Birthing: the Story of how Cycles Journal Came to Be
Six years ago from writing this I began creating Cycles Journal during my Jupiter return; a chaotic year of growth inside & out. I felt like my emotions were controlling my life and I was constantly burnt out from overdoing it, people-pleasing, and trying to make it as an artist living in the city post-college... so naturally there was a lack of general self-care or boundaries, especially around the times of my menstrual cycle when I needed rest and space. Being disconnected from my nature and the nature around me was calling something new to be crafted...
My pain and emotional disregulation each cycle was unbearable, and I needed solid ground to figure out what was influencing it all. I was in constant suffering physically, self-destructive, and always irritable or anxious. I hated my own cycle — I was not at peace with myself, inside or out. There was a deep disconnect and war of body against mind raging inside of me.
I felt frustrated by my body and mood swings, yet I simultaneously felt a sense of something deeper, even if I couldn't understand it yet. Amongst the discomfort, I felt curious about the patterns and relational influences that might be impacting it all.
I sought to mend my lack of connection between my mind and all parts of myself, especially my womb. Alongside my constant writing and journaling, I began trying different methods of noting my moods, physical wellbeing and more. I tried a few apps but they never stuck and I found myself getting frustrated by the added screentime and notifications that took me even more out of my body.
Slowly I started to find pieces of understanding and consistency within the chaos of change as I recognized the first the brightest signal outside that invited me to look within; the full moon shining into my window brighter than any streetlight, keeping me company as I writhed in pain and self-doubt.
That during was the year I bled in alignment with the full moon for 12 consecutive months. I had always sensed a connection to lunar influence, but now it was confirmed, and intense as hell. Yet that was an anchor in the turbulent sea of emotion that gave me hope.
As I continued to sync up with the full moon, the intensity fueled me to know more. I felt called to dive deeper through a more organized approach. My designer's mind wanted to solve this problem tangibly. Creating a tool seemed like the only way I could figure out what influenced me and where it all linked — to uncover the answers I was starting to feel lying beneath the surface.
I wanted something to track it all in one place. Somewhere grounding and safe. Something that would inspire and motivate me to actually feel dedicated to it. So I realized that if it didn't exist already, this was my sign to create it.
It happened like most of my favorite things do; an undeniable magnetic pulse that drags me in to channeling mode.
Birthing / Laboring
I think I stayed up all night sketching and then creating in Adobe what would then be the first ever "beta" edition of Cycles Journal.
It was early October 2018, and once I started I couldn't stop. The necessity of this tool for myself felt so real, and I knew it would support others who felt like me too.
As I was creating I realized I had unintentionally skipped the research step my teachers had taught me - to ensure the idea was worth investing in and wasn't stepping on anyone else's toes or unintentionally copying.
I fearfully checked the internet and was shocked to see nothing this specific existed at the time. There was no guarantees, but I felt the pulse of possibility for change even stronger.
I launched a Kickstarter for the 2019 edition the next day.
Within a month I raised my goal of $1,200 with the help of 42 people who believe in such an early version of the journal, so I could print 200 copies at a local printer in Philly. At the time the journal was only 60 pages spiral-bound with monthly spreads, rituals written by me, and some reflection pages. Oh, and it was horizontal because I wanted to be ~different~.
In 2019 for the 2020 edition I upgraded the journal into what felt like the first real edition of Cycles Journal. It was about 160 pages, spiral-bound, soft-cover newly formatted to allow more space for writing. This also the first year I invited friends on a healing path to contribute their wisdom and teachings to the pages – I knew I didn't want it to just be from my perspective anymore; this was truly a communal effort.
We did a larger pre-sale on IndieGoGo which didn't do great, but I still managed to print 1,000 copies out of pocket savings. The interest widened by word of mouth, lots of craft shows and zine fests in Philly & Pittsburgh, and as I grew an online presence and began to connect to more menstrual-focused activists around the world.
In 2020 for the 2021 edition it was time to give the journal a more sturdy frame with a hardcover, and some essential items like the ribbon bookmarks and closure band. It took its most radical change and final form as I put all my energy into the design so that it would have monthly tracking spreads, a half page of space for daily check-ins and journaling, monthly check-in overview pages, and more.
Although the pre-sale did okay, it wasn't enough to help me put out the funds needed to self-publish on my own to make this happen. So I introduced what felt like the most reciprocal way possible to make this thing happen – sponsorship feature spaces to spotlight those doing the work in the fields. It's the exchange of mutual support that really makes this all possible.
All this during Covid with a fascist for a president - a really challenging year for us all, but one that proved this tool was more needed than ever.
Lots of adjustments and finding support on the backend, logistical and operational side of the biz - all things I never thought I could or wanted to do, but that were all essential and I could NOT do on my own any longer.
There were delays and time stressors in the world and my life - more lessons of the ever-changing nature of life; the struggles and wisdom of cycles that I had to embrace and learn from rather than resist.
This was also the hardest year because someone let me know on new year's eve that there was a huge date error that threw off the entire 2nd half of the journal's accuracy. This destroyed me for a time and I thought I'd never recover.
But alas, I learned from it - a lesson of needing to allow more time pre-press, with many eyes and multiple rounds of review, proofing and editing before print.
I apologized, did my best to right this wrong, and graciously regained trust as I promised to do better in the future by getting more help through a team.
In 2021 for the 2022 edition I was focused on a more spacious schedule that honored my boundaries and integrated learnings from cyclical living and cycle tracking.
I systemized my timelines more, kept track of and recycled my to-dos to ensure all was done on time and with equal care for myself as my creation. I truly started to embody that self-sacrifice was missing my own point - yet I was trying, learning, and practicing.
I made some final tweaks to the form, and it truly felt at its best now.
As always, with new art, contributions and features it came together in time.
some updates to final forms
More systemizing, stabilizing, and making space.
In 2022 for the 2023 edition I was finally more clear and stable, but I had a lot of rebalancing and recovery to focus on due to over-shooting quantity. I realized the dark-side and pressure of overdoing it again, and learned from this lesson in a way that will affect what true sustainable growth looks like forever on.
It seems I learned some similar lessons but in new ways - always evolved from where I've been but taking new forms and making me stronger, wiser and more aware. Sounds cyclical to me - yet I am not fixed in a single cycle.
And here I am now in 2023, where the 2024 edition is ready and I feel like we've reached a flow of consistency – the structure is how it will stay, yet each year we have new dates, artwork, community wisdom, educational content, and more to keep the journal's space feeling both unique and stable.
Stacked upon bookshelves to create an encyclopedia of you, an archive of your wholistic health and
We still rely on pre-orders, sponsorships, my out-of-pocket funds, and sometimes small loans to make this self-published venture happen. Yet I wouldn't have it any other way.
It's also exciting to see how I'm able to branch out now and honor the wholistic ecosystem that Cycles Journal is a part of; Cyclical Roots.
I launched cyclical mindfulness after wanting to share it for a while, and I'm excited to expand upon this in time and if there is interest in going deeper with it!
In addition, I'm starting to work on more complimentary tools such as The Embodied Ecosystems Tar-Oracle & more!
Looking Back & Continuation
I know now that my ancestors and spirits guided me into this purpose of creation as they always have. Everything is a co-creation with Earth & Spirit.
I realize I made this for all the women and queerfolk who came before me who didn't have access to a tool or community that supported this kind of self-empowerment and cyclical mindfulness. For all those who have been oppressed and marginalized by gender, sexuality, class, race, ethnicity, or ability.
I am honored to be able to ensure our values remain at the forefront of this all.
Birthing is a blessing that our cyclical nature encourages - to procreate ideas, art, healing, teaching, guidance, movements, connection, facilitation, innovation, pleasure & love... it is limitless and not just limited to birthing offspring (as blessed as that is as well if it is an aligned path one chooses). The great potential lives within us all. My hope is that this is a space where you can remember this for yourself, too.
This journal is more than a project or tool - it's the trusted companion I always needed to help keep me accountable in forming and healing a deeper relationship to myself and my cycle. I couldn't find it anywhere else, so I decided to create it for me, you and everyone else who feels called to this self-healing path.
THANK YOU to everrrrryyyyoneee who has supported this journey in any way at any point!
I am ever-grateful for the community that has evolved surrounding and adjacented to this movement.
I truly couldn't do this alone, so thanks for being here and thanks for listening.