Your Wise Cycle: A Custom Illustration
Your Wise Cycle: A Custom Illustration
I’m offering something special: these are custom-made, circular watercolour illustrations of your cycle in all its uniqueness.
For some years now, I’ve been learning from those who are de-stigmatizing the conversation around periods and cycles and highlighting possibilities for wellness through reclaiming the cycle and its power. None of this wisdom is new: the original caretakers of this land, my Indigenous mentors carry knowledge, stories and healing wisdom that has been silenced over centuries of colonization.
Like the four seasons we experience in the Northern Hemisphere, each phase of the cycle has both challenges and gifts for us. It’s been such a joy to illustrate this cycle for a growing group of friends.
What People are Saying:
"Answering Esther’s questions highlighted so many things I had never realized about myself and what my body is trying to communicate. I have no idea how I went so many years without this incredibly empowering awareness. The actual cycle painting I received is so beautiful and I look at it whenever I need a reminder to give myself permission to feel what I feel. I now base my work and social schedule around my cycle! It’s so empowering." -Emily Dragoman
"Mainly marking down the days in which I bled on a calendar, I only saw my cycle in a linear timeframe. I never thought to look for cycles of feelings, or when and how my body felt at which points in the cycle.
Having my body’s cycle visually represented helped me to see just how clearly phases of that cycle come and go. Thinking of each feeling, each colour and image, all laid out in a circular form reminds me that time is not linear, that what my body goes through on a monthly basis is not linear. There are times of rest and times of great energy and experiencing these special seasons within my body’s own cycle as well as the cycle of seasons in the environment has helped put perspective to the confusion of the current time we are living in." -Ujarak Appadoo
How I Come to this Work:
As I struggle with ‘adulting’, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to mature, what kind of knowledge we need in that process and how we come to know our own selves and, “that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement…”
Every 28 days or so, my body goes through a process much like the waxing and waning moon and seems to remind me that this body, one that society seems to mostly find troublesome or faulty, is connected to nature. As I clumsily tried to ‘balance’ early motherhood, finishing a graduate degree and working, I began wondering what this connection really meant. What if there is more to ‘that time of the month’ (cue eye roll) than dreading it and getting through it? If my body is in fact connected to the inherent wisdom of the natural world, what can I learn by listening to it?
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun.” –‘Abdu’l-Baha
Over time, I went from grudgingly obeying the call to rest around my fall/winter (often called PMS and menstruation), to bringing a nuanced curiosity to the whole of the cycle. Over time, I saw connections between how well I rested in fall/winter and the rise in energy in spring/summer. I’ve been finding there are bright spots in the part of the cycle I had outright dismissed as annoying and unproductive, and tricky aspects to the more extroverted parts of the cycle I’d held up as my ‘gold standard’. It seems that, like the four seasons we experience in the Northern Hemisphere, each phase of the cycle, has both challenges and gifts for us.
My learning is due to the insights of many others with expertise related to the cycle. None of what I am describing is new, as many Indigenous cultures around the world hold deep knowledge related to this, and generations of experience patterning community life around our natural connection to the environment. This knowledge and the healing it can offer has been inhibited due to the ongoing effects of colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy etc. As a European-Canadian woman, I continue to learn from and be humbled by the clarity of insight of my friends and mentors who are descendants of the original caretakers of this land.
Leanne Simpson, Mississauga Nishnaabeg writer, musician and academic describes the impact of these teachings on young women:
“Through these teachings, they will then come to understand the Earth as themselves…When our young women understand this, they will understand their own seasons, cycles and moods. They will understand that they are sacred and beautiful. They will understand that they must take care of themselves, and that they are the mothers to generations yet to be born.” 
Cutcha Risling Baldy describes the powerful resurgence, continuance and future-looking aspect of coming-of-age ceremonies amongst the Hoopa, Navajo, Yarok and other Indigenous tribes, highlighting both women’s role as life givers and powerful contributors to society and how transitions are integral to community life.
Whether we are in a male or female body, cycling or not, we all have cycles in our lives, work and community. They tend to mirror the high and low tide of the ocean, the in and out of the breath. Every cycling person is unique as well, whether on birth control, through menopause, through birth and postpartum. Recently, in the global pandemic, increasing evidence is showing that cycles are shifting in dramatic ways. One thing we can do, amidst all of this, is pay attention. Doctors, therapists, books, lifestyle and nutrition shifts are helpful and necessary at times. At the same time, I’m continually astonished at the knowledge and wisdom that can be accessed through our own deep listening and connection to our experience of living in our bodies.
I pay attention to what foods and practices nourish me throughout the cycle and how anticipating and honouring those needs allowed me to work with the natural ebbs, flows and quality of my capacity to be of service to my family and community. Honouring my cycle has been a grounding force during uncertain times.
The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes
As I’ve started sharing this work more openly with friends, my learning has expanded further. I’ve recently begun creating custom drawings for friends, based on a simple set of questions related to their experience of their cycle. When I create these handmade drawings, I am tuning in to the wisdom they’ve shared about their cycle, the colours, symbols and words of wisdom they’ve offered themselves, which become integrated in the drawing. It’s such a joy to serve in this way and create these visuals that remind us of the home we have within ourselves.
Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded?
Once you purchase, you will be sent a simple form that will assist you to think more deeply about your cycle and provide me with insight into its dynamics.
I’ll take some time to craft your unique drawing and mail you the original hardcopy on cold-press watercolour paper.
 Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
 Simpson, L. (2011). Dancing on our turtle’s back (pp. 31-48). Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing.
 Risling, B. C. (2018). We are dancing for you : Native feminisms and the revitalization of women’s coming-of-age ceremonies. University of Washington Press