I had big, bold plans for January 1st.
After a deeply restful holiday season, I envisioned leaping back into work, launching new projects and client sessions with renewed energy and focus. Unstoppable.
And then my period arrived. Early.
As Dimitri and I walked home from New Year’s Eve dinner with friends, I felt a familiar tug in my belly. By 3am, I had arrived in P-town.
And so when the New Year dawned (accompanied by an incredibly bright, sunny sky – unusual for this time in England, but so welcomed), I had to pause my plans.
I settled in on the sofa with a big blanket and fluffy pillows. Switched off my phone. Allowed my love to serve me tea and takeaway pizza, and surrendered to my flow. My wild power.
A year ago, I would have pushed through my period. Ignored the signals my body sent for rest and relaxation. Gone full-force into the year regardless of being in the ‘winter’ of my cycle.
But I’m not that woman anymore.
I am now the woman who listens to her body. Who tunes in to its messages, and asks what it needs.
I allow the irritation and anger that arises during PMS to be heard. Whereas I once battled my murky mind and bodily changes, frustrated and wishing I were a man (seriously, I hated being a woman!), I now envelop it all in LOVE. Understanding. Acceptance. Even gratitude.
In the past, I happily went along with the world’s whirlwind pace (whether I had my period or not). I pushed myself to achieve all my goals, around the clock. To have meetings and make big decisions and plans and presentations during my most vulnerable state. I forced my masculine energy out to keep going, hustling, creating – instead of allowing in my feminine self.
When you’re an anxious high-achiever, surrender is a surprisingly new and often uncomfortable state to be in.
You’re so used to DOING, it feels clunky, odd, scary to stop and just BE.
But when you enter the ‘winter’ of your cycle (your bleed), downing tools and doing nothing is essential.
You must give yourself permission to let go.
Unleashing your wild power
Why is it so vital we turn away from the world and go within during our period?
Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer and Alexander Pope write in their glorious guidebook, Wild Power:
Menstruation calls you to separate from normal daily life because there’s something else for you to experience that can’t be accessed in the general ‘doingness’ of everyday life. Detaching from everyday consciousness, you traverse the void to enter the temple of You.
While it’s a passageway to another territory – that of the bleed – in that emptiness, in that death-of-the-ego, you’re initiated into the power of the Feminine. She is born out of darkness, out of your complete vulnerability and emptiness. For this reason, we say it’s the most radical, transformative moment in the whole cycle.
When I first read this, I laughed. “My period? Transformative? What the heck?! My period is awful! I get cramps, I feel rubbish, I don’t want to work (but I have to)…and you’re telling me to toss away my to-do list and nurture myself with a day or two off? Madness!”
I rejected it, wholly and fully.
But over the past few cycles, I decided (oh hello, ‘doing’ self) to give it a go. To surrender to my flow, to let go and nurture myself.
I now put ‘unavailable’ in my calendar for days 1-3 of my period.
I allow Dimitri to support me by taking care of the cooking and chores on those days. It took some inner courage to ask for help, but now he just steps up and serves.
I consciously close the shutters on my business and busy-ness, to go into my cave.
I say no to the world, and yes to myself.
And I allow myself to just be. I rest. I am still. I am slow.
It took a good three to four cycles to really get comfortable stepping away from work and the world in this way.
And when my period arrived on January 1st, my immediate reaction was “Now? Really? But what about all my grand plans?”
But I trusted that now is a time to surrender.
Because I know if I step into my sanctuary now (sans guilt), incredible insight, focus, creativity and drive await on the other side.
By resting now (in the deep ‘winter’ of my cycle), I will come alive in the spring (the days following my period).
If I don’t heed the call, I risk burning out in the weeks to come. Running on an empty tank. ‘Doing’ without a vision, without a strong sense of why and how.
As the Wild Power women write, “Your body’s ability to de-stress depends on downtime, and downtime at menstruation is one of the most effective and efficient ways to soothe and repair your nervous system.”
“Forgive all your damning self-judgement, and the voice in your head that tells you you’re lazy, slovenly or useless. Give up the idea that your worth depends on what you do and how much you produce. Sit back and watch all the inner commentary trying to throw you off course. Risk being bored and simply hang out with yourself in the emptiness.”
So, today I rest.
I close my calendar. Switch my phone off. Move my meetings.
Cocooned and calm.
Careful yet care-less.