I was interviewed recently by Adeola Sheehy-Adekale for Learning Through Living– see the “Presence” and “Happiness” issues for this interview and my book review of “Why Does Mummy Bleed?”
To me a revolutionary is someone who is making changes, and i’ve been challenging women about their menstrual products for almost 30 years…!! Back then there were very few options for green periods – the moon cup had just come out, there we a couple of US and Australian small businesses selling cloth pads but as far as I know, none in the UK. It seemed crazy as the cloth nappy market was growing as mums were not wanting to use disposable nappies, but they weren’t connecting that in reality, disposable pads are full of plastic and chemicals like nappies and take up to 500 years to decompose. It is a call to be responsible about where we put our money, do we want to continue to buy products that are harmful to our health and the planet? And as a mum I want to play my part in cleaning up this mess for my children and grandchildren. So, the first step in my revolution is to get all women switching to having environmentally sound periods!! And from that, breaking taboos around our bleeding being shameful, which leads to us connecting to the power of our cycles…which takes us deeper in to living a more cyclic way of living- patriarchy and society show us a linear way of living and women are cyclic… but that’s a whole other conversation!
The work of empowering women has been central to your life for over 20 years, how do you balance this important work, and running s busy shop with motherhood?
My work is my passion, I live to see people grow and change and to be a part in that is exciting and humbling. Learning to balance work with parenting isnt easy, especially when you are self employed – it can be harder to have boundaries around ‘work times’- like today, i’m doing this interview on a bank holiday- but I also know I can carve out free time on another day so make up for it! But boundaries have been important, using my cycle as a guide I know what weeks my energy is up and when it’s low, also scheduling less at the end of my cycle. Being self employed enables me to fit my work around my children’s schedule, and luckily their dad is supportive and haves them on weekends when I run workshops and teach. Whats been interesting the last few years, as I’m now in perimenoapuse and am dealing with health issues, i’ve had to be much more self disciplined around work and have had to find creative ways to earn and look after myself!
In your online course Red Girl, you teach women how to guide their daughters into becoming women by reclaiming the rite of passage of menarche for themselves. This is powerful work. Do you feel that the need for healing those early experiences for women has increased I recent years alongside movements like ‘me too’ and ‘Times Up’?
So yes, my Red Girl online teachings came from firstly- realising I cant run all over the country teaching workshops and putting on ceremonies any more, and secondly I really want to empower women to heal and hold these ceremonies for themselves. That’s been the core of my teaching for many years, we women have all we need within us to heal, to call community together, to create red tents, hold each other, hold our girls- but we do need to work though our ‘shit’ before we can be there fully our daughters. There needs to be a community foundation of sisterhood to hold girls as they go through the transition of womanhood and if we haven’t healed then our girls will trigger our wounds. I’ve been at many menarche ceremonies and witnessed women sobbing because they have never been seen and witnessed in the way we celebrate our girls when we give them a ceremony, so we need to gather together, hold ceremonies for ourselves- my teacher calls these “Catch up” ceremonies- we can go back to our childhood and honour and celebrate our first blood! In the Deepening Woman teaching we go though nine rights of passage…!! It’s very deep and healing work.