Recently I listened to Alisa Vitti’s TED talk about women’s monthly cycles and it blew my fallopian tubes apart. It shocked me so much I shared it on Facebook. It got six likes.
God, I am such an influencer.
But this is such a winning idea I need to share it again as I’ve had it all wrong. It’s not just the horny as hell day in the middle, then the weepy day where you want to simultaneously stab your partner in the eye and save every abandoned puppy online, and one bleedin’ annoying week to finish, but four different weeks every month.
Why don’t I know this?
Alisa, author of Women Code, nutritionist, hormone guru and all-round savvy scientist founded the FLO Living Center in Manhattan. She’s an expert on lady bits. In her talk, she explains that every week our hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenals, pancreas and ovaries are multi-tasking, and sending instructions around our bodies: ready, aim, fire, abort!
With all that activity our brains and bodies and hormones and emotions and thoughts and feelings are different. Every week. And if we tapped into these different stages we can, in the words of Alisa, “Have more energy, power and clarity.”
If you’re a bloke and you’ve read this far then well done, but keep going. You might get some clarity around the women in your life because we are not always easy to understand. Crikey, I’ve had two children AND I am a woman and I’ve only just learnt this.
According to Alisa, during week one in the follicular phase—when our eggs are coming up to maturity—we have the most creative energy we’ll have all month. This is the week to think about painting the walls, designing that app, or finishing that play about the duck in the attic.
Week two, in the ovulatory phase, we are our most powerful. Hormones are on full volume as one special egg is wondering will I stay or will I go now? We have the most energy and the best communication skills. People can’t refuse us. This is the week to ask for a pay rise or go on that first date or negotiate the deal. This is also the week to have that chat with your partner as they won’t be able to resist us.
The third week, in the luteal phase, we’re getting a bit titchy and rightly so as the egg’s been released and the lining of the uterus is thickening. It’s a busy process and we are detail focused. It’s the shoe-straightening week. Sort out the spice rack. Sort out the holiday for next year. Sort out your online filing system. If housework could be done once a month this is the week to do it. This could explain why we don’t feel like cleaning most of the time.
And then there’s the final week, the menstrual phase, or what’s commonly known as the bloody annoying week. This phase, according to Alisa, is when we are fluid, excuse the pun. This is when the best conversation happens between the left and right hand sides of our brain. Consequently, rational and creative thought are in tune and we have good insight. This is when we should make big decisions, make change and think about the mysterious future.
Not one to shirk some free power and clarity, I decided to observe myself for a couple of months and I have to say Alisa’s onto something.
The first week—which I’ve named the Frida (Kahlo) stage as Frida is easier to say than follicular and she was a creative fireball—I was scheduled to talk to Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand about body image. I’d prepared my five tips for parents and was ready to go. On the morning of, I spent a considerable amount of time in the bathroom as speaking to NZ’s Radio Personality Of The Year, live, to the entire country doesn’t come naturally to me. And there, washing my hands with soap from the Eco store, I had an idea for each tip: they’d all start with ‘e’ – like eat. The five ‘e’s became the spine for my entire talk which is now on RNZ’s website and they’re easy (which also starts with ‘e’) for parents to remember.
It was the best creative idea I’ve had for months.
Next was a financial meeting so I timed it for the second, ovulating, week. I’m calling it the Beyoncé week as she is the most powerful woman I can think of—and she makes me want to ovulate! Usually, with money conversations, I am eternally grateful anyone wants to pay me to do anything but this time I told myself I was I-reee-sistable as I applied shocking pink lipstick. I imagined Bey wearing thigh high boots as I said everything I wanted to say. I was tempted to stand in the meeting while the men sat; that’s how powerful I felt. And in the the end I got everything I wanted.
The third sorting week, which I’ve called the Lena (Dunham) week as its easier to remember than Luteal—and Lena makes great anal jokes—I decided to sort out my wardrobe.
The Dimple complains that my clothes bully his in our wardrobe but it’s not my fault he hates shopping. Feeling focused, I got a big bag sorted for Dress for Success and lugged it out to the car. I was pleased with myself and I’d like to say I delivered the bag but here’s the thing with any theory: you have to take into account your own personality. Finishing’s not my strong point so I’m still driving the bag of clothes around and now they’re bullying other things in the back of the car.
Did I mention I’m not perfect?
The most important thing about the Lena week is that even though we feel like sorting out our relationship days before our period begins, do not attempt this. I have made this mistake for the last 30 years and it always ends in tears. Save the chat for the Beyoncé week, and sort out your sex life instead – you’ll be really into details.
The fourth week, which I’ve named the Ma Baker stage (lots of blood shed) I did a ‘wtf am I doing’ test with my friend Sally. I don’t normally do self-helpy tests but Sally is not your normal type of person; she’s so wonderful I couldn’t even put her into a category. At the time my head was full of questions about what was going on in my life, or not going on, and Sally opened up my brain and pulled out my top five passions.
Then, the following week when I was back in the Frida phase, I was inspired by this talented Italian blogger, Elena to draw my passions. So I did.
Now I feel at peace every time I look at it and I don’t have to think about my life until until the next Ma Baker stage.
So ladies, I dare you to test out Alisa’s theory. You’re going through the cycle every month anyway so just be aware of it. Do you feel more creative in the Frida week? More powerful in the Beyoncé one? And if you think it’s a good rule of thumb then teach it to your daughter and niece and aunt and mother and sister.
Gloria Steinem, said in Miss Representation, that girls are taught to view their bodies as unending projects to work on yet boys are taught to master their environment. Imagine if we teach our girls to master their environment with what they’ve naturally got inside instead of hating the bloody annoying cycle and never discussing it except for furtively asking for tampons?
Our internal system is powerful. It’s a life force. It creates eyebrows on our children. At the risk of sounding like a hippie who’s spent too much time in Northern Californian attending topless drumming circles, this system is mother nature inside us.
So remember this—I was trying to come up with a benefit that starts with the same letter but I’m in the wrong week…
Week one (Frida) – create.
Week two (Beyoncé) – conquer.
Week three (Lena) – sort.
Week four (Ma Baker) – plan.
Go forth. Embrace your lady bits.
And if anyone missed Seven Sharp’s piece on body image, which came out in the same Frida week as the Kathryn Ryan chat, then here it is.