Inner Work

Approaching Our Fears

Cross-posted on my Sagewoman blog.

For today’s #InnerWork Wednesday, I will be uncovering some of the psychology behind “facing your fears” and discussing how we can incorporate Goddess Spirituality into this experience. The topic is timely for me as I will be getting MRI testing in the next few weeks and am concerned about how it will go for me. I saw the machine in person and have been feeling anxious imagining myself undergoing the process.

Children often shrink back from new stimuli. They question their safety in the presence of the unknown. As adults, we are tasked with gently guiding them in approaching things that may seem scary but which are actually benign. Unfortunately, many of us as children did not receive a hand on our shoulder, bolstering us to take small steps. Instead, we may have been chided, slapped, ridiculed, abandoned or worse when we expressed fear. Subsequently, we may struggle in adulthood to approach that which scares us. (I will pause to note here that susceptibility to anxiety is also heritable, so some of us have a biological makeup that predisposes us to fear-based reactions).

Moving towards things that are frightening but which we know are not inherently dangerous acts in opposition to the avoidance behavior that maintains anxiety. The more we avoid things, the more we teach our inner little self that we should in fact be scared and that we aren’t safe. Taking incremental steps forward, especially in the presence of a supportive and kind individual, can radically alter our relationship with fear.

In approaching feared scenarios, the typical rehearsal of imagining every potential catastrophic result can be replaced with small approximations of the situation. For instance, in preparing for my upcoming MRI, I’ve closed off an area in my house to create a small corridor and laid in it while listening to audio of MRI sounds. My confidence has grown as I’ve gotten near my threshold of panic and stayed there with it until it subsided. I’ve also had a few moment of hysterical laughing as my dog tried to “rescue” me from the tunnel!

Where these psychologically-grounded behaviors can break down for me personally is that, when confronted with certain stressors, I lose the adult me. I am all little self, terrified of the situation and convinced I cannot make it through it. When I’ve had social support to which I am able to connect in these instances, I do much better. Approach is sometimes possible with a steady hand on my shoulder, voicing belief in my capacity to befriend that which terrifies me.

What do we do, though, in instances where we are alone or when we are having difficulty accessing another’s compassion? In this place I am, let’s say, in the experimental phase as I have not forged a rock-solid connection between my Inner Being and my little self. My primary approach, if the situation is predicable or repeated, is to stay present with my inner child and to, if my capacity in the moment gets thwarted, return to Self as quickly as possible. Behaviors such as maintaining a steady breathing pattern, slowing down the situation and practicing positive self-talk can assist in this undertaking.

I want to stay connected to Goddess in every moment, even the scary ones. As I mentioned in a recent post, I am taking a forest therapy class. On my first walk, we were instructed to notice things in motion as we progressed slowly down the path. I was suddenly overcome with a sense of being able to take in the entire scene, including us humans walking, and saw that we were in fact moving along with other parts of the forest. I felt deeply connected to Goddess. I think here we have an opportunity for developing a sense of compassionate presence by imagining ourselves, as we go near that which frightens us, being held in the gaze of Deity who is infusing the situation with Her love, caring deeply about our worries and holding all possible outcomes in the palm of Her hand.

We can easily shame ourselves in instances in which we know we’ve been waylaid by anxiety and through which no comfort, support or “adult” seemed present. I believe all we can ask of ourselves is to continue to try again, knowing that at times we’ll fail to follow through as completely as we would have hoped we’d do, and that there may be fears of which we will be unable to get within arms-length. Anyone who scolds you with a “it’s no big deal” when you express hesitation is failing to empathize with you just as completely as you are wanting to avoid. Hearing “I can tell it’s very scary for you. How can I support you in approaching the situation?” from someone is, to me, a clear sign that the individual could be a good candidate for the unwavering presence that we all need as our little selves learn there are now people, including ourselves, who can be trusted to surround us in the all-encompassing grace of Goddess.

Which ways have you found to be the most beneficial in responding to situations that cause you anxiety? To what extent does the conceptualization I’ve shared of little self and adult fit your experience? How do you access your spirituality in anxiety-provoking experiences?

Surviving & Thriving

Vulnerability and Trauma

It has been difficult for me to get myself to write lately. I’ve felt like my walls are up. This experience has occurred in concert with working very hard in therapy to dig into my childhood trauma on a deeper level. I feel as though I can only muster so much vulnerability as an individual, and increasing it in one area has unfortunately decreased it in my writing. As I contemplated my experience for today’s #SurvivinggnThriving Tuesday, I pondered the discomfort I’ve had with the word vulnerability, and saw that it is because I associate it with threat. To be vulnerable means to open myself up to possible attack and harm.

What are we afraid will happen to us if we are vulnerable? By and large, I think one “attack” that we might fear is being invalidated. In terms of traumatic experiences, we might be discounted and told that we are remembering things incorrectly. If our memories are factual, we are exaggerating them. If things are really as bad as we say they were, we must have brought it on ourselves. If we were in fact innocent victims, we need to show signs of “healing” like forgiveness and love in order to have our experiences “count.”

While many factors influence the reasons that traumatic experiences—especially those of a sexual nature—tend to get discounted, one aspect that I think stands strong is the fact humans are exquisitely tuned in to each other as social animals. We may be expected to preserve the “tribe” at any and all personal costs. The pressure to conform to the idea that people get what they deserve and to believe that everyone is trying their best can outweigh our willingness to grapple with evil and with the nuance in the nature of human relationships. We may feel a need to trust in authorities such as political leaders, clergy and parents, even when some of the individuals in these places of authority betray their charge.

How can this focus on our place as highly social beings help us in being willing to risk vulnerability, especially when our trauma has come at the hands of other people? As hard as this truth is for me to accept, relationships are a major healing force, perhaps the major healing force from trauma. All of the evidence-based treatments of trauma include an aspect of witnessing, listening, processing, talking, displaying, feeling or in some way being with our past experience of trauma in the presence of a safe and caring individual. A refusal to be vulnerable is likely to serve as an impediment to healing in therapeutic relationships that are “good enough.”

Being vulnerable presents other risks. We may be rejected, judged, criticized, betrayed or humiliated. I’ve shared previously about strategies through which we might discern if another individual or group is worthy of risking vulnerability. There is no gain in allowing ourselves to be mistreated, even if we may sometimes think we can undo the original trauma by defeating it in an adult form. Nothing feels more like failure to me than realizing I’ve been “sucked in” to an adult relationship that mimics an aspect of my childhood trauma, having mistaken the familiar for the safe.

What, though, can we do if we know deep down that we are in a safe relational space, but our walls are still up? I’m still terrified of having unpleasant reactions to my blogs, but honestly thus far *knocks on wood* I’ve had really kind and supportive readers. In parallel, in many offline areas of my life where I’ve taken risks, I’ve expected to be attacked and instead found acceptance. I believe it takes a significantly greater number of experiences of trust to undo a hurt than it takes hurts to break trust. All I can do or any of us can do is to keep trying, knowing this reality. And I believe empathy is vital—for those who have managed to have a lot of safe and loving people in their lives, know that you are indeed privileged and consider offering support instead of incredulity to those of us who may shrink at the first sign of relational conflict.

How have you navigated the terrain of vulnerability? What behaviors do others do that allow you to lower your defenses? How do you find the motivation to open up again after a relational wound?

Goddess Thealogy

Wealth, Money and Anxiety: Spiritual Practices to Soothe Your Soul

I’ve decided the USPS’s “Informed Delivery,” an email service available in the U.S. which alerts you to incoming daily mail, should probably be called “Panic Attack Now” for those of us with anxiety problems. I recently received an email letting me know a letter was coming from the IRS. I wasn’t expecting a letter from the IRS, so I spent the next four hours in an absolute hysteria, binge eating pizza and reading every document online about the potential contents of letters from the IRS I could find. The letter, inconsequentially, was a notice about an online request I’d made. Nothing owed, nothing in error, four hours of my life wasted in service to the two-headed beast of anxiety and greed.

For today’s #Thealogy Thursday, I decided to put my vast experience at freaking out over financial matters to use. I started this blog with posts about “Goddessing On a Budget” and have made significant improvements to my financial health in recent months, but, nonetheless, I consistently return to money worries day in and day out. I determined to spend some time here exploring the connection between money, definitions of wealth and spiritual practices within a Goddess Spirituality framework.

Who’s in Charge: Our Relationship with Money

I sometimes find myself wondering if I own money or if I am being owned by money. I’ve decided to conceptualize the way in which I connect to money as a relationship. Even on the surface, questions immediately arise. If I see money as a representation of material resources that have been transferred to me, ostensibly as a result of my labor, what can I do to engage in healthy stewardship of this possession? I believe that many of us see money instead as a reflection of our inner value, merit and basic “goodness” and we evaluate our self-worth accordingly. We allow money, wealth and income to serve as our master instead of our deserved and needed companion. We indenture ourselves to its whims and exalt its benefits, even while our lust for it remains unsatiated. We act as masochists, willing to prostitute ourselves with hour after hour of drudgery, thrashing at the chains of our self-imprisonment in its gleam. When a windfall or raise comes our way, we are kings and queens, either showering the excess on parades through shopping malls or sitting alone in our miserly office, stacking and restacking each coin, refusing others and ourselves even a few tokens of joy.

One of the reasons I think we often have an unhealthy relationship with money is that it is a resource embedded with a myriad of systems, most of which are inherently unfair and unjust. We may rightly earn a certain quantity of money through honest effort and energy while simultaneously failing to acknowledge that the structure through which we came about it is corrupt and benefits the few at great cost to the many. I cannot do justice within the context of this article to articulating the tentacles of greed and avarice winding through the employment and financial structure of American society. My own financial future hangs in the balance as I am planning to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness in a few years. As of the writing of this post, there is a bill being drafted in Congress to rescind this program. Because of the interest rate, I have six figures at stake. I detest with a passion the idea that a few hundred men at the seat of power in America have the ability to sign or not sign legislation that, with one stroke of the pen, would completely alter the course of my life. The tiny sliver of insight that has been opened to me through this experience has compelled me to contemplate what the daily struggle must be like for those who, by no fault of their own, were born with characteristics that put them at a much greater mercy to the systems of influence in which we find ourselves.

Despite my realizations about the inequitable situation in which we each find ourselves, there is something in me that chaffs at the idea of money being completely disentangled from labor. In a strictly financial sense, I’ve lived the American dream. I came from very little with no one in my family having a college education, and was able to get my doctorate degree and a well-paying job. I did so in part on the graciousness of long-dead scholarship endowment sponsors, but also through my own tenaciousness and determination. Because of my resulting tendency towards individualism, I feel internally conflicted over the idea that money and possession as things that are not actually “owned” by anyone but are instead best understood as the property of all. This idea rings true for many who practice Goddess Spirituality, engage in feminist thought or live a minimalist lifestyle and who believe society would benefit from increased interdependence and communal living. I’ve even come across a few people who have rejected the concept of money entirely. If we allow for ideas of cooperative living to enter our collective consciousness, we have tremendous work to do in order to achieve these goals on a even a small scale. How we better society in order to more equally distribute resources is a task I hope there are minds strong and able enough to realize progress within my lifetime.

Poverty of Soul/Inner Riches

In certain corners of the various religious and spiritual traditions to which I’ve been privy, I’ve come across a recurring theme of wealth and prosperity. The basic idea of each of these subgroups is that if one prays/believes/casts spells/ practices enough, one will acquire material possessions and riches. A fundamental lack within this viewpoint is to ask whether or not becoming rich is a worthy goal. Without a doubt, there is a minimal threshold of income or resources below which life becomes very challenging. It angers me to see spiritual practitioners of any faith exploiting impoverished individuals, parting them from the little money they do have in order to grow their riches. There are absolutely “female lifestyle empowerment brands” that hone directly on these needs within women and which seek to take advantage of a women’s desire to become enlightened or spiritual.

Although money matters, I believe focusing on money, wealth, status or possession above other life goals such as relationships with self and others is an invitation to additional suffering and emptiness. Research has consistently demonstrated that having more money does not lead to happiness once we reach a certain income level. I’ve lived on both sides of the tipping point; it has taken me years on the plus side of it to see how much the additional work I was doing to continue to increase my income each year was bringing me down rather than building me up.

Not everyone has the privilege of being able to say that they have enough money consistently or to even renegotiate their relationship with income. If we are facing challenging times financially, I believe these moments offer us an opportunity to value our inner strengths and to find comfort in our collective struggle. We all have a wealth of internal characteristics that allow us to weather difficult moments; giving yourself permission to notice and appreciate these abilities despite financial setbacks may help to refocus your minds and allow you to move forward with handling the situation instead of beating yourself up for poor planning or blaming the situation for being unfair (even if one or both of those things is also true). There are also many resources dedicated to developing a sharing community instead of one based on competition.

Whether we are struggling to make ends meet or to reduce our cravings for “more” in the way of status and possessions, meeting our spiritual needs consistently may allow us to align our thoughts about money to reasonable terms. I genuinely fight with this on a regular basis; I seem to be able to have a rich spiritual life or a healthy budget, but both at the same time feels outside of my grasp. Paying attention is always the first step for me in realizing when the scale has tipped too far in the “I must have all the pretties and meditate 3 times a day” or the “I will record every purchase and spend an hour a day budgeting for the next two years” side of things. Both are important, both are valuable, and the other goals I have in life such as developing deep relationships, improving my physical health and connecting with nature also need time in the rotation. Spending time in ritual that centers around our relationship with money may be one way in which we can improve our relationship with our finances.

Acceptance and Empowerment Ritual

As with any spiritual practice I share, customize this ritual to your own needs and preferences.

For the acceptance aspect of this ritual, I see the purpose as twofold. First, I want to us to engage in acknowledgment of our inability to plan for everything and of the competitiveness and desire for comfort that are a part of human nature. Secondly, I want us to release beliefs about the connection between wealth and spirituality—in essence—the false belief that good people/behaviors are rewarded, and that bad people/behaviors are punished. As I’ve stated in other writings, I’ve seen way too much evil in this world to believe in karma and just desserts.

For the empowerment aspect of this ritual, I wanted to focus on developing a healthier relationship with money. I chose themes such as individual money management and advocacy for more equality in our financial systems as potential focal points. Taking time to set concrete goals or to explore the beliefs we hold about these topics may free us from automatic assumptions and behaviors that disempower and limit our financial lives.

Materials:

Green tea

Teacup and hot water

Paper slips

Marker

Twine

Journal and pen

Five coins

Five popsicle type sticks. Write the following phrases on each one: 1. Personal money management. 2. Stewardship of money. 3. Gratitude for bounty. 4. Positive systems of influence. 5. Advocacy for equality. OR choose 5 phrases that represent empowering financial concepts to you and write one each on the sticks.

Instructions:

  1. Cast a circle and call in any elements or Deities that you wish to have present.
  2. Brew the tea.
  3. Spend time contemplating your beliefs about how much control you “should” have over money, how much you desire more money, and the extent to which you think being “good” or acting positively will lead to more income. Write your beliefs on the slips of paper.
  4. The green in the tea here symbolizes greed, envy and desire. Rather than reject or deny these emotions, allow yourself to explore them. What do they look like or feel like? Where are they held in your body? What behaviors do they lead to? Sip the tea as you allow yourself to connect with your envy. Is there any emotion or thought underneath of it? Any desire that it is hiding? I often realize my envy is rooted in wanting to be accepted and loved by others, for instance. Feel free to journal about any self-discoveries you make.
  5. Roll up the slips of paper and tie them with twine. If you wish to do so, you can connect them and hang them up in a location where you will see them when engaging in financial matters as a reminder to check in with yourself and your thoughts in your relationship with money. You can also rid yourself of them if you wish to symbolize releasing them.
  6. Lay out the five coins in the shape of a pentagram. Begin to lay the sticks to connect the coins in an order that feels intuitively aligned for you. As you place each stick, read the phrase and contemplate one or two aspects of the concept with which you wish to be empowered. For instance, when placing “positive systems of influence,” I determined to learn more about things like micro-lending and other investment tools that focus on giving money to those who truly need it instead of corporate shareholders. Feel free to journal your ideas. You may want to light a candle in the center to symbolize your growing empowerment in your financial life. You can leave the arrangement as a reminder for a period of time, or, if you are crafty enough, fashion a decoration out of it using the twine.
  7. Close the circle, thanking any elements and Deities that you invited.

If you choose to enact any part of this ritual, either as a spiritual practice or as an experiential inner work session, feel free to share your insights. I would also welcome your reflections on your relationship with money and financial systems. Lastly, I invite discussion of the activities in which you engage to balance your focus on the various goals and aspirations which you set for yourself.

Embodied Heart, Surviving & Thriving

The Walking Wounded: Struggles in Recovery from CSA

Today’s #EmbodiedHeart post feels particularly vulnerable as I take a hard look at my potential for recovery and functioning as a childhood sexual abuse survivor and as a person with multiple chronic physical and mental health conditions. The insight I’ve gained from this personal reflection has allowed some of the internal distress and discomfort that’s become particularly acute for me the past six months to make more more sense to me. My insight has not yet led to a particularly workable solution, so I am hoping to learn about how my readers have handled similar situations. I will say that ideas like “look on the bright side” or “remember others have it worse,” although not entirely without merit, are typically experienced as invalidating rather than as useful in most situations like mine.

I’ve unfortunately set myself up in a situation where I need to maintain a high level of performance across a variety of domains in order to stay on top of my finances and to preserve my living situation. My job is high stress and demanding. I have sufficient funds coming in but face an uphill battle to get my student loans paid off. I have to stay in my job at least a few more years in order to have the possibility of my loans being forgiven realized. As a homeowner, I am solely responsible for the upkeep and repair of my house. Without my family in my life, maintaining close ties to friends and acquaintances takes on a heightened sense of importance. My health is assisted by the fact that I stay active and eat a decent diet, but both of these behaviors require constant effort and monitoring. In short, I feel overwhelmed by trying to keep up with the demands of my life, while simultaneously becoming increasingly aware of the toll it is taking on my mind and body. I know that the situation in which I am in is largely my own doing, but that sense of “choice” doesn’t mean much when I can’t see a quick way out to a lower stress environment.

Despite the external and internal pressures under which I find myself operating, I’ve kept on keeping on for years. Recently, though, I’ve heard a loud “no more” from inside. Parts of me feel as though they are holding on to dozens of tangled strings, attempting to contain my mental health symptoms and body sensations. They are threatening to let loose of all of them at once, which I can only imagine would mean a severe deterioration in my functioning. I had a few years of significant impairment in my 20’s. At that time, my internal system believed I was in a safe enough environment to let go and then found out it wasn’t. Now, though, the issue is less motivated by hope and more by exhaustion and frustration.

I had a breakdown in therapy last year in which I shared with my therapist that I perceive myself as having full-blown PTSD and other disorders, but the pressure I feel to maintain my functioning is so strong that I can’t even allow myself to experience the acting out of the symptoms. Instead, I think I dissociate further and tuck away any loose articles that might tumble out of the overcoat of “I’m good, I’ve got this” in which I blanket myself. Something always gives, though, when we dissociate, and the hollowness and joyless outlook with which I am currently struggling is one such outcome.

There are steps such as a slightly reduced workload and more vacation time on which I’ve embarked to attempt to rectify the situation. My fear is that I won’t be able to fully placate the parts of myself who are completely fed up by my inattention to my inner needs and who almost seem to desire for me to “lose it” so that everyone else will witness the folly of my attempt to appear to have it together. I keep reminding myself that, as a general rule, decompensating to the point of needing intervention is very likely to be retraumatizing and brutal, not the posh vacation with room service which pieces of my mind seem to believe it to be.

My internal imagery for my experience one of running a race far beyond what my body and mind can take, with my single-minded focus on the finish line obscuring from me the fact that my shoes are torn beyond repair and my skin is crusted with salty dehydration. Now that I see the state in which I am, I know I need to recalibrate my intention and take some rest periods, but I also realize I have to keep moving forward, albeit at a slower pace. There is no reasonable option in which letting myself sink into the sandy landscape surrounding the track will do anything for me other than cause me to wither to a helpless shell of myself in the blazing sun. There is no one coming to save me, just as no one came to save me a child in an abusive home. Now, though, I believe I can look to my fellow travelers for at least encouragement as I plod along.

What have you done in situations where you felt you were in over your head? What resources have you leveraged to reduce your burden? How have you found the energy to keep going?

Goddessing Self Care

Moon-time Howling

For today’s #GoddessingSelfCare Sunday, I will be examining focusing on how women can engage in healthy and healing behaviors during our moon-time and throughout our cycle. This time is especially fraught for me as I suffer from PMDD, which stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. I describe my experience to others as having full-blown depressive episodes around the time of my cycle, which dissipate rapidly once bleeding commences. This experience can feel animalistic to me in its rawness and rage, even as I seek to reclaim it as part of my femininity. My writing here regarding moon-time is primarily aimed at those who identify as women, although I think it could also be useful if you have women in your life for whom you would like to serve as a support person.

The physical aspects of being a woman of child-bearing age have never been easy for me. I went through puberty earlier than most of my peers and did everything possible to hide the fact that I was getting my period. I would get severe stomach problems every month, to the point I’d need to leave school. I now experience migraines that correspond to my cycle. My mood swings during the premenstrual time are extreme and leave me feeling disillusioned with life and detached from those around me. I am prone to rage. My PTSD symptoms also increase significantly.

Given the distress I experience with my cycle, Goddess Spirituality has opened a new world to me in terms of the ideas of “red tents” and “moon-time.” There are dueling theories regarding whether menstrual huts served places to separate women who are viewed as spiritually unclean, or as places for women to gather during their cycle because of its sacred power. I think the former is much more likely than the latter in many societies, but I hope women gathering together in this way can become something we claim as sacred ground for us to celebrate our feminine experience. I think there is a good deal of cultural appropriation as well in what we make of these rituals, so I hope that we can develop new practices that are not overly reliant on customs and practices that may be sacred to a culture different from our own with which we are unfamiliar.

After coming to an understanding of how menstruation can be celebrated instead of shamed, I feel more able to view my experience as part of the general ebb and flow of life. In gathering in community with other women, I’ve seen how common some of my experiences are. I feel encouraged to take the time where things get especially rough for me as an opportunity to turn inward, and to release those things in my life that are no longer suiting me. I have high points as well throughout the month and I put more effort than I used to into harnessing the energy and strength I have at these times towards accomplishing tasks, so that there is less to do at low points.

I’ll be describing the self-care that I’ve personally found useful throughout my cycle, but I do want to note that you may not find yourself following the same pattern. Some women are energized during their time of bleeding, and drained around the time of ovulation. Others may not notice these changes. Trans-women as well as women with certain physical conditions may not have a traditional menstrual cycle, but may still identify with the ebb and flow of energy throughout the month.

Self-Care During the Waning and New Moon Phase

The time of the month leading up to and when we are bleeding correspond to the waning and new moon phases. Your energy may begin to decrease, and you may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities you have in your life. You may find yourself withdrawing from others. Your emotions may be heightened. This time of the month and moon cycle offers an opportunity to:

  • Deepen your inner work. Your intuition is ripened and ready to release new knowledge. Use this time to learn more about yourself and your unconscious needs and desires.
  • Connect to your support system. Even though the impulse is to pull away from others, staying in touch with them and opening up the vulnerabilities you may be experiencing can enhance your relationships. I often find myself having more meaningful and longer conversations with a select person or people during this time.
  • Attune to your body’s needs. My body proclaims its needs loudly during this time. I ignore it to my peril. I tend to be more likely to schedule doctor’s appointments and adjust my habits to ensure healthy nutrition and sleep during this time.
  • Refresh your environment. I tend to redecorate, organize, clean and update my physical surroundings during this time, releasing any physical materials that are no longer needed. Surrounding myself with fresh flowers, scented candles, incense or other fragrant materials keeps me in touch with beauty even if I feel “gross” physically.

Self-Care During Waxing and Full Moon Phases

When the bleeding time ends, we enter a stage of energy and excitement as our bodies build towards the full moon of ovulation. You may experience a feeling of needing more in your life. Sexual desire could increase. Creativity blossoms. This time of month and moon cycle provides a chance to:

  • Set goals. The beginning and middle of my cycle can be a place where I take the reflection I did during my moon-time, and decide upon the specific goals that will get me closer to what I am seeking in life.
  • Direct your energy flow. There are times during this part of my cycle in which my energy can feel abundant. If I’m not careful, it gets spent on activities like making expensive purchases or starting a project for which I don’t truly have the necessary time or resources. It takes sustained effort for me to ensure I am channeling the energy I feel into productive and healthy endeavors.
  • Participate in community action. I am more interested in spending time with others at the start of my cycle. I find it useful to balance my engagement so that I don’t over-commit for the rest of the month, and so that I take advantage of this time to dig into relationships and activities.
  • Rejuvenate self-care behaviors. I find it easier to make positive changes in my eating, sleeping and exercise behaviors as I approach ovulation. My body has fewer cravings and I have the energy needed for vigorous exercise.

Your experience throughout your monthly cycle may mirror mine or may unfurl differently. What changes, if any, do you experience throughout the month? How does your energy peak and descend? How are your emotions and relationships affected by these changes? Women’s cycles have been stigmatized and ridiculed throughout human history; it is vital for us to stake our claim to our experience as our own unique way of being a woman in the world, and to find the common ground we all share.