Life isn’t flat and consistent, things are always in flux:
- Once in a while, I get a crappy night’s sleep. I wake up over and over, I toss and turn, and nothing seems to help me drift off. It’s frustrating and confusing, since I’m normally a great sleeper, until I remember: it’s the moon. For a few days around the full moon, my sleep always sucks. Happens to my sister, my mom, happened to my grandmother. I can wear an eye mask, close the curtains– doesn’t matter. Full moon means restless sleep.
- I’m generally a pretty energetic and enthusiastic person. But now and then, I get a case of the fuckits. Don’t want to, don’t feel like it, that will never work, I can’t do it. Where does this come from? Then I look at the calendar and see. . . it’s the week before my period.
- I’m usually upbeat and motivated, creative and playful. But sometimes, this kind of goes away, and I feel like I’m wearing blurry goggles and over-sized mittens. Stuff that was clear and awesome a few months ago seems fuzzy and kinda pointless. I think I’ve lost my mojo for good. Then I get it: it’s winter.
Why am I noting these fluctuations? Because they are not anomalies. They aren’t weaknesses to be conquered. They’re cycles. Natural rhythms. Ebbs and flows. When I recognize them for what they are, they are less distressing. I can prepare for them. I can support myself, be kind to myself, lean in to the shifts. Of course, the capitalist white supremacist hetero patriarchy doesn’t care about the moon or my ovaries or the weather. Your boss probably doesn’t care if you didn’t sleep well as long as you get your work done. No one makes money by your feeling good. So, there it is again. Another way that we’re pulled away from who we are, distanced from integrity and humanity by forces we don’t even always see. So how can we resist this flattening of our true nature? How can we honor the true cycles of life?
Pay attention to how you feel. This sounds like a no brainer, but it isn’t. We do a lot of numbing and ignoring and denying. Watching TV, reading the news, alcohol, coffee, social media, ibuprofen. . . all of these can stop us from seeing and feeling what’s really going on with us. Things that help us tune in?
- Meditation (formal or improvised), journaling, and any kind of regular physical movement practice. These are all different paths towards awareness of the self and the body.
- Track cycles. If something impacts you, keep track of it so you’ll recognize it when it comes. You can put moon phases on your calendar. There are smart period-tracking apps that will learn from your data and predict when you’ll have symptoms and when your period will come. Whatever cycles impact you, there’s probably an app for that. Try one and see.
- Observe rituals. There’s a reason we keep doing things like lighting birthday candles, watching the ball drop, and watching die hard on Christmas eve (ok, maybe that one’s just us). These actions aren’t meaningful in and of themselves, but they connect us with other humans and with our former selves. They ground us in a time and place.
- Connect with another human. Maybe it’s your partner, or a friend, or your sister, or your mom (hi mom!). Someone you feel bonded to. Develop, and honor, a regular practice of checking in. Maybe you chat while you walk the dog, face time or text while your coffee brews, hold hands and check in before you go to sleep. Ask each other: how are you? We are so used to saying, “fine, you?” that we forget how to answer the question. Remember.
What cycles form the backdrop of your life? How can you better honor them?