powerful puberty

Are Puberty and Perimenopause Powerful?

I am often asked why in the world I chose to call the workshops that I teach Powerful Puberty or Powerful Perimenopause.  How can a stage of life that can feel so unearthing, so confusing, so shaking in every way, be called powerful.  Am I spreading a false hope? 

Powerful by the dictionary definition means "to do, to act, the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events, political force or might".  I don't know about you but this sounds like a very one sided and masculine version of the word power.  I am NOT dogging on masculinity or even masculine power...let me say it again NOT doing that.  However, I believe that this version is one dimensional, leaving a whole lot out of what power means and looks like.  In the end it disconnects many of us women AND men from this other type of power.

Invisible Power is what I am talking about.

Invisible power is found in strong connections to others and to ourselves:  true love for another, connection to another, connection to yourself, love for yourself, an expression of who you are and your gifts, your inner knowing and acting from that.  These are ALL also power!  Flowing, intuition, nurture, connection, creation these are invisible power sources that aren't valued or included in the current definition.  They also happen to be feminine in nature and tie into our life cycles, although that does not mean that they aren't housed within men.  They live in both of us in varying degrees and as a culture, these power values aren't included.  This disconnects us from ourselves, from nature and from ways of being that are POWERFUL and connecting and I believe can change the way we experience the world and interact with it. 

Power is being embodied, discovering and uncovering who you are and showing that person to the world. Power includes vulnerability!

 The process of these time periods of life is that you are becoming you.  You are connecting with your inner wisdom. Brain scans show that the intuitive parts of our brain are more active during this time.  For perimenopause it is said that we are becoming "stupid" our brains are shrinking, yes we do tend to lose words and that is f**ing frustrating however we are also diving into our intuitive knowing, our feminine knowing which is VERY different than our logical knowing.  Our society has said one is better than the other and many of us have accepted that. 

The story that we have been told culturally is that these stages of life: puberty and perimenopause are anything but powerful; they are a curse! 

We have been told and therefore may have experienced them as SUCK!  Cultural neuroscience has shown that our brains are literally patterned by our culture and that patterning can also affect our biochemical nature.  This is why in cultures that have different stories there are different experiences of these time periods.  Another way of thinking about puberty is that it is the beginning of the cyclical nature/connection of our lives as women.  In my opinion HOW POWERFUL IS THAT!!!!  However, our world is VERY linear and doesn't allow much for the power of cycles in fact we try and control cycles to "get things done".  Culturally we don't honor cycles and in most ways we ignore them.  Of course girls who begin to cycle hate it!  Forget about the pain and inconvenience they hate what they see about what it means to be a woman, how not valued the cycle is.  Many of us weren't taught anything about that side of it, or even the health benefits and clues for our lives; our 6th vital sign of health.  We definitely weren't taught that it is something to be honored and even that we can live into it and when we do we are more productive than if we worked in a linear, full on all the time way.  Girls don't learn about the emotional, mental, physical aspects of this time. Most of us didn't when we were younger either and that carries forward into the end of our cycling.  Most women don't even know what perimenopause is, dismissing it at that horrible thing that happens when you are "old" and lose your period.

For many of you reading this who have been through puberty and found it to be anything but powerful, I get it!!!

It wasn't powerful for most of us but that isn't because it isn't, it doesn't make that story we were told true.  It means from the very beginning of the turning on of the connection we become disconnected.  From the very beginning, we saw our bodies in some ways as our enemy: the cramps, the headaches, the PMS is the curse and lets control it because CONTROL IS POWER.  OR what if we connect with it, honor it and listen to it?  What if that changes all the symptoms?  A headache is telling you something, so are cramps and all the rest...do you listen.  If you did would it be powerful?  Would that knowledge, that CONNECTION help you feel powerful?

Both of these time periods are for going within, being all mixed up and then figuring out and yes that can feel anything but our current dictionary definition of powerful. We can’t control it and we can’t overcome it, although we certainly try.

We have to be within it and let it do it's magic.  We need to listen.  What if this is what we were taught?  What if as a culture we went through these time periods in these ways, with these ideas as explorers?  THIS IS what I am talking about this is powerful.  Having a relationship with it and not labeling it as puberty hell, or temper tantrums but as moments of growing and changing.  If we are given the knowledge about what is actually happening in our bodies and we be open with them and with ourselves about these time periods.  

I am asking us to evolve and reclaim these time periods in a powerful way.  Not of control, force but of connection and embodiment of becoming.  It is a process of becoming and through the breakdowns that occur; the growth that occurs a more solid and powerful version of you emerges. 


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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.  


Powerful Puberty

Feelings of being alone, awkward.

Roller coaster emotions that take over and don't make sense. 

No one understands!

Growing parts of the body and things on the body: too big, too small, not enough, too much at the wrong time, too soon, too late. 

The unknown, the unspoken, the who to ask, the secretiveness, the embarrassment. 

It's all just too much? 

Puberty!  The phase of life when everything changes, there is no control and often times very little knowledge of what the heck is going on.  

It's time to change all of that!

We can create a new way of honoring this phase of life for young girls.  We don't have to continue the secretive nature, feelings of being alone, no one to connect to or talk with.  We can offer them a different way.   

What does it mean to have a powerful puberty? 

Simply put it means to go through this major transition period in life feeling connected to the self, the body and loved ones, as much as possible!  In reality it is a lot more complicated. 

As adults we have to remember that puberty takes places over SEVERAL years time and there is A LOT that goes on during this time! It is a transition phase from young girl to young adult.  That is BIG!  Let those words be your guide in those moments when your loved one is deep a pre-teen/teem temper tantrum.  

What is our supporting role?

Having a powerful puberty isn't about never falling down, feeling emotional, yelling, messing up, pushing boundaries or breaking the heck down in a heap on the floor.  In fact all those things should and will happen.  It is about honoring their feelings and the bigness.  We can help our young girls feel all their feels and help them find the ways and words to express them! 

We can help them by knowing, teaching and using tools to help them through this transition.  It's about teaching young girls how to express themselves, how to name their feelings, how to be themselves, now in this moment, and as they change.  It's about teaching them to know and accept their own bodies, their own needs.  It's about teaching them how to be comfortable with themselves.  To fit in while being them.  It is also about giving them full knowledge of what is going on in their bodies and minds and why.  Knowing the realities will help them feel powerful around what is needed in their bodies and what they can control. 

To have a powerful puberty is to learn and practice self-love and self-care NOW.  Can you imagine how different life would be for so many of us if we had that touch stone, that knowledge and that power as we were going through this first of many major transitions in life? 

Having a powerful puberty means we need to acknowledge that sometimes growing is hard. 

We still can educate about what is going on, frame it in an open and positive light, celebrate it and all of these things should happen!  We should speak openly about this so that girls don't have to go through this alone. 

Connection is key! 

It is what helps us up when we fall down, it is what keeps our hearts open and allows us to have the courage to grow.  We can't control puberty, what it does to the body and mind but we can put the focus on staying connected during this time.  We can surround them in a safe community to talk about the bigness, ask the questions and see that they aren't alone!

To do all this as mothers means that often we may need to do our own work. 

We also will fall down, we also will feel all the feels and we also can love and accept ourselves in those moments.  We too need to feel the connection.  To often when our children are at this point the mom's groups, the support that we may have had when they were younger is no longer there.  We don't share the stories of our teens melt downs like we did with tongue and cheek humor when they were little.  We take it more personally.

  The most common work that I see needing to happen is around education and revisiting.  We need to educate ourselves around what is "normal" now, what is going on in their bodies and minds and why, so that we can come from a place of understanding and empathy when we connect.  We also may need to do some revisiting and healing within ourselves around what our own experience was with this transition phase.  Many of us didn't have powerful puberties.  Some of us weren't allowed to express ourselves, to know our own feelings or bodies.  If we leave this unchecked it is very possible that something our daughter goes through may trigger this wound in us and therefore we wont react or be able to guide from a place of wisdom. 

What does being powerful feel like to you? 

Before we conjure up a time when you felt powerful in your life, let me first clarify what I mean when I talk about power.  I am not talking about the power of one up, power over, or that that is derived from external sources like beauty, money or status.  I am talking about the power that comes from within.  This power comes from a connection to ourself, to love, to our internal resources and gifts.  

Given that definition, can you remember a time in your life where you felt incredibly powerful?  Seriously, sit still for just a minute or if you have more than a minute take out a piece of paper and think or write about a time you felt powerful.  Conjure up that feeling, the story, what did it look like, where was the feeling held in your body, and WHY did it feel so powerful?  

I can thankfully remember many powerful times in my life.  One of the things that all my memories have in common is this, feeling powerful often comes with connection.  That can be through an external community connection or internal/personal connection.  

This is the essence of a powerful puberty to me!  The inevitable falling down and feeling out of control, weak, emotional and the coming together. the honoring of the time, the connection and the growth.

When young girls are allowed to feel all the feels and they are acknowledged and loved through it, they feel powerful; even if we can't make it better.  

That is what we want to give to young girls.  That is powerful puberty!