Female Empowerment

Daily Reminder

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archetypes, Female Empowerment, Menstrual Cycle, Sexuality, Symbols

Symbolisms

Many of the processes in our body are cyclical. The circadian (circa= approximately, dies = day) rhythm underlies a whole host of physiological functions, including the release of certain hormones (e.g., testosterone) and our sleep cycle (which, of course, is also governed in part by hormones).

The menstrual cycle is just another one of these cyclical events in a human body. Curiously, this cycle is adapted to a monthly rhythm; a cycle that was modeled roughly around one full cycle of the moon. Though this may seem esoteric at first, the moon is actually responsible for a number of physical events, not least of all the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides; a phenomenon which has been used variously as metaphor for menstruation.

Unsurprisingly then, the moon is an ancient symbol for the feminine and cultural traditions surrounding menstruation include the moon as symbol in many ways (moon time: time of bleeding; moon lodges: ; or, more recently, moon cups: reusable silicone cups used to collect menstrual blood). Interestingly, the different stages of the menstrual cycle and the fluctuations in energy associated with them can be mapped onto the different stages of the moon (new moon/ waxing moon/ full moon/ waning moon) quite well.

Over time, other symbols have joined the moon in describing the changes in a person’s physical and mental state as we move through our menstrual cycle.

Some examples of these are:

* The seasons (Winter/Spring/Summer/Autumn)
* The archetypes (The Wise Woman/ The Maiden/ The Mother/ The Enchantress)

I have decided to share with you, over the course of the next few weeks, the various embodiments or symbols of the stages of the menstrual cycle.

As always, not everything will resonate with everyone equally and that is perfectly fine! This is why it’s so wonderful and so important that there are many voices, offering different approaches and perspectives on the same knowledge.

I invite you to choose the symbols that work for you, and leave the other ones aside. Or, if you prefer, take the opportunity as you move through the stages of your cycle, too look deeply within yourself and discover your own personal symbols to support yourself through the ebb and flow of your hormonal changes.

If you find that you need inspiration or advice, do let me know.
I would be happy to work with you on this journey of discovery!

Female Empowerment

In Sickness and In Health

I have been at home with bronchitis for over a week now. My energy levels are low. My lungs feel heavy. My need for sleep seems endless.

I am also one of those women* afflicted with the ‘superwoman syndrome‘ — the feeling of needing to be super-productive, super-happy, super-beautiful and super-kind-to-everyone, all the time (check out Dr. Mary Pritchard’s Blog if you’re interested in learing more about what she calls the superwoman syndrome and enoughness issues!).

Cue: Bronchitis!

If you relate to the SuperwomanSyndrome, you may know how difficult it is to be limited to a fraction of your mental and physical capacities… For me, the first few days I was torn between wanting to crawl up a wall and being paralyzed by self-loathing for not being healthy (and able to be productive!). Because, of course, I was blaming myself for becoming sick. Even worse, my inner critic (who likes to rear her head at these kinds of occasions) jumped at the chance and suggested that I might only be “faking it”.

Hello Self-Doubt!

Well, they say that in every challenge lies an opportunity to learn. So here is what I am in the process of learning:

Recovery is slow.

Recovery takes energy.

If I choose to throw that energy into hating myself, I have less energy to recover.

Recovery is a mindset.

And the most important one:

Slow is beautiful!

Constant availability has become the norm, but my body is simply putting a physiological limitation on that demand. I now take this as a beautiful gift. A gift which has made me realize how little activities fit into my waking hours, if I do them mindfully. And how rewarding it can be, to just sit on my couch, a cup of coffee in hand and know:

I have no where to go. Nothing to do. Everything IS. I can simply BE.

Female Empowerment

WE starts with ME

This is my mantra for the new year!

I invite you to join me in thinking about the following sentence for a minute. To let it sink into the depth of your consciousness:

**I have permanent permission to stop and determine how I feel about what I am doing at any given moment**

It is terribly easy — too easy — to drain oneself of all energy by pouring it freely into other people or tasks or objects. Especially in times like these, when constant availability has become a necessity not only in the workplace (bad enough!) but also in our social lives.

We deserve rest. We deserve to create nurturing and loving environments for ourselves. We deserve to be compassionate with ourselves and our limits.

I wish you a beautiful new year filled with compassion and kindness, firstly towards YOU. Then everyone else.

We deserve it.

Female Empowerment, Poetry

Imagine a Creature…

Imagine a creature in LOVE with it*s own body.
A creature who believes it*s body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a creature who honors the embodiment of the divine in it*s changing body. A creature who celebrates the accumulation of it*s years and wisdom. Who refuses to use it*s precious life-energy disguising the changes in it*s body and life.

Imagine a creature who embodies it*s spirituality.
A creature who honors it*s body as the Sacred Temple of the Spirit of Life. Who breathes deeply as a prayer of GRATITUDE for life itself.

Imagine a creature who loves it*s body
through the seasons of life…Regardless!

Imagine yourself as this creature.

This is my wish. For you. This Christmas ♡

 

[adapted & queer*ed from a post by @Wild Woman Sisterhood, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WildWomanSisterhood/posts/555300314619557:0 ]

Female Empowerment, Menstrual Cycle

Women*s’ Rights as Workers’ Rights

The average person (although, who or what ‘average’ really means is an entire debate of its own…) doesn’t know very much about the menstrual cycle.

This shortcoming leads to a host of problems, including (but not limited to):

– the silence of women* so everpresent in our patriarchical societies
– the instrumentalisation of women’s bodies (e.g. as tools for opression)
– a distancing of women* from their own bodies
– ignorance towards the potential power and special needs connected to a woman*s cyclically changing hormone levels

{I’m sure there are tons of other issues I am forgetting/omitting right now. Are you thinking of any that you would like to see listed here? Let me know!}

All of these issues are, of course, highly interdependent. The perspective I’d like to focus on today: women*s’ rights as workers’ rights.

Over the course of one menstrual cycle, the hormonal fluctuations lead to directly noticeable changes in energy-levels, activity and power. To be fair, every woman*’s hormonal make-up is sightly different and the widespread use of hormonal contraceptives heavily messes with the system. Nonetheless, it remains a fact that the fluctuation of hormone levels during the different phases of the menstrual cycle lead to differences in energy and productivity.

Imagine a world in which you would be able to say to your employer: “My energy levels are lower right now because I’m in phase XY of my period; I will take things a bit more slowly during the following days and use this time to contemplate and plan on the coming weeks.” What a beautiful world that would be!

Right now, not only does it seem impossible for women* to make such a statement; most of us have such little knowledge of our own cycle and limited bodily awareness, that we berate ourselves on a regular basis (of course! the cycle recurs every month!) for working too little/not being productive enough or too tired/to irritated… you name it.

The latter raises an interesting point: the irritability that can accompany certain stages of a woman*’s cycle, seems to be the only part about menstruation that is ever mentioned publicly instead of staying shrouded in a cloud of confusion and taboo. It is common practice to belittle women* who are openly voicing their opinion (or being critical of accepted norms, or even being more emotional than is societally accepted at that particular point in time) by saying something along the lines of “Are you on your period, or why are you making such a fuss?!” Such a statement is equivalent with disallowing any validity or credibility of the feelings or statements voiced. Ironically, the exact same sentence “Are you on your period”, stated as a sincere question, could start a revolution!

Are you on your period? could mean:

>> I am aware that you may need a bit more time, a bit more sleep and/or a bit more support and understanding, right now. I am aware that you might be in pain [Menstrual Knowledge: About half of women* experience menstrual cramps, and about 15% describe the pain as severe]. I respect that you need to concentrate on taking care of yourself more, at the moment, instead of taking care of others (or producing goods or knowledge).

In turn, this awareness of the different stages of the menstrual cycle also means, that the beautiful bursts of power and energy and creativity that make up about half of the cycle can be more appreciated and harnessed!

On this note, I would like to empower you to deepen your knowledge of the menstrual cycle and train your awareness of it – regardless of the gender you identify as. I’ve put together some resources for you to explore and I will continue to update you on my own ongoing journey of discovery on this blog. I’d be happy to hear your experience, if you’d like to share!

Female Empowerment

Bare Necessities

I recently read an article about breast health (via Occupy Menstruation) and what influence wearing a bra has on a woman*’s breast tissue/muscles/all of that lovely physical substrate that makes up this body part.

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As a scientist, I am curious to read more scientific papers on the topic. Beyond this inquisitiveness, though, my feminist urge for equality and awareness joins the picture. Let’s face it — most of the time, a woman*’s breasts are seen as objects. To be lusted after.. desired..riddiculed..sneered at.. judged… [this list can be expanded with a plethora of experience you may have made]. So I was curious what my experience would be like if I, as a young woman with fairly large breasts, would go without wearing a bra.

{I grew up with some — very few! — hardcore feminist women around me, who never confined their breasts to a bra. Thinking back now, I remember judging them as being quite strange, when I was a little girl… it’s sad, really.}

I was interested both to discover my own experiences – how would my body feel, walking..running..riding a bicycle… As well as the reactions (if there would be any) from others. Very quickly, this self-experiment turned into almost a sociological study:

Before I delve into the details, let me just say that I, of course, had a heightened sense of awareness during this “experiment”. It would be silly to assume that this didn’t influence my perception of other people’s reactions, or that my perception was anything but subjective. Of course it was! Keeping this in mind…

I have never gotten more looks at my chest, as I did on that day.

The eyes of people, regardless of whether I read them as men* or women* kept on wandering to my chest, as if I had a nasty ketchup stain on my shirt that I was unaware of but that was provoking them to look. Not a single person said a word to me about this. But by the end of the day, I was intensely uncomfortable. And angry.

Interestingly enough, I had forgotten that I had a job interview that day. By the time I realized this, it was too late to go home and change. So I went to my job interview, acutely aware of my bra-less state. The woman who interviewed me was such a pleasant person that I completely forgot my discomfort for the duration of our conversation. This was the first time, all day, that I didn’t feel reduced to this one area of my body and actually felt like I was being treated as an sentient being.

This experience has made me wonder… why is it, that it seems outrageous for women to not wear a bra (at least in western societies)? What does it say about us, that we want a part of our body to conform to a certain shape (and location!) that often times is quite far removed from reality?

Don’t get me wrong — I love beautiful underwear! But I would also love to wear it because I feel like it and not because I feel like I don’t have a choice. Plus: my chest was not made for bras! To this day, I have not found one model that works for my anatomy. And I’m not the only one … Some studies say that up to 88% of women may have differently sized breasts – a fact that next to no bra-maker has ever bothered to pay any attention to. So we’re supposed to spend tons of money to subsequently keep pushing and squeezing us awkwardly into the place and shape designers see fit for our breasts?? On so many levels, that just seems plain wrong.

This is why I have reached a decision: I will go bra-less at least once a week; more, if I feel like it or feel courageous enough to do so. And yes, I do need courage for that. I hope that someday I won’t anymore and I realize that for some people it might come easily. For me, this is a learning process. But it is one that I am excited for. And the next time I catch someone staring at my “untamed” breasts, I hope to have the courage to confront them about it!