“What is it about?” I asked.
“It’s exactly what we’ve been looking for.” He replied.
There are so many things we’re looking for, that book could have been about regulating menstrual cycles, how to finally prepare and eat that giant chunk of aloe vera that’s been sitting in our fridge for months, where to buy iridescent spandex in Toronto, how to develop a killer marketing plan for Kindara, or a myriad of other topics.
But what The Optimized Woman IS about, and what we’d been talking about for several weeks beforehand, is the emotional changes that take place during a woman’s cycle and how to use those shifting powers for good, instead of screaming like a banshee and collapsing in tears on the floor all the time when I’m in my luteal (post-ovulatory) phase. Oh life.
So! The next day I sat down and read it. Basically, the premise of the book is that menstruating women go through distinct hormonal changes over the course of their cycle. Each phase in the cycle is the Optimum Time for certain actions, and less than optimum for other actions, based on the varying levels of hormones in your body on any given day. Miranda Gray gives each of these phases a name, and then gives tons of information about how to use them.
Dynamic Phase: (Pre-ovulatory or follicular phase) Around cycle days 7- 13. This is the Optimum time for logical thinking, mental focus, planning, structure, physical stamina, multi-tasking and independence. It’s a good time to start new projects, make big changes and get things done. Things that might not work so well in the Dynamic Phase are going with the flow, abstract thinking, empathy and joint projects.
Expressive Phase: (Around ovulation) Around cycle days 14-20. This is the Optimum time for empathy, relating to others, communication and teamwork. It’s a good time to work with others, talk about relationships, support projects, make connections and be generous. What might not work so well in the Expressive Phase is analyzing detail, logical thinking, working alone.
Creative Phase: (Post-ovulatory or luteal phase) Around cycle days 21- 28. Optimum time for unbridled creativity, intuition, cleaning, organizing, identifying problems, throwing things away. It’s a great time to write, paint, dance, anything that gives your creative energy an outlet. Giant leaps in understanding and brilliant insights often happen in the Creative phase. It’s probably not the best time for logical thinking, planning, sticking to a plan, positive affirmations, or working on your relationships.
Reflective Phase: (Menstruation) Around cycle days 1-6. Optimum time to give yourself a break! Take naps, and other restorative actions, good time for inner processing and reflection, accepting, going with the flow, enjoying simplicity. Not a great time for starting new projects, detail oriented work, structure, exercise, or planning.
The book has a plan for each day, with specific actions to take for using the optimum times to your greatest advantage. She lists a well-being action, a goal action and a work action for each day of the 28 day plan. The book is meant to be used ongoingly, each day checking in to see what that day is an optimum time for. If your cycles are longer than 28 days you can linger in whatever phase you feel like you’re in, and keep reading those pages, until you feel the shift into your next phase. She also says that the phase lengths are approximate, and yours may differ in length. You may customize the plan as it fits your own particular situation. For instance, even though the Dynamic phase is meant to start on day 7, when I was on cycle day 4 I felt full of energy and ready to take on the world, so I applied the recommendations for day 7, and felt great!
Lately, for me, the Creative phase has been the most challenging. I generally feel cranky, depressed, frustrated and I find myself fighting with my wonderful husband about something as banal as a leftover burrito. He says he feels like someone takes his wife away, and gives him a different wife that doesn’t care for him at all. BUT! Thanks to Miranda Gray’s book, this month I was able to properly direct some of that Creative energy. In the book she says:
“Unfortunately, many of us ignore our monthly surge of creativity, or misread the tension and frustration produced by our unfulfilled need to create as a sign of something wrong, either with ourselves or with our lives.”
The woman is a genius. In the first day of the Creative phase she recommends creating something physical, taking creative breaks and applying your creative flair. I took the advice and finished making a pair of legwarmers for a friend, created a moodboard to show our graphic designer, and whipped up a pair of cute arm warmers for myself. While I was creating I felt calm, focused and “in the zone”. Creating came so easily. I was very pleased with the results and felt more able to function during the rest of my day.
I think, being a creative type anyway, that it’s especially important for me to channel my creativity productively when the mood strikes.
The Optimized Woman gave me peace of mind and a good set of guidelines to follow to maximize my effectiveness and enjoyment of life. I recommend it if you’re looking for insight into how your cycle affects your mood, productivity and relationships.