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What I think…

Friday, September 28, 2007 by Marianne Elliott

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Self portrait, with a headache.

Here is what I think.

I think that we should be able to adapt our pace to our monthly cycles.

I think that on days like today when everything within me was crying out for quiet, retreat, softness and nuturing – I should not have to go and meet the Chief of Police, the Head of National Security and the Governor to discuss drug trafficking, death threats and the need to reinforce the Afghan National Police in Ghor.

I think that we should resurrect some of the cultural traditions that acknowledge the value of responding to our bodies' natural cycles and taking time to rest, to reach inward and to renew.

I most certainly do not think that this should translate into discriminatory practices or imposed exile.

But I do think that there are periods for letting the seed lie, quietly, in the ground. There are times for absorbing the goodness of the sun. There are moments in which active work is not the best path. There are moments for resting, for letting be, for awaiting.

My job takes no account of these possibilities. I am required to be always "on". I must be always ready for action.

In my 20 years (some days it feels endless) experience in the work environment, I have seen that it not only does not take account of the regular monthly cycle of my body, it also ignores the reality that our general productivity goes in cycles.

The "western" work ethic takes no account of the observed phenomenon that the harvest of outputs sometimes follows periods during which it seems nothing is being accomplished.

Sometimes I simply can't seem to get myself moving. I am a highly motivated, highly disciplined worker, so if I am fair on myself I can say with some confidence that this is not due to laziness or a lack of focus. No, on reflection, I think that every project has it's periods of gestation. Every process has times when the seed has to be left in the ground for a quiet, sunny moment.

But more than all that, today my body was crying out to be allowed to stay in a quiet, safe place. I had no choice but to push it out into the world of corruption and drug-running and threats of violence. It was not a happy day.

But I got through it.

Who knows, maybe I even achieved something important today. Right now it seems unlikely. But these things often come at unexpected moments.

Next month, I promise myself a day on the couch.


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12 Responses to "What I think…"

  1. susannah says:

    yes yes yes. what irritates me is that others (ie men) don’t take PMS seriouly – i went to my doctor last week to ask for a blood test to check my hormone levels, as the PMS is getting worse and worse and starting to really affect my ability to function. and he agreed to the test, but i was left feeling like i was making a big deal out of nothing, that it was clearly all in my head. and i know that had the doctor i’d see been a woman i wouldn’t have been made to feel this way.

  2. gem says:

    thank *you* for reminding me…to rest & to honor me, my journey, my cycle. yes. yes. yes.

  3. sassy says:

    Aargh. The worst. Maybe there should be a “women on their period” human rights clause. Could you look into that for us? (;

  4. Melanie says:

    Today of all days I needed this reminder, thank-you. Sometimes I hate what my body puts me through and then I look at my beautiful son and remember that it is that monthly “iritation” which gave breath to this gorgeous little creation. I need to honor my body and it’s cycles for that reason amongst many others. At the end of the day I love being a woman despite the cycles, the cellulite and the stretch marks.

  5. Kerstin says:

    I cannot recount the number of days where only a good dose of Ibuprofen got me through. Luckily nowadays I have a bit more flexibility with my job and I do make use of that. I like this post a lot! And I hope you get your deserved day on the couch.

  6. Mardougrrl says:

    Oh, here is hoping for you to get some rest SOON. xoxo, M

  7. susanna says:

    Oh yes…I hear you. Rather than migraines, I tend to feel like a big water balloon about to burst into tears once month. Sometimes a nap in the bed, a hot bath with candles, or (and I’ll admit it here) a girlie cry for no good reason is exactly what is needed to get me through to the other side. I hope you find the time for a nap on the sofa soon, Frida.

  8. HiK says:

    Girl, you are preachin’ to the choir.

  9. ceanandjen says:

    I could not agree more! It is so difficult to make this rest happen when life keeps pushing on and responsibilities need to be met…and those expectations of us exist. I hope that you are feeling a bit more relaxed and that you have been able to take a bit of that quiet time that you so deserve.

  10. Margaret says:

    I love days on the couch! I believe that there is alot to be said for slowing down. We are mostly women where I work and while we can openly talk about our cramps and periods, we still work way too hard and too mnay hours. I honestly don’t think that we are always productive when we work ourselves until we drop. I take breaks and encourage my staff to do so as well. It is amazing how a solution to a problem just comes to me when I give myself the opportunity to relax. Almost everyday I come to the office with “shower thoughts,” ideas that come to me while I am in the shower. If I just grind on, the ideas don’t come.

  11. Alex says:

    A holy YES to resting! Hope you feel better! It’s not any different over here in gypsy land… We must all demand our time to lay in the sunshine and recharge…

  12. 180/360 says:

    I couldn’t agree more! My yoga teacher always calls it a womans “holiday,” which I find amusing. If only we could go on a holiday during our cycles.

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