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International Women’s Day

Grateful this

International Women’s Day

For my:

💜right to vote

💚reproductive freedom

💜access to education

💚freedom to marry who I choose, and to not marry at all

💜property rights

💚freedom to work

💜ability to gather with other women

💚daughters being raised in a time when they know their voices are powerful

💜independence

💚freedom to dress as I choose

💜feminist allies of all genders

💚fire in my belly

💜certainty that we will continue to be part of more and more positive change until systems operate from a basis of true equality for all people all over the world

💚ultimate mother, our planet Earth

💜great fortune at living in a time when so much hard work has already been done to make it possible for me to list all these things safely

💚privilege, and my awareness that I can use it to bust oppression

Attend your local IWD Rally! Gather in solidarity to celebrate and agitate!

On striving

“Good better best, never let it rest, until your good is better, and your better best”.

Urgh. I wasn’t in scouts or whatever place this ditty comes from. But I was in a dysfunctional family with a judgy single mum who used to say this, and busted her nut to put me through dance training.

Ballet brain.

That conditioning instilled from early childhood that there is always more trying to be done.

So I’m 40. I’m raising a teen and a toddler. The teen is home schooling.

I’ve been admired, adored, adulated, and very bloody good in every job I’ve ever worked.

And yet, amongst all the life work I’m already doing, I’m trying to complete a Masters degree.

Why?

It’s hard work. It’s indoor, screen based work, on days where I put the little one into care, when the days outside beckon me into them, with garden chores, bird conferences, and subtle shifts in the breeze, all waiting to shower me with the joy of being alive.

But here I sit, generating feelings of inadequacy, panic, fatigue…

for what?

I am already great. I believe this.

I am already contributing.

I am already employable.

I am already tired.

I am already tired.

I have worked hard enough for long enough.

This one does not spark joy today.

Women are talking

Yes, girls are coming out of the woods

And women are talking

To each other

And women listen well

And women believe each other

And women strengthen each other, with utterances of “I see you”, whispered through tears, as soft, hard-worked hands hold each other in loving solidarity

Women are talking, telling our stories, sharing our truths, as the relief of being heard and held trickles streams pours out of us, taking form as words, laughter, snot, yawns, and swearing – lots of swearing

The words are not pretty, the stories are not pleasing, the strength is not something that comes out of a jar of protein powder or a superfood capsule.

It’s gritty

Gritty and real and hot – a strength earned

Earned by staying

By staying with ourselves in the darkness. By staying upright in the cyclonic winds of life and other people’s bullshit.

By staying true to the path of liberation laid out before us; without seeking slumber on the velvet lounge of “someone else will fix this”.

Staying tethered to Gaia’s ever loving support through the sinewy tap root that comes straight out the bottom of our pelvic bowl.

Staying anchored to the highest star above, feeding from the limitless stream of white light.

Staying in the process of our stories swirling through us, rebuilding our cells into new, stronger, wiser, same as before women.

We are not obedient. We are not subservient. We are not controllable.

And we make no apology.

We do not allow the shame of others to isolate us into silence. We do not protect those who have wronged us and our children. We do not complicitly uphold the structures of oppression.

Watch as they tumble down.

Watch as the dust rises.

Watch as the footprints of mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, grandmothers, allies, and sons appear in their multitudes.

And listen. Listen as the whisper builds.

It’s the sound of power surging towards a better world for all. For our children yet to come, for our precious planet. For ourselves.

The Women are talking

-••••-

– after Tishani Doshi Read her here ❤️

Panty Liners

I don’t even know when or how it happened, it must have been gradual, or I just forgot one day… I don’t know, I try to practise mindfulness in daily life, but that’s because it’s essential to my functioning. It doesn’t mean I’m on top of everything. It’s the magic glue that helps hold me together and respond with loving awareness to my children when their developing brains aren’t supporting them to be pleasant. But anyway, I haven’t lost my train of thought; surprisingly, I know this is a piece about my pelvic floor and its incidental recovery from massive weight gain, pregnancy, childbirth and nowhere near enough post partum orgasms…

Yes. Hooray for me. I no longer need to anxiously insert a panty liner before working out. Or before leaving the house. And I definitely don’t need to leave a class half way through to change my panty liner. I do still wear only black leggings, however. Because I invested a tonne of dollars into quality active wear as a gesture of self love when I knew that keeping me going is essential to a) keeping my kids going and b) modeling empowered feminism to my kids.

No martyrdom here please, my life choices are choices, and if I’m not enjoying the way my life is, let me figure out what I need to do to change that. There is only now – it might as well not suck!

For me, that’s the main thing I want my kids, my students, my friends to take away from our time together. That we are agents of change, and that life circumstances are invitations to practise our personal power.

So when my ladybits were left in a state of softness after my magical female body lovingly and enthusiastically gave itself over to the work of building a tiny human, I could have let them stay that way. And spent my whole life paranoid that I smelt a bit like wee. And gone through who knows what huge big feels every time I jumped or sneezed or coughed or even laughed. Avoid laughter? No thanks. And I get hayfever. So…

… I set alarms in my phone to remind me to do the elevator squeezes – ten sets three times a day. Heaps of times, I would put the alarm on snooze, and by the time it went off again, I would have totally forgotten all about them.

That’s why I needed the alarms.

Heaps of times too, the alarm would go off at fairly public moments – during a counseling session, at playgroup, driving in the car with my teen and her friends.

Lots of times I would actually say “oh, that means it’s time to do pelvic floor exercises”, and co-opt the people I was with into being cheerleaders for my elastic hammock, and hopefully their own too.

Is that embarrassing? I don’t think so. I think people like talking about their muscle building prowess with most other muscles, and lets be real; the pelvic floor muscles are pretty major heroes when it comes to keeping it all together.

Letting people know that I’m a mum who’s recovering my pelvic floor is not as embarrassing as having to run to the toilet after 60 seconds of jumping rope (or ten, as it was the first time I went to boxing after baby). It’s not as embarrassing as regular light bladder leakage or more serious incontinence problems. I think my daughter would rather grab my phone from the cradle while I’m driving and switch off the alarm (with muscle flex emoji), than be put off having children because I never want to jump on the trampoline with her baby sister…

So, as I said, in who knows what interval, I stopped buying panty liners, because at some point I must have stopped using them at a rate of ‘keep the entire industry in profit’.

And that’s the thing about support. Sometimes we really hardcore need it in a big big way. And we’re hypervigilant about clutching to it and keeping it in place. But, my Super-vag and I have discovered, that when we couple external support with mindful behavioural choices and strengthening work that is at least mildly consistent; then that urgent, desperate need for the ‘absorbent bleached cotton product’ lessens; and eventually our ecological footprint can lighten a little bit more. And we are more free to enjoy more of what life offers as enjoyable things. Even sneezing – maybe enough of those could make up for that lack of orgasms? But I don’t wanna go through too many tissues…

Why I love Group Fitness

I get more excited than many about group fitness classes, I am convinced that they are one of life’s most giving pleasures; and it’s not just because of the endorphins.

The science of what we go through when we exercise, the science of what we go through when we push past hard times, the science of the difference it makes to do things in the company of others, the science of how music motivates us to move – the science is all there – but I want to focus on that sweet cousin of science – the magic!

Sure, I sometimes work out alone in the gym, with the music of my choice blasting in my ear buds, at my own pace, and this can be great; but I’m a little bit of a performer, and a habitual achiever, so I like having a teacher to please.

And no matter how secure your attachment was in childhood, even if you’re not motivated by acknowledgement and praise; the instructor at the front of the room is not just a person to please – they are your own cheer squad. They are there to keep everybody going, to remind us that what we are doing is hard, but that we can do it.

I absolutely love being at the point where if I was exercising alone I would have already stopped to rest; and there is someone there yelling into a microphone so I can hear it above all my inner-protestations, “YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU ARE DOING IT!!”

This is the exact same phrase my angelic yoigini girlfriend uttered to me when I was at a very low low in my new role as single mother of baby and teen. I was on my couch with leaky boobs and red eyes, and her sweet, strong, voice of all womankind spoke the truth I needed to hear. The truth that became my mantra and got me through those days when all I could do was sing to keep the tears back.

And that truth did get me through those sleepless nights and demanding days. And having it screamed at me when I am dripping with sweat, with my heart pounding, and I feel like I just want to stop; is the greatest metaphor for life that I can access cheaply and regularly just 5 minutes from home with free creche.

How is it different from a personal training session? She is saying what I need to hear to get through, but there with me, is a room full of other sweating, heaving women who also need to hear just those words at just those times.

The solidarity of working out together is such an invaluable metaphor to be reminded of regularly, and at a time when the brain is hot and loose, so the message goes straight to my soul… “we are all in this together’… if someone is flagging, we don’t all decide to give up, we boost the energy.

We dig deep and pull out whatever we can. It’s not competition or comparison that keeps us going, it’s camaraderie. And at a time when mothers are more isolated in our roles than we ever should have become; that is something more precious than midnight cheesecake.

Fleeting eye contact in the hardest moments, high fives as we change sides of the room, the collective sigh at the end of the abs track, whooping and hollering to get us through the final round of a cardio peak – this level of mutual support and encouragement is something we deeply yearn for in all aspects of our lives.

But how often during a challenging supermarket trip with a toddler, or as a carefully and lovingly prepared meal is rejected, do we hear another woman saying “you’ve got this Mama, I see you, I’m with you”. If you do get this – let me know! For me right now, my solidarity need is nourished in the group fitness room. But I do notice each week more and more of our lives as women and mothers is shared as we chat in the change rooms.

We have gone through something that makes us vulnerable together, we have been cheered on by ourselves and each other, and allowed ourselves to be carried on a journey by the heroine in the microphone who hits play on the music. This is more than just working off the midnight cheesecake and warding off osteoarthritis. This is community happening. This is human beings being human together, in a time when AI is only a poem away from having us all figured out.

This week after a high intensity cardio class, the instructor said “I think I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world – it’s so inspiring being here witnessing you all push through and triumph”. And I’ve got to agree. I’m looking forward to sharing what I love about being the one on the mic!