Female Empowerment, self-care

Tiny Self Care Moments

I can be incredibly impatient, especially when it comes to mundane tasks. Brushing my teeth, for example, is something I have always thought of as being one of the most boring and tedious necessities of life.

That is, until I discovered brushing my teeth as an act of self care. So often, we tell ourselves that showing love and being kind to ourselves sounds great, but when are we supposed to find the time or money to go to the spa or a retreat or book a massage as acts of self love?
Well, I’ve got great news for you: you already are engaged in tiny, daily moments that can be celebrated as acts of love towards yourself. You are brushing your teeth because you care about the health of your teeth.

You might put lotion on your face and/or body, engaging in gentle self touch. This simple touch has been shown to have a calming, soothing effect on us. That is, if we are touching our face or body with love and kindness, not while trying to find all of the things that we judge as bad or ugly or not worthy to see the sunlight.

Some people like to leave little notes with positive messages or intentions on their mirrors or other visible and highly frequented areas of the house, such as:

  • You are beautiful 
  • Smile!
  • I accept myself for who I am

Whether it’s reading these messages, or applying hand lotion with loving care or drinking a cold glas of water because your body is longing for it…

These tiny moments are moments for self compassion. Moments, that no busy work day or demanding child or what have you can take away from you. They are yours already, just as the act of breathing is yours. 

So I invite you, next time you brush your teeth, to smile at yourself inwardly and celebrate, that you are doing something kind for yourself.

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Female Empowerment, self-care, Uncategorized

Yoga

“Allow that personal time to connect with yourself, to give some love to yourself, to apprectiate yourself, to give some space, time and energy to yourself. So that once you’ve given to yourself and you know what gentle loving care feels like, then you can share it with the others.” – Simon Borg-Oliver

Yoga and meditation are practices which have been interwoven with the threads of my life since I was a teenager. I would in no way describe myself as an advanced practicioner of either of the two, despite the many years they have been with me. For most of my adult life, I considered myself too busy to truly pay attention to a regular yoga & meditation practice. Despite this, the (yoga) mat and (mediation) cushion have been my reminders to come back to myself and take care of my mind and body in those moments, when I was ready to listen.

Twice in my life thus far I have come very close to what is these days known as a “burn-out”. Both times, it was through my old friends of yoga and meditation that I slowly began to heal the wounds that stress and anxiety had left in my body and mind. To this day, I still struggle with establishing a regular practice, often opting to skip my date with the mat in favor of staying an hour longer at work or lounging on the couch at home.

Especially since yoga has become this global trend which is increasingly shaped by notions of competitiveness (The world record for holding a plank pose was just set! Can you believe it?) and normative beauty standards (having the newest, “sexy” yoga bra… and goodness forbid you show up at a class with unshaven legs!), I’m struggling to stay on this path of mindful movement.

In those moments, however, when I am sitting on my mat, concentrated on nothing but my breath and the sensation of my breath in my body, I am happy to know such a tool for mindful body work. When my uterus is cramping the days before I bleed, I am grateful for the muscle memory in the interstitial muscles of my ribcage and lower abdomen, expanding as I inhale and taking some of the pain away as I exhale.

Yes, there are those who are choosing yoga as a tool for self-optimization and competition and even body shaming. But ultimately, that remains a choice. You can also choose, to look more deeply at all of the eight limbs of yoga – only one of which is asana (postures), and perhaps through this perspective find a connection to yourself. In this regard, I am thankful to the amazing Simon Borg Oliver, for his beautiful words on the yamas and niyamas.

 

If you’d like more information on yoga for self-empowerment, I recommend this article.

Female Empowerment, Menstrual Cycle, workshops

I’m so excited!

I could burst with pride and excitement these days! The last two months saw a year’s worth of research, self-awareness work, planning and organizing come to fruition with *two* beautiful workshops around the menstrual cycle.

I am humbled and so, so happy, to have received beautiful feedback from the wonderful women who participated, as well as a host of people who couldn’t make it but are thrilled to see this topic come to light.

Absoultely stunning was the support I got from Petra Sood, the woman behind the amazing Kulmine! My workshops are donation-based, to allow any person access regardless of their economic status, so you can imagine my joy when a giant package of beautifully crafted cloth pads from Kulmine fluttered into my mail box. Along with the eco pad sewing kit from Eco Femme, a sea sponge and – of course – a menstrual cup, we had a beautiful set of healthy, deliciously eco- and skin friendly products to explore as alternatives to tampons and pads (see image above). Some participants even brought their own pads and cups to show and share their experiences with the others!! This makes me especially happy, since my main goal is to provide a safe and comfortable space to share experiences and speak about the “unspeakable”. Since Menstrual Hygiene Day is in a couple of days, my cooperation partner, BAF e.V., and I wrote a press release (german) for the workshops.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedbacks and requests, I am busy planning more workshops like these and expanding my collaborations in all sorts of directions. I will keep you updated, as things become more concrete 🙂

Until then — much, much love and gratitude!

 

Female Empowerment, Poetry, Symbols

The Box

Can you see the box,
The box you use to box yourself in,
Shimmering,
At the edge of your awareness?

Can you sense the edges,
The edges of your self-built confinement,
At times barely perceptible,
other times smotheringly tight?

Can you hear the calling of your soul,
Your potential,
Your thousand unlived lives,
Beckoning for you to set yourself free?

Free from the boundaries of
Your limiting beliefs.
Free
From your self-judgments of
Adequacy and deservedness.

Can you see the box
You have built around yourself,

And decide today

In the blink of an eye,

In one precious moment,

To

step

outside?

 

Female Empowerment, self-care

I accept

I have been struggling recently with … well, seemlingly with everything.

But mostly, I have been struggling with and against myself.

So today, in lieu of writing the article on self-care I feel compelled to right but don’t have the energy for, I want to share with you a gift I received:

The student asks the teacher: “Why am I so rarely the person I long to be?”. The teacher responds: “Why do you so rarely want to be the person you are?”

~ Buddhist Teaching

In the spirit of this teaching, I invite you to join me on a journey of acceptance.

Because ultimately, self-love is the highest form of love we can experience.

(Even on Valentines Day!)

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.

tumblr_mqjun0wtaH1rj256vo1_1280

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!