You told me
...you really wanted to sort out this crisis of moodiness and sadness and anxiety and critical energy loss.
“What day are you?” I asked, as though this question made automatic sense to everyone.
I was, as you now know, referencing the day of your menstrual cycle. Bleeding always begins this cycle (day 1), although if you don’t bleed because of birth control, hysterectomy or other chemical conditions, there are still ways to track your cyclical hormonal ebb and flow.
Our culture talks occasionally about Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, but in language of limited detail. Often with a vocabulary that is judgemental, and medicalizes and problemizes our symptomatic experiences as things that need to be fixed. Our culture tells us that our symptoms are abnormal; It tells us we are broken.
These changes in our hormonal nature are not problematic. Nor are they limited to the few days before we bleed. To enter the conversation of hormones we must broaden our minds.
Hormones are the driving force of life for both men and women. They manage our growth, our blood sugar, they keep us upright and mobile, they are one of the languages that our body speaks.
We are bound to these cycles inextricably. They will always exist, but our experiences around them can and do shift.
To move our experiences forward in this way it is imperative that we begin to live synergistically in these cycles.
The first step is to learn them, to bear witness to the nature of cycle and observe without judgment.
You asked me
...to share with you three things that might help. I cautiously replied because I am not sure we have the same definition of help.
I won’t be giving you a formula to erase these fluctuations. They drive the evolution of our species. Lucretius the Epicurean said,
“It is this discontent that has driven life steadily onward, out to the high seas."
I want to help you to bear this discontent, to study the different flavors, to lighten the feelings and embrace, or at least tolerate them. These cycles so often hold just the lessons we need, even unexpectedly so.
Our job as women is to change this narrative that tells us to show up exactly the same every single day.
Rules to Cycle by:
1) Bear witness.
Take copious notes. You can use an app, you can use a piece of paper, but notes you must keep. Track headaches, track bloating, track cravings. Pay attention to your breasts, your cervical mucus, your digestive tract. This is your body communicating with you.
Get access to a printable cycle charting map with a subscription to the Goddess Provisions Womb Space Box.
2) Fuel up. Hydrate. Move.
Your body requires certain things. These are food and water and movement. You can move slowly, you can stretch in your seat. This isn’t about exercise and it isn’t about a goal. It’s simply about gently cooperating with your body and putting it into motion. Don’t worry so much about what. Just tune in and listen. And always come back to water. That’s it. Right now. Always drinking water.
3) Make space for your needs.
If you are tired, rest. There is time to be found where we choose it. Put down the laundry. Close your eyes on the subway. Consider skipping the 10 minutes spent on social media (replace it with breath) . Find even tiny pockets of time you can claim as your own. Draw on your willingness. Prioritize your body. We are human beings, not human doings.
4) Change your language.
The system that were are ensconced in tells us our feelings our wrong. We reiterate these words daily and put ourselves down for the sadness, the moodiness, the feelings. Each feeling is revealing a different layer of our complex being.
If you stop long enough, you might hear your heart beating. You might notice the subtle movements of your breath. If you fight less and begin to listen to the feelings of tired and sad and anxious, if you tune in and listen, you might change your mind about how you speak of your body.
You humbled me
...when you shared your story. My interest was piqued. How you could one day feel adept at climbing mountains and the next day barely make it out of bed?
I heard your stories daily and I heard more when the tears softened you. At some point I sat back and I watched as you broke open and allowed your deepest body wisdom to carry you forth.
I arrived in the space where I am today simply by listening to the stories that were offered to me. As I listened it became clear to me that something about what we were all believing must be askew. If we are all collectively feeling like we can’t get it right, then the expectations of right must be misleading.
Instead, I started wondering what we could know if we began again the ancient art of listening to ourselves, listening to our bodies, in the language that they know to speak to us.
In that place of listening, we might begin to rediscover the rhythms and cycles that are actually true to us. And this body wisdom might be able to support and guide us as we move through our complex modern lives - and even help us to create new systems and expectations that are in line with our potential.
This dance with hormones is the song of the ancients - these are the chemical talismans that will shift and change humankind if we only begin to listen.
We're so grateful to Hannah Garrision, founder of Calm A Mama for this powerful and important message.
Hannah is an entrepreneur, turned mama, turned herbalist, turned hormone and stress junkie. Taste her Balance Drops in the June 2018 Womb Space Box or find her during office hours every Tuesday from Noon-1PM EST. She’s got open phone lines at 401-484-8845.