For some time now I’ve been a dedicated follower of feminist blog Wild Sister Rising, where I’m always inspired by insightful and authentic perspectives on women’s empowerment from creator of WSR, Lissa. I was delighted to be part of her series of interviews with women from the WSR Circle – a great chance to reflect on some meaningful stuff! Here’s what I had to say….
Which phase of life are you in?
In terms of the maidenhood, motherhood and sage model then I am definitely in motherhood simply because I have a pre-school age child! But your blog Wild Sister Rising has encouraged me to read up on pagan approaches to women’s growth and I really like that motherhood does not just represent having children. It is about harnessing your creativity, working hard, seeing it manifest and gaining fulfillment from it. I have been on a bit of a creative journey over the past few years which has actually culminated in my decision to go back to college and study music, which I didn’t have the courage to do when I was younger. So I suppose I am moving back towards the energy, potential and more spontaneity of the ‘Maiden’ phase!
With the benefit of hindsight and learned wisdom, what do you wish you’d known at the start of your cycling journey?
When I was younger there were so many patriarchal and misogynistic aspects of life I just accepted. I subconsciously believed that I had to strive to conform to society’s male-driven standards in terms of women’s appearance and behaviour. Now I realise that I am not here for anyone else’s gratification but to do what I genuinely feel is right and healthy for myself and the others around me. Also, in terms of women’s physical cycles, I am really into being more open about it now. Society treats periods exactly like we treat childbirth – women have to ‘get on with it’, look presentable and be discreet . That is why it is so hard for women to talk about physical and mental illnesses related to their menstrual cycle or pregnancy/birth. There are still so many stereotypical social ideas about and representations of women in the media as emotional/irrational/dependant/weak, yet we are under pressure to be strong when it would be inconvenient for society/men for us to stop. It is a huge cliche but I think we have to listen to our bodies. I stop a lot more now when I know my mind and body just need a break, whether that is menstrual or otherwise. Whenever I do the opposite of what my body tells me I end up feeling worn out, resentful or even ill.
What do you do for self care?
During CBT therapy a few years ago I realised how much a routine helps me to manage my mental health, so self care is about self discipline for me. I’m not completely rigid but I like having set days and times of the week for particular activities, making sure I get up and go to bed at a certain time, etc. I also find tidying, organising and being on top of my to-do list are effective self-care activities for me, as well as sticking to commitments and deadlines. That makes me sound really boring, which is probably true to a certain extent!
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what does that look like?
My wee boy has usually found his way into our bed by the time I am waking up so I write in my journal (ok, scroll through my phone!) for half an hour while he looks at his books (ok, watches Youtube on his Kindle). In all honesty I am an awful excuse for human being first thing in the morning. I drink really strong coffee until I feel alive (I would take it intravenously if I could). One of my aims is to get better at mornings!
Which season in the year is your favourite and why?
Definitely summer. I don’t even care if the weather isn’t that great – I enjoy the lighter evenings and even a slight bit of heat. There is just more sense of possibility and I have more energy. There are also no commercialised festivals during summer (although I suppose you could say that summer itself is completely commercialised as a season!). I find winter pretty miserable despite all the cosy Hygge stuff and I don’t like Halloween, fireworks or Christmas! I hate enforced fun and trailing round the shops in cold and rain buying a load of crap that people don’t even need. Maybe I should change my approach to winter and Christmas and find new ways to experience it and manage it! I would really like to embrace more seasonal rituals like those I have read about in WSR blog, especially the ones relating to making fires!
What are you reading just now?
‘Coal Black Mornings’ by Brett Anderson. I am such a big Suede fan and the copy I picked up in Waterstones was a signed one which I am very happy about!
Which book has been most influential on your path?
‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear’ by Elizabeth Gilbert is really inspiring. She has a podcast of the same name which is also brilliant.
What has been the most valuable piece of advice you have received?
I attended a workshop run by the author Kaite Welsh a few months ago who said someone once told her ‘You can’t hate yourself into a version of yourself that you like’. I think it is great advice that I wish someone had given to me when I was in my early 20s!
How do you like to relax and unwind?
Having a chat and a laugh with family and friends, singing, writing, reading. Also listening to 90s pop music really loud and getting all nostalgic – I always stick on Absolute Radio 90s when I am feeling a bit gloomy!
If you were stranded on a desert island, what would be your 3 must have items?
A radio, my guitar and big pair of socks because – even if its 90 degrees – I still have cold feet!
Do you have a mantra or affirmation that you live by?
I had a revelation a few years ago – that the word selfless is really horrible because it is basically saying that to be a good person and help others you need to be ‘less of self’, that you need to put yourself away in a box somewhere. Actually, I think if you are going to interact with people on a deep level you need to be ‘more of self’. Being authentic is much more important than trying to make yourself disappear for the approval of others – trying not to be yourself isn’t helpful to anyone.
Describe your perfect day
I find it hard to think about questions like this. I struggle if someone asks what was the best day of my life too – I always feel like you should roll out the stock answers! There are lots of people I love spending time with and activities that I like doing. For me, genuine and deep happiness is always about my connection with others – when you have really amazing chats, laugh really hard or are absorbed in what you are doing together. This can happen in the most everyday situations, even in the workplace! Similarly, you could be in the most beautiful setting and be really depressed or with someone who doesn’t make you happy.
What does Wild Sister Rising mean to you?
In terms of the phrase but also Lissa’s blog and community of women, I think it is about following your intuition and thinking consciously about your personal development. It is also about women coming together to share encouragement, wisdom and compassion for each other. I think ‘Rising’ is the really interesting part of it as it makes me think of emerging, growing and becoming powerful. I think it is about women ‘coming up’ to take more control in their own lives, to influence society in their own way. It is rejecting patriarchal ideas about what power and success actually means.
Follow Lissa on Twitter @WSRLissa and Insta @wildsisterrising. The above was originally published on http://www.wildsisterrising.com.