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Tuesday Tidbits: Breastfeeding and Menstruation

I actually meant to make this post last week following my LLL meeting, but the day (and the week) spiraled away from me and before I knew it, it was already Tuesday again! As I mentioned in my last post, at our meeting we started out talking about breastfeeding and intimacy, which led into a discussion of breastfeeding and fertility as well as many other interlocking topics. It reminded me of some saved items-to-blog-about, especially this post from Lucy Pearce:

I don’t know about you, but I rarely see anything written about breastfeeding and your moontime, I mean how mamas cope with the ups and downs of their cycle while giving to their little ones 24 hours a day? Is it just presumed that if you are breastfeeding then you don’t have a cycle? I know this is true for many women (I’ve known women not bleed for 2 years!) but for me, my bleeding time has always returned after a few months, despite exclusively breastfeeding.

Most days breastfeeding is such a joy, I love the oxytocin high I get when I snuggle with my little one and feed all night long- BUT the days and nights just before my moontime, I feel touched out, wound up by the constant demands and I JUST WANT MY OWN SPACE!

…I have some ‘rules’ that I adhere to on my Sacred 1st Bleeding Day- I DON’T cook, clean, wash or do any ‘housework’, I DON’T work (although occasionally you might find me peeping in on Facebook!), I DO eat simple nourishing foods, I DO some gentle exercise- sometimes a bit of yoga, more often a walk in nature, I have a period of SILENCE to listen in to my inner wisdom- sometimes that has to be a few mins with my eyes closed while feeding.

I know- I’m lucky to have a supportive husband who accepts this- I think because I would take ‘Sacred Days’ when he first met me, he knew the score! So he is happy to take on household duties and extra childcare on these days to support me- and in the bigger picture, by supporting me on these few days I am able to be there for him and my family the rest of the month! (This is possible as we both work part time, so we can support each other, share childcare and housework)

via Blood and Milk – Self-Care for Breastfeeding Mamas who are Menstruating | The Happy Womb.

My presentation about “moontime” was very well-received at the LLL of Missouri conference in 2013 and I’ll be doing an encore presentation in 2014. However, I did not include anything in it specifically about how to handle being a menstruating, breastfeeding woman—time to make some additions! And, speaking of Lucy Pearce, I’m right in the middle of her amazing new book The Rainbow Way, which is about mothering and creativity. I’m getting my blog post finalized for her Carnival of Creative Mothers and I’m just loving this book, this topic, and this creative life I am weaving with my family.

Speaking of creativity and mothering, a lot of my energy has been going into creating some new sculptures to be cast in pewter for my collaborative project with my free-range husband. I feel like I’m frequently patting myself on the back about them, but I just can’t help myself—I feel so pleased and really kind of impressed that we’re doing this. I didn’t know we could and yet…look!

1459073_10202506420051769_817650504_nNovember 2013 100 November 2013 101 The first and last photos are of new designs that I created after our fall women’s retreat this past Saturday. The last one (which I’m currently wearing!) reminds me of this quote that I read today for one of my classes:

“I can be a strong woman and laugh loudly and sing joyfully and dance wildly occasionally. I can imagine incredible things and weep if I need to.”

(woman speaking in the book To Make and Make Again: Feminist Ritual Thealogy, on why rituals matter)

And that reminded me of a lovely recent post by a friend about her sacred work:

She speaks the words and I hear the rumble
Rumbling, within me
It IS a calling
For it calls to me
Deep in my soul, my heart, my sleep
It is in every fiber of my being

via Sacred Work | Midwives, Doulas, Home Birth, OH MY!

Okay, so now I’ve moved totally away from my post theme and I don’t really have time to pull it back. Nor can I re-title it and start over, because it does segue..so, for now, I’ll bring it around the circle by mentioning that last week on my way to class, I listened to my favorite podcast, Voices of the Sacred Feminine. The first topic of the night was Women’s Spiritual Power by Hilary Hart (whose awesome sounding book Body of Wisdom went immediately on the top of my Amazon wishlist). She speaks about both menstruation and breastfeeding as powerful spiritual openings for women. Menstruation as a time of “cleaning out,” both emotionally and physically, not just for the mother, but for the whole family. She said mothers “process” the whole family’s emotions each month and clean the house, semi-metaphorically, for the family to renew and begin again. She spoke of breastfeeding as this relational, spiritual act that holds deep power. She also talked about birth and the power of birth as a creative, spiritual act. I enjoyed her thoughts because she doesn’t have children herself and nor does the host of the show and it was interesting to hear them touching on topics that I care about so much, but that they are viewing from somewhat of the “outside.”

The second topic of the night was the Sexual Politics of Meat. It may not sound that connected, but it did, in fact, tie right into my Birth Lessons from a Chicken article (in the podcast connections are made between the exploitation and domination of women and the sexual exploitation of female animals. In my article, I make the connection between the mothering and “birthing” behavior of the chicken and the birthing needs of women):

Then, one morning when my husband went to feed the chickens, he heard a funny noise. He looked at the broody hen and from beneath her, a fuzzy head appeared. Then two. Eventually, four. In this cold, cold weather at the wrong time of year with the wrong kind of feet and the wrong kind of eggs, she did it! We didn’t trust her, or believe in her. Our book and the experts didn’t either. However, her inherent mothering wisdom won out—it trumped us. At the risk of excessive personification, it truly seemed that she had believed in herself and trusted her instincts (or perhaps, that Nature believed in itself).

via Birth Lessons from a Chicken | Talk Birth.

Guest Post: Paid Menstrual Leave?

Paid Menstrual Leave – it’s time!  

by DeAnna L’am. Reprinted with permission.

A Russian lawmaker has asked parliament to give women two days paid leave a month when they menstruate… Mikhail Degtyaryov, a member of the nationalist LDPR party, wrote on his website “During that period (of menstruation), most women experience psychological and physiological discomfort. The pain for the fair sex is often so intense that it is necessary to call an ambulance”… Scientists and gynecologists look on difficult menstruation not only as a medical, but also a social problem…” ~ Standard Digital, August 2013

Fascinating! Lets look at how good things are turned on their heads, yet again, to result (unsurprisingly) in women’s dis-empowerment.

Indeed, a paid monthly Menstrual Leave would be an honoring, empowering option for women worldwide. Yet proposing it for all the wrong reasons diminishes us, and our cyclicity, to “a social problem.”

Campaigns have been initiated over the years under the guise of empowering women, which ended up diminishing, dis-empowering, and ultimately killing us! Marketing guru Edward Bernays was hired in 1928 by an American Tobacco Company president to increase sales of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Sigmond Freud’s work was utilized to expand understanding of ‘What Women Want’ and capitalize on it for marketing purposes.

Realizing that women were motivated and empowered by the suffrage movement, Bernays manipulated a real need – into a persuasive sales tactic. He hired women to march in the Easted Sunday parade smoking what he cleverly named their “Torches of Freedom.” Bernays succeeded overnight: he persuaded women to pick up an unhealthy habit, and commit to spending their hard earned money for years, by equating cigarettes with personal freedom and equality to men. Smoking among women exploded into unparalleled heights. Their personal freedom and equality to men continued to suffer…

Similarly, women were encouraged by manipulative campaigns to start giving birth in hospitals after countless generations of home births. Many new hospitals were built as a result of Second World War, to accommodate the staggering number of injured soldiers returning from battle. It took a few years for most hospitals to empty, as wounded soldiers either recovered or died. Faced with many large vacant hospital buildings and idle staff, administrators procured and released ad campaigns, which sinisterly manipulated women to believe that giving birth at home was ‘primitive’ and unsafe, while birthing at the hospital was promoted as safer, ‘modern’, and a highly intelligent choice.

Women bought into these campaigns, and many others like them, all over the world. They started smoking and felt ‘glamorous’. They started giving birth in hospitals and felt ‘modern’. They started using disposable menstrual products and felt ‘progressive’ and ‘in control.’ All along they have also been developing an array of respiratory diseases and dying of lung cancer; They have been cut open in cesarean sections (1 in 4, to accommodate doctor’s convenience); They have reached an all-time-high maternal and infant mortality rates following hospital birth; And they have been contributing to our planetary ecological crisis by damping 12 billion “feminine hygiene” products into landfills every year, in the U.S.A. Alone!

And here we are: In the midst of a pioneering worldwide movement of women reclaiming menstruation as the heightened state of awareness for which it was recognized in all indigenous cultures; In the process of inspiring women to honor their menstrual blood and their body’s needs, by taking time off to rest and renew themselves on the first day of their period — we are faced with a legal initiative which is both revolutionary and reactionary at the same time!

Wouldn’t it be revolutionary for the workplace to grant Paid Menstrual Leave to women? Wouldn’t we feel validated in our need for rejuvenation, honored for our body’s monthly regeneration, and empowered by the cultural acknowledgment of our rhythm?

We certainly would, if it weren’t billed as a response to “a social problem” of the “fair sex” who suffers “psychological and physiological discomfort.” Our menstrual cycle is neither a social problem nor a mere discomfort. Our menstrual flow is profound and life affirming work performed monthly by our bodies. We need to rest and renew in response to it, or we develop symptoms labled “psychological and physiological discomfort” by our culture (and frequently by us, too…)

Cigarettes, hospital births, and disposable menstrual products were sold to us through clever manipulative tactics, yet we never needed them… We DO NEED Paid Menstrual Leave!

We have stopped smoking in drovers. We have been reclaiming home births, and have started using sustainable menstrual products (such as cloth pads, sea sponges, and menstrual cups). It is time to claim for ourselves, and demand from our culture, a monthly PML to replace PMS!

PML (Paid Menstrual Leave) is the deeply deserved rest our body, mind, and spirit need monthly. In its absence, our body screams in PMS pain, and will continue to do so until we listen to its needs and honor them.

This is a call for action! Lets unite in demanding legaly-bound Paid Menstrual Leave — not as a patronizing gesture designed to send us home for being a “social problem.” But rather as the honoring of a deep need, which springs from our depth, to renew our body, our emotions, and our spirit – monthly – while preparing for another cycle in the ever turning wheel of our lives.  


© 2013, DeAnna L’am, Red Moon – Cycles of Women’s Wisdom™

DeAnna L’am, (B.A.) speaker, coach, and trainer, is author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s guide to Getting Your Period’. She is founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls™ and of Red Tents In Every Neighborhood – Global Network. Her pioneering work has been transforming women’s & girls’ lives around the world, for over 20 years.

DeAnna helps women & girls love themselves unconditionally! She specializes in helping women make peace with their cycle; Instructs Moms in the art of welcoming girls to empowered womanhood, and trains women to hold RED TENTS in their communities. Visit her at: www.deannalam.com

Disclaimer: I am a Red Moon program affiliate. However, the only affiliate link in this post is the one included here!

Tuesday Tidbits: Moontime Mojo

“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in her skin.”
— Sandra Cisneros

I know I’ve been focusing on the subject of healthy menstruation a lot lately, but it is has been a persistent interest since my period came back after my last baby. At that time, since we are not planning to have any more children, I realized that I was going to have to redefine my relationship with my cycling body, no longer in the context of planning the next pregnancy. I also had the epiphany of sorts that in not acknowledging or fully experiencing the role of menstruation in my own life as a woman, I have been missing out on an opportunity to connect on a regular basis with one of the core “blood mysteries” of being female—I’ve spent a lot of time on birth and breastfeeding in my life, but my period? Oh, that old thing! I maintain that our attitudes towards our monthly bleeding are reflected in our culture’s attitudes towards birth and breastfeeding—ook! Bloody! Messy! Leaky! Stuff comes out of you! Hide it away! Don’t let anyone see! I shared some of these emerging 2013-06-22 08.59.09discoveries and thoughts during my Moontime session at the La Leche League of Missouri conference this month and many women attending expressed similar feelings—that they’d never actually connected the menstrual cycle fully with their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation. As I explained to them, as women involved with LLL or birth advocacy we may be well-versed in listening and responding to our bodies when it comes to childbirth and breastfeeding, but many women overlook or minimize the influence menstruation has on their lives. We easily forget that menstruation also provides us with a regular reminder to listen to our bodies, follow their cues, and honor our own wisdom. I’m still working on it in my own life, but I really believe that women benefit from recognizing moontime as a time for rest, retreat, and renewal—a time to re-gather our scattered energy and resources and to emerge with strength and powerful medicine.

A friend came to me recently to ask for resources for her pre-menstrual daughter and said that she wanted something practical to tell her, not just to go sit in a tent, because that sounds nice, but it isn’t realistic in the modern age. And, I thought, but what if it WAS realistic and practical?! I would go so far as to say that perhaps we wouldn’t have such challenges with birth and breastfeeding in our culture if girls were taught that it was normal to need to rest and listen to their bodies once a month rather than to push forward like they’re exactly the same every single day. If this is how we grew up, wouldn’t it then be easier to accept the swell and flow of the energy of birth, to respect the need for rest and renewal during postpartum, and to listen to our bodies’ messages as we learn to breastfeed our babies and fall into sync with the timelessness of life with a newborn and beyond?

(Side note: when I originally chose the quote to open this post, I totally mis-read it and thought it said, “I am obsessed with women becoming comfortable in her own skin” and that is how I feel, but I guess I’m obsessed with it for myself too?)

I just finished reading the book Honoring Menstruation by Lara Own and it was really good. She says:

Our initiation of girls is superficial…how to put on makeup, buying your first bra, using a tampon for the first time. Many women get married and get pregnant without having any sense of their own capacity for endurance, physically or psychologically. Small wonder then than so many girl-women elect to give birth with the aid of painkillers and a technology that robs them of the experience of their own strength…

And she makes a point that I shared during my conference presentation:

As a culture we value stoicism and the overriding of the body. We have schedules, appointments, and timetables which are based on industrial efficiency rather than the moment-to-moment needs of the body. We wait until the end of the meeting to empty our bladders, until the end of the day to eat our main meal. We go to work when we have colds, when we have menstrual cramps, when we have a headache. ‘Not feeling like it’ is seen as a pretty lame excuse.

This is very useful training for all sorts of situations, but not for everything. And there are certain aspects of being female in which stoicism is exactly the opposite of what is required for successful survival. One of the skills of being a woman lies in being very aware of moment-to-moment bodily needs. Being deeply in touch with her body enables a woman to be able to know, and to say, ‘I need this type of food Now,’ ‘I need to rest Now,’ ‘I need to drink Now…’

I’ve previously used the example of listening to the urge to use the bathroom as a core issue in respecting our bodies and preparing for birth. Very, very few people actually go to the bathroom when they first feel the urge, waiting sometimes hours before finally making the time to run to the restroom. If we cannot listen to this simple, basic request from our bodies on a regular basis, can we honestly expect women to magically know how to “listen to their bodies” and give birth to their babies, particularly when we put them in birthing environments that are in many ways designed around overriding bodily requests? (Eating during labor? Sorry, you can just have ice chips. Moving around. Sorry, we can’t monitor the baby well enough like that.) We’ve been trained for years not to listen.

It is easy in today’s world to forget that our menstrual cycle is all about reproduction. Mostly – young women are given information about cleaning up their cycles from tampons to deodorants. Many are given birth control pills which in some cases stops their monthly bleeding all together. There are not many mothers who teach their daughters about the Rhythms of their Cycles – and instill a sense of true self-care and honoring as opposed to a fear of pregnancy, inconvenience and cleaning up. It is important for us to reconsider our relationship with our cycles – and take the time to not only understand our bodies – but connect with our inner compass.

A woman’s monthly cycle has an emotional and sexual landscape whether we are trying to conceive in that month or not. Instead of walking over these natural patterns – let’s try to understand them.

via Listening to our Menstrual Cycle ~ Wild Women Sisterhood.

I also enjoyed this article about Fertility Awareness, which is intimately tied (obviously) to an understanding of menstruation and body rhythms:

…throughout a natural menstrual cycle, hormonal fluctuation can alter a woman’s facial appearance, body odor, waist-to-hip ratio, vocal pitch, mood, habits of dress, and even language. When ovulating, these changes make women more attractive to men because they indicate fertility; in fact, one scientific study I read about later found that strippers have their peak earnings on the days when they are ovulating. These cycles also affect what type of men a woman finds attractive (women tend to be attracted to high testosterone macho types while ovulating and more nurturing men during the rest of the cycle). In short, a woman’s cycles affect how she thinks, how she feels, and how she behaves. Bly explained that our natural cycles are the full expression of ourselves. When a woman takes a birth control pill, which tricks the body into thinking its already pregnant, she is making a bigger change than she may imagine. Beyond obvious side effects like headaches, irritability, and bloating, Bly says, “The birth control pill emotionally flatlines a woman in a way that supports her ability to participate in the workforce, but does not support the ecstatic or transcendent qualities of masculine and feminine union.”

via The Hidden Wisdom of Fertility Awareness | Spirituality & Health Magazine.

And, I downloaded a free ebook about Rediscovering Your Menstrual Mojo from  Jo Macdonald. She specifically has resources for mothers and daughters. Check her out!

“Menstruation is an initiatory moment. Women can potentially open to a highly charged altered state, giving them access to a singular kind of power – the power of self-awareness, deep feeling, knowingness, intuition. A power that matures over time with each cycle.”

— Alexandra Pope

Finally, on Facebook recently, I saw this handy reminder card:

999013_189701581193314_1476244365_n

Tuesday Tidbits: Wild Woman

Women are the most beautiful embodiment of empowered awakening. We breathe life into the world with the heave of our body, sing the sacred into song with our soul, and heal the deepest of wounds with our boundless heart. Our time has come. Love is calling us all to remember the eternal ecstasy of Being. Now is the time. Now is the place. Love is here pressing itself into the moment. Love calls us to remember the universal creative pulse. Love calls all of humanity to its embrace. Love calls for women to claim their deepest truth, to create their greatest gift, and to rise from the ashes of a yesterday gone, to rise to fulfill authentic self. We women are awakening. We women are empowering. We women are rising. I am a woman rising.

~ Ani Kaspar

wildwoman

via Wild Woman Sisterhood on Facebook

This past weekend was the La Leche League of Missouri conference. I absolutely love these conferences and always learn so much, usually things I can use instantly. At this conference, I gave two presentations. The first was about miscarriage and grief and was sparsely attended, but pretty powerful. The second was about Moontime and it was really crowded! The participants were a diverse crowd and I felt a little unsure of my ability to connect with all of them without being excessively “woo woo.” Though, I expressed that concern in a comment on another woman’s blog post and I got this wonderful remark in return: I was just listening to an online interview with Sonia Choquette where she said that “woo woo” should be “where it’s at,” meaning that when we’re “woo woo,” we’re actually connecting to our authentic self, being in touch with our intuition, etc.

I’m going to remember this in the future—woo woo is where it’s at! 😉

Anyway, one of the things I shared during my talk is that mothers of small children are more likely to have PMS than anyone else—it is partly because our bodies call out to us to rest and be alone and we often can’t be when we have little babies that need us. It really, really does help with all pre-menstrual symptoms to be able to take some time to yourself to rest and rejuvenate rather than staying “on” all the time. Several women emailed me with follow-up questions and so here are the links and resources that I suggested for them:

Check out Miranda Gray’s website, particularly her free handouts. Deanna L’am is another favorite resource and she has resources for pre-moontime daughters as well.  Oh, and Tisha Lin’s Pleasurable Periods is another good resource as well as The Happy Womb from Lucy Pearce which has a free ebook about having a happy, healthy menstrual cycle. I’ve been digging into this subject a lot over the past year—any posts I’ve written are here. I’m also really liking the book I recently got called Honoring Menstruation by Lara Owen.

Bringing it back to the Wild Woman, I also shared a quote previously shared here:

“…Could it be that women who get wild with rage do so because they are deeply deprived of quiet and alone time, in which to recharge and renew themselves?

Isn’t PMS a wise mechanism designed to remind us of the deep need to withdraw from everyday demands to the serenity of our inner wilderness? Wouldn’t it follow, then, that in the absence of quiet, sacred spaces to withdraw to while we bleed — women express their deprivation with wild or raging behaviors?…” –DeAnna L’am via Occupy Menstruation

And, this book project recently caught my eye: Blood Sister, Moon Mama: a Celebration of Womanly Ways – submissions for a new book

Less related, but cool, I also just downloaded The Creative Joy Workbook (free!) from the incomparable Jennifer Louden.

For me, honoring moontime in my own life is very much about taking it to the body and listening to myself in the way in which I learned to do during pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and lactation. So, I loved this quote I spied on Facebook late last night:

Your body is your own.
This may seem obvious.
But to inhabit your physical self fully,
with no apology, is a true act of power.
This sovereignty over your body may need to be cultivated.
Most of us have been colonized; other people’s ideas, desires,
and expectations have taken hold in our flesh. It takes some time
and effort to reclaim our own terrain.

Own yourself. Say no when you need to.
Only then can you say yes…

– Camille Maurine, Meditation Secrets for Women (via TheGypsyPriestess)

I have read this book and actually have used part of the quote on my own before, but it spoke to me again in this different medium last night.

I’ve also written about the thoroughly embodied act of motherhood and likewise enjoyed this snippet via Facebook as well:

Nitty Gritty Motherhood | Theresa Martin

Motherhood came as quite a shock to me. It was just so… physical. It was often messy and gritty. Without motherhood, I probably could have lived my whole life without being truly present for any of it.

But as I reflect, it seems so much of a female’s life is just so physical.

Take menstruation for example, that first initiation into womanhood. It’s holy and sacred, a reorienting of our bodies from girlhood to womanhood, a constant preparation for the possibility of nourishing new life within us.

Menstruation is that time when we are called to change our focus from “doing” and “completing” to just being and reflecting. We are called to rest and to reevaluate our priorities and to ponder how our lives are going. So while this time is special and sacred, the shocking physical reality remains. I think my girlhood reaction to first learning about menstruation sums it up well: “We bleed?! From THERE!!??”

All of motherhood is no different. There’s that act that causes motherhood in the first place. It’s carnal and messy. Then there’s pregnancy. Like menstruation and sex, it occurs inside my body. I have the experience of housing, protecting, and growing my children until they can breathe for themselves. After that comes labor and birth. Once again, messy, gritty, carnal reality.

~ Theresa Martin, excerpt from “Nitty Gritty Motherhood”

Read more! http://www.newfeminismrising.com/2012/07/nitty-gritty-motherhood.html

Katharine Krueger ~ Journey Of Young Women, Consultant and guide, Girls’ Empowerment and Coming of Age http://JoYW.org/

And, yesterday, I went on my own wild woman adventure picking wild raspberries with my kids. I wrote about it on Pagan Families and included a bonus recipe for wild raspberry sorbet:

…may I be reminded June 2013 024
of the courage and love
shown in small, wild adventures.

Wild black raspberries are ripe at my Missouri homestead and this morning I went on an expedition with my three children to gather what we could. As I returned, red-faced, sweating, and after having yelled much more than I should and having said several things I instantly regretted, I was reminded of something that I manage to forget every year: one definition of insanity is picking wild berries with a toddler. In fact, the closest I ever came to spanking one of my kids was during one of these idyllic romps through the brambles when my second son was three. While still involving some suffering, today’s ramble was easier since I have a nine and a half year old now as well as the toddler. This time, my oldest son took my toddler daughter back inside and gave her a bath and put her in new clothes while I was still outside crawling under the deck in an effort to retrieve the shoes and the tiny ceramic bluebird I’ve had since I was ten that my girl tossed over the railing and into the thorns “for mama.”

While under the deck, I successfully fished out the shoes (could not find the tiny bird) and I found one more small handful of June 2013 038raspberries. Since the kids were all safely indoors, I took my sweaty and scratched up and irritable self and ran down to my small, sacred space in the woods. I was thinking about how I was hot, tired, sweaty, sore, scratched, bloody, worn, and stained from what “should” have been a simple, fun little outing with my children and the above prayer came to my lips. I felt inspired by the idea that parenting involves uncountable numbers of small, wild adventures. I was no longer “just” a mom trying to find raspberries with her kids, I was a raspberry warrior. I braved brambles, swallowed irritations, battled bugs, sweated, swore, argued, struggled, crawled into scary spaces and over rough terrain, lost possessions and let go of the need to find them, and served as a rescuer of others. I gave my blood and body over to the task.

When I returned and showered, my oldest begged for me to make homemade raspberry sorbet with our findings. I’ve never made June 2013 063sorbet before and wasn’t sure I should dare try, but then I gathered my resources and said yes to yet another small adventure…

via Small Adventures (sorbet recipe included there!)

I’ve also been enjoying the wild, riotous blooms of summer:

June 2013 041June 2013 049 June 2013 037

Free ebook: Reaching for the Moon

There are few things that I enjoy more than free books! Last year, I reviewed a delightful book by Lucy Pearce called Moon Time. Earlier this week she let me know that her companion book for girls has been released and until Sunday only, it is available as a FREE Kindle book from Amazon! (You don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books, the app works great on tablet, PC, or phone.) Here’s the rest of the info about this new book:

Reaching for the Moon

Reaching for the Moon is the girl’s version of Lucy H. Pearce’s much-loved first book, Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle. Written especially for girls aged 9-14 as they anticipate and experience their body’s gradual changes.

Beginning with an imaginary journey into the red tent, a traditional place of women’s wisdom, some of the gifts and secrets of womanhood are imparted in a gentle, lyrical way including:

* The secrets of the moon.
* The secrets of our cycles.
* The gift of self-care.

Along with practical advice on:

* Preparing for her first period.
* Choosing menstrual products.
* Herbal healing.
* Celebrating menarche.

Maiden threshold cord.

Maiden threshold cord from past ritual.

Reaching for the Moon is a nurturing celebration of a girl’s transformation to womanhood.

The book is also available to buy as a signed paperback + bookmark + FREE greetings card of one of Lucy’s paintings (usually €2.50) from The Happy Womb. £6.99 + P&P.

This book comes at the perfect time for me because I’m getting ready to present a Moontime session at the upcoming LLL of Missouri conference!


Disclosure: I have no financial relationship with the author or publisher and I received no compensation or other benefit in writing this post—I just shared the information because it is cool and free and good!

Tuesday Tidbits: Red Tent

April 2013 019

Dogwoods are blooming here.

“..by honouring the demands of our bleeding, our blood gives us something in return. The crazed bitch from irritation hell recedes. In her place arises a side of ourselves with whom we may not-at first- be comfortable. She is a vulnerable, highly perceptive genius who can ponder a given issue and take her world by storm. When we’re quiet and bleeding, we stumble upon solutions to dilemmas that’ve been bugging us all month. Inspiration hits and moments of epiphany rumba ‘cross de tundra of our senses…”
Inga Muscio

“The great mother whom we call Innana gave a gift to woman that is not known among men, and this is the secret of blood. The flow at the dark of the moon, the healing blood of the moon’s birth – to men, this is flux and distemper, bother and pain. They imagine we suffer and consider themselves lucky…In the red tent, the truth is known. In the red tent, where days pass like a gentle stream, as the gift of Innana courses through us, cleansing the body of last month’s death, preparing the body to receive the new month’s life, women give thanks — for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life comes from between our legs, and that life costs blood.
Anita Diamant

I have to be quick today—lots going on. I don’t know if anyone else is enjoying my little Tuesday Tidbits post series particularly, but I really love doing it, because it gives me an automatic structure for a post, a sense of focus rather than an open book of endless possibility, and also the ability to put something up quickly even admidst life swirls. And, I find it funny how things collect around a theme without me consciously trying to do so. What collected around me during the past week was Red Tent Resources again…

First, a short video about starting a Red Tent:

Then, this cool Lunation website where you can subscribe to a newsletter and receive a free guided meditation called Connect to the Red Threads.

And, I enjoyed an article called Menstrually Yours – Women Can Map Periods as a Path to Self-Awareness.

This article uses the same “seasons” metaphor for understanding the energy of your cycle that a lot of menstrual empowerment activists are using. This seasons idea has helped me find an enhanced place of understanding about my own ebb and flow of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity.

Winter is the first stage, when we bleed. Characteristically it’s the time of wanting to hibernate (or just hide under a duvet and eat chocolate). We are withdrawn and inward and it’s tough to focus and find a lot of energy, contrary to the images forced on us by the Bodyform adverts.

Spring is the week after when the bleeding has stopped and we suddenly feel more energised and sociable. We want to get on and often we get stuff done quickly and with grace and ease.

Summer is characterised by our really coming into fullness, it’s when we are ovulating and energetically we are fully blooming and really advancing.

Autumn is when we start the decline back into ourselves. Typically now we may experience some PMT, being a bit snappy or less tolerant than we were in spring and summer.

via Claire Snowdon-Darling: Menstrually Yours – Women Can Map Periods as a Path to Self-Awareness.

What I find transformative about this understanding is the acceptance that comes from realizing what season I’m in and knowing that a new season is coming. Rather than get frustrated with myself during “autumn” or winter, thinking it means a permanent state of being, I say, “ah ha! This sense of needing to pull in and retreat. I know this. Time to break out some of those saved guided meditations, say no to things I can say no to, and sit down with a book and some tea.” Just a few months ago, I would have taken this impulse as a sign that my life is too crowded and I MUST. QUIT. SOMETHING. NOW. THINGS. MUST CHANGE. ARGHHHH. NO MORE! Now, I see that it is just a call for right now, for this little season, not a permanent change, just an honoring of body rhythms. Interestingly, I’m actually in the summer stage of my own cycle right now, which is the time I usually wait for and get a bunch of “stuff done” and scheduled to post so that when I feel withdrawn again, my blog can go on on its own. However, with my grandma’s dying process and my mom’s absence while she cares for my grandma in California, I actually feel extremely “autumn” right now and would like nothing better than to just lie down with a book and STOP. My kids and my students all need attention though.

And, I enjoyed this cool website too:

Birthing Art Birthing Heart is a website

that promotes, facilitates and offers examples of art made by woman.

Birthing Art Birthing Heart offers new ways for woman to explore what they are ‘birthing’ at any given moment.

via Birthing Art – Birthing Heart – Home.

Bringing it into the Red Tent theme, they have a current project called Bleeding Art, Bleeding Heart too.

Speaking of art, though it isn’t finished yet, I made a couple of new pieces about my grandma. This is the first one:

April 2013 038

The shells were supposed to be a spiral, not a “6,” but on such a small surface, I couldn’t spiral them any better.

Related past posts:

Red Tent Resources

Book Review: Moon Time

Moontime’s Return…

Red Tent Resources

“Blood Mysteries recall the immense power of the bleeding woman. Power enough to share in great nourishing give-aways. Give-away from woman womb to earth womb, give-away from mother to matrix, give-away of nourisher to nourisher…bleeding freely, we know ourselves as women, as nourishers of life…” –Susan Weed

International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8th and I signed up for a cool sounding free online class about working with your moon cycle. I’m loving the focus and I hope to learn some useful things:

What you do on the first day of your cycle radically affects your health and happiness for the next 30 (or so) days. It impacts your relationships, creativity, energy, spiritual connectedness, and self-confidence, just to name a few things…”

This class is part of a free online 28 day event about honoring our moon cycles that is already in progress—I wish I would have learned about it a little earlier!

Also, on International Women’s Day is a Red Tent Activation offering from Deanna L’am:

We’ve Birthed The world We Want To Live In…

Lets Re-Member, Re-Activate & Re-claim
Our cellular memories of The Red Tent!

I do a lot of work with women already. I have provided breastfeeding support and counseling for eight years now. I’ve been teaching and writing about birth and doing birth activism for just about as long. I help plan blessingway/rite of passage ceremonies and facilitate workshops and lead rituals (and occasionally, I do weddings). I hold quarterly women’s retreats and this year I’m doing a year-long monthly women’s spirituality class. But, I still want to do more! I envision having a fabulous red yurt out in the field that would always be available to any woman who wanted to come to it. I envision a “Women’s Temple” and nurturing, enriching, replenishing WomanSpace. I envision monthly full moon circles and seasonal ceremonies and plenty of time for celebration of Women’s Mysteries…

I also really, really want to host a screening of the Red Tent Movie (this is totally within my capacity for this year at least!)

While I also have a whole collection of favorite women’s temple/women’s mysteries resources, some of my favorite Red Tent specific resources on Facebook are:

Your period is a vehicle for greater compassion in the world at large.

Your period is a universal language.

Yet, it’s one of the least understood by women today.

It’s one of the topics that is least talked about in our modern culture…

Pleasurable Periods

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