips from Harry Ramsdens. I can lucidly recall splashing the vinegar over my chips, a smile on my face about my secret, but I can’t remember telling my mum, or my Aunty, or my sister, who were there with me, or what it was like to tell them.

Recently at a gathering for another young women who had had her first bleed we shared our stories of beginning to menstruate. I couldn’t believe how many people’s first bleeding happened on significant day – a big move, first day of high school, a huge accident. It seemed startling to me – why don’t we know more about this?

And I guess it’s because we don’t talk about bleeding. We don’t share info about our cycles. We still live under the shame and female disempowerment that began in the dark ages.

~

There are a few things I want to write about, but actually sit on for AGES because I can’t bear how perfectly they fit into the “stereotypical hippy” model.  This is one of those. But I have sucked it up and written it anyway because whilst on the surface this just might just seem like more hippy shizzle, this is actually something that is crucial for womanhood.

I truly believe that our menstrual cycles are a feminist issue. There is so much shame around our bleeding and such a humoungous lack of knowledge. There has been a systematic dismantling of women’s knowledge of their bodies for many centuries. We’ve progressed in so many areas in recent years but our bleeding has remained in a dark, dusty corner – talk of our moon cycles seems to evoke cries of “wiiiiiitch”…

I think we are all ready to move out of that oppressive stage.

I also want to acknowledge those women who don’t have wombs or who don’t bleed, who don’t experience a menstrual cycle. I want to be sensitive to you. And I want to honour the bodies that bleed. If you can be a part of this conversation, I welcome you totally. I don’t think it’s very easy, in fact, it’s tricky, it’s messy, we are (certainly I am) figuring much of this out through this exact kind of conversation.

honouring your moontime

Here are 7 ways to bleed well:

1 -Chart

I have only just started charting (using Moon Dreams Diary which is kinda meant for younger women but I am finding awesome!) but am already able to associate things I feel with my menstrual cycle. For example, I am sure I get cramping when I ovulate. Much of the medical profession deny this is possible but I know soooooo many women now who experience this.

I can also pre-empt my rage days, try my hardest to get some time to de-rage/ give expression and validation to all the things I’m feeling. I am learning that these hormonal mood swings are not inherently bad, but that within them there is a power that is often dormant or even medicated. (My mood swings were “solved” by a decade on the pill – something I now wouldn’t recommend ever. See video below)

2- Meet your needs

The cool thing is, as you chart you will discover more about what you need. You will find that on days 15-17 (or whatever) you need to have a lot of reflecting time. You’ll know that a couple of days before you bleed you get an intense aching back that is only received with walking, so you mark out time for big walks. For people with really regular cycles, you’ll even be able to book family and friends in to help you out on days where you need time to vent alone. The more you understand your body you will be able to respond to it and make room for your needs.

3- Add ritual to your moon cycle
I’m trying to build more ritual into my cycle, this is about creating a new mindset around mensturation, to make room in our lives for it, to honour the role it plays.

In my early twenties (before I knew about any of this stuff) I used to buy myself cold red grape juice and go somewhere beautiful to drink it and celebrate my body. I used to have so much pain with bleeding that I felt I needed to remind myself why I bleed and to try and see the good in it. Whilst I didn’t have a complete picture back then, it makes me smile to know that on some level I understood that I needed to be kind to myself.

Something I try and do each time is saving my blood, I have a moon cup so it is really easy to do this, and making it into a nutritious tea for my flowers. I love the symbolism and this ritual, seeing your flowers bloom as a result of your menstruation, is such a beautiful one.

I also do specific moon cycle journal sessions – lighting a candle and answering different questions. When I’m ovulating, I feel excited and ambitious so I like to dream and plan. When I’m bleeding I like to turn inward and let stuff out that needs to make an appearance.

There’s lots of things you could do to add ritual to your cycle:

  • Have an ovulation playlist and a bleeding playlist
  • Have specific moon cycle sketching/ doodling/ painting sessions
  • Have clothes that you wear that make you feel good or comfy according to your phase
  • Have particular teas that you drink at different times
  • Have walks or activities that you always do in your different phases

These rituals add comfort and place value on the different phases of our cycles.

4- Consider a moon circle

One year ago my friend and I invited some neighbours and some friends and even a couple of people we didn’t know well but wanted to know well, to form a moon circle.

This is the email I sent out to invite them, just to show how loose we were at the start, ha

“Just a quick one to see if you would be interested in coming along to a women’s moon circle we are hoping to start? The first one will decide what sort of thing it will be, but at this stage probably something along the lines of sharing our stories/joys/hurts around a campfire. Might you be interested?”

I was afraid of cultural appropriation until I realised that almost every culture in the land has a culture of women gathering like this deep in their history. If moon circles are going to draw activities or ritual from the wealth of indigenous culture we must acknowledge and honour those traditions in our circles.

Our circle happens every new moon, as that is when women whose bodies are moon-synced bleed, and over the year we have grown in our understanding of moon circles and have deepened our relationship with each other. We have mothers and women without children and older women and younger women. Hippies and non hippies! I now see this little sisterhood as being such an important thread to my life and wellbeing.

There’s a few things to note:

  • The main role of our moon circle is to connect with each other and have a space to be honest with your feelings, to vent if necessary.  We pass around a sharing stone and the person that is holding it shares what’s on their mind/ heart. Sometimes one thing good, one thing bad. Sometimes it is freestyle. It can be heavy/ light. But no one else responds with words. We just are present to what ever each other wants to share.
  • The secondary role is to provide a chance to be deeply present and experience some form of transecendence. We are totally experimental. We have massaged each others hands. Meditated. Yoga’d. Danced.  Sung. We hold a sound circle when we all make sounds, sometimes harmonious and other times not! I love the sound circle the most as it is a true lesson in just letting stuff out, not being fearful of how it sounds, making yourself quite vulnerable in front of others and simply trusting yourself.
  • The space REALLY needs to be held. We often open with a silent walk to our forest circle to reflect on what we are feeling, holding in our bodies as we gather. We light candles and herbs to mark out this space as sacred. We remind people that the sharing circle is a place for people to share what they want to share and not for getting advice. We want people to feel safe and open. We ask people if they want to be involved in any other activities.
  • We are always trying thing and open to new ideas that different people want to bring. I often feel full up with goodness after and feel like every woman could do with a sisterhood like this!

    I’m so passionate about this idea that I’ve written a new book all about it! Moon Circle is available to purchase now from my website or Amazon.
    Moon Circle - transform your menstrual cycle

5- Create transitional rituals as you/ your friends move through different life cycles

One of the things we are planning on doing with our moon circle is honouring the different life stages of menstruation. We would like to spend some time on a ceremony for those entering menopause, or on retrospective menarche (when you first ever bleed) ceremony.  I have been to a few of these gatherings – every one so different from each other. But it is a chance for the woman to mark the transition from one stage to another with her community. There might be candles lit. People might bring a poem. There might be singing or some rituals or art or something made together. There might be the ritualised walking from one area to another, the arrival at a new place, a new phase of life.

Whilst there are ancient precedents, rituals held by different cultures, I believe that marking these transitions has always been done and as a community of sisters you can create them. If you do have an incredible woman already doing this kind of thing, or a local hippy or doula or something, do ask for their support too!

“As I read Moon Circle I felt as though I was sitting somewhere cosy with Lucy as she honestly shared her experiences from her first discovery of a women’s circle to the harvest of knowledge she now has from setting up her own circle and participating in many. Through story, humour and practical guidance Lucy offers us an inspiring guide to create and hold a Moon Circle so that women can gather to reclaim their ways.” 
Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, author of Wild Power: discover the magic of your menstrual cycle and awaken the feminine path to power (Hay House, 2017)

“Beautiful and evocative, down to earth and very accessible, so anyone could feel that they could start or be part of a circle.” Susan Durcan, Embodied Wholeness

6- Do a bit of menstrual activism.

It’s a thing! I first came across this four years ago when we stayed at an off grid community in the south of Spain (read all about that in the post, The Hippy That Laid a Golden Poo- you can see now how formative that whole experience was for our family’s life!!)  People are out there trying to take the shame away from bleeding, trying to help people tap into their moon cycles, and, really importantly, getting sustainable forms of blood products (I really hate the term “feminine hygiene products!!!!”) to women who can’t afford it. Things like cloth pads and moon cups which last for a really really really long time.

A great example is the Ruby Cup – when you get yours someone who can’t afford one gets a freebie. But also, everytime you talk about menstruation, everytime you break some of those taboos, you are a part of this movement. I am proud to be working with Ruby cup to give you that affiliate link.  Read up on some of the great work being done.

7-  Read all the books!
If this has ticked your fancy there are a couple of books to get you started:

Her Blood is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation
and
Moon Time: Harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle

(My affiliate links for Book Depository – why go Amazon when you can go with someone that pays the right taxes?!)

And here is my latest video – talking about the Pill, our bodies, moon cups and more!!!

Want to be a part of this taboo breaking conversation? When did you get your period? Do you do any of the above? Do you think you might try a new one? Would love top hear from you!

Feminism

10 Everyday Acts of Feminism

8 March, 2017

It is International Women’s Day 2017!

Like other years, today I am hosting an IWD blog link up. I love reading about the inspiring women in your lives or the ways you strive for gender equality. Please head to the bottom of this post to add your link. Remember to visit the other writers!

Here is my own contribution for IWD 2017 – 10 Everyday Acts of Feminism
10 EVERYDAY ACTS OF FEMINISM10 everyday acts of feminism

The last thing women need is a list of stuff THEY need to do to right the world. More unpaid labour, THANKS LUCY. Some of this might inspire you, and I hope it does. But I didn’t write this list so you felt you have to do more work. I write this in the hope that you might pass this on to the men in your life too. Not because we need rescuing but because gender inequality is a shared burden and we all need to fight to make the world more fair.

1- Get your head around the terms “privilege” and “intersectionality” I say this as someone in the process of getting to grips with these terms! It is a long, hard journey. This is no Woe Is Me moment, don’t get me wrong, but it a tiring journey dismantling some of the framework in my mind. I grew up pretty poor, so still carry that blueprint around – this makes it hard to be told about my privilege. But the truth is – as a white person, I have no idea how hard it is to live in an extremely racist world. Over this last year I have been confronted and triggered and now want to be the kind of feminist who knows I can’t speak for all women. I don’t think I’ll be able to edit out all my privilege – even this post includes stuff that involves privilege (I realise that not all women will be able to cause mischief in a shop, for example) – but recognising white privilege is an important first step. Here is a little intro – 7 things women of colour want white feminists to know.

2- You don’t have to be the voice for the voiceless – just pass the mic. My mission this year is to promote the writing of women who aren’t like me. Do you live or work in an arena where you can pass the mic? Do you organise conferences or events? Do you curate stuff? Make a deliberate effort to get a variety of women’s voices heard.

3- Dive into the art of women. Read books by women. Buy paintings by women. Go to shows by women. There is huge discrimination in these fields – apparent at award ceremonies and stats for exhibitions. When we support female artists and writers we rebalance the scales. Check out these 59 novels by female authors put together by Sacraparental.

4- Support the work of women in industry. Women who are pioneering with their presence in certain industries talk of being discriminated against because of male bias. If you know a female mechanic, take your car to her. Get a female crew to paint your house. A female sparky or take your tech business to a woman. Help women get better footholds in industries that are hard to be a woman in.

5- Look for and celebrate every body shape. I recently saw the documentary EMBRACE. It is a great film, if you can get to a screening, or host a screening, please do it. My one big takeaway was how I need to LOOK for different body shapes and skin colours in order to celebrate the full diversity of womanhood. No one is going to hand me this on a platter, no one is going to normalise diversity apart from us. (Normalising diversity?? It sounds like a misnomer, an impossibility but I beleive in us!) I loved this photo celebration of fat love. Simply letting our eyeballs rest on this stuff can reset our own minds towards diversity in body shape.

6- Curate your children’s books and media. I am generally pretty wide open when it comes to loving what my kids love and going with the flow. But there is a BIG problem in the world of kids books – they are dominated by male characters and when females do feature they are princesses. Love what your children love, celebrate all their joys, of course, but also ask them questions. “Why are the three little pigs AND the big bad wolf all boys??” and take the opportunity to fill their bookshelves, and your local library bookshelves, with strong, powerful female characters. (When Ramona was really little I actually used to cut and paste parts of the fairy tales to make them less sexist!)

7- Don’t laugh at sexist, ableist or racist jokes. It’s awkward when you don’t laugh, but what is a little akwardness when you are trying to change the world? I once went to a comedy show and their was some awful homopohobia in there. I told the comedian afterwards that he crossed a line and it was pretty awks but I thought “phew, at least I will never see him again!” A few weeks later a friend bought him over to meet us, she didn’t know we’d already met in the smoky aftermath of his homophobia. OMG. A great way to up the pain is to always follow up their joke by asking “What do you mean?” – hopefully the discomfort of having to explain their prejudism will open their eyes.

8- Make a noise about the little things. When you go to the shop and you see ridiculous gendered messages on the kids clothing, re-arrange it all and then share your work on Facebook. Make a fuss. It might seem like a chore but I swear this kind of mischief is fun!

9- I’m going to take that mischief to the next level now: Walk around with a marker pen. When you see a painfully stereotyped advert, scribble on it. It feels SO GOOD. I have done this a few times in my life, but don’t often admit to it as I’m sure it is a bit illegal. One time I wrote “The 1950’s called and they want their sexist stereotypes back” on an advert on the train. (See vandalism for my daughter’s sake.) This might seem a bit frivolous but this kind of micro civil disobedience was present in the suffragette movement and the civil rights movement.

10- Talk about emotional labour. Let’s get that phrase “emotional labour” in everyone’s minds. It is the mental burden that often falls to women. The oil on mechanism of life that should be everybody’s job but largely falls to the woman in the household. The dental appointments for the kids, the birthday cards for extended family, the hummous for the dinner party, the Christmas plans, the World Book Day costume sourced. Have a read of this for some good examples and thoughts on emotional labour. Send it to the adults in your household. Even the right-on feminist dads. Could you have a frank discussion about this? I feel like it is a MASSIVELY important thing, because it is an insidious sexism that will only get addressed through hard conversation.

Would absolutely LOVE to hear about your every day little acts of subversion. Please tell me in the comments!

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY BLOG LINK UP
Here is the 2017 International Women’s Day Blog Link Up – Please add your link AND go around and visit the other writers and comment. The best part of this every year is meeting other women who want to change the world. You might need to use something like bit.ly to shorten your links as my tool below has a problem with long URLS!