Category Archives: Menstruation

Red Tent Rising – A Resource-Full Post

I am just getting the supplies ready for our very first red tent gathering… a box of womancraft books for the red tent library, a piece of embroidery for the centre piece, a welcome sign, some futons for resting and reading…. It will be the first I know of in the south of Ireland… I am very excited.

Held on the dark moon, a red tent is a women’s circle which is open to all women in the community and offers a place to rest during menstruation, to connect with other women, share wisdom and be held in every stage of our female unfolding.

(Want to know more about what a red tent is? Watch my short video which I made for the red tent summit or grab a copy of my free red tent booklet – Password= love.)

I planted the seed of this red tent when I wrote Moon Time I had never been to a red tent, and there was little information out there about them. I was hungry for knowledge… so I reached out to some of the movement’s leaders, gathered all the information I could lay my hands on, and shared it in the book. That’s how I roll! Mine was the first print book to explore the phenomenon and support women in setting up their own. I have been told that it has inspired and supported the creation of red tents in the UK, Canada and Australia as well as an online one which I am a member of.

And now we will have our own real one, in our community.

My stomach is churning and I am being a little short with my family as my brain goes into tables and chairs mode. But the excitement is overriding it… the fact that this long held dream is being born, that so many women are curious about it, that this work, and a dedicated women’s space is opening up for our community… I just think of the growth, love, support, magic, empowerment, connection and healing that will emerge from the very existence of this space and shivers run down my spine…

More women sitting in circle together than ever have before in our community. Learning to speak their truth openly and be heard. From learning to listen with an open heart and without judgement. In having a place to come and be held, to rest and recharge. A place where new ideas can take seed, new books found, new friendships formed. Where women can learn to understand and trust and even celebrate their bodies.

How it came about…

I set myself a challenge out loud – which meant I couldn’t go back on it, by promising the proceeds of the e-versions of Moon Time would go towards establishing a local red tent! And since then I have researched and reflected and waited. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, I was waiting for conspirators… and when I met them I knew right away… I did not say anything to them at all about it –  I was in the midst of launching The Rainbow Way and I had only just met them… I just held the vision consistently affirming it, and gently released the women’s group I had run for 5 1/2 years which had run its course. Numbers were dwindling and we couldn’t find any more new participants…

And then two months later, the time was right for us all.  One of the women asked on Facebook if anyone knew of a women’s group or red tent in the area… and the flame was lit. Within an hour we had a FB group. And the other woman jumped right in as an admin, unbidden. Within a week we had a date and venue. In a month we have gotten over 100 women to our group, organically. We only invited 35 between us… the rest were just drawn to us.
We have had minor bumps in the road naturally, including our first venue cancelling only days before. But we have a new, better space now.

And our first meeting tonight and are expecting about 25 women…. many of whom I know personally, some I have only met online, one I taught blogging to, and others are completely new to me. For some it will be their first time doing women’s work with me… others have done much before having been part of our long running women’s group … there is an excitement tinged with deep nervousness, as no one knows quite what to expect. What is a red tent any way, they wonder… will it be for me? Will I be expected to sit around talking about their periods, will I know anyone else?

I try to allay the nervousness with information – links to the red tent summit which I have just spoken at, my booklet on starting a red tent, with reassurance and love…  but this is new, uncharted territory… of course there is apprehension.

Some are travelling nearly an hour to join us… others are following by Facebook – we hope to inspire them to start their own in their own community.

Are you ready for a red tent in YOUR neighbourhood? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have one in your city, town, village, or community?

Imagine not having to wait any longer…

Imagine knowing exactly how to create a Red Tent, monthly, where you, and your women friends, can simply BE, rather than DO…

DeAnna L’am who created the Red Tent Summit has created an Online Class designed to inspire, motivate, support and equip you, to start your own Red Tent.

The Global Tele-Tent Class starts on March 12, but you can register today.

I believe that the vision of a red tent in every neighbourhood – is possible in our life time!

And I want to help you make it a reality in YOUR neighbourhood!

Please join me, and women from all over the world, to make it so!

If you are looking for more resources I would recommend:

 

Shall I Drive You to the Red Tent? – Guest Post

I am honored to be joining DeAnna L’am and 29 other leaders in the field of menstrual education and women’s wisdom in the month of February for a free online red tent gathering. There are so many of my own real life heroines taking part I can hardly believe I am standing shoulder to shoulder with them. 

Today’s guest post from DeAnna explores a really important aspect of red tents, and one that has stalled me in my tracks in establishing one… HOW to make one and make it sustainable? There is so much emphasis on making a pretty space that we can get distracted from the main purpose – just making a space to nurture ourselves and the women in our lives.


How would the world be different if girls growing up today had a Red Tent to go to, in their own neighborhood?
Many of us would love to see a Red Tent where our daughters, stepdaughters, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, or any cherished girl in our life — could regularly find a haven.“Yes, but who would hold such Red Tents for them?” you may ask… and the inevitable answer is: YOU!

Imagine your girl coming home from school. She feels tired. She is actually crabby, and the sullen look on her face warns you to keep your distance. Throwing her backpack on the floor she runs into her room, not interested in answering any of your questions about her day. Her shoes fly off her feet, one at a time, on her way up the stairs, and land randomly on the floor. Her door is slammed shut, and you are not welcomed inside. You want to ask her about her feelings, to understand what is going on, but the door’s message is clear, and you know it will not open for a while…

Imagine, though, that you had a magical key to this closed door… Imagine softly knocking and whispering to your girl: “Shall I drive you to the Red Tent?” Imagine her door flying open, her eyes meeting yours, a sigh of relief rushing out of her mouth: “Oh, thank goodness! I’ve just got my period!” Imaging the two of you getting in the car, since it feels too cold to walk the otherwise pleasant road to the nearby woods. You likely wouldn’t talk much during the short drive, since your girl clearly wants to be quiet. She curls up on the passenger seat and closes her eyes. You arrive at your destination in no time.

The red flaps of the Tent are hanging down to keep the warmth in, and you lift them to allow your girl to walk in first. It feels like walking into a different world. It is blissfully quiet. You start lighting a few candles while your girl walks up to the pile of red blankets and grabs three of them. She sinks onto a mattress in the corner, and huddles under the blankets, letting all the air out of her lungs. She knows you are busy making her a cup of herbal tea. This is a familiar routine… You’ve been here many times before, and the roles have changed back and forth between you: barely two weeks ago it was you who flopped gratefully on a mat and curled into a ball under a pile of red blankets, while your 13-year-old was skillfully brewing a cup of Raspberry Leaf tea to soothe your womb and soul.

This is an easy reality to imagine… And, as surprisingly as it may seem to you, it is also an easy one to live! This can become a reality for you, and for your daughter, stepdaughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, or a cherished girl in your life, since it is up to You, up to Each Of Us, to make it so! A Red Tent in your neighborhood is only as distant as the limitation your mind puts on it. It is as close as your belief in its possibility!

We can make this a reality in our life time! You can create a Red Tent in your living room, in your back yard, in a friend’s home, in a nearby forest, meadow or beach. It can be made of anything: you can pitch a camping tent, or raise a tipi. You can drape Red cloths from tree branches, or build a yurt. The outer structure is not nearly as important as the space it holds inside — a space in which permission is given to simply BE…

Nothing is more essential than this: we need spaces where we can BE when we flow, either alone or in the company of other women. Anything beyond this is luxury (and we can create luxury, of course we can!) but lets not make luxury become the reason for not having a Red Tent right now. Lets remember the bare necessities: Space and Permission. And these, my sister, you can provide for yourself, for your girl, for your community – right now!

© by DeAnna L’am, All Rights ReservedJoin me to get inspired by the Red Tents In Every Neighborhood World Summit
A Free Online Event featuring women leaders from:

USA, Spain, Germany, U.K, Italy, Ireland (that’s me!), New Zealand, Australia, and Israel

Airing February 1-28


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DeAnna L’am, speaker, coach, and trainer, is author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s Guide to Getting Your Period’. She is founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls™, and of Red Tents In Every Neighborhood Global Network! A pioneer in Menstrual Empowerment, DeAnna has been transforming women’s and girls’ lives around the world for over 20 years. She teaches women how to love themselves unconditionally; how to dissolve PMS symptoms and draw spiritual strength from their cycle (rather than be at its mercy); and how to hold Red Tents in their communities. Visit her at: www.deannalam.com

Blood and Milk – Self-Care for Breastfeeding Mamas who are Menstruating

I don’t know about you, but I rarely see anything written about breastfeeding and your moontime, I mean how mamas cope with the ups and downs of their cycle while giving to their little ones 24 hours a day? Is it just presumed that if you are breastfeeding then you don’t have a cycle? I know this is true for many women (I’ve known women not bleed for 2 years!) but for me, my bleeding time has always returned after a few months, despite exclusively breastfeeding. 

Most days breastfeeding is such a joy, I love the oxytocin high I get when I snuggle with my little one and feed all night long- BUT the days and nights just before my moontime, I feel touched out, wound up by the constant demands and I JUST WANT MY OWN SPACE!

So many books, blogs, articles give us moontime advice (myself included) about how important taking time out is, giving to ourselves at this sacred time- but how do you do that when you have a baba swinging from your nipples??

I tend to focus on my first bleeding day- I have just found over the years if I can have a smooth first bleeding day (or first 2 days ideally!) then the run up to my moontime next month is so much easier. So I try- its hard, but they can spend some time with daddy, or grandma- just while I soak in the bath (with lovely oils, petals or a herbal preparation for ‘that time of the month’) even if its the middle of the afternoon- I grab any opportunity I can! And when baba naps- I nap too, and sometimes I just have a duvet day and keep baba close by while I read something nurturing from my women’s book collection, drink soothing herb teas, eat yummy simple foods, massage my belly with beautiful scented oils and generally give to myself while not doing much at all!

These days, he’s a bit bigger and on the move (and on solids as well as mama milk- so that makes things a bit easier) I just pop him in the sling (on my back- “AWAY from the boobs boy!”) and head out for a nourishing walk in the woods or up to the stone circle behind our cottage. Usually this puts him to sleep so I get a bit of ‘me time’ on our return.

I have some ‘rules’ that I adhere to on my Sacred 1st Bleeding Day- I DON’T cook, clean, wash or do any ‘housework’, I DON’T work (although occasionally you might find me peeping in on Facebook!), I DO eat simple nourishing foods, I DO some gentle exercise- sometimes a bit of yoga, more often a walk in nature, I have a period of SILENCE to listen in to my inner wisdom- sometimes that has to be a few mins with my eyes closed while feeding.

I know- I’m lucky to have a supportive husband who accepts this- I think because I would take ‘Sacred Days’ when he first met me, he knew the score! So he is happy to take on household duties and extra childcare on these days to support me- and in the bigger picture, by supporting me on these few days I am able to be there for him and my family the rest of the month! (This is possible as we both work part time, so we can support each other, share childcare and housework)

I tune into my blood when I rinse my cloth pads, I consciously give away any negative emotions that have come up during the month, and ask Mother Earth to transform them (I pour my blood and rinsing water on to my garden) while softly chanting ‘I give away this blood of mine to all my relations…’ or ‘blessed be the blood…’

I have started charting my cycle again too, after my last baby (yes he is my LAST baby!) who popped in to my womb space after taking part in Miranda Grays first World Wide Womb Blessing last year, I got a bit worried that my cycle has changed – I’ve spent years regularly ovulating around day 12 of my cycle so I knew when to take precautions, but now I’m getting older (over 40) AND I’m breastfeeding – both of which a have an effect on your cycle, I have decided to use the temperature method, which is one I haven’t used before, but I have been assured its THE most accurate way to know when you ovulate. I used to rely on my cervical position (high and open when ovulating, low and closed when bleeding) and mucus- but after birth my cervix was so soft and squishy it didn’t feel as if it was moving at all- and breastfeeding effects the vaginal secretions (low oestrogen) so mucus charting wasn’t working for me either. Also my cycle didn’t return to its usual ‘regular’ pattern, so charting gave me a chance to focus on it and get an idea of when my moontime was coming- I was so used to knowing exactly when it would arrive, having an irregular cycle was quite a lesson for me!

I think the biggest thing I miss are my ovulation/full moon creative surges; I often suffered with insomnia around the full moons- which for me mostly coincided with my ovulation time, my brain would be buzzing with ideas so I would just get up and write or draw, even paint sometimes and then sleep half of the next day! These days I don’t have the luxury of being able to sleep in, nor even creep out of bed at night as baba is so firmly attached he senses my every turn in bed! So I have to make do with note taking and glancing at my ideas on my note paper occasionally though the month with a sigh that not much (if any of it) will get done. But having 2 older children I know ‘this too will pass’ -babies grow fast and before I know it they’ll be running out the door to school without a second glance and I will have some ME time again!

I’d love to hear how other breastfeeding mamas cope with the demands of your body and your baby!

Rachael Hertogs lives in the wilds of West Wales with her husband and two youngest children, bees, chickens and ducks, she is a mama of 4, the creatress of Moon Times Cloth Pads, and she occasionally blogs at www.moontimes.co.uk/blog

Chocolate Therapy for PMS!

Chocolate is the number-one craved food among women.

And at a certain time of the month, the need for chocolate becomes as strong as our need for extra sleep. We women are wired for it it seems. Though the jury is out on whether this is actually “true”- as some say that it is just our cravings for extra sugar and caffeine to get us through the hormonal slump, and so is best avoided.

The Aztecs who first discovered it considered it a sacred ceremonial food, and most women today have similar reverence for it.

I love the artist and teacher Shiloh Sophia’s sensual approach. She considers chocolate sacred soul medicine to help us to contact our muse of creativity and sensuality. Before she starts painting she puts on her big hat and flowing coat, pours herself a cup of steaming herbal tea, or a glass of tequila, and has a square of rich, dark chocolate to get her juices flowing. She’s my kinda woman!

I have to weigh up the risks, as on the one hand my chocolate needs are high in the pre-menstrual phases – but so is my susceptibility to migraines, which are often triggered by chocolate.

Image credit: www.marksdailyapple.com

 

My mother gave me a great book called: Why Women Need Chocolate, by Debra Waterhouse which is full of fascinating scientific proof as to why we NEED, not just want, chocolate! It was great to have proof for something I had instinctively felt for most of my womanhood… “Chocolate is the number-one craved food among women. And she has found that sensibly indulging your craving for chocolate or any other food is better than depriving yourself. That’s because contrary to popular belief, food cravings are not a problem to be treated. When you carefully give in to cravings, you can actually improve your mood, lift your spirits &, in the long run, develop sensible eating patterns. She teaches the food-mood connection that helps women lose weight, boost energy, & maximize mood-elevating brain chemicals.”

… but it was then totally contradicted by the next book I read Potatoes Not Prozac which is all about sugar, addiction and its role in mood disorders, weight issues and depression which tells us we need to steer well clear!

But what I took from that is the importance of being aware of sugar sensitivity, and cutting it out as much as possible. I’m also cutting out wheat for that reason. And that chocolate is sacred women’s food which provides what our bodies crave and yearn for.

PMS time is here now, and I wanted a snack to nourish me through my wheat and sugar free time.  So check out my PMS no-bake bars over on my baking blog today for the recipe that I cooked up last night (and has been given the seal of approval by everyone who’s tried it!) It requires no chopping or baking, and minimal work, and can be made a few days head when you are still on high post-ovulatory energy. It has no added sugar, but is nutrient rich with nuts, seeds and oats, giving you the nutritional boost you need premenstrually, without the sugar rush. And most importantly a rich, dark, deep hit of chocolate.

Whip up a batch, take some private red tent time, and nurture and nourish yourself, dear love.

Reaching for the Moon – a girl’s introduction to her female cycles

I’m delighted to announce the launch of my third book:Reaching for the Moon – a girl’s guide to her female cycles.

(Be sure to read to the end to claim your own FREE e-copy!)

Written especially for girls aged 9-14 as they anticipate and experience their body’s gradual changes. This has been requested time and again by mothers, godmothers and aunts who wanted a gentle, loving, soulful introduction to women’s cycles for the special girls in their lives. 

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ISBN: 1482363038

80 page paperback or Kindle.

Beginning with an imaginary journey into the red tent, a traditional place of women’s wisdom, some of the gifts and secrets of womanhood are imparted in a gentle, lyrical way including:

* The secrets of the moon.

* The secrets of our cycles.

* The gift of self-care.

 Along with practical advice on:

* Preparing for her first period.

* Choosing menstrual products.

* Herbal healing.

* Celebrating menarche.

Reaching for the Moon is a nurturing celebration of a girl’s transformation to womanhood.

 

It is available as a signed copy + bookmark + FREE greetings card of one of my paintings (usually €2.50) from The Happy Womb£6.99 + P&P (Orders will be dispatched from 11th June. Offer available until 23rd June.)

It is also available from Amazon as a paperback or ebook. (Buy on Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com.)

***TRY BEFORE YOU BUY!***

From today until Sunday 9th June 2013 (midnight PST) you can download your FREE Kindle version, so you can sample it before purchasing for the special girls in your life. (Please note you do NOT need a Kindle to read it. Kindle books can be read on tablets, android phones and computers).

Free Kindle copy – UK customers only.

Free Kindle copy – rest of world.

Please do share it far and wide, on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and by email – let’s get copies into as many mama’s hands as possible.

Having the talk – supporting your girl, and yourself, through her transition to womanhood


Do you remember “The Talk” you received from your Mum, or your school nurse or teacher? How old were you when someone told you about how your body would change as you became a woman?

How did it make you feel?

And now, you have a daughter of your own. Or maybe a niece or goddaughter. Or maybe you are a teacher of girls. And you know that one day, The Talk will be your responsibility. And you are aware of just what a responsibility it is. How it will flavour her own self-image as a woman for much of her early adult life.

What do you say and how will you approach it?

DeAnna L’Am is a menstrual educator of 25 years experience who has created a powerful audio entitled:  “Coming Of Age: How To Stop Worrying About “The Talk,” and Start Talking With Your Girl!” which is part of an incredible eBundle of 22 Mindful Mothering resources which are available for the special price of just $24.95 until June 10th. This recording alone usually costs $29. And yet for that price you get so much more goodness as well.

Witch-Hazel-Maiden-EMPOWER

She shares a little bit with us here, of her own experience which lead to her powerful work with girls and women:

“My first period lacked warmth, celebration, or a sense of belonging, though my mother was present. This experience propelled me to a lifelong passion for welcoming girls into womanhood in empowering and honoring ways. I worked to heal the experience of my own first period, and as a result realized that most every woman has a story to tell, and heal, from her coming of age years. My calling became that of helping women heal their own adolescence, as the spring board to welcoming girls into womanhood in authentic and empowering ways.

This down-loadable recording will deepen trust between you and your girl, and lay a foundation for lifelong openness between you!

If you would you like to feel relaxed, confident, and at ease when speaking with your girl about becoming a woman – this is for you!

You will experience a sense of CALM and PEACE within yourself; An INNER EASE about the girl YOU once were; A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING of what your girl is feeling; SELF-TRUST going into any conversation with your girl; And a growing EASE in your relationship with her.”

Mindful Parenting eBundle Sale: May 28-June 10, 2013

The Mindful Parenting eBundle contains more than 22 carefully selected e-products by renowned authors. Some of these products are only available as a standalone through this bundle! This bundle sale is a one-time opportunity, available only from May 28 to June 10, 2013.

The Mindful Parenting eBundle gives you answers to the most pertinent parenting questions in a variety of formats: e-mail courses, e-books, audio, and e-magazine. Some of the topics in this bundle include children and food, nurturing creativity, relaxation for parents, connecting through play, peaceful parenting, parenting through divorce, and many more.

There are 3 resources for stress relief for parents, 6 peaceful guidance tools, 5 creative play resources, 3 motherhood resources, plus bonus resources and a freebie! All for just $24.95!!!

 
CHECK IT OUT HERE …(Got questions? I’ve probably answered them in the FAQ section here.) 

 

 

Menstruation… and Motherhood

This is a guest post contributed by Jess Dawson.

1-003The Crazy Woman – painting by Lucy Pearce

As a mother I have realized how important it is to recognize the phases of the cycle, the moments when we feel like super mum, and the moments when we may struggle and find ourselves not wanting to be mums at all.

After childbirth, many women can experience changes in their menstrual cycle: it is common for women to experience emotional turbulence pre-menstrually, and for physical pain to become worse around ovulation. These changes can be due to a number of factors, most commonly a change in hormones, lack of sleep, irregular eating, increased intake of caffeine and sugar loaded foods, and the pressures of parenthood.

Insomnia, depression, lethargy, boredom, anger and at times a profound need to erase one’s situation are some of the emotions mothers may experience pre-menstrually. During this phase many women mention feeling more irritable, more likely to snap at their children, and of feeling overwhelmed by parental responsibility.

If these feelings are misunderstood and not acknowledged it is easy for the mother to act in a way that can be detrimental to the flow of the home, shouting, crying retreating and being irrational. Children whose mothers suffer during their pre-menstrual phase can present with lower immune systems, shifts in behavior, tantrums, being more stubborn and emotionally shut down. As a result the mother can begin to feel a failure and can become isolated within the home.

By charting our cycles we begin to recognise our highs and lows, when we are supersonic indestructible mother and when we are walking around like a fragile piece of porcelain about to break and when we feel a desperate need to be quiet and alone or when the act of communicating is quite beyond us. We begin to see that all these qualities are a vital part of our inner makeup and offer us deeper insight into ourselves.

We begin to recognise signs in our shifting phases: clumsiness, tiredness, vivid dreams, headaches, raised levels of irritation; and begin to understand that problems in the pre-menstrual phase often arise when we try and work against our inner world. This new awareness helps us become more pragmatic about what needs to happen in our lives. Our cycle is like an internal barometer, like a weather forecast. You wouldn’t send the kids out in a storm without a raincoat on so why make a million plans for a time when all you really need to do is be quiet at home? Of course when we are parents there are a million things that we have no control over, such a sick child, a teething baby, food to cook, clothes to wash, birthday, party to organise, school run etc…)

However, I believe that with good awareness and planning we can be true to our capabilities at any given time in the cycle and as a consequence reduce stress within our life and consequently lower our struggles during our pre-menstrual phase.

Cycle awareness is about acceptance, finding the strength to work with ourselves rather than against ourselves. The beauty of charting your cycle is the recognition of your cyclical pattern of growth, renewal, and rest. Even women who do not have regular periods will find there is still a rhythm and pattern to their cycle.

Top tips for parenting with PMS:

  • Sleep without guilt
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol during your pre-menstrual phase and your bleeding.
  • Learn to say NO when you know you need to be quiet.
  • Plan ahead around your pre- menstrual phase, if you are regular mark it on the calendar.
  • Tell you partner what is going on. Don’t expect them to know.
  • Eat a good healthy diet.
  • If necessary go and speak to your doctor.

jess

Jess Dawson is based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK, where she lives with her partner and two children. Jess completed the Women’s Quest apprenticeship  in 2012, which is run by Alexandra Pope (author of “The Wild Genie”, “Women’s Quest Workbook” and co-author of “The Pill” with Jane Bennett).  She offers workshops on cycle awareness, as well as menstrual coaching for women who want to gain a deeper understanding of their cycle. Jess is passionate about the menstrual story and about reclaiming it for generations of girls to come. She is now guiding women in cycle awareness with the aim of reconnecting the body and mind in order to develop a more constructive relationship with the self, using the Women’s Quest Workbook. For more information contact jess@oogoo.net Phone: 07813920287