My Favorite Resources for People with Uteruses

…or is it uteri? Like octopi? Do octopi have uteri? What about platypi? (I just checked: uteri is in fact the plural of uterus, octopi lay eggs, and platypi is not a real word.)

Discussions of plurals aside, I don’t think we talk about our uteri enough. After all, about half of us have them. And for a lot of us, they impact our lives in a very noticeable way…unlike appendixes, for example. (To clarify: this is really a post about periods, not just uteri. So if you’re past that stage in your life this may not be super helpful.)

Even though we’re very aware of our uteri (at least when they hurt), we mostly try to ignore them. We pretend we don’t menstruate, or wish we didn’t. We take painkillers to manage symptoms so we can function “normally.” How much do we really know about what’s going on with our hormones? And if we don’t really know what’s going on, how do we make informed choices about our bodies and our health? Ignorance is not going to get us anywhere.

My story, in a nutshell: Once upon a time, I got my period. After showing up somewhat irregularly for a couple of years, it suddenly disappeared. I kept waiting for it to show up again…but it didn’t. Which, for a while, seemed pretty cool. After all, a period was just an annoying thing that happens to your body that you can’t control, a nuisance that you just have to deal with, a reason to wish you didn’t have a female body. That’s pretty much what I’d learned and experienced, anyway. When that’s what we think of the functions of our uteri, who can blame us for trying to ignore them?

But you guys, there is SO much more than just bleeding and cramps and PMS. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a period for so long, and absence makes the heart grow fonder and all, but this thing that our bodies do is SO COOL. The other reason I’m so fascinated by my cycle is that I’ve learned about it. I know what part of my cycle I’m in and what to expect, physically and emotionally, which has been incredibly valuable. This has helped me to learn to work with my body, rather than trying to fight against it. Also, learning more about periods (mostly through podcasts) is what eventually helped me get mine back, which is a pretty big deal, so YAY for learning!

If you want to feel love and appreciation and awe towards your uterus and your hormones, my suggestion is to learn more about them. Here are some of my favorite places to do that:

This podcast episode
I learned SO much from this interview about how my hormones work. Definitely worth a listen. If you don’t want to listen to the unrelated chatting at the beginning, skip to the start of the interview at 5:15.

This book
This is what really got me interested in the cycle as a whole. Alisa Vitti talks about what’s going on hormone-wise during each phase of the cycle, and how that affects the way you feel and think, and what your body needs during each phase. Here’s an abbreviated podcast version of some of the information in the book, also worth a listen.

Nicole Jardim
A women’s health coach who has lots of online period-related resources.

Kindara
A free app where you can track your cycle (with or without a thermometer) so you know where in your cycle you are—which is actually pretty fun because you start to notice patterns and have a better idea of what to expect. Also, this is a useful record you can show your doctor in the case that you need to do some hormonal detective work. They also have lots of women’s health articles on their website and in the app’s “knowledge base” that are worth checking out.

Whether you check out these resources or find some other ones that resonate with you (there are so many more out there!), I hope that you’re inspired to learn a little more about your hormones. Because knowledge is power. Let’s not ignore our uteri any longer.

Hormonally (hehe, couldn’t help myself),
Maria

p.s. if you haven’t signed up for my email newsletter yet, you can do so here to get updates about my soon-to-be-officially-launched Etsy shop, among other things!

November Salad Toppings

Hello friends,
Happy November! Time to share some things I’ve been enjoying lately:

Japanese sweet potatoes
Particularly when they’re roasted in coconut oil.

Oprah and Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge
I love these! I get pretty excited every time they happen (about twice a year, I think). The first one I did was probably about four years now, and I’ve done every one of them since. Each day Oprah and Deepak start you off with some words of wisdom and inspiration, and then Deepak sends you off with a mantra and some nice new age-y music that is rather calming and also helps to remind you when you start thinking about breakfast and emails and elephants or whatever that your intention is to be meditating. Also, it’s free! This one started last week but you can always join late. Meditate with me??

Dar Williams
She’s so cool. I went to see her in concert a few weeks ago and it was really great–great music and great stage presence. She’s funny. Also, as I told my mom afterwards, it kind of seemed like a concert for old people–not too loud, not too long, and not too late at night. TOTALLY my cup of tea. If you want to know who and what I’m talking about, I really like this song and also this one.

Liberal Arts
A movie recommended by Katie Dalebout that I quite enjoyed. Katie also interviewed writer/director/star Josh Radnor on her podcast recently and it was a really fascinating conversation! Also during the interview, he recommended the album that led me to rediscover the following…

Fratres by Arvo Pärt
WHOA. That is all I have to say about this one right now.

I hope you’re having a beautiful day full of fall colors and cozy socks and pumpkin spice (if you’re into that…if not that’s cool too). What’s on your salad at the moment?

Joyfully,
Maria

p.s. I’m not an affiliate for any of these things, I just like them!

September Salad Toppings

Hi friends!

I thought I’d share some more of the toppings that have been making my Life Salad so delectable lately. If that last sentence confused you, check out this post.

Here we go:

Brandi Carlile
Love her! Especially this song. I signed up for a free 3-month trial of Spotify Premium but I think I forgot to cancel it (which is probably exactly what they were hoping for…#oops.) Anway, now I can keep listening to Brandi in the car on the way home from work for another month, so things are all good.

Pigma Micron pens
I’ve been spending more time drawing lately, which has been a really good decision in terms of my happiness and mental health. In the quest for following curiosity and trying to figure out what I really like to do, this has definitely been a step in the right direction. Not surprising, I guess, since the majority of my childhood was spent doing arts and crafts. Ask my parents—our house was a sea of finished and unfinished projects for years. Now at least it is confined to specific areas of the house. Anyway, I’ve been using these Micron pens a lot lately—I like to draw in pencil, ink it with the pens, and then add some colored pencil. In case you missed it, I shared one of my recent drawings in this post. I’ve also been sharing more artwork over on Instagram.

Jane the Virgin
Two friends with excellent taste recommended this show, so I figured I should give it a try. As my dear friend Rebecca said, after I inspired her to start watching it, “it’s a great combination of comedy and drama. It’s not too serious but also has enough of a plot to keep me motivated to watch the next episode.” I would say even more than a plot it has some SERIOUS cliffhangers—meaning I am very ready for the third season. My mom likes this one too—when we were working our way through season 1 together, she would often plop herself in front of the TV in the evening and look at me expectantly, which obviously meant it was time for an episode of Jane. It was very cute.

Super cute crochet patterns
I’m so proud of my lovely cousin Anna who just opened up this Etsy shop! Years ago, when we spent a weekend at the family cabin, I helped her freehand crochet a little bear (without using a pattern) and I remember her telling me that someday she would like to write a book of crochet patterns. Etsy is pretty much the 2016 online version of that, and it’s so inspiring that she’s actually doing it! Also, just look at those princesses. Adorable!

There are just so many cool things out in the world. And such easy access to so many of them with the interwebs! But I will stop here so this post doesn’t take you a month to read.

With inspiration,
Maria

 

What to Put on a Life Salad

Really good salads have good dressings and good toppings. Balsamic vinaigrette. Lemon tahini dressing. Sliced strawberries. Pecans. Goat cheese. At least, that’s my opinion on the matter. There are some people, like my brother, who prefer to just eat plain lettuce. Weird.

Remember how I’ve decided that my life is a metaphorical salad? I like to think of my thoughts, beliefs, and relationships as the bulk of the salad (like the lettuce…or the potatoes, if it’s a potato salad…) and all of the other things I choose to surround myself with as the delightful toppings. The current iteration of my Life Salad is garnished with the following:

30 Rock
So good. So weird. Makes me laugh every time.
This clip I have seen probably dozens of times and it’s still hilarious.
p.s. I think this one gets better as you get into it. So if you watched the beginning and were weirded out, maybe try again, if you feel so inspired.

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
I’ve never really been one to read books on religion and spirituality, but I loved this. She talks a lot about choosing love over fear—that’s what the title is referring to. She uses the concept in a more spiritual context than I have thought about previously, which was fascinating.
some good quotes from the book

Let It Out with Katie Dalebout
My favorite podcast! Katie interviews super cool people and the conversations they have are fascinating and so fun to listen to. She also just started her 5th season with a new name (used to be the Wellness Wonderland Radio) and I’m excited to see how the show evolves.
Some good episodes I listened to recently: the first episode of her new season and this one from the archives.

Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
SO. GOOD. I also love their first two albums but I have been particularly obsessed with this one as of late. I dance to it, drive to it, lie on the floor and think about life to it… I can’t stop. Love this song. And all of the others.

Strawberries!
Freshly picked, when they’re still warm from the sun.

…And star fruit! Hehe. Although I still haven’t tried it on an actual salad yet. I just like thinking about them, and sometimes looking at pictures.

My Life Salad is pretty scrumptious right now. I hope yours is too.

Deliciously,
Maria

A Love Letter to the Earth

Dear Earth,

You are a very nice place and I like you very much. Also you smell nice. Right now you smell like rain. You smell soft and quiet and sweetly herbaceous and the smell makes me want to breathe deeply and think a lot.

One time I went for a walk with my mom around a nearby cross country course and I thought it smelled so amazing. There were all these fabulous and unidentifiable plant smells mingling in the air and it made me feel like summer and happiness. My mom thought it smelled like dog poop. Obviously we had very different olfactory experiences. (Side note: the fascinatingly unique scent profiles that individual noses are able to detect is yet another testament to the awesomeness of this planet and all the life on it!)

I also love the way you feel. I love to stand on your spongy beds of moss and soft sand and cool grass. I love when my toes go rogue and pick a flower without my brain telling them to and then hold onto it stubbornly. It’s like when people adorn their hair with flowers, only my toes are adorning themselves. And I must say they do look very lovely with the addition of a tiny blossom.

I love how you sound. I love the wacky rubber band noises of bullfrogs on summer nights and the crackle of dry leaves and the sound that falling snowflakes make when I lie very quietly on the ground on a snowy night.

You remind me of all the hours I spent as a child hanging out with the flower fairies out in the woods and the garden. Remember the rock hotel with the tiny crater that I used to fill with water for a fairy swimming pool? And all the fairy dresses I made out of fallen flowers?

Sometimes when I am out in nature I get this feeling like it is just so beautiful and so perfect and so full of life that I don’t know what to do with myself. And yet I feel inspired to do something… It’s like the Earth is infusing me with creative energy and saying, “GO DO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL TODAY, MARIA!” Today when I felt that, I decided to write a love letter to our dear Earth, to thank her for sharing that energy.

I thank you, Earth, from the bottom of my heart. I hope you never stop emitting those beautiful and mysterious smells.

Love,
Maria