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Virtual Red Tents, Ovaries and Uteri

Women around the globe gather for topical presentations and rich dialogue in our Virtual Red Tents, one of the fabulous options included in our Mentoring Girls Training.

A recent juicy conversation focused on how to help girls understand, honor and connect to their uterus and ovaries. (If trans girls are in the group, they can still learn about these organs and connect to their Womb Centers.)

 Sharing with girls how the menstrual cycle aligns with nature’s cycles is an inestimable gift. 


Here are some fun facts shared by JOYW Grad and Certified Fertility Awareness & Reproductive Health Educator Caitlin McMurtry of cycle-wise.com:

  • The uterus is the strongest muscle in the human body by weight.
  • The moon cycle of waxing and waning is 29.5 days on average. The average young menstruator’s cycle is 29.5 days.
  • The average age of menopause is 52 years old. There are 52 weeks in a year.
  • The average menstrual cycle is 4 weeks long. There are 4 seasons in a year.
  • There are 13 lunar cycles in a year. 13 (well, just under) is the average age of menarche.
  • Menstruation is the only type of human bleeding that does not signify injury or sickness, but rather a normal healthy body full of vitality, fertility and life.


For ideas on helping young people understand and honor menstruation, check out these blogposts:

… as well as Toni Weschler’s Cycle Savvy, a fantastic menstrual literacy book for teens.

To join as many of our Virtual Red Tents as you wish - and to enjoy the Red Tent Video Library with dozens of titles - join the Mentoring Girls Certificate Training.  For lower tuition, check out the non-certificate version of the training.  Fine out more about our Virtual Red Tents including upcoming Red topics here.


P.S.  Registered students are also invited to the JOYW Special Topic groups.  In our Cycle and Body Literacy group, we've been talking about pills bleeds, welcoming trans girls into a Girls' Circle, and whether there is a purpose for ovulation other than simply fertility.  Lara Briden talks about two of those topics in her book Period Repair, and I recommend it.

What's on your mind about helping young menstruants connect with their bodies and their cycles?

P.S.S.  This is my first blogpost in a LONG WHILE!  For the past year and a half or so, I've been intensely busy caring for my ailing father who passed away sweetly and knowing he was loved last summer.  It was a life-changing honor and privilege to help him live well and then die well.  

And I'm so glad to be back here, writing to all of you.

~ Katharine

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Share the magic of menstruation with your child

Magic of Menstruation: Discover It

Our cycles are more than blood leaving our bodes.

Yes, it's very important for menstruating youth and adults to understand the biology of menstruation, and overall, the structure and function of our entire reproductive system.

magic of menstruation

Art by Alberto Seveso

But our moon cycle is more than biology. It's magic. It's an alive, responsive, ever-changing magic that is there for us every day.

Our moon cycle a constant reminder of the cycle nature of life and of our cyclic nature as women. Our moon cycle is a barometer of our health and overall well-being. Our moon cycle, if we're open to it, brings us deep insight.

It's the nudge to be present with our entire body-mind - our Whole Sacred Self.

Our cycle begs us to be curious and tender with ourselves

Each day, let us ask ourselves:   
... What's real for me now?
... What am I receiving?
... What am I giving?
... What am I ready to release?
... What seeds shall I plant?
... Which seedlings need tending in order to ripen?

Art by Ronnie Biccard

If this sounds good - but is new to you - try this:

Simply tune into your cycle.  Each day, pause, breathe and tune into your body for 3 to 5 minutes. Gently, with devotion, patience and love. Simply be present and curious about what you're experiencing in your body, physically and emotionally. What would your body like more or or less of?

Over time, notice what happens. How does your body respond? Does it appreciate the attention? What are its needs?

You may find that the shift in you is flat out amazing. Joy and empowerment and insight and health and, well, a book of poetry's worth of goodness.

Magic of Menstruation: Share it with Girls

Another lovely tuning-in practice is to chart your cycle, noting how your emotions, intuition, and activities change through your cycle. This is a lovely mother-child activity.

Mom and her young menstruator may each have her own chart. Or if the child has not begun to bleed yet or does not yet have a regular cycle, the child can help with their mother's chart.

If you begin charting your cycle, your daughter will inevitably become interested. You and she together can discover the magic of menstruation.

magic of menstruation

Art by Anne Dewailly

​There are plenty of apps for cycle tracking, but all you need is a piece of paper. I prefer paper because one's spirit shines through - and one can pick up shifts over time visually.

Magic of Menstruation: Chart Cycles on Paper

On a large sheet of paper, write a series of well-spaced numbers in on the left. These are the days of your cycle, Day 1 being the day you begin to bleed. Across the top, label what you'd like to track, such as Physical and Emotional (for what you're experiencing physically and emotionally).  You may also like to track food, activities, and the phase of the moon.

Then each day, record how you're doing. Post this on the fridge if you're feeling revolutionary - if you're tired of hiding menstruation and would like the people in your life to know how you're doing. 

Here is a chart with the cycle days listed across the top and emotions, physicality and activities listed down the lefthand side.

Cycle Chart courtesy of Leslie Carol Botha of Holy Hormones Honey

This teen is fascinated by menstrual-lunar synchrony, so her chart is organized by the lunar cycle and explores how her body, moods and activities respond to both lunar and menstrual cycles.

menstrual chart

Lunar Menstrual Cycle Chart from a JOYW Mother-Daughter Circle

How do you talk about menstruation with your children? 

Cycle Literacy and Body Literacy for Youth

cycle literacy

JOYW Mentor students and graduates meet in a Facebook group to support one another in developing ways to share Cycle Literacy and Body Literacy with children of all genders and their parents.

Our current project is creating a detailed chart of conversations and activities that will nourish children ages 2 to 16.

Join us!

Learn to mentor girls & lead Girls' Circles

Do you feel called to mentor girls?
Learn about JOYW's
 Mentoring Girls Certificate Training.  

You'll enjoy new content, new resources and new collaborative opportunities in addition to an extensive interactive resource platform offering post-graduate support.  Our aim is to stand with all our current and former students as they plan, launch and lead their Girls' Circles. 

JOYW Girls' Circle by JOYW artist Karen MacKenzie

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Empower Girls to Be Who They Are

positive body image for girls

Be who you are. That's what we want for our collective sons and daughters, right? Being rooted in one's own being-ness - rather than defining oneself according to external standards and expectations - is essential for self-esteem and empowerment, for tuning into one's passions and purpose, and for all the things we want for ourselves and for young people.

Here are 15 doable ways to empower girls to Be Who They Are. And as it happens, these apply to all genders.​

We all have a role in supporting children and youth. Since my primary personal mission is to empower girls through mentorship and parent education, I'm often speaking to parents of daughters - or more generally, women who are called to girls' mentorship.

But the differences between what girls need and what boys need are limited.  What I'm often talking about is what all humans need.  And in fact, once we undo the culture's restrictive gender stereotyping, there will be fewer differences - especially as we move past the gender-as-binary model altogether.  

So here's a girl-languaged list of positive, doable ways to help everyone Be Who They Are.  Some are primarily for parents, but most of them could be offered by any role model.  

Many of these call for some inner work on your part, to bring more consciousness and light to a feeling, belief or story that is not in alignment with the message you want to bring.  Are you up for that? That's what we're here for, right?

As you read this, notice how you respond in your body.  Which of these resonate, which puzzle, which repel? 

empower girls

Art by Tammy Wyatt

15 Ways to Empower Girls to Be Who They Are

  1. Tell your daughters, "I believe in you" - and mean it. If you find yourself unsure of that inside, work with that, perhaps starting with believing in yourself. 
  2. Teach and model from birth that her body belongs to her. She chooses who gets close to her, who touches, hugs, tickles, or kisses her .. or throws snowballs at her.  She will learn to stand up for her body's sovereignty, and to offer that same respect to others.
  3. Name all the parts of her body including genitalia.
  4. Teach her that pleasure is her birthright.
  5. Talk to her about the changes of puberty and sexuality in accurate, relaxed and positive ways.
  6. Teach her to understand, revere and respect menstruation.
  7. Encourage her to listen to her intuition, her inner knowing.
  8. Encourage girls to explore whatever activities and learning call to them. Consciously set aside genderized limitations or expectations; if they persist, work with that. 
  9. Cultivate non-gender-binary, non-heteronormative, non-cis-gender-exclusive language and worldview. Don't let labels, stories or expectations impede you from being curious, respectful and awed by who your child actually is, right now.
  10. Tune into and respond to her ideas, passions, and skills. Limit your vocal and energetic response to her appearance.
  11. Limit praise - or more broadly, evaluation - so she develops intrinsic motivation and a connection to her Inner Compass, rather than relying on outside approval for self-esteem and and external expectations for direction.
  12. Encourage mistakes. Remove shame/judgment from mistakes. Without mistakes, there is no learning. Teach and model that failing magnificently is awesome.  If you don't feel the truth of this in your body, work with what you do feel in a tender way. 
  13. Allow her to seek her own answers and solutions. Humans - especially children - are natural explorers and seekers of mastery. Allow that to unfold.
  14. Teach and model media literacy from an early age. Help her to understand and filter the various sorts of toxic messages in advertising and popular culture.
  15. Show her how to be assertive - to ask for what she wants, to decline what she does not want, and to express her opinions and feelings.
empower girls

Photo by Rebecca Droke

To empower girls and all genders, start simple

Don't let a long list intimidate you.

As intentional people, I'm guessing that most of you already bring many of these to the children and youth in your life. Notice that, celebrate that, and keep on!

Of those items that resonate for you, but you don't see as your strong points, pick one or two.  Talk about them with your adult allies to help you flesh out why it matters to you, what messages you received as a child and the impact of that,  and to reflect on skillful ways to incorporate those pieces of empowerment into your life and the lives of the young people you care about. 

Thanks in advance for engaging with this. Truly we rise together!


Without reflection, there is no learning.  

Learning doesn't "stick" without reflection. The best reflections include our bodies and emotions, not just our minds.  

So pause for a few moments to ask yourself: What's my response? Where was I inspired or discouraged? What was puzzling? Clear as a bell? What would I add, remove or change? What information or support would I love to receive? Which items on the list will I aim to include (more) in my life?

Would you share your reflections? Please leave a comment below or contact me.

Much love and many blessings, 

Learn to mentor girls & lead Girls' Circles

Do you feel called to mentor girls?
Learn about JOYW's
 Mentoring Girls Certificate Training.  

You'll enjoy new content, new resources and new collaborative opportunities in addition to an extensive interactive resource platform offering post-graduate support beginning in 2017.

Payment plans and partial scholarships are available.

Learn more here.

JOYW Girls' Circle by JOYW artist Karen MacKenzie

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Teach girls that desire – that pleasure – is healthy and good

pleasure

Art by Chie Yoshii

Pleasure is taboo in our society today.  It is associated with laziness, self-indulgence, selfishness, and being "un-spiritual".

By teaching ourselves to marginalize or ignore pleasure, we find ourselves disconnected from our bodies, from joy, and from our inner guidance system which is designed to lead us toward things that feel good and that we feel good about.

Today I'd like to focus on the most taboo aspect of pleasure and that is sexual pleasure.  We can empowering sexual well-being and health in children and youth by teaching and modeling that pleasure is a good thing.

What are the some of the messages girls hear about sexuality?

pleasure is good

Art by Alima Newton

· Wait. You’re too young. You’re not married. It’s wrong. It can ruin your life.

· You’re a slut if you do, a prude if you don’t.

· Boys want only one thing. Boys just want to use you.

· If you want to be liked (be cool, etc), you need to service your boyfriend

· Don’t be sexy.

· Do be sexy.

What’s the result?

· Confusion - focused on trying to please others (impossible) as compared to tuning into one’s one wants and needs

· Shame – feeling inferior, embarrassed, even humiliated

· Lack of sexual agency – the ability to choose who, when, and how someone gets close to her

· Lack of assertiveness – to express their desires or their limits

· Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem

What do girls need from parents, mentors and teachers?

comprehensive sex education

Art by Janice Sylvia Brock

· Comprehensive sex education explaining the changes of puberty for boys and girls, menstruation, female reproductive anatomy, sexuality, masturbation, pregnancy, birth, birth control and STD prevention

· Positive messages about self-pleasuring from aged zero forward. That it is normal, healthy and good.

· Acknowledge of body sovereignty

· Encouragement to be assertive – to express their feelings, needs, wants and opinions

· Encouragement to set limits

· Encouragement to tune into her intuition, her inner guidance system, her body wisdom and to her own pleasure

It’s time to empower adolescent and pre-adolescent girls to  pay attention to and honor pleasure.    

Pleasure is one part of a healthy and functional inner guidance system which also includes instincts, intuition, and emotions - and is informed by our beliefs and values.  When we teach and model to our young people to tune into their inner guidance system, we empower them to make healthy choices that they feel good about.  We likewise empower them to notice and correct their mistakes which are after all an essential part of learning and growing.  

And so, if this has stimulated some ideas or pondering, please respond to these questions, or say whatever you'd enjoy sharing.

What's your relationship with pleasure?

What are the typical messages about pleasure that children in your community receive?

What "pleasure-positive" messages and activities would you enjoy sharing with the young people in your life?

Thank you!

pleasure is good

Art by Meaghan Ogilvie

Mentoring Girls Training

Get support for sex-positive parenting and mentoring in the Mentoring Girls Certificate Training or the Non-Certificate Mentoring Girls Training

Learn to teach girls to take charge of their physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being - and all of these include sexual well-being.


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