Notice that the rope that says "GUEST ONLY" is open, telling you that you're allowed to take these steps.
One of the biggest mental and emotional hurdles facing many lawyers, especially new ones, is money stress.
Many of us go to law school on the dazzling promise of a better life, a life with more influence and financial security than that afforded us by just a four-year degree.
For many of us, it is a felt as the golden ticket out of the working class -- or just our fate as members of the Gen-X or Millennial generations to need expensive higher education in order to continue the middle-class standard of living we had as kids.
We strive to get good grades in undergrad. We strive to get into the best law school we can afford, and do what it takes to prove ourselves worthy of remaining there. We compete for class rank, and try to get the best job someone will give us.
We keep striving, and get very used to the underlying not-enoughness as an emotional default setting.
And then as soon as we pass the bar and start working, many of us find that the do-good stuff we really want to do pays less than the evil corp stuff the other kids are doing. But we find we are spending the same money to keep up, to go to CLEs and networking events and live in the same expensive neighborhoods. Our colleagues in big law may look more fancypants but may not actually be any better off, with their larger car payments and more expensive wardrobes.
We wonder if we will ever pay off the student loan, or buy a house. We feel guilty about spending the money on a facial, or a delicious meal out, or a pair of shoes that puts a confident pep in our step. We then get into a very self-defeating thought loop where everything we do to take care of ourselves, invest in ourselves, or enjoy life becomes another count in the indictment against ourselves that we rattle off in our minds every morning, noon and night. Thoughts like:
And sometimes, these thoughts flash by really super fast before we are even fully aware of them, like stealthy product placements in movies and TV.
But the end result is a feeling of powerlessness that colors all our choices, actions, and inaction.
If, despite all the feel-good memes we like and share, our primitive brain still thinks we're screwed no matter what we do, we won't invest in ourselves.
We will buy the cheaper suit that fits weird and falls apart after one season, and carry ourselves differently when we wear it.
We will resist signing up for a personal trainer for our physical health, or a personal coach for our emotional management, and tell ourselves it is because we "can't afford it."
We'll prepare our own taxes.
We won't go to the conference where we could meet the people that could help us make our practice take off, because the hotel is too expensive.
Or we'll book a cheap Airbnb the night before a big out-of-town deposition to save money, and end up getting only three hours of sleep because it smelled awful and we had to leave and it took two hours to find a hotel. And end up NOT saving money. (Not that I've ever done that. LOL.)
And worst of all, we might take a shitty case for a client we don't like, because we're afraid the next dollar isn't coming our way. (A wise man once told me, "you're better off going fishing." He knows fishing isn't my thing, but he made his point.)
We're like, "I paid for law school, and I'm still paying for it, and that's it. I'm cut off." And every time we pass up an important opportunity to invest in ourselves or just really enjoy something simply because of money, we strengthen the self-limiting neurosynaptic pathways in the brain until they become like a four-lane freeway.
Our reptilian brain tells us that we are doing the "responsible" thing by cheap-assing it, but our evolved brain, our pre-frontal cortex, tells us that maybe this is "penny wise and pound foolish." You know -- sabotaging ourselves.
And we keep sabotaging ourselves because underlying all these responsible-sounding, "realistic" thoughts is a lack of belief in ourselves.
Are you serious? We were the first women in our family to graduate from law school. Or, perhaps even the first to graduate from college. We got good grades, passed the bar. Of course we believe in ourselves, don't we?
The truth is, if you feel like there is something you need, but you can't afford it, it is because you are not yet believing in yourself enough. You are still believing, to some degree, that the value you get out of something is not wholly within your control.
I will say this another way. Many of us who achieve great things, like graduating from law school, passing the bar, and getting a job have just assumed that reaching those milestones would create our results. That's often how it's packaged and sold to us. This is difficult for many very earnest hard workers to hear, especially because so much of life is set up that way: "get good grades, and you'll get into a good school. Get a good rank, and you'll get a good job. Etc. Etc."
They say "jump", and we ask, "how high?" And when we do that, but then are a loss as to why we aren't financially successful, or happy, or clear on what's next, we feel betrayed -- by The Man, or the Boomers, or God/the Universe, or how our law school was marketed to us.
I want to reassure you that it is human to feel betrayed, angry, stuck, scared, and all the other feels. You have followed the syllabus they handed you, the same one they handed me too, yet if you are still reading, maybe you are not where you want to be.
The good news is that you can change this.
The beliefs that made you a good student and nail your interview -- basically, beliefs about being good at meeting standards set by others -- are not the beliefs that are going to fuel actions that solve your personal, professional or financial disappointments. That's why learning these emotional and self-belief skills is ironically often hardest for women who were strong students and good test takers.
So, I'm inviting you to take the first step on that staircase by asking yourself these questions in your journal:
This is going to provide you a wealth of insight! In Part Two, I will highlight several Flower Essences that address the money, scarcity, and self-belief issues from a vibrational standpoint, best used in tandem with the thought work. Stay tuned.
If you're female, and able to read this, you probably need Pomegranate Flower Essence. Stop reading and go get some.
Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But seriously, just look at that gorgeous picture up there of a pomegranate flower just entering its luscious mama fruit phase, saying goodbye to its carefree maidenhood as a blossom, the last limp petals making no effort to hold on any longer, and the thick-skinned full fruit beginning to round out. Eventually it will have a round womb-like belly full of blood-red, health-giving juicy fruit. And when the time is ripe, some lucky chick is going to eat from the tree of knowledge and practically jump out of her knickers with all those antioxidants coursing through her veins.
The gestures of this incredible plant are so obviously connected to women's bodies, life phases, and moon cycles, that it is unsurprising that Pomegranate appears in folklore, religious texts, and art. Ancient wisdom is often a major clue to the healing properties of a flower or plant essence. (People way back when were pretty smart about things even though they didn't have the iCalendar telling them when they had to show up for meetings.)
Some folks believe that the "apple" Eve used to tempt Adam was lost in translation over the years, and was actually a pomegranate. Temptation worked the other way when Hades got Persephone all to himself for 3 months out of the year with delicious pomegranate.
Pomegranate Flower Essence is indicated for many situations and issues women face: pregnancy, obviously is one, but it works on multiple levels to address where we should put our creative efforts. Literally or figuratively, what should we "give birth to" in life, how we should balance our loyalties to ourselves and to others, and how we should balance work, family, and creative pursuits. It also broadly addresses issues of timing and seasons, because although women can "have it all" these days, many of us feel a lot of pressure to try to do it all, all at once.
Pomegranate Flower Essence has many applications.
In summary, Pomegranate essence is a good place for many women to start with Flower Essences. Sometimes when a woman doesn't know what essence to take, this one will help provide additional insight into where to go next. It is very timely with the issues at the forefront of women's conversations about roles, career, health, empowerment, and life phases. You could say we are in a very Pomegranate time.
Pomegranate Flower Essence on Amazon [affiliate link].
This post contains affiliate links. Full disclaimer here.
If you haven't read the first three parts of this series, you must! Start here.
So, we have given ourselves nutritional support in Part One. In Part Two, we learned about Flower Essences that help us transform the emotional issues that PMS presents, and introduced the concept that PMS is an opportunity. In Part Three, we laced up our shoes and went running (or at least walking). Now let's do some thought work.
Thought work. What is that?
Thought work is a practice or discipline where we look at our thoughts critically instead of letting them roll by unobserved. We pull those thoughts out of our heads and put them onto paper -- yes, paper and pen in a journal, and not typewritten -- and then work with them in some structured way so that over time, we have more self-awareness and more deliberate choice over our thoughts.
Thought work allows us to pedal toward the place of the Observer/Witness with training wheels, or like indoor rock climbing, where we know what rock to reach for next by the friendly marker of color-coded tape.
And, the repeated practice of thought work journaling is integral to the Positive Cycle and the Opportunity of PMS.
But first, let's talk about some of the things we have tried that only created small improvement.
Have you ever tried to meditate and been frustrated that you keep....f'n...THINKING! -- and thinking really ugly stuff about yourself or your life? Did you think that you had failed somehow? Or have you found that meditation feels really good while you're doing it, but you have yet to see much improvement in your circumstances? Is it impossible to meditate when you have PMS?
Or, let's say that you already have a journaling practice. Have you been frustrated that you've written down big goals and then you lose steam? Have you written page upon page but still feel frustrated with a lack of progress in areas of your life?
Have you tried everything, and wonder how any of it can change the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS that interfere with your career and your personal life?
I have answered yes to all of those above questions. And at times have been very frustrated, even angry with my body. One time when I had PMS, I was reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is and threw the book across the room. "This shit doesn't work for PMS!!!" I got a lot out of Loving What Is, but there was still a missing piece for me specific to PMS that I did not get until years later.
I began to turn the corner when I decided to revisit A Course In Miracles ("ACIM"). I had tried to read it a couple times from the beginning, but found it boring and didn't make it to the part that was the zinger for me. Then one day, I happened upon it. The piece of it that was transformational for me was Lesson 136, Sickness is a Defense Against the Truth, which opens with, "No one can heal unless [s]he understands what purpose sickness seems to serve."
As I read ACIM 136-137, for the first time, I was reading something that gave me a visceral aha, and a logical argument for the purpose of physical discomfort, and those things that we would label as symptoms or medical problems.
Before, most of what I had read struck me as new age dogma, scolding me for having "created" PMS and then shaming me for not yet creating something better for my life. "I am a new age failure" -- well now. That's a super helpful thought.
I continued to work with the concept that as long as I perceived PMS as a "sickness," I was judging it and myself as "wrong," and missing the purpose of the experience altogether. I was arguing with reality. Dammit, Byron Katie was right about reality -- "when you argue with it, you always lose." I needed ACIM 136 - 137 to make that click, however.
While I continued (and still continue) to experience my body and my emotions differently during that time, once I studied ACIM 136 - 137, I could never again go back to the place where I believed that PMS was a "problem." I continued (and still continue) to take care of myself physically with proper diet, supplements, and running, but my thoughts about the entire thing have permanently changed, and even now continue to improve, without having to con myself. Which brings us to the capstone thought work discipline that ties it all together: Brooke Castillo's Self-Coaching Model.
Brooke Castillo's Model goes like this: Circumstances are neutral. We have thoughts about them, and our thoughts cause our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions (or inaction). The actions taken (or not taken) create our results.
PMS is a neutral circumstance. PMS may be our reality, but it is neutral. It cannot make us feel bad. Our thoughts do that. And, we can choose our thoughts about PMS. Always.
I realize this may be a tough pill to swallow.
Here's how we smooth it out.
The work here is to first become aware of what you are thinking about PMS by journaling about it. This is not a one-and-done kind of thing. You may need to do this every month for the rest of your life (until you hit menopause and have something else to write about). You can look at that as a bad thing, or you can look at that as an opportunity. Every month, really look at it. If you are a loss as to where to start, start with these questions in your journal:
It's not easy. And, the answers to these questions might vary from day to day. The key thing is doing it and becoming aware. I promise you that you'll learn a lot about yourself answering those questions.
There is more to say about cultural stories about women's bodies and minds and how that influences our subjective experience of being women in women's bodies, but I will save that for future posts.
Once you have answered the questions, you have a lot of rich material to work with. What themes and challenges do you see? Where is the opportunity?
This is where the skilled selection of Flower Essences can really help. We do the proper nutritional and supplement foundation, we get the physical exercise in the form of bilateral movement (running, or at least walking), we get loving assistance from Nature in the form of Flower Essences that are specific to us, and we tie it all together and keep making forward progress through the daily thought work journaling. These strategies, working together, can truly transform your life.
If PMS has been your struggle, you are not alone. I hope this series of posts has helped you, and that you have learned several new things that get you out of the vicious cycle and into the Positive Cycle. If you desire additional support to do this, consider working with me.
To your peace of mind and health!
So here it is...part 3 of the Ultimate Guide to PMS.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Full disclaimer here.
If you have not read Part 1, and Part 2, please do so now.
In Part One, we shared my embarrassing PMS story, and then covered the nutritional/physical strategies for dealing with PMS. Then, in Part Two, we scratched the surface of Flower Essences. We introduced several Flower Essences that can be helpful for bridging the gap between the throes of physical and emotional PMS symptoms and the "witness/observer consciousness" that we need to transcend PMS.
I promised in Part One and Part Two that I would cover the specific mindfulness practice that actually works for me, the Opportunity of PMS, and the critically important thought work that ties it all together.
The Mindfulness Practice that Actually Works for Me
Why do I say "actually" works? Because lord knows I have tried everything to quell the monkey mind, the lawyer brain, the PMS brain -- the chatty, critical, freaking-out human brain by any name you call it. And here is the ONE thing that I can't skip. It isn't meditation, although that is extremely beneficial at times. It isn't Heartmath, even though that is a lovely practice with numerous benefits. And, yoga has a place as well. Furthermore, YouTube videos of Tina Turner chanting are cool because -- TINA TURNER, hello?!? But...If I do one thing to manage the mental and emotional challenges of PMS, it is:
Not just exercise in general. No. Specifically, running. Whether you jog, shuffle, sprint, or simply run, running is different from all other forms of exercise a human might try to do: (1) It stimulates the frontal cortex of the brain. (2) Bilateral movement helps the body-mind process and release trauma. You don't need to be a combat veteran to have traumas that need to be processed and moved through the body. Everyone has some trauma. Need more convincing that running is the key that unlocks many doors of healing? Give this a listen. And give this a read.
I run first thing in the morning, rain or shine, five to six days per week. Sometimes with a headlamp, and sometimes with reflective gear, gloves, a rain jacket and a hat. Not necessarily at 5:00am, although the basic gist of it is the same: start your morning right, and the rest of the day will be so much better.
I didn't start running until I was 29 years old. I had been a ballet dancer and very anti-running as a kid. I just woke up one day -- maybe it was the Saturn Return calling -- and I was like, "I'm a runner now." And that was that. And I was awkward and gasping when I ran my first 5k. It took me over 30 minutes, and I was red-faced and looked like a joke when I crossed that finish line. But, by the end of that summer, I had shaved several minutes off of that time. An identity shift like this is not impossible.
More about running and trauma will be covered in future posts. But for now, our immediate need is to cover the thought work process that ties all of this together. We shall do so in the next post. Please stay tuned. If you are suffering from PMS and the stress of practicing law, consider a run....even if it is simply around the block.
Affiliate disclosure: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
If you haven't read Part One of this PMS series, please go back and read it now. It provides an important foundation.
The physical symptoms of PMS are enough of a challenge, but the emotional aspects can be even worse for many women. And, unfortunately, much of the "self care" and "mindfulness" strategies barely even scratch the surface...like trying to clean a locker room with a toothbrush.
Ever feel totally overwhelmed, angry, tearful, anxious, worried or irritable during that time of the month? Someone tell you to "just breathe" and you want to wring their neck? Try to go to yoga to sweat it out, but feel knocked over by someone else's cologne wafting through the studio?
PMS can make practicing law unnecessarily challenging, and practicing law can make the PMS unnecessarily challenging. It becomes a vicious cycle, and it is embarrassing or looks like lame-ass excuse-making to talk about it.
What a trifecta: being a lawyer, experiencing the physical symptoms, and the inexplicable emotional variations. When we are in the throes, it can seem impossible to step back into that neutral space (sometimes called witness consciousness or the observer and what Brooke Castillo has termed "passing through neutral") long enough to get perspective on any of it.
Part one of this series addressed some strategies I employ and products I use to get physical relief, but I know from years of personal experience that if we stop there, we miss the amazing opportunities PMS presents to us to become superwomen.
"Wait, what? This is an opportunity? Opportunity my ass," you might be thinking.
I will cover the Opportunities of PMS in the next post, but for now, let's create an energetic bridge from the physical into emotional relief -- and even gifts -- of PMS.
Still with me?
Flower Essences provide an energetic bridge from the difficult physical and emotional cocktail of PMS into a space of greater awareness, where we can process the challenging emotional and energetic aspects of PMS. Flower Essences are a gentle, yet powerful assist that helps us get from point A, physical and emotional misery, to point B, emotional relief, to point C and beyond -- the stages of increasing awareness and consciousness. Points B and C and beyond therefore become a Positive Cycle, and get us out of the vicious one.
When on the Positive Cycle, each subsequent "time of the month" teaches us to manage our bodies and minds in a new, better, more empowered way. Our improved perceptions and experience of the physical symptoms work to alleviate the symptoms. Our deeper and more grown-up nuanced awareness of the emotional aspects work to alleviate the negative emotions.
I am not saying we live a life free of negative emotion. That is not the point of life anyway -- the lawyergoddess knows that sometimes stuff sucks, and acceptance of that fact of life on earth doesn't mean she is going to get a ticket from the law of attraction police. (Proof: I have been a varsity team complainer off and on, and still have an amazing life!) Like seasons, there are changes; there are times that blossom and bear fruit, and there are times when things wither, rot, and freeze. How well we roll with it is so much of our experience. There is a great deal more to say about this that I'll cover in future posts. For now, you probably are here for emotional relief. So let's get on with it!
A Starter List of Flower Essences for PMS Relief
Shasta Lily: for being strong and remaining feminine in a masculine environment. Feeling like the old boys' network has got you down? Feel like you have to "tough it out" or that "there's no crying in baseball?" While this flower is not specific to PMS, this one is so useful for women learning how to better manage their energy in male "dominated" professions, that I include it here.
Agrimony: this is one of the original Bach remedies from England, for the type of person who covers up difficult emotions with a happy face, or buffers with addictive behaviors (sweets, intoxicating substances, too much social media....) to stuff down the emotions. My favorite in-depth discussion about this essence is at the Healingherbs UK site.
Mariposa Lily: this is one of the key essences for healing one's relationship with one's mother, and ability to nurture and be nurtured. Often, difficulties with the physical experience of being a woman stem from an emotional difficulty with being a woman in this world. Even if one reads the FES description of this remedy and it sounds a little extreme or intense, it is worth taking a deeper look: For example, we may feel that our relationship with Mother Earth is troubled. Or, we may feel that our relationship with the archetype of the Mother in our culture is suffering. Many people, women and men included, benefit from Mariposa Lily at some time in their lives when they feel "orphaned" and alone in a situation. For another angle on this category of issues, Evening Primrose is another powerful flower essence that can bring valuable insight to one's PMS experience.
Chocolate Lily: this flower, with its dark color, helps women who deal with an aversion to the physical aspects of their cycles, so they can learn to accept them more gracefully. Some who have worked with this essence report that it addresses chocolate cravings as well.
California Valerian: for anxiety about the future and insomnia; aids peaceful acceptance of life experiences due to better understanding of past experiences. Why do I include this as a PMS remedy? Instead of counting sheep, sometimes we count all the mistakes we made earlier in the day, or a year ago, or when we young and dumb. This tends to happen more during PMS when sleep is disrupted. In addition to addressing the physical aspects of sleep -- which I will cover in more depth in future posts -- California Valerian can help with the emotional aspects.
Pedicularis: for hypersensitivity and crying fits, leading to seclusion; aids insight into one’s underlying true identity and connection to Earth wisdom. Sounds kinda far out there? A friend of mine described the Pedicularis state beautifully when she described how the crying starts to 'cry itself' in heaves...from somewhere else. That's awful in the moment, but there is spiritual gold somewhere in there once a certain level of relief and detachment can can get us to the witness place.
Cherry Plum: This is one of my favorite essences for PMS stress. I resisted trying it for years because I was scared off by the description -- it sounded way too extreme for me. But let me help you by describing what I think it is good for. Now, when we have PMS and part of us feels like we are one email, traffic jam, or spilled-coffee-on the-keyboard incident from completely losing our shit, yet some part of us knows that we are basically sane and this too shall pass, Cherry Plum can help. Understand that "white knuckling" thing too well? Cherry Plum helps us release the death grip on trying to control our circumstances....I linked you to the 1 ounce bottle. Throw it in your work briefcase. You're welcome.
Pomegranate: this essence aids us when we feel ambivalence and inner conflict about female roles. It also aids joyful expression of feminine creativity Many women feel torn between "traditional" women's roles and "modern" opportunities. Sometimes this manifests physically as infertility, PMS, and other issues with the reproductive organs. This essence works on some very deep, archetypal levels. So, let's get all Carl Jung/Joseph Campbell with this for a moment. Think of the goddess Persephone and the pomegranate seeds. Where and when have let ourselves get talked into into doing stuff we don't want to do? How does that still ultimately help us become more authentically creative? How is this universal to the experience of being a woman in this millennium or any other? Pomegranate flower essence warrants several posts all to itself!
Self-Heal: this essence is truly multi-purpose. It helps those who over-rely on external advice for health problems. We need Self Heal when we run around buying every supplement on a list, or read every book, or spend all our time studying health information rather than just making decisions and giving stuff a shot (for that matter, Cerato is helpful too.) Self Heal awakens our inner healing forces and helps us listen to our bodies. It comes in an essence form and in a wonderful soothing lotion called Self Heal Creme by FES.
Mala Mujer: yes, that's Spanish for "bad woman." Please look past any reaction you may have to the name of this plant and own it for its power; it's wonderful for softening the bitchy edge we sometimes get during PMS. For our own sake.
There are many more flower essence remedies that are helpful for women, and even more that may be helpful for one woman or another's PMS that aren't necessarily "women's" remedies or "PMS" remedies. I don't suggest by any means that you run out and buy every essence on this list -- that would be like mixing all the paints in your watercolor kit until you get mud. If one or two really spoke to you, get those; less is more. Or you can work with me directly.
And, stay tuned for Part 3 of this series, where we will dive into the specific mindfulness practice that works (for me), and the critically important thought work that will tie all of this together.
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
PMS and the woman lawyer. Impossible combination? Not necessarily. Let's challenge that.
First we should talk about the worst day of my life, second only to the death of my mother.
It's early March, 2006. I'm sitting in an office with my supervisor and boss and one other person in the office. They are grilling me about performance concerns. At this time, I'm a brand new attorney, admitted less than a year. And, I have severe PMS, the kind that, for about ten days every month, makes me dizzy, sleepy, fatigued, anxious, easily overwhelmed, depressed, experience physically painful food cravings that make it difficult to get through an hour of court (those of you who have had this know what it is like), and suffer embarrassing acne scabs on my face that might break open and start bleeding if I accidentally touch my face wrong.
I am earnestly trying to fix "the curse" while trying to learn how to be a lawyer. It is doubly challenging to do this as a harshly self-critical perfectionist. It is too much.
In my defense, I get my nurse practitioner on the speakerphone to try to explain "hormone imbalance" to the higher ups. They don't laugh audibly, but their tone is...mocking.
I leave that job, determined to fix this problem that threatened my career, and not be one of those people with some poorly-explained health problem that caused her job performance to suffer. I can't shake a deep shame, shame that a physical problem gets the best of me. I do not want to be one of "those" women walking around giving some lame-ass excuse.
I had been dealing with bad PMS since my late teens, and as soon as I was an adult making my own decisions, I spent quite a bit of time and money (that I didn't have much of at the time) trying to solve the problem.
Yes, as you either know yourself or can imagine, it was difficult to deal with during law school.
And, I entered the profession worried that it would remain a challenge, but hoped that the distraction of work would somehow alchemically transform me into an invincible superwoman who never had "female problems."
Much to my disappointment, it just intensified when I started working, and could no longer control my own schedule and take care of myself when I needed to.
In the several years that followed, I tried a variety of mainstream and complementary treatments and lifestyle changes to manage the condition such to where I could function, and function pretty darn well. It took years, and more money than I want to count up, but I figured it out.
PMS is a card that I was dealt in life, but my ability to deal with it today is light years better than it was in 2006. And today, I'm going to share with you how I got here.
First, the obligatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or any other kind of health professional or mental health professional. You should talk to a qualified health practitioner before trying any of this out on yourself. I provide this for informational purposes only, and hope that it empowers you to have better conversations with your health care providers.
With that out of the way, here is the Ultimate Guide.
I'm sure all of you reading this know that good nutrition is the foundation for health. Some have said that it is 80% of body composition (or maybe it was Woody Allen who said 80% of life is showing up?). But, the advice for what you should do when you have PMS varies widely: "never eat carbs!" vs. "never eat animal products!" and "never eat dairy!" vs. "eat lots of yogurt...and put it places other than your mouth..."
To make matters worse, what works for your best friend or sister might not work for you. And then you are back to demonic food cravings at that time of the month and you just dropped another $20 or whatever on some stupid diet book with lots of pretty food pictures and more bullshit. I had one nurse practitioner ask me, "what kinds of things are you craving? chocolate?" And I was like, "yeah, and other proteins, fats and carbohydrates." I was just fucking hungry and it was specific to that time of the month.
I personally tried, at different times, trying being gluten free, vegetarian, paleo, low carb, the Zone, all with promises that it would be the holy grail that would magically balance my hormones. I would feel better for a short while mostly from the placebo effect of the hope of trying something new. And then it would start to suck again.
And then I found it. I can't remember what led me there, but the nutrition protocol that works for me is Dr. Peter D'Adamo's GenoType Diet, featured in his book Change Your Genetic Destiny. The GenoType Diet can be personalized to you further with the SWAMI Xpress diet software, which is what I use. I'm really surprised more people don't know about this; it's outstanding. The premise of the GenoType Diet seems quite obvious -- our genes determine what kind of fuel burns best in our bodies, and certain markers like jaw angle, body style, and blood type (yes, blood type, stay with me) will tell you. Some humans run well on meat, some humans do better with grains, and depending on various factors, different cheeses work for different people. (Everyone should eat vegetables. No way around that, folks.)
Once I ran my SWAMI Xpress, I was astounded at the information. It was immensely validating, because it was giving me permission to eat things that I knew made me feel good and experience much milder PMS symptoms even though the CrossFit gym might disapprove. (If you hadn't caught the hint, I'm one of the types who has rice with dinner instead of steak.) And, it gave me some surprising information, like which specific cheeses to eat and which to avoid, and that turkey is better for me than chicken. My health has continued to improve over the almost six years I have been eating according to this protocol.
And the craziest part of it is that over time, I lost my taste for chocolate -- even at that time of the month. (It's not a recommended food for my type.) I can literally take it or leave it now. No willpower required. By eating what I should be eating, my desire for things that aren't great for me just gradually disappeared on their own.
My total life expenditures on supplement experimenting probably is equivalent to the GNP of a small nation somewhere. Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, but I've tried them all. Here's what is money well spent for me:
Evening Primrose Oil or Borage Oil. I don't even take fish oil because I don't notice anything from taking it, and I eat plenty of fish. But if I go for more than a few days without my EPO or Borage Oil, my skin punishes me. These oils contain GLA, gamma linolenic acid, an anti-inflammatory compound that has a beneficial effect on the skin and helps reduce cramping in some women. I alternate between these two, depending on what is on sale. Typically, I purchase this Borage Oil from NOW foods because it is a good value. My dose is 7 to 10 capsules per day. That is how much I need for no cramps and clear skin.
Margarite Acne Pills. "Margarite," not margaritas. (I don't think anyone recommends margaritas when you have PMS.) Margarite Acne Pills are a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formula I take during certain times of year, Fall and Spring, when I find acne is more challenging. An acupuncturist who does TCM can explain to you why seasonal changes and your liver and spleen chi can cause seemingly-unrelated conditions like acne, shedding too much hair, being pissed off all the time, and feeling fatigued to flare up when seasons change. Sounds weird? TCM is a different paradigm, and I just roll with it.
"Zinc Cream for Problem Skin" by Margarite Cosmetics out of West Palm Beach, FL. And if you forget to buy your supplements (hmm...this never happens) and need to topically treat a pimple, this Zinc Cream for Problem Skin cream dries it up fast.
IPL Laser Treatments. An IPL (intense pulsed light) laser treatment for acne is basically getting out the big guns. Sites like realself.com can help you search for a provider in your area. This has helped me quite a bit off and on through the years.
Free and Easy Wanderer. On the topic of being pissed off....This was another miracle TCM discovery for me. The wonderful acupuncturist who first told me about this supplement called them "happy pills." According to TCM, it works by balancing the liver chi. Whatever -- I take it when everyone else is a moron. Oh wait, that's PMS talking. These provide welcome assistance during that time.
Quinton Hypertonic Elixir. Their website. I first heard about this on the Ben Greenfield podcast. I add it to my water after running it through a Berkey Filter. I'm not a chemist, so you can just read their website. I'll say that I notice a difference from it and no longer need to figure out all these different minerals to buy and have a dozen different supplement bottles in the cabinet. This one supplement just takes care of minerals for me. And, it makes the water taste really good, like the expensive bottled water brands that I feel guilty for buying on the rare occasion I -- gasp -- purchase a bottle of water.
Filter the damn shower water! On the topic of water quality, lots of folks' tap water contains chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system. It isn't just bad to drink them; it's horrible to breathe them in via shower steam, absorb them through the skin, and soak one's tresses in them. I use this shower filter to remove chloramines from the shower water. It was easy to install with some teflon tape and hand tightening. This is especially good for people who rent, or for other reasons don't want to install a whole house water filter.
Progesterone USP Cream. Again, I'm not a doctor and bioidentical hormones are hormones just the same, so talk to a qualified healthcare professional. For me, any synthetic hormones (like those found in birth control, even at the low doses that are supposed to be "ok" or make you better and have a life full of fun shit like they always do in pharmaceutical ads) are like throwing gasoline on a fire....they make everything far worse....some of you know exactly what I mean. I like the lavender fragrance. If lavender isn't your jam, there is an unscented version. I use it at night -- used during the day can make one very sleepy.
Magnesium Oil. Applied to the feet, it helps me get a good night sleep.
Whew! So, that is Part One. In subsequent parts, I will cover Flower Essences that address the mind-spirit aspect of PMS, the specific mindfulness practice that I think actually does something, and the thought work process that isn't just a lame affirmation (that you give up after one day because you hate trying to kid yourself. We've all been there, haven't we?)
Together, all of these strategies have made me many times healthier and happier. I look forward to posting the rest!
Who is the lawyergoddess?
She is a woman lawyer who does not trade in her femininity, or her integrity, for the sake of any false choice presented to her in her life or career.
She always shows up as her best, and radiates it from a state of mind that is beautiful, self-possessed, and powerful.
She knows she is intelligent, capable, worthy of respect, perfect just as she is, and deserving of the best in everything.
She takes care of herself. Most often, she smiles because she appreciates life. If she's not smiling, it may be because she is saddened by some injustice. She knows that life is full of contrast. But she does not wallow in pity, for herself or others.
She exudes beauty, creates wealth, and is surrounded by support. Not because she needs it -- no, because creating it is a pleasure and a joy, and how she leads by example.
She's not afraid to show how she feels, because she has a baseline awareness and complete self-acceptance that people usually respect, kind of like the way they respect the law of gravity. (It's automatic.) And if they don't, so what.
She's not afraid to be overdressed, or overprepared. She enjoys her power responsibly.
She doesn't rely completely on something like a vision board to make her vision come true. She knows that everything outside of her, like wearing the right outfit for the occasion, is an aid to a process that is deeply in her heart, intention, and deliberate thought work.
And, if magic happens, it's icing on the cake. Which she does like to have and eat too (in moderation, and of the utmost quality).
The lawyergoddess is a leader who knows her own mind, style, and values.
Yes, we can all be her.
When I'm not coaching other lawyers, I'm running a Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act practice. In that work, I meet men and women of all ages who have issues with debt and credit.
And, I'm a woman entrepreneur who started my practice with very little, and I'm now doing quite well.
So, it's fair to say that "my mind [is] on my (and your) money, and my (and your) money [is] on my mind."
So let's talk about money, and risk, and women, and practicing law.
I have observed that women are generally more risk-averse than men. We women are usually more interested in what is safe and sure, over what is flashy and risky. While some men might get into trouble by buying large-ticket items impulsively, women -- even in the younger generations -- get into trouble when they rely too heavily on something outside of themselves to provide security or authority for their financial lives.
Even if a woman has a shopping problem, underlying the disordered spending is a desire for safety and security that comes wearing the sheep's clothing of some external thing that money can buy that may make them feel more "safe" in the world.
Many women struggle with a "good girl" complex about money -- that if we are smart and get good grades, spending six figures on higher education is always going to pay off and be okay.
I've learned that we are going to be okay once we learn to trust ourselves and our inherent wisdom, and spend a lot of our own time teaching ourselves things they don't teach us in law school.
The gap between the naive "good girl," risk-averse place that has us putting trust in doing whatever our parents, teachers, or social class would have us do all the way to that empowered place where we finally trust ourselves and bet on ourselves can be a wide river to cross.
Depending on who our parents, teachers, or social class are or were, being the "good girl" and doing as one is told may lead to expensive law school for one woman -- and no education and a dead-end job for another.
Regardless of where we begin, the journey across that river to where we trust in ourselves, and learn to take the right risks at the right times, begins with full awareness of all of the influences, voices, thoughts and feelings that keep us stuck.
As our awareness develops, we learn SO much more about what risks we want to take, what money we want to invest, and who we want to be, regardless of who we may have been up until now.
And we can start from anywhere. Here and now is always the perfect place.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Where am I?
How did I get here?
What is the river that I am crossing?
How will I know when I have safely crossed to the other side?
How is where I am starting from absolutely perfect for me?
What risks am I willing to take to make my life what I want it to be?
What risks were foolhardy and inauthentic for me, and how am I wiser?
What voices inside me am I no longer going to listen to instead of my own wisdom?
How will my financial well-being be safer as a result of listening to myself?
I'd love to hear how it goes.
In my time as a solo lawyer, I’ve talked to lots of young lawyers and new solos on how to succeed and maintain inner peace in what is perceived as a dog-eat-dog profession.
Some of them are dying to start their own practice, but they’re so worked up about what they don’t like about their current gig that they can’t get started with the new solo gig.
I launched my own practice in October 2010, around the same time I gave notice to a former employer. Whether you’re taking the leap into entrepreneurship or interviewing with other potential employers, this is the advice I have: get peace and clarity before you give notice. Be sure you're running TO something, not AWAY from something.
Look deep into yourself and know why you want to peace out of this job. Are you running toward a vision of your career, and this next job or new business is going to be aligned with that vision? Or are running from something? Clues that you are running away include feeling under-appreciated, unfulfilled, angry or prone to complaining. Spend some time writing it down and get really clear.
So let's say you journal about this, and after spewing lots of complaints onto the page, you realize you are definitely trying to run away from something. OK, don't kick yourself for it. It's human.
Being super clear on what we do NOT want is a necessary step up the emotional scale toward full conscious awareness of what we DO want, and why.
So, the first step toward making peace with the reasons why your current situation sucks is to write it down and become fully aware of it. Don't let it just be background noise in your brain.
There are a number of techniques for taking the sting out of each of your complaints or negative thoughts that I'll address in future posts. (If you want a preview of one method, please just sign up for my list at the contact page, and I'll send you the little mini-workbook I created for you.)
Once you know what your true motivations are, now you can form a vision. List out everything that you learned and gained from the old job that will be useful in the next job or your new business. Even if it feels strange, find a few reasons to be thankful for the old job that you're about to leave.
After that, you'll be feeling a little more peaceful, and so focused on your next steps that your announcement that you're leaving will be fueled by positive energy and you won't be likely to burn the bridge. You never want to burn a bridge (or be the first one to light a match), because your old supervisor and colleagues may be your first source of new client referrals or you may run into them in court or business dealings.
Like my grandmother used to say, "kill them with kindness." No matter what "they" did to you, or what jerks they are, if you can set a tone of professionalism and grace in your notice, it will pre-pave better interactions with these people from here on out. And you'll be so busy shining in your new venture that before long, they won't rattle you anymore.
Not only does this process make for a smooth transition within you and around you, it will help you get up to speed in your new job or business because you have spent quality time on your positive vision for it.
Now go get started on that vision!