from the Editor
It is with great pleasure and honour that I write this first letter to introduce ‘Women in Livingness’. This magazine is, by all measures and accounts, a world first and is intended to lead the way for the future of how women seek to learn, grow, relate and communicate with each other. Within these pages, you will discover articles written by women who truly walk their talk; they come from countries all over the world, from every different profession, vary in ages from 15 to 70 years and bring every experience of being a woman imaginable. They can relate to it all and, through the medium of this magazine, have taken it upon themselves to ‘give back’ what they have learnt and discovered, about these life experiences, and present that by being “Women in Livingness” there is truly another way. During our development of the magazine, we tossed around a few ideas about what the title should be. Amazing Women? Women of the World? Women: Here We Are? … What would capture ALL that we are bringing in these pages? In each and every case the word ‘Livingness’ was returned to, as it being the point of difference that the magazine offers women. The ‘Livingness’ that is referred to in the title of this magazine is to describe a way of living your life that allows you as a woman to be who you truly are and, despite the pressures and demands, how this connection can be sustained day-to-day. The ‘Livingness’ for a woman is for her to not be dominated by ideals she must strive for (but never feel satisfied she has attained), and, to not be dominated by beliefs that control her every decision (but still never feeling she is enough in what has been done). Women in Livingness know that there is a deep truth, an essence, that is innate to all women, and that there is a way to bring this forth into practical every day life – not hidden or kept reserved for a select few or for the privacy of herself. This magazine is dedicated to bringing simple, accessible, cheeky, fun and sometimes confronting articles that spell out the A-B-C of how this ‘Livingness’ is for women – where to start and where it can lead to. I thank the 100+ women (and growing!) who have contributed to making this possible, and am truly excited for the greater works that lay ahead for us all. With Love, Natalie Editor-in-chief Cover & Letter from the Editor photographed by Steffi Henn
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CONTENTS Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Trending
Live Love Nourish
My Body & I
My Body & I
Relationships Dating with Karin
Teen & Youth
My Body & I
Women & Family
Relationships with Others
Women & Work
Women & Fashion
Fitness & Exercise
Getting Real in Relationships with Annette & Gabe
Relationship with Self
Before & After
Food & Nutrition
Dedicated Note Books
Produced & distributed by:
A personal message from the Editor-in-Chief Women in Livingness is not your average magazine. Contained within these pages is a depth of wisdom arisen from the fiery sparks of each of our writers. In essence, this makes every article a readers’ digest – they are feature stories worthy of a front-page headline, and deserve that spotlight for women to know all about them. To truly appreciate and get the best out of this magazine, take your time with ‘Women in Livingness’… to read, ponder, relate, understand, explore and let the wisdom unfold with each section. There is a lot to take in, and a lot more where this came from. Bring it on ~ Natalie Benhayon
By Rebecca Baldwin
hat’s trending? Recently a major fashion house declared that bosoms were ‘back in fashion.’
This announcement came two months after I got the memo that our first ever edition of Women in Livingness was going to be all about breasts. It seemed somewhere in the ether, before we’d even launched, we were already setting trends. Of course, the message had become a bit lost in translation . . . After the news was out that ‘bosoms were back’, one commentator wrote – “The 50 per cent of the population in possession of a pair of bosoms (were) quite justified in feeling a slight tremor of surprise to learn that their bosoms had indeed gone anywhere at all.” And just in case women around the world felt for a moment that fashion might finally be celebrating the female form in all shapes and sizes, the elite fashion magazine went and qualified their findings. It was “The big, bouncy, bodacious sort that heaved their way through the Golden Age of Hollywood” that were back in fashion. And even then they were not totally trending:
While models with boobs were previously discounted from a lot of high-end editorials, thanks to the size of the designer samples, which tended to discount breasts, Ellis says, “Recently we’ve been seeing designers more willing to change samples to fit a special girl.” So if boobs are not yet an out-and-out fashion trend, they are becoming a frequent exception to the rule. Violet Henderson quoting Jamie Ellis, Vogue May 2014 Photographed by Clayton Lloyd
Ok, so it’s hard to know where to begin with that last statement because it contains so many shades of wrong-town. The question has to be asked though, how have we as women become so collectively disassociated from our own breasts that we can read ‘models with boobs were previously discounted ... from high end editorials’ and accept that sentence as making any sense at all? It’s like writing ‘women with a nose have previously found it hard to find modelling work’ or ‘women with arms are less likely to land acting jobs.’ And yet, as I skim read that sentence the first time, I didn’t stop to consider that women with small breasts were without question being described as having no breasts at all… The article goes on to state, “Men love boobs – that’s a well-documented story we needn’t explore here. But for women, as is true for fashion, the relationship is more complicated. In short, breasts are difficult to dress.” But really? Is that all there is to it? Of course we know that women’s relationships with their breasts have a lot more dimension than the way they look in clothes, although for many this has been used as another excuse to loathe them, whether too big and making clothes look bulky or not big enough to fill out a dress.
But it is symptomatic of a much greater divide between a woman and her own body that we have come to accept a high-end fashion industry that doesn’t recognise breasts exist at all ‘unless you are a special girl.’ And have men ‘always loved boobs’ or have they objectified and abused women’s bodies in no different terms than women themselves have? So are breasts ‘trending’? Are they ‘back in fashion’? Well, actually, yes they are. But not in the way that Vogue would have you believe. While a major fashion outlet was touting breasts as a fashion must-have, a new trend has been building strength internationally.
WHAT’S TRENDING New understandings about breasts and breast care are coming to the fore in a big way.
A women’s revolution is taking place and breasts are taking centre stage. Not as an inconvenience when shopping for designer clothes, or as a reason to go under the plastic surgeon’s knife, or as a cause to be scared of cancer. Breasts are back by virtue of women claiming back their breasts – back from the brink of objectivity. Breasts are back because women are realising the depth of self-nurturing available to them when they re-connect to this most delicate and powerful part of their body. Catalogued in the pages of this magazine are stories from women from around the globe who through a deepening relationship with their breasts and their bodies are finding a renewed appreciation for themselves as women. What does a true relationship with our breasts look like? It is not giving them pet names or taking ‘the girls’ out for a night on the town – it is simply loving them and becoming aware of and letting go of any feelings of shame, judgement, and any impositions that we are carrying in our breasts that may be there from years of lack of acceptance. Sound easy? It isn’t always – especially when we live in a world where even the makers of high fashion want to ignore our breasts out of existence. But what does it look like when we do truly love and honour this part of our bodies? When women of all ages and shapes and sizes unreservedly allow us to know their warmth, their femaleness and their beauty because they have first embraced it in full. This has the power to change the world. Having a deep love of and care for our breasts is a natural way for us, even if it is not yet our normal. And so this is more than a trend – it is a re-turn for women globally, a call to reconnect to a tenderness, a love and a nurturing quality that when lived and embodied naturally emanates for all to see and know.
Photographed by Clayton Lloyd
HOT TO Screening, Prevention and Breast Health By Rachel Mascord 46, Sydney AUS & Jenny Ellis 49, Brisbane AUS
reast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and it is the most common cancer experienced by women. This is something many women are aware of and concerned about. Breast cancer is not something that we simply hear about on the news, shake our heads and then get on with our evening... a lot of us have friends and relatives who have experienced or are experiencing the disease. For too many of us, the experience of this cancer has been a personal one. Globocan 2012 reported that an estimated 1.67 million new breast cancer cases were diagnosed in 2012, worldwide. Breast cancer caused over 500,000 deaths in that year alone.
What does this mean to a woman seeking to avoid breast cancer? For any woman who is making the choice to care for her breasts and avoid cancer, especially in its advanced forms, the scientific and medical evidence outlines two equally important approaches: 1. Ensure that the earliest possible diagnosis is made through participation in screening programs, and developing a thorough knowledge of our own breasts through self-checking. 2. Take all possible steps to prevent the disease through lifestyle choices. Both are essential, but we must always be aware that they address only some aspects of breast health and breast cancer, and there is more for us to be responsible for.
Screening for breast cancer In the urgency to detect and treat this disease as promptly and effectively as possible, much emphasis has, quite rightly, been placed on provision of screening programs. Funding in many developed nations has been directed to the provision of high quality screening through breast X-rays (mammograms). Women have also received education about the importance of breast self-examination. The purpose of this is to allow women to develop an intimate knowledge of the shape and texture of their breast tissue, allowing for the early detection of lumps. 10
Photographed by Shannon Everest
PICS What’s Happening in the World? A great deal of medical effort and financial investment has been directed towards the development of strategies for the early detection of breast cancer.
Thorough screening currently involves: • Regular self breast checks so that the shape, texture and feeling of our breasts is very familiar to us. • Regular checks by our GP or gynecologist are also essential. This provides an objective measure for lumps or changes in texture that highlight the need for further investigation and reduces the likelihood of lumps being missed. • Mammography and breast ultrasounds, as recommended by our GP are also an essential part of the breast screening process. • Education and awareness programs go hand in hand with screening activities. Women need to be aware of symptoms (such as pain and changes in skin texture) that indicate potential problems and act on them immediately. • In developed nations, genetic testing and counseling is available for women who are faced with strong familial histories of breast cancer. This testing is very expensive and somewhat controversial in terms of its true value in assessing actual risk.
Developing a good relationship with a great GP and carrying out recommended and appropriate screening is an essential part of self-care, for every woman.
“Screening is not prevention... it only hopes to find a cancer as early as possible”
as stated by Dr Jennifer Litton MD, from the Department of Breast Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Screening is an essential part of responsible self-care. Early detection can prevent a small cancerous area developing into advanced breast cancer. But in screening we must be clear that screening detects, it does not prevent disease from developing.
Prevention of Breast Cancer There are strategies and lifestyle choices that have been clearly demonstrated to reduce the likelihood of a woman developing breast cancer. These include: • Reducing, and preferably eliminating the intake of alcohol. • Participating in regular exercise, and controlling weight. • Not smoking. • Limiting our exposure to hormone based medications, such as the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy. • The benefit of Vitamin D in the prevention of breast cancer is somewhat contentious – some studies have demonstrated benefits, others have not. Maintaining good levels of Vitamin D is crucial to bone health and will certainly do no harm to the health of our breasts. Monitoring of Vitamin D levels as part of regular blood tests is a wise step to take for all women. • A diet high in brightly coloured vegetables was shown to reduce breast cancer risk, according to 2012 research from Harvard Medical School and is attributed to higher levels of circulating carotenoids. This list provides lifestyle choices that are a very good place to start for any woman who wants to substantially reduce her risk of breast cancer. Not only do these choices assist in the prevention of breast cancer, they are great choices to make for anyone wanting to support a healthy body.
However, as clear and simple as these choices are, they do still leave some important questions unanswered.
Is there more that we can do to directly address the health and well being of our breasts?
Is there such a thing as breast health, and if so, what can we do as women to develop it?
True prevention as we know must encompass a level of breast care as outlined above, but it seems we have yet to consider another aspect not yet really defined – to understand what might be involved in true breast health. Lifestyle choices we know to support the prevention of breast disease are important but what of the possibility that there is also a measure of health we can obtain that is not just gauged by the absence of disease. When we become open to exploring the idea of true breast health, our breasts become more than things that happen to be on the front of our body! And more importantly they become more than risk factors for a frightening disease. 12
Throughout this edition of Women in Livingness and over the coming months, many articles will be presented relating to breast health that will explore this as a much-needed area for development in healthcare. In the same way we are aware a newborn baby requires more than basic nutrition and care in order to thrive, perhaps there are many aspects worthy of consideration to broaden our perspective when it comes to supporting ourselves as women to have truly healthy bodies and breasts. Photographed by Dean Whitling
MY BO Breasts – How Do We Really Feel About Them? By Mary-Louise Myers & Karoline Schleiffelder
ave we considered that most of us as women do not have a healthy or loving relationship with our breasts? In fact, we take very little notice of them unless we are facing a breast-related illness or disease, having problems with breast feeding or when we feel that they are an inconvenience.
From an early age, as young women developing breasts, we are influenced by our mothers, grandmothers, men, society and culture on how breasts should be and what they are supposedly used for. We start to take on these ideals and beliefs and begin to judge our breasts as either too big or too small, or the size and colour of our nipples is not correct, etc. We also think they are just there to serve others, such as partners in sexual encounters or for the function of breastfeeding. Many of us deem them an inconvenience that get in the way of how we want to live. As is a common complaint amongst our sporty women, larger breasts can be uncomfortable and ‘in the way’. Many go so far as to say they wish their breasts were not part of their body, with breast reduction procedures common for this reason. We have a tendancy to treat our breasts as objects, seeing their use limited to breastfeeding and sexual relationship. Of course we need to be able to share our breasts for both purposes where appropriate but when we do this from first having a true connection, respect and loving acceptance for our breasts, a different relationship is able to develop. 14
DY & I Loving The Body You’re In Photographed by Curtis Benhayon
IS THERE A TRUE PURPOSE FOR OUR BREASTS... AND HOW DO WE DEVELOP A LOVING RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM? Our breasts are nurturing centres and we can use their nurturing quality to support and care for ourselves, and then others. As women we are naturally nurturing beings, but many of us do not live with this knowing as we have not learnt to nurture ourselves in a true way.
Unless we nurture and care for ourselves first, we are unable to truly nurture and care for another.
We can start by nurturing ourselves, re-connecting with this way of being and therefore changing the way we have considered or used our breasts in the past. We can begin to love them as a sacred part of our body to respect and care for daily. Simple daily commitments make a huge difference when embarking on this healing and change. For instance: • Gently washing your breasts in the shower • Making time to tenderly massage with cream afterwards • Buying beautiful bras that you love wearing – just for you
If we develop a respectful and loving relationship with our selves and our breasts, understanding there is a greater purpose we can access, we will reclaim our naturally nurturing ways as women. As a result our families and ultimately all of society will benefit. 15
RELATION Dating with Karin
Karin is a complementary women’s health practitioner from Northern NSW. Originally from Germany, Karin has been in private practice in Europe and Australia since 1985. In this regular column Karin explores the fun we can have with dating and also what gets in the way - “The most important questions we need to ask are, how is the relationship we have with ourselves, and how much are we connected to ourselves as women?” From there all of our relationships can blossom and we can truly enjoy dating and all that it brings.
17 Photographed by Clayton Lloyd
RELATION Dating with Karin The Adventure of Dating By Karin Becker
ating for some people is an enjoyable, nourishing and playful time, and in general that is what we are hoping for when we start out. But as the endeavour takes shape for most women, and men for that matter, it can become quite challenging and bring up a lot of questions.
In times past there were much clearer rules and rituals of courtship where the partners involved as well as everyone in the near vicinity knew what was to be expected and accepted. Things moved a lot slower; maybe according to current standards they were less exciting and definitely included a lot less what we would call ‘freedom of action’ or ‘freedom of expression’. These more or less set dating behaviour patterns have long been superseded, and nowadays almost ‘anything goes’, which on one side opens up endless possibilities as well as creativity, and on the other side leaves people floating without a sense of grounding or boundaries. Some people seem to cope with this modern, unregulated way of dating well and since it suits their needs, they would not want it any other way. These are mostly people who prefer dating as a lifestyle over the seeming restrictive concept of moving into a committed one-on-one relationship. Interestingly enough though, there are a large number of women in all age groups who are looking for long term relationships and find dating in modern times quite daunting, even stressful. It can turn into an area in their lives which is often a source of feeling unsettled, unsatisfied and unappreciated. Feelings of insecurity and nervous tension can easily increase, having further negative effects in other aspects of their lives and can give rise to a sense of hopelessness and even giving up - “oh, it is just not going to happen for me”, “there just isn’t anybody out there for me...” and so on. A percentage of these women choose to keep going, override their feelings and plough on without realising that their expectations are creating a particular energy in the way that they approach the dating scene; this will permeate at least this area of their lives and be felt by all others they come into contact with, especially the men they are dating. Therefore, from this understanding, any new encounters will be laced from the first moment with this energy of expected disappointment. What we as women mostly 18
Photographed by Dean Whitling
do not realise is that men are actually highly sensitive, and when we are approaching them in this way they experience a sense of heaviness and like they are facing hurdles they do not feel equipped to deal with. This can cause them to become hesitant, call less often and eventually pull back. It is often difficult for the woman to acknowledge that she was part of this process and in a way its’ outcome is a self-fulfilling prophecy, which will only deepen the sense of discouragement. A large number of women disenchanted by their dating adventures, especially after the midlife point will simply retract, stop trying and resign to being single with little hope of a much wanted partnership in this life. Some women choose to ‘cut their losses’, let go of the idea of a satisfying relationship, move on and invest all their energies into what they consider more satisfying and successful undertakings. They are probably the ones with the fewest questions. For others the valid questions might be: Is this it? Is this all? Are we stuck in a merry go round of disappointment, disillusionment and lost hopes? Are the only answers mostly found in articles and books with titles like… ‘What does a woman need to do to get a man hooked and keep him interested?’ OR Is there another way and if so, what could the elements of that be?
Is there a possibility of approaching dating, no matter what age we are, from a different understanding and a new foundation? Could it be important to investigate a bit more into our wish for a relationship? Considering that dating is a multi dimensional experience, would it be helpful to increase our awareness of the dynamics within ourselves as we are stepping into this process?
Is it possible that our dating experience is a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves? Let’s go through the above step by step. The first point we need to cover is:
DATING WITH KARIN
Honesty If we want endeavours in our lives to turn out successful we usually start with some sort of taking stock as well as looking at what we are actually wanting to achieve and why. The one area where hardly anyone is ever doing this, is in the search for a relationship. In the majority of cases women assume that the sentence ‘I am looking for a relationship’ is self-explanatory. Most of us expect that now we are thinking we are ready, ‘something’ is going to happen and this desire will be fulfilled. The man, who fits the description we carry inside our minds, will appear and realise that he is ‘the one’. Hopefully he then will take some positive action and let us know that we are attractive and desirable for him, all the while using an approach that we personally have deemed fitting. From there onwards it will all unfold nicely and comfortably. This new relationship will make us feel good about life and ourselves and we will live happily ever after. It will be a somewhat natural occurrence as well as progression. Even if not every point of the above exactly fits every woman, this is basically the dream, which has been fed to us via many different mediums for most of our lives. Therefore it is the ideal we carry in our unconscious and measure our reality against. The big problem is, that reality in most cases falls very short of the mark, and the dream evaporates into thin air long before we are able to comprehend what actually happened. Relationships under the best of circumstances seem to be very complex systems. Why would we believe that what will make this happen is just being lucky enough to come across the RIGHT man or the universe by chance, simply dropping the right man into our laps? On deeper reflection does this not sound as if most of us are placing a lot of responsibility for the successful progression of any dating experience onto the man and his actions? Are we to varying degrees living in the idea of being on the receiving end, or just being the recipient? To be a bit provocative here, is it possible that we are approaching our dating adventures at least to a certain degree from a victim consciousness? To debase the above mentioned ‘dream’ and deeply entrenched internal conditioning we carry in our psyche, we need to commit to a more extended level of awareness and understanding. The first questions to honestly ask ourselves should be: What kind of relationship do I really want to have in my life? And, Am I willing to come to the table and bring my part to really make this happen? More to come… Karin will explore more the questions of what gets in the way of us being open and committing to dating and the exploration of true relationships.
Photographed by Dean Whitling
MY BO Breastfeeding – My Story By Suzanne Anderssen
loved breastfeeding our daughter, Bethany. From the moment she was born, she and I, a team together, created some of the loveliest times I’ve ever experienced. We connected on an incredibly deep level, from when she was born, slowly creeping herself up my belly, moments after birth. I do not consider myself ‘one of the lucky ones’ though as I was disciplined to make it work for us, until she gave it up at 17 months. My breasts were a part of my body I didn’t fully accept – I always felt they were just too tiny! For me, breastfeeding was how I wanted to feed our baby, and so because of my small breasts, I knew I would need to learn more about how it works, how my body works, in order for it to be a joyous, nourishing experience for both of us. And so instead of taking a wait and see approach, which would leave me anxious and a sitting duck, I supported myself by talking with my midwife on each visit when pregnant and spent many hours researching the theory of breastfeeding.
Each new piece of information I soaked up, realising that being proactive, prepared and dedicated was a super way to support myself first and foremost as I could then come from a position of strength to then support our baby and subsequently our new family unit.
Equipped with knowledge and understanding, I was able to hold a real trust, not a blind faith, that my body knew innately how to breastfeed. When the time came, my breasts swelled with milk beautifully, there was no discomfort, and my daughter simply latched on as if she had been doing it for years. The potential was definitely there for fear and tension to ruin the experience, but truly caring for myself first was the reason breastfeeding worked for us.
DY & I Loving The Body Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re In
Photographed by Dean Whitling
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RELATION Grateful to Chemo for Vulnerability By Jean Gamble 60, Sydney AUS
Photographed by Clayton Lloyd
had never really felt vulnerable until I had chemotherapy for 6 months at age 53. I had done years of personal psychotherapy, qualified as a psychotherapist, studied Buddhism, been married for 30 years, raised two adult daughters and trained as a yoga teacher. I had also experienced the surprise of initiating couples counseling for my husband and I and discovering, with horror, the large part I had been playing in the decline of our relationship!
However, none of this prepared me for the vulnerability I felt at my total inability to cope with life during chemotherapy. I had always been “someone who coped”. I’m sure I had learned to put vulnerable feelings aside from an early age. Being raised as a white child in Africa, the youngest of 4 with an alcoholic mother – taught me to be tough and being knowledgeable and funny were my defence mechanisms. I was even “coping” when I had the large, fast growing malignant tumour cut out of my left breast. So when I came home from my first chemotherapy infusion to vomit for 9 hours and not be able to eat for 4 days – I began to feel my vulnerability. The anti nausea meds were changed and I only vomited for 4 hours after the next dose of chemo 3 weeks later. However, I wasn’t “coping”. I couldn’t shop, or work or think or cook or care for my home and family. I could lie on the couch, in the winter sun and rest while my wonderful husband (the one I carted off to couples counselling so he could see his erroneous ways), and my children took care of me, the house, the dog, the cat and life. This went on for 6 months and the last three months were worse as I had the “red” chemo mixture – the one that rots your nails and numbs your toes and fingertips. This was followed by 6 weeks of radiation where I showed my burnt and bleeding breast to the doctors, sure that they would postpone the treatment, to be put straight back under the machine and cooked some more.
SHIPS With Others “
I think it was the fear of the cancer – my fear of a slow death - that robbed me of my will and decision making ability as I took my place on the conveyor belt of breast cancer treatments. I felt powerless and vulnerable as I succumbed to treatment after treatment.
I would feel slightly stronger and less bewildered at the end of week three, to be told that I had enough blood cells to undergo another dose which would annihilate me again. It was a nightmare of a time during which I was forced to allow others to care for me. Eventually I came to need and crave their care and support, and I realised how much I needed it and the tenderness, generosity and love with which it was given. I think that this high degree of vulnerability allowed me to open to the love that was and had always been on offer, and had I not been that vulnerable I might never have given myself permission to feel and receive it. Being able to be this vulnerable and receive loving support has resulted in more trust between all of us in my immediate family and in a much deeper level of intimacy between my husband and I. My close friendships have also moved to a deeper level of intimacy and connection, all of which brings more joy and satisfaction to my relationships. So now, 7 years later, even though I have never felt quite as strong and well as I did before chemo, I am grateful for this experience as the vulnerability I felt opened me to a tenderness and need within myself that I might otherwise never have felt.
Being able to feel this tenderness has allowed me to be much more gentle and loving with myself and others, which has made my relationships and friendships more open and loving.
I no longer have to make effort to show the world how capable, clever and funny I am – I can just be ordinary and vulnerable when I need to. It is wonderful to allow people in to help me when I need help and to just allow closeness and connection without the need to protect myself. My “dreadful” experience of chemotherapy has left me with a gratitude I never thought I would feel.
Jean is an Accredited Practitioner of Esoteric Therapies: Healing Level 3, Massage Level 3 and Connective Tissue Therapy Level 2, Psychotherapist (Clinical) Couple/ Family Counselor. Supervisor, Dip Somatic Psychotherapy, Dip Adv Somatics, Grad Dip Systemic Therapy (couples), Dip Rem Massage
WISDOM What happens to breasts after 7 kids and 16 years of breast feeding? An interview with Sharon Gavioli By Penny Scheenhouwer, Josephine Bell and Jennene Greenall.
rom loathing to loving her breasts, Sharon Gavioli has spent five and a half years pregnant and sixteen years breastfeeding seven children, and over these years the relationship with her breasts has changed dramatically. We ask Sharon about the ideals and beliefs she felt controlled by, her self-worth, sex and the enormous pressure in being a ‘good mother who breastfeeds-on-demand’. Today Sharon lives as a woman enjoying and sharing with others the fullness of her lived beauty.
We find out more from Sharon about this remarkable sea-change during this interview.
Sharon, what was the relationship with your breasts like, and your thoughts and feelings about them before you had children?
I don’t feel it was something I really thought about, Penny, other than I was never really happy with them prior to having children and then when I did have children, it was really interesting, I automatically thought, “they are just for breastfeeding”. When I had my first baby my breasts became like Dolly Parton’s, they were enormous, lots of milk. Not that I revelled in them being big as such, they were too big, huge and uncomfortable. But I just got on with it and did what I needed to do with them in order to feed my babies. I didn’t every really consider them other than, “this is what I use them for, to feed the baby”.
SPEAKS Everyday Conversations PENNY:
You talked about what they were like with the first child, was it different every time you had a baby, because you had seven. Was it easy or difficult for each one? Yeah definitely. As the babies went on probably my breasts didn’t get as ginormous but I had an issue with too much milk and on day three, you know when the milk comes in, I would get really uncomfortable and hot. That was really awful, those particular days with them and I didn’t love my breasts too much those days. It is really interesting talking about it because it wasn’t like, “these damn breasts” or anything like that, it was like I didn’t understand why they were behaving like that, why they were causing me grief. As the babies went on I ended up having acupuncture to try and reduce the milk load and was trying to do things to manage because I ended up with quite unsettled babies, and back then I thought the oversupply of milk was causing their unsettled tummies. There was definitely this relationship with my breasts i.e. that they were causing me issues, and causing problems for the babies. I was doing everything in my power with alternative health to try and fix this, to try and make it better, which I never did manage really.
So one of the things I remember about breastfeeding, and I only breastfed one baby, it was like they were such a separate part of me, I just pulled them out whenever and popped them into her mouth. They were just these things that I lifted out – I could have been pulling a bottle out the same! They kind of felt like an inanimate object that were there to feed wherever I was, then shove it back in. It was probably rough, not intentionally rough, but still there was no consideration for the breasts and that they belonged to me or anything like that. How was it for you, particularly having seven babies, compared from the beginning to the last one?
Very much like that, Penny. It very much was they were there for the convenience of the baby. I got very much caught in the ideals “breast is best”, and that I was doing the best thing for my babies. So I really did treat them like that, as ‘things’. In the beginning with my first few babies I fed them but I kept a bit of control around how it’s going to be like, “I’m not going to feed you every time you want it”. Then, as it went on I got caught up with nursing mothers and the ideal around ‘feed on demand’. I tried to live to that and very much my breasts became the thing that belonged to the baby and not to me at all. I’ve reflected on this and even with my last two I was very much trying to live that ideal but something in me couldn’t fulfill it. I remember I fed Lydia (my youngest) for a ridiculously long time. She would want to have the breast whenever she wanted and I would say no but then feel bad for refusing. I don’t know if it was “my breasts belong to me” but more of, “you are asking too much of me”.
Sharon, I’ve never had children, but can see there are all these ideals and beliefs around breastfeeding and often to breastfeed for a long period, so I’m wondering is there a clear feeling in the body or in you as a woman when it’s time to feed and for how long and when that’s over? Is there a clear end point to that, that if you trusted yourself as a woman you would know?
I don’t feel I lived that but I do feel there is a truth here. My first baby was very no nonsense, he fed for a certain time, was very satisfied, and he weaned himself around twelve months and I accepted that. With my second I decided that’s when he should also wean, so I pushed that on him more as an ideal in preference and aside to anything I felt. And I probably did with all of them. But with the younger ones I got caught in what the World Health Organisation said – that you should breastfeed at least two years. And I thought, well, I’ve got to do that at least! I was even breastfeeding while still pregnant with some babies. But it was definitely because I had overridden that place where I felt that breastfeeding was enough for me and my body. And there was a resentment that came with it. I do feel there is a natural stopping point for breastfeeding that lies in the communication between the mother and the baby if you are really listening to this and not instead getting caught up in the ideals and beliefs. Listening to the cues of the baby and honouring yourself in the process.
That’s good to hear that, because I’ve observed that it can become quite an emotional issue on either side.
Definitely. I’ve seen women in devastation because the babies did breast refusal. You’re so stuck in “this is the best thing for them and they should have it”. For me it was all connected to my worth as a woman. “If I can’t do this, then I’m not doing the best for my baby”, because that’s another thing that’s out there around breastfeeding that’s really huge, you know all the benefits of breastfeeding and women getting caught in that. In saying that, there are benefits of breastfeeding, so I’m not knocking that as such. But for me now on reflection and what I share with women, is connecting to what is right for both mother and baby but also exposing any ideals and beliefs we might have about feeling like we are failures. I think that’s one of the big things that come up for women.
It seems like guilt was more a major factor and resentment more towards the end for you Sharon?
Yes, resentment was infused in there but feeling guilty that I hadn’t done enough, I hadn’t done it right. I had babies that didn’t sleep very well and felt I was stuffing up as a mother basically. I was trying all these things to be the good or perfect mother, and breastfeeding was very much a part of that.
Photographed by Dean Whitling
WISDOM SPEAKS JENNENE:
So did you ever feel that your breasts were both for feeding and as sexual objects?
I was going to mention that. Definitely, I’ve always had very sensitive breasts so for me they did feel like that dual role. Even though that was the case, probably the biggest thing happening in my life then, because I was in my pursuit of the ideal to be the best mother, the great mother, was to do the breastfeeding. I didn’t feel very supported, and because there was so much resentment, even though I could let them be in that dual sex role, I didn’t hand over to that too often.
What about breastfeeding and stronger bonds?
That’s huge. I would watch a lot of friends caught up in being the best mother, breastfeeding and attachment parenting was another thing. They would feed the babies every time there was a squeak, it would be nothing for the baby to feed ten to fifteen times an hour. And I just knew back then that something wasn’t right about that because it felt like we were shoving down any expression – a bit like using the breast like a dummy or a bottle just to silence them.
I never did that because I probably had another ideal that you shouldn’t do that. But I can feel that there was always a part of me that knew what was true but was so caught in the ideals and beliefs. I had so little self-worth and this was the way that I was going to show that I was ‘worthy as a woman’ to be this ‘great mother’. So much so because I was teaching birth and parenting education throughout this, I would even say to women, particularly around attachment parenting, “Only breastfeed as long as you feel”. They probably didn’t get it because I wasn’t living that myself! But there was still a place inside me that was saying we can’t live attachment, you know carrying the baby 24/7. Yeah, I did that.
Pretty hard to do that, hey? So Sharon, at the end of seven babies, you’d finished breastfeeding all of them. Tell us a bit about your breasts in the sense of, back then we didn’t think or feel a lot about them, but you must have had some feelings about breasts and their use after seven kids, now being just for sexual pleasure?
“I was trying all these things to be the good or perfect mother and breastfeeding was very much a part of that.”
I suppose what I felt more was that they were ugly. I didn’t like them at all, and yes could still use them in a sexual way but would just put them in the most ugly and practical bras that you could find! No lace or frills. I would shove them in bras that were too small and regularly thought “Oh look, I think I’ll go and get a lift done to get them back where they should be. I’ll change them and then I’ll feel better about them”.
Did you actually look seriously into that at all?
No I didn’t! It was just a thought that came in that I would do it but I never got to that! But an interesting thing around my breasts though, as I’ve lost weight, one thing I thought, was they would actually shrink. I have seen women end up with next to nothing after breastfeeding, no breast tissue, all the fat sort of goes. I suppose I thought that’s what was going to happen to me. My breasts have definitely reduced in size but I’ve still got quite a nice full breast after almost being back to the weight I was prior to having babies. I feel that is amazing in itself, my breasts have taken on their true size.
So since the development of you having Esoteric Breast Massages (EBM) what is the difference today and how you feel about your breasts compared to what you’ve expressed about them? Looking ugly and all that...
Oh...yeah Penny...like as you’ve said I just felt this huge smile, I’ve got a huge smile and just feel a lot of joy about how I feel about my breasts now... it’s almost beyond words.... the transformation, how I feel about them. My breasts are great reflection to me about how I am feeling because when I look at them and think they are not quite right, that is because I’m not feeling quite right... does that make sense? But I can really feel my breasts are part of all of me now. I feel how lovely and full they are and a lovely reflection of how I feel about myself and my connection to me as a woman.
Sharon you said something earlier when talking about the work you do with women about them connecting to themselves first.... and that you help them – how is this? What I hear you saying really is that you were hiding yourself and not just your breasts, even in the clothes you wore. Now first being in connection with you and then feeling your breasts as being your connection to yourself as a woman... you are showing yourself fully to the world?...
Completely, that’s all my mothering was about – hiding, it was hiding from the world because I felt I had nothing really to offer it... so that’s what I did do, just hid completely.
Just wondering if you’ve noticed how your connection to your breasts and then to you embracing yourself as the whole woman, how that has inspired other women that you work with or family or friends... as an appreciation of what you are bringing…
Yeah ... it feels my breasts are a reflection of myself as a whole woman. I get a lot of people at work commenting on how lovely I look or dress. But a bigger appreciation is how I’ve allowed myself to feel my fragility which is really hard being a no-nonsense, get on with it no matter what was happening, person! And what I have found is that my opening up to my fragility has allowed other women to also momentarily slip into their own…and this is part of my reclaiming, honoring and nurturing of myself as a woman that has the power to affect or inspire another… 34
Photographed by Dean Whitling
And the self-nurturing that can be very much easier to nurture everybody else, I mean that’s how we are as women or that’s how we are brought up to be as women but to actually learn how to really self-nurture in that quality that you are talking about is quite a process.
Yes it is Jenenne... in 2010 I had no concept of what that even meant. It is interesting you know, all of that nurturing the babies, looking after the babies.... nurturing another....without absolutely any nurturing of myself whatsoever!
We tend to think that as long as babies are being breastfed it’s good, but really what they are truly getting is just our own lack of self-care or self-nurturing. So what are we showing and feeding our babies?!...
There is so much to consider here, thank you Sharon for sharing with us your amazing path of return and embracing of womanhood – a true example for many other women to be inspired.
GETTING REAL IN
his regular column is dedicated to working on relationships.
We invite YOU, the reader, to unfold with us in a series of articles and explore and go deeper into the world of relationships; what works, what doesn’t, what we can be doing better, what relationships are really about, what more there is, and the fact that we can continually learn about how we relate to one another…with partners, family, friends, children, colleagues and neighbours; it’s all about relationships!
It’s about understanding that in life what we do most is BE IN RELATIONSHIP. To have, and maintain, healthy loving relationships requires a certain kind of commitment, and we have recognised that this particular commitment is a missing ingredient in a lot of people’s lives; and thus, the inspiration for this column… So. . . what is that ‘certain commitment’ we are referring to? This is not about being perfect, but at the very least to make a commitment to continuously develop a relationship with yourself to always being more loving, and, this same development in your relationship with another/s. That’s correct!! Relationships are supposed to be constantly developed, they are never meant to be static, or fixed in being ‘comfortable’. People and relationships, like every other living thing, need tender loving care and nurturing. So what are the basics? Where do we start?...
RELATIONSHIPS With Annette & Gabe
It’s about Love… First of all, understanding that in relationships there needs to be a willingness to be loving, to make the relationship about love, and not settling for anything less than a love you know is true. We are not in relationships to take advantage of or take each other for granted, and yet many do, at the same time as wanting all the ‘best bits’ in a relationship. Nor are we there for convenience or just to like each other; we are in relationships to love one another! Communication and Expression… This ‘certain commitment’ is about being aware to not let anything ‘slip’ in a day, that means, being conscious of every expression that you make in your relationships on a daily basis. This may sound extreme or like a lot of ‘hard work’, at first, however, this is the kind of integrity that we all crave to have in relationships, and so we need to bring it to the table! When we talk about expression it’s not just what you say, it’s also in what you don’t say; it’s in your gestures, how you hug one another, how you look at each other, caring to ask how another feels, “what kind of day have you had?” it’s in our willingness to talk about the ‘tricky stuff’; It’s in all the tiny details of being loving and intimate. It’s about recognising that you need to be close, this doesn’t necessarily mean physically close, but rather that you hold the other dearly in your every moment; when you have this as your gauge you cannot but notice when there is a ‘drift’ or a distance, and catch it sooner rather than later. This communication and expression with each other then works as a marker for registering these changes in our relationships, and then acts as the radar for us to bring it back to being loving. Understanding and Compassion… This ‘certain commitment’ is a preparedness to not be aloof, impatient or dismissive in our relationships. It’s a respect and trust to not allow ourselves to hurt each other or to ‘go below the belt’. 37
GETTING REAL IN RELATIONSHIPS It starts with YOU, a Relationship with Self… With all of this in mind, in this first edition of our series on relationships, what you will feel is the overall importance of a Relationship with Self. This is the self-care and self-love component, and how looking after ourselves is an essential priority, if we’re not caring for ourselves, do we limit what level of care and love we possibly bring to our relationships?... Will we be able to go to the depths required to make that ‘certain commitment’ in our relationships without this contentment in ourselves? The answer is... probably not! With a true approach to self-love and self-care, we can feel inspired and vital to bring that deeper level of love, that ‘certain commitment’, to ourselves and therefore to all our relationships with greater ease. So, how good are we at caring for ourselves as women? Often we are last on the list of things we care for… yes? Would it surprise you to know that this can affect the quality of what you share in your relationships? It would make sense that the place to start learning about being loving in relationships is in the one we have with ourselves. Out of curiosity you can reflect on the following Questions…
• Do you CARE enough to take time for yourself in a day? • When you first wake each day do you ask yourself how you FEEL? • When you have a moment alone do you ENJOY to be with yourself? • If you’re home alone would you care enough to cook yourself a BEAUTIFUL meal? • Do you LIKE to look at yourself in the mirror? • In the company of others do you feel that what you have to say is WORTH expressing? • On a day where you’re faced with challenges do you know how to be SENSITIVE with yourself?
These and many more questions we can ask of ourselves in beginning to understand our level of self-care; what we know is that it is definitely worth taking the time to reflect and feel whether we are making that certain commitment in our relationships, and first and foremost with our self.
When you love and care for yourself deeply you inevitably take that to all you meet and have relationship with; so join us on this exploration of what it is to be in true relationships.
Women in Livingness
The blog that inspired the magazine Visit the Women in Livingness blog to read 100â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s of deeply honest articles written by women around the world.
NSHIP With Self Getting Older with my Breasts: The Relationship with Our Breasts as we Age By Ariana Ray 60, England
s we age, we get to notice that our breasts are not what they used to be. Do we become critical in how we talk about our breast’s? Perhaps we feel they have become a disappointment which does not ‘fit in’ with the picture we have of ourselves?
Perhaps we could consider what the relationship with our breasts has been? For many of us when we were younger, breasts were used to attract partners, to make us look good, to have a good time with during sex, to feed babies with, to be pushed into bras that are uncomfortable to downright painful. If all this is what our breasts were for, then what happens when we get older? It seems like we have come on a long road with our breasts, wanting them to perform in some way for us, to get us something, or perhaps to even give us something. Are our breasts literally weighed down with the manner of use and abuse we have heaped upon them? Could this be true for you? If so, what then are you taking into your mature years?
What if we were to consider that there is another way to have a relationship with our breasts?
Photographed by Dean Whitling
RELATIONSHIP WITH SELF In my experience, I have been the pusher and user of my breasts for all sorts of reasons and situations in life, but rarely were they at ease in my body to just be mine…actually, I wouldn’t have even known what this meant in the past. I came to realize at fiftyeight that I had most certainly used my breasts to attract men, to look a certain way, to get men to help me and even to make other women jealous, yet none of this made me truly feel any better about myself. I realised that I had considered my breasts with disregard and this led me to understand that the previous ideals and beliefs were keeping my breasts at a distance, and I had not really embraced them as a part of my body that I could say I really loved. Through understanding these ideals and beliefs I began my own healing path of peeling back these false outer layers, and learning that actually, we can have a loving relationship with our breasts and our body… this is not a distant wish or myth! This relationship brings a simplicity and power in how we can feel about ourselves as women.
To have a level of honouring and acceptance of our breasts inspires a different way to be with ourselves in all aspects of life. It can bring a deep level of acceptance of our beauty, and a depth of love for our body that we may never have considered possible before.
Check out the Livingness Tips pages for where to start… introducing tender loving care to your breasts is important and it is a key ingredient to true breast care.
Photographed by Shannon Everest
HEALTH Our Breasts and Lumps By Dr Amelia Stephens
ur breasts look and feel quite different across our life-span. From our teens to our nineties they go through a lot of changes and adjustments. In these processes we may develop lumps or bumps that bring us to a point of saying ‘What is happening here?’ It can be very supportive to know more about these lumps and how they can be looked at. “I have a breast lump” This sentence is certainly a common one amongst women today, and it’s one doctors hear quite often. I wonder though, how many more are being said quietly at home in women’s heads? There is a lot of fear surrounding breast lumps and this is hardly surprising given the statistics we are faced with and the experiences we have with women around us. Knowing we have a breast lump is something that can evoke different responses. Some may see their doctor immediately for prompt opinion and management. Others may become so anxious they decide to ignore it, as dealing with the stress it brings up is not something they feel able to handle in that moment. We need to know that many women experience lumps and bumps in their breasts along their lifespan, not all leading to a cancer diagnosis – there are many other cysts and fibrous changes that can be experienced. Whilst these are not cancer, and may not lead to cancer, they are changes happening within the breast tissue so being breast aware and knowing how to approach our breast health – not just in the absence of cancer – is vitally important. As it is for the body as a whole.
SPOT Your Body & You
Photographed by Shannon Everest
It helps to know what is normal for your breasts Breast awareness or knowing where our breasts are at is an important part of breast health and well-being. Lumps or bumps in the breast should not be seen as ‘normal’ and need to be checked by our doctor. Lumps are only some of the changes women may experience in their breasts – swelling, pain, changes to the skin or nipple are also signs that something might be going on in our breasts.
We should be aware of our bodies as a whole, with our breasts included from the perspective of overall well-being.
It is helpful for those looking at our breasts when having scans and tests done, if we know what lump is where, whether it’s been there for 20 years or comes up and down just before our period. Yes, we may not be able to diagnose all breast lumps simply by feeling, but having a greater awareness of what is there in our breast tissue on a day-to-day or month-tomonth basis can be hugely helpful and empowering. There is no particular breast checking method that is recommended over another so have a talk to your GP if there is one they find simple. See our ‘Breast Health Tips’ article also for some simple suggestions. If you find a lump or bump during checking your breasts, what should you do? Definitely head along to see your doctor but do know that most breast lumps turn out to be benign – meaning non-cancerous. Even if you do suspect it to be benign, having the conversation with your doctor is an important one. Your GP will usually talk to you about the lump, how long it has been there, what it feels like and your own history with breast lumps. They may also ask you about family history of breast cancer. A small aside about family history – women often get concerned if their mother or another relative close to them has had breast cancer, and yes it is important to know. What we also know is that familial breast cancer – ie cancer with a genetic component that current science knows about – makes up less than 10% of overall breast cancers (bcna.org.au). So if you have a relative with breast cancer it doesn’t automatically mean there is a genetic link and that you are automatically at increased risk – there is much more contributing to breast cancer than genetics alone and is something currently being explored. Once your doctor has found the lump or area you are concerned about they may discuss other options for looking at that area. Depending on what they feel the lump is, and how old you are, they might look at doing a scan.
What scans are available? Ultrasound Scan Ultrasounds are usually done for women younger than 50 as the breast tissue tends to be a bit denser and this technique is better able to look at the tissue. What happens in an ultrasound? An ultrasound uses a probe with jelly (usually warmed up) to look at the breast tissue. The probe is run along the skin over the breast tissue to look at what may be underlying. The time it takes varies depending on the size of the breast and what changes they may be looking for, but usually around half an hour.
Mammogram Mammograms are xrays of the breast. They are used for screening in women aged over 50 (or sometimes 40) and also for diagnosis of breast lumps. What happens in a mammogram? The machine used for mammograms has 2 flat plates which are used to compress the breast tissue so it can be viewed with the xray. Pictures are taken while the breast is compressed and should only take a short time. See Eva Rygg’s article about her mammogram experience in this issue.
MRI MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and is a very detailed scan that can look at the breasts in more intricate detail – it is often used on those considered ‘high risk’. It is a lot more expensive than the other two scanning methods. What happens in an MRI? For an MRI you lay down on a bed that moves into the scanner, which is like a small tunnel. Often you need ear plugs for an MRI as it does make a fair bit of noise. The scan time can vary depending on the machine but can be between half an hour to an hour and a half.
If you do have a scan done, your doctor can help talk you through the results to better understand what may be happening with your breasts. This support from your doctor, combined with the awareness of your own breasts are great steps towards breast wellbeing. 47
LIVINGNESS Part of caring for your breasts is giving time and consideration to the type of bras you are wearing. Selecting bras that not only support your breasts but that don’t dig or poke into you, cause irritation or feel like they are restrictive in any way. When you look at what bras support you, the physical aspects are an important thing to consider – and don’t forget the fun to be had choosing from the beautiful array of colours and styles.
Photographed by Clayton Lloyd
Good Quality – You’re Worth It Today we have lots of options to be creative in the bra shopping department. Our breasts bring our nurturing quality to the fore, so how we care for and nurture our breasts by what we choose to support them in our bra options is vital to our well-being and self-worth...$aving a few extra dollars for that qood quality is worth it.
85% of Women Wear the Wrong Bra Size for their Shape... Are you one of them? Take your time, explore many styles, colours, materials and shapes... you never know what may be the right fit for you.
Do you Need Assistance? Shop around ladies... finding the right assistant who listens and understands what you need in a bra is important. Express yourself and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!
Did you know?
Your breasts hold a quality of nurturing that is equally for you as it is for all others.
Presentations for Women
Wellbeing for Women presentations are a series of talks designed to support women in areas such as health, relationships and sense of self. The presentations will discuss what it is that holds us back from making the true change we so deeply feel is possible and or necessary. Throughout the presentations, tools for creating greater clarity and understanding in life will be on offer with the ancient teaching “the body is the marker of all truth” being re-introduced to us as modern women.
Every woman deserves a life where she feels supported in her health, supported in her feelings and free to choose a truly dignified and honouring way of life.
Wellbeing for Women presentations are offered worldwide and are a collaboration between medical doctors, psychologists, nurses, healing practitioners and nutritionists.
This meeting is a public forum open to all women
Melbourne Serryn O’Regan
LLB (Hons) BA, Director of Esoteric Women’s Health Pty Ltd, EWH practitioner EPA Acc
BHSc (TCM) EWH practitioner EPA Acc
Tuesday the 15th of July at 6:30-7:30pm (Registration opens at 6pm) Subsequent talks will be held on the 12th of August
Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, 4th Floor, 210 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Bookings are essential, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Brought to you by
EWH practitioner EPA Acc
EWH practitioner EPA Acc
Sunday the 24th of August at 2:30-4pm (Registration opens at 2pm) Subsequent talks will be held on 28th September and 23rd November
Crows Nest Centre, 2 Ernest Place, Crows Nest, NSW 2065
Bookings are essential, please email email@example.com
ANTA ND, Adv Dip App Sci (Acu), EWH practitioner EPA Acc
Masters (TCM), BHSc (Acu), EWH practitioner EPA Acc
Wednesday the 30th of July at 6:30-7:30pm (Registration opens at 6pm) Subsequent talks will be held on 27th Aug, 24th Sept, 22nd Oct and 19th Nov
H Block, H1026 Auditorium, 66 Ernest Street, South Brisbane
Bookings are essential, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Byron Bay Nicolette Hoyle
Practitioner of Esoteric Healing, Beauty Therapy & Presenter on Women's Health with over 25 years of experience
EWH practitioner EPA Acc Australian Coordinator for the Esoteric Breast Massage
Thursday 24th July at 6-7pm (Registration opens at 5:30pm) Subsequent talks will be held monthly
Byron Community Centre - Verandah Room (Upstairs) 69 Johnston Street, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Bookings are essential, please email email@example.com
BEFORE & Before and After True Breast Care: Generational Healing and the Esoteric Breast Massage
Mary-Louise Myers in her late teens
An interview with Mary-Louise Myers By Rebecca Baldwin 33, Goonellabah, NSW
hen I was about ten I remember seeing a black and white photo of my aunt Mary-Louise – she was bare-breasted and flanked by two men who were holding album covers over her nipples and smirking. Her eyes were drugged and glazed and across her chest in fat black marker were the scrawled words ‘I want you to want me.’ The picture had been published in the local paper, a promotion for a local band’s album. She was 19 years old and addicted to heroin: four years later she would kick that habit only to replace it with various other forms of self-abuse – from ongoing bulimia to marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy addiction. Today my aunt leads a very different life. She works and travels extensively, inspiring women around the globe to take true responsibility for their own healing and to not only care for their bodies and their breasts, but to develop deeply nurturing and honoring relationships with themselves as women.
As Australian coordinator for the Esoteric Breast Massage she has been at the forefront of the delivery of a modality that is revolutionising the way women view their relationship with self-nurturing and with true breast care. I would consider her one of my greatest female role models. So how does this happen? How did she make the changes that she has made today? And can breast care and awareness inspire true change for women and in women’s health generally?
AFTERS Everyday Miracles A few months ago I went to see her, with Dr Jane Barker, speak on Breast Health. Mary-Louise spoke about the importance of self-breast massage, not just as a means of checking for abnormalities but as a means to check-in with yourself. Trialing this on myself I placed my hand under my armpit, near my lymphatics on the side of my breast, and that simple movement brought me to a stop. It allowed me to feel everything that was going on in my body, the tension coursing across the tops of my shoulders, the cage that seemed to be around my upper body. As I sat and felt this – and it was confronting – I realised that if we do take the time and allow ourselves to tune in, there is a lot the breasts can tell us about how we are running our bodies day to day. There is an almost guaranteed feeling of vulnerability that takes place when you start to check in and really connect to your own breasts; it is a vulnerability that as women we often avoid. When we are living as though we have to be able to do it all, to ‘out-male the men,’ vulnerability is seen as a sign of weakness. Mary-Louise used to know this feeling well: “In my 40s I prided myself on the fact that ‘I could do anything a man could do’: I was working a 13 acre property I had bought in the hinterland of Byron Bay… there would be hours of whipper-snipping that had my body covered in grass ticks, endless chopping of fire wood and the constant slashing of acres of land driving a huge tractor.... so you can imagine how hardened I was through being so disconnected to my body in a shut-down numb kind of way. I was also very bloated at the same time, as you can see in the photo”.
Mary-Louise is her 40’s and in 2013 at 55 years of age.
BEFORE & AFTERS It was around this time that Mary-Louise began to truly commit to her own healing. By that time her body bore all the markings of her life lived, and while the more obvious self-abuse of her younger years had largely stopped it had again been replaced with this more refined version – the constant pushing her body to tend to her large property as well as long, very physically demanding work as a masseuse.
When she first heard about the Esoteric Breast Massage modality “It made me consider how I did not even touch my own breasts, that I had no connection with them whatsoever; given they are an integral part of a women’s body this realization was quite shocking to me. After many years of healing myself and then completing the training that was required I became an accredited EBM practitioner. In the following 8 years of working with clients I got to see that most women have had a similar experience to me; I increasingly felt the amazing gift to all women the EBM is”.
Through the healing process of having Esoteric Breast Massage sessions I discovered that there were years of abuse – both sexual and physical – that I was holding onto by way of hardness and protection that were being stored in my breasts, therefore affecting my overall wellbeing. As this started to clear, the choice to nurture myself became easier and easier and the relationship with myself as the beautiful, delicate woman that I now know myself to be, developed and deepened over time.
In conversation with Mary-Louise before her most recent trip to the UK and Holland we spoke about the change that breast care can bring to women: RB: My own experience of the Esoteric Breast Massage is that nurturing touch that is not sexual, which has no agenda and not needing of anything from you in any way, allows a space to get to feel what is actually happening in the body and in the breasts. ML: Yes, the EBM allows a woman to begin to have a relationship with her breasts, her body and thus her natural tenderness as a woman. In turn, this allows women to begin listening to their bodies and to make different choices as to what is needed to support overall health and wellbeing. This in turn supports letting go old ways of being that have been harming, and re-establishing a stillness and harmony, which is our natural state of being. RB: Could you say that the Esoteric Breast Massage is a modality that allows a woman to stop objectifying her own breasts? I have had friends say to me – ‘I’ve got great boobs, I don’t have a problem with my breasts’. And one girlfriend couldn’t get me into the girls’ toilets fast enough to show me her new implants. But in these instances it felt as though they were rating their own breasts in relation to their ability to be perceived as attractive to men. Is this your experience – that women tend to objectify their own breasts? ML: Due to the lack of true connection, respect and loving acceptance we have for our breasts, we have a tendency to treat them as objects in the way we use them sexually and for breastfeeding. Of course we need to be able to share our breasts for both, but from a place of us first having a true connection and respect for our breasts, knowing that they are an integral part of us as women.
In lieu of the true nurturing quality of women’s bodies being celebrated and understood, we are left with breasts that look the part but perhaps aren’t emanating a true beauty – a beauty that is not defined by shape, size or age. At 56 years old Mary-Louise is breaking all the rules, “I have a better relationship with my breasts and my body than I had in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s – I love my breasts and my body and if you consider that all my life I hated both, this is a miracle.… Today I look in the mirror and I see reflected back to me a nurturing energy emanating from my breasts and I see the BEAUTIFUL, DELICATE WOMAN that I am”. And this is what I now see also. From seeing the exploitation of her body in her younger years to now seeing her reclaim her body and her beauty so deeply is a healing in itself and inspires me to do the same. Through her own healing process she has naturally effected generational change.
Breakout Story: Generational Change – through true Breast Care
My Aunt Mary-Louise at 30, with my Grandmother who is 57 years old in this photo, just one year older than Mary Louise is today: ML: “My attitude to life and my health had been heading in the direction of my mother’s for a long time. Photos of me in my 30s show how my body shape, my clothes, my posture were very similar to hers. I had taken on a lot of her ideals and beliefs and thought that this was just how life was, not questioning that there may be a more loving way to live”. Article continues on page 58
Open to all women
WOMEN IN LIVINGNESS PRESENTATION
Women in Livingness Events across Australia are brought to you by Esoteric Women's Health; a collaboration of complementary health practitioners and allied health professionals who work cohesively for the promotion and delivery of true care and support in the area of women's health. Our philosophy is firmly grounded in the fact that lifestyle choices are key to understanding our state of health and wellbeing and are fundamental to instigating change that is true and sustainable. Each event offers an array of presentations covering the many prevalent topics for women – from understanding Self-Worth, exploring our health and medical concerns, the roles we play, how we are in relationships, our psychological wellbeing, to what is our True Expression as women. Each presentation is delivered by those who recognise the importance of addressing such issues, having experienced them first hand and or through their professions, and come together under the banner and philosophy of Esoteric Women’s Health to present that – there is another way. What is ‘The Livingness” for Women? The ‘Livingness’ describes a way of living your life that allows you as a woman to be who you truly are, and despite the pressures and demands experienced, how this connection can be sustained day-to-day. The ‘Livingness’ for a woman is for her to not be dominated by ideals she must strive for (but never feel satisfied she has attained), and, to not be dominated by beliefs that control her every decision (but still never feeling she is enough in what has done). Women in Livingness know that there is a deep truth, an essence, that is innate to all women, and that there is a way to bring this forth into practical every day life – not hidden or kept reserved for a select few or for the privacy of herself. Women in Livingness Events are OPEN to ALL Women
Brisbane SUNDAY 13TH JULY 2014
BULIMBA VILLAGE GALLERY, BULIMBA QLD Click here to download flyer
Sydney SUNDAY 3RD AUGUST 2014
MIRAMARE GARDENS, TERREY HILLS, 2084 SYDNEY NSW Click here to download flyer
Melbourne SUNDAY 31ST AUGUST 2014
FUNCTIONS ON CHAPEL, 255A CHAPEL STREET, PRAHRAH (MELWAY MAY 2L H11) Click here to download flyer
The photo on the left is of my Grandmother when she was young, on the right is a photo of her around the same age that Mary-Louise is today. When my Grandmother was in menopause she began to eat excessively. Mary-Louise shares with me that she attributed the weight gain to ‘hormones and menopause’, as something inevitable and beyond her control. Mary-Louise remembers seeing her mother go through this period of her life: “at the time I dreaded menopause, again thinking this is how it will also be for me”.
BEFORE & AFTERS Today Mary-Louise celebrates the depth of wisdom and vitality that can come with menopause – ML: “I learned to be aware of all the beliefs I had taken on about menopause, from seeing how it was for my mother, to the way that it is portrayed in society generally, and I let myself open up to the fact there can be another way; this allowed me to approach my menopausal transition responsibly. I discovered that the real secret of aging gracefully is to listen to our bodies so as to know how to truly care for and nurture ourselves. Now I honor the aging process rather than fighting against it. Menopause has become a time to expand and embrace the wisdom and beauty that is unfolding within me; I am taking full advantage of what I now know to be a gorgeous phase of my life”. Through a choice to heal she changed the future. She arrested the patterns that saw her body and her wellbeing following in the footsteps of the women who generationally preceded her. In fact, she did not only stop the patterns she made a complete turn around in her health and vitality – her body had been subjected to a life of abuse, from drugs to years of bulimia – today she has more energy than she has ever had, often working twelve hour days without fatigue. My Grandmother was not much older than Mary-Louise is today when she died of bowel cancer. Today cancer sits alongside heart disease as our largest killer; cancers of all kinds are reaching staggering rates. Breast cancer alone will affect 1 in 8 women in the US and Australia. But if cancer is now being understood as a largely lifestyle related disease – as a result of our poor lifestyle choices (WHO) – what is it that allows us as women to choose to live in a way that is harmful to us? Mary-Louise: “Women have to be disconnected from themselves in order to harm themselves. From what I have learned from working with my clients, many women feel as though they are living disconnected from their naturally nurturing ways, they are hard in their bodies and running on nervous energy and often end up run down and exhausted; I hear the same thing the world over. Women do not feel like they have a relationship with themselves as the ‘true woman’, and they do not know how (and yet yearn) to re-connect to the tender woman they innately know themselves to be”. “This was how it was for me, but through making the choice to, stop, listen to my body and self-nurture I have been able to completely turn my life around and this is now something I can support other women with”.
BEFORE & AFTERS
Today Mary-Louise works with woman all over the world, inspiring them to reconnect with themselves and begin their own healing process. With the greater level of self-care that this encourages, hundreds of women have begun to make more self-loving choices in their daily lives: in turn this naturally impacts their overall health and well-being. Mary-Louise attributes her own healing and her re-connection to herself as a woman to the inspiration and support she received through Sacred Esoteric Healing and the Esoteric Breast Massage. Serge Benhayon, the founder of both of these modalities states
â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is our daily choices that bring about our medicine.â&#x20AC;? that
Mary-Louise is the living proof of this.
Photographed by Steffi Henn
LIVE LOVE Ways
TOP 10 REASONS TO CARE FOR YOUR BREASTS By Casey-Lee Lyons, Brisbane AUS
They’ve been through a lot! Let’s face it – they survive puberty, for some they’ve survived motherhood and breast feeding, they survive gravity.. and yet they still hang in there! It’s time to give them something back and start to take care of your breasts. If you take a moment to think about it, of all the people we know there’s someone (or something) that has been with you through everything! Just like your handbag, we have taken them everywhere we have been and take them everywhere we go but why do we spend so much time (and money!) on buying a gorgeous handbag justifying it because we take it everywhere, when it is in fact our breasts that really deserve the attention! Let’s get real, the stats are climbing! In 2014 15,270 Australian women alone are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2020 this is estimated to be over 17,000! It’s time to take responsibility for our own breast health. “Don’t wait for a breast scare to breast care.”
NOURISH To Nurture You
You can inspire other women to do the same. As these numbers rise we need to look at what this really means. That’s nearly every woman that you know is in some way affected by breast cancer. Whether it be your mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, daughter, colleague or friend, we are surrounded by women who are exposed to the reality of these figures. It takes one person to make a change that inspires another to do the same and then another and another. Women are powerful creatures so let us use this strength and empower other women to take care of themselves as you take care of you. Let’s look at the younger generation and inspire them to love and care for their breasts also, as they are the generation that will influence where these stats head.
Your body is amazing, and as a woman we have very precious parts that need nurturing. You were born with the gift of being a woman and your breasts are part of your expression of this femininity. Don’t shy away or deny the beauty that being a woman brings. Celebrate her – celebrate you!
As women we tend to take care of everyone else and typically put ourselves last, and even then when we do turn to ourselves we tend to take care of every other part but our breasts. Somehow, they just seem to ‘be there’ but equal to the rest of our body they need true nurturing too. Photographed by Michele Aboud
Breasts are not to be ashamed of, no matter their shape, their size (if one is different to the other) they are uniquely yours. You run no risk of showing up to that party wearing the same dress as someone else, your breasts are your own ‘limited edition’ so wear them and care for them with the preciousness they hold.
Caring for your breasts is not only empowering but they can also tell you so much about you. By caring for your breasts, you can get to know your body through the changes that happen each month in your personal cycle. Have you noticed how they change within your monthly cycle or even post-menopausally? Perhaps you notice changes around ovulation or before your period? Or you may even notice that they feel different after a time of stress? What are your breasts telling you? Caring for your breasts reminds us to nurture who we are. To truly nourish all of you is to consider your whole being and nurture every part of you, including your breasts! Breasts are naturally nurturing, they provide nourishment for infants and comfort in cuddles and so too are they instantly nurturing to you. If we get too busy, too distracted or disconnected from our body we tend to forget about caring for ourselves. Yet the breasts forever hold this natural nurturing nature and when we re-connect with them we can’t help but to slow down, to consider our choices, to take a moment, to nurture, to begin to nourish.
LIVE LOVE NOURISH
They are part of you. Your breasts are not separate to the body, they aren’t a spare appendage but are in fact a very significant part of you and your body. They contain lymph nodes, veins, arteries, adipose tissue and ligaments (just like many other parts of your body). They respond to hormonal changes, they change with your monthly cycle, they are directly connected to your being as a woman. They are influenced by the function of the lymphatic and vascular systems and are inter-connected with the overall function of the body. What does this mean to you? To take true care of you and your body is to take care of your whole body including your breasts. Somehow we realise it is important to look after our health, to take care of our skin, to look after our digestion etcetera etcetera but what about our breasts? If you don’t take care of yourself no one else can do it for you. There’s no such thing as too late. No matter what your breasts have been through and no matter what kind of relationship you have once had with your breasts, it is never too late to start to re-connect and nurture this precious part of you.
For more ways to Live Love Nourish visit www.livelovenourish.com.au Photographed by Dean Whitling
Breast Implants – an Unexpected Appreciation An Interview with Monika R 50, Holland By Mariette Reineke
here is a gorgeous woman sitting across from me, sparkling blue eyes, alive, radiant face and vital. She is 50 years old… I had a hard time believing this! Monika lives in a small town in Holland, she has two children (15 and 18 years), runs two companies and works more than full time. I see a woman who is embracing life, is very organized and loves being with people. Monika is also a woman who has breast implants, a decision she made in 2003. What was the reason for her to make this choice, I wonder, and where did the desire to have bigger breasts come from? An open and honest interview, which reveals how we as women have a hard time accepting and appreciating ourselves whilst there is so much to celebrate…. Mariette: How was the relationship with your breasts before you had breast implants? Monika: I remember that I kept looking down, hoping that one day my breasts would really become big. I was actually waiting for them to grow and to really blossom. When this did not happen and they just stayed small, I was really disappointed. So I made up my mind that I wasn’t a woman without big breasts. Mariette: Where did you get the idea that you needed bigger breasts to feel worthy as a woman? Monika: Nobody really told me this, but in a way it’s everywhere around us, beautiful women in magazines and on TV always have well proportioned breasts. I really had an eye for breasts. I always looked at women’s breasts and when I was younger I really felt less than other women who had bigger breasts and I was constantly comparing myself to them. Mariette: When you look at your life and the way you felt about yourself as a woman, were there particular things you did to avoid feeling less than other women? Monika: Well, at some point I started hiding myself and I started to wear big clothes so you wouldn’t notice my small breasts. I was just so disappointed with my breasts. I remember being pregnant with my first child (daughter, 18) and how my breasts were growing, and I was like ‘’Ooh, this is what a woman should look like!” But then after I
DY & I Loving The Body You’re In stopped breastfeeding, they became flat and felt really empty, like dried used teabags (a Dutch expression) and I started to hate them. Mariette: So the relationship changed with your breasts? Monika: Yes definitely, because they just collapsed. I had a strong ideal around what breasts should look like and they didn’t look like that anymore. Recently I saw a picture of me at age 19 wearing only my bikini bottom and at that time I thought my breasts were awful, but seeing the photo recently again, they look beautiful. It made me realize that I never saw how my breasts really were; I was just focussed on the ideal. It was a painful moment. Mariette: You had your two children, what was the turning point for you to have breast implants? Monika: It was a really difficult period in my life. I really wanted to have more kids but it didn’t work out. I can only say this now, looking back, but there was so much emptiness and sadness inside me. And I tried not to feel that and to fill the emptiness with having kids. When that didn’t work, I was like “ok what’s next”. It wasn’t like I started loving myself after I had my two kids but actually felt an even deeper level of emptiness. The moment I decided to get implants was the moment I decided to break up with my husband after 23 years of being together. It was quite a hectic period in my life and I was feeling quite depressed. I told myself: ok, now it’s done, I want to feel like a true woman. The thing is, nobody around me agreed with my decision… not my family, my boyfriend at the time or my doctor. My doctor actually told me the implants were not going to make me feel like a true woman but I couldn’t hear it at the time. My boyfriend told me the implants were not me, that it wasn’t natural. So I really did it for me; I was so hoping they would make me feel like the way I thought a woman should feel. Mariette: Your feelings of emptiness and sadness, can you elaborate on those feelings a little bit more. Where did those feelings come from? Monika: For me l’ve discovered it came from really missing myself, the real me. It came from not being connected to that naturalness and constantly striving to make my life and my world an ideal picture. There was never acceptance and appreciation of what was there already, the focus was very much on what was missing and was not ok with me and my life. I didn’t appreciate myself nor did I take care of me. If you don’t like yourself, of course that is sad. Nor was I connected to my body, I was just living in my head. Mariette: So then you thought maybe a child will fulfil me? 67
MY BODY & I
Monika: Yes, I thought a child will always love me, no matter what because I am the mum and the child loves the mum. So after my first child, when I still had that feeling of emptiness, I realised that I could never have enough kids. Even if I had 10 kids, I could not fill that emptiness in me. After my first child I was quite depressed for almost a year. It’s actually quite a selfish way to have kids; it’s not really a great foundation to be a parent when there is such a need and so little self-love. I discovered you project that need onto your kids. Mariette: Did you have an ideal picture? Monika: Yes, I had this great picture of how a happy woman should look, with a certain body shape and a partner, big house, car and of course, kids. If that is all there, then you can be happy. In the beginning when I had the breast implants, I felt like ‘ok now the world can see me, finally’. So yes, I got a lot more attention from men because I was showing off my body, wearing tight tops. I felt more confident but really, it was false. Mariette: How long did that feeling of confidence last? Monika: Well, I was great at overriding what was there to feel in my body so when I started to feel empty and sad again, I just suppressed it. I remember at the time of my divorce, I couldn’t stop crying, I was so unhappy. And this was one year after the breast implants. Mariette: How do you feel now, how has it effected the relationship with your breasts? Monika: Since I started receiving Esoteric Breast Massages (EBM) years ago, a very loving and gentle technique given by qualified female practitioners, I realised that I wasn’t connected to my breasts at all. I found it very hard to really feel my breasts and that part of my body. They felt like objects, not part of my body. It has taken a long time to embrace them and even now they can still feel cold, while the rest of my body feels very warm and alive. The implants always feel cooler. There was much for me to
Photographed by Dean Whitling
heal around how I felt about me as a woman, deep inside and the EBMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s supported me to release those emotions and re-connect with something much more full and content within myself. Mariette: How would you describe the relationship with your breasts today? Monika: I am more aware of my breasts and they are more part of me. They can shine and emanate the beautiful woman that I am and I am really ok with them now. I have considered taking the implants out at times but have decided not to because it means surgery and recovery and I have found a way to integrate them into my body. They feel a part of me now. Mariette: And how about your feelings of emptiness and sadness? Monika: I can still feel sad about things, but I no longer feel empty. I now feel more confident and connected in my body. Mariette: So according to you, what does it now mean to be a true woman? Monika: When I allow myself to be completely me. Then there is no pushing and no drive. Then there is a feeling of tenderness and I feel delicate and playful. When I feel this stillness in me, which is very beautiful, I feel like a true woman! Mariette: Do you feel there are many reflections of true women in our society? Monika: No, very few. It is no wonder to me that women and young girls are so lost. We tend to criticize and compare with one another instead of truly appreciating who we are and what we bring. Mariette: So we need more appreciation? Oh yes, we do! Heapsâ&#x20AC;Śa true appreciation though â&#x20AC;&#x201C; of all that is inside of us! 69
PSYCH Pornography: The Impact on Women By Psychologist Caroline Raphael (BPsych, MAPS, EPA acc) & Monya Murch (PhD, EPA acc, Psychotherapist/Counsellor)
oday we can find elements of pornography everywhere, from advertisements, television shows, music videos, best selling novels as well as the obvious and established mainstream pornographic industry, all promoting and sustaining an objectification and sexualisation of the female body. Sex sells as they say, and this is undoubtedly true. But what impact on women are we seeing with the dramatic increase in the acceptability and use of such images, littered throughout our media at every turn? It is a known fact that women have a long history of struggling with body issues, stemming from low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. We have been raised in a world where as women, we are constantly compared with one another: who is prettier, who has a better body, who is more desirable, who is going to get married first, how many children does one have or will have, who is more successful, who has aged the most gracefully, who has retained a pre-baby body…. we can go on and on. The measure of self-worth amongst women has become increasingly about what we do and how we look, and today more than ever, women are rarely if ever revered for just being themselves. Now, add pornography into this mix and do we have a current recipe for disaster? Is this extensive use of pornography and female sexualisation part of what is making women question themselves: do they need to act like a ‘porn star’ to be seen as sexy, to be desirable? What extremes are we seeing women now going to, to make themselves
Photographed by Dean Whitling
OLOGY True Understanding
more desirable to another or as it would appear, more desirable than another? In a recent UK pornography survey by website Face Relationships and Young People • 60% of the teenagers interviewed said that viewing pornography affected their self-esteem and body image • 45% of young woman said that they were unhappy with their breasts and would consider plastic surgery This message that a woman’s body is for the sexual desire and appetite of another, appears to be pervasive and insidious… and hitting its mark: women, especially our younger ones, are lining up for breast implants and cosmetic surgery by the thousands. It would seem for many, that our measure of self worth has grown to include our ‘assets’, and if nature hasn’t provided, then silicone is stepping right in. When we buy into this continuous message delivered through the soft and hard porn mediums, we become disempowered as women. Not in the sense that we are then incapable of achieving great things, far from it, but that we diminish our true attributes when our sense of self is in any way measured by cup-size, perkiness, leg length, body shape, our perceived sexual prowess and in a more general sense, our sexual attractiveness to men. In that sense a woman stops seeing herself in a true wholeness, thereby reducing her self-worth to the sum of her ‘body parts’. For those left ‘wanting’, she can find herself with a diminished confidence to engage in a deeper and more 71
intimate connection with her partner. And for those who consider themselves fortunate to ‘measure up’, a (false) confidence exists that is also devoid of this fullness. For either side of the coin, what is truly magnificent within and its full expression goes unrecognised, disregarded, dishonoured and ultimately shut down. In fact in all aspects of the porn industry, true intimacy is long forgotten and a woman is not revered for her genuine and true beauty, but is broken down into body parts: breasts, bottoms, legs and genitalia, and all with a use-by date. This has devastating effects on relationships; women are left feeling ‘not enough’ like something is wrong with them because they do no look or feel to act in certain ways. A woman’s level of self-worth is impacted by the way she feels others view her female body and as a result there is a pulling back from intimacy to avoid feeling ‘not enough’ or like something is wrong because she does not measure up to the female image we are being sold.
The truth is every woman is beautiful no matter what shape or size, her true beauty comes from within. You only have to look into the face of a woman who is truly content within herself… un-impacted by what the world tells her she should be or should do, to see the true beauty of a woman.
Photographed by Dean Whitling
To what extent as women we are impacted and affected by pornography, in one way or another is perhaps the pertinent question. Whether we engage directly with it or not and to what extent, pornography in its subtle and more overt ways is increasingly permeating our lives, undermining who we truly are as women it would seem, in the process. To be able to open up and share with other women on the topic can be of great support. As we connect and talk with one other, we may discover that we are not alone in how we feel and through this begin healing the pervasive impact pornography appears to be having in our societies.
TEEN & YOU Knowing Buying a Great Bra – What You Really Need to Know By Emmalee Benhayon
uying your first bra, and honestly, buying a bra at any stage in life, can be confusing and overwhelming. With all the A’s to DD’s and a wide range of different numbers and sizes, finding the right size can sometimes be difficult. Added to this experience is the embarrassment of buying the bra itself, especially if it is your first time. It might seem we have limited options in handling this new experience by either just grabbing one off the shelf and thinking, “Close enough is good enough,” or alternatively ending up in a changing room filled with many different styles and sizes not knowing where to start. But thankfully there is a simpler way when it comes to buying a great bra. Firstly lets start by explaining the different sizes… In Australia the first four cup sizes are A, B, C and D. For those with larger breasts the cup sizes go up as follows DD, E, F, FF and so on. The most common sizes are A to DD cup but all shapes and sizes can be catered for if you take your time to choose the right bra for you. Next there’s the band size... That’s the numbers that are placed before the letter that represents the cup size, for example 12D. In Australia you may find bras with both Australian sizing numbers, often similar to your dress size, which are as follows 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 etc. and US and UK sizing numbers which are 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 and so on. A UK/US band size of 30 is supposed to be equal to an Australian size 8, 32 equals a size 10, 34 a size 12 and so on. There are various methods of calculating a woman’s bra size by measuring the underbust (around your chest where the bottom of your bra would fit) and coupling that with a measurement at the fullest part of your breast whilst wearing a thin, non-padded bra or singlet. 76
But most of the time you can throw this method out the window and here’s why… You see, when it comes to bra sizes, just like many clothing sizes, the size changes with every different brand. This is especially common in bra sizing, where even within the same brand of bra you may have different fitting bras labeled with the same cup and or band size. To add to this whole bra confusion many countries have their own set of bra sizings with the US and UK, as just one example, having slightly different cup sizes marked with the same letters. The design of the bra also needs to be closely considered when it comes to bra sizing as depending on the shape of your breasts you could be a different size in a balconette bra, a bra style with more U shaped cups, as opposed to a t-shirt bra with more tear-drop shaped cups. This may make a girl want to give up when it comes to bras, but there really is a simple, practical and fun way to shop when it comes to buying a bra. Firstly, accept your breasts! The shape, feel and size, big or small whether one larger than the other (a trait more common in women than even sized breasts) in all their glory and also accept their (apparent) imperfections. Do not be embarrassed by or ashamed of your breasts, they are a natural and an important part of a woman’s body and play many more important roles in our health and wellbeing than most care to consider.
Breasts do not only look like those on models, porn stars or celebrities. The ‘normal’ shape is not necessarily what you see on TV or even those around you. What is normal for you is normal for you. What is normal for you is your truth. Never forget this.
Okay, so now we have gotten that out of the way, here comes the fun part. Shopping! So after reading the beginning of this article you may be as confused as ever about band and cup sizes but have no fear, you will be able to find some amazing bras that are right for you. Photographed by Shannon Everest
A good place to start… Pick a simple bra in a style you like making sure it comes in many different sizes. Pick a lot of different sizes and ask for assistance from a helpful shop assistant as often as you need. However, when getting advice always stay true to what feels right on your body – only you can have the final say on what feels right in a bra for you. Consider the following:
Material How will it look and feel on my skin?
Consider if the bra’s material may be too hot and sweaty in warmer weather or if it would be scratchy or uncomfortable when worn all day. Consider how the material might look under your favourite clothes. Is the material practical for everyday wear or is it a bra to wear on only certain occasions or under certain outfits?
Is the bra supportive and comfortable for me? Ensure there is no excess breast tissue bulging over the edges of the cup. If this is the case try a larger cup size. Make sure that the cup is not too loose and fits smoothly across the breast. If the cup is loose try a smaller cup size. Make sure the bra is not digging in or restricting in any way. Be aware of underwires that are too firm. Underwires should be firm but flexible and comfortable sitting gently against your skin. Make sure the band is not too loose and not too tight. The band should sit straight across your back in line with the base of the front of the bra. If your band is riding up and the straps are digging in try loosening the straps. If the straps feel right and the band still rides up then try a smaller band size. If the band is digging in and cutting into your skin then the band is too small. If this is the case try a larger band size.
Support Does the style, fit and colour work for you? Does the bra feel ‘right’ for you? Is it your style, does it suit you and do you feel great wearing it? If not then try another style or a different colour. Make sure you feel comfortable, confident and supported in every way. Never compromise, a great bra should both look and feel great. 78
TEEN & YOUTH
These factors are important to consider every time you buy a bra and not just the first time. The process takes some time and effort but in the end it is well worth it. If you end up buying a bra that is not quite right, don’t worry. Our breasts can change shape and size throughout our menstrual cycle and simply throughout our lives. It can take a while to find the right bras for you and it is a process of feeling your way. You may find you need a different bra before or during your period than you do at other times of the month. Honour these feelings, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find bras. But it does mean we need to pay close attention to our bodies when buying a great bra. Every young woman (and women of all ages) deserves to feel great and supported in her body. Buying a great bra is just one part of supporting ourselves as women. I am no expert on bra fitting or sizing, I am however a young woman, I have breasts and have tried many different bras in different sizes. I know from experience what it’s like to buy a bra and I know it can be a great and empowering experience and can also at times be overwhelming. The important thing to remember is that as women we do deserve to take care of ourselves. Our breasts are not a hindrance and are a part of our body for us to nurture and care for. Buying a bra can be a fun and rewarding experience and a great bra can be comfortable, beautiful, playful and sexy. So with all this in view, enjoy your next bra shopping experience and never settle for less than the bra you feel is true for you!
Photographed by Shannon Everest
WOMEN & Breast or Bottle: Or is it Love that Makes Babies Thrive? By Nicole Serafin and Kate Robson
round the world women are faced with the idea that to be a good mother and to bond with their babies they must breastfeed. This idea is often influenced by the ‘breast is best’ message that is conveyed in maternity care in the western world. Despite the many advantages of breastfeeding, have we ever stopped to consider the pressure that ‘breast is best’ puts on a woman who struggles to breastfeed, or does not feel it is the right choice for her? A woman may ask herself a number of questions regarding this choice: • • • • •
Does breastfeeding change the connection I will have with my baby? Are babies compromised if they are not breastfed? Does breastfeeding feel right for me? Is breastfeeding natural for me or do I feel pressured to do so? Do I feel less than other women who do breastfeed if I can’t?
Perhaps in answering these questions we can begin by understanding what it is a baby truly needs in order to thrive. The importance of loving connection cannot be underestimated as the most central and fundamental starting point when it comes to the ability of a baby to feel safe, loved and nurtured.
The love that is shared between a woman and her baby doesn’t only come from the physical closeness of breastfeeding – this love comes from the woman herself, it is innate and is felt through her warmth, touch, voice, affection and the surety for her baby that all its needs will be met. If this were indeed understood, women would know their babies are able to thrive when this is felt and that they are not failing in their role as a mother if they find themselves unable to or choose not to breastfeed. 80
FAMILY Nurturing You & Others
Photographed by Dean Whitling
Whilst breastfeeding will come naturally for some women, others will be presented with challenges such as mastitis, low milk supply, pain on feeding or a fussy baby. Each of these may impact how a woman feels about herself as a mother. By feeling that breastfeeding is the only way, a woman can lose sight of what would truly support her. That support may include finding ways to continue breastfeeding; whilst for others it may be to stop breastfeeding. The freedom to do so, free from self-critique or judgement from others, can be important when it comes to feeling able to make such a choice. With this understanding, we can encourage a woman to stop and connect to what she feels, giving permission to follow what is right for her and her baby – knowing that what is truly needed comes from the love received first. This for some women is in itself however a difficult thing to do. The busy-ness of life, the ideals held around breastfeeding and ‘breast is best’, means a woman can sometimes find it difficult to connect with what she truly feels is right for her and her baby. Further to this she may find it difficult to provide a deeply loving connection with her baby. Being given the space to stop and re-consider what feels right for her is a start in the right direction. From here there is another aspect worthy of further contemplation: A woman’s ability to provide this deeply loving connection is related to the love and care she feels able to offer herself. If this is understood, bonding with and nurturing our babies would be more to do with how we feel within ourselves, and not so much about what we should be doing. With the ability to make more loving choices for herself, a woman’s ability to connect and deeply bond with her baby becomes easier and a more natural extension of the love she is able to hold and live.
While it is not in question the physiological benefits of breastfeeding, the real question of breast or bottle in truth is one based on personal circumstances, choice and ability to do so with comfort and ease. We must not forget that love is the most important exchange between a mother and her baby and allowing women to listen and follow what feels right for them without fear or judgement fosters this loving connection. Embraced by this love, babies thrive, as do mothers when their ability to trust what is right, is first embraced.
Photographed by Dean Whitling
WOMEN Women at Work with Breast Cancer By Donna Gianniotis & Heather Pope
ith close to 14,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Australia alone each year and over 1.7 million worldwide, women are faced with the many choices concerning treatment, recovery and how to juggle life, family and for some, the workplace.
Upon a diagnosis, the choice to continue to work or take time off will be reliant on each woman’s personal circumstances, the support she will have from family and sickness benefit policies in place at her workplace. A common concern that may arise for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is the financial strain during that time; after all, getting cancer is an expensive business. Will she be able to continue with her current workload, not be able to fulfill the needs within her role and be seen as incompetent or perhaps even lose her job? Some women may use work as a means to continue life as ‘normal’, for some perhaps without stopping to feel the shock of a diagnosis or the deeper impact of treatment. Some women feel compelled to continue working as per usual, almost as a reassurance to herself that she can ‘still do it all’, even whilst going through cancer. And for some women, they feel unable to continue working when perhaps they think they ought. But regardless of circumstances, what if a woman was able to stop, feel and honor herself truly during this time? Upon a diagnosis, it is important to deeply consider what is going to be supportive in terms of overall health and wellbeing. For many women there is an impulse and compulsion to change everything, to stop, re-assess and re-orient oneself towards life and work completely differently. The process of developing illness is understood to be one that does not occur overnight and many lifestyle factors are well established as being potential contributing factors. For many women it is inherently felt that things need to change and this provides a time, impetus and opportunity to re-consider, in this instance, her relationship with work.
IN WORK True Power comes
from your Being
Amongst questions she might consider are: • Has she worked long hours, constantly pushing her body in the need to reach deadlines or expectations? • Has work become of primary importance, before her own or her family’s wellbeing? • Has achievement become paramount, providing a sense a self-worth? • Does she hold back her potential in the workplace, not rocking the boat or underselling herself? While there is no right way or formula for any woman undergoing treatment for Breast Cancer when it comes to sustaining her place at work, what is possible is for every woman to find her own way to ensure this is as deeply supportive as possible. This will be partly dictated by the flexibility of an employer; however there are many things she can do to support herself during this time and beyond. Photographed by Iris Pohl
WOMEN AT WORK
Simple Tips for Women at Work whilst Undergoing Treatment for Breast Cancer: • Listen to how your body is feeling and where possible honour this, trying not to push through the day. This may include speaking with your employer or colleagues to make adjustments where possible to hours or workload. • Be prepared to ask for and accept support. You may be used to getting by on your own, but now is the time to accept and appreciate help that comes your way.
• Let others in – be open with your employer and colleagues about what is going on. There is generally no need to hide what you are undergoing and a level of honesty and vulnerability can bring out the best in others around you. Don’t pretend that everything is normal, as this is not the case. You are a woman first and being open about what you are going through, discerningly so, will allow the space for others to be understanding and support you.
• Rest often. A woman’s body is under enormous strain during chemotherapy, radiation or in recovery from surgery. This needs to be respected and honoured wherever possible. • Experiment with going to bed earlier. Do not underestimate the healing potential of solid sleep during the early part of the night. • Take breaks regularly including gentle walks. Sometimes gentle movement can be more supportive than a rest. Listen to your body and you will begin to discern this for yourself.
• Keep your focus to one task at a time. Your body requires a far greater energetic output when it comes to multi-tasking. Observe small children in their ability to single-focus and their abundant energy. There is something significant to learn in this simple application. • Pre-prepare nutritious food for your day wherever possible. Supporting your body to sustain itself throughout a workday requires food that is light and nutritious. You may not find this easy and without compromise if relying on takeaways. • Develop a rhythm of self-care around your workday that supports you in every way possible. This may include what you do in preparation for and when you choose to go to bed, when you eat, exercise, rest, read, and take time for yourself or with a partner or family.
Most importantly make the time and space for nurturing yourself. This means listening to your body and deeply honouring exactly what it is you feel you need. Do not underestimate the benefit of learning to do this and the possibility therefore that to truly nurture goes way beyond a facial or massage. Allow for the possibility that nurturing is possible in every choice made, when what you feel is truly needed, is honoured.
Photographed by Dean Whitling
Our Worth How do we see our Breasts? and, most importantly, do we see our Breasts as BEAUTIFUL? By Vanessa Hawthorne
o we deeply care for, nurture and appreciate our breasts? OR Do we spend the majority of our time wishing our breasts were bigger, smaller, firmer, more perky, less perky or fuller?
Most women can relate to this, and we have to ask, why do we wish that our breasts were different to how they naturally are?
Most women have developed a relationship with their skin care ritual, their makeup ritual and their beauty and health regimes … However, have we forgotten about nurturing the beauty of our breasts?
Almost all women can attest to reviewing their lifestyle, skin care ritual, makeup ritual, beauty or health regimes in order to ‘look after’, and in most cases, achieve the desired beauty look on the outside. And so, it begs the question for us all – why don’t we give this same kind of attention to our breasts? And… if we did, what would happen? Photographed by Clayton Lloyd
BEAUTY What does our relationship with our breasts say about us? Do we consider them a treasured part of our body, treat them gently with tenderness, and care for them as we would other parts of our body, like our face for example …. ? Do we only give our breasts attention when we want them to ‘look good’? To attract suitors, breast feed our babies etc? Do we pay attention when we feel something has gone wrong? When we feel a lump or when we are diagnosed with a medical condition? Do we simply ignore our breasts for the rest of the time? How can we make a change? Your breasts deserve top-quality treatment, in every detail…and every detail counts! The way you fit them into your bras, and what bras you choose to fit them in to, the way you dress them each day, the way you wash them, the way you nurture them with body creams and oils. No different to our skin care, our breasts need equal loving attention and care in all that we do with them. What’s out there to help you…? There are a plethora of breast and decolletage creams on the market for us to choose from, and choosing what is right for you is important. However, the majority of these creams are aimed at either ‘breast care during breast-feeding’, or for ‘breast enlargement’, ‘reshaping’ and ‘firming’ or ‘anti-aging’ …. The names of some of the products often imply that breasts in their natural state are lacking in some way; or are not good enough according to whichever belief or ideal that the potential buyer has subscribed to and feels she does not have… Hmmmm… is that really want we want to put on our breasts each day? We are sold the notion that we are not perfect and will not be perfect until we use this product or that product… or look like this or like that. But as we all know so well, no matter the beauty on the outside – it doesn’t take away the feelings of insecurity and doubt. We’ve got to look much deeper for our Beauty if we are going to truly change these negative thought patterns. Have we forgotten our True beauty, and how truly precious we are? Every woman has the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy her beauty, and we all do this in many different ways. What would it feel like to apply your favourite breast cream and to care for your breasts as you would your face? What would it feel like to be ever so tender with yourself? A woman is still able to nurture the delicateness of the breast area even if she has undergone a mastectomy. We are referring here to our relationship with our bodies, and inclusive of this, is our relationship with our breasts.
What gets in the way of YOU enjoying YOUR body and YOUR breasts?
Are you flooded with reasons why you are not beautiful? Why you are not good enough? And a million reasons why you could not possibly love yourself?
We are all able to treat ourselves in a delicate way that nurtures the beauty of being in a woman’s body.
This beauty does not come from the size, shape or texture of our breasts - the way we look - or the shape of our body. This beauty comes from how we live with ourselves - through deeply appreciating and honouring who we truly are.
This would certainly turn things upside down on their head… wouldn’t it!
It is time to let go of the ‘shoulds’, ’what ifs’ and ‘maybes’. Time to release the disempowerment we have felt as women by the way we ourselves, and society view our breasts. Time to stop constantly apologising for our breasts. Time to stop comparing with each other. Our breasts reflect our nurturing essence as women... our deeply nurturing way, which is a quality that is innately natural to us all. Have we gone so far away from this natural beauty that we seek to replicate it, or create it by the way we look, and not by the way we live?
Photographed by Dean Whitling
WOMEN & Bra Shopping By Jo Swinton
oing bra shopping is a different experience for every woman – young and mature. For some it can be fun and entertaining right through to it being a nuisance and something that ‘just has to be done’. So how can this be a joyful experience for all women?
Firstly we can look at the overall relationship we have with our body, and work on loving every part of it – including our breasts – whatever size, shape or colour they may be. Being truly loving with ourselves definitely makes all shopping experiences easier and more fun – bra shopping no exception! It’s great to save some money towards your bra shopping just in case you find the perfect bra and it ends up being a bit expensive – if it’s great, buy it and celebrate the beauty of being a woman in the most perfect bra you could find. Don’t discount that inexpensive bras can also be the perfect bra – and if you’ve saved some money you might be able to get one in a second colour! Have a chat to the shop assistant when you arrive at the bra shop and get a feel for her experience. Most, if not all, women in lingerie and bra shops have been trained to work with women and bras specifically and it is very important to get properly sized for your bra – a high percentage of women wear ill-fitting bras as a result of choosing their own size! Make sure you feel comfortable with the assistant and confident with her advice. Take your time – bra shopping is to be enjoyed and not rushed! Feel the freedom to try on twenty bras if you need to and then narrow it down to the ones you love and that feel the most comfortable to wear. Any redness from too much pressure usually shows up from having the bra on for a few minutes so remember to look under your arm for pressure marks. When you get your lovely purchases home, organise them in your bra ‘area’ with your other bras ready to hold and nurture a very important part of your body – your breasts.
Most of all enjoy spoiling yourself with the perfect bra! 92
Photographed by Shannon Everest
FASHION Style is You
FITNESS & Exercise Advice to Support your Bust By Danielle Pirera, Exercise Physiologist, 33, NSW
Have you ever considered if there are exercises to develop your bust? Exercises that will make them grow larger, become smaller, lift, raise or perk them in the right direction?
As an Exercise physiologist, working in the fitness industry for 10 years, I can tell you Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been around the mill on this one and discovered that the best exercises for our breasts are ones that support us to embrace how beautiful they already are. So perhaps there are exercises that make them smaller, bigger or perkier as a quick fix, but is it possible that the best exercises for our breasts are going to be ones that impact our overall self-esteem and not just our physique? Exercises for a truly Beautiful Bust emphasise for women to not only build a strength in their upper body, but a confidence, a posture and an ease in themselves and their body, to let their breasts be how they were born to be. We can let go of any ideas we have about how our breast should look or be, because every womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s breasts are unique to her, no two breasts are the same, so it would be near impossible to try and make them be a certain way!
To work out exactly what exercises to do for upper back strength, chest opening, chest/arm strength and pelvic floor, core, abdominal muscle and lower back strength you could take a look online for suggestions or visit a personal trainer and ask them for exercises such as above. Or if you would like some tips for how to do such exercises in a very gentle, self-honouring and loving way stay tuned to the Exercise and Fitness section of this magazine or contact the businesses or practitioners who specialise in such a way of exercising, listed on the opposite page. 94
EXERCISE Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Right For Your Body
Upper back strength for larger busted women Women with larger breasts may be suported by gentle exercises to support the back and neck. Ask an exercise professional for advice.
Gentle arm and chest stretches and connective tissue exercises To open your chest and arm areas, letting go of any tension or holding in your connective tissue, from rolled in shoulders or a poor posture. Great if you have had a tendency to try and hide your breasts by collapsing in or leaning forward, or if you have had any hardness in your chest.
Upper chest and arm strength exercises These exercises help strengthen your upper body and enable you to do general day to day tasks such as picking up your child, carrying a washing basket or lifting your suitcase from the boot of your car without straining.
Pelvic floor, core, abdominal muscle and lower back strength These exercises help to keep your lower spine strong and tall, providing a stable foundation for your upper spine, shoulder and chest to remain open, expanded and strong.
www.harmonyinmovement.com.au www.playfulcreations.com.au www.yogaandhealing.com firstname.lastname@example.org Face to face support is available in Australia in Brisbane, Northern NSW, Sydney and Melbourne and in the UK at Frome, Somerset. Many of the practitioners also offer online support to anywhere in the world.
FITNESS & My Breasts Are Not For Sale By Marika Cominos 45, Melbourne
If there were a competition for the most objectified body part of a woman’s body, the breasts would win hands down without needing to do any market research...
This is easily seen when you open a magazine, look at a billboard, TV advertising, TV shows, sport, entertainers and the list could go on. The influence of the media upon our lives is huge! This is not something to be celebrated, but very much an indicator of how far we have strayed from honouring the absolute beauty, preciousness and true power of living as a woman. And as an adult, I can say without reservation that there is not much inspiration as everywhere you look we are seeing the objectification of body parts, gyrating hip porn-like music videos, breasts literally falling out of bras, breast augmentation operations on the rise and sadly, breasts being called ‘boobs’ only to confirm the already deep seated disconnection to such a sacred part of a woman’s body! When I reflect back on my life growing up as a young woman who was very athletic, I can definitely see that growing up in a hyper-sexualised society had a big influence on my perception of what it meant to be a woman. Even more so working in the Fitness Industry and as an Acrobatic Entertainer as the body is very much a focus in these arenas.
With the onslaught of the media and world’s interpretation sending messages 24/7 of what a woman should be, look like and behave like, it is easy to see why the strong pressure is there for young women to conform. I was definitely one of those young women where the focus was very much about body image and what I looked like on the outside, with absolutely no focus on developing and appreciating my inner world as the true woman that I know and appreciate in myself today.
EXERCISE What’s Right For Your Body
As an Acrobatic Performer and Fitness Professional for over 20 years, I was feeding the objectification of women in the way I chose to dress and make the focus all about body image. In fact I used what I would have called back then my ‘best asset’ - which was my voluptuous and shapely breasts.
And so the way I dressed would show off this asset to the best of its ability...the low cut tops that showed cleavage, the tight fitting outfits and really anything that best had them on show, so to speak. I mean that’s what got attention from others, especially men!
Everywhere I looked this was the norm with other women, competing for attention, using their best assets to manipulate in this objectification game. And so it didn’t take long for me to take it on as my so-called everyday ‘normal’ as the way life needed to be.
But is this really normal from the perspective of what normal could or should be? Have we as women succumbed to the objectification in order to seek attention from men, be liked, fit in, compete with other women etc, all at our own expense?
Photos like these of me in my younger years, I used to show proudly to friends. Now I catch myself thinking...’OMG?! What was I really thinking and where was I at to be choosing what I did and how I dressed?!!’...you can see very clearly how the focus was so much about body image and outward appearance. I was using my body to get attention and recognition, but no one was seeing the real me.
FITNESS & EXERCISE Over time, being met on a superficial level became tiresome. There comes a point where you want to be truly met for who you are inside and out, not to mention how exhausting it is to ‘keep up appearances’. As I developed my awareness of my inner world and started to appreciate the precious, delicate, sweet woman that I am, the need for recognition and approval started to drop away.
Breasts are a beautiful aspect of a woman’s body. I have claimed my breasts back – and now they belong to me!
No longer are my breasts ‘on show’ or ‘for sale’ or used as an object to appease an audience. My breasts are a very sacred and nurturing part of the whole of me.
No longer do people meet my breasts first, because the way that I dress now has totally changed and the quality in which I hold myself has also changed. When I meet with another now they have the opportunity to meet all of me which includes the quality of my being inside, not just how I look. Although it should be said, how one looks on the outside, is a mirror reflection of the quality of being on the inside. This is me now in my 40’s... how gorgeous am I?
Now that feels like a true woman from the inside out.
Photographed by Clayton Lloyd
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FOOD & Cyclical Breast Lumps By Nina Stabey, BHSci Nutrition/ Naturopathy
elcome to the food page. Each edition we will focus on a specific women’s health issue and relate it to nutrition. It is with much pleasure that we can present to you, the latest cutting edge science and easy, delicious recipes to support and nourish your mind body and soul. We’ll offer a holistic and an integrative approach with food facts, healthy recipes, top tips and more!
For this first breast care issue we will be looking at something a lot of women are familiar with; breast lumps. These often occur around our mid cycle or the time of our period. However, it’s amazing how a few dietary and lifestyle tweaks can make a big difference to the health, texture and quality of our breasts. So read on and discover more! From our work in women’s health we have noticed common themes around cyclical breast lumps and the way in which a woman has lived in the month leading up to her period. This often results in the woman experiencing: • • • • • • •
Being tired, wired and perhaps exhausted Increased levels of stress and anxiety Craving sugary, chocolate or salty foods Hormonal imbalances such as PMS, clotting, cramps, swollen breasts and headaches Period or mid cycle mayhem Weight gain from fluid or those unwelcome extra 1-2 kgs Mood fluctuations
One way we can address cyclical breast lumps with nutrition is by addressing the hormonal imbalance in our endocrine system. We can emphasize foods that help to minimise excess estrogen and decrease inflammation.
So how can we support our endocrine system to decrease the chances of cyclical breast lumps?
NUTRITION Nourishing You TOP TIPS TOWARDS BALANCING HORMONES 1. Include some quality (animal origin) protein with each meal, the size of your palm. 2. Enjoy a variety of green leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli. These help the liver to clear out excess oestrogens. 3. Include some quality fats in each meal and snacks if possible: avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut, nuts and seeds. 4. Reduce refined carbohydrates and sugars (even tropical fruit) as it skews our oestrogens and can cause imbalances between oestrogens and progesterones. 5. Avoid ALL dairy products: ice cream, yoghurt, sour cream, milk, custard, cheese (for at least 3 monthly cycles to see a difference). 6. Cut out caffeine (for at least 3 monthly cycles to see a difference).
Photographed by Shannon Everest
FOOD & NUTRITION Q&A Q: Why is quality protein needed every day? A: Quality protein helps to support blood sugar regulation, keeps you fuller for longer and reduces cravings. Q. What are quality proteins? A: Good quality sources of protein include: beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, white and pink fish, seafood (oysters, calamari, prawns etc), eggs, tofu, tempeh, protein powders. Q: Why do we need good quality fats with each meal? A: We need good quality fats in our daily diet to support the health of our cell membranes and brain tissue and fat is also the building block for all hormones. Fat can also contribute to either an inflammatory state or it can act as an anti-inflammatory. The quality fats mentioned above all support the anti-inflammatory pathways. Cyclical breast lumps have been linked to a degree of inflammation in the body. Q: Why should I avoid refined sugars? A: It is well know that once sugar is consumed, the hormone INSULIN is released to balance the sudden spike in sugar. If there is too much insulin in the blood morning, noon and night then this has a ripple effect and starts to skew the amount and type of oestrogens in the body. And excess oestrogen has been shown to increase your risk of breast cancer. Also too much refined sugar or anything that converts to sugar contributes to weight gain. Recent scientific understanding now knows that stored fat acts as a hormone (oestrogen) producer! Now thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s amazing! Q: Why avoid dairy products? A: Scientific evidence has linked the consumption of dairy product with ovarian, prostate, colon, lung and lymphatic cancers. It has also been shown that up to 75% of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population can NOT digest milk properly. With this much compelling evidence against dairy and its products its not too hard to see that dairy has used up its use by date. If you are serious about your health try going dairy free and see the difference it makes in your body. Photographed by Shannon Everest
AVOCADO THEMED RECIPE SUGGESTIONS TO SUPPORT BREAST HEALTH
The avocado is not only tasty, creamy and is a fruit, it is also of great nutritional value. On top of that it contains valuable healthy fats.
Avocado & Arame Dip Super savoury, lovely on barbecue chicken or in nori rolls Ingredients:
• 1 avocado • ¼ red onion, finely diced or 2 x spring onion • Small handful soaked arame (available from health food stores) • ¼ cup finely diced celery • Pinch pepper
• Add: Diced cucumber/celery/green beans /grated carrot etc • Use fresh or dried chilli flakes • Garlic • Fresh basil leaves, sliced • Sliced black olives • Chopped coriander
Procedure: 1. Soak a small handful of arame in a bowl of water. 2. Allow to soak for 5 minutes and drain. 3. In a bowl, mash the avocado and add the mung bean sprout, arame and red onion. 4. Combine all ingredients well. 5. Season with black pepper and or chilli (fresh or dried) Serving suggestions: • With crackers and fresh cherry tomatoes or slices of cucumber • As a topping to steamed veggies • On top of BBQ fish or chicken
Avocado & Coriander Dollop Scrumptious on crispy corn crackers or to lush-up a simple salad Ingredients: • • • • •
1 avocado 1 good handful of coriander leaves juice of half a lemon pinch of pepper drizzle of olive oil
Procedure: 1. Blend the avocado, coriander, lemon juice and pepper until smooth. 2. Drizzle olive oil to desired consistency, blend some more... and voila!
Avocado & Coconut Whip Yummy breakfast, snack or dessert Ingredients: • 1 avocado • 1/2 cup coconut: fresh, dried or dessicated • 1/2 green apple • 2 tsp crushed nuts • 1/4 lime juice and rind
Procedure: 1. Place all ingredients, except crushed nuts, in a blender. Blend until smooth. 2. Pour into a glass and sprinkle the nuts on top. 104
FOOD & NUTRITION Avocado & Tuna Dip A great take away lunch or light dinner Ingredients: • • • •
1 avocado 2 sticks of celery 1 spring onion 1 small green apple (or if you like to keep the sugars low use cucumber)
• • • •
1 tin of tuna in olive oil black pepper and/or chilli lemon juice sesame seeds
Procedure: 1. Dice the avocado and apple or cucumber, slice the celery and remove the green onion tops and chop. 2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. 3. Partially drain the tuna but leave in a bit of the olive oil as a dressing. Then add the tuna, mix it through and finish with black pepper, chilli and lemon juice to taste. 4. Before serving sprinkle with sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Rub exposed flesh with lemon juice to keep from turning brown.
• High in fibre • Great for iron • Has superb quality fatty acids (great for the skin) • Avo oil makes a lovely massage oil that nourishes the skin
To keep your avocados from browning throughout in the fridge, tightly wrap your open avocado in aluminium foil before refrigerating. Try adding a couple of drops of lavender oil to your avocado oil for a soothing, nourishing body oil blend.
Avocado Fiction • Avos are fattening! • Avo is a veg – it is actually a fruit! • Keeping the pip with the flesh stops it from turning brown 105
Many of us will be familiar with the ‘agony aunt’ columns of the past that offered advice to readers who wrote in with problems. Dear Victoria takes up that tradition with a twist: we’re not just one ‘Victoria’ but a team of five beautiful ladies, all dedicated to our own evolution and yours, and with a range of personal, professional and life experiences from which to offer supportive, informative and wise insights on all things women. As this is the inaugural edition of Women in Livingness we don’t yet have a readership and therefore none of your questions to answer. So in this issue – in line with theme of breast care – the team decided to explore Esoteric Breast Massage, a healing modality of which all five Victorias have personal experience, value deeply and feel is important to share with all women. Given many of you won’t have heard of it, we put ourselves in your shoes, asking and answering the kinds of questions we posed when we first discovered this therapy. From here on though, we’ll be answering your questions on a range of topics – periods, sex, love, children, work, body image, social concerns and more: if it relates to you as a woman or women in general, we’re there. We warmly invite you to send in your questions relating to the theme of our 2nd edition – Women and Self Worth. What is it really, and what does it mean to us? We will be lifting the lid on self abuse and women will be sharing their personal stories related to self worth issues.
Have a question for our next issue? Email us at email@example.com and include your name (your first name only is fine) and city or town and country of residence. 106
Dear Victoria, Typically, I’ve never really liked my breasts that much. How can I connect and relate to them in a loving way instead? Dear Reader, I have always liked my breasts but when asked if I was truly connected to them I wondered “What does that mean? They are on my chest!”. Eventually I realised I had never considered or allowed myself to feel my breasts, or understood my relationship with them as a way to connect more deeply with myself. I originally began to reconnect with my breasts by feeling and becoming more aware of the subtle changes in them throughout my cycle. From there I began to appreciate what my body was sharing with me. Sometimes they would ache and sometimes they would swell, and as they did, I started to understand that how I had been in my day impacted how they felt. For example, when I had been very busy at work, often in ‘auto-pilot’ mode, my breasts felt achy and would even feel harder in places. It took some time to realise my breasts were letting me know I was over-extending myself. How lovely! As I allowed myself to feel more and more how delicate and gentle I am it opened the door to me feeling more in my breasts – and my body. I started to become more aware of how my bra and clothes felt against my skin and how my breasts looked, or more truly felt when reflected in the mirror. During this time I also started to do self-breast massage with a beautiful breast cream and warm oil as a way to reconnect more deeply with the tenderness in myself. I was inspired to allow myself the time for this after feeling the love and care I received from my Esoteric Breast Massage practitioner. The quality of my touch became more gentle, sensitive and loving and this then flowed into the way I was showering and being with myself generally. The true nurturing quality that is so naturally within us as women was being reawakened. I had always felt this nurturing quality within myself but it was something I believed was more for others. I was now appreciating and allowing myself to feel this nurturing quality for myself also. When we are living naturally, connected to ourselves, our breasts can express the loving emanation of the true nurturing quality we are as women. Enjoy the beautiful you! With love, Victoria
P encia erfu
Beverley Bulmer & 01953 454627 firstname.lastname@example.org www.beverleybulmer.co.uk
essential oil perfumes & scented products
& 01953 454627 ESOTERIC Healing & Massage ~email@example.com Chakra-Puncture ~ www.beverleybulmer.co.uk ~ Connective Tissue Therapie ~ Yoga & Meditatie
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