‘we are more alike my friends than we are unalike’
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TOPICS WE DISCUSS IN THIS EPISODE
Some quotes from the show:
“To pretend that you feel fine is actually a massive effort’
“It’s a very different state of mind when you are bleeding from the rest of the month”
“When I am bleeding I’m tired of everything, I’m even tired of hearing myself talk”
“Allowing yourself to say, you know what I can’t do it and if you do that even the weight of it and the struggle becomes lighter because you are acknowledging it, part of the weight of it and part of the struggle is actually because you are the whole time trying to pretend like you can cope.
“All the adverts for sanitary towels and tampons are about how you can do anything if you use then your life can continue as normal”
“When you are bleeding might be a really go time to think inside of yourself, to do creative stuff, because you are in that slightly altered state of mind, even if you shut yourself in your room to be with whatever you want to be. Then when you are ovulating, that’s the time to go out and have business meetings, you should try to organise your life in a way that respects your cycle basically”
“I guess it requires a lot of practice and a lot of acceptance”
“There’s a few days before I bleed when I am really quite nasty, but I am so productive on day 14 or 15, I’m like, yeah, I can do this!”
“Something that has been happening to women forever, it must have been, it’s part of how the life of our planet is sustained, this ability to create and shed life in our wombs – so why have we made it in to this thing that we have to pretend doesn’t happen?”
“all these times in school growing up how shameful it would be because a bit of a stain would show on your skirt, you stress over that in class, you aren’t even concentrating”
“It’s time we should teach our children that its ok, a normal thing and this should start at a younger stage, it needs to be normalised”
“Growing up for my was different, right now you get hygiene and cleanliness education in school, children now a days know more, us growing up was different, we stayed in for seven days when we began to bleed”
“I did not know about menstruation until I got it”
“It wasn’t like you could talk about it in school, I was like ten, quite young and you couldn’t put your hand up and say ‘I started bleeding’, so although it was factually open at home, at school it was this thing you were trying to hide the whole time, hide the tampons in your bag, not let there be a stain on your skirt, the whole day worrying”
“We could work with them if we had that awareness, the taboo is holding us back and making it more difficult”
“It happens to us until it stops happening, it shouldn’t be scary, it should be something as women we can talk about and teach our young women that its ok, not to feel ashamed and embarrassed”
Links and resources related to this episode
Red School: Awakening Menstruality – learning and resources to help you get more in touch with your own cycle
CODE RED: know your flow, unlock your monthly super powers and create a bloody amazing life. Period – an awesome book by Lisa Lister
UK company to introduce ‘period policy’ for female staff – Article about Coexist in Bristol launching a policy attempting to synchronise work with the body’s natural cycles.
Ziada Abeid is my co-host in our new podcast, Change Making Women which launches this week. In our first episode I asked her to tell me about Kipilipili, a project she has established over the past year in partnership with her good friend, Basia Wellu.
As she describes in the podcast the project began with the mutual desire of two friends to source products to look after their hair naturally. Initially they wanted to organise an event promoting natural hair care for women in Tanzania. But they struggled to get the event off the ground because of a lack of local awareness about the whole concept of natural hair and so they decided instead to build awareness first through online channels.
I was fairly ignorant myself at first, but Ziada explained that most girls in Tanzania are taken to saloons to have their hair relaxed and straightened chemically when they are quite young because their natural hair, known as Kipilipili, is thought to be difficult to care for and control.
To support their desire to raise awareness and challenge commonly held beliefs Ziada and Basia named their business after the colloquial term for ‘natural’ hair to try and challenge the stereotype that curly afro hair is unkempt and difficult to manage.
Ziada’s digital marketing experience and Basia’s flare for design stood them in good stead as the pair began promoting the idea of natural hair via images and videos shared via Facebook and Instagram online. In the past year the project has grown organically with women coming to them to get advice about how to care for their hair naturally and to buy products that will look after it.
Ziada describes their business development as data driven, meaning that, they have grown it by really listening to women and asking them what they want and need. They have then designed awareness campaigns driven by photo shoots in which they both feature, promoting the natural beauty of naturally cared for hair, and featuring local Tanzanian fashions and accessories.
The project has become more than just a hair care business and is now about promoting not only the fact that natural hair is beautiful, but also the message that women don’t need to change their looks or aspire to narrow versions of what is beautiful.
In the podcast Ziada and I talk about the fact that the ideal of straight relaxed hair almost certainly began in colonial times when the ideal of beauty was a European one. But persists today with very few role models for women wearing their hair naturally afro.
There were a few important take-aways for me from this, our first broadcast:
Sometimes we feel truly called to make a difference and have a brilliant, even revolutionary idea but struggle to refine and nurture it. If you feel your idea may be suffering from over thinking and even over blossoming (when it just keeps on getting bigger). Stop. For now. Let the idea be and refine it. You can always keep the excess ideas in a file called something like ‘Ideas’ for later. Getting Clear about where you are headed is the number one step in taking your idea from seed to planting and growth in the future.
You may be highly productive and super driven but even the most dynamic and successful of it need to right people around us. Pick your allies, supporters and advisors well and pick them early. You can’t underestimate the impact of having some cheerleading behind you as you get a new change making venture off the ground.
Brene Brown very wisely says that there is ‘a vast difference between perfectionism and healthy striving’. She says that perfectionism is about an attempt to avoid shame, blame and judgment whereas healthy striving has a positive impetus and is about doing the best we can to make a difference in the world. I agree with her that there is no such thing as perfect and so if you are trying to make you idea perfect before you begin that’s a long road to nowhere and a sure fire way to never get started. She suggests compassion for yourself and the part of you which is trying to avoid the shame and blame in the first place. A good place to start with that could be avoiding the over-stretching that I talk about below. My advice is also to start small and, instead of looking for the perfect way forward, to agree with yourself, right now, that it is ok to start somewhere and try your idea out, to experiment with it and to refine and revise it as you go. In other words allow yourself to make mistakes and to learn from them.
Many of us who engage in Change Making work feel called and compelled to care for, foster and nurture others. Many of us also forget to look after ourselves. But I want you to make a difference without depleting yourself (believe me I have learnt this one the hard way). Think about how you will sustain yourself from the get go and build commitments to your own health, wellbeing and learning into your plans. Believe me you will be grateful if you take this step and this one is truly a win win – well resourced Change Makers make a bigger difference in the long run because they have the stamina and tools to stay the course, even when the going gets tough.
This is where you fail to break your idea down into small, simple actions which you can take on a day by day basis. In other words you have a big idea and the fertile ground is in place but you don’t actually plant any seeds. If you truly want to birth your change making idea, start now and ask yourself, what action can I take today which would make my idea coming to fruition more likely? And then do that. Repeat the process each day and you’ll be amazed at the progress you make.
Conception Class is a free five day email course that is designed to help you prepare the ground and begin to sow the seeds of your change making idea.
You can sign up here and I will help you to work through and remove
each of these obstacles to bringing your change making work to life.