Code Red Altert!
I am very excited to introduce a vibrant exponent of the power of women Lisa Lister of The Sassy She. Crowned
‘the defender of female awesomeness’
by Cooler magazine, Lisa is a writer, plus-size yoga teacher, feminist, menstrual queen and now a fellow belly loving massage maven.
Her new book ‘Code Red’ is published this week and I was lucky enough to persuade her to tell us about her work and world-view.
I read that living life with your cycle totally changed your life; can you say a bit about how that happened?
I was a total go-for-it girl. I worked in TV + journalism, I was career orientated, I was engaged to a writer, we bought a house together from the outside our life looked pretty sweet, but I was bleeding so heavily each month I had to cancel meetings and social events, I was embarrassed to tell them why, so I got a reputation as a flake, I spent entire days in chainsaws-ripping-at-your-insides pain and discomfort. So after months of misdiagnosis and lots of tests, I was told I had endometriosis. On my second visit, I was told that the only way to deal with this would be to ‘whip it out’, my uterus that is. On leaving that appointment, I momentarily considered it. I was 26 and it would have made life so much easier, but a fire raged in my belly, womb and ovaries, SHE was pissed. I didn’t return for the next appointment, instead I went on a 10-year adventure. An exploration of my lady landscape. Through getting to know my flow and practicing the ancient feminine wisdom I discovered on a daily basis, I still have my womb and ovaries, I’ve been able to put my endometriosis into remission, I live my life in total sync with my cycle and now help other women to do the same. Best. Job. Ever.
And what is the best thing about this change?
The freedom that comes from knowing that I’m not consistent and that’s REALLY okay. I used to run on the masculine energy we have access to during the first two phases of our cycle ALL cycle, which meant I suffered from crazy pain and discomfort every time I bled. Now, I truly embrace each phase as I meet it, I use it’s super powers to help me in my business, in my relationship and my life and I feel totally in flow – literally and figuratively – with my natural rhythms as a woman.
Your new book ‘Code Red’ is going to be very empowering for women, can you tell me about these super-powers that I can have access to?
Ahh yes the super powers, love that you cut to the chase and got to the good bit! Our cycle is a 4-part lady code and each month, in each phase we have access to super powers in each. The first phase pre-ovulation, the phase after our bleed you are dynamic and able to get shit done – this is a great time to plant new seeds, start new projects, go on first dates and initiate new projects. The second phase, ovulation is when we’re at our most dynamic, it’s when we can socialise, it’s when we feel most turned on in and out of the bedroom, it’s the best time to do presentations at work. The third phase is pre-menstruation it’s when our energy turns from masculine to feminine and we become an editrix, we become super-critical which makes it a great time to edit book chapters or web copy or to go over details with a fine tooth comb. The fourth phase is menstruation and this is a great time to release, slow down and be reflective of what’s worked and what hasn’t gone to plan, and with the blood allow anything that no longer serves you to be released as you bleed.
This is obviously a super-quick whistle stop tour of each cycle and I talk about each in far more detail in the book, but also through charting your cycle, you get to discover your own super-powers, the ones that are unique to you that unfold with each and every menstrual cycle, it’s SO good!
Why is it so hard for women to rest and be gentle with ourselves?
Ahhh, THIS is the BIG one! We live in a dude-dominated society where we’ve spent so long fighting for the right to be equal – and I am TOTALLY grateful to the women that have gone before me for doing that – but unfortunately, it’s meant that we now see resting, and slowing down as a weakness. We’re not like men, we are cyclic, yet we’re trying desperately to do life like a dude, to ‘do’ and achieve and to reach goals, we’re trying to be freakin’ super woman for the entire cycle and that just leads to burn out and pain and discomfort. If however we were to go with our natural flow and rhythm which is to do and create for the first half of our cycle and slow down and simply ‘be’ during the second half, we’d constantly have enough energy, our creative reserves would be constantly energised and we’d be able to use our SHE power for good!
Why are we so addicted to doing stuff? It’s almost like we’re trying to prove something isn’t it?!
YES! Exactly that. The need to ‘do it like a dude’, to be equal to men, has meant that as women, we take on a lot of male tendencies like competing and comparing ourselves with each other which just perpetuates the myth that we’re not good enough, and gives us yet another stick to beat ourselves with when we can’t compete and we don’t compare. This is bullshit. You have nothing to prove. If you continue to function this way, shit will and does hit the fan. You will break, you will experience pain and discomfort, if not now, when you reach menopause, and that’s not how it’s meant to be.
How do you support women to just let go of all this crap?
It’s a process, because this ‘crap’ is not our crap. It’s the crap that our matriarchal lines have had to carry, it’s the crap that society continues to perpetuate in advertising – sanitised blue blood, mother nature’s curse, how if you stick a tampon in your vagina you can literally ride a rollercoaster and go sailing – so it’s definitely a process, but I work with ancient feminine wisdom and practices, what I call the SHE Flow protocol, that include sacred movement, SHE Flow yoga, INbodyment, abdominal + womb-loving massage, ritual + the re-telling of our stories to create SHE medicine bespoke to each client. I also share these teachings in my online programmes Crack Your Lady Code + Explore Your Lady Landscape, and in person workshops, classes + retreats.
I understand you have a non-negotiable rest period while you have your period. Is it true you once turned down a telly interview with Alan Titchmarsh because is was scheduled at the time of your bleed?
Ha! I did, it’s true. I’m sure he’d have been very interested in talking about my lady landscape, but yep, when I bleed the first two days are sacred. I retreat to my temple and I read, I get still, I sleep and I eat chocolate. I don’t cook, clean (I batch cook during my ovulation phase when I’m fully powered so come bleed time, all I have to do is heat and serve!) I simply be. Yes, I’m freelance, yes, I have no kids and yes, I have a truly awesome husband who totally supports my cycle, but this is just the same as a non-negotiable date at the gym. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, which is why I ask clients to take an hour out on the 1st day of their bleed, whether it’s just to have a nice bath or to close the bedroom door and just connect with the fact you’re bleeding, it doesn’t have to be a big ritual, just a lil wink to SHE to let her know that you’re honouring your bleed. So many women think the idea of taking time out to do nothing is indulgent, but seriously it’s a necessity, it’s an act of self-care, especially at bleed time.
In a world where tampons and pads are advertised in blue, no one wants to talk about blood or periods. You seem to have found a way of talking about it that’s very accessible for women; do you find that men are still freaked out by what you’re talking about?
I still find women are freaked out about it and that’s why I do the work I do, I REALLY want to make this ancient feminine wisdom as accessible to women who are juggling careers, relationship, mummahood as possible, because if we’re not knowledgeable about our cycles and their impact, how can we expect the dudes in our life to get it? And they DO want to know, when my husband’s friends found out about what I do, they all came to me asking what was up with their wives and girlfriends, so they do want to know except until very recently we didn’t know ourselves so how could we share what we didn’t know?!
How do you advise women to explain their cycles to men?
In my book Code Red, I’ve asked my hot Viking husband, Rich to share about cycles from his perspective, it’s a two-page spread in the book and dudes are loving it! So, first and foremost, I’d just buy the book and leave it open on those two pages, but the way I see it, is dudes will do anything for an easier life and if you have access to something that will make their lives easier, they’ll want to know about it.
It can’t be easy to stick your head over the parapet and shout about lady-power but I love how you bring all of yourself to the table; you seem to be authentically yourself. How do you manage the feelings of vulnerability that this must bring? How do you deal with your inner critic?
Thank you, Kate, that means a lot. I’m a story teller, it’s why I became a journalist (and to meet popstars, obvz.), it’s what I do, and in a world that is full of gloss and ALL the sanitised shiny things, it’s my job/purpose/sankalpa this lifetime to keep bringing women home to their blood + guts, to help women re-tell their stories, know their flow and trust their intuition so they can stand fully in their SHE power, because when we do? Shit will get real. And I LOVE real!
If there were one change a woman could make that would change her relationship with her cycle and access her superpowers, what would it be?
Know your flow. When you know your cycle, when you know what phase you’re currently in and how it effects your mood, your skill set and your ability to rock out in the world, you can co-create your life from a place of power. SHE power. Stuff will no longer just ‘happen’ to you, pain and discomfort will become messengers as to what’s REALLY going on in your body and you’ll develop a relationship with your body that’s NOT based on the bits you don’t like when you look in the mirror, but instead will be based on the awesomeness that you learn about yourself each and every month as each cycle unfolds. So chart your cycle, I’ve created some really pretty, really fun ways to do that in the Cycle Repair Kit which is free downloadable resource that you get free when you by the book Code Red.
For more information on Lisa and the SHE Flow protocol, visit: www.thesassyshe.com
The book, Code Red: Know Your Flow, Unlock Your Super Powers and create a Bloody Amazing Life. Period is out now in kindle and paperback at amazon.com
If you find you are cheering wildly along as you read about how to create a bloody amazing life, then you’re going to love ‘PMT and Other Stories’.