Wow. Sustainable Cycles 2015 was everything I had imagined and so much more. As the only international member of the team, it felt pretty amazing to be welcomed into the United States by such incredible people, and have the privilege to ride with such a “bad-ass” bunch of women. There were so many highlights on this trip, from the warm hospitality we received the whole way, to the workshops, the food and life on the road on the other side of the world. The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) Conference was life changing. Never before have I felt so welcomed, needed and nurtured by a professional society. I made connections that, thanks to technology, I will be able to maintain and use in this incredibly important work in the future.
Now that I’m back in Australia, apart from missing my riding team like I would miss my right arm if I lost it, I’m eager to plan the next adventure. It felt amazing seeing Sustainable Cycles grow this year, and for word to get around. The interest of people both on-line and in person, is really wonderful to see. I’m so excited to see where this project is going next, and what the following years will bring. We had quite a few people of all ages ask us how they could get involved, and if they could ride too. I’m looking forward to seeing the team grow, the message get out, and menstrual cycles get greener across the USA. I’m hoping to see the same thing happening here with my work in Sustainable Menstruation Australia. It was great seeing participants at Sustainable Cycles workshops who were there on behalf of a friend or partner who couldn’t make it. A huge part of finding sustainable solutions to menstrual health is having conversations that allow shame and fear to melt away. When we talk sustainable menstruation, we aren’t just looking at a greener planet; we’re looking at a long-term healthy view of this beautiful, wild and wonderful bodily function.
One of the great things that life on the road brought was long stretches of time for thinking and creativity, away from distractions. I wrote this piece in a park, somewhere near New York, in preparation for the Menstrual Hygiene Day and SMCR Conference poetry open mic nights. It sums up my experience of Sustainable Cycles pretty well. I hope you can join us in spirit, on-line, or in person, on our next ride.
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My feet flow through each cycle. Every revolution takes me further into the cycle. Life Cycle. Bicycle. Upcycle. Recycle.
My small wheels move along the road, a mirror to the larger wheel of which I am a tiny, insignificant, and yet pivotal part. My essence is essential to the whole. The microcosm of my womb reflects the entire universe!
I look at my legs powering my bicycle across state after state. I watch as I bleed and listen to my body as my ovulation is reflected by the road. My menstrual cycle is a perfect replica of the seasons, of the stages from egg to caterpillar, to pupa, to butterfly. The Earth rotates around the sun, just as my pedals rotate around my crank shaft, and foot by foot, mile by mile, I move forward. We move forward. Propelled by our destiny as cyclists. Life Cyclists.
We cycle, and millennia of oppression melt away. We are part of something immense. Individually, we are just a tiny cog in the giant clock of evolution, but together, we can say menstruation. Period. I bleed. You bleed. We were, are and will be bleeders. Without our blood, life as we know it would not be. Cycling, together, we conquer fear. We surmount shame.
Sustainable cycles? It’s a pun about bikes and periods, but it’s so much more. Our message is clear. Love your cycle. Love the cycle. Take care of yourself, and you take care of the planet. Learn about your body, and you will be empowered.
I watch a teenage girl ride her bike through the streets of Philadelphia. Will she have knowledge of her cycle?
I see an old woman on a park bench in New Orleans. Who is learning her life lessons?
A middle aged dame in Texas tells me she doesn’t like “that word” and I wonder. Does her daughter know her – Period?
A transgender man tells of his forgotten tablets and using soft leaves to soak up his accidental summer-camp flow.
So many perspectives from so many places and we’ve only just scratched the surface. So many lessons to learn from our neighbours.
Collectively, we have a purpose.
Learn to love. Love to grow as our cycle continues. I watch a playground of children. What world can we envision for them? A world where we know our bodies? Where we can be ourselves without fear?
… a world void of hatred?
Who knows. I am but a tiny wheel on the cycle of life.
Yet one small action can trigger a revolution.
One cycle. One. Cycle.
We are in it.
Where do you want to go?