Two weeks ago, I was at the end of a Palawan vacation with my mom when, as she was set to fly back (I was to follow a few days later to be home for her birthday), I started sensing that my period was about to flow. So I decided to fly back home the same day. There was nothing I wanted more than to curl up in my own private space for the days to follow, talk to myself, ask my highly complex body how it’s been with operations, and get ready for the four budding, brand new weeks ahead.
I started bleeding at the airport, and was nearly finished three days later when my mom’s birthday came around. For the rest of that week, in celebration of the birth of the woman who had given birth to me, I meditated on my own recent births and what I intended to give birth to next.
As a woman, I am entitled to give birth.
But I only recently found out that I am entitled to give birth each month.
The Period Power
Let’s talk about the birth of our period pains, first. It is the same thing each month, isn’t it, girls? As if the events unfolding are always brand new: the bloating, the mood swings, the cravings, the appetite loss, the cramps, the release, the confusion, the recovery, the pleasures, round and round again, to and from those fertile highs and apocalyptic lows… We know all the twists and turns and expect nothing less of them. And yet, no matter how many times they pay us their visits, these hormonal tricks and triggers tend to feel new and unwarranted each time. The unraveling feels as predictable as a snow avalanche in summer and the best we can do is make jokes about our body to make light of the situation.
From my worsening mood swings during PMS, to my learning to use the diva cup and getting rid of “sanitary” napkins that smell, to my wanting to define more clearly who I am in my female body, to my rediscovery of a body that has an intelligence that prevails if I listen and trust it to do what it can do – I had plenty of motivations to renew my understanding of the seemingly momentary “periods” that actually take up a sizeable overall period of my entire existence.
Thanks to YouTube and the almighty search button, you think of a little something and immediately have access to finding at least one human out there chatting away in full confidence about a bigger something that has only begun its live stream telecast in you.
I knew well the power my period has over me. I wanted to find a way to not only work around its frequency, but work with it.
This TED talk by an Aussie beaut named Lucy Peach was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, and stumbling upon this lady last June changed the whole natural cycle for me:
What have I gathered from this?
I am not only moving with all phases of the moon each month, but I am also equivalent to an entire revolution around the sun.
I am a legit Goddess.
It doesn’t feel like only six months since I started following my inner seasons. I feel as if I have lived multiple lifetimes since. It is as if each month has had a life and pattern of its own. I now seem to follow a timeline of my own internal clock and calendar, separate from anybody else’s and the working world.
Taking Peach’s idea and seeing the female body’s four weeks as parallel to the four seasons made incredible sense to me. Especially when I have recently begun seeing myself and the human body as a parallel and smaller compact model of the outside world, of the patterns and collisions in nature, of time and space, of the galaxies and Creation itself. I am the Universe; I believe that.
The period power campaign presented to me a power shift in perspective on how I looked at and experienced my monthly journeys. A journey that, all throughout, used to feel as if I was being drawn so deep into an abysmal unknown wherein I would find myself so lost. Every time.
The experience of your own body should never be an experience of losing to it.
Your body is your home. Your own friendly fostering wilderness.
It may be the unknown at times but there is no excuse to feel lost in it. In this modern day and age, GPS is available around the globe, and we are given maps on our individual electronic gadgets. But within our own body – our given home since birth – we have always come provided with our own map. As women, our cycles have been the built-in navigational system of our female bodies. All we ever had to do was follow our own weather channels and accept the gifts each season has to offer.
Here is the proposed program flow:
Winter is not a time to go out and make ourselves vulnerable to the harsh and open cold, but a time to hibernate, reflect in solitude and warmth, let go of having to work or worry about anything, and allow our systems to absorb and process the nourishment we have garnered and been feeding ourselves in the past days and weeks. It is time to look forward to next Spring, and daydream of what we wish to grow more of or take notice of what we find missing in what thrives in our environments today.
Spring is the time to taste and appreciate; harvest the fruits and smell the flowers. Not only out in nature but within ourselves. Sow more of the seeds you love. It’s time to display our feathers and don extra colors, feel great about being alive and available to the world around us, and celebrate our participation in co-creation. It’s time to dance and shake our booty, just because we can.
Summer invites everyone else to the party. It is for giving and stepping out in the sunlight to find those who want to share in the creations we have made from our harvests. Trade ideas, set up festivities, connect, give away all that extra light and energy burning from within! It’s for allowing new energies in and playing around and putting ourselves out there in the community, making our contribution to the bigger whole.
As of this posting, I am at the onset of my Summer.
Autumn and the Ability to See Red
This season needs its own section and more stage time; lest it lashes out on all of us.
Let’s all gather at the community hall and hold our hands in prayer. Winter is coming.
Kidding, but not kidding.
You know what this week is all about. Your man knows what it’s all about. The waiter, the neighbors, and the driver in the next lane should know what it’s all about.
It’s the week we would all rather do without.
I wanted to put a signage up every time my period was drawing near: ATTENTION EVERYONE! To the people I love, you know the drill, abandon ship, stay away, I am getting ready to self-destruct!
This is how I always saw my situation. And I suffered from the anticipation of it. And I thought that to love me meant you had to anticipate and know how to survive it every month, too.
I have gone through it enough to know what kind of disaster it could lay in its wake and you would think I would have a First Aid Kit (in short, FAK!) put together and handy by the nth period of my full grown womanhood. But not having understood the purpose of my precipitations made me feel raw and unprepared and overcome each time.
I thought that all I needed to do was get through it alive. And get my loved ones through it alive. Because science says and predicts that I am supposed to be like this for a few days each month and we should all just suck it up. Because I’m a woman. Because hormones.
I would be screaming over the howling winds, rallying the rescue teams, and throwing out canned goods, all stressed out and unnerved and desperate. I would be irritable beyond control, argumentative beyond reason, bawling over dog videos, most critical of the ones I most care for, impatient, defensive of my poor self and exposed to all moving objects obviously out to attack me. Until it’s all over and I then realize that, shit, that just actually happened again. Time to look at damages.
I was so helplessly sensitive to all my symptoms-without-cures that I often knew the exact moment my blood started flowing before a drop came out of my physical body. I would feel the shift, so clearly: sunlight breaking through clouds, birds singing, butterflies flittering about, children laughing, music playing, the open sky, light at the end of the tunnel. Finally. I flow. And the world is in top form again.
But it turns out, it wasn’t about having to struggle through whenever the world turned dark and the leaves dried out, falling one by one, taunting me. I wasn’t supposed to race myself out of where I was bound to come around to again and drag everybody out of the fire each time with me.
What I needed was to steady myself, respect exactly where I stood, and not attempt any rescues for anybody but myself.
Peach talking about how we should be careful with our Summer and how we skid into our Autumn was the biggest aha! moment for me. That was it. That’s what drove me mad each time. It was a mere misunderstanding of my Autumns. All this time, I had accepted that the Carrie-covered-in-pig-blood-on-prom-night event every 28 days was a normal part of my life and cannot be avoided. But all really I had to do was sit the party out for a few days.
(Trivia: Stephen King’s “Carrie” was inspired by a female serial killer who went around murdering people during her period. True story.)
(Another trivia: I am not just a crazy mass of seesawing symptoms and I don’t have to anticipate myself in that unloving, self-denouncing way anymore.)
For that one week that I kept trying and failing and persecuting myself for not maintaining the coolness of who I am, and not being as loving as I usually am with others, I simply should have been snuggling under a warm fuzzy blanket, giving coolness a break, and treating nobody else but myself more lovingly.
Why is it that we are raised in a society that tells us that the most important thing to know about receiving our monthly visitor is to not wear white pants and choose the napkin brand that will make us feel fresh the while playing sports?
The reason why I was driving both myself and the people I love right onto the precarious edge was because I kept wanting to give so much of what I am used to giving to others during harvest and festival seasons when it was already the season to go home early, drink spiced chai, stuff myself for hibernation season, and give all that TLC I had been giving out at soirées – free and unlimited – back to myself.
I kept throwing myself off into an eternal damnation of out-of-sync-ness simply because I wasn’t listening to what I needed.
How is it this simple?!
Red Woman talks more about the seasons and how Autumn is actually a time for creativity in a longer TED talk here:
I now get lost in my inner abyss with compassionate surrender and, instead of running around like a raging comet and crashing into innocent bystanders, I sit by my window and study the brilliance of my distant stars, quietly, longing to explore all their hidden momentum and possibilities. I know I don’t have to act just yet. I wait. And instead of dried leaves, trees glow in their fiery colors of reds and gold, inviting the artist within me to discover new things, as I inspire myself to remain ever so curious and refilled with new desires.
Femininity and Going with the Flow
Nowadays, I consider the beginning and the end days of my period sacred. When I learned and understood the concept of my Winter, wherein I could set intentions for myself and plant a seed each month, I was ecstatic. Imagine, you get to renew yourself and your purpose every month! I felt like I was given a thousand beautiful lives in a confetti-filled box.
So THIS is what it means to be a woman.
My knowing is no longer as important as my unfolding; my newness is as meaningful as my shedding. I write and deliver my own eulogies and birthday cards.
The births I give, at the moment, may not be as easily categorized as “boy” or “girl,” but it can be many other kinds of things that also start at nothing bigger than a conception stage: an idea, a goal, a desire, a theory, a thought. Be it an aspiration or an inspiration, just like a boy or a girl with a small beating heart, any of these could surely grow into bigger beings, thrive within a certain environment, cry out and demand attention, live and prosper in a world that will – without escape or fail – be, in some way, shape, or form, affected by it.
Masculine energy has a linear trajectory, while the manifestation of the feminine operate on cycles. This is why we, women, nurture; this is why we follow the lead of repetitions; this is why we thrive on the wisdom of routines; this is why we enjoy decorating and redecorating the home pretty instead of going out to conquer the neighbouring country and new lands.
Today, it is easy to slam old religious and cultural traditions for separating women during their time of menstruation. It is possible, however, that this was the way to honor the sacred solitude that is exactly what women need during this time of our cycle.
Our masculine world, which has been disguising itself under modern feminism, tries to convince us that to be an empowered woman means to achieve things the masculine way: to stay on a forward track, to follow the linear path of goal-setting and conquering, to moor decisions and build foundations with our solid made up minds. But there is nothing – absolutely nothing – more empowering for the feminine than embracing our feminine cycles, and understanding the full scope of our abilities to renew, repeat, return, remain, receive, replenish, retake and then, ultimately, from all these multiple capacities, give continuous birth to new things.
We flow. And, from flow, we create flow.
If we follow our flow, we find that our inner compass takes us around. And back again. And while the rest of the world may find this dizzying, it is our gift to dance in circles, and it is in learning to dance with this exhilaration that we create the life within and all around us the only way we truly know how.