Why Women Are Like Trees
The first day of spring is marked for me by a smell in the air of what I experience as hope for the future. Breathing in that first breath of fresh air that smells like dirt, and rain, and renewal; that's always been my favorite. It's the calm after the storm, the fresh scent of possibility after months of utter darkness, both literal + metaphorical, where I'm from in New York. We have four distinct seasons here, and even when hustle culture says 'keep going', there are times, like snowstorms, where we physically can't. Perhaps it's this foundation of knowing that primed me for an understanding of my female body.
Understanding the female Menstrual Cycle in the larger context of nature's cycles makes more sense to my bones than anything I've ever known. Follicular, Ovulation, Luteal, Menstrual. Like the seasons, each of the four phases has its purpose. And grounding in like a tree, we grow and bear each one, over and over and over again. Cycling through stages of initiation, action, harvest, and rebirth.
Being a liberated woman in today's day and age means constantly feeling like you've stepped out of the many boxes society wants to place you in. I need to understand you, they say, so I may judge you off of what you're wearing, your physical appearance, what you post on social media, and how you parent your kids. Then, I can compare myself to you and see where you fit. Like the trees, we are so much more than meets the eye. To know us is to be constantly surprised by us, for we are ever changing - no two weeks exactly alike. However, unlike the forest, woodland, or jungle, our society defaults to a judgement state. Women, in particular, fall victim to this mindset largely perpetuated by years of exposure to toxic advertising designed to leave us with the feeling of never enough-ness. So on instinct, we cast the finger outward, a reflection of the way we treat ourselves.
I know you want this cycle to end, and you don't know how.
I know you want good things for this world.
I know you are dying to break out of the boxes they've tried to fit you in.
Quite literally... we are dying. We are killing off parts of ourselves to fit the mold. We are locking away emotions and desires that don't have space, or feel culturally acceptable. We yearn for our silver bullet, the thing that will finally leave us feeling fulfilled. If only I had _, I would finally be happy. We feel like freedom is right around the corner, only to have it snatched from us right as we run up onto it. We do not feel good, mentally, physically, or spiritually. We suffer, and we grow bitter, because we have tasted liberation, and this isn't it.
It's difficult to fathom, yet we know it's true that our grandmothers, and our mothers lived a very different reality than we're living. One snapshot of one experience; the photo of the woman making dinner in heels in a spotless, chic kitchen is laughable and cringe when we compare it to the reality of women making dinner after a long day of work, mothering, caretaking. Yet, this role is expected from women - a different look for shackles. And it's not enough, now, to manage the home; women also are expected (and needed) to work. Arguably, a worse set up than before, forcing us to assimilate into a man's world and be oh, so stretched thin. Positively, pursuing your own passions and interests is an opportunity many women weren't granted in the past. Several generations ago, a woman's identity was solely rooted in who she was for others. For many of our mothers, it's been the same.
I am a 'millennial, gen-z cusp' and I believe we're the first generation of women where the majority of us have access to tools of self-actualization. (I stand fully recognizing that this is not true for everyone and that is why I wake up every day and choose to do my best with the privileges I've been given.)
Yet, do we have time to use these tools? Or are we so burnt out and dopamine-driven at the end of the day that we fall into a rut of sameness? So many different ways they've had us chained.
I feel incredibly fortunate to live in this era and to be able to unwind some of that cultural conditioning that was forced onto my grandmother, and my mother and her sisters. I owe that largely to a decision I made on a whim, a decision that wasn't supported by my healthcare providers.
Yes, today's women face different chains. The one that altered my reality was the birth control pill.
When I was prescribed hormonal contraceptives, I knew little to nothing about how it worked or what its side effects could be. Now, after much research and lived experience, I note that taking hormones daily has a different use beyond preventing pregnancy. For one, it fits us nicely in to the male hormonal cycle of every day the same, hormonally speaking.
In my travels, I've discovered that most don't know how hormonal contraceptives work. It doesn't feel relevant beyond knowing "I probably won't get pregnant, and side effects probably won't happen to me." The pill has the power to shut down the cyclical rhythm altogether, and it does. No more phases, just an endless nophaseland.
But trees can't thrive too long in the desert. Their roots wither without a life source, and the fruits they once produced become a distant memory locked away. Women are like trees, and every phase plays an important role in our shaping and moving through life. When you take away our cycles, you take away our creative essence.
A tree buds and blooms in spring, forming fruit in to summer until it's ripe and ready to be enjoyed. A tree offers its seeds lovingly to the squirrels and the ground below, and it provides a place of shelter for those who need a home. Come fall, the tree's leaves begin to fade from green to yellow to orange to red, to brown. The tree must then discard its leaves, because it knows it can no longer sustain the life force they demand. Come winter, her core remains steady with nothing left to offer beyond the barren support of her branches. She has nothing left to give, she hasv to let the old go, and endure a period of deep rest until it is time to come out on the other side.
I have begun to understand the cyclical rhythm that flows within my own body month after month. I will now reclaim my seasons. No one questions the tree when she goes to hibernate. We understand and accept the season's changes, and though we might fight them, we understand inherently the why behind them. We know that without winter, there would never be a spring. We welcome the tree's blossoms back when it is time, with gratitude, and relief.
Women are like trees. We have times in our life and in our cycles where we literally have nothing to give. This is a hard thing for driven, fierce, and complex women to come up against. It leaves us feeling barren, like the branches; who am I when I am not giving? For many, this is the inner struggle that leads to painful periods.
This rhythm, this rise and fall, it must serve some purpose! We must entertain this belief with curiosity while we journey inward to discover our truths. One of mine; we cannot know the highest highs without feeling the lowest lows. That is the duality in life. The invitation for you to discover what being cyclical means to you is open.
The missing piece of the puzzle of life for so many is the foundational understanding of our body and being able to take charge over our health. Without this empowered stance, our hormones and our health feel like another thing dragging us down in the pursuit of "happiness", and "success"
But women are smart. We see patterns easily, and we could find a better way to do it all, if we were given the power, The Sovereignty. We need to be taught, and to teach our young ones, that once puberty hits, our brain goes through 4 distinct hormonal shifts each month along with 'having our period'.
We can learn to understand the awesomeness of the Menstrual Cycle, the month long process that enables us to become a container for life itself; whether physically or metaphorically.
Leaning in to and understanding every phase of life will enable us to unlock our full and true potential. And it's through coming together and showing up for each other on this journey that we can maintain life, family, kids, home, and truly THRIVE even through the fall and winter phases.
We weren't made to do this alone; we never have. Beware of messages that seek to divide and destroy community. In so many ways, the revival of sisterhood is going to be what changes this world. Sisterhood among women who ,yes, look, feel, believe, and opinionate differently.
When I work alongside other women and we understand where each of us is at in their cycle, we can lean in to the strengths we have to bring to the table. Then, we are so much more powerful! When I am down, I rely on my sisters to pick me up, and when I am up, I sow deeply in to the connections that give me life.
The root systems of trees are one of the most intricate and delicate systems found in nature. Just like women's relationships with each other, there are layers that reach far and wide, with the potential to make sure that every tree has what she needs. Together, through this connection trees provide life to the world.
If connecting to yourself deeply feels like speaking a foreign language, relax in knowing that you are not alone. Join our online women's circle, and walk this path hand in hand with me.
Women are like trees, and when we accept the truth of this, we'll bring back the life force of the Feminine/Goddess/Creator [whatever speaks LIFE to you] to heal our world.
Are you ready? Let's do this, sister.
Need some space, a push on this path? Book a 1:1 call, or private group workshop with me by emailing email@example.com.