I’d studied herbalism and other schools of ancient healing like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine and knew about the three golden windows: stages of a woman’s life where she can either lose or gain a great amount of life force depending on her care. Those stages are menarche (the start of menstruation), postpartum, and menopause.
My little one was barely eight when I started inviting mothers and daughters to gather under the canopy of an ancient pepper tree for herbal tea, myths, nature crafts and kid-friendly lessons about the biological lunar magic of female bodies.
Shame and secrecy about an inevitable part of being who you are is a sure way to erode power, but I knew that wonder and open conversation were antidotes to the mild disgust that tenaciously surrounds menstruation. I also wanted to reframe the overly-scientific explanations that convey a sense of disgust hiding behind clinical terminology.
Our bodies were wild forests and jungles- not robotic assemblages of parts and functions- and getting to know ourselves on these natural terms led to spontaneous celebration.
I started over at 40.
I’d been ground to fine dust by a high-conflict marriage and the soul-strangling divorce that followed; I was dried out, insubstantial, and at the mercy of the slightest breeze.
All I had was one magic bean from which to grow a flourishing new life.
That bean was the knowledge that our modern way of life is in absolute contradiction to what humans actually need to thrive, and a glimpse of a better way forward.
And I had a little girl by my side, watching my every move.
Seeing my daughter’s innate wisdom and energy, I kept asking myself: what happens to this power we’re born with? Why isn’t it cherished and protected? Where does it go? How do I get mine back?
And most importantly: what would be possible if we never lost it in the first place?
As the group grew, I began to notice how healing this was for the moms too, most of whom had been slid a box of feminine products and maybe a pamphlet at a disorienting time when they should have been celebrated and initiated into the privileges and responsibilities of womanhood. That was the birthright of our ancestors. Now, decades later, they were finally able to celebrate the little girl inside whose blooming had originally been met with distance instead of reverence.
I, of course, was healing too.
But what I thought was the end of my journey turned out to be just the beginning.
Turning 40 had brought on a flurry of unexpected connections- things I’d always wondered about were falling into place all around me. I started to clock how alike my ex-husband and the dominating, power-over systems of our society were.
The number of parallels were uncanny.
In my studies of traditional medicine I’d been inordinately drawn to the tools of the Yin/ Yang and Medicine Wheel- two deceptively simple interpretations of the complex interplay of cycles, energies, and elements that compose life on Earth.
These symbols were the basis of my work with mothers and daughters, and I also used them quite a bit in homeschooling my own daughter.
Suddenly, I was seeing how they applied to imbalances beyond the body: they could be used to heal relationships and communities, to identify where power was lacking and how it could be restored, to bring structure to areas lacking form or softness to places with too much structure, and on and on.
I started using these tools with women, first in small groups and then one on one. Whether their complaints were physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual didn’t matter- when balance was restored within the individual, the rest had a way of falling into place.
Women were nourishing their nervous systems, strengthening their relationships with themselves, and being reunited with their innate, natural power.
Unsurprisingly, it changed everything.
As someone who’d been crushed under the weight of someone else’s power- and painstakingly put myself back together- I was able to intuit the imbalances in others’ lives and hold them with the deep compassion, validation, and humor of someone who’d been there.
As a perpetual student of life, I was able to apply plant medicine, top-down and bottom-up trauma therapies, womb healing, tailored meditations, and other collected wisdoms to bring harmony to the imbalances my clients experienced.
Now, my work still serves women and girls in a one-on-one format and is expanding- at the glacial pace of single motherhood- to include more courses and workshops for both.
Though the topics may seem to vary widely, they're all rooted in the idea of excavating the natural, biologically complementary ways of life that we've lost and need to reclaim.
My magic bean has sprouted into a nurturing, regenerative stalk- not just for me, but for many others as well.