Why I Began Tracking My Menstrual Cycle & Created A Journal Dedicated To It
I wanted to introduce myself and my purpose behind making this journal and all else I create. My name is Rachael Amber, I'm the illustrator, designer and creator of Cycles Journal. My purpose revolves around creating art to raise awareness, help others and spark connection. My work ranges from menstrual awareness and feminist empowerment artwork and tools, to environmental illustrations and educational zine-making, illustrated poetry booklets, product-designing to raise awareness and funds for charity, printmaking, designing books and branding materials, and more~ but it all revolves around nature and us coming closer to it rather than continue to disconnect and unravel our true roots that are one with this earth and each other. My inspiration comes from all around, but stems from a deep desire to help. Creating is how I cope with my own issues and feel that I have the ability to influence the world in a positive and helpful way. It gives me hope to spread.
Like most things, it began somewhat unintentionally and out of lack. A need for connection and an empathetic space that I didn’t have for myself. I had been experiencing cycles of difficulty - including painful periods and inconsolable mood swings, depression and consistent anxiety about not knowing when it would strike during the wrong moments. I began to track my cycle through apps, inconsistently due to my lack of commitment to the digital world, and forgetfulness in the midst of technological overwhelm. I also often kept track of the moon's phases through apps as well. I have always felt connected to the moon and influenced by its cycles, but I never tracked it to track it alongside my moods to dive deeper and find the influence.
There are significant patterns in my personal cycles that I am working through. The hardest one for me is when my luteal (PMS) phase lines up around the full moon. This is currently the case, and for me it means a lot of built up tension internally and externally, and hormones affecting the release of it all. I often struggle with emotional difficulties most around this time, when all my worries, fears, frustrations and insecurities seem to surface at once. And it either tends to come out all at once or be held in by my fear of this happening. Either way, whether I acknowledge it or not, it tends to surface like every tidal wave does, but my preparation instead of avoidance is what I need to focus on. Using healing modalities to work through surfacing emotional debris is something I want to be more regimented about in my life. My emotions are valid, but must be handled with care as to not use them in the wrong ways or situations.
Feeling scattered but being someone who always wants to organize and make connections, I figured I'd create a tool for myself to help me find my patterns, since I knew they existed but I never followed close enough to know. I realized how little I focused and gave time to my body, and how it was affecting my ability to function my best and work with myself to prepare/respond. I then realized, that I am not alone in these feelings and disconnections, because of the world we live in.
It was sort of abrupt but felt very right; My personal need expanded to a way I could serve both myself and so many others who experience a menstrual cycle. And so Cycles Journal was born, and so it continues to expand. I continue to work on ways to make the journal more useful and easy to use and receive information through. This tool of reflection is not only a technical chart, but also a container of art, sharing source of communal healing knowledge, and sacred physical space for us to visit and use and commit to for our own good and the betterment of all we encounter and interact with. This is self-care, healing and intention.
As I create Cycles Journal for its second year around, I am learning alongside the process, and have been tracking alongside all of you who are using it and all who will use it in the future. I create this journal not as a posed menstrual health expert or as someone who has perfected the art of rolling with her own tides and understanding her own body, but as an ever evolving human who wants to do the world and also needs this tool to keep committed to this practice of understanding and growing, and as someone who knows how to design for functionality and illustrate with relation and care. I am a visual translator and integrator of healing tools, and I am right there with all of you who wish to go deeper and learn their own patterns.
Thank you for listening to the reason behind this creation journey. I hope you see the place of raw care it comes from. I hope to write more about this journey~
You can learn more about Cycles Journal below.