I used to not “get” my monthly cycle. In my mind, there were basically 3 times in my cycle: when I was free of the stupid hormones, the horrible week when I became a monster even I didn’t recognize or want to be around, and then when I was on my period.
In the past year, I’ve been trying to embrace self-care, and a large part of that was letting go of the chemicals I was using to become someone who I thought was more acceptable to be. I was on anti-anxiety medication to make my wild swings in emotions (usually tied to my monthly cycles) more manageable. I also used hormonal birth control to limit the inconvenience of my period to every 3 months.
A note before I share my story
I am not a doctor, and don’t play one on tv, Netflix, or here on my blog. When I came off my medications, I was under the supervision of a doctor, and didn’t just jump in willy-nilly. I am not here to pretend to be an expert, or to tell you how you have to live.
I also want to say that there were times when I really did need medication, and I realize there are many lovely ladies out there who need medication, for any number of reasons. I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong, bad, weak, or anything less than an amazing badass. I am just here to share my story, with the intent of empowering other women who might benefit from it. My intent isn’t to preach, judge, or condemn anyone here. I felt so much better after I got off my medication, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice for you in your situation. I’m not judging, or preaching, mmkay?
I got my first clue about working with cycles from an old book that’s no longer in print called Large Family Logistics. The author, Kim Brenneman, has actually come out with a new book which is similar, and might have some of the same info inside, called Home Management: Plain and Simple… (I haven’t read this new version, but Kim is a brilliant woman!)
Anyway, I read Large Family Logistics, which was a eye-opener for me. It was the first book that talked about planning your weeks around your cycles, and my mind was blown. It wasn’t just the attitude of, “A week or two out of the month you’re going to be miserable.” It was really useful!
I read all I could get my hands on about living with your monthly cycle, and that lead me on an amazing journey that changed how I did everything in my life. Understanding my monthly cycle changed how I ran my business, how I parented my kids, managed my house, and my husband and I handled our day to day interactions. Working with my monthly cycles was a serious game changer for me.
Why working with your cycle is actually f*cking amazing
I am a highly driven person, but never understood why I consistently had this cycle of being “me” – driven to create, with almost limitless energy, excited about life and everything in it, and uber productive… and why other weeks I would be super high energy, but couldn’t write one sentence because I felt like I was too nit-picky and couldn’t shut off my internal editor.
As it turns out, it was because I didn’t understand that each week of my cycle means I’ll not only have different energy levels, but I have different skills and gifts. It wasn’t just PMS week, shark week, then “the rest of the time.” Each week of my monthly cycle meant different activities were better suited to my moods, skills and gifts for the week.
When I started reading (a lot of reading!), tracking, and really getting to know each phase of my cycle, I realized that the idea of me having the same expectations for my creativity, energy levels, and my moods from week to week was completely insane. No wonder women entrepreneurs are struggling so much – most of the advice we’re getting about time management doesn’t work for us. We aren’t guys who don’t change much from week to week! Once I got that piece and was able to start changing my expectations for myself, I was able to get so much more done each month, and I wasn’t fighting myself anymore.
Once I got over the fact that it was weird to me to plan my activities around my cycle, it felt amazing to embrace the new way of doing things. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
My new cycle-centered business routine
- Pre-ovulation: Plan all the things
- Ovulation: Do & create all the things
- Pre-Menstruation: Edit & declutter
- Menstruation: Rest & recharge
What I use for tracking my cycle
I use the myFLO app in the iTunes store to track my cycles, but I also use this kinda generic period tracker to track more symptoms, as well as my sexual habits. My husband also installed the Google Play version of MyFlo, to keep track of my cycle.
When I realized that I needed a reference, I created some spreads in my Happy Planner, which also turned out to be more useful for my husband! The funny thing is, he already knew a lot about my cycles, but he wasn’t always sure how to support me during each phase, so these sheets include not only information for my reference, but they also have relevant stuff specifically for him on the back of each sheet.
I started showing my friends, who also insisted they wanted their own copies, so I made this printable version!