Self Care for Your Menstrual Cycle

It can’t always be summer!

So many of us live packed lives with our foot on the accelerator at all times. We want or think we have to do all the things and be all the things for all the people.

We need to remember life is made up of cycles and seasons for reason!

There is no better way to demonstrate this than the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is indeed a cycle with 4 distinct phases, that very much can be connected to the phases of the seasons. When you begin to pay attention and recognize this in your own life and then live in balance with this you start to accept and even embrace what each phase offers and you may even begin to enjoy and appreciate your cycle.

Our bodies tells us what they desire each season of the year. In the summer we all have more energy. We want to be outside. The abundance of sunlight affords us extra day time and we take advantage by being more extroverted and active. In the winter our bodies slow down as does the amount of daylight. We crave inner depth, warmth and slow.

When we are in the bleeding part of our menstrual cycle, we are in the proverbial winter and yet many of us continue to act as though it’s summer.

Your body is asking you to slow down. Your hormones are at their lowest (like daylight) of the cycle. You may get mad, “bitchy” during this phase. Of course! One of the reasons might be because you aren’t allowing yourself the slow down. You are judging yourself, your feelings and resisting what your body is asking. You aren’t alone many of us do this!

The winter of your period is all about reflection. The left and right sides of your brain chemistry are speaking to each other maximally at this time, something that only occurs in menstruating adults. This chemistry invites us to see the bigger picture. To take stock of our life and evaluate. Have you ever had that thought or complaint that comes often or even repetitively during your moon cycle? You think that you are being grumpy, “your on your period”, it’s not really that big of a deal. Yet each and every month the thought returns? It is because deep down you want a change and your cycle is reminding you of that. It is “getting real” with you.

So what if you tapped in and honored your bodies rhythms?

Yes I know that you have a life to live, a to do list to cross off and that you don’t live in a society that has red tents. I too live in the modern real world!

what CAN you do to make this time slower?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Go into rest and reflection mode: Each moon cycle is meant to act like clean slate. The hormonal dance is at it’s end and a reset occurs. Get yourself a journal and each and every moon reflect on areas of your life: family, work, business, friendships. Use the natural change that occurs within your brain chemistry during this part of your cycle and marry critical thinking and reflection. Think of your period as a monthly chance to connect with important aspects of your life; what is working and what needs to shift. Get real with your self! Spend 15 minutes, pour a cuppa tea and let the realness of your period connect on a page.

  2. Stop being one long to do list: Let the laundry go, the dishes pile up a bit or the emails go unanswered for just a full day. Do the bare minimum! Take a nice bath, go to bed early and let it all go. It will still be there tomorrow. It doesn’t affect your worth! It shows you that you care about yourself and will listen to your body!

  3. Create your own moon basket of goodies: A special candle, bath balm, yummy smelling essential oils, a hot rice pack, a good book and then use them!

  4. Create a ritual: Ritual is a way that we can honor this time. It doesn’t have to be a big and elaborate thing just something. Buy a special tea that you love and take time to drink it. Choose a special outfit that you wear and can feel good in (ditch the tight jeans). Buy yourself a journal or take a nightly bath with epsom salts. Commit to something that you will do each and every bleed.

  5. Prep: Make a pot of soup full of micronutrients and freeze it ahead of time, rather than junking out as so many of us do during this time. Do any lingering projects or things that you can do in advance so that you feel more at ease slowing down.

  6. Reframe by looking forward to a bit of a slow down: I hear all the time that people are bummed that this time of the month slows them down whether they want to or not. Try for a cycle or two to simply entertain the possibility that you may look forward to a bit of a slow down.

  7. Become a visionary: Chart your cycles so that you know when they are coming and create space to allow yourself to slow down. That means that if you are asked to attend an event or make a commitment you say NO. The no is not based on your love or desire to be there or help but rather on a love and desire for yourself and an acceptance to let yourself be in winter. We all think that if we say no we are missing a chance to x,y or z, we will disappoint someone or that we are selfish. Every other women bleeds and just gets on with it so why are you special right? The thing is we are all special and we all have this right. Choose to take it!

Over to you! What do you do or plan on doing to slow down and take care of yourself during your period? Comment below.


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Endocrine Disruptors: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Toxic Load and Improve Your Hormonal Health

One of the things that I often hear women say is how complicated it all is! So let’s start off with the basics.

To keep it SUPER simple let’s start with a saying most of us are familiar with, “You are what you eat” and then add on “You also are what you put in and on your body”. It’s true in our modern day society it’s not only what you eat and drink but what you eat and drink out of and what you put on your body that affect your hormonal health. It’s no wonder peoples heads begin to spin!

Parabens, BPA, DDT, Toluenve, 4-Dioxane and oh my!

Thousands of chemicals are released into the market each and every year and very few of those are actually tested for their health effects on humans or the environment (crazy isn’t it)! Current research is undeniably pointing out that contact with many of these chemicals at crucial points of development, create various problems: for developing fetuses, kids going through puberty and other transitional points of life. The long term affects of the over all health of humans it still unknown and being studied, as we are all used as lab rats. Research does point to a definite impact on our endocrine system by way of our hormones.

What’s an endocrine disruptor?

Endocrine disruptors also known as hormone disruptors are simply chemicals found in our environment (air and water), soil, food, food containers and some of our consumer products that directly alter our hormones in various ways. Hormone disruptors can affect your immune system, neurological system and reproductive health. (If you are really interested to get into the nitty gritty science on the how’s and why’s the chemicals do this see the links at the bottom of this article to do further research).

Endocrine disruptors come into our bodies through our nose, pores on our skin or our mouth. They interact with various hormones in our body in various ways. Some can block while other imposters enter our bodies and masquerade as our own hormones but on speed! One of the most common ways is by mimicking the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is one of the main female hormones and is responsible for regulating the presence of our uterine lining each cycle, developing breasts and our bone mass, just to name a few. When the hormones disruptors enter our bodies and confuse our system, our body thinks we have an ABUNDANCE of estrogen and estrogen dominance is one of the results.

Estrogen dominance is when there is an excess of the hormone estrogen in our system causing an imbalance to occur. An over abundance of estrogen has been linked to a MAJOR increase in the likelihood of PMS symptoms, fibroids, infertility, weight gain (especially around the middle or omentum), headaches, and estrogen dependent cancers like breast, uterine and ovarian.

Life is full of so much information! So why is this something that we need to become informed about and take action on?

The statics on gynecological and endocrine disfunction are astounding and rising all the time. These hidden chemicals that are literally wreaking havoc on our bodies and if you aren’t seeing any impact now it is likely that at some point in your life you will.

Good news! There are simple changes that we can make in our everyday life that will greatly reduce the chemical load on our bodies.

I get it! It’s hard to make a change especially when the information seems overwhelming or unaccessible! The list below is filled with simple ideas that can make a major immediate impact. My advice is choose ONE thing of the 5 to focus on NOW and start to make changes. Once that is part of your everyday habit move to another.

5 Ways to reduce your toxic load on a daily basis.

  1. Clean up your cleaning supplies: We all clean our dishes, or some part of our house/office and even our bodies on a daily basis. The VAST majority of products that you will find on the market contain hormonal disruptors. More than that the marketing world has caught on and uses the word natural and green to describe products that contain chemicals that we don’t want to put in or on our bodies. Knowledge is power! To find a complete list of chemicals and alternatives check out the Dirty Secrets Report.

  2. Beauty & Personal Care Products: Beauty is no longer just skin deep! The personal care products that you use on a daily basis maybe harming your hormones! I know it’s hard enough for many of us to find products that work with our skin or that we enjoy and it can be hard to want to change those but one study done showed that simply by changing make up from a chemical filled brand to a chemical free brand the measurable toxic load in the urine sample within 3 days was GREATLY reduced. Don’t worry there are organizations that have done the research for you, you can check out The Never List for ingredients you want to avoid, as well as Skin Deep to find lists of products that are safe to us.

  3. Food: I know that going organic has been “a trend” for a while now. I also know that organic can be more expensive. When possible pass on the “filler” food (you know those oh so tasty cookies, chips, cereal) to save money and buy these foods organic. Another huge plus for hormonal health, when possible make sure you buy foods that are not stored in plastics!

  4. Know what's your cooking with: We all love the non stick pans but most of them are literally cooking chemicals into your food! Switch to stainless steal or cast iron to avoid the extra chemicals!

  5. Plastic, Plastic, Plastic: It seems that we live in a world made out of plastic! Try buying a glass water bottle. For a super cheap solution get yourself a mason jar and some yarn to tie around for a handle. When reheating and storing food make sure you are doing it on a plate or in a glass container. This is a HUGE way to reduce chemicals leaching into your food.



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Let's talk about sex, drugs and rock and roll: Tips on getting uncomfortable and talking to kids about all the big stuff.

Parents we have to talk about ALL THE BIG STUFF! It’s time to get comfortably uncomfortable.

So many parents are uncomfortable when I bring up BIG topics: sex, porn, body image, masturbation, social media. I get it! I mean these are BIG topics and so much easier to just not talk about.

You see for many of us, along with not being taught about something as basic and integral as the bodies menstrual cycle, we were also not given information or conversations about sex, drugs or rock and roll. Right? If it was often it was a sit down, formal lecture on all the things we SHOULDN’T do. No conversation, no information “Just say no”. That didn’t work then and it’s not gonna work now.

The thing is most of us adults would of loved to have had that This is Us (if you haven’t watched the show I highly recommend it) conversation that made everything seem comfortably uncomfortable.

Our kids want this information! They have SO MANY QUESTIONS and we don’t really want them going to youtube or social media for the answers do we?

Kids “know” about things earlier and earlier! They are exposed to so much more information than we ever were at there ages. They have questions and we have the answers for them. We just have to be willing to get uncomfortable and go there!

Here’s the thing:

  1. More than likely it’s gonna be uncomfortable! Parenting in general can often be uncomfortable. I don’t know about you but I never got use to wiping the snotty noses or cleaning up the puke filled beds (why oh why could they never make it into the bowl!). Now that they are older they can thankfully do those things themselves but they have a new need; conversation!

  2. You many stumble across some words. You may even get emotional and it’s okay!

  3. You may not “do it right”. I am not sure that there is a “perfect” way to have these conversations; but if you put thought into them, have chats with friends and actually have the conversations you are stepping in the right direction!

  4. You may not know everything and that’s okay!

  5. More than likely they are ready for the information well before you are ready to give it to them.

My Advice:

  1. You gotta start somewhere and then keep going! Opening the dialogue on BIG conversations like: sex or consent is the hardest part. Once you start the conversation it gets easier to keep going. It isn’t a once and out affair but a continual check in as they grow older, have more questions and real life experiences.

  2. None of that “sit down we need to talk” nonsense. I don’t know about you but if I personally hear the words, “Sit down we need to talk” my adrenaline is released and my defenses are up. This isn’t a great way to start a dialogue or open conversation around big topics. Instead start the conversations on a walk, as you are driving in the car, playing a board game or some other flow moment when you aren’t uncomfortably staring across from one another. This will immensely take the pressure off the conversation! Set up the listening as if this conversation is normal and natural to have (p.s it is).

  3. Keep connected! It is easy as kids grow up to let the natural process of individuation occur. Our lives get busier, as does theirs and in general some tweens/teens get attitudes and they aren’t always as fun to be around. Here’s the thing though. They need us (even and especially when they say they don’t)! Establish early some sort of weekly ritual to stay connected. It doesn’t have to be time or money consuming; something as simple as a walk for 15 minutes every Wednesday or a cup of tea before bed once a week. Something that is planned and non-negotiable. Something that occurs every week and they can count on. Of course some weeks will be filled with silly talk and some weeks may present the opportunity for something bigger to come up.

  4. Keep it age appropriate and if you don’t know what that is then check out one of the resources listed in the end of this article or heck reach out to me!

  5. Try and make it a conversation! Basically kids this age don’t want to be lectured at. They want to be a part of the conversation. So saying things like “this has been on my mind, what do you already know about it, what questions do you have”, are all great starting points (even if they say nothing, it shows that you were honoring and respecting them).

  6. Make it as short as you can. You don’t need to go into every intricate detail and this probably wont be the last time you talk about this topic. It will come in layers. Try and keep it short and sweet so that they stay with you.

Over to you! I would love to hear how you are starting the uncomfortably comfortable conversations in your family!


Additional Resources:

Common sense media: Along with being a great app/website for guidance around the age appropriateness of media there is also a wide bredth of great advice on age appropriateness for BIG topics like: sex, body image etc.

Ah Ha Parenting: Multitude of articles on age appropriate behavior and advice for parents of tweens/teens.

Sex Ed Rescue: Age by age appropriate guide on when developmentally appropriate conversations should begin.

The Power of Menstrual Health: It's a Revolution Ladies

Ladies, the statistics say it all, women’s gynecological health issues are appalling!

  • 176 million world wide have endometriosis.

  • 1 in 10 women have PCOS.

  • 70% of all women with have at least one fibroid by the age of 60.

  • 60% of us over 60 will have a hysterectomy (starting as early as 25-35 these days). As many 75% of these are unnecessary.

  • 30% of all women aged 15-40 are on a hormonal birth control (over half is due to non-contraceptive needs a.k.a to put a band aid on a hormonal imbalance)

(Disclaimer even if you aren’t included in those stats the information in this article is for you! Specifically to keep you out of them!)

This stats tell a grim picture about the status of women’s gynecological health world wide. That’s the bad news.

So what’s the good news!

The younger generation is on it! There is a menstrual health revolution going on and I am so happy to be a part of amazing teens, young women and even those of us entering into our crone time working towards better health for women. Better health for women means more empowered health, women not only knowing more about their bodies but also talking about it!

I want to share just a FEW of the teens and women who are up to amazing work in this menstrual health revolution!

Bryony Farmer: Bryony is a TEENAGE girl from the United Kingdom.  Her path on the menstrual health revolution started when she contracted Lyme disease. Lyme left her bed ridden, which made changing pads/tampons incredibly hard. She discovered the menstrual cup which lead her to get deeply in touch with her own body and inspired her to share and educate other teens. She founded the company and website Precious Stars, along with a YouTube channel to help educate young girls about their periods in an empowering and accessible way from a peer.

Nadya Okamoto:  Nadya runs the organization Period. The Menstrual Movement. She started this organization after her family unexpectedly found themselves homeless in her teen years.  She saw a first hand account of how the lack of access to feminine hygiene products affected homeless women in countless ways. She crusades to make access to menstrual health information and products a right and not a privilege.

Alissa Vitti:  Alissa Vitti is a POWERHOUSE.  She has taken her own diagnosis of PCOS in her early 20’s and challenged the there was nothing that could be done other than birth control pills or a hysterectomy.  She spent years of research and personal trials, deeply connecting to the healing power of food and the endocrine system.  She helps MILLIONS of women each year do the “impossible” and heal from PCOS and other menstrual health issues.

Megan White Mururia:  Founder of the ZanaAfrica Foundation an organization that helps Kenyans girls stay in school by providing them with free sanitary pads (prior to this organization the girls were missing up to 6 weeks of school per year and dropping out at high rates all due to lack of menstrual health care products).  She is not only providing access to products she is showing the girls that they are worth it and that this cycle doesn’t have to hinder there life, she is opening the conversation.

These women are calling B.S on the notion that there is nothing that we can do about the abysmal women’s health statistics and disease.  Not only are many of them doing their own research they are also being fearless about changing the narrative!  They are talking out loud what cross culturally we have kept secretive for so long.  The more we talk the more we can bring focus change occurs. 

So…HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Back in the day when I was a kid NO ONE in my friend group, town, just NO ONE was talking about periods! As an adult I chalked this up to being raised in a small town in middle America. However, I have come to research and experience first hand that well over 50% of the adult female population STILL don’t want to talk to ANYONE about their periods or menstrual health issues (even health care providers). They state that they don’t feel heard, they don’t trust and they don’t believe there is anything that can be done other than a pill or surgery.

One of the reasons that so many of us as women don’t know about our own cycles traces all the way back to actually getting our cycles. 

In my years as a midwife and menstrual health educator I have heard countless stories of surprise, embarrassment, shame, confusion and ignoring of the start of the young girls period. When a girl started menstruating there was little communication and life moved on.  These are just a few short versions of stories I have heard OVER and OVER again.

“It just wasn’t talked about”

“I had no idea what was happening to me.  I felt scared and alone.”

“I was given a pad (slid under the door) and told it would happen every month and that was it”

 “I hid it for a full year; I was so embarrassed” 

“My mom told me that my life was basically over and that I better get used to feeling horrible every month”

Let’s take a good look what the ramifications of that introduction into menstruation might be to the over all menstrual health life cycle. 

From the very beginning we are disconnected from the cycle!  We never see it as a curious thing that occurs, let alone as something we could and should have knowledge about.  We experience it as a few days of “bleeding” that is annoying and that we grin and bare, along with all of the annoying and sometimes painful things that come with it.  We aren’t given the understanding on how this cycle occurs all throughout the month and affects ALL THE THINGS!  We aren’t given the knowledge that what we do, eat, how we exercise and so many more things directly impact our cycle.  It is rare that someone says our cycle doesn’t have to hurt, to come with pain and that we don’t need to wish it away.  In fact, has anyone ever told you that your cycle is actually your bodies way of communicating with you on what is going on internally and is even an indicator on how your overall health is?  Thinking about it like this makes it seem POWERFUL.   

Now imagine a world where….

Can you imagine if when (or even before) you got your period someone was open and honest with you?  What if your introduction into this time of your life was honored?  What if you were given information about how important menstrual health is for your entire life?  Heck what if you were just given some information about it in a way that promoted the normalcy of the event rather than talking about it secretively?

The truth is that we have so much more “control” over our bodies than we ever realize.  Really the control or power that I am talking about is coming from being able to understand our own bodies and then have supportive tools to respond.  To no longer be reactive to them and push away any pain we have by taking pills (that end up putting a band aid on the root cause and making it worse in the long run) or pushing away uncomfortable emotions and chalk it up to “PMS”, rather than digging into what PMS emotions are telling us month after month.

THAT’S WHY WE NEED A MENSTRUAL HEALTH REVOLUTION

And you need you to be an empowered participant!

Many of the women highlighted in this article and that take part in this work came to this calling through their own experience of disease.   The thing about the revolution is that we are asking all girls and women to show up and be empowered by reframing their thoughts, curiosity and knowledge about their cycles.  We want girls starting their cycles and women who are at every stage to know about their bodies so that we change those stats!

For me knowing about our bodies is as necessary as breathing and eating (in fact so much of our hormones are actually regulated by our diet).  If you feel disconnected, uninformed about your body or want greater connection than make sure to check out Empowered Menstrual Health; becoming an empowered participant in the revolution by just knowing more about the intricacies of your own body (whether or not it is suffering from dis-ease).

 

Creating a First Moon Basket

Creating a first moon basket (or period basket if you prefer) as a gift for you daughter’s first period can help ease her into this new phase in the spirit of celebration and connection.             

No matter how well we have prepared our daughters for this day, they will experience an array of emotions. For most of them this day feels Big! Greeting them with a celebration is a great way to honor and embrace this change in their life; creating a moon basket is a great component of the celebration. A moon basket is a surprising element that can set the tone of self-care and an honoring or awareness around their cycle.

There is no right or wrong way to make a moon basket for you daughter. To get your own creative juices going here are some ideas of things you may want to include.

  • A beautiful basket/container

  • Menstrual supplies (pads/tampons/cup/undies)

  • Dark Chocolate

  • Bath Salts (Making your own is simple and less expensive! Not to mention you can assure that they help and don’t harm her new flowing hormones: you can simply get epsom salt and add a drop of essential oil per handful of salt and put it in a fancy jar)

  • A special necklace (with a red stone/theme)

  • Journal

  • Lotion

  • A special tea mixture and tea cup

  • Red candle, Red stone, Red scarf etc.

  • A new book

  • A love letter or card

No matter what you include she will be surprised and grateful for the extra love and attention.

Mom’s have you made a first moon basket or are planning on it? I would love to know what you included and how your daughter received it! 

Circling Up: How to Create a Mother/Daughter Circle

It’s simply a fact: studies and common sense show us that continuing to connect with kids in all stages of their lives leads to: healthy relationships, better boundaries, greater self-confidence and a more connected family.

However, as a society this transition/teen phase of life is when we see so much disconnection.

Throughout the early years of pregnancy and toddler hood many of us have access to a new community: pregnancy classes, mom groups of all different shapes and sizes, music classes, mops etc. We share our exhaustion, our embarrassing stories about how Tommy bit Jimmy, or what to do about teething, sleeping, temper tantrums and discipline. However, as the kids get older, enter school and all of the other activities and adult commitments, we begin to split. Many of us become ships passing at pick up and drop off with a nice hello and I gotta go.

Here we are entering into a BIG transition phase of life the tween/teen and we are without community.

There is no one meeting to talk about the teen temper tantrums or “bad” choices. Many of us even hide those things out of a fear that our tween’s choices are a reflection of bad parenting. We are lost at sea, as we deal with bigger issues that many of us didn’t receive guidance on even when we were teen ourselves. How to talk about: sex, puberty, what boundaries to lift and what to stick with, how to talk about social media, what about pornography? All of this on top of jobs, driving around to this game and that activity, your own social life and relationship to a loved one, not to mention any downtime and self care.

So what do we do?

We circle up! We gather a circle of people who are intentionally coming together to surround the younger ones as they grow. A circle for support, questions, connection and to show you your way back when it seems so very hard.

Studies have shown is that it is thru connection and parental involvement, parent’s “leaning in” that teens are able to develop healthy boundaries, less eating disorders, good communication and less risky behaviors. Due to the natural focus shift from family to peers that happens during individuation, adults can circle up around them and maintain the connection while providing influence through others. This offers a safe and fun place to be while talking about important topics that they are dealing with.

I do want to say YES it takes commitment and YES it is another “to do” and one that is easy to want to put to the bottom of the list, just as we do with self-care. However, caring for these relationships in this intentional way in the end helps EVERY AREA of our and theirs.

In the end the time that we put in and intention that we put in makes everything EASIER!

The how to:

  1. Put the call out: It’s pretty obvious that you need to start by finding the community that you wish to surround yourself with. Will it be your daughter’s best friends from school? A random group that you find by putting it out on meetup.com or some other connecting service? Or even a combination of the two. What age group?

    Suggestion: You can’t start a group to young!!! In fact it is easier to start a group BEFORE middle school, as the girls are less resistant and haven’t entered into the bigger transition phases. Of course you can and should start a group for older girls if that is the phase you are at! The big suggestion is to keep the age groups tight, meaning if you are doing a younger group than do a younger group only. 8-13 is to wide of an age gap, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13 are good ranges.

  2. Meet as moms FIRST and for a few months: In order to make this a circle that will be long lasting, it is good to come together as moms first and for a few months. You will need to set “ground rules” including: the tone, the where, the who, the flow for the group. You will want to talk about how you are going to handle group group dynamics and what each individual mom’s strengths are. You will want to decide who will lead or if you will spilt it up. Who is the main point person to gather everyone up? Setting up a group with a solid foundation will help with the longevity.

    Suggestion: Map out an entire year “plan” dates/times/locations, as well as topics that maybe covered inter mixed with fun meetings filled with art work or other fun activities for everyone. It is nice to have a theme for the year based on the girls development and build upon that theme in each gathering.

  3. Bring in the girls: Once you feel that you have met enough to set up the foundation of your group as moms, it’s time to invite the girls. You will want to create some sort of ceremony or intention setting activity with the girls as they enter this new space. They need to “get” what this is all about. Share with them that the time together will be fun and that there maybe time for seriousness as well; that it is a safe place to be together. For the first few meetings you will want to keep it light and fun. Of course for girls that don’t know each other you will want to do fun, bonding activities.

  4. Moving Forward: As you continue along the journey together, I suggest regular mom’s only meetings. To support each other as you are going through this phase in your child’s life. There maybe times where a mom/daughter relationship is struggling and gathering together without the girls to feel heard and supported will help. It requires a lot of vulnerability and showing up and through this is how we are able to keep on being opening and leaning into the relationships that matter to us.

I am always available to help out with questions or ideas for mother/daughter groups. If you would like to connect further simply reach out!

What to do when your daughter feels resistant and angry about puberty

Transitions can be scary: a place of unknown, a black hole, out of control, stormy.  It is normal for girls to feel anxious or fearful around the transition phase of life called puberty.   

However, sometimes girls are down right adamant that puberty is NOT going to happen to them!

  They don't want to give up their younger selves or their younger bodies.  They don't want their bodies to change and they don't want to lose control of how and when it will happen.  They don't want to give up playing their "childhood" games and when puberty comes knocking at their door early, it can cause a heightened sense of these feelings.

When girls are resistant to puberty we need to recognize the wisdom that is coming from deep within them.  They get it.  They get that they will be seen differently, although they can't really put a firm understanding and expression of it. They get that things become a lot more complicated as they leave the childhood years behind.  

So How can we be there for them?

Don't try and fix it: Sometimes as parents we want to fix things, to make them all better.  It's hard to watch our kids suffer and not want to take it all away. Here's the thing, when kids feel such big emotions they don't want us to fix it!  They want us to let them feel them, express them and hold them while they do.  We don't have to solve it, always help them figure out the why, or come up with ways to make it better.  Just be there and hold them in the muck!

Keep showing up:  Keep talking and communicating in whatever way works for them.  This means that you may have to have a conversation around expression.  Do they want to talk about it, write about it (journal with you), sing?  Share with them the importance of continuing to move through their feelings and ask them how they want you to connect with them.

Know what's normal: It is important to know what is normal for kids to experience during this time!  It helps keep you sane and it helps you notice anytime where what your child is experiencing is something you might want to seek additional guidance around.  It is really normal for emotions to be all over the place; emotional storms!  It is normal for kids to experience anxiety and fear around these changes and to move through them. 

Know what's NOT normal: It is not normal for them to want to hurt themselves, to not want to communicate in some way to some one about the changes, to have major personality changes that are destructive and dark.  When things that are abnormal are occurring it may be due to many different deeper reasons.  It may be awakening a loss of control in their life and have nothing to do with "puberty" but more to do with unresolved issues with a divorce, bullying or any other things that occurred or are occurring where they feel out of control.  In these cases their intense resistance to puberty is their expression of the unresolved issue and additional support is recommended. 

Draw out their stories: They also may have stories about what puberty looks like. One of the first things we can do as parents to support them is to draw out the stories they are telling themselves about puberty.  They may have seen something, heard something or gotten an idea about something that just isn't true.  Often times the stories are around seeing sex as tied up with puberty and they are NOT ready for that!  It's up to us to find out what those stories are.  You can do this by asking what they think and feel about x,y or z (open ended questions) or you can practice writing or telling a story, where your daughter gives a fictitious character a story around puberty and see what comes up.

Give them knowledge:  Share with them what the changes are all about and why they happen.  Talk to them about their questions, go through books with them and show them how to put on pads, tampons or take a powerful puberty class and learn about all these things and so much more with other girls and their mothers! 

Offer stability in their emotions swings: We are all humans right?  Of course when your daughter is raging at you or throwing a tween tantrum it is easy to say "stop it, grow up, it's not that bad" or just simply to be reactive to them.  What actually helps in these situations is being a emotionally stable adult.  Don't worry none of us are perfect and sometimes we will react and join in the storm, it's normal!  Don't beat yourself up!  However, it's important that we understand where they are at, so that the majority of the time, we are a tree swaying in their storm, rather than joining in to create a super storm.  Connecting with other adults around this to decompress is HUGE. (I have created a Powerful Puberty facebook group just for this decompression and learning, feel free to join!)

Honor the negative feelings and show the positive side: Honor the crud; whatever that looks like to them!  Saying things like, "Yeah I get how that seems weird or how you don't want that to happen"  and see if you can draw out the stories of why. Make sure the honoring is also mixed in (in the right moment, not in the emotional stormy times) with all the amazingness about the change.  Puberty is a time where she gets to step into her own strength, make more of her own choices and discover more of her unique personality and how that shows up in the world.  

Create a ritual:  Puberty is a coming of age, a transition in life and it should be honored.  Find some way of creating and honoring your daughter.  I suggest that you make sure that she knows that she is still the same as she was the day before her period started or her hair grew and she is also new and deeper. 

Girls that are going through or have gone through puberty need to be shown that they are still who they were before.  Simply put, there is a now a new layer to who they are and that will continue to happen as they grow older.  It doesn't take away from who they are.  They can bring their joys, toys and friends along with them on the journey.  They are simply becoming a more full version of themselves.


If you would like further you and your daughter's connection with each other and her body during this phase of life please check out my Powerful Puberty workshops.  

 

We have been lied to and manipulated

Taking your period from burden to blessing.

There is a myth in our culture.  It comes across in various messages but it boils down to this, your menstrual cycle is a major burden!  It is filled with pain, discomfort, emotional messiness, and unpredictability. 

Advertisements reinforce the myth.  Tampon commercials call it "mother nature's curse".  Feminine hygiene products are created and advertised to allow us to continue our active life styles; never let a period slow you down and you can even wear white clothes.  What do you think the advertisers said, as they sat around their circular table throwing out ideas?  "Well Jim, I think that women everywhere just want to play tennis and wear white clothes while on their period, so let's go with that angle".  As my 80's self would have said "Gag me with a spoon"!    

Our modern day myth around the feminine burden is just that, modern day.  For THOUSANDS of years women found connection with each other, their bodies and to the inherent cyclical nature of life and wisdom through menstruation.  Women would gather together to bleed.  They would honor the slow down, as would their entire culture.  It was celebrated and honored and in some cultures it still is today.  They saw it for what it was and is, wisdom that flows through their own bodies.  Connection to our own internal rhythms and power.

Most women today scoff at the idea of embracing their cycle; let alone actually enjoying it or seeing the wisdom and power that our ancestors found within. We are taught or not taught to keep it quite, hidden and just deal.  How many stories have I heard of young girls (who are now women) hiding their period when it started, feeling ashamed, feeling lost and confused, not knowing what to do or who to talk to.  Think of the life long impact of that!  When young girls are learning about puberty in a classroom it's biologically based and deadened of the actual power and connection that is possible to be found within the cycle.  

So what is normal. 

It is normal for your body to speak to you in all sorts of different ways.  It is telling you something and it wants you to connect and listen!  It is not trying to hurt you, annoy you, burden you or act like a toddler throwing a tempertantrum.  If you are experiencing intense cramping...there is a reason!  And no throwing a birth control pill in your mouth every day will not "solve" that reason, it will mask it for awhile and may cause other things to start to talk to you.  No judgement, I was put on the pill at an early age because of my intense period discomfort and it worked for awhile, and it unleashed a whole other set of undiscussed symptoms, that can't or aren't quantified by a scientific method.  Emotions/feelings are not scientific, but when I got off the pill and talked to other women how different and alive I felt after getting off, I was met with SO MANY of the same and similar response.     

It is normal to feel more tired, and it would be fine to want to sit more, to not work out those days.  It would be normal to want to go into a cave and not be all for everyone for a day or so.  It's not summer all the time right?  We can't always go, go, go.  It would be normal to get moody and if you get down right Cruella de Vil then your body is telling you something. 

If your body is yelling at you there are reasons; life imbalance, hormonal imbalance, emotional releases, diet shifts that need to be looked at.  Really tuning in and listening to your body, honoring what it is asking by doing it and letting go of the guilt, excuses, shame or whatever story comes up that prevents you from taking action on the listening.  Tuning in and making some changes will shift your relationship with your period from burden to blessing.

It is a lie that our cycles have to be a burden, it is a lie that our cycles have to cause us pain, it is a lie that the suckiness of it all is normal!  It is simply a disconnection and it takes space, time and awareness to get reacquainted.  For so may generations now the disconnection has gotten deeper and deeper and it's time for us to not only stand up and say "#metoo this isn't normal how we are treated, but it isn't normal how we treat ourselves!  

It's time to heal and reconnect.

 

 

Check out my womb work sessions to start connecting to yourself now.

I was a really good mom before I had kids

Ever since baby #2 arrived over 10 years ago I have had this desire to write a book called, "I was a really good mom before I had kids".  It was going to be filled with funny stories and anecdotes that I have heard mothers tell over the decade and a half of being a mom and midwife.  I love to joke about motherhood because, well when you nurse, are pregnant or have a toddler for almost 14 years STRAIGHT, a little humor is needed.

Before having kids I worked as a midwife, a nanny, a teacher, and several different programs with teens.  I love kids and was always great with them.  Moms would come up to me and ask me how I got their children to behave so well, to sleep so well, to act so different than they do with them.  I thought I was amazing; that I had a super power with kids and parenting was going to be E.A.S.Y for me, and then I had kids of my own.  Mine didn't (and still don't) sleep, they have been known to hit each other, through tantrums in the middle of a store, yell.... you get it.  For a few years I would  beat myself up about these things.  I wasn't doing it right, I couldn't figure it out, I wasn't a good mom, I had to try some new thing or book.  After baby #3 I realized, the things that they do, DOES NOT make me a bad mom or make them bad kids, it just makes us all human. We are all learning and growing and that is NORMAL!

What I really wished I would have know BEFORE having kids is this

1.  They don't come with instruction manuals.  Yeah, I actually did know this but I thought if I read every book on the subject that would substitute.  It doesn't.  They are each unique and changing it up ALL THE TIME!!!  Your intuition and connection to them is KEY and even then, YOU WILL MESS IT ALL UP sometimes.

2. Putting your oxygen mask on first SHOULD NOT just be a cute saying you hear but don't honor.  We can all 'yes but' our way out of taking care of ourselves but parenting is a LONG HAUL and as much as we want to pour it all into those little bundles; if we don't pour it into us and recharge first we get burned out, overwhelmed and stressed!

3. Earplugs are THE BEST present anyone can give you.  Forget cute baby clothes or the latest contraption; earplugs are where it's at.  Not so that you ignore them!!!  So that the sensory overload isn't how you react to them.  Kids are loud, they are suppose to be loud, inside voice are great but for me the glee filled giggling of 4 kids is enough to send me over the edge. 

4. Your heart will be pulled and tugged in a million directions.  You want to do the best for them, to give them all you can but you can't and that's okay.  

5.  You will mess up....a lot.  Don't judge yourself or other moms.  Acknowledge your mistakes, say your sorries and truly love on you and other moms

6.  It's easy to be on the outside looking in; to offer advice, criticize, judge.  What we all really need is someone to hear us and laugh, love and tell us that we aren't alone.  We all struggle in some ways as parents and humans.  #adultingishard

7.  You may never sleep through the night again.  Although I am told that this may just be a phenomenon in my house.  

8.  If you let them, your kids will help you transform in ways you never knew were needed or possible.  Your personal growth, self development and evolution is spurred way more by kids than ANY self-help book or latest trend.

So now that I am deep into this parenting thing with kids in the teens, tween, and toddler stages.  I no longer desire to write the book.  What I realized is that I am a really good mom, that despite falling down sometimes, not always wanting to parent,  I continue to show up for myself and for them.  To learn, grow and be a good mom.  I define what that looks like not anyone else.

  

2018's Self-love Embrace

Last year I went on a journey of transformational self-care.  Several years before I had a realization that I almost always put other people's to do's, wants, needs ahead of my own.   In fact I realized I was really disconnected from even knowing what my own needs were.  So much so that I often didn't even realize I was holding in pee because I was tending to someone or something else that I saw as more important!  I know I am not the only women or mom out there to do that!  I love to give, I love being a mom, I love being a wife and I love working.  I thought that in order to do all of those things "perfectly" I had to give and give and give.  The deeper issue there was that I was feeling my worthiness in what I was doing and showing up for people, rather than knowing that I am enough without doing or being but because we all are.  Then my body started to shout out to me that my pace and lack of attention to myself wasn't working and I realized that I had to shift. 

2017 was all about transformational self-care; taking care of myself in a way that truly transformed my relationship to giving, receiving and to myself.  When I went about this journey I knew that it couldn't be just about adding things to my to do list, even if that was an exercise class I would love.  I knew that adding more things would actually stress me out more and I wouldn't be able to sustain them.  I am a deep person and so I had to go deep.  Transformational self-care was about finding ways to bring self-care to all that I already do and take things out of my life that weren't serving my self and/or others.  It was about being brave enough to say no as a way to say yes. 

We are now one quarter through 2018...what?!?!  It has taken some time to reflect on the changes that were brought about last year.  A few weeks ago I spent a weekend alone and I realized what A LONG way I have come.  That changes that came about lasted and it was because I was intentional, connected and loving to myself even when I wanted to run away from what I saw.  It didn't require more money, more time, more things I didn't have!  It was about making small changes that last.  

This year my word is openhearted presence.  My focus is on self-love. 

Yes, it is a part of what I was working on last year but this year I am working on deepening that openness to myself, especially when things get gritty and I want to shut down.  In my experience whenever I commit to working on something it shows up everywhere and sometimes I think to myself, "Am I really up for this"?  Being brave, vulnerable and opening up, instead of shutting down when your stuff is brought up, is hard when you have been someone who shuts down, shuts up and then internalizes.  I have been working on opening, vulnerability, and communication for years with others but this year it is time to turn that around on me.  As always I want to share what I am working on, learning and finding along the journey with you all.  I know that much of what I am working on applies to so many of us.

So....introducing the self-love embrace. 

I am offering guidance, thoughts, and tools for the rest of 2018 via short videos and embrace activities in your inbox every Monday evening starting on 4/23.  

If you feel like self-love is something that is calling you to focus on and you would love more love and embrace in your inbox sign up below! 

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