This Makes Me Super Uncomfortable But I’m Doing It Anyway: I Heart My Moon Cycle Month

I Heart My Moon Cycle Kate NorthrupI’m a woman who loves to get stuff done. I can work 12-14 hours a day, no problem, if I love what I’m doing.

I’ve been getting little messages for the past year or so, though, that producing all the time, even if I’m jazzed about what I’m doing, is probably not the best way to go.

Last year at the Hay House Ignite conference in San Jose, I was keynoting along with my friends Latham Thomas and Alisa Vitti.

These women are leaders in natural women’s health, and during each of their talks I took a note to myself in my notebook:

Start blocking out my period in my calendar and planning downtime around it.

Both Latham and Alisa talked about the cycles of the seasons and the cycles of the body. They suggested organizing life (and business) around these cycles instead of trying to work at a uniform pace in spite of them.

Two weekends ago, at the Ignite conference in NYC, I took the same note in another notebook–roughly 11 months after the first time I took this note.

Here’s my confession: Until this very morning I still had yet to block out time in my calendar around my period.

My mom practically wrote the owner’s manual for listening to and honoring the female body. The chapter on the menstrual cycle from her book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of women. I know that her work has also deeply inspired my friends Latham and Alisa.

But the truth is, I have IMMENSE resistance around taking a break around “that time of the month.” There’s a part of me that feels like I shouldn’t need to. And, quite frankly, I often get annoyed by the whole thing.

As a woman who frequently talks and writes about honoring our bodies and listening to their wisdom, this is not something I’m proud of.

So that’s why I’m writing this and outing myself here. Just before I wrote this post, I sat down and blocked out the week around my next expected period to chill out. Finally.

The idea of taking a full week off to let my body do its thing and go inward freaks me the hell out. Here’s what goes on in my head:

I’m thinking these thoughts and taking the action to block the time out in my calendar, anyway.

I would imagine that, when it comes to taking time off, whether it’s for your period or otherwise, you might have had some of the thoughts I wrote above .

But I’m trusting my girls Alisa and Latham, and my mom, and believing them when they say that my body and soul need a break during that time. And I’m trusting that if I take that break, my body will thank me and there will be more than enough time and energy to do the things I want to do during the other times of the month.

Because there is a deeper, wiser part of myself that knows that if I follow through on the commitment to honor my cycle, my body will be happier, and so will I.

This is the part of me that said yes to participating in Sara Avant Stover’s I Heart My Moon Cycle Month. It lasts for one lunar cycle, February 18 – March 17th, and it features myself and 27 other feminine leaders talking about our periods.

When she asked me to shoot a video talking about my cycle, I cringed. I thought:

But I shot the video anyway, because there’s a part of me that knows how important this is.

Half of the world’s population has a period. The reason any human being is here on the planet is largely because of the cycles of the female body. Therefore, this is important and relevant to EVERYONE.

So even though it weirds me out, I’m sharing my contribution to Sara’s I Heart My Moon Cycle Month.

Watch the video here. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit–I’m Day 13.)

This conversation is long overdue–for me, for you, for us, for everyone.

Check out my video and those of the other 27 women who are part of this inspiring (albeit uncomfortable–for me) movement.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments:

Does talking about your period make your skin crawl?

Do you organize your time around the cycles of your body, the moon, and/or the seasons?

How do you feel about your cycle?

 

May we all continue to deepen our relationships with our bodies and with Mother Earth, even if it makes us nervous :)

Ihmmcm-web-header

 

  • SDH says:

    I loved that you talked about this! I hadn’t heard this advice and I hadn’t even thought about scheduling downtime around it. I don’t even know when mine is coming. I totally understand your discomfort about talking about it, but the advice to schedule downtime resonates with me. On the day I start, I give myself permission to do what I want that day and the next. Then, it’s back to business as usual. So, one to two days a month, I take a mental vacation (if I can). I agree with your mom it is important, but I wouldn’t take a whole week either. I have a fulltime job and that’s just not an option. I think a day or two is reasonable, though. I don’t take those days off of work, but I allow myself to do whatever I want outside of work hours on those two days and I work from home those days (if I can).
    This is a brave first step in talking about this and being honest. None of us are perfect in practice and that’s what makes us human and authentic. It helps people connect to you because we see you’re one of us on this soul journey. We all are learning, aren’t we? Blessings to you, Kate, and may you continue to honor your cycle, even if it’s on the “DL.”

  • Erika Hilliard says:

    OMG, woman! I made a decision to take a break from things around my cycle. I only shared it with my husband and kids, the dogs could care less…lol! Thank you for talking about this! I only wished I had done it years ago. I remember watching a documentary where women in a village in Africa take an entire month to take care of themselves. Oh my what a world this would be to do that. Thank you! Now to watch the video!

    • Kate says:

      I love that you already had made this decision…of course you had because YOU’RE AMAZING! It would be an amazing world if we all had the luxury to just be during our monthly cycle. But since that’s not the world we all live in, I think taking any step in that direction is amazing!

  • I have been doing this since last May and it has been WONDERFUL!! Some days I do nothing, but lounge and read.. Some days I schedule light “couch” work, meaning I can sit with my laptop on the couch and do it. I realize no everyone has this luxury but even if you can only squeeze out a day or two of downtime around the most tired lazy days of your cycle, it’s worth it and I highly recommend it!

  • Jenny says:

    Kate, I laughed, not in a mean way, more a case of – holy hannah she just described me! Yeah, I had the same response – it’s a period for goodness sakes, I’m not giving birth. Yet, as I have found over the last year taking a step back, honouring that I might need to sleep more, possibly be a tad more emotional and just might feel the need to curl up under a blankie with a good cuppa tea or a nice glass of wine in my big baggy pjs, instead of heading out in skinnies to pump energy, is actually a lovely thing. Thank you so much for being frank and open about this.

  • Hannah says:

    Dear Kate,

    This is a lovely blog, and it made me make a point to write down my upcoming month. I do always record my period, and yes I do plan around it. The pain and length of my period will tell me what I neglected in the previous month and what I need to be mindful in the next month. Much and most have to do around nutrition, if I have eaten poorly in a month, the pain and cramps are high, if I have eaten well, the pain and cramps are less.

    I also know to always eat a steak during the PMS stage of my period, just before my period I am super hungry and if I do not eat a steak, I go right to craving sugar and eating alot of it. I also eat alot of kale, greens, and berries berries berries – rasberries and blueberries – I read somewhere years ago that they were the best for the menstrual cycle and it has worked for me ever since.

    During my period I always drink cinnamon tea and add cinnamon to hot water, coffee, oatmeal etc – cinnamon helps bleed. And chamomile helps calm cramps. For more soothing for cramps, I apply castor oil to a wool sock and heat it and place on my abdomen for relief. Something about the wool is key I heard from a Naturalpathic Doctor once.

    I sleep lots during my cycle, long naps and 12 hour night rest, I unearth so much wisdom during the time and get all sorts of answers to all sorts of areas in my life. I go to sleep, wake up, and boom, I have jumped forward effortlessly and efficiently in my life with all of these answers that come from the calm intuitive place.

    I do not take pain meds at all for the cramps, I feel that it disconnects me. I remember once that Nature’s Sunshine, a supplement company once had a product called Monthly Maintenance – it was amazing, flawless periods. However I think they discontinued it, unfortunately. The primary ingredient was raspberry.

    Of course I always enjoy extra quantities of dark chocolate, make sure to keep warm, and long hot baths 1 lb sea salt 1 lb baking soda. I also take this time for that extra grooming, plucking (minus the bikini wax, that is best done just after the period is over), but other things like, I take extra time inspecting my skin, my face, dry skin brushing, oil treatment on my hair, homecare facial, paint my toenails, nails, schedule a massage, get an acupuncture treatment, schedule my haircuts around this time.

    I take home time to get those tasks done that I need to get done, that picture I need to hang, that extra care laundry that needs to be completed. In other words, I nest, all the home care, body care, self care, self love. Luxurious feelings, freshly washed bedsheets and pajamas, aromatherapy candles, and overall embodying being a woman. God or shall I say Goddess! I love being female!!!

    Thank you for the great reminder and post!
    With Grace,
    Hannah

  • MT says:

    Sorry but most women can’t block out time “to do nothing around their period”. Personally I’m not trying to get pregnant so why have one? In the past while on birth control I’d try not to have one by not skipping the sugar pills or immediately switching out and replacing the vaginal rings or taking the 3 month pill pack. Well I was tired of that so I got Mirena where 80% of women have a reduction of the period and 20% have the period disappear entirely. I;m on my second one and I love it,especially not havinga period for seven years but while waiting to get another one, I got an albeit light period and was seriously irritated once I realized how expensive tampons, water pills and Midol now cost. Now don’t get me wrong because I don’t consider a period “the curse” but since I’m not trying to procreate, then what is the point? No more worrying about pregnancy, cramps, bloating, letting it determine my schedule, activities and my attire. What drives me crazy is when I tell women I don’t have a period at worst it’s a little spotting, they look at me like I have 3 heads! Like something is wrong with me…lol! I just choose not to have one and they act like it is a burden they have to put up with since they are women. But hey I respect everyone’s opinion….

    • i’m not a scientist or a doctor but i worry about the implication of all those synthetic hormones and their carriers. i feel strongly about the fact that a body is self healing, and remains much stronger and healthier if we avoid the introduction of “foreign” things. i don’t trust the medical community to make sound longterm decisions about the longterm safety of what they give us to put into our bodies one bit.

      when i was young i did enjoy the pill and the spotty periods. now that i am mid forties i suffer greatly each month and i seek a herbal way to treat and possibly expedite (one can dream lol) the horrible peri-menopause and menopause so i can be done with it…after already having 3 children. but, over my lifetime i have noticed time and time again that medical interventions when there is no emergency tends to CAUSE more problems than it solves.

      so that being said….i say ALL THE POWER TO YA and i sincerely hope it works out for you….and i even envy you a little…….but ultimately i couldn’t choose that path, and i feel nervous on your behalf and truly hope that you don’t present with some weird thyroid or other hormonal imbalance related issue as a result of artificially suppressing the cycles that are a strong indication of robust LIFE in humans and also all of nature.
      NAMASTE

    • Kate says:

      Great points you raise here. The thing is, though, your period does a lot more things for you than just help you procreate. I would do more research before you just decide not to have one. It’s intimately linked with our creativity as women, and with our bodies’ ability to heal and cleanse itself. Check out the Menstruation chapter in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom for more info.

      And I agree, I think doing nothing around our period may be too tall of an order. I’ve decided to just take 4 days during that time where I take less appointments as a start.

    • AJ says:

      Our cycles are not only evidence of hormonal balance (or lack of), but also a way women detoxify. As a physician I see this a lot, hormone suppression (ingesting, injecting or topical hormones) create more serious issues later in life. Hormone imbalance effects many things: headaches, sleep, bacterial balance, bone density, etc.
      I love the support for consciously slowing down to honor our cycles and selves.

  • Thanks Kate, for your honesty, vulnerability and the gift you’ve just given to all your fellow ‘resisters’ – me included!

    I usually don’t listen to my body well unless it’s screaming at me!

    Having been a massage therapist for 15 years, I did, however, ‘get’ that my body needed to give less during the days leading up to and first days of my menses ( gawd I hate that word!) (- bleeding – yes- like that MUCH better.)

    Anyway, I didn’t do nothing at those times (but I’m pretty good at being lazy anyway- yay me!), but I did schedule fewer massages. Maybe it’s both because massage does take a lot of physical energy and that there is so much ‘giving’ when I really wanted to receive at those times. Just subtly, I was quite aware of that. Then I had to – like you said Kate – actually note it in my daytimer! And mostly I did honor that an let myself do less. It was good. In retrospect, a HUGE first step in respecting myself enough to allow so much more wonderfulness into my life.

    The body screaming thing did show up again however.
    For the last several years I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep doing massage. I wanted more mental stimulation, something different, something less – quiet!
    But I kept on because I did love the work, my clients, having my own schedule, the money was decent…
    but – BLAH.
    Finally I started getting stabbing pains down into my thumb. I had developed a ganglion cyst that got bigger and more painful the more I worked.
    I used a brace, I tried this and that – but I really ‘got’ that I was being told that it really was time to do something else.

    Well, many things have happened since…

    And I’m trying to pay attention, trust myself and take action to honor me and my body. And I still need to do more of that – so thanks for the reminder!

    One of my daily practices is gratitude. And today I am SO grateful for people who share stuff that is silly-scary, to shine the light on it and show to others, as you have here.
    What a gift.

    In deep gratitude always.

  • oops – I did my web address wrong?

  • Linda Ursin says:

    I have no problems whatsoever with talking about my period. I can’t say I’m good at taking downtime for it though. It might be because I don’t have any problems with pin, PMS or extreme bleeding. This time though I have no choice but to take time off. I had surgery for a vaginal wall prolapse yesterday, and I’m not allowed to lift anything, walk fast, or put any sort of strain on my body for two weeks. It’ll be six weeks until I’m llowed to go back to normal.

    • Kate says:

      Congratulations on taking the time you need to heal – and maybe you and I can both take a day or two off for our cycles even though we don’t have symptoms.

  • Stephanie says:

    This is the third time this subject pops up in one month! I recently quit taking any hormones and I must say: it feels so much better. And, because I just read your post Kate, I blocked some time off in my agenda every month.

  • Connie says:

    I with you on the “making my skin crawl” part. Almost as funny as who’s daughter you are, I’ve been a doula and childbirth educator for 15 years, and encourage women to embrace this stuff, but can’t seem to manage to do it myself!
    I have 2 daughters that I need to raise to love their bodies, and honor them. I better get on board with this myself- fake it till I make it!

  • i can’t take time off but i do crave steak, eat more, and definitely sleep more. mostly because i feel so crappy i can’t really drag myself to do much else. i work during the day, because my job is not easy to take time off from (many families rely on me) but the moment i can i crash.

    it’s not, in my opinion a time to honor myself or to introspect or take a break however. it’s more a time to grin and bear it and beg for it to be over soon…if i just sleep it away it will be gone in a couple of days. i’m irrational, emotional, agitated, headaches and cramps and general body achey all over. luckily being perimenopausal it’s short.

    wish it were a time of quiet “self love” NOT.
    bj

  • THANK YOU! Exactly what I needed. I have read WBWW many times over the past fifteen years, and appreciate how creative and passionate I feel around ovulation, but yet blame myself for lack of ability to “do it all” during my period. I am so grateful for your courage and inspiration by example. Not only do I see a new way to honor myself, but it is also refreshing that a woman so successful and in-tune with her own cycles, still has some difficulty in being still. I look forward to reading more of your work!

  • Mary says:

    I am 58 and no longer have my period, I fought it every month. Terrible cramps etc. My first period was marked by my Mom saying, “Don’t you wish you were a boy?”
    I encourage everyone to embrace Kate’s wisdom and take some reflective time.

  • Lori says:

    This is so interesting. I used to love my cycle. I always felt that we should cherish them. Now, in all honesty, I’m angry at mine. I’ve been trying to get pregnant, and it’s letting me down. When I first realized I wasn’t getting pregnant, I thought to myself, “Hey, I’ve always loved you. I’ve always stood up for you when others were taking the pill or trying to stop you, and this is what you are doing to me????”

    *Big Sigh*

    I saw your video and I don’t think you are the one who is not taking off time. Time for menstruating isn’t built into our society. Organizations don’t say, “Hey, you’re bleeding, take a few days off to slow down! Come in at 11 instead of 8!” The only girls in school who took time off were the ones who had cramps, and at the most that just got them out of PE, so it’s not really your fault for wanting to be productive all of the time. Productivity if honored, not our periods!

  • Heidi says:

    Every month, I think about the fact that I feel so exhausted and useless on the first full day of the rest of my month, but with real life the way it is for me–I work full time, go to school full time, plus volunteer at the animal shelter, keep up family life, and play in a band–I don’t get to do that. There is no good way to approach my boss and say, “I need one day off a month to do nothing because of my period.” You can’t just tell your professor “today is my Moon Day, so I won’t be in class.” It might work in the right situation, but so few of us have the “right situation” to be able to do so.

  • Beth says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for overcoming the weird feeling and talking about this! I’ve been wanting to do the exact same thing — plan down time around my moon cycle — for months now, and like you have met all kinds of resistance. For me, being a woman in a male-dominated tech field, there’s a lot of my own internal resistance to accepting (and valuing) that I’m not biologically male.

    I had cancer a few years ago and, during chemo, my menstrual cycle shut down. It was the oddest thing, getting to experience a kind of maleness — it felt so linear, and although I appreciated the steadiness of it, I quickly found that I missed my cycles. Missed being reset, having those couple of days that flushed out my emotions, and those couple of days in which I couldn’t follow a linear thought process if my life depended on it.

    Thank you for opening conversation around this!

  • I have always tried to rest a bit more when I have my period, but it’s the time before and after that I need to me more mindful. Everytime I start my period I say “Oh!” that’s why I was so short tempered with my family the last 2 days! I used to keep track of things that happened about 7-10 days after my cycle ended because they always seemed sort of magical with syncronicities and insights to key parts of my life. Thanks for the reminder to keep track again!

  • Stephanie says:

    After reading “The Red Tent” my perspective about women and our uniqueness changed. I wish I’d read it before menopause as I probably would have tried to honor my body more. I would still be guarded about who I’d share it with because some people are still sexist and would use the knowledge for taking advantage or furthering their own interests (or even for plain old abuse). I have many mixed feelings about the ages & stages of women’s lives. Reading “the Godesses in Older Women” again so pretty much over much of this. Honestly can say don’t count on “post menopausal zest”, however.
    Mainly, good for you: things will never change without open dialogue.

  • Different Strokes says:

    Ya know Kate…I think we are all a little different. The few days before my period and the first part of the day it started were low energy times, but by the evening of the first day I was a fireball. I think it is important to become one with the ebb and flow of our personal energy, whatever it may be. For me the majority of my period was accompanied by a rush of creative energy that I loved. I was more aware and connected during those times and often started new projects. I had to laugh at the thought of your mom’s friends showing up to bless you, perhaps filing through the door like some Druid order come to clam an initiate. With my luck my boyfriend would have shown up just as they marched across the yard in solemn procession. Great article!

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks Kate!
    I actually was indeed feeling guilty allowing my body time to do it’s thing. I thought it made me lazy and weak minded but what I found was true fulfillment. I take that time to catch up on reading, writing, day dreaming, list making, mind clearing, baking, etc. A lot of comfort things that I deny myself during the rest of the month. I feel more well rounded now and more productive because I am listening to my body. Where will this down time go when I don’t get my period anymore? That’s scary.

  • Sylvia Russell says:

    Women go through a lot. Each one is so unique Bless you for being brave enough to encourage us all : )

  • Lisa says:

    Kate, I’m so glad to see this conversation. I’m an acupuncturist and talk about this with a lot of my clients ~ how to honor our natural cycles and make space for what comes up instead of just explaining it away to “hormones”. I have a recurring monthly appointment on my calendar called “moon day/rest day”. So my closest day off to that day I give myself the freedom to not schedule anything. I may not end up resting that day, but the point is I’m giving myself the time to do whatever I need/want that day. Which could be nothing, napping, yoga, shopping, reading, going for a walk, doing a fun project, mindless chores or puttering, calling an old friend, etc etc. The point is to leave open space on my calendar to tap into whatever I need for nourishment and rejuvenation and self-care. Some days are quiet, others are active but there are no “have-to’s” and no planning ahead, no work-related activities, no guilt. If I can’t do a full day, (because I have an evening event or something else fun that I want to do), then I will give myself at least a few hours or a whole morning or afternoon. It’s really luxurious and something I look forward to.

  • Elle says:

    I so struggle with these same thoughts every month! As a business owner and yoga instructor, you have to be on your A-game no matter where that client or class falls in your menstrual cycle. The trouble is allowing the rest of your life the space it needs to heal! I know I can be a better healer and teacher just by working with my body rather than against it so I’m blocking my weeks out too! Thanks Kate!

  • Annie Inman says:

    Way to woman up Kate! Nope, don’t dig talking about my period. In fact when I do refer to it…..LOL, I call it “in heat”. I probably got honest with myself around your age, and thought it was silly to feel guilty if I didn’t work out as usual (ok, not that usual right NOW), or if I came home from work and lounged or slept for a couple hours. I gave myself the “gift” of no self talk on day ONE whatsoever. Just go to work AND WORK if a work day. NOTHING else “required”. (must admit no kids I’d have to take care of just in case this sounds like bad parenting)… Yeah, and I’m a healthy eater, but yep, may cheat a little more for a day or two. I can’t lay low a week, but I certainly try to cut myself some slack. Hey, you only go around once you know.
    Cheers Kate. Thanks for starting a dialogue with your awesome readers.

  • Hannah says:

    Hi Kate –
    This topic does not make me cringe at all, in fact I want to shout it from the roof tops. I feel it is so important for women to be up front about all this… I feel it is important to plan to *listen* more intently than usual to myself, as opposed to planning for down time…maybe that is because I am a person who already coordinates my life with time to breathe and listen to herself. I know how important rest is during this time of course, being very anemic and so on. But I categorize this as a *dynamic* time where I might want to rest, but interestingly, a time when my introverted nature actually prefers/ needs time with others. Rest is important, but I love the idea of planning to be surprised by what this firey, feminine power will unleash in me creatively, artistically and so on. Love this conversation, let’s keep it goin’!!

  • AJ says:

    Way cool! God was just talking to me about this very topic my last period. Confirmation that I need to be doing this.

  • […] wrote about my resistance to taking time out for my cycle a few weeks ago and many of you responded enthusiastically with your own resistance or your own […]

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