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A blog from the women of GladRags and our customers too.

Discussions on menstruation, environmental living, women's health, relevant politics, and other interesting matters - we like to go with the flow around here.

Universal education is one of the millennial development goals set to be achieved in the world by 2015 — we have less than 500 days to go. According to UNICEF, there are 31 million girls of primary school age not enrolled in school. How can we achieve this goal when girls are not enrolled in school or drop out due to early child marriages and other cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), poverty, lack of school fees, sexual violence and lack of SANITARY TOWELS.

How can we achieve this goal when girls miss close to 5 days of school because they cannot afford sanitary towels? Girls from poor families use unhygienic methods during their menstruation such as old pieces of clothes, tissue papers, cotton wool, feathers, and old goat skins. Others end up engaging in transactional sex in order to get money to buy sanitary towels. This exposes the young girls to risks of getting HIV/AIDS and some end up pregnant, thus dropping out of school. There was a feature aired by citizen media in Kenya in 2013 showing the dire need of sanitary towels in rural Kenya. Sad how something that should be considered as a basic need is assumed to be a luxury.

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Pic courtesy of UNICEF

According to Ministry of Education in Kenya, there are 2.5 million girls aged between 9 and 18 years who need sanitary towels in Kenya. The government only caters for 568,925 girls from primary school (class 6-8) from 7,141 schools in 142 districts, which is only a fraction leaving out close to 2M girls who are in need, the demand is high.

Due to this gap I founded Donate a Pad initiative in December 2012 to try and help in my community. The initiative is mainly run from my salary and a monthly contribution from my best friend Mona Manani. Every month I buy sanitary towels and donate to 200 girls who cannot afford sanitary towels in the rural area in 9 schools in Kitui, Kenya. Basically girls who cannot afford sanitary towels miss school close to five days in a month hence affecting their performance and lower their self esteem hence affecting their confidence in school.

Donate A Pad ensures that the girls are in school by providing sanitary towels, their self esteem and dignity is restored. Since I started we have noticed the performance of the girls has improved and they are more confident. I also provide mentoring programs by connecting the girls with mentors to guide them through their education and career choice. The girls write to me sharing their dreams of what they want to be in future and how Donate A Pad is helping them in achieving their dreams. It’s so fulfilling to see girls excited about education. This inspires me to do what I do to make sure the girls are in school. No girl should miss school because they lack sanitary towels.

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Teacher Esther distributing the sanitary towels

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Chief Ndoo, Edna, Maureen and Kivulu Primary School with their Sanitary Towels.

So I have a plan in the near future of starting a manufacturing firm that will use agricultural waste materials such as banana fibers and papyrus to make affordable sanitary towels that will cater for the demand of sanitary towels as well as keep the girls in school. Am also doing a research on other sustainable alternative options such as cloth pads and menstrual cups that can be used to cater for this lack. We are also thinking of growth and soon we will be in Kisii, Meru, and Lesotho I will keep you posted as the plans unravel. Hopefully one day we will be able to donate to all the girls that need sanitary towels.

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Maureen at Makerere University displaying the biodegradable sanitary towels

As of now you can donate a pad and help keep a girl in class. Did you know with only KES 396 ($4.50) you can keep a girl in school for the whole year?

I believe if you educate a girl you educate the whole community, and Nelson Mandela summed it all by saying “Education is the only weapon we can use to change the world.” 

Have a lovely Read,

Maureen


About the author of this post:

maureen

Maureen runs Donate A Pad Initiative, and is a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014, Young African Leader. She is passionate about empowering young girls to complete education and is a mentor. She loves telling her story to inspire people to reach out to their dreams and be more. “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”~Aldous Huxley

 

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Women in business is a topic near and dear to my heart, for obvious reasons, so you can imagine my excitement about Dream, Girl: a film all about showing what female leadership looks like. I caught up with Dream, Girl creator Erin to chat about her film, why lady bosses matter, and more. Read on for a mini interview and to learn how you can get involved!

Introduce yourself to us and tell us about Dream, Girl!

Hi! My name is Erin Bagwell and I am the Founder of Feminist Wednesday and the Executive Producer/Director of Dream, Girl. Dream, Girl is a documentary film redefining what it means to be a boss by telling the stories of female entrepreneurs and CEOs.

Erin rockin' a Dream, Girl tote

Erin rockin’ a Dream, Girl tote

What inspired you to begin working on the Dream, Girl film?

About a year ago I started a feminist storytelling blog called Feminist Wednesday. Through the blog I was meeting so many amazing women and was particularly drawn to the stories of female entrepreneurs. There is an amazing startup community that is happening here in NYC and I was really impressed with the levels of support that women entrepreneurs are creating to start their own companies. I go to some really cool networking events, breakfast clubs, and happy hours that are all dedicated to spurring along the growth of female entrepreneurs. As a videographer, I felt really inspired to capture that on film.

Why do you think it’s important to have more women in business?

I think having more women at the top and running their own companies has an amazing trickle down effect for empowering the next generation of leaders. Women are 50% of the population but only run 22 of the Fortune 500 companies. That means that the majority of companies we buy from and messages we are consuming are driven by a male dominated perspective determining what women are supposed to want. This can be really harmful. Women should have the power to create and control their own image and put new products and perspectives out there that are more towards their likeness. I also think having so few examples of women in leadership is harmful because it makes women and girls feel like they shouldn’t be leaders.

Hear, hear.

Hear, hear.

As a woman, what kinds of opportunities or obstacles have you encountered in your film production?

When I was in college I used to participate in a lot of film festivals (I have been making movies since I was 16 years old). The first time I did the 48 Hour Film Festival in Buffalo I took my dad with me to the initial meeting. Everyone thought he was a director and I was an actress. I was the only female team lead out of about 10 teams that year. When you are the minority in a group you feel like you don’t belong and this can raise the pressure on you to “prove that you deserve to be there.” So naturally I had to work a lot harder than of my male counterparts to prove I belonged. But I think the hardest part about being a female entrepreneur (whether you are making a film or not) is getting funding. I sit in a lot of meetings/networking groups with female CEOs and there aren’t enough women investors to back and support their projects. It’s a lot harder for a male investor to get on board with an idea he might not connect with because the product and perspective is told through a feminine lense. There are so many brilliant women who are in the doldrums as far as investing goes. It’s a real goal of mine to be able to give back one day to new entrepreneurs.

The filming of Dream, Girl

The filming of Dream, Girl

What’s been your favorite part of Dream, Girl so far?

There have been so many awesome moments from the production so far: from interviewing some amazing CEOs, to getting to work with an awesome group of women to create the trailer, to feeling so much support from the feminist community who understands the need to produce it. I think the first day of the Kickstarter campaign was my favorite so far: I got to go on FOX Business wearing a Betty the Beaver (Feminist Wednesday’s mascot) pin to promote the film, met tons of amazing women at our launch party hosted by New York Tech Meetup and Control Group, and ended the evening with my best friends and crew at a Brooklyn diner eating chicken fingers and disco fries. I think any night that ends with chicken fingers is totally successful.

How can our readers get involved with Dream, Girl?

They can check out the official trailer here! And make sure to follow us on twitter for all the latest updates and behind the scenes information.

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At the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC

My name is Maureen Muthengi, also known as Mo by my family and friends. I run Donate A Pad Initiative, this initiative is merely ran from my salary and my best friend Mona Manani (she’s such a darling and very generous) contributes monthly to ensure we keep the girls in school. Every term we donate sanitary towels to 200 girls from poor families in 9 schools in Kitui County. I’m passionate about empowering young girls to complete their education and am also a mentor. I have a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree (First Class Honors) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and a Certificate in Project Management. I work at a refugee camp in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kakuma, Turkana.

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#TeamKE at the YALI 2014 Summit

In June 2014 I was selected to participate in the Young Africans Leaders Initiative that was started by US President Barack Obama to mentor young African leaders who are change agents in their communities and making positive social change. 50,000 young people from 54 African countries applied and 500 were selected. In my country, Kenya, 5000 applied, 1000 were interviewed, and 46 were selected. I am among the 500 Africans who were selected to be Mandela Fellows and we were placed in 20 best universities in USA. The thought of it makes me feel privileged and honored to be in the inaugural group of young African leaders.

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Fellows I met at the YALI Summit

I was placed in University of California Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy for six weeks, which is the best public policy school in USA and the world. I took courses on Public Policy, International Affairs, Strategic Leadership, and Environmental Studies among others which broadened my perspective on leadership.

President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama addressing Mandela Washington Fellows at the YALI 2014 Summit

At the end of July we attended a Young African Leaders Summit in Washington DC hosted by President Barack Obama where various leaders, governors, business leaders and experts talked to us. We had talks with the Honorable John Kerry, Ambassador Samantha Powell, Ambassador Rice,  USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and First Lady Michelle Obama, among others. I was starstruck  and awed to be in the same room with these great leaders.

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#TeamKE with US Ambassador to Kenya Amb. Robert Godec

I was blessed to be selected by First Lady Michelle Obama with 35 other Mandela fellows for a round table meeting to discuss girls accessing education in Africa. I felt so honored that she supported what we were doing to enhance girls’ education in Africa. This just gave me more energy and strength to continue supporting the girl child to complete education.

Mo

with Ambassador Samantha Powell

One of the great benefits of the Fellowship is I met Young Africans who are doing great works in their countries. I was inspired by each one of them, we talked about the challenges we were facing back at home and we exchanged ideas on moving forward. I will maintain the network, it’s very helpful especially for growing Africa to a better place. Thereafter I also got an opportunity to attend the US-Africa Heads of State summit. I got to attend meetings held by one campaign. It was great sharing our views as Young Africans, but the most important thing was that we realized we had to create our own solutions for Africa.

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US Secretary Hon John Kerry shook our hands after the talk :)

We also attended a ONE Campaign concert–Femi Kuti performed–that was really cool. We got a chance to meet Cabinet Secretary Hon. Anne Waiguru in charge of devolution and youth affairs just to share on various ways we can collaborate and work together on Youth Empowerment. Finally, we had a meeting with US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec. He is just a great man. We shared with him our experience in US and what we learned from the university.

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Cabinet Secretary Hon Anne Waiguru with some of the Mandela fellows from Kenya

In August 2014, I was placed in GladRags in Portland, Oregon for my internship. GladRags manufactures cloth pads and menstrual cups  and promotes positive attitudes towards menstruation. Just the perfect place for me! I will basically apply what I learned in University of California, Berkeley and also get knowledge on how I can grow Donate a Pad initiative as we look for sustainable solutions to keep girls in school throughout the school year. I believe Education is the best weapon that can change our world. If it were not for education I wouldn’t be here.

GladRags is just the best place to be, I have an awesome boss and great work colleagues. I must confess it has changed my view on reusables and this month I’ll try the Moon Cup ;) (story for another day)  In the few days I have been here I love working at GladRags as we are empowering and changing women lives by providing them with comfortable, sustainable protection.

I would be where I am today if it were not for the love and support of my family and friends. I give all the glory to God for opening doors for me. It’s not by might nor by power but by the spirit of the Lord.

Have a lovely read!

— Maureen

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Imagine you’re twelve years old, and you’ve just discovered a stain in your underwear. It’s your first period. You don’t totally understand what’s happening, so you pull up your pants and run downstairs to tell your mother. You expect a hug, a calming caress, a kiss on the forehead. Instead, she slaps you across the face when you tell her.

cartoon faces

If you were a young Ashkenazic Jewish girl 50 years ago, this may have happened to you. While it’s by no means a common custom these days, some mothers may still give a firm tap upon learning of her daughter’s menarche. The purpose and origin of the “menstrual slap” is unclear. Some traditions say that it’s to bring a quick rush of blood to the face, pulling it away from the lower abdomen and relieving a potentially heavy flows. Others see it as a harsh awakening: the transition from girlhood to womanhood made punctuated with a physical action. Either way, it’s a fascinating example of the strange and unique customs throughout history to “celebrate” a girl’s menarche.

Learn more about the tradition of the “menstrual slap” at the Museum of Menstruation.


About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

 

GladRags cloth pads are proudly made here in Portland, Oregon (my hometown!) so I have a special place in my heart for other companies that manufacture their products here. Portland is a truly unique place, filled with interesting people and lots of resources for small businesses. I recently discovered that our sewing team, when not creating the best reusable menstrual pads around, helps cut out tiny flowers for cat collars. I caught up with Shana, the lady behind the cat couture and the founder of Sweet Pickles Designs to ask her all about her company, Portland, and cats, of course!

Shana & Pickles of Sweet Pickles Designs

Shana & Pickles of Sweet Pickles Designs

Hi Shana (and Pickles)! Can you tell our readers a little about SPD?

Sweet Pickles Designs offers a collection of handcrafted cat collars and bow ties and was created with a vision that all cats deserve to share their unique sense of style. All products are handmade in Portland, OR.

How did Sweet Pickles Designs get started?

You can read the long version of the story here! And yes, we really did chase her along the side of I-5.

In short, after rescuing Pickles, I couldn’t believe the awful collars the pet stores and boutiques had for cats. They were so bad I didn’t even want to buy any of them after going to every pet shop in town. I did end up buying one with dragonflies printed on it so she could have identification, but I was not happy with it at all. I decided I was going to make a collar for Pickles that I liked. After several months of playing with designs and filling Pickles’ closet, I decided it was time to see if other people liked them too. On April 20, 2010, Pickles and I opened Sweet Pickles Designs.

Pickles modeling a flower collar

Pickles modeling a flower collar

Since then, we’ve released bow ties (Holiday season 2012). We are releasing flowers this month. Actually probably this week! We are in 40-50 shops now including some bigger places like Petsmart (online only), New Seasons, and Wag.com. You can see the full stock-list on our website.

Tell us a little about your product line and how they’re made.

We currently offer collars and bow ties. We are a team of 4 seamstresses (including me) making the product. Everyone currently works out of their house, which is starting to get a little insane. Besides having petals for our upcoming flowers cut at Spooltown, we make all our products from start to finish in-house (in Portland).

You recently did a photo shoot for the Oregon Humane Society. Can you tell us about that experience?

As of last summer, once a quarter we go to the Oregon Humane Society (OHS) and photograph the longest residents/special needs kitties, aka their 9 Lives Club. It’s always an incredible experience and one of my favorite things we do. I really look forward to doing it.

My boyfriend is our photographer (that’s what he does) and I am so lucky to have him volunteer to do these shoots with us. I won’t lie, it’s a lot of work (it usually takes all day) and I fall in love with every single one of the cats we photograph. We spend a lot of time with each one, it’s hard not to fall in love plus the cats are always so sweet and ridiculously adorable. Plus OHS and their volunteers are so wonderful and really help make it all happen.

Ponyo, available for adoption at OHS

Ponyo, available for adoption at OHS

It really does take a team to make these shoots happen, but I think everyone (including the cats) enjoy it. We share the photos with OHS to use however they want and we share the cats on our social media to hopefully help push their adoption. They are always wearing our collars, bow ties/flowers (they get to keep them), so sometimes I do use the photos for product lifestyle shots, but as you probably saw from the 6 cats from the last shoot, it’s really about getting a really great photo of the cat. If our products look good, that’s a bonus, but I end up choosing a lot of photos that you can’t even see our products since they happen to sometimes be the best photo of the kitty and that’s what it’s about.

All the cats from the other shoots have found their forever homes, which really makes it all worth it. I don’t know how much the photos have helped find them their home, but I like to think that they did help, at least a little. ;)

Cat bow-ties strike me as a very “Portland” thing! What’s it like running a small, quirky, business in Portland?

Well, I will say there’s never a dull day in the cat fashion world. Coming from a commercial real estate background, I would say Sweet Pickles could have it’s own Portlandia episode. The emails are I get from customers alone are pretty amazing and sometimes I do sit back and reflect on my day and just start to giggle. Like for starters, last week, we made a set of 4 matching bow ties for someones 2 cats and 2 chickens to wear at their wedding. See? Pretty amazing and I bet you just giggled. But honestly, how great is that to think that someone was able to have all their pets participate (while matching) at their wedding. I love it.

As a female business owner, have you encountered specific obstacles or opportunities?

I think the pet industry is interesting. As I mentioned earlier, I was in commercial real estate (for 10 years) prior to Sweet Pickles, and that is a very male dominated industry. That is one reason why I love the pet industry; I get to work with so many other women. I think about 70% of the buyers at the pet stores we work with are women and my team happens to be all women. I have also met a lot of other women who own other pet supply companies who have been so supportive and have actually become good friends with a few of them. I have a monthly standing call with one of the woman; she makes cat toys and we are are at similar points with our businesses. We go over obstacles and challenges we may have encountered over the last month, bounce ideas off each other and it really has become a support structure for both of us. It’s pretty wonderful.

And finally… do your bow-ties fit dog collars, too? We have two very handsome office pugs who could totally rock them.

OH YES! We make bigger dog size ones that are the perfect size for pugs! We don’t sell online, but you can custom order or you can pick up them at one of our Portland retailers.  ;)

Thanks for chatting with us, Shana!


About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

 

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Did you know that Courtney Cox was the first person to say the word “period” (gasp!) on national TV? The ad, which aired in 1985, featured a 19-year-old Courtney telling the viewer about how “tampons might even change the way you feel about your… PERIOD.” And then everyone lost their minds.

source: thelostie.tumblr.com

Well, not really. Miss Cox earned the attention that goes along with being the first person to utter “period” in the biological sense on American TV, some young boys were presumably ushered hastily away from the television set, and then… everything went back to normal, only we all knew that everyone else knew what a period was, too.

30 years later, saying the word “period” in an advertisement for tampons seems like a no-brainer, but back in 1985 this was a subtle but revolutionary step forward in talking about women’s bodies. So cheers to you, Courtney, for having the guts to speak frankly about periods–and at 19, a time when lots of us are still mired in shame about our bodies’ natural functions. Good on ya.

Source: imaginaryhat.tumblr.com

Ready to see Courtney, in all of her 1980s glory, utter the word “period” when talking about periods? Watch the Tampax commercial below.


About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

We have mixed feelings about using phrases like “on the rag” to indicate that you’re menstruating. For one, euphemisms help hide what you’re really talking about, and that can serve to reinforce the shame many feel when it comes to their periods. These phrases can also support negative feelings about menstruation–like when we call it “a curse.”

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On the flipside, euphemisms can be really funny! Humor is useful in breaking the ice about a taboo topic, and making people feel comfortable. If I’m going to be speaking in front of a group, I’ll often start by making jokes about periods to get everyone to just relax, already! Menstruation is a totally normal, natural function of our bodies and, let’s face it, bodies can be kinda funny.

With that in mind, I polled the GladRags team for their favorite euphemisms for periods:

  • Shark Week - Iris
  • Sitting on Strawberries – Heather
  • Lining the Drawers - Tracy
  • Dark Side of the Moon - Meagan
  • Surfing the Crimson Wave - Eliana
  • The Red Badge of Courage - Nicole

What’s your favorite way to refer to your “monthlies”?


About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

 

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Menstruation throughout history has always fascinated me, in part because it’s kind of a mystery to us now. Since most history was recorded by men, there’s often no mention of periods or other lady-specific issues.

I recently stumbled across this blog post which explores menstruation in medieval times. Here are the highlights, for your reading pleasure:

  • Periods were referred to as your “flowers” — kind of sweet, isn’t it? Oddly, menstruation was also referred to in this euphemistic way even in medical texts.
  • Menstruating women carried nosegays and nutmeg to conceal any odors (remember: there were fewer baths in those days…)
  • One “proven” remedy for heavy flow: burn a toad in a pot, then wear the resulting powder in a pouch around your waist. Poor toadie.
  • The average onset of menopause appears to have been earlier than today, happening as early as the mid to late thirties. It’s thought that it was brought on by frequent child-bearing.
  • Periods were viewed as part of Eve’s curse by the church. Holy women often fasted, resulting in missed periods which were attributed to favor from God–rather than a nutrient deficiency.
  • Menstrual blood had “magical” properties, but it was an evil magic. It was thought that it (or the “menotoxins” inherent to the fluid) could give dogs rabies, render entire fields of crops barren, and make fruit fall from trees.
This poster describing the potential effects of menstruating women hangs in the GladRags office, where bread always fails to rise.

This poster describing the potential effects of menstruating women hangs in the GladRags office, where bread always fails to rise.

 The Menotoxin: Know Your Poison poster was created by the fabulous Laura Szumowski.


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

Every moon cycle I experience a kind of miracle. My body, which has ached and prepared and grown flush with expectancy, initiates a deep process of renewal. The days I spend bleeding are a vital part of my natural rhythm of rest and rejuvenation, and can be some of the most creative and illuminating days of my life.

reflection-and-ritual

In our culture we are often trained to see our moon time as a bothersome obligation. A biological issue that we must “deal with” rather than a deep transition that we can grow from and experience. We are expected to continue life as usual— jobs, responsibilities, chores— with very little recognition for the profundity of what is being experienced.

Traditionally, a woman’s moon was considered to be an exceptionally powerful time. In many cultures, women were expected to engage in deep rest and reflection while they were bleeding. In traditional Chinese medicine our moon was thought to bring about a time of release for other longstanding bodily illnesses or issues — an opportunity to energetically flush out imbalances. In other cultures this time was similarly respected and honored, and sometimes even revered as a sacred state of visioning. In some Native American tribes a woman’s moontime was thought to be a moment of far-reaching understanding. Bleeding women were supported to ‘vision’ for the community as a whole.

Garnet cave

Each time I bleed is unique. Sometimes its almost breezy—very little cramps or concerns or dark clouds— other times all I want is to curl up into a tight ball and practice breathing. Our cycles are incredibly sensitive; they can be affected by changes in diet, exercise, relationships, health and mental state. When I have a cycle that seems to be requiring a lot of energy I always step back and reflect— am I giving myself enough time in my day-to-day life to relax? What can I do to more deeply nourish myself and understand what is being communicated through my body’s cycle?

Every cycle I am called, yet again, to a space of loving examination: What about my life is feeding me? Which aspects of my career or relationships are nourishing? And what am I ready to let go of so I can clear the way for newness to reseed and grow?

Rituals for Rejuvenation

I read somewhere once that the root of the word ‘ritual’ comes from the Sanskrit word R’tu, which meant (among other things) menstrual. I’ve since taken this deeply to heart. I try every moontime to simply engage with and honor my cycle. I experience it. I interact with my body and mind, and make space for new wisdom to filter in. There are so many ways in which you can sink deeply into this time and create space for the transformation. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enact ritual during my moon:

hawthorn tea

1. Womb Massage

Giving myself the time to massage my womb space is one of the simplest joys (and comforts!) I know of during my moon time. Our wombs work hard…basically all the time. Every cycle our uterus builds an entire baby villa (a very lush residence indeed) and then tears the whole thing down. Spending even five minutes nurturing your womb space with loving attention can be dramatically healing.

What you’ll need: A carrier oil + essential oils

Infuse your carrier oil with a few drops of essential oils to nurture, soothe, and relieve some of the more powerful sensations of your moon. Coconut, sweet almond, jojoba and apricot kernel oil are all lovely carriers oils to use. If the oil is liquid at room temperature simply add 1-5 drops of essential oil per TBS of carrier oil. When using coconut oil you’ll need to slowly heat it on the stove. Set the heat at its lowest possible temperature. When the oil completely liquid, add your drops of essential oil and transfer into a cooler bowl. Warming up your oil can also add a rich depth of comfort to your experience. Just make sure to add your essential oils after you heat the carrier oil, to retain their full potency and power.

If you are looking to soothe cramps, select an essential oil that fits both your sensations and mood.

  • If you have hot, sharp cramps try cooling, antispasmodic essential oils like peppermint, lavender, pennyroyal, clary sage and basil.
  • If your cramps tend to feel more heavy, dragging and cold (these types of cramps are often relieved by heat) try more warming and stimulating essential oils like ginger, angelica root, and spikenard.
  • Not sure what type of cramps you have? Try closing your eyes and focusing on the sensation in your womb. What color do you see? Red, orange, or yellow can often mean hot cramps, whereas purple, blue or gray usually indicates colder cramps. Still not sure? Go with your nose. Close your eyes and smell a few different essential oils, let your body choose the best one for you.

winter bath

2. Baths

Bathing is a deeply comforting way to release the tensions of our day and invite realignment. Water is such a sacred ally for us on this earth. It is the building block of our very body, the essence that makes up our primary experience in this world. All of us spent the first months of our life as water babies, floating in the womb. Bathing can be a beautiful way to self-nurture during your moon. Bleeding often brings back that primal desire to be nurtured— we yearn to feel, once again, the simple comfort of our own inner wombs.

Intentionally preparing yourself a healing bath is a sacred way of signaling to yourself that you are taken care of. Take time to give your gratitude to the water and know that it has the power to cleanse and clear so many of the tangles left deep inside you.

Think about creating a sacred space around and within your bath. Put 10-20 drops of essential oil into the water before you step in to steam the room and scent the experience. Swirl a palm of coconut oil into your bath to nourish your skin and hair. Try floating bundles of rosemary or sage to remember the freshness that awaits you on the other side of your moon. Light candles, put on healing music, and let yourself steep. There is nothing more profoundly healing than a well-drawn bath.

Misty Garden

3. Giving Back

Our blood itself is sacred. Contained within that blood is everything that is needed to sustain and grow life. It is a precious gift. Giving my blood back to the earth is a vital part of my moontime practice. When I use cloth pads I always soak them in cold water immediately after use. After a few hours, the cloth lets go its darkness and the water turns a gorgeous ruby hue. Sometimes I bring that water out to my garden, and sing songs to the comfrey or growing basil leaves as I feed them. Green beings simply adore moonwater—it’s a fact. Our blood is so full of essential nutriments and nitrogen; moon-fed plants simply glow! Truth be told, I haven’t bought fertilizer for any of my houseplants in years. I feed them my blood every month and they are happy as can be. I nurture them just as they nurture me.

Quartz spiral

4. Letting go

Most moontimes I grapple with at least one dark cloud, a heavy thing, leggy and looming over me. It can be hard, sometimes, to feel like I have the space to breathe! Learning to let go has been a deep and profoundly relieving practice for me. Every moontime I focus my energy on one thing I would like to let go of in my life— whether it’s a belief, an outmoded relationship, negative thoughts about myself, an attachment to a certain outcome, or even my sometimes dangerous devotion to kettle chips (guilty). When you illuminate these things, and make the clear intention to release them with your blood, you create a profound flow of cleansing energy. The power of your intention can make that practice of letting go doubly strong. Your body hears you. Your spirit hears you. And you will begin that deep process of release.

No matter what your experience or history is with your moon, each new cycle in an opportunity to reinvent yourself from the inside out. Let’s all work together to redefine the ways in which we think about or relate to our blood, and create new moon communities marked by support, love, celebration and growth.


About the author of this post:

asia sulerAsia Suler is a writer, teacher and herbalist who lives amongst her gardens and large apothecary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC. She is the creator and concoctress of One Willow Apothecaries, an Appalachian-grown herbal company that offers lovingly handcrafted herbal medicines. Asia teaches at gatherings across the country and is blessed to work with people and plants, spirit and stones. Read more of her writing on her blog.

Image credits: Asia Suler 

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Before there were adhesive-backed disposables, there were…. belts. Some of our older readers may even remember using these! Even younger readers have likely heard of belted sanitary napkins from the coming-of-age classic Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

This is an Australian ad from 1956, announcing the launch of Kotex belts in fashion-forward WHITE.

While I think I would be very, very grumpy if I had to wear a belt for my period, I kind of dig this ad. The packaging in the lower right looks so fancy and pretty!

Would you ever wear a Kotex belt? In white?

 


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.