Category Archives: Self-Care

Must Read Woman-Craft Books of 2013

I regularly get emails from women asking for book recommendations. So here, hopefully just in time for last minute Christmas pressies, are my pick of the best women’s books that I have read this year.

Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control

This is a superbly researched and written examination of the Pill, how it is marketed, why we swallow it and what it does to us.

“The pill is intrinsic to Western, patriarchal, capitalist culture as it is to the lives of many millions of women.” This line shook me hard. It was a terrifying truth, but one that I had never considered before. In order to be the stable, efficient, fully productive economic units of society that our culture requires, women need to take the Pill!

Over the course of the book she unpacks this statement. Women who take the Pill tend to feel numb and have less emotional response to their surroundings, both ups and downs. So women who are less passionate in all senses. Less angry, less outraged, less excited about whom they love, and have a lower libido. Women walk around who cannot get pregnant, who can have sex whenever, wherever without thought or repercussions – the stereotypical male fantasy of a living sex doll.

And women pay for this dubious privilege, both through their prescriptions, (which whilst free in the UK, it is paid for elsewhere.) but also with their health. Healthy women take a powerful medication daily for years, and often decades. A medication which UN polls has shown would be unpalatable for men to take. And it is a medication which promises so much – not just freedom from the constant fear of pregnancy, but also clear skin, bigger boobs, no PMT, lighter bleeding, less cramps, and with some, weight loss… There are few young women who wouldn’t want all that it promises: the ability to transform from a flawed human woman into superwoman.

For me this and The Pill: Are you sure it’s for you? by Alexandra Pope should be required reading of all girls on their 16th birthday.

a body Body of Wisdom – I just took delivery of this last night and I have read the first few pages and WOW! it is the the book of women’s wisdom I have been yearning for every moon time… I am SO excited about reading it. It explores nine hidden spiritual powers within women’s bodies which have been overlooked by patriarchal spiritual systems. Let me share a quote with you… “The powers described in this book are natural to women. They are integrated into our bodies and energy systems, and coordinated with our hearts and minds both…They are not how most women actually live, as most of us have curtailed what is natural in order to survive or thrive in a patriarchal society. But because they are natural they are always with us, like an invitation that is never withdrawn.”

Alchemy for Women: Personal Transformation Through Dreams and the Female Cycle has been my book of the year. I have learned so much about how not only my, but also my partner’s dreams are affected by my cycle… as well as so many other blood mysteries which no one speaks of. This is a follow-on title from the same authors as the classic book The Wise Wound: Menstruation and Everywoman – and thought it is much smaller, but equally as valuable, it never really established the same reputation. It is a funny mix of the scientific and esoteric written in quite a bitty way – almost like a notebook of discoveries many of which have yet to be fleshed out. It is influencing my ideas for my next book and comes highly recommended.

978-1468056716-frontcover

And of course if you’re wanting to learn more about your cycles may I point you in the direction of my on book on the subject – Moon Time: A Guide to Celebrating your Menstrual Cycle – which hundreds of women around the world have described as life changing.

 

I also gained a number of really interesting insights from Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body (don’t you just LOVE the cover!) I found the exercises in it a little repetitive (I have a short attention span!) and it’s a long book – but if you’re looking for a book to help you get in touch with your female body and especially the pelvic bowl, Tami Lynn Kent is a loving insightful guide.

 

 

My Mother, Myself is a classic, written in the 70s, before it was even acknowledged how much power on a girl’s psyche her mother has. It is a book that I have bought for myself three times, but never gotten past the second chapter. The same happened again… so I skipped a few and got great insight from it. In truth I’m not mad about her writing style, and it feels a little dated as she is talking about the previous generation of mothers and daughters. But ouch her insights cut like a knife. She says what is now a classic took a while before really taking off, as women admitted to throwing it across the room or hiding it in cupboards before taking it out and finishing it, then recommending it to their friends, or buying a copy for their mother. So I guess I’m not alone!

a secret

I have just ordered her other classic My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies which arrived last night and is an eye-opener – it both documents hundreds of women’s sexual fantasies as well as reflecting on the how and why of female sexual fantasy in our patriarchal culture!

a cunt

Whilst we’re on the topic, lets talk Cunt: A Declaration of Independence which I discovered when I was invited to a Facebook group of the same name – well actually it’s called “That book with a daisy on it” because Facebook don’t allow the word cunt in a positive context. Only for misogynists. Anyway. It is a feisty book which explores women, their bodies, their sexuality and independence with sassyness, verve and packs a punch.

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. For god here read whatever you see god as… but the title would have put me off buying it myself. Don’t let it! It is basically all about mindfulness and eating, written with great compassion and humor.

a dance

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is another book I avoided for years because of the title – not being into either the Christian tradition or the Sacred Feminine. Really it is a powerful book about a woman’s journey into herself, breaking away from what she should believe and feel and discovering her own truth. It has become one of my all time favourite books, which I know I shall come back to again and again.

art birthThe Art of Birth: Empower Yourself for Conception, Pregnancy and Birth  offers a radical new approach to conception, pregnancy and birth using expressive art for self-development. It is a beautifully illustrated book which will also inspire women who are yearning to express their sense of being a woman through art. Packed full of art exercises, relaxation, positive affirmations, inner work, emotional support and pleasure, where the dream of a natural, empowered journey to motherhood and a positive birth experience can become a new reality.

Leonie Dawson‘s 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Business Workbook has changed how I live my life and do business over the past three years that I have used it! It is powerful transformational life and business stuff carefully presented in a non-threatening, feminine way with girly pictures and gorgeous colours which make me feel so happy and safe whilst I’m doing the big work inside!

I get the wonderful printable PDF version free on her Life and Business Academy (you can buy the Life and Business versions individually for $9.95 here which is what I did last year). BUT I wanted a lovely bound copy to hold in my hands. And this year for the first year you can buy a printed copy of both versions together from Amazon. I ripped mine open last night and started the life planner the moment the kids were asleep… and then first thing at work this morning I did some of the business part. I LOVE this book. I’ve spent the morning taking stock of the mammoth year of dreams that has been 2013 and looking forward to an even more glorious year next year – oh the things I have in store already!!

Obviously The Rainbow Way has been the book I have spent most time with in every way this year. I turn to it myself when I am feeling creatively overwhelmed, burned out or in need of reassurance. There is a lot of woman craft in it – a focus on the womb and its connection to women’s creativity, our menstrual cycle and how it affects creativity, lots about women’s circles in supporting creativity and lots of self care guidance. (I am so honored that Leonie named it one of her top 20 books for 2013!) I was SO excited to see that it is number 10 on Amazon.co.uk’s most wished for book in the Motherhood genre at the time of writing!

For girls

Blueberry Girl A dear friend gave this very special book to Ash for her third birthday and it is SO beautifully written and illustrated. It is a lovely non- religious blessing of power and strength for a girl. Watch the beautiful animated reading of the book here.

Reaching for the Moon was my first book release of the year, and is, of my three self-published books, the quickest seller. It seems to really resonate with mothers and daughters and is spreading like wild fire. My 5 1/2 year old begged to be able to read one of my books, brandishing this one in her little hands, knowing that it was for girls, but I have put her off for a couple more years! I was so honored to hear that it is being taught in a local school and have been invited in to talk to the girls on the topic.

And in brief, other exciting looking new releases still on my Kindle which I have only had a chance to read a few pages of, but have enjoyed thus far include:

Conversations with EVE: Women’s TRUE power – where it came from, how we lost it, how we can get it back!

Conversations with EVE (Every Vagina on Earth) is an eye-opening, inspiring, and motivating book. It shares a fascinating account of how the “Myth of Male Superiority” took away EVE’s rights and freedoms.

Menopause: a Natural and Spiritual Journey

This book is personal journey into the time of menopause looking at it from a spiritual point of view first and how spirituality can help with physical, mental and emotional symptoms. It seeks to show it as a natural part of life.

Ripening Time: Inside Stories for Aging with Grace

Sherry Ruth Anderson, the bestselling author of The Feminine Face of God presents a new perspective on aging. She guides us beyond our culture’s mind traps and shows how growing into old age can be a fruition, the genuine grace and gift of human ripening.

The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality dismantles the notion of what it means to be a “good mother.” This collection of essays takes a realistic look at motherhood and provides a platform for real voices and raw stories, each adding to the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines or on the news.

Spiritual Pregnancy: Nine Months of Spiritual Transformation Before You Give Birth (out Jan 2014) is a really tender, insightful book about pregnancy especially the spiritual aspects, and is written by a husband and wife team of doctors!

What have you read and loved this year?

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Woman’s wellness (an interactive post)

Today’s guespost comes from Sile Walsh. We invite you to read this and experience it, grab a cup of your favourite warm drink, hide away in a quiet spot and prepare to explore …

Image: sparrowmagazine.com

Image: sparrowmagazine.com

What do the following words conquer up for you?

WOMAN’S WELLNESS

Stop and take a breath a moment, and notice what impact these words have for you.

Take another breath and notice the images that come to mind.

Breathe again and notice what emotions come forward.

Lastly take a breath, what thoughts do you have when you focus on the term ‘woman’s wellness’.

Sit for a moment and soak up whatever these words bring you to.

Did anything surprise you when you did this?

Did anything show you where you may be out of sync with your own wellness as a woman? Did your mind conquer up excuses or did it conquer up images of what looks like a fairytale in comparison to your current life? Did you even have a space in your life where your wellness is even on the agenda?

I have to admire the women around me, always giving, doing and caring but if I am really honest I have felt let down in the past by this image of a female role model, I have seen a double standard. I have watched smart, empathic, intuitive and loving women give every ounce of what they have to the world until they have no more to give but seldom have I seen these woman turn this kindness inwards.

This kindness is deserved as much by us as by anyone else we love and it can only be given to us by us! Where did we learn that it’s all about giving?

What happens when we have no more to give?  Why do we wait to be worn out before we are willing to say no?

Again take a moment, a breath and see what this is stirring within you? Mull it over, feel it and acknowledge your thoughts…..

There is another way, another way you can be more available, be more present, feel better with in your-self and live in a way that honours you and the ones you love equally ( it is not a case of one or the other). It starts with a slight shift in perspective, gentle self-care, internal dialog and an offering of basic kindness to your-self.

It’s this thought process that inspired a conversation which led onto a woman’s wellness morning, for woman by woman. It would be beautiful to have you and some friends join us on the day to explore these areas. Information can be found at  http://www.silewalsh.com/womans-wellness-workshops.html

sile

Sile Walsh is a wellness coach & holistic practitioner in East Cork, Ireland, specialising in the release of emotional blocks, mind-set work and restricting or reoccurring patterns in your life.

Sile is passionate about empowerment and believes that’s the key to true change in any area of our lives. She can be found on Facebook or at www.silewalsh.com

Event Details

Woman’s wellness relaxation morning

7th November, 10am-2pm

For tickets contact info@silewalsh.com or 0870660688

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