Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Eco-Friendly Moon Cycle: My Review of the Diva Cup

My moon cycle and I go back to nearly two decades. We had a troublesome relationship throughout my teens, with her being quite the inconsistent, phantom-esque acquaintance in my life. We tried the fake-it-till-you-make-it route with birth control pills, which did a nice job of bringing by a pretend moon cycle that was much more consistent. Cramps, pads, panty liners, leaks, and panties in the sink... I got to experience the joys of womanhood! And then came the next joy: tampons!

The subject of sex was so taboo in our house and we were taught insane lies, like wearing a tampon will "ruin your virginity." Frankly, whose idea was it that our virginity (which is already very subjectively defined) belongs to anyone but ourselves? Nothing about a woman's body belongs to anyone but her. But that's a whole other blog post. Luckily my younger sister was quite the rebellious one and didn't believe any of hocus pocus mumbo jumbo around it. As an athlete, she wasn't about to let bulky pads ruin her game. She secretly broke the rules and even taught her big sis how to use the contraband. I'll never forget that day when she stayed outside the bathroom while coaching me through it or the big "welcome to the club!" hug she gave me after.

A number of holistic/wellness blogs and websites I frequent have been proudly talking about a product that's been on the market for a few years now. The Diva Cup: it's a silicone-based cup-shaped device that you can insert into your vagina instead of a tampon. The idea is that the blood collects in there until you dump it, clean it, and use it for the next round. It took me forever to even start wearing tampons... now you're asking me to insert a cup into my lady bits??

I'm a bit skeptical about new things at first, so I refrained from hopping on the band wagon just yet, but I kept my ears and eyes open, mainly because even tampons had me raising my eyebrow at them a bit. See, tampon companies don't have to disclose all the ingredients that go into making them since feminine hygiene products aren't food. Kinda makes you wonder what kind of things go into those bundled fibers that we're shoving into our lady junk...

People had mixed reviews of the Diva Cup over the years. Some loved it, some hated it. Some hated it at first but then loved it. It turns out that if you don't insert it correctly and let it unfold (you'll hear a "schwoop" sound when it does), you might leak a little -- and that's no fun. But once gals mastered the insert process, they loved it.

Fast forward a few years.

My paternal sisters and I were chatting over food and drinks and, as per usual, the conversation flowed (hehe) toward our bodies. I mentioned being interested in the Diva Cup. Turns out one of the gorgeous ladies swore by it. Another positive! My curiosity continued to grow...

Fast forward to last week.

In browsing my regular news sources, I learned that most tampons contain glyphosate. That's the icky stuff Monsanto built into its genetically modified faux-food. It causes all sorts of ugly health problems, even though the company likes to talk around it. Turns out their GM cotton has made its way into our feminine hygiene products. I was furious! I was already a bit on the fence about tampons, but considered them a necessary evil. And then to find out that I had unknowingly been inserting glyphosate into my vagina when I do my best to avoid it like the plague?? Not only was Monsanto poisoning us through our food; now they were doing so through our vaginas as well. Talk about chemical warfare on women's reproductive organs...

We women go through so many tampons, pads, liners, etc. each year. Think about how many products you go through when you've got one week a month where you're having to change things out every few hours. And that's if you're lucky! Some women change things even more frequently than that. So that's at least 3 per day. And then multiply it by 5 or 10 days. That's at least 15 times a month (or upward of 25 for some women) that your vagina is being exposed to fresh new batches of glyphosate. Why is this a big deal? Ever hear stories about girls who'd soak their tampons in vodka and insert them to get drunk? The vaginal walls absorb things into the blood stream very quickly. I felt like Monsanto had duped me yet again... Thank goodness for the countries that are banning the company from growing their frankencrops.

So this time around I purchased the Diva Cup. I read the instructions, washed it, put it in and consulted with the people I know who were using it as well. Everyone was so excited that I'd hopped on board and were eager to give me their advice! My friends who hadn't used it yet all had their interest piqued as well.

I'm happy to report back that I love it.

My favorite thing about the little cup is the fact that it has marker lines inside so you can actually measure just how much you collected over the hours. Ladies, let's turn this into a competition! "America's Next Top Badass Uterus" -- whomever collects the most at the end of their cycle wins. Forget guys and their pride in how big their dicks are. How awesome is your womb?!

When my 12 hours were up and I took it out, I was in awe. I'd never looked at my period this way before. Usually when you take out a blood-soaked tampon, you're a bit disgusted and want to flush it as fast as humanly possible. But not with the Diva Cup. It was only 1/2 way filled with a thick, beautiful, deep maroon fluid. As I swirled it around the sides of the cup (almost as though it were a fine glass of red wine - oh yeah, never looking at that the same again!), I marveled in how I could see slight tinges of my favorite color, fuchsia. I felt a number of things. Excitement. Pride. Power. Strength. Wonder. There was this sense of real connectedness to my inner divine femininity, a primal reminder of just how amazing my body is for having created this life force energy that would have potentially been the home for a brand new tiny human. I felt a different kind of love for my body I've never experienced.

For a brief moment, I understood the desire some women have to eat their placenta after giving birth. I'm not saying I wanted to do that myself; but I understood it. There's something so magical about what our bodies create without us consciously willing it. For another brief moment, my body didn't feel so opposed to the idea of growing a baby from scratch -- and then that brief moment passed.

I slowly poured the cup's contents out in the toilet and watched as the swirls of life force energy danced in the water -- a sort of hypnotizing dance overflowing with radiant goddess appeal.

No more glyphosate in my pretty bits. I'm sticking with the re-usable silicone cup and cutting down on waste. It's no wonder why they gave it such an awesome name: The Diva Cup. Yes! Look at the amazing treasure your body produces! You are a diva. You are a goddess. Reclaim that inner awesomeness and really own it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Appreciate You, Toronto.

"To feel as though you are cast out of the world you were cradled and raised in, is a death of sorts - a death of innocence, belonging and identity."

Lots of goodbyes have been said (and tears shed) in the last week and there are a lot more to come in the next few days. I am so blessed to know so many amazing people <3

Three years ago, I was kicking and screaming and doing everything in my power to not leave California. My heart was there, but there was a force much greater than me pulling me to Toronto. After wrapping up the last of my contract roles, I was still not qualified enough for the field I had my heart set on jumping into. Soon the bank account started shrinking and the idea of traveling and seeing the countries I wanted to see grew further and further away.

So I gave in. I packed up my things and moved 3000 miles away from the place I call my home. In hindsight, that "greater force" turned out to be the combined strength of six amazing goddesses -- two I knew, and four I was about to know.

A lot has transpired over these past few years. I got into the best shape of my life for my 30th birthday; I traveled to amazing places like Thailand, Ireland, Sayulita, Montreal and Vancouver; I earned the skill set I needed to finally land (and thrive in) a role in the field I wanted to be in; I had an amazing opportunity to really bond with one of my soul sisters; I made a ton of friends all over the city; and I formed amazing relationships with the people I work with.

But the most life changing moment of all: I met four sisters I never knew I had. What a mind-f*** to go from thinking you knew the world around you and accepting the things you just couldn't understand or change to finally finding the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Ah, clarity. Clarity is such a blessing. And with clarity came a lot of change. Who I was as a human being on this planet was completely deconstructed. I began challenging the confusing things that never made sense. I challenged the "norms" that had been drilled into my head since childhood. I refused to accept awful treatment, harmful lies and cowardly deceit. I stopped doing anything out of a sense of obligation and took a step back to assess how I truly felt about my situation.

For the first time in my life, I sat down with myself and said, "Hi, Neesha. I'd really like to get to know who you are today." I finally understood why my life had been so difficult. I finally pieced together how physical, emotional and psychological abuse had affected me both negatively and positively. I finally gave myself permission to feel every emotion on the spectrum, even though I had been conditioned otherwise, and honor their existence. I finally had an opportunity to deconstruct who I am and attribute the different pieces of "me" to where they came from. I finally had the voice and power to choose which pieces stayed and which no longer served a positive purpose and could be released.

Who I was when I left California is certainly not who I am today. A lot of the characteristics and qualities are there, but I am a much stronger, much more grounded goddess; an improved version of myself.

As I am about to leave Toronto for California, I understand now why I was brought to Toronto. Toronto opened my eyes to what was real and transformed me in a way I could never have fathomed. Toronto gave me deeper understandings of "strength" and "resilience." Toronto taught me what boundaries are and their importance, while also giving me the tools to assert them. Toronto taught me how to speak my truth. Toronto allowed me to finally know where I came from and how the "weird" things that made me so unique were actually "normal." I may never regain my innocence, but I certainly have gained my belonging and identity.

And for all of this I am extremely grateful. I appreciate you, Toronto. I appreciate you and all the people residing in or near you who are or have become such an important part of who I am today.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"I Shave My Legs! Sometimes..."

I'm "shamefully" horrible about shaving my legs. Everyone who knows me knows it. In fact, my running joke is that I'll know it's real love when this is true:

It was entirely intentional to encapsulate "shamefully" in quotes. If there's one thing I'm vocal about, it's finding new ways to break down the social constructs imposed upon us and the associated shame that has us continuing to buy into them.

Social constructs and shame exist in all countries, actually. Take India, for example. People come in all shades of brown. Yet the message that's beat into everyone's heads and passed down to the next generation is the idea that only light skin ("fair skin") is beautiful. Frankly, all shades of skin are beautiful. But society doesn't agree. Look at the major Bollywood actresses -- the majority of them are light skinned. Parents tell their children to stay out of the sun, for fear of turning darker. There's a whole slew of products aimed at making skin lighter. "Fair and Lovely," anyone?

Here, bleach the shit out of and damage your skin with chemicals so you can be "lovely." Because who you are and what you look like right now won't land you the husband of your dreams. Let's "correct" your color so everyone, including yourself, can stop being offended by the way you look.

I'm not exaggerating -- look at the jargon used:
  • Treatment: Because your dark skin is a condition that needs to be "treated"
  • Targeting of skin tan: The melanin that protects you from skin cancer must be targeted and destroyed. 
  • Skin flaws: I can't even...
And as though bleaching the skin everyone sees isn't bad enough, there are products to target bleaching your delicate nether regions!

Oh, yes. Now even your lady parts aren't shame free! You should Google the commercial for it. It's absolutely appalling. The message is: "Your husband is avoiding you and won't sleep with you because your vagina, labia and thighs are the wrong color."

Back to the leg shaving. There's a whole industry devoted to the removal of hair from anywhere on our bodies. Razor blades, waxes, the art of threading, creams, aestheticians who will do the removal for you, laser hair removal, electrolysis... and I'm sure the list goes on. Why are we so obsessed with removing hair from our bodies? It's obviously evolutionary and therefore serves some sort of purpose (hey ladies, did you know that your pubes actually are meant to protect your girly bits from friction and STDs?). Children don't have hair on their legs, arms, faces, nether regions, etc. So is the removal of hair targeted at making us appear more youthful? Who are we kidding?

I find the hair removal process expensive or tediously time consuming. I've been single for most of my life, so it's not like anyone is seeing or touching these legs constantly. So sometimes I just don't shave. Hanging out in Canada means that it's "winter" most of the year (I'm Southern Californian; by my standards, any temperature below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is considered winter weather). Seriously. The temperature plummets in September and this continues through April at the earliest. In 2014, it continued through part of June. Naturally, the legs are covered up by pants or jeans for most of the year. Nobody's seeing them except me, so why bother?

Which brings us to today. I took a break from the Great White North to spend some time in a warm locale by the Pacific Ocean. With the intent of breaking down the leg hair social construct, I chose to conduct a little experiment. Did I mention I've traveled alone to a place where I know nobody? To describe me as "fuzzy" is a bit of an understatement, guvnah! These wooly gams haven't seen the likes of a razor blade since mid-January. We're currently at the start of April. Fresh off the plane, I taxied it to the place I'm renting (which is gorgeous, by the way!) and quickly changed into my short shorts and a tank top.

And I went into town. Every so often, I'd remember the legs and look around to see if anyone was staring. They weren't. Nobody cared about what my legs looked like. So I stopped caring. I ran a few errands and totally forgot that I was a teddy bear. Totally forgot that my pits look like I just stepped off a plane from France. I stopped into a beach-front restaurant to satisfy my craving for a margarita and chips w/ guac & salsa. The margarita glass was so big, I could have fit my entire face in it. It was nearly impossible to put a dent in it.

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And guess what? My legs and the hair on them were irrelevant. The music was loud, the beach was gorgeous, the margarita was taking forever to finish... What leg hair? Take that, society! Your silly messages about my body not being perfect the way it naturally is can braid my leg hair!

I woke up this morning and was excited to seize another day! I made my bed, headed over to my patio, took one look down at my thighs, smiled smugly and began to write.

Not two minutes later, I jumped up, grabbed my razor blade, and cleaned up camp.

*Shoulders slumped and my head hanging in shame because I gave into shame*

I'll get you next time, social constructs... next time!