Moon-Cycle Wisdom – How to talk to your kids about the Birds and the Bees: Part 2 (Episode 183)
When do you have "the talk" with your kids? For many families, discussing the "birds and the bees" is something that sparks dread and discomfort for parents as they try to navigate how to cover it all when it's so complex and...adult.
This week, I sat down with Jessica Connelly of Moon Daughters and we talked about our "moon-cycle wisdom" and this amazing connection to the natural cycles of life that we all have.
*This is the second in a 3-part podcast series on "The Birds and the Bees: Navigating Powerful Conversations for Lasting Legacies with Our Children" If you missed Part 1, you can access it here.
Moon Daughter Jessica
Part one of this series was from Nathan and me, sharing all about our personal story on this subject as well as our top recommendations for books and resources to discuss this with your children. For this “Part 2” section, I had the pleasure of having Jessica Connolly on, who is one of the founders and creators of Moon Daughters and the Cycle Wisdom course. This was an amazing program I went through and I asked her to come on to share a little bit just about some of the insights that I was introduced to for the first time in this program.
So a bit about Jessica. She is a holistic coach, herbalist, and she's been a birth doula for over ten years. She’s been accompanying women through transformative moments in life, from giving birth to spiritual and life transformations. She’s also the mother of four daughters, ages 13, 10, 7 and almost 4. She has all the experience of toddler wildness to angsty teens all under her own roof, so these insights come out of her own lived experience as a woman and with daughters of all different ages.
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Jessica's Desire with Moon Daughters
Many of us come into womanhood - and certainly motherhood - with a fragmented understanding of our body, sexuality, and the world outside of us - nature and cycles. The oldest code of humanity is in our connection to nature, and the obvious cycle we can look at is the female menstrual cycle.
Women have seen this as such a point of contention and pain, from seeing it as a “40-year-inconvenience” to dealing with trauma. As a mom of four daughters, Jessica wanted to model something different for her girls...and yet first, she had to go figure out what that thing was.
What Jessica noticed, however, was that, no matter how connected or embodied a woman was, there was this intuitive, connected power that happens in those powerful moments of giving birth. When we get to those most primal moments of natural being, where our bodies take over, we can sync to something greater than our own understanding.
She described that moment of such power and inner knowing, and she started to look for where else in our lives we as women may experience this - beyond giving birth.
A One-Purpose Cycle?
What comes to mind with menstruation? For many, it can boil down to one thing - whether or not you want to get pregnant.
This is essentially the essence of what bleeding is all about, right? The basic education we give our daughters is, “Well, now you can get pregnant, so you need to figure out how to NOT get pregnant...and manage that unfortunate bleeding.” And then, once you’re ready, it’s about figuring out how TO get pregnant. That is pretty much where it can end for many.
Yet that moment where Jessica started her period after her fourth daughter, it hit a new level of significance. As she said, “All of a sudden this thing that I've had my whole life was no longer about fertility.”
This is where the true inquiry started, and the deeper knowing that there was some ancestral wisdom that goes beyond merely reproduction here.
Fertility is certainly an important and beautiful centerpiece around menstruation, but there is more to it than just that.
“Our physiological cycle and how that connects to the cycles around us and how this wisdom can actually be a guide for us as women is just mind blowing. And it totally changed my life. And again, because I have four daughters like this is, this is not only the work I do. This is what I'm living day to day.”
The Whole Picture
Jessica found a beautiful intertwining of cutting edge science and ancient women’s wisdom. It’s not just woo-woo and feminine power; but grounded in actual science that can really change the way we relate to our own bodies.
Jessica created Moon Daughters and then the course Cycle Wisdom with Mellisa Reeves, who has a lot of expertise around menstrual cycle awareness and the deeper significance of it. Looking at the science and the intuitive wisdom that has been passed down through woman through the generations, they wanted to ensure the story didn’t end here.
Modern culture has really changed the way we understand our bodies and the way we relate to our cycle and sexuality. Yet we can decide to integrate what wisdom we want into our own lived experience, and we also can play a key role in the legacy we are passing on to the next generation when it comes to sex and sexuality.
Walking The Walk
We can decide to educate our daughters and give them the kind of foundation so that when they go through adolescence and when they go through womanhood and motherhood, they do it with the whole story in place. It's not fragmented. It’s addressing the fact that they will have their own experiences and challenges that will shape who they are, but there is a whole story about who we are and our power in this world that is beyond making babies.
Just like my own coaching, Jessica got into this because of her desire to get it right in her own home. There is nothing like sharing your insights with others to create accountability for yourself.
If I can impart this knowledge to other people as well, and, and be able to allow myself to be the guinea pig for what's working and to process through it, that's a great way for me to be able to share what light I can give to a broader audience.
Don't Throw Out The Woo
Some people steer away from the “woo-woo” world and discount it as being too New Age.
Yet look at what can be a real-life application. We need to be really careful to not just throw anything that is intuitive into the “woo” arena, saying, “Oh, well, that's not for me”. For some people, that's a really quick way to write this off. Time and time again on the podcast, Nathan and I talk about that importance of trusting your intuition, paying attention to the feeling and the sensation, knowing your gut and making sure that that is still a part of it.
For me, the big eye-opener was me reading the book Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup. In it, she talked about, as an OB/GYN, in school, they are taught that women are to be “fixed.” We come to the doctor because something is wrong and we need to fix it. So give them the right pill to stop it, eliminate symptoms, and minimize the “thorn in their side” of being female.
This opened the door to me really paying attention to and learning about my body, which she beautifully lays out in this book. I remember my ah-ha moment:
“My body is a natural and beautifully functioning vessel, and it is responding and working for me how I direct it.”
No matter how big the medicine world can grow, how much science we can uncover and how much information is out there, there is one truth we cannot discount. No one knows what the feeling of pain feels like for you, or exactly your perspective on all you feel - both physically and mentally.
You don’t have to live next to a red tent and burn sage every month to be connected to your body. You can create fun ceremonies and enjoy and appreciate that, but it doesn't mean that you have to go to that extreme in order to be connected to who you are and see what your body can do and benefit from. It's not black or white.
This isn't one for the kids. This is the doozy for every mama to read, simply to get in touch with your own body. It was a total game-changer for me in stepping up and taking ownership of my body and understanding it.
The Science of Moon Daughters
We have a biological and physiological connection to the moon as women. We all know the moon has cycles. There are times it’s really big and full, and times we can’t see it at all. There is a true scientific connection to the rhythms and cycles in life and in our bodies. The moon cycle is 29.5 days, and that almost exactly lines up with a woman’s average 29-day cycle.
Historically, humanity has seen this connection between women and the moon, and the women have been portrayed as this feminine energy. Along with the moon cycle, there are four distinct phases of the moon that we recognize. At one point before artificial light came into being, this was a very critical aspect of our humanity; knowing the light of the moon. Whether it was to know when you can harvest past sunset, or when you could travel by horse or foot, knowing the cycles was important.
Humans have looked at the moon as a calendar, for guidance, for light, and more. And every cycle has a different energetic quality, much like in our own bodies. We all understand that the full moon has a different feel than the new moon.
That's actually where the word “lunatic” came from, because, on the full moon, there are scientifically documented more hospitalizations and car accidents on a full moon. More births… ask any midwife or OB and they will confirm.
The actual connection has to do with the amount of light that the moon gives. This is connected to our production of melatonin, and melatonin is produced in the pineal gland, which manages our sleep cycles. At the full moon, that light causes us to produce less melatonin. That is linked to higher ovulation rates and higher conception rates around the full moon. And then conversely, when the moon is dark, called a new moon, there is less melatonin production. That is linked to a decrease in ovulation and conception, and an increase in menstruation starting.
And, because our menstrual cycles are about the same length as a moon cycle, we also have four phases. We’re typically only taught two - menstruation and ovulation. Again, going back to that idea that it’s just about reproduction.
There are Seasons
But there are additional stages in between that we don’t tend to be as connected to. Yet, these different phases of our cycle - in addition to ovulation and menstruation, adding the luteal and follicular phases as well - coincide with our overall physiology. So understanding this mind/body connection can help you to navigate the ups and downs you’ll go through.
I'm a part of something way bigger than me.
What I am doing can be reflected on a global level of seasons and changes.
Open up your own awareness to your interconnectedness, to everyone else, as well as opening that door for giving. Giving yourself grace, knowing that hormones will play a part on what times you’ll feel - and be - more productive, when you’ll need to rest, and more.
We all are carrying shadows and brokenness, elements of ourselves that need attention. We might need to process through something, seek healing, or choose to let something go. But timing can be everything. When you recognize your cycles, you start to pay attention to when you’re extra angsty, or when you feel like you have more energy.
Recognizing these cycles can allow for both inward and outward work as you navigate it all. That angsty time in our cycle is actually a time to sort of unearth and sift through those emotions. Let those things come to the surface that may feel a little uncomfortable.
You are capable of doing hard things, and sometimes looking at what emotions are surfacing is a great guide to bring awareness to and start the process of healing.
“And emotionally, sometimes it's with stuff with my partner, you know, tension I have with my husband, and things will come up and I'll go, ‘Oh, interesting’. So instead of letting it completely tidal wave me and tank me, I'm able to go, ‘okay, yes, I see and feel this’. [I acknowledge] this part of my cycle, what is coming up and then I allow it to come to the surface and allow it to be released. And that has been the most profound part for me.”
That PMS Thing
That angsty PMS phase is the luteal phase, which is also called the “inner fall.” I love the seasonal references because I think about what that implies for the season - in the fall, there is change which can bring discomfort, but it’s also a release - preparing for recovery as we allow for more dormancy and inner growth.
During this time in your cycle, the little membrane that separates the two hemispheres of the brain actually becomes thinner. This scientifically allows women to actually be more intuitive during this time! So not only are you potentially feeling angsty, but your intuition is at its peak!
What a way to reframe something that has been labeled to us as a curse!
What a way to claim that power back and to say,
“I can use this for my benefit.”
We can look at our emotions as blessings or curses, just like our behavioral tendencies. As I talk about personality styles, we all can have a tendency to sit in different emotions, such as anger or fear. And while they both can have negative connotations, fear can keep us safe, and anger can fuel us forward.
So reframe your perspective around PMS - instead of this being a negative and snarky time in your month, maybe this is your super sensitive and intuitive time. Draw awareness to what sets you off and what you may be more sensitive to. What might you need to - and be ready to - process through?
To have this kind of guidance system that is hardwired within you, it really is a gift.
Check out this song our girls sing all about the moon - a great one for just getting in the zone and soaking in the moment:
Just like in the actual Cycle Wisdom Course, there are all kinds of resources to perfect this and get your Flo chart and biohacking all figured out. Yet recognize all that may not be necessary. Simply bringing this to your awareness is the most powerful step.
Simply the fact that I am aware of these different seasons in my life and in my cycle has given me more grace for the recovery that I need.
And I have found way more fulfillment and ease in what I'm doing simply by the fact that I just gave myself permission to do the things that need to be done that week, recognizing those weeks change. And so one week I'm going to push myself and challenge myself a little bit more on my productivity versus when I am in my recovery stage.
Find your “chocolate and TV” for your recovery - pay attention to those times in your cycle when looking inward is powerful, and give yourself the gift of indulging in you. You’ll be amazed at how a little targeted recovery can revitalize you.
Our whole world is filled with cycles. You can't get away from them. Inhale, exhale. Fall, winter, spring, summer. Yet we expect humanity to always be outward-expanded. When are we allowed to rest and inhale?
Cycles are a hardwired way in nature for how to approach life, recovery, and productivity.
When you actually give yourself that recovery time, your productivity is most likely doubled, as you’re better wired - and rested - to be productive later. There is just more alignment. More peace. You feel better. The people around you feel better because you're not burnt out all the time, hitting the wall and kind of taking this full circle back to the moon.
It is this actual physical symbol in the moon to remind us that yes, sometimes you're going to be full and expanded and super productive. And sometimes it's just okay to rest. This isn’t just life-changing for us as mothers, but think about passing that wisdom on to our daughters.
This also debunks the theory that you are only valuable when you are absolute/full/at your peak.
It’s not about just getting bigger and bigger and better and grander. Look at all the natural cycles - there is an ebb and flow, not constant building and growing. Even looking at a mountain; it only gets so high before erosion will take its toll. There is a process of breaking down and recovering just as much as building up and shining, and everything in nature affirms this for us.
Some additional resources for you
- Part 1: The Birds and the Bees (Episode 182)
- Check out Moon Daughters
- Have Life Seasons Gotten You Stuck In A Funk? (Episode 179)
- How Do I Bond With My Child? (Episode 167
- How do I equip my kid to “adult”? (Episode 89)
- 7 Seconds will change your communication and connection (Episode 62)
- Juliet Talks Feelings: Wisdom From A 7-year-old (Episode 165)
- What Are You In Control Of?
- Feeling Angry Today?
- What Are Your Non-Negotiables In Your Family? (Episode 73)
Your Weekly Challenge:
These ancient elements of our history - the nature that has been with us since the beginning of time - rests in our insight, our awareness, and our intuition. Take some time this week to really sit with who you are, right now, in this moment. Pay attention to this whole new moon cycle as we embark on a new month, and step outside in the moonlight...not just under that big full moon, but in every stage of the cycle.
What light is shed under the full moon, where everything is illuminated - what do you see? What comes alive in the darkness of the new moon?
Any time we can step outside and connect with the earth, it’s a beautiful reminder to notice all the cycles around you - the seasons of weather, moon, even a butterfly and the process of life.
We go through seasons as a society, like the industrial revolution or the tech information era. And we go through larger seasons of our lives, times of fertility, times of recovery, toddler years, middle age...and there are seasons in our relationships.
That helps in understanding and reframing when things may seem off sync. It also allows for a lot more grace and understanding because whatever is, is right now, and it’s not what it always will be. Change is a constant that will always be occurring, and the more awareness and insight we can have into the why behind the changes, the better we’re able to navigate it ourselves.
Remember, the science behind it is powerful. The moon pulls the Earth’s crust and causes our tides. And it is a direct reflection of what goes on within our own female bodies.
It's not about just getting rid of these feelings and emotions.
It's about having the right relationship with them.
I have found that those who pay attention to their own intuition and understanding, who learn how to bring awareness to the moments -these people get it. They are the ones that are flowing in happiness; not that their lives are perfect, not that they never have crazy and chaotic things happen, but they tend to be flowing in abundance in their lives. They tend to be the ones who prioritize celebration, recovery and rest just as much, if not more so than the hustle and getting things done. We have to have those moments as well, yet we have to have those opportunities to recharge and to give ourselves the grace to do it. And I think understanding this stuff is sometimes that little justification or permission slip we need.
Reclaim your power. Get aware of what is around you. Get present. The more you bring that awareness, grace and presence within, the more you can see how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.