I start my mornings the same way. And while they’ve evolved slightly since I first reported on my morning a few things haven’t changed. I still wake up with several minutes of cat-cow. I still oil pull…most days. I still enjoy a cup of tea or coffee first thing. Newer additions include a few snuggly moments with the cats, this big stretch that I cannot wake without, and a few happy little “start the day” chants to myself as I brush my teeth.
A favorite new addition is The Live Journal Podcast, a series of conversations with powerful women making positive changes in their community and daily life. It is hosted by esteemed life coach Paola Atlason. Both ethereal and grounding, her guidance through the podcast and anecdotal stories feel like gentle mothering from afar. The first episode I listened to was EP31: “Daily Rituals” with Jenn Tardif. I found it because I truly enjoy listening to Jenn speak and hoping a could find a podcast that she had guested on for one of my long runs. After listening to all of EP31 I was hooked and added The Live Journal Podcast into my daily life.
Throughout the series, Atlason interviews women from all walks of life: a chef, an herbalist, an artist, a writer. In each episode, there are major drops of wisdom, some seemingly obvious, that are often overlooked and that can — grain by grain — improve your day. In EP28 Tina Essmaker talks about morning pages and journaling, two things that I have welcomed into my life lately. In EP34 (my personal favorite so far) Zivar Amrami talks about mothering the self and the steps you can take to feel most like you.
As I’ve listened to all of these 30-35 minute episodes I started to realize just how much of this power and wisdom I was soaking in and truly internalizing. I started to be more conscious about it, ex: bringing my journal with me everywhere, and only felt the positive effects compound. I’ve found this, listening to the podcast and using it as a tool, to be a great lesson in the power of surrounding yourself with powerful women.
I thoroughly believe you need to learn to love your likeability, but I also feel that there’s a second step to that. You need to embrace your vulnerability. You need to love and appreciate your sensitivity, view it as a strength. I think for a long time I focused on the aggressive side of my personality, leaning into my Aries Moon & Aries Rising and yang. Listening to so many women speak so openly about their success and failure has been a beautiful teacher in nurturing the yin and mothering the self.
Surrounding yourself with powerful women, whether in person or through your phone, is a powerful way of absorbing the now and the future you want for yourself and if you need a place to start I recommend The Live Journal Podcast.
“When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.”
One of my favorite quotes and believed to be said by Alexander Hamilton (but that detail has blurred since the 18th-century). I always find it remarkable how someone living so long ago, in such a different way could have said something that still profoundly resonates today. We live in a world of quick judgments, fast fashion trends, and bandwagon fans where the urge to “stick to your guns” often overshadowed by the desire to “fit in”.
I used to be a people pleaser and the idea that someone didn’t like me was all-consuming. I spent a lot of my time trying to balance scales, curating myself to fit what someone else wanted. It felt like every interaction with someone was a test I needed to pass, and after I got waves of the self-doubt questions.
“Did they like me?”
“Did they have a good time?”
“Was I funny?”
“Was I ‘too much’?”
“Am I cool enough?”
It took a bad breakup for me to throw in the towel and truly not care about what anyone else thought of me. It taught me a very important lesson, one that I wish I had learned well before my twenties, and that is: Not everyone will like you all of the time.
You are not for everyone. You don’t need to be liked by someone else to be worth their respect and time. Your likability is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to yourself and your honesty. To be strong in your authenticity. Your value is not derived from the evaluation or validation of another.
I learned that to constantly change yourself or strive to be liked by everyone around you doesn’t just hurt you, it hurts your relationships. It hurts your authenticity and the authenticity of your connections. It undermines your ability to truly connect with people. You are not a topiary garden to be curated for another’s enjoyment, you are wild, so embrace it.
Be nice, be generous, be forgiving, but know that others will come to their own conclusions about you. Don’t chameleon yourself to fit everyone else’s needs. You cannot control how others respond to you, you can only control you. Stand for who you are, not who you anticipate someone else wants you to be. It isn’t easy, but it’s powerful. Standing for something isn’t drawing a line in the sand, it’s raising a flag that represents who you are.
You are not for everyone, because not everyone deserves you.
Everything in a relationship doesn’t need to be “equal”. There no keeping score. There’s no required reciprocity. Reciprocity itself is incredibly important, but it should be selflessly motivated. Not prompted based on guilt of what the other person has previously done or in anticipation of what they may do.
BDSM, when practiced correctly, can absolutely co-exist with feminism. There are several articles that fully flesh this out. Like this one. And this one. Andthis one. And this one.
It doesn’t need to be between only two people. Your relationship may be monogamous, open, polyamorous, start one way and merge into another, etc. There are no rules to how you can or cannot be in love with one or many people. As long as everyone involved is happy and consenting feel free to rage and explore the uniqueness of your relationship(s).
Consent is an on-going conversation. In a relationship for five minutes, five months, five years, or five decades, you still need to discuss consent. It doesn’t need to be a stiff, stale conversation to confirm consent. Here are 35 sexy ways to check in and ask for consent. Remember, it’s not a hurdle standing between you and sex and it’s not just something for women in heterosexual relationships. There is no such thing as “sex without consent”, there is “sex” and there is “rape”. Consent is for all parties, at all times.
There doesn’t need to be a “dominant” and “submissive” in the relationship.The question: “Who wears the pants in your relationship” implies that one person is the dominant energy in the relationship while the other is following. This may be the case in some instances, but is not a universal truth of all relationships.
Continuing that thought, there doesn’t need to be a “masculine” and “feminine” energy in the relationship. This is true for homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Two women can be in a homosexual relationship and both identify as “feminine”, or both as “masculine”, or both as neither, or one of each.
The average woman will have her period for 40 years and have approximately 13 cycles per year. Totaling approximately 520 periods over her life. Within each period she’ll use about 20 tampons (5 tampons per day for a 4 day period). This totals 10,400 tampons in a lifetime. These often end up in landfills (or worse, the ocean) and have detrimental environmental impacts. I am absolutely NOT here to place the blame of environmental issues on women, but I do believe if everyone did a little more we, as a planet, would be much better off.
Using a menstrual cup is the “little more” that you, as a woman, can do. It’s one change to your life, that if enough women replicate, will have concrete and lastly environmental benefits. Additionally, most tampons include chemicals, such as dioxin, chlorine, and rayon, that can be harmful if absorbed into your body. Ladies, if you wouldn’t eat, don’t put it into your delicate area. We’ve known as far back as the 80s that chemicals, proteins, etc can be absorbed through the vaginal wall and yet those dangerous chemicals have yet to be banned from tampons.
The cup I’m going to talk about today is made with medical grade silicone – safe! I’ve used Intimina‘s Lily Cup Compact for over 2 years and cannot imagine going back to tampons or pads for several reasons. Not only for the environmental and biological reasons I just listed, but also because using a cup is so much easier and has made me more in tune with my body. I’m much more aware of the heaviness of my period, the days that will be heavier, and am always prepared with exactly what I need. The case for the Lily Compact is so small it’s easy (and discrete) to have it with me at all times.
So the big question is typically a “how to” about the insertion. While it does require a certain comfortability with yourself, putting in a cup quickly becomes second nature. If you can check the strings of your IUD or chase a tampon that’s wandered too high you can absolutely insert a cup with ease. If that sentence made you nervous I would suggest starting with a cup like the standard Lily Cup. This one doesn’t collapse so you can actually push on the cup itself a little to adjust it (doing this to the Lily compact results on it collapsing on itself).
Below are several fold techniques for inserting the cup. I recommend trying each 2-3 times in your own bathroom to find which one works best for you! Ex: I cannot get the C-fold to work, but the Half-V fold is super easy and makes insertion just as easy as a tampon for me.
One of the important things to remember with insertion is that once it’s in place you want to double check the seal. Personally, I like to run my finger all the way around the cup to ensure it’s fully opened and then give the stem a small tug to make sure it’s has a small suction. It’s a mini, post-insertion ritual that mentally puts me at ease knowing that I’m “covered”.
Earlier I mentioned that using a menstrual cup meant I was always prepared because the Lily Compact is so small and discrete. Not only is it easy to have with you prior to the start of your period, but it also alleviates the need to stock your clutch or bag with tampons and do the “hours math” where you figure how long you’ll be out and therefore how many tampons you need to carry with you – and maybe one or two extra, just in case! 😅 With the Lily Compact, you don’t even need to carry the case with you throughout your period because instead of “changing” you’re “emptying”. I think this (emptying the cup) is one of the largest hurdles for people who want to switch to the cup so here are a few FAQs…
Isn’t it super messy?
Not at all. Part of inserting the cup is a gentle “tug” to ensure that there is a strong seal, which will prevent any leaking. However, for peace of mind, you may want to wear a liner your first few times. When you remove the cup it’s at an upright angle and the contents don’t “spill” until you dump it.
How often do you change it?
Personally, I can wear a cup for 10-12 hours. For reference, I would normally use regular or super tampons (depending on the day). I typically change it once in the morning and once in the evening. Occasionally (on the heaviest day of my period) I’ll throw in a mid-day change for peace of mind, but I’ve never actually needed this or had issues with leaking.
What do you do if you need to change it in public?
Probably the most nerve-wracking part of wearing a cup is the “What happens if I can’t wash it in public?” question. Don’t stress, it’s easier than you think. You don’t need to rinse the cup every time you change it, all you need to do is dump it and give it a wipe down with bathroom tissue. If you have bottled water you can give it a little rinse in the privacy of the bathroom stall, but you never have to rinse it publicly if you don’t want to 🙂 Another option is to use these wipes from Bloomi (code MOLLY10 will get you 10% your entire order!)
We’ve covered why it’s safer and the logistics, but why is it sexier?
Using a menstrual cup requires you to get up close and personal with yourself. There’s nothing sexier than being incredibly in tune with your body and your anatomy. Remember when your health teacher recommended using a mirror to meet your vulva or insert a tampon? Well, class is back in session and this time you’ll be learning by touch. When figuring out your menstrual cup and where you like to wear it (high or low in the vaginal canal) there will be lots of shifting and adjusting that help you learn about the nuances of yourself. Additionally, throughout use, you’ll be learning more about your period, daily menstruation, heavy v light days, etc.
While I hope you do try out (and fall in love with) a menstrual cup, remember that the choice is your own. For plenty of women (especially those with Endometriosis), a cup may not be an option. What I hope and want for you is that no matter how you choose to address your period that you 1. have access to all the medical and hygienic resources you need and 2. you remember that your period is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed by. It’s a beautiful and radiant piece of you.
One month ago I attended a wellness weekend here in NYC that was put on by Mejuri. Post-event I was so motivated I sat down and quickly penned a few promises to myself about what my new goals were and how I wanted to implement changes in my life. My overall goal was fairly simple: introduce a few new rituals into my life and use them to amplify a radical, powerful, feminine beauty in me.
I started with cold showers and quickly integrated other aspects into my day to help myself find a stronger, calmer centerline. I now have a list of nine rituals that I do each morning to wake up my body, mind, and settle myself for the day.
In the past two weeks, my body has been waking me up sometime between 5:30-5:45 each morning. No alarm, no groggy-tired eyes, I just snap awake. I wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and launch into my morning that looks a little something like this:
5:40 Wake up, take my basal temperate, and do 3 minutes of cat-cow postures in bed. I do these before I get out of bed to wake up my breath, body, and circulation.
5:45 30 minutes of yoga, typically Ashtanga Primary Series, but occasionally I just flow.
6:15 Take a cold shower. I start with the water a little cooler than lukewarm and finish with a 2 minute, ice-water cold rinse. During this time I furiously rub my arms, legs, and body to boost circulation and practice long deep breathing techniques to keep my mind as calm as possible.
6:30 Oil pulling for 10 minutes as I do my skincare routine. Then I floss & brush my teeth. I keep my skincare routine very basic in the morning, but always include Herbivore’s Lapis Facial oil, jade roller/gua sha, moisturizer & sunscreen.
6:45 Meditate for 10-15 minutes (however long I feel I need that day). I have been using the Kundalini yoga 4 part breath: 4 counts in/4 counts hold/4 counts out/4 counts hold out. For me, it’s helpful to have a breathing technique to focus on to keep my mind still. I also tend to pick one of my crystals, set an intention, and hold it closely throughout the mediation.
7:00 Eat a small breakfast – typically a banana – and take my vitamins & supplements.
7:30 Get dressed, do my make up, and pick out a fragrance for the day.
8:00 Feed the cats a little snack.
8:30 Wake up the cats & start our day together.
Of course, those times are approximate as I don’t actually count the minutes of each ritual. I do it until I feel full and prepared to move into the next one. Starting the day well-rested and centered is incredibly new for me. Even in 2015 when I was starting each day with a 70-minute Ashtanga practice I still wasn’t feeling the calm that I feel each morning stepping through this routine.
My energy is up, my anxiety is down, I’ve been motivated to eat better, and I’ve been more emotionally still. I’ve always run a little hot-tempered and have a very passionate, fiery streak. In arguments I can be quick to say the most hurtful thing, regretting it immediately. This past month I have been incredibly even-tempered. Even when I get frustrated, get the blues, get thrown a curve ball, I’m able to quickly bring it back, calm myself down, and reflect on the situation. Maybe it’s just part of getting older, but as an Aries Moon & Aries Rising a lot of my ferocity is innate to who I am (regardless of age). I credit my new ability to press pause on these emotions to my morning routine.
The purpose of introducing these rituals was to amplify my inner and outer beauty. After one month I can confirm that I feel the effects on the inside and outside. I’ve been better able to handle the squalls of everyday life. I’ve felt more confident and strong as I walk down the street, as if my aura is growing day by day, inch by inch. I’ve had numerous people comment over Instagram and IRL that I look “different” or “really good today”. I can feel it on the inside and it radiates on the outside.
Maybe you don’t need a 2 hour morning routine, maybe you just need one thing, but what I encourage you to do is examine your morning and question if it sets you up for a successful day. Maybe five minutes of mediation will be the game changer for you. Maybe add an extra few minutes into something you already do each morning, like walking your dog, to pause, get still, and appreciate where you are.
Taking an extra few moments for you in the morning can help prevent you from feeling like you are being pulled in a million directions throughout the day.
I prefer my shower temperature somewhere between scalding and boiling. You know all those hot and heavy shower sex scenes? Not in my future. I’ve yet to meet another human who likes their showers nearly as toasty.
But I’m about to make a big switch. I’m going to start taking cold showers.
Pause for reaction and a little context …
This past weekend I attended Mejuri‘s Wellness Weekend which consisted of several workshops and classes all about healing and promoting inner and outer beauty. My favorite piece of the weekend was a masterclass in which Desiree Pais, the beauty editor for Herbivore Botanicals, walked us through several daily rituals we could introduce into our routines to promote our radical, feminine, beauty.
The rituals ranged from yoga postures to meditation & breathing exercises to different skincare masks, oils, and serums. There were a few that really stood out to me:
Starting each day with 3 minutes of cat-cow postures. I plan on completing these before I get out of bed to wake up my breath, body, and circulation.
Channeling a woman you admire to stave off insecurities. Choosing someone powerful and strong who has all the qualities that you admire, and focusing on that person’s energy when you are feeling low to zap yourself back into self-love. It’s not about becoming another person, it’s about feeling their vibrations and using that to spark the same energy in you.
The One-Minute Breath. This is a Kundalini yoga breathing technique that is much more intense than it initially sounds. Inhale for 20 seconds, Hold for 20 seconds, Exhale for 20 seconds. Let me tell you, it is incredibly focusing. I’m starting with the smaller goal of 10 in/10 hold/10 out for 5 minutes every morning. Here’s a blog post, written by Herbivore on the one-minute breath.
Cold Showers in the morning. Using the burst of cold water to wake up all those little blood vessels and flush out any lymph, toxins, etc and reinvigorate.
I was easily on board with the first three, but that cold shower? I was less convinced. However, I’m a “try everything once” kind of woman and I figured it was worth a shot. After running a few post workshop errands I came home, turned the shower on, and got ready to face it. I set myself a 4-minute timer and (filled with images of Rose saying goodbye to Jack) stepped in.
The first 30 seconds, incredibly rough (and I only had my legs in).
The next 30 weren’t that great either as I doused my arm in ice, but then I remembered something Desiree had mentioned: rub your body. I began massaging my legs and arms and focusing on deep breathing and after a minute I was able to get under the water completely.
By minute 3 I felt strangely warm (?) and was genuinely enjoying putting my face under the glacial water streaming from my shower head.
I completed my 4-minute goal and am hooked. I knew I had to sit down and write this immediately, because I was so shocked at how quickly, in just one day, I had such a radical “ah-ha” moment. Not only did I have an “ah-ha” moment about taking a cold shower, but I had a larger light bulb moment about beauty and how we value and judge beauty in the U.S.
BEAUTY IS A BIRTHRIGHT
Your beauty is a birthright. You are born beautiful. You deserve to feel beautiful. Not sometimes, not on a good day, but every day. Every second of every day. In the U.S. we value beauty, but shame the path to get there. If you want to be beautiful or share your beauty you are egotistical, vapid, shallow, and clearly compensating for a lack of confidence.
We emphasize how important inner beauty is, but don’t provide any framework for finding it, embracing it, magnifying it.
Ingrain your beauty in every moment you have with yourself. Don’t just go through the motions of self-care, embrace the moments of self-care. Speak to yourself softly and gently and love yourself.
Love yourself with a long bath after a tough day. Love yourself with a facial massage to elevate some of that forehead tension. Love yourself with a little lip filler to boost your pout. Love yourself with a spin class. Love yourself with eating the “right” foods. Love yourself with eating the “wrong” foods.
Love yourself in all the ways that make you happy. There’s no right or wrong way to love yourself. There is no hierarchy of self-love. There is no hierarchy of beauty.